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Episode 176
:
Is & Kelsey Moreira - DoughP

Lessons in Branding, Pivoting and Handling Insane eCommerce Growth Rates

Who doesn’t love eating cookie dough with a spoon? Having a tasty product that customers crave is helpful.

Who doesn’t love eating cookie dough with a spoon?  Having a tasty product that customers crave is helpful. That’s part of the reason Doughp (pronounced like dope) has been so successful.  But for the real reason behind Doubhp’s amazing growth, look no further than the co-CEO team of Kelsey and Is.  Not only are they co-CEOs, they’re also married.  And they produce some addictively good cookie dough that’s shipped directly to your door 


There’s a lot we can learn from Doughp both from a branding and eCommerce growth perspective.  


Here’s a look at what we cover:

  • When you get your branding right, marketing becomes easy
  • How to detach and make unemotional decisions
  • How to be fun, relevant and also have a serious mission side to your business
  • How and when to pivot 
  • How to scale operations from $50k per year online to over $350k per month in one year.

Iz Moreira

Via LinkedIn


Kelsey Moreira

Via LinkedIn


DoughP

Via Instagram

Via Facebook

Via TikTok


Mentioned in this episode:

ShipScout

PayPal Store Cash

Sean Frank

The Ridge Wallet

Episode 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 we get to hear a founder's story. We get to see behind the scenes of a really rapidly growing eCommerce brand, a brand that I'm really excited about that I'm a customer of. I can't wait to dive in and let you hear the origin story of this brand and also what they're doing now and how they're growing and excelling.

Brett:

I think there's going to be lots here for you to learn from. I think it'll be a lot of fun, as well. Today, I am delighted to welcome to the show the co-CEOs of a company called Doughp, and that's spelled like dough, like bread dough or cookie dough with a P on the end, so Doughp. Co-CEOs Iz and Kelsey, guys, how's it going? Thank you so much for taking the time.

Kelsey:

Yeah. We're good. Thanks for having us.

Iz:

Thanks for having us.

Brett:

Yeah. Just a quick and I want you to tell the full story. But Doughp is cookie dough that you order online and eat. I don't know if you're like me, cookie dough is just as good, probably better than the actual cookies. I was telling you guys I made a mistake. I word some Doughp, to be careful how you ... what audience can say that, too.

Brett:

But I ordered some Doughp from you guys from your website. Tried s'mores, chocolate chip cookie dough, it was your sampler pack was ..

Kelsey:

Yeah. Cookie Monsta, Fairy Dust.

Brett:

Yes. All of those, Fairy Dust, Cookie Monsta, the s'mores was good. I made the fatal error of letting my kids know, not in camera, if I told you Iz, but I've got eight kids.

Kelsey:

Wow.

Brett:

I made the mistake of letting my kids know about the Doughp and they totally dug in. It's fantastic. Kudos to you guys for that.

Iz:

Great to hear that.

Brett:

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Let's hear a bit of the origin story then we'll dig into lots of fun stuff related to the business. But how did Doughp come to be?

Kelsey:

That's awesome. I love origin story. I feel I'm an X-Men Origin story, Do you think we're going to whole ... I do have movie trailer that's like "And then," it should be awesome.

Brett:

When I tell my kids, I was talking to the founder and the co-CEOs of Doughp. They're going to be like, "What?" You feel like a superhero to them for sure.

Kelsey:

Oh, that's awesome. So cool. Yeah. Origin story for Doughp. I'm the founder of Doughp. We are co-CEOs running it today. But I was by my lonesome four years back. We just had our fourth birthday for Doughp. This crazy idea that people might like cookie dough as much as me. I had been working in tech for 10 years, had not any experience at all in the food industry aside from working at Nestle Toll House Cafe.

Kelsey:

Being a cookie cake decorator when I was 15, jumped into corporate America with my time at Intel and really just dove into that and had lost a lot of those outside passions, the stress and anxiety of corporate life. I leaned on alcohol and ended up developing a really unhealthy relationship with it over those years and lost sight of all those other things that I loved in life. I got sober in 2015, which was like the best decisions.

Brett:

Congrats.

Kelsey:

Thank you.

Brett:

Amazing.

Kelsey:

It is so cool. I really feel I got a second lease on life and got this opportunity to take the reins and see what do I really want to do. Is this what makes me the happiest? In the discovery outside of work, nights and weekends for my day job. What was I loving? It was really being in the kitchen. I was baking every day and bringing in stuff to the office and ..

Brett:

Baking was therapy for you, or just a hobby, passion type thing?

Kelsey:

Like meditative. Yes, still is. When I'm in the kitchen, time flies by. I feel like ...

Brett:

Beautiful.

Kelsey:

Yeah. If I have an afternoon ... we get some afternoon free or something, a weekend he'll play some guitar and I'll be in the kitchen baking something.

Brett:

That sounds like a really ... Now just as a teaser, if anybody's listening only and not watching. I don't know if it's because you guys are based in San Francisco and just all of a sudden get this vibe. But Iz, you have a short-haired John Stamos. Maybe it was the guitar. But you said guitar. I'm picturing you in a San Francisco kitchen. It's like Full House from my youth or something.

Kelsey:

I love it.

Iz:

I'll take it.

Kelsey:

Yes.

Iz:

I'll take it.

Kelsey:

We love it.

Iz:

However, we moved from SF. Now, we're based in Las Vegas.

Brett:

Oh, got it. Okay. It's still cool.

Kelsey:

I mean like a Vegas thing. He's like a Stamos impersonator on the script.

Brett:

It's the Stamos impersonator.

Kelsey:

Yeah.

Brett:

You can do it, man. You can totally do that on nights, on weekends.

Iz:

Cool. I appreciate it.

Kelsey:

Incredible. Yes. It was in SF when I started the company. These nights and weekends baking and loving it and bringing stuff into the office. I had been moved down to San Francisco for a new job inside Intel. I was like, "What am I going to do? I can't be a baker. There's world-renowned pastry chefs in San Francisco. Let's just do it for myself on the side still and for friends and things."

Kelsey:

But going to SF, I decided to try and be a vegan. But I was really terrible at it, because I love butter way too much. The recipes had butters in them.

Brett:

It was always butter. I wasn't so much meat. It was the butter that tripped you up?

Kelsey:

Oh, I just couldn't let it go. I was like, "I didn't mind having all the vegan needs, this and that." But man, when I was baking, butter is the good stuff. I was using butter but no eggs. Then these cookie recipes, I made for a really long time, were safe to eat raw. I was like, "Not only the one spoonful I would have always have over the years."

Kelsey:

Now I was like, "Oh, I'll just save half of it in a bowl for the week to eat some bites out of it and bake the other half of it." That just clicked. I was like, "This could be my thing. I could start a business. I could do this." All those people at work and things that have been saying, "You should sell this." Kind of thought, "Well, entrepreneurship, so that farfetched. I'm just going to climb this corporate ladder and that's what it is."

Kelsey:

But sobriety really gave me that energy and focus to say, "I could do this." I put myself towards it. For 2017, I took 100 pounds of cookie dough out to Dolores Park in San Francisco. We sold out in three hours and I was like, "All right."

Brett:

All right. This is a business. This is a real business.

Kelsey:

Yeah. How do we go from here? Yep.

Brett:

Now, tell this part in whatever order makes sense. But we'd love to hear how you guys met, because not only are you guys co-CEOs and you look great together. But you're married as well. Let's hear how you met. Then did you go eCommerce after you guys started working together? Kelsey, did you go eCommerce first?

Kelsey:

Yeah.

Iz:

Do you want to tell this yourself. It's way funnier when you tell it.

Kelsey:

Yes. We have like ... Now, we went from origin story, hardcore beginning, to romance novel of how we met. We're diverging a little bit.

Brett:

You guys have to read a book at some point ..

Kelsey:

eCommerce tips coming later, love now. Okay. We were in San Francisco. I had really focused on brick and mortar in the beginning. It was six months into the business that I got an opportunity to open a store on Pier 39, famous tourist pier in San Francisco. I've gone there as a kid. This idea that like, "Wow, I could have my own concept on this famous pier, I'm all in."

Kelsey:

I had done that, started to build up some staff. We had a co-working office. We were in a co-working office in downtown San Francisco. It was this guy. I was very busy running my company. I just had this running joke with my employees and staff and whatnot that there's this cute printer boy that sits near the printer.

Kelsey:

You're just going to jump, there's a printer boy here, because he sat near the printer in the office. He'd walked by and I pretend to faint or something if we're working in the common areas.

Iz:

Like, "You look just like John Stamos."

Kelsey:

I said that, right? Yes. I thought he was so cute. But just when you're ... This is what they always say to women in particular, because we're all excited about meeting the love of our life. It's like when you're not looking for them, you'll find them.

Brett:

Yeah. Yeah.

Kelsey:

That's absolutely what happened. I was just so ...

Brett:

When you're baking cookie dough and no one is watching, you will find the ... Actually, everybody was watching at that point.

Brett:

Full story. You're baking. You're running a company. You're managing employees. You get your dream location on Pier 39. Yeah. We got to get to eCommerce. I want to know who made the first move here? Who really ... Do you guys remember? I assume you do.

Kelsey:

Yeah. I mean, I think.

Iz:

I mean, yeah.

Kelsey:

It was him. He said ... We were eating lunch by chance, the same day in the co-working office, co-shared lunch space. He said, "Can I take you out to lunch tomorrow?" after we had chatted while we were eating. I was like, "Is this a business thing? Does he want like Doughp to cater for their company or something?"

Iz:

I wanted to keep the mystery going.

Kelsey:

Yeah.

Iz:

I'm not going to be super clear to hear about my intentions.

Kelsey:

Yeah.

Iz:

Let's go and see how it goes.

Kelsey:

Yeah.

Iz:

Sure enough, it was great. But a quick ..

Brett:

You're trying to get the easy "Yes." Just ask a simple question, just lunch. That'd be good. Lunch. Then we ...

Iz:

Listen, you don't know until you ask. That's why a customer research, market research is so important. You don't want to be asked, don't ask.

Brett:

The job is ...

Kelsey:

Yeah.

Brett:

Kudos to you.

Iz:

Yeah. But it was really interesting, because I was born and raised in Brazil. I moved to United States in 2017. After having an incredible career in civil engineering, I went to school for civil engineering and became a project manager for a construction firm. But I was just tired of Brazil. I wanted to raise a family somewhere else. I decided, "Okay. I'm going to study at Berkeley."

Iz:

I came here to study at Berkeley for a year. Got a job offer in SF and that's where we met. It was a really interesting, serendipitous moment for both of us.

Kelsey:

Yeah. Both of our lives took us to SF right at that time.

Brett:

Very cool. Iz, you clearly have this organizational, operational skill set. Kelsey, you're very creative and very passionate and you make all this stuff. Seems like a really beautiful match there. Talk about what's the day-to-day of Doughp look like now and how do you guys work together?

Kelsey:

Yeah. I mean, I think that path you mentioned, going from brick and mortar to eCommerce was absolutely prompted by Iz joining of the company, join into the company. It was these skill sets that we saw on each other, naturally, as we were in a relationship and then married. The conversations were really awesome to say anything I had a question on that was ops or finance related, that was totally his wheelhouse to jump in and help me.

Kelsey:

Those are the spots I feel weaker on. It became really natural in late 2019 to say, "What do you think about just coming on over and just joining this Doughp thing and seeing what we could do together, and put our eggs in this basket." But we really thought we could create something great. That organization lines, he was able to say, "Okay. We're doing catering and wholesale and the storefronts and a little eCommerce." What do you say, 2020? It's going to be the ...

Iz:

"2020 is the year of focus," that's what I said in November of 2019.

Brett:

Oh, wow. You didn't realize how wide you would be?

Iz:

Yeah. One of the things I always do when I join organization is to really understand where the resources are allocated. As she was saying, she had a lot of resources allocated everywhere, which means you're spread too thin. You basically cannot serve everybody very well. What we just did was a brainstorming analysis, considering ROI, barriers to entry, and other factors in each of the channels.

Iz:

We decided, "Okay. 2020 is going to be the year of focus on having the brick and mortar locations operating. But we're focusing on eCommerce. eCommerce seems to have the greatest potential for growth, and the least barriers to entry for us right now." That's what we did. November of '19 was the decision, and March of 2020 was when the pandemic really hit and we had no longer brick and mortar locations.

Iz:

Thankfully, we were super ready to go. We grew from November 2019 to March of 2020 a hundred X in sales on eCommerce.

Brett:

100X, that's insane. 100X in sales online or 100X ...

Iz:

In eCommerce, online. That's it.

Kelsey:

Yeah. Online only. For reference in 2019, all together, we did $50,000 online of $1.2 million for the company. As you can see eCommerce is like ...

Brett:

Yeah ..of the company. Yep.

Kelsey:

Exactly. Really like an afterthought. Then in 2020, 2.5 million of 2.7 million was eCommerce. Two and a half million dollars from 50 grand. It was a wild roller coaster to even be able to sustain the fulfillment side of that. I'm sure eCommerce folks listening know the challenges that come from doing 30 boxes a month to 3,000 boxes a week in the span of four months.

Brett:

Yeah. Your product is not super simple to ship. It does have a long shelf-life. But it's still food. You have to protect it slightly differently. It's shipped with ice. Dry ice was in the container if I remember correctly.

Kelsey:

Ice packs. Yeah.

Brett:

Ice packs. Yeah. Yeah. Can you talk a little bit about that? What was that process of ramping up a hundred X your orders online? Was that just a lot of sleepless nights for Iz and a lot of baking?

Iz:

Literarily. A lot of sleepless nights because at the time, we were using graveyard shifts with our staff to mix the dough and pack the orders of the following morning.

Kelsey:

From our store staff, in the physical brick and mortar ...

Brett:

Yeah. Yeah.

Kelsey:

... overnight.

Brett:

Yeah.

Iz:

It was literally a lot of sleepless nights. I cannot say it was smooth. It was not smooth. It was a lot of learning. But I think one of the greatest trades that we have as a company is to be really nimble and be really good at pivoting and learning and figuring it out as we go. From November until March, we were ready to ship all those 3,000 orders a week. It wasn't easy. But we were ready to ...

Brett:

Yeah. Yeah. What were some of the successful pivots you guys had to make? Obviously, the pivot from being mostly dependent on brick and mortar stores, to being fully dependent on eCommerce was a major pivot that you were planning on doing anyway. But the pandemic certainly forced that to happen at a much more rapid pace. But what other pivots did you guys make that ... Looking back, you said, "Wow. This is really cool that we did that."

Kelsey:

I mean, all the elements that came to fulfilling that, or following through on the decisions from it. While we didn't expect to shut down the brick and mortar side, we thought we'd get ... eCommerce would be a nice sizable channel. Because of the pandemic and the slow traffic after that, we made the decision to close down our final storefront in October of 2020.

Kelsey:

It's just those real cut and dry, look at the numbers. Put the emotions aside and say, "Does this make sense to keep doing?" Yes. I put my heart and soul in the storefront. I mean, it was so beautiful. We built it from the ground up. Loved it. But it's down 82% year-over-year. It was just not going to make sense for us to stay there in the long run.

Kelsey:

We needed to not let that hurt what was working. Yeah. I think other than that, it's been the partners that helped to come through, learning who the right partners would be in fulfillment, and who the right partners would be in marketing, advertising. It's such a hard game to get. We're still a marketing department of one. I'm trying to hire a director of marketing right now. We've really relied on agency support to make everything come true.

Brett:

That's awesome. Yeah. Finding the right partners is key. I want to dig into one thought there that you mentioned. You alluded this in the beginning. Hey, that Pier 39 location, that was your dream location. It was iconic. It's where you went as a kid or whatever. I think we have periods in time like that, as entrepreneurs, not always pandemic related, but where we have to make a really logical choice to move away from something that we maybe have a lot of nostalgia or a lot of emotion wrapped up in that.

Brett:

What was that decision like? Did you guys labor over that? Or was that just a clear cut easy decision?

Kelsey:

I think it was someone who's more removed from the emotion of it. It was quicker for him to say, "We should definitely close the store if we can." I'm like, "But maybe we could keep it. What about if we were able to convert them into eCommerce customers, and use it as a marketing engine." There is all this other dreamy lens we could have put on it. But it does take having that checks and balances.

Kelsey:

I think of if I was still a solo founder, no co-CEO by my side, it would have been really difficult to make that call on my own. I do, I think, and recommend to anybody else have counterpart that can really tell it to you straight and bring the numbers to the table where it's hard to say otherwise. Yeah.

Brett:

That's awesome. I think one of the ways we learn best is seeing what other people got right, and also learning from other people's mistakes. Let's start with what do you guys get right from the beginning? What do you feel like you, just right out of the gate, you nailed and that's helped propel you and keep the success going?

Iz:

I mean, the product. We can start with the product.

Kelsey:

Yeah. The products, yeah, haven't changed the recipe in four years. Yeah. That's ...

Brett:

.. the recipe in four years. That's awesome. Now, are you adding new flavors or did you launch with all those amazing flavors?

Kelsey:

Adding new flavors, we've had the core four, like the one you've got in sampler pack. Those four have been around pretty much since day one. The base of the recipe and how we make our dough from the start has not changed the whole time. We do always come out with new seasonal stuff, like red velvet cupcake for Valentine's Day.

Kelsey:

We're always releasing new unique flavors. But sometimes we can't pull that one because customers are so upset when we .. They're like, "Bring it back." We did a nostalgic flavor in January from the '90s. Did like a Dunkaroos inspired cookie dough and ...

Brett:

Okay. Okay.

Kelsey:

When it sells out, tear the walls down, people are so upset. When are they coming back?

Brett:

Don't take away my Dunkaroos. How dare you.

Kelsey:

Yeah. They're very upset. Yeah. That's been good. I think the other strong thing that ties in with the products has been the brand, really being so firm from very, very early days on why we exist, what we sound like, what we look like. We want to talk to you like a friend. It's all about authenticity, and our mission around mental health and addiction recovery. It's a commodity. Cookie dough something you could make at your house.

Kelsey:

But we're really trying to wrap a bigger purpose around it and each purchase goes to support these issues and there's just so much more to it. I think that's really resonated with customers from the start.

Iz:

Yeah.

Brett:

Your brand is amazing. I mean, first of all, I love the name Doughp. It's really cool and just selling your homepage, edible, bakeable, and ridiculously tasty. It's just got this fun vibe. Yeah. You just nailed the branding. As you read stuff on the site and as you even ... I remember the card that came in the sampler pack was really relatable and fun and talked about the fact, how long would last, and how you can enjoy.

Brett:

It was a really fun experience. Yeah. I would totally great. Product, brand nailed those. Any times you feel ... What's that?

Iz:

I mean, I was actually going to say another thing that was really good from the start. My background as a civil engineer, I've always focused on numbers. I've always done financial analysis and production and operations analysis. Unit economics was something in my DNA. When we first started, instead of trying to ship one container of cookie dough, we've always shipped kits of container.

Iz:

There's always this analysis of like, "What does make sense to ship considering the cost of the shipping label and whatnot?" That strategy was right from the start. I think most eCommerce brands do that strategy. They can't just ship by unit product. They have to make sense on the unit economics.

Brett:

Totally makes sense. You guys have always done packs. You've always done four packs ...

Kelsey:

Yeah. Four packs. It used to be like six packs back in the day. We had these tiny jars before we moved to the situation we're in now.

Iz:

Yeah.

Kelsey:

But yeah, always like a kit. It helps on most of the part of a new person coming in. It helps to decided for them. Here's the best ones to try and that's the bestseller pack. But then the build your own pack is super popular. That's the most common second step in repurchasing. They're coming back to be able to customize theirs. Say, "Okay. From that, I love these flavors. Here's the ones I want to get, and mixing and matching pints in a two, three or four-pack."

Brett:

The sampler pack did make it very easy, because I didn't have to think about, "Okay. All these flavors sound amazing. It'd be great to try them."

Kelsey:

Yeah.

Brett:

Have you had many people say, "Hey, I just want to order one?" Have you had pushback on the four packs? Or has it always been fairly smooth?

Kelsey:

Yeah. We get that pretty frequently. In support emails, tickets or social media, on comments on our ads saying, "Oh, I just want to buy one," or the comparison where they're like, "Oh, at the grocery store, I can get Nestle's for $3 or whatever." It's like, "Yep."

Brett:

You sure can.

Kelsey:

You sure can.

Brett:

But is there homemade cookie dough? No, it's not. Yeah.

Kelsey:

Yeah. It does taste really not that great. They tried to make an edible one, about two years after I had launched. It's so different than their core product. It seems they really couldn't get this stuff to just turn the taste of the regular Nestle into a safe to eat ones. It's very, very different. Yeah. It is at a very low price. Then there are massive, massive conglomerate out there.

Kelsey:

They're always going to be able to beat us on price. But like I said, that's why it's so important to have such a strong focus with the brand and what our business is enabling to happen in the community around these issues. That's a lot more than you could say for buying a pint of Nestle. I think we looked at and started offering the two pint packs.

Kelsey:

Shipping just two pints, which is more approachable than requiring that you get four if you're going to do it.

Brett:

Right. Right.

Kelsey:

Yeah. We've made some steps down. It seems environmentally, not smart to send one. Even we're going to have insulation price for one. Just explaining that to the consumer that's challenging for these times. Yeah.

Brett:

It is challenging, because there's always people that don't want to think about the big picture and only want just to lower their cost, which is understandable. But I think from your perspective, kudos to you guys for saying, "Hey, this is what makes the most sense. Economically speaking, this is how we need to do it. We're going to present it in a way that's easy and fun."

Brett:

Then get as many people as we can to take advantage of this, knowing that there'll be some people that don't understand, but that's okay. We'll work through that. Awesome. Then what about mistakes you've made, because I know it's not always fun to talk about mistakes, but that's often how we learn the best and learning from other people's hiccups can really be useful. Learning moments.

Kelsey:

Yeah. You're going to talk about the last spring, last summer?

Iz:

Yeah. As we were mentioning, we were growing super fast, a hundred X in three, four months. We were desperately looking for a way to reduce our shipping costs. Because when you first start shipping ... I'm sure most of the listeners are going to agree with me here. When you first start shipping, you don't have enough volume to come to a carrier and say, "Hey, I want a discount."

Iz:

There's not enough track record to come and say that. You have to pay higher prices. You have to make sense on the economics, like I said. The way that we envision that happening was, "Okay. Let's spread out our distribution. Let's have three major distribution centers across the country, because our customer base is so spread out across the country." So we did. But there's a lot of consequences to that.

Iz:

For starters, you have to spread out your inventory. There's a lot more cash tied up to inventory. Also you have to trust who you're moving with. We just learned the hard way that you have to have one person managing everything and that person has to be in touch with all the boxes to make sure that everything goes according to plan. It's just so easy. There's just so many steps that can be lost along the way.

Iz:

That just loses the entire customer experience along the way. We just don't deliver what we promised here. That learning was, "Okay. We need to centralize everything, make sure that we know this person. We're close to this fulfillment center. We know exactly what's being done." It was incredible. In September last year, we started with a fulfillment center here in Las Vegas, which is amazing.

Iz:

Because if anything happens, I can just literally drive there and see what's going on and fix problems on the ground.

Brett:

That's awesome. Yeah. You identify an issue or an opportunity to improve customer experience. We need to distribute our shipping. But that creates some challenges as well. But it sounds like you ...

Kelsey:

Yeah. Too big, too fast.

Iz:

Yeah.

Kelsey:

We spread out too wide, where it was a little bit out of reach without knowing those warehouses closely enough. Yeah.

Iz:

Yeah. In September, we already had the track record to come to shipping carriers and say, "Hey, here's what we have now. Here's how much we're shipping." Then we were able to centralize everything from here. I think it was a really interesting learning experience that I would like to share. Please don't spread out your inventory too thin too early.

Brett:

Yeah.

Kelsey:

Yeah. Before you need to.

Brett:

Actually, with your inventory, because it's perishable. I assume that could maybe led to some issues as well.

Kelsey:

When we were getting the inventory back from this widespread ordeal, we literally had a dry truck and a frozen truck. One was supposed to get the boxes and insulation, everything that was supposed to get the cookie dough loaded backwards at the warehouse. They loaded it backwards and shipped it out from the East Coast with our cookie dough in the middle of the summer in back of a dry truck.

Brett:

Nice cool boxes and not cold cookie dough ...

Kelsey:

They're like these boxes showing up cold, doesn't seem a good sign. Yeah. It was wild time. We went through some real remorse. One of our first expensive mistakes. I made a lot of small things here and there over the years where it was like, "Oh, shoot. I wish I had done a different cart for my catering thing or something." It's just so small. These really gotten to some serious times where you're talking hundreds of thousands of dollars that can be in jeopardy.

Brett:

Yeah. Which is super painful, and then can be sometimes mentally, emotionally crippling, but sounds like you guys pivoted nicely from that. Now you've got your warehouses in order, and you've got your discounted shipping. You moved ahead. Obviously, you want to avoid stuff like that if you can, but we can never avoid all of it. She's got to learn from it and then move forward. Any other takeaways from that?

Kelsey:

No. Yeah. I think that's the biggest takeaway from that experience.

Iz:

Yeah. I mean, it's not from this experience. But another thing that I would like to share that helped in this experience and other experiences is contracts. Contracts are just the life of the business. Most entrepreneurs that I know don't like reading contracts. They think it's long, there's a lot of legal stuff. Yes. That's true. But at the same time, that's what's going to regulate the relationship you have with your vendors and clients.

Iz:

If you don't pay attention to it, and don't negotiate the material points for you, you're going to be in trouble in case anything goes wrong. It may.

Kelsey:

Yeah. It's likely to. I think I had such glossy eyes at the world. I really thought like, "Oh, no. These people seem great," or "I got referred to work with them." I really, before I joined, I'm ashamed to say this, because no one else would do this. But I didn't read a single contract that I signed probably in those first three years of the business, before he jumped in. Even the Pier 39 lease, I really don't even think I had a lawyer look over that lease.

Kelsey:

I was just like, "If I need this space, this must be what I need to sign." I signed on to a personal guarantee, and all these things that now with his eyes looking at a contract would just never go. That ties in with a nugget of advice I would have, too, is like don't wait too long to bring someone to the table at the same stakes as you. It's really easy for founders to be hoarding, and just wanting the company for themselves and not bring on a co-founder.

Kelsey:

I created it, so I can keep doing it alone. But just through the years, we've couldn't find someone for what we were able to pay that had the experience and dedication that I really needed. That caused some issues on certain areas that he's really strong in now.

Brett:

Yeah. I know that bringing on the right strategic partner can make a huge difference. I'm really glad you brought up contracts, Iz. I'm really glad you're transparent there, Kelsey, because I tend to ... Now I understand, we have 50 people on our team, and then lots of things going on. We pay close attention to everything. But I tend to be more like you Kelsey, where it's like, "Nah, man. We're building stuff. We're growing. We're making deals, and it's all going to be fine in the end."

Brett:

You can do some really stupid things if you focus on that exclusively. You got to understand your contracts, because almost all contracts are negotiable. Even that Pier 39 contract, you could have negotiated that.

Kelsey:

100%.

Brett:

But it worked out okay.

Kelsey:

Yeah. Yeah.

Brett:

That's awesome. Cool. Any other mistakes? I know it's painful to talk mistakes. But in any other learning points that you want to highlight? That was a great one, by the way.

Kelsey:

I think some of the agency decisions, when I think about advice I pass along for that. It's like, "Go with your gut." We've had some times where we went with someone, and I was like, "Huh, I'm morally opposed to this person as a human, but they seem to have good performance. Let's do it." Then it's like, "That was an awful idea." I think, we've just been proven when you feel like, "Wow, this seems like a really good person, I would want to, I mean, virtually, hang out with every day."

Kelsey:

They become your best friend. You should really feel they're good people that you would want to spend time on the phone with. Just trusting that gut and being like, "Hmm. If I don't even like being on these sales calls, I really shouldn't sign up with these people, no matter how good they say the performances is." There's just something that will always be off in the relationship. That's another ...

Brett:

Yeah. I totally agree. As an agency, co-founder and CEO, we feel the same way on this. There are these times where we talk to a client and we think, and I love that brand, and I love the growth potential. But something about them, something about the person we're going to be working with just doesn't fit right. That usually then ends up being a not great relationship. Then the same can be said on the client side.

Brett:

You think, okay, the track record, performance is good. I want to grow my business. I want to do the logical thing. But yeah, if your gut is telling you, no, then you got to look at something else. Because if somebody else has got the track record and the personality, too. Yeah.

Kelsey:

Yeah, totally. Yeah. Aren't advice to follow in the moment. When you're in a pinch, you make bad decisions.

Brett:

Yeah. Yeah.

Kelsey:

Needed to hire an agency or a person or whatever. We've always not made as good of a decision is to try and give yourself the lead time to say, "It's okay, if this one doesn't work out. Let's keep interviewing. Let's keep searching." I've been interviewing for as director of marketing position for how long?

Iz:

Two months? Yeah.

Kelsey:

Yeah. Just over two months, I think.

Brett:

Yeah. Good. You're being patient. We're actually looking to hire a marketing coordinator right now. If anybody is listening, hit me up. But yeah, or hit up Doughp as a marketing director, hit up Kelsey and Iz there. But this is totally accurate. Well, we look for hiring an account manager or Google specialist or Amazon specialist or whatever. We will try to make that list thing earlier than we need to.

Brett:

I mean, you can't have discipline and when you're under the gun, still really wait to say yes to someone. It's a lot easier if you just don't have that pressure when you have the time. One of the things I heard this quote. I think it was on the Tim Ferriss podcast, I can't remember who said it. But they said "If it's not a hell yes, it's a no."

Brett:

They were talking about anything in your life. We started implementing that on the hiring side. If it's not a super enthusiastic yes, then it needs to be a no.

Kelsey:

Yeah. It's awesome. It applies to the fundraising world as well. I think about it with trying to find the right partner. If you're waiting to raise until you, "Oh, my gosh. Need the capital." You're freaking out if you don't get this. You're going to seem desperate. You probably won't even be able to get an offer, or you might close with a partner that wouldn't be the best partner for you.

Kelsey:

The fundraiser side, whether it's an Angel or a VC, or who is it, they're going to be a partner in your business. It's more than an agency. They're going to have a piece of your whole ...

Brett:

They get married right there. I mean, it's the business equivalent of getting married, for sure. Yeah.

Kelsey:

Totally is. When you're in a pinch, you make bad decisions. That's across the board.

Brett:

Yeah. Yeah. Awesome. Really good advice. Well, let's get into a couple tactical things, just for fun. I do want to underscore how much I love your website. I know I said that already. But the branding is on point. It's easy to shop. It's easy to browse, just really, really like it. I would like to dig into maybe some traffic, things that are working right now for you. Then some conversion tips, potentially.

Brett:

Let's start with the website. What are some of the things you guys have done over the last year? I know you've been growing hair-on-fire type speeds. But what have you done to increase conversions, to improve checkout, anything along those lines?

Kelsey:

Yeah. I mean, overall experience stuff on the site. I would say maybe six months ago, we started to think of a couple other areas to really bring in the mission into it. When you click Add to Cart on the bestseller pack, it literally shoots confetti out from Add to Cart button and says like, "Your purchase before it's addiction recovery." These little reminders that ... That's we're all in eCommerce trying to make sure they get to checkout and that they complete the checkout.

Kelsey:

That Add to Cart moment, adding a little bit of excitement and a little reminder of what this purchase will help do. We have that at the bottom of the mini-cart as well, some support that they'll have. Having a mini-cart was a decision, too, to try and reduce friction from being on the site shopping to get into checkout.

Kelsey:

In the mini-cart, we've got some upsells. This was a custom built solution by our dev. Not for anything that I can recommend there. But just different products get served a different upsell opportunity. Right now we are with shipping threshold to get free shipping on orders over 65. We tried to line up all of the upsells to get them there. The hope is that for most of the scenarios, adding that next upsell there will get them to free shipping.

Kelsey:

They're more incentivized to add a two-pack upgrade, get an extra two cups with your order, or double up and save, and that sort of thing. Getting a discount on something if you get two of them. Little things like that in the cart.

Brett:

Yeah. I really like that. It looks really cool. I'm looking it right now. I added the bestseller four-pack to my cart. Just below it, it says "Double up and save," and you get the nice, we'll say 5% and the original price marked out, the new price there. It's handy. When you added that, what lift did you see for your AOVs? I'm putting you on the spot. If it's rough ...

Kelsey:

No. It's totally fine. I mean, I definitely from when we first launched this new site with this mini-cart in general. We had a two-pack upgrade with like two pints serving offered on any order, anything that had been put in the cart that was already cookie dough so that we weren't adding the complication of insulation and ice packs for someone who bought a sticker, or like ...

Brett:

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Kelsey:

... some merge. For that and that was 25% of orders we're doing that two-pack upgrade. It's pretty significant.

Brett:

Nice. That is really significant. That's awesome.

Kelsey:

Yeah. That was a $12, I believe at the time?

Iz:

Yeah.

Kelsey:

Yeah. I think it was like 12 or 15 to get the two-pack. That was great extra bump. We had been really around like a $43 AOV, pre-new website. Then once the new site launched with that, we were up at 59.60. Really good movement there. We've juggled back and forth with the shipping. There's this option to bake some of it into the price and have free shipping or what we need to do on the entry skew to make that more affordable for an entry purchase.

Kelsey:

There's an app. This is a fun app tip that we're going to start using called ShipScout, a way to A/B test.

Brett:

ShipScout. Nice.

Kelsey:

Yeah. A/B testing prices.

Brett:

Ooh, I like that a lot. Yeah.

Kelsey:

Right. It's these little incremental things. Because if 7.95 versus 9.95 has 20% higher conversion rate. Great. It's totally worth it. We just have to figure out what that trade off is and how significant it would be. But that's a great app. Some complications you'll need a devs help for if you have other areas around your site that are mentioning free shipping over X amount or what the shipping price is. But all doable with some help of the amazing wizard developer.

Brett:

Yeah. Yeah. It sounds like you guys have been playing with not just the number of cups in a shipment but also the size of the cups. I see 5 ounce cups, 16 ounce pints. Any learnings there? Did you launch which is one size originally, or any learnings you've gained from that?

Iz:

We've always had two sizes. Yeah. When we first started this, like I said in November of 2019, we still use plastic jars. She had already started to do these plastic jars at the store. What I did was, okay, we already have these. Our staff has already trained to do this size. Let's try and do these two sizes. She already had the 16 ounce and was it four point ...

Kelsey:

It was 4 and 12. Yeah.

Iz:

Oh, it was 12?

Kelsey:

The little squared glass looking jars. Yeah. Yeah.

Iz:

Well, there you go, 4 and 12.

Kelsey:

Plastic, but yeah.

Iz:

It worked quite well. Everybody already knew. Everybody that knew the brand knew the sizes that we use to serve in. It worked. We just moved to a 5 and 16 ounce because it is more widespread use off the 16 ounce cup and a 5 ounce cup versus the 4 and 12. It's easier to get the packaging and easier to source. Also in the minds of the consumer, it is easier to assimilate the 16 ounce pint versus a 12 ounce. What is this? Is it big? Is it small? How many servings?

Brett:

Yep. Yep.

Kelsey:

Sixteen, people are like, "Oh, like an ice cream pint?" They get it.

Brett:

Exactly. Yeah. The pint really clears it up, for sure. Yeah. Curious. I noticed you had Shop Pay on the site and I buy from a number of Shopify stores. Of course, I enjoy using Shop Pay as a consumer. When you guys added that when that came out. Did you guys see a bump at all and do very many people utilize that?

Kelsey:

Yes. A lot of people utilize it. I think we're 70% Shop Pay checkouts, and then the probably 20% is PayPal, maybe 25%. Maybe a little bit more on PayPal. Yeah. PayPal does the Store Cash Campaign. I don't know if you've ever heard of any vendors. But this, they have some comment on our site, like a snippet on there that identifies if someone visiting the site is a PayPal customer or not.

Kelsey:

They'll get an email saying like, "Here's $5 to use, $5 Store Cash to use it to have cookie dough if you want to go back and make your purchase."

Brett:

Nice.

Kelsey:

That's fun. Pretty amazing.

Brett:

What does that call?

Kelsey:

Store Cash Campaign. Yeah. PayPal's Store Cash. I remember just by chance, seeing it as an option like, "Oh, do you want to turn this on?" I'm like, "Sure, whatever, five bucks. Go for it, seems cool." Then when I log in, it's like, 1,128% row as. Like, "What?" It's pretty cool. Yeah.

Brett:

Yeah. When you get 20% of your shoppers are using PayPal anyway. That only works ... If someone visits the site, it's detected they use PayPal, they leave that buying. It's almost like a remarketing campaign, then they're getting the $5, or it's regardless what they do on the site?

Kelsey:

It also does it if they have purchased and it's incentivizing them to come back. It's like, "Here's $5 to come back to Doughp." Yeah.

Brett:

Beautiful. Which is great for you guys, because consumable, sending a coupon after the fact is great, too.

Kelsey:

Yeah. We have to think about all the different ways to incentivize that repurchase, different ways to use the product. We're working on a digital cookbook to send out. Being able to offer this probably as a post purchase upsell, but a digital cookbook, here's all these recipes to go through ..

Brett:

Increase consumption. Absolutely. Yeah. Gets you even more. You start ordering more. Yeah. I want to get into some traffic, too, where we just have a few minutes left. But what about other loyalty things you're doing? Are you looking at subscriptions? Are you doing anything else special to get that repeat purchase? What are you doing there?

Kelsey:

Yeah. We have a rewards program, our Spoonlicker's Club.

Brett:

Spoonlicker's Club. Yeah. I love that.

Kelsey:

Yeah. In February, it's only as good as it's marketed though. It is hidden on our site right now, somewhat of a soft launch, if you will, while we got all the rest of the email flows and everything in place for that. A birthday bonus point email and things that will come out in that regard. There's a little bit more tight knit integration that we need to do to really make it come to life on the site.

Kelsey:

At every point, you're excited about coming back and knowing how many points you're going to get for purchase. Subscriptions are interesting. It's been this debate of how much cookie dough is feasible to get delivered to your house every month. What we did release, it's literally down in the footer. It says Curious with the question mark. It's a secret cookie dough club.

Kelsey:

We've been doing this to our own audience to share out that they can join this cookie dough club. It's going to be a post-purchase email as well for those after their first purchase to know they can get this. It's 29 instead of 39 for 2 pints. It's free shipping. It's every month getting to mystery pints. It's a surprise box. So far, really great reviews.

Kelsey:

We have only one person gave a four star, the rest of them five stars, which is super awesome. They're like, "I love the mystery of it." Someone literally said, "I've been wanting to order Doughp for six months, but just could never decide which flavors to get. This mystery box was perfect for me." I'm like, "Yes."

Brett:

Yeah. That leads to consumption and maybe you find, "Hey, it's this s'mores that I love the best. I'll just keep order more of that, or four-pack of that." It's really great.

Kelsey:

Yeah.

Brett:

You'll start promoting that thing in your post purchase email series, or you considering the idea of putting that in the cart as an upsell or mentioning it elsewhere, or you still working through that?

Kelsey:

I think it'll be after your first purchase. We like this idea of, "Okay. They've gotten to try it. Now, here it is a little bit broader." Then it's also we're open about it on our social media. If you're starting to feel, you'll see it. Then if you're on our email list at all, you'll get occasional updates with that, still available.

Brett:

Awesome.

Kelsey:

We did a fun, very mysterious email blast for that. It was 20% of people who opened the email clicked through to the link. We put just full on Curious and all this mystery and stuff. Take a look. You had to like click into that and understand what it was. It was pretty fun. We doubled our ...

Brett:

... people up to I got to find out and ...

Kelsey:

Yeah.

Kelsey:

Doubled our subscriber base that single day. It was pretty cool.

Brett:

Wow. Let's transition and talk traffic just really quickly. What are some of the traffic wins you've had over the last year or so? What's working and what do you kind of excited about for the future?

Kelsey:

Physical traffic, we're stoked to be in Vegas because it's much lighter than traffic in San Francisco. We have leaned on ads to really drive traffic to our site, historically, since we started ... It's late 2019, it's historic now. But the real game changers have been organic stuff that's happened. Jason Derulo posted a TikTok with us.

Kelsey:

For seven days in a row, we had 25,000 in sales. It was just really got this crazy push. We were seeing it was all from search people leaving TikTok, Googling Doughp, finding us. It's really neat to see when you're feeding this funnel, how effective everything else works. It does take that push on organic stuff that takes place like that, which is awesome. I don't know how you found Doughp. But that's super cool.

Kelsey:

Chrissy Teigen just posted with Doughp yesterday, two days ago? Yeah. I think it was two. Those weeks have been a blur, on Tuesday. It's super cool to see what people are willing to do when they just see someone they love with it, they go out and search for it and do it. I mean, we had way better success with any of the organic stuff that's happened than honestly most of the paid influencer work we've done.

Kelsey:

We're pushing into a bit more with press this year. We just hired a PR agency. I think that's the best thing for us. The driving traffic to the site is getting really interesting things for people to talk about, where it's exciting and unique and gets more eyeballs on our site. Because then Google and Facebook, they can all work their magic, granted iOS 14 is trying to ruin our lives. But ...

Brett:

It is. It is.

Kelsey:

I said on LinkedIn the other day, I'm like, "Does anyone else feel like iOS 14 is our Y2K for eCommerce managers?"

Brett:

Kind of feeling like that. I mean, things are still going well here. Obviously, we're just a few ... At the time of recording, just a few days into the iOS 14.5 release. But things are going to probably get weird for a little while. We'll see what happens there. But yeah, a couple things there. I think your brand is perfect for influencer marketing. We don't do influencer marketing. It's not my area of expertise.

Brett:

But I've interviewed a few people on the podcast that are great at it. One is Sean Frank from Ridge Wallets. He's got an amazing influencer approach that he teaches. But who doesn't love cookie dough? Also it's so fun to talk about cookie dough. I think influencers could be lining up. Is that something you're planning on, is pursuing some influencers potentially?

Kelsey:

Yeah. We are working in that realm. I think one tip I have for anybody trying to do this, find people that are really excited about your brand. I was just talking to a new another eCommerce founder who's literally just goes through the Explorer on Instagram. Someone showing up in reels and stuff, they always have pretty good engagement. Search for your topic related to your store. See some of them.

Kelsey:

He just DMs each of them paid promo, paid promo, paid promo. Some of them, though it's a heavy lift to do this, many of them was pretty good engagement or like, "Oh, how's 10 bucks." He literally is like, "I can't close for $10 or free product alone." They're just willing to talk about it and that you get all ...

Brett:

Just spend me some cookie dough and 10 bucks ..

Kelsey:

Yeah. Way higher ROI than like, "Oh, $15,000 for this feed post." We just sit there praying that enough people go and click the link in their bio. I think there's a scrappier way to do this. I'm also not convinced that landing pages are the end-all, be-all for influencer in particular. I think consumers are getting pretty savvy that you've been sent to this trickery page that you can't click out of.

Kelsey:

It's like, "Here's the code, 50% off, go to doughp.com." This next round of influencers, we're going to try a little bit looser like that, instead of everybody going to a landing page, because we're just not seeing the results we want. But if you've got the time or marketing person on your team that could do the paid promo, quick DMs, and see who's down to talk about your brand. That's awesome.

Kelsey:

Because the people that I've sent free product to and they're willing to post by me, Addison Ray, we got her address to send her some free product by chance. She posts, I've got 4,000 followers in a day ...

Brett:

It's amazing. It's amazing.

Kelsey:

That was great. There is just some ... You got to stay scrappy. Even as you get big, stay scrappy.

Brett:

I love that. Yeah. Even when you're generating some nice profits and growth is there and you have paid channels that are working. Did you ever put anything on autopilot? But if you got your agency running, you don't have to think about it as much. But you should never stop with the scrappy, creative hustle type stuff because it adds a nice extra percentage to the business that compounds over time, that really can be a massive difference maker immediately, but also in years to come.

Brett:

Curious. On the operation side, what's ahead for you guys? Any tips or suggestions or ideas there?

Iz:

Well, great question. Now is actually the time for us to go into a bicoastal distribution model. We got the volume and the demand is there. It now makes sense. We're also in a better cash position to tie up more inventory, to have more cash on inventory. This is what's ahead now. We are actually on the hunt for a co-manufacturing facility on the East Coast now.

Brett:

Nice.

Iz:

Anyone's listening, interested.

Brett:

Co-manufacturing. Yeah. If you're listening, if you know people, Iz and Kelsey, or hit me up I'll connect to you and such we get stuff. Well, guys, this has been a ton of fun. I love hearing the story. I could keep talking to you guys all afternoon. This was a lot of fun. But I'm sure that we've made people's mouth water a little bit. Not just for good eCommerce growth, but for some cookie dough, for some Doughp.

Brett:

If people are listening or watching and they say, "Okay. I got to give this a shot." Where can they go to get themselves some Doughp.

Kelsey:

Yeah, doughp.com. Thank you for spelling it out in the beginning, because people do get confused listening to this. It's D-O-U-G-H-P. It's dough with a P on the dot com. We're @Doughp on Instagram and Facebook. We're on eatdoughp on TikTok, which has been super fun.

Brett:

Oh, man. I would love to hear that some other point, TikTok. Just really quick, 30 seconds. How was TikTok going for you?

Kelsey:

TikTok is incredible if you have something other than just pushing your product to talk about. For us, tons of the mental health stuff, there's sober talk, there's a whole sober community on TikTok. Really leaning into that, I mean, the comical funny stuff has done great, behind the scenes has done incredible. In our fulfillment center will love that.

Brett:

I'm not a huge TikToker, but my oldest son is for sure. There has to be. You guys have to do with TikTok, Iz with you playing the guitar. Kelsey, you baking in the kitchen. There's got to be some concept there that would really work

Kelsey:

Yes.

Iz:

I like that.

Kelsey:

Yeah. It's really a storytelling place. The algorithm rewards you for telling a story and having something interesting that people want to see. Yeah. The ones of ... My story, have done some green screen in front of the Shark Tank clip and stuff.

Brett:

Nice. Yeah.

Kelsey:

People like to know there's someone behind the business. Put your face out there. Get funny. Do weird shit. See how it goes.

Brett:

Exactly. I love it. I love it. Guys, this has been an absolute pleasure and a blast. Thanks for taking the time. Then thanks for being so open about Doughp.

Kelsey:

Yeah. Great to meet you. Thank you.

Iz:

Thanks for having us, guys.

Brett:

Absolutely. As always, thank you for tuning in. We'd love to hear from you. Would you like to hear more of on the show, and if you haven't already, we would love that review on iTunes that helps other people discover the show. With that, until next time, thank you for listening.

Episode 175
:
Chris McCabe - ECommerce Chris

Protecting Your Brand and Preventing Amazon Suspensions and Takedowns

So how do you protect your Amazon business from all the forces trying to kill it? My advice is to learn from Chris McCabe.

Amazon has always been a jungle for sellers.  Battling sabotage from unscrupulous competitors, protecting yourself from listing takedowns, and avoiding account suspensions are all enough to keep you awake at night.  So how do you protect your Amazon business from all the forces trying to kill it?   My advice is to learn from and get to know former Amazonian Chris McCabe. Chris used to work at Amazon in the policy enforcement team. Now he works daily with sellers to mitigate issues and fight suspensions.


He’s been so effective at helping sellers that he’s been awarded the nickname ECommerce Chris. He’s also the host of the podcast Seller Performance Solutions and speaks at leading Amazon events like the  Prosper Show.  Chris is a guy you need to know.


Here’s a look at what we cover:


- Top reasons listings get taken down and what’s in your control.  
- Reasons for listing takedowns that most sellers don’t know about.
- What it was like working at Amazon
- The leading reasons for account suspensions and how to protect yourself
- Top strategies for brand defense and fighting sabotage.
- The best strategies for preventing problems and getting listings and accounts reinstated.

Chris McCabe

Via LinkedIn

ecommerceChris

Seller Performance Solution Podcast

Episode 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 this is a special episode for all of you Amazon sellers out there. This episode will probably both strike terror into your heart, potentially give you nightmares, but it will also bring peace and comfort and give you hope in the midst of the storm. Today, we're talking about listing take downs and suspensions on Amazon, both how to avoid them and/or mitigate them, and then how to get things back up and going when you do face either a listing take down or a suspension.

Brett:

My guest today is an absolute expert in this category. You'd be hard pressed to find someone with more experience on this topic. I have joining me today, Chris McCabe, he's the founder of ecommerceChris. I want to hear how he got the nickname ecommerceChris, that's an awesome nickname and the name of his company. He was a former policy enforcement team member at Amazon. So the stuff we're talking about today, he did at Amazon back in the day, so I want to hear maybe a couple of good Amazon stories while we're at it. And so with that, Chris, welcome to the show. How you're doing? And thanks for coming on.

Chris:

Yeah, thanks for having me. That's an excellent introduction. I loved it. I loved it.

Brett:

Good, man. Yeah, I really appreciate this. I've heard good things about you. I think your nickname/company name alone is a good reason to have you on the podcast, ecommerceChris, you go there. But if you would talk a little bit about, what was your experience like at Amazon? When were you there? And just in general, what did you do? And what was that like?

Chris:

I worked on this so-called seller performance teams, the performance evaluation and policy enforcement teams. What you said about the nightmares that sellers might fear after this episode, I'm numbed to those nightmares. I went through six years on the Amazon side of it, I've been doing this for six years, so about 12 years total at this point of the day-to-day, hour in, hour out of, "How do I appeal this suspension?" That's what all these sellers are afraid of. When I worked at Amazon, yes, we were reviewing accounts all the time, every hour, sending warnings, deleting listings, sometimes canceling all their listings if they hadn't been properly, put together, broke rules, and of course, suspending accounts.

Chris:

The flip side of suspending accounts was we got to reinstate them if we found that they had submitted an acceptable appeal that hit all the right points and addressed whatever shortcomings we had previously identified. So that was the day-to-day of the job. In terms of interacting with other Amazon employees and managers, Amazon's just a heavy duty place to work, there are high expectations, they want you to be quick, they want you to be smart, they want you to be good, and you have to perform. Just the way sellers are evaluated with performance metrics, so were we, and if your number is wavered, then you'd have a little sit down.

Chris:

I ended up getting promoted and mentoring others because my numbers were good and my accuracy was good. That's the shorthand version of why I excelled in my position. Towards the end of my time at Amazon, I got what you've maybe heard from other books and articles about Amazonians getting burned out a little bit. But I think by the end, I already had a sense that I wanted to do this for a living and not stay in Seattle, but also not stay working for Amazon. I wanted to help sellers from the other side of the fence.

Brett:

That's awesome.

Chris:

The pace, I was used to it, but years and years of that pace does grind you down, that's a fact.

Brett:

I could totally see that. All right. Well, I want to unpack a few things. So Chris, tell me about the grind because I hear stories all the time, I know several former Amazonians. I've heard the Jeff Bezos quote that, "Hey, you can work long, smart or hard, but at Amazon, you can't choose two out of three, you just get all three." And so, what was the grind like?

Chris:

Amazon's a company where you're supposed to feel honored and privileged to work there too, so they don't give you a lot of freebies or free meals or they don't coddle you. People know about the Google cafeteria and working at Facebook and all these perks.

Brett:

Yeah dude, I've been to several Google campuses and it's like a playground. And they expect the people to work hard too, but they really take care of their people unbelievably well. The food was just fantastic.

Chris:

Yeah. Amazon is more workplace where it's believing in their mission, being excited with their goals, which has taken over retail. Let's be honest, what are they trying to do here? It's not just about ecommerce, they've already done that. You're there to put your brains to work, you're happy to be there. Their attitude towards a lot of employees is kind of, if you don't like it, leave. So you're not coddled. There's good parts about working there. I wouldn't have stayed there as many years as I had without enjoying most of it, but it's not a place where dissent is really tolerated. And they don't reflect that in their core principles when they say like be open to disagreement and discussion. I never found that to be the case. It was a top-down hierarchy.

Brett:

Oh really? So they were not open to disagreement?

Chris:

Yeah.

Brett:

And that's so interesting. So we're actually, as a company at OMG, we're going through some of the Amazon leadership principles, like the 14 Core Leadership Principles, and they're fantastic, but that's really interesting that they don't... So they preach dissent and disagreement, but they don't necessarily welcome that from everybody?

Chris:

Well, you have to be open to being wrong if somebody disagrees with you, but proves you wrong with either data or experience or examples that I think you have to be willing to admit that you misjudged something, maybe not made a complete and total mistake. But I didn't get that sense from manager or above types, they seem to say like, "We're being measured on these very strict goals, we have to meet them. We've decided how you're going to help us meet them and that's the end of it." A lot of stuff just started not making sense towards the end of my tenure there, especially my last year at Amazon, I was being asked to do things that made no sense.

Chris:

And not only does it kill your morale, but it makes it hard for you to do your job if you don't even believe that what you're doing is accurate or useful or necessary. If it's just like, I don't know what an example would be, somebody who's just asked to push paperwork around but they're not really doing anything with their day, the old fashioned corporate people who were numb to that. And there's just so much room for improvement with what Amazon's doing. As much ass as they're kicking right now in terms of ecommerce and the growth of the marketplace, there's so much they could be doing better with sellers in particular.

Brett:

Yeah. I'm sure there are a lot of sellers listening right now that are giving you a virtual fist bump...

Chris:

Yay.

Brett:

... Chris, that Amazon could be treating their sellers way better. And I'm sure that is true. I know that's true. And yeah, it's one of those things where you can handle long hours and you can handle the grind and you can handle the pressure and the expectations. If you agree with what you're doing and you feel like you're serving a purpose, but then when there's incongruency or being asked to do things that don't really line up or make sense, I can totally get how that would fuel burnout, speed it up and just make you... If you are thinking about doing something else anyway, that's going to likely speed up your time horizon and make you want to exit the whole cluster.

Chris:

Amazon's expecting you to consider your job the number one thing in your life. You can have a family, you can have other things in your life, but you have to be able to juggle them all or balance them all. That's on you, they don't consider it their role to make that juggling act easier on you. That's up to you to figure out.

Brett:

Yeah, that's what I've heard from. so many.

Chris:

It's fairly consistent. Yeah.

Brett:

Yep. So then, where did the nickname ecommerceChris come from? Do you remember the actual story? Obviously, it makes sense, you're in ecommerce plus all that.

Chris:

I didn't want to have Amazon in my company name, just a basic legal angle there. But beyond that, when I first started, I wasn't planning on only doing Amazon, and for the last six and a half years, I have only done Amazon. That wasn't my original intention. So I didn't want to be Amazon centric, I wanted it to be ecommerce, maybe even I would learn about some of these other marketplaces. I was researching Etsy and handmade and stuff like that just to educate myself on other kinds of sellers that I wasn't maybe used to dealing with. But then as soon as I updated my LinkedIn profile and said what I did at Amazon, the flood gates opened and I just had all these Amazon sellers constantly asking me for help.

Brett:

Yep, totally makes sense. Two million Amazon sellers and growing, and the problem you address is a growing problem, it's real, it's painful. And so, yeah, I think you've got all kinds of room to grow and expand just doing what you're doing.

Chris:

And I didn't even know that really at the time. I knew the marketplace was growing, I knew some of the basics. When I left Amazon and took a year off to travel, probably over a year. And when I came back, I wasn't 100% sure what the state of the marketplace was or how they were dealing with sellers. I had to go through some of the messaging that sellers had, which back in 2014, the messages were much higher quality. They weren't great. That was one reason I left, I didn't think Amazon could communicate with sellers anymore, but they were much better than they are today.

Chris:

So I didn't really know that until I started helping sellers with Q&A and writing appeals and, would it be reviewed properly on the inside? I wasn't sure until I tried it, really.

Brett:

Yeah. I want to get into some specific tips and tactics and things to avoid. And I think this is going to be an extremely helpful podcast for people. But I think part of the problem, part of the reason why Amazon doesn't communicate well with sellers is just the growth is too fast and they're not able to cope with it, or is there something else there that's causing this?

Chris:

More specifically, I think they're having trouble marrying their automation to human investigation. Their machine learning hasn't caught up to all the things that are going on. There's a lot of abuse of their tools, of their algorithms. A lot of people gaming the system. I don't think their machine learning's caught up really, whether it's reviews abuse, something like that, or buyers.

Brett:

Yeah, it's just I think such a huge problem. I know people with legitimate reviews that are getting dinged and then you see some listings and you just know that it's been manipulated and they're not real reviews.

Chris:

They're still catching up. They're finally adding more head count. The reviews abuse team is a good example, PRA. Product reviews abuse has by some measures tripled their head count. They finally added more people, but it's not syncing up enough with their automation to make it meaningful. So they're still struggling with standard operating procedures, different systems and processes that they're trying to put in place to make the scalability of the work more within their grasp, and they just haven't gotten there yet.

Chris:

Unfortunately, I think people who are looking to abuse the system or cheat their competitors out of some revenue are aware that Amazon is way behind on some of this stuff and so they're manipulating things for their own ends. And it's unfortunately creating not just bad seller experiences, but I don't know if the wider public understands that this creates more negative buyer experiences.

Brett:

It totally does.

Chris:

You mentioned Jeff. Jeff's number one goal with creating Amazon was to create the best online buying experience-

Brett:

Yeah, the most customer-centric company on the planet.

Chris:

Most customer centric, but no one's really connected the dots to how negatively impacting buyer experience some of these tricks and gaming the system and some of these fake out moves that sellers are doing are hurting buyers too.

Brett:

Yeah. And it just makes you question your next Amazon experience too. If you do get duped, you buy a product that's not as great as the reviews say it is or doesn't really live up to the description and things like that, it really questions your next Amazon purchase. So obviously, Amazon has identified it as a problem, but the AI and the human efforts just are not in alignment yet. Hopefully they'll be able to fix that soon.

Chris:

Maybe this is Andy Jassy's big move when he comes in this summer, he's going to figure out how to take machine learning and combine it with a human account reviews, manual investigations and make them 10 times more effective.

Brett:

He'll end up appearing before the Senate. He's going to be the anti-trust stuff. But yeah, that's a really good point. Andy Jassy, he was the head of AWS, potentially no better person to be running Amazon to work on some of the AI problems and automation problems, so super interesting. Well, let's dive in here. We're going to talk about listing take downs, we're going to talking about suspensions. The two are related, first comes to the listing take down, you get enough of those which will then the suspension happens. What are some of the common causes of a listing take down? And if you can share any of your experiences while you were at Amazon, if that's still really relevant, that's great. But why do listings get taken down?

Chris:

They changed a few things after I left around this concept of product quality, item quality. So the number of investigations and listing take downs around authenticity exams or item condition complaints. Item quality complaints or item condition complaints are the big thing right now. A buyer's complaining that they got something that's not what they paid for, not worth what they paid for, not the same quality they expected, not the way it was described on the detail page, any of those things.

Chris:

Obviously, condition, if you're buying something and you get something that looks and feels and sounds used, you're unhappy automatically. So they're drilling down into those types of complaints. They are unfortunately just copying and pasting things around. A buyer might not understand a product or they might not have read the product detail page closely, but they still might blame the seller for, "Hey, you didn't represent this right on the site," or this word of inauthentic gets thrown around. Items might be inauthentic. Well, that means the buyer probably didn't say that it was fake, sometimes they say that too, but they probably just say it wasn't the quality they expected for the price, or it wasn't the kind of item they expected.

Chris:

Those are the main reasons why listings are suspended and why they're asking for a plan of action. Lesser known causes would be like expired products, expiration dates and compliance issues, which I know you and I have had conversations about compliance before. But if Amazon thinks you don't have the right documentation, whether it's FDA documentation or safety testing documentation to list and sell those products on the site, they err on the side of caution and remove those listings until you can prove otherwise.

Brett:

Yep, totally makes sense. So clearly, if the condition is not what you advertised or if it's not the right quality or people are thinking, "Man, I got ripped off, this was not worth what I paid for," then you're going to be in trouble. It seems though, and I'm part of several ecommerce communities and forums, and of course, talk to a lot of sellers, we're all on the growth side, the ad side, the listing optimization side, things like that, but it also seems like there's some good sellers with good products that get their listings taken down. Is that going to be on some of those lesser known things that you mentioned, the perceived compliance issues? When do good products and good sellers get impacted by this?

Chris:

They've had a lot of trouble separating good apples from bad apples, real problems from fake problems, so they're applying the same principles to all sellers, whether or not they match the situation. That's what's scary. If you want to talk about what's scaring me and our clients it's that people who don't really have that many buyer complaints about the products are sometimes being nudged by Amazon to send in an appeal, maybe not a plan of action, but just, "Send us an invoice, we want to look at your supplier. We want to hear what you're doing for better due diligence, better quality control to make sure the product is sound."

Brett:

And that's always scary. Amazon says, "Hey, send us your supplier." "Okay, yeah. Thank you Amazon."

Chris:

Yeah. That's another thing, they're very interested in your supply chain documentation for a variety of cases, whether it's compliance, whether it's proving authenticity, or it's a buyer complaining that you didn't send them something new or you didn't send them something authentic. Amazon is very interested in letters of authorization and invoices that they can accept. They've tightened the criteria around which invoices they can accept. We have some clients that are their own brands making trademark registered brands, and they're wasting a lot of time trying to communicate to Amazon that they are the brand, they are the manufacturer and the invoices shouldn't be rejected for non verified because of what? They tried to call some factory in China and nobody picked up the phone. That doesn't make any sense.

Chris:

But you shouldn't be spending a lot of time defending the authenticity of your products if you are your own brand.

Brett:

Exactly. Yeah. So let's talk about prevention here. And we talked about this when we were doing our prep call a few weeks ago that the old adage, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." Sometimes we think the cure is just easier. I think in this case, we're all pretty scared and we want to make sure we are preventing. So what are some of the steps that good sellers need to take to prevent as best they can or mitigate or reduce the likelihood of a listing take down?

Chris:

In terms of the compliance documentation, make sure you have it and have it ready to go. Some people contacted us when they got these alerts from Amazon and they didn't have any of the tests done, they had to find labs, things like that.

Brett:

Is a good resource your site or somewhere where we can quickly get the compliance-

Chris:

You know what, that's one of the big problems in the space. I can say as a consultant that we haven't had solid bonafide... I made a recent connection to Tyler Israel, I don't know if him?

Brett:

No.

Chris:

He is one of the people I met recently, but over the past few years, there wasn't a go-to person for this. There wasn't a firm that was like, "Yeah, we do all sorts of compliance documentation and testing for all kinds of categories of items." That's what we've been missing. It's not something I do. We handle the appeals process. It's the same as legal issues, I'm not a lawyer, but I handle the Amazon side of the process when for legal reasons, the listing is taken down or an account is suspended, I handle the plan of action, part of the appeals process.

Chris:

Same thing with compliance, you need a compliance expert who understands those types of things. And I had a conversation with Tyler, which was really good. It's unfortunate that it took me a few years to find the right person, but documentation is essential. And make sure wherever you're sourcing it, this applies to any kind of seller, reseller, your own brand, you've got a supplier who answers the phone, describes their business relationship with you if they're called, doesn't act like they don't know who you are. They give you invoices that don't look like they were written with a crayon on the back of a newspaper, really acceptable, clean, easy to read.

Chris:

Because sometimes the appeals that we do for people are accepted but then Amazon will reject it based on the invoice or they don't like the supplier and they say, "We looked at your supplier's website, it doesn't look like they make items like what you sell." And they'll reject it for that reason. So make sure that the supplier... Essentially, you have to prepare now and you can't just wing it because-

Brett:

Prepare thinking that a listing take down is coming, right? That's the way we have to think-

Chris:

Well, because an appeal can be rejected for like four or five reasons now. It used to be they just didn't like your plan of action, there was really one reason that they wouldn't take it. Now, there's at least a few. So there's no point spending all your day, lots of energy and research and writing and rewriting a plan of action and then the appeal and they bounce it back because they're like, "Well, we did a Google search and we couldn't find your supplier anywhere, so we don't think they're verifiable and we can't accept this."

Chris:

It's unfortunate that that happens, but like you said, some people don't take that seriously. They get one listing taken down and they take their time getting it back. I don't know, I've seen a lot of sellers not acting with urgency unless that's their top selling ASIN, but they don't understand. I understand account health and your risk score at Amazon is algorithmic, but they don't understand that if you have a few ASINs that have been suspended and you're taking your sweet time getting them reinstated, your risk score is suffering.

Chris:

And account health now has that dashboard, they finally made it easy for you to eyeball it and say, "Hey, I'm in trouble." In the old days you were just looking at reams and pages of performance notifications and you had no idea where you were or what your status was.

Brett:

Yeah. So, let's talk a little bit about that account health dashboard. Where should we really be paying attention? What are the numbers that may matter more than others? And when should we start to get concerned as we're looking at that dashboard?

Chris:

Yeah. Again, algorithmic, so what's a five for one seller is not the same as a one for you, you want zeros across the board. If you have a policy warning, you want to appeal that with all the links to policy pages you've gone over and new procedures you've put into place to make sure you're enforcing that policy internally. You want to appeal that sooner than later, but appeal it well, of course. They have product, condition, item quality, or authenticity complaints. You want to get those resolved because Amazon doesn't want to believe you've got piles of inventory sitting in FBA that could easily, if left unresolved, result in many more complaints.

Chris:

That's a big part of what the appeal process is all about. They want to make sure that you're taking measures now to prevent complaints later or bad buyer experiences later. And then beyond that, obviously, anything intellectual property related, received IP complaints. You want to follow up with those, even if they look like BS, and follow up with the rights owner. It could be a so-called rights owner, but you want to message them, find out the nature of the complaint, what they want from you to resolve it. If it's not a legitimate rights owner complaint, then there are ways of disputing them.

Chris:

There isn't a lot on the dashboard that I wouldn't take seriously except for some restricted products messages and some like food and safety complaint messages, go out to sellers just so Amazon can tell every seller selling that item, "We don't want this item to be sold on this site anymore." That's really all they're saying. They're not expecting you to necessarily appeal it because it's not specific to you, they don't want products with that particular ingredient sold anymore, so they're just telling you all, or they don't want products for whatever other safety reasons, other reasons.

Chris:

There's a lot that goes into that decision, obviously, product recalls, compliance issues. But the bottom line is they're telling everyone that they don't want that to be sold, it's not something you in particular are in trouble for.

Brett:

Cool. So, what other preventative steps would one take? So we're going to be watching our account health, we need proper documentation, we need to have a good relationship with our manufacturer and they need to be someone that visible on Google through Google search or visible on the web through Google search and they answer their phone and those things. What else can we do to hopefully prevent this from happening?

Chris:

And don't blindly ship product sight unseen from your manufacturer to FBA without having some samples at least sent to you, maybe a percentage of each batch or a percentage number of the units that you deal with monthly go to you so you can open them up and make sure that they're exactly as you described them on the site. Because some people I think get in the habit of not seeing product and they just ship to FBA. This is what Amazon is afraid of, that you're never seeing this stuff and that you're not even familiar with the item quality. So when buyers are complaining about it, if you go back to them, "Well, we have a vendor, we're drop shipping. We never see this stuff."

Chris:

I'm not saying you would phrase it that way, but if they get the impression-

Brett:

You can apply that.

Chris:

Yeah. If they get the impression that you're handing the responsibility off to somebody else for quality control, for auditing, picking and packing processes, what the packaging itself is like, the likelihood the item's going to stay secure in the packaging and show up in FBA still in good shape, if they think you're outsourcing all of that or not paying attention to it, then they more or less believe that you're guaranteeing certain amounts of buyer complaints.

Brett:

Got you. So if they get that impression, they're much less likely to reinstate your listing or to resolve it?

Chris:

Yeah. And also I've seen those appeals that sellers write for themselves. They tend to deflect blame like, "Well, this is our manufacturer. They have an agreement with us and they'll inspect product before it leaves the factory and they didn't do it." And there's lots of them. Sometimes people also rephrase it, like, "Well, we hired the wrong employee and it was the employee's fault. And they're the one who was supposed to stay on top of it, and they're the ones who weren't doing it."

Brett:

And really if you think about this, like just leadership principles or the way it sounds is that to Amazon, to the policy team or to anybody that's thinking with a critical eye, it sounds like you don't know what you're doing. You're in a tight ship.

Chris:

Managerial like taking ownership has to be a part of any appeal. We failed to monitor our employees. We didn't manage this process appropriately. That's what root causes are in a plan of action. We could talk a whole other show about how to write a plan of action, but the bottom line is you have to show that you diagnose the problem from an owner or managers perspective. If you're just finger-pointing, honestly, they stop reading and they kick it away.

Brett:

Yeah. Which makes sense, because if Amazon truly wants to be the most customer centric company on the planet, and I think they do, then you better have that mindset as well. And that means you're taking care of the customer, well, not my fault, I can't be held responsible for this way, then you're not going to be selling.

Chris:

A lot of sellers have been doing this with product reviews abuse, suspensions, "Well, we hired some marketing company, I don't know what they're doing. They said they followed the rules." Or, "We used the messaging sequence and I showed it to somebody who says they know compliance in Amazon, they said it was okay. It's like, you're the one who's in charge, the buck stops with you. So if you hired a service like that, Amazon blames you for not vetting them appropriately. You can't blame the service. So I'm not sure why I'm reading…

Chris:

I still read these appeals where people are like, I'm not going to name companies right now, but, "These guys said rebates were okay. We did 100 % giveaways. We did all these." It's like, "Well, you believed them. Whose fault is that that you believed what they were telling you?"

Brett:

It's like telling the officer, "But my neighbors that was okay if I went 100 miles an hour on the street."

Chris:

Or my speedometer doesn't work, so I don't know how fast I was going. So that's okay, right?

Brett:

Right. It always works. That line always works for sure.

Chris:

Don't try this with cops, it is not going to work.

Brett:

Yeah. For sure. That's great. Super helpful. Then let's talk about suspensions. And I'm sure we'll circle back to some other thing, take downs too, but when do suspensions occur and what do we need to keep in mind there?

Chris:

The easy, short answer is watching your account health, and you see a lot of crooked numbers. They used to say about baseball, fucking numbers on the scoreboard for like a high scoring game. If you're looking at your account health and you're not seeing a lot of goose eggs, then there's a problem. You're either not moving fast enough or you're not taking those indications seriously that there's an appeal that needs to be submitted, you're letting it fester over time. If you accumulate more of those, typically these days, they've got that visual display now, you go from green to yellow, to red.

Chris:

Well, by red, you're probably already suspended. It's the people in the yellow range at risk. You have figure out why you're still there. If you appeal something and they accept your appeal, but the numbers don't change on the dashboard, Amazon's tools are ancient. So sometimes the dashboard doesn't, not sometimes, often it doesn't update in real time.

Brett:

Got it. So you may have successfully won an appeal, things are moving in the right direction, you're maybe actually green, but it's still showing as yellow. That's common?

Chris:

Or you shouldn't be at zero for product condition complaints, because you've successfully appealed to them all, and it still says one, two or three or four or something like that. It's because the visual display hasn't updated yet. The important thing is you've got the notification saying, "Yes, we've reinstated you to sell ACE and blink. That's what matters because if you ever get into a call from account health, which you were saying, what happens? How did these suspensions happen? These days a lot of them, you get a call from account health, they gives you 72 hours to write a plan of action to prevent a suspension.

Chris:

So at least then you're still in the game and you can still appeal to prevent it from happening at all. But what are the account health guys looking at? They're looking at your dashboard. On that phone call, you would have to tell them, "Look again, we've successfully appealed a bunch of these, the numbers haven't updated. Maybe you didn't see that in our account annotations." But they don't always just suspend you out of the blue anymore. Amazon had a lot of heat for that. So you should always put your-

Brett:

So you're saying there are more warnings now, there are more that's 72 hours?

Chris:

The Account Health Services, AHS for short, gives a lot of sellers a call, a heads up, "You have 72 hours. Here are the problems in your account. We're calling to discuss them with you." Sometimes it's in writing, it's not a call, if they call you and you're not home or you don't pick up. But a lot of those do turn into full account suspensions because the plan of action that the seller sends in isn't complete, a lot of those get rejected.

Brett:

Got it. Let's just play your nightmare scenario here. We get the dreaded call, it's AHS on the line. You'd rather like talk to the IRS or somebody else probably.

Chris:

Yeah. Same idea.

Brett:

It's the AHS. You got 72 hours. What do you do at that point, Chris?

Chris:

First, get whatever information from them while you have them on the phone or have to call them back about the ASINs. What were the complaints on the ASINs? We looked in voice of the customer, we looked in return comments, we looked in buyer messaging. We didn't see negative feedback for this agent. What are the complaints that flag these on the Amazon side? You want to get that data, you want to get factual information from them. They also exist to help you write a plan-

Brett:

Are they forthcoming in providing that information? Are there are they trying to hide that from you?

Chris:

Yes and no. It's hit or miss. A lot of these teams at Amazon, the training's very inconsistent, the execution is very spotty, but I think that sellers that are savvy about this stuff can push them a little bit to give you the right kinds of information, and maybe that'll make up for some of the shortcomings on the Amazon side when it comes to sharing information.

Brett:

So, ask good questions. You've got them on the phone, don't leave that phone call without getting all the info you need.

Chris:

Yeah. The reason we can debate whether or not this is a real reason, the reason they're cagey about it sometimes is because either they can't see it, they can't find it or see it themselves for their own chaotic reasons, or they are pushing you to go through voice of the customer that in talking to you, they don't think you've done any research, ASINs level research in your account. And they think you don't know what's going on with buyer complaints or brand complaints. It depends on what they're calling about.

Chris:

Complaints about those ASINs, they think you're behind the curve and that you need to do some catching up and they don't want to just set it all up on a platter for you. They want you to tell them in a plan of action, what you could have done better, what operational or deficiencies you failed to correct.

Brett:

Sure. So maybe as you're asking those questions, you're phrasing it, not in a way that's defensive, but in a way that, "Hey, we take these problems very seriously. We want to get to the bottom of this. We want to make sure the customer's taken care of." Rather than getting combative and getting emotional and being defensive. You might not get as much cooperation at that point.

Chris:

Exactly. And that's the root causes that I was talking about a moment ago, you have to nail the root causes, which causes are just what caused the complaints. They don't care about the causes, they already know the causes. And they probably know that you have a good idea what the causes of the complaints are. Root causes, where did this come from? Why did it happen? How did it happen? Why didn't you catch it? What was the failure that wasn't identified and rectified before there were buyer complaints? That's what root causes are all about, your analysis of what went wrong, but in detail.

Chris:

And a lot of sellers miss that chunk, and then the root causes are generic rapport, and then the rest of the POA doesn't matter. Plan of action in terms of... Yeah. Sorry.

Brett:

Just to clarify, we have the phone call, we ask questions, we try to understand as much as we possibly can from the agent. Then from there, we're now seeing our job as get to the root cause. So the where, why, how it happened and how to fix it so that we can map out from there?

Chris:

You're presuming that they gave you some info on the buyer complaints. The nature of them, maybe not how many they were, because they don't necessarily have to be a lot, but the nature of them. In theory, there were some consistent complaints about those products. If you can't figure out what they're telling you in terms of what went wrong and you address the wrong root causes, then your POA, your plan of action is way off and it doesn't have a chance. So you're using them for information, not so much to coach you through the POA writing process. You can do that too, but that should be secondary to getting facts and data from them. Once you nail the root cause is-

Brett:

Your plan of action to be way off base, so it's clearly going to be rejected.

Chris:

Because some people are just guessing because I say, "Well, there's nothing wrong with my products. And we haven't even had that many buyer complaints and account health reps didn't really tell me anything. And I looked in voice of the customer and I saw the usual scattered random stuff, and we took care of those buyers. What's the problem?" One thing you definitely don't want to be is defensive where you say, "Nothing's wrong, what are you talking about? This is BS. Get away from me." That's like rubber stamp denial. We all have things we can improve. I have things I can improve in my due diligence on consulting side.

Chris:

Every seller has something they could improve or maybe they just had a couple of bad luck incidents where things were damaged in transit. Maybe it's a good opportunity to look at the quality of your packaging to see if items were properly secured inside or if they were just banged around and were defective from the damage. If it's really just about the quality of the detailed page content, your images, the written content on the page, there's loads of services out there that help you optimize by clarifying what the heck it is you're selling and getting you better images, making the messaging very clear to any potential buyer that will reduce the likelihood of complaints on the other side.

Chris:

Amazon knows this, I know it. Brett, you're a smart guy, you know it. But people who have manufactured their own products, they're sometimes missing the forest through the trees. They're a little bit too close to it, they're more subjective than objective. Sometimes that's really what it's about, buyers not understanding this description of the product and you have to amend the detail page and that's what needs to go into the plan of action.

Brett:

Yeah. It's one of those things where, "Hey, my baby's not ugly," sort of thing, or to use the Amazon language from their leadership principles, my body odor doesn't stink, some elite leaders don't believe that, is an Amazon principle. So that totally makes sense. Now, how big of a problem is it? And it seems like this is maybe a growing problem where just like we talked about earlier with review quality, people getting fake positive reviews and sometimes thousands of them and it looks totally phony. Or what about a competitor saying, "Huh, I see your listing, it's having success. I'm going to bombard it with fake negative reviews."

Brett:

We have we have a client that we just launched on Amazon, pretty big brand. They're very successful off Amazon, we help them advertising off Amazon as well. And they got a couple of just, you could tell it was folk fake results. It was like, "Oh, the product was way smaller than advertised. And it ran out too quickly." There's no way they could have even used it all. The listing hasn't even been up long enough for someone to consume all of this particular product. And so how big of an issue is that? And is there any way to combat that, people that are just trying to sabotage your listing?

Chris:

Sabotage is rampant and omnipresent. So how bad is it? It's gotten worse and it's become pervasive. It's become commonplace unfortunately. The good news is there are better ways of combating it. There are more places to report that. There are starter email queues that you can try, and sometimes people get results from those, but often they don't and they have to kick it upstairs and see if somebody, manager level or VP level do something about it. The good news is, again, that there are VPs who are dedicated to reviews abuse, and to this kind of bad behavior.

Chris:

Again, their machine learning and their algorithms and their AI isn't quite up to snuff to just identify that stuff easily and delete it before any buyer see it. Often you have to report it, but a lot of systems work that way at Amazon, they're reactive, not proactive. It's reports based, they don't get to it first.

Brett:

One thing I've heard is that sometimes it's hard to get a bad review taken down, and then I've also heard that you can seen negatively if you complain about reviews too much, or you make too many requests for negative reviews to be removed. Any insights on either of them?

Chris:

I certainly wouldn't spam them, especially if you're just giving them conjecture and casual observation, "We think this is fishy." They'd throw that away, they always have. Trying to determine some patterns. Obviously you can't just throw a bunch of data at them and expect them to say, "Yeah, you're right, the math checks out. These reviews are all fake." They have to do their own investigation, but it's good to give them facts and data. And this is entirely implausible. We can't show you exactly who the people are behind these buyer accounts.

Chris:

I've worked with some sellers who were able to trace back some of these reviews to reviewers and get the reviewers banned. When the reviewer is banned, all the reviews they left are gone too. That's a good approach that people weren't doing last year or the year before, but also sometimes they trace them back to a certain Facebook group, which the entire purpose of the group is just a fake reviews or an entire company.

Brett:

We'll pay you four good reviews or bad reviews or whatever the case may be.

Chris:

Yeah. And some of that is just by doing some research on what your competitors are doing to fake the reviews. Sometimes it's as easy as buying from them, looking at their product insert and following the link back to whatever group they created to help you get free products.

Brett:

Yeah, shop your competitors, which you should be doing anyway. Well, you should be looking at some of your competitors' products just to QA it and to get ideas and to see how they're marketing, but yeah, follow their steps and see how they try to market to you to leave a review or whatnot, and then try to catch them. Any other little insider tips like that you can give related to any of this?

Chris:

For reviews or for brand abuse? Because what we're dealing with a lot, is people have their listings taken down because of competitor hacked into their brand registry. That's a big problem.

Brett:

Let's talk about brand abuse, because it does just seem like, obviously Amazon's always been a bit of a jungle and there's always been things that you're playing whack-a-mole with problems that come up, but this sabotage from ruthless competitors is really popping up. So talk about the brand defense there.

Chris:

Yeah. A lot of backend keyword abuse is happening where people have their listings flagged because an elicit term showed up in their backend keywords, but they're not the ones who put it there, somebody else inserted it there.

Brett:

How's that happening?

Chris:

Somebody overrode their flat files with their own, synced that up to the API and overwrote that listing content, which if you're in brand registry, you would think that wouldn't be possible. Unfortunately, it's entirely possible.

Brett:

Interesting. Just a quick side note, I used to do a lot of SEO back in the early days of OMG Commerce, we were primarily SEO. And for a while, there was some negative SEO practices that would go on, where you learned that, oh, if somebody gets too many spammy backlinks, Google the Index as your hard stop, do that to your competitor. And so it was nasty, well, still is, I guess.

Chris:

Similar concept.

Brett:

Google had to create parameters to not penalize you for that.

Chris:

Similar concepts. And then there's just people who buy from their competition and say, "This is fake." Or, "This is unsafe," just to try to trigger some-

Brett:

It ran out, it's too small, silly things. Got it.

Chris:

But things are turning a corner. I hope they continue along that. Two years ago, there was no way to really troubleshoot this stuff. I didn't offer any services about this two years ago because Amazon didn't seem interested in the reviews abuse or the brand abuse, but now brand abuse is everywhere, and reviews abuse has continued to expand. So they had to do something and they're starting to do things that are helpful. So that's a good sign. What that means for you hopefully is that you've got numerous places where you can communicate what's happening to you so that somebody higher level don't open cases with the support, don't stay in the lower level range with this too long. That's just a big waste of your time.

Brett:

So opening support tickets or staying lower level support is not worth your time?

Chris:

Open one ticket so that you can reference a case number when you start complaining elsewhere that nothing's happened. That's it. Don't expect anything from support. Don't really expect anything from initiating a complaint about something in seller central. They've got mountains of those just resulting copy and paste responses that are very watered down, very murky that have very little meaning. Unfortunately, Amazon is still a marketplace where anecdotally things are escalated and that's where the lion's share of correct work and proper review is done.

Brett:

So you've got to escalate things before any work really gets done, before the solution is found?

Chris:

Right. The good news, more good news, we don't want people walking away afraid waiting for the next nightmare.

Brett:

We want to sleep at night.

Chris:

You mentioned the antitrust investigation and around that, and other public stories have brought to light high-level management at Amazon, people that you'd find on LinkedIn that you'd know by name. They might be somebody who doesn't respond to you personally if you emailed them, but they've got staff that they delegate to... Their email might not be public, but maybe you can send them a message on LinkedIn. So these people are known, they're well-known, and you can find out what they do.

Brett:

These guys are switching trends, now are like big time execs, leaders at companies that are pretty well known because they're famous in some cases. And so that hopefully pushes them to take the right action.

Chris:

And if you testify in front of Congress, then people are automatically going to know your name and be interested in finding out how to reach you and show something to you.

Brett:

Yeah. So this was great. And understanding that the brand abuse and review abuse, that creates negative customer experiences as well, and so it has to be addressed. I'm happy to hear that Amazon is working to address it. Couple things I'm curious about from your perspective, one, I'm going to get the name wrong, but there's a program where you can have like a dedicated rep for lack of a better term from Amazon, like dedicated support personnel or whatever. Do you know the program I'm speaking of? And is that worthwhile?

Chris:

I know the strategic account managers.

Brett:

That's it, yes.

Chris:

And then they call it SAS core, but it's essentially strategic account management. Those are the people who have managers who are supposed to be helping them grow, helping them troubleshoot problems. Sometimes that can help with the abuse related work, sometimes they can help introduce you to a category manager. That's what we're spending a lot of time on now for people who are growing and growing, doubling and tripling every year in a category, but still haven't met or interacted with the person that manages the category. That can pay off with growth, with your sales.

Chris:

And just being in the know. I think we've gotten past the point where brands can just happily sell off in the corner and do their own thing and ignore everything that's going on around them. I don't think Amazon hosts that kind of marketplace anymore. So I think you really have to just be with it on trends and what's going on, and what competitors are doing to each other. Not being in the know can really hurt you.

Brett:

Yep. It is one of those classic scenarios of it's what you know, but it's also who you know, and knowing the right people at Amazon, or at least knowing how to get connected to the right person at the right time is super critical. What advice would you give there on how do people stay in the know? Do they follow you at ecommercechris.com and get all your information? Or are there other podcasts or news sources or group, anything you'd recommend so that people stay in the know on these policy issues?

Chris:

I have my own podcast, Seller Performance Solutions. We're covering a lot of how to, and a lot of hot topics on there. And also having some interesting guests for things that sellers might be interested in, but might not impact their day to day so much, but it shows the overall marketplace and how things are going. Also, yeah, ecommerceChris, I've got my blog on the website and I do quite a bit of videos there just covering how to write a plan of action, what to do if you're stuck in the appeals process. I talk a lot about escalations, and that's obviously because I used to work on the escalation teams, but that's the kind of strategy you need to be clued into. It's not just copy and paste.

Chris:

I think sellers that are out there using templates and generic content are falling way behind the times. That stuff doesn't work beyond maybe a single digit percentage of times. It's just not a good use of your time.

Brett:

Awesome. Well, I highly, highly recommend people go check out ecommercechris.com, get that information, listen to the podcast, understand how to go through this appeals process and the escalation process and all of these things. Any other asks you have, Chris? Or what if someone says, "Okay, this sounds good. I feel more educated, I feel like hopefully if I go check out some of these resources, I can sleep a little better tonight." Or what if they just say, "Yeah, but I'd rather just work with Chris if I have an issue." What does that look like? And how do people get started that process?

Chris:

Again, ecommerceChris, my services page, we have a wide variety of levels of service and also different services on there. Some people just want me for an hour, they want to tune things up, they want to do it themselves, they just want some guidance, coaching, suggestions, and so forth. So I have one hour consults, my calendar is open to the public. People that want to hire us per se, to run the project, I'll work until they're reinstated, there's a flat fee, project rates. It differs of course, whether it's ASIN level or account level. But the concept is the same. We manage your appeals process and we write them up, go over it with you.

Chris:

Of course, there's quite a bit of interaction with our clients to make sure nothing's missed. All the Is are dotted, all the Ts are crossed because you want to reduce the likelihood of a denial of any appeal that you send them. And we're easy to find, we're working most of the time. We're not-

Brett:

Yourself, and not just to make Bezos and team more wealthy.

Chris:

We're running a tight ship, but we're also around and reachable and communicative. So if you have a problem, we can at least give you a sense of what we think you need to do to fix it, whether or not you have us fix it for you, we can figure out later. But we understand it's a stressful, frustrating experience. We also understand that if Amazon ran a tighter ship, you wouldn't have the need to call me as much. So it's a tight spot to be in when you've invested that much in your business.

Brett:

Totally makes sense. And just as a quick plug, we know a lot of people that have used Chris and team, and that's why he's on the podcast because my Amazon team said, "You need to talk to Chris." And had several good referrals and recommendations. And so this has been really good, this has been really educational. I feel better for our clients and we also invest in brands and other things. I feel better knowing this information, better knowing you as well. So Chris, man, really appreciate the time. This has been super helpful. I'll link to everything in the show notes, maybe some of those specific resources as well, but go to ecommercechris.com. And then links to the podcast are on ecommercechris.com?

Brett:

Yeah. Sellerperformancesolutions.com if they want to go there, but yeah.

Chris:

Cool. All right, Chris. Awesome stuff, man. Thank you so much.

Brett:

Thank you. Thanks for having me.

Chris:

Absolutely. And as always, thank you for tuning in. I hope this has been helpful and instructive. And hey, here's my ask for you. If you know someone that this podcast will be useful for, share it with them. We'd love to grow our audience. This is really just so we can connect with the community, and so I can meet smart people like Chris. And also want to hear from you, what else would you like us to cover on the podcast? Any guest suggestions or anything like that? And connect with us on the socials. I would love to chat with you there. And with that, until next time, thank you for listening.

Episode 174
:
Tom Worcester - Lunchbox Packs

Building Community and Leveraging Anchor Videos for eCommerce

Tom Worcester is a tremendous success story.

Tom Worcester is a tremendous success story.  Grit, determination and the ability to pivot he has in spades.  He started his ecommerce business lunchboxpacks.com in 2018 to cater to the festival and event-going crowd.  He hustled and used in-person marketing at events to help his theft-proof hydration backpacks (think a camel back, but with security features).  The products took off.  Then the pandemic hit.  No festivals. No in-person events.  But Tom knew his customers still craved community.  So he continued to build community and he helped build another business - Create with Carousel that helps eComm brands build great video content.  

Here’s what we dive into:

  • How to build community online for an ecomm brand in record time with a unifying topic 
  • How to positively create echo chambers for your brand
  • What hooks you need to use to build community
  • Creating incentives to grow your community
  • 3 layers of a product to consider when you craft a video ad…most people only think about the first two layers
  • How assuming you’re wrong can help you get it right with video ads
  • When and how to best use CTAs in your video ads

Tom Worcester

Via LinkedIn

Via Twitter

Via Instagram


Lunchbox Packs

Create with Carousel


Mentioned in this interview:

Smile.io

Weatherman Umbrella


Episode Transcript:

Brett:

Well, hello, and welcome to another edition of the eCommerce Evolution podcast. I'm your host, Brett Curry, CEO of OMG Commerce. And today, we're talking about two fantastic topics, we're talking about building community and what that means and what that can do for you, and then we're talking about one of my favorite topics, building long form video content, video content that converts. And so my guest today, just really excited to have a chance to sit down and chat with him and pick his brain.

Brett:

I've got Tom Worcester on the show here today. He's the founder of Lunchbox, lunchboxpacks.com, check it out, we'll talk more about that in just a minute. And then he's also a partner in Create with Carousel, a creative agency creating some amazing anchor videos for eCommerce brands. We're going to dive into video content, which like I said, is one of my favorite topics. So with that intro, Tom, welcome to the show, man. How you doing? And thanks for coming on.

Tom Worcester:

Absolutely. I don't have as buzzy of a line as OMG CEO, but I'm definitely glad to be here. I appreciate the time today, Brett.

Brett:

Absolutely, man. Yes, thanks for coming on. We had a great chat, I guess it feels like it's been forever ago now, back in March where we were talking about stuff, talking about Lunchbox, talking about your videos, and like, man, we got to do a podcast. So here we are finally making it happen. And so I'm just thrilled to dive in.

Brett:

So you're a master at creating community, and I want to dive into that, because I believe that in the future, as Amazon continues to grow and as opportunities on Shopify and other platforms continue to grow for people to create brands, those that win, those that really become something special are going to be the brands that create community and they create a true brand, not just a product, but a brand and a community. So we're going to dive into that. But before we do, talk about what is Lunchbox, again, it's lunchboxpacks.com. What is it? Where did that idea come from? And then we'll dive into community.

Tom Worcester:

Yes, absolutely. So back in, let's see, 2018, we're 10 years after the Great Recession, we're seeing a golden age of experiences and events popping up. We're seeing almost 40 million Americans a year going to festivals in the States, we're seeing concert goers increase in volume steadily by almost 8% year over year. And so, almost generationally, what we're seeing is that people, especially Gen Z, millennials, were putting the experience economy first. What's the experience economy, Brett? It's where all of a sudden, instead of aspiring to the Rolex, or the Porsche, or an even fancier watch, instead, you've got people who are investing in travel, their experiences, the memories that they're going to preserve.

Tom Worcester:

This is partially fueled by the rise of social media, people want to show where they are as a form of .. But all of a sudden, people are looking to really invest in their experiences. And so back in 2018, we realized that while people were investing heavily in their experiences, nobody was really addressing the space of ensuring that experiences were great across the board. And so we, as a team, went to a couple different events, festivals in 2018. Over the course of one day in Miami actually, we had our friends get pickpocketed in the crowd, we had people standing in hour long waterline because people use hydration packs at these events and they're not quick refills, it just takes a lot of time, so backs up the whole line. And finally, we encountered different security rules at the security guard letting people into the venue or they'd compensate bags for being too big, too small, that one's purple, what are you going to do?

Tom Worcester:

So out of this experience, we looked around and we saw people who were investing hundreds if not thousands of dollars to get to an event, to a city for this peak moment, this idea of a peak moment. And we realized that they were drastically underserved. So Lunchbox came about in 2018 when we launched the antitheft hydration pack, which was meant to be a cure all to the festival experience. We patented a way to refill the bag that lets you get through waterlines in less than 30 seconds compared to traditional Camelback or hydration packs that takes three, four minutes, we made it very easy to access for you, but we inverted the entire design. So there was no external facing zippers, so nobody can reach in and steal a phone or a wallet, which can strand you at the end of the night. And we basically built this whole thing to be customizable, so to reflect the identity of those people who were looking and seeking for experiences.

Tom Worcester:

And so all at all, we were trying to solve the issues and pain points of the festival event experience outside of the web.. So that was the genesis of Lunchbox. And since then, we've brought together this community of events' goers of people all around the world who are simply looking to invest in experiences. Just like Cannon serves the photography market or maybe Osprey serves the adventure packs market, we were starting to realize that there was this identity forming around experience junkies, people who really wanted to be around people and invest in these very amazing peak moments.

Tom Worcester:

And so since then, we've become a live events company, where we go in and we create antitheft fanny packs, antitheft sling packs, we make it easy to stay hydrated at your events, and we make sure that you have a great event no matter what. And so coming out of that, the brand really attracted a certain type of person into our community, which is I guess our buzzword of today, but it attracted a certain type of person who invested in experiences, who was interested in meeting other people and socializing, and was also interested in making sure that the quality of those experiences was preserved.

Tom Worcester:

And so here we are later with a team of six full time and we're getting super excited to have everything ramp back up as we come out of the pandemic. But yes, we've seen experiences get suppressed for the last year, and so, it actually taught us a lot about how to build community, and how to build loyalty, and how to really build relationships at scale. But I think the thing that you nailed most is that community really separates the difference between product and brand.

Brett:

Yes, it's so true. And kudos to you guys for hanging on and weathering the storm of the pandemic, because I think your timing was perfect initially where that 2018-2019 events and this experience economy was booming, but no one predicted the global pandemic. And so, the good news is though, there's a lot of pent up demand, and you and I were talking about that before .. There are people just itching for that next concert, that next big outdoor event, and they are coming. And so they will need the gear to make those events better.

Brett:

So let's dive in a little bit then, how do you build community? And let's talk about maybe some of the early stages, what you did with Lunchbox in the early days, I'd love to also hear the creative stuff you did during the pandemic too, I'm curious. But what did you do in the beginning to build community?

Tom Worcester:

Yes. So I like to think about this in a couple different phases. I think it was the prelaunch phase in 2018, the first year in market phase in 2019, and then the no physical phase of 2020, which actually I think taught us the most. So in 2018, even when we were validating the product, the way that we got people to respond and look at the actual product was by literally walking around campsites of popular festivals with the next version of the prototype that we had.

Tom Worcester:

So we had something like 11 versions of this thing. And so it was hand to hand combat, right. It was go to every single campsite, hey, put this on, what do you think? How does it feel? How does it fit? And it basically became this giant ball of user interviews as we moved..

Brett:

It's like guerilla marketing from back in the old days.

Tom Worcester:

Yes, guerilla marketing, but even free product. And so what this did was two important things, Brett. The first was that it showed us exactly the features that we needed to have that would drive interest and referral later on. And number two, every single person we met, they were an event goer, they were an experienced junkie, all of a sudden, they were following our Instagram, and they were tagging along with us on Facebook, and they were keeping up with us. So this actually formed our initial push of the people who were interested in prelaunch. So that was phase one, right. Going around, getting feedback, getting people invested and co-creating this. And so even through the events later on, by asking people what they thought, and this is going to be an important hallmark of community, they actually now became materially invested in the outcome, which is really an important element.

Tom Worcester:

Now fast forward to 2019, so we've got product in the field, we distribute the first couple thousand units into the season, pre-May and debuted at a major festival called EDC Las Vegas, which has hundreds of thousands of people attending from all over the world. And so we finally had all of our product in the field for the first time and we needed to try to find a way to connect the dots of all these individual customers who had followed us on social, who had backed our original Kickstarter campaign, who had been with us since day one.

Tom Worcester:

So what we did was that we said, okay, we need to come up with a way to identify Lunchbox owners in the crowd. And the packs, they light up, they are distinct, you can tell one person who's wearing it from the next 10 people who aren't. So that festival, over the course of three days, hopped up on a lot of Red Bull, we ran and found every single Lunchbox in the ground, and to every single person we walked up and we said, "Hey, every single time you see another Lunchbox, you gotta go, hey, what's up Lunchbox fam?"

Tom Worcester:

And so after hitting, I kid you not, over 200 people at this event, tapping them on the shoulder like, hey, I love your pack, where'd you get it? Thanks so much for supporting us. By the way, the next time you see a pack like this, you gotta yell, hey, Lunchbox fam. And so-

Brett:

And talking about all the other people that are hearing this standing next by and what is this little community of crazy people yelling lunchbox, oh, and that is a cool pack, really brilliant marketing, yes.

Tom Worcester:

100%. And there's nothing quite like when you hit somebody in a group, a tight group standing in a circle of eight people, you hit them like, hey, Lunchbox fam. You walk away, and then all seven people in that group turn to that person and they're like, oh, so what's lunchbox? What just happened? And they're looking for an explanation.

Tom Worcester:

So weirdly enough, that turned into an immediate countrywide trend where almost every festival in the States or in the ensuing months, had some form of that Lunchbox call out. And so all of a sudden, what this did is this created the ground floor of people identifying each other in our community, and then building relationships on top of that. And then once that happened, you saw people sharing photos, tagging posts the people they met, talking about the music they had experience, Alex from Los Angeles meets David from Colorado, they went to go see an amazing house set together. And so they started to facilitate this sharing.

Tom Worcester:

This is where we started to say, okay, we want to hit as many events as possible in 2019, it's the first year that this is really in the market. So what we started to do was we partnered with local influencers who were going to the event and started to host meetups of people who had Lunchboxes incentivizing them with accessories. And we've got these little panels on the front so you can change the design. So we got free skins. But we would do all these little games to make it more fun. And so all of a sudden, people were now going to a festival, identifying with other people in the crowd, going to a meetup that was hosted by us, getting the group photo, sharing the group photo on social media, bringing all their friends in as natural followers. And so we start getting bigger, and bigger, and bigger, right. Identification, now we have group coagulation, and then we have the formation of digital identity, which is where we are at the end of 2019.

Tom Worcester:

So here we are in November, the meetup that we're holding at EDC Orlando is hundreds of people, everyone's got a Lunchbox, everyone's excited. And at this point, we're active on Instagram, we treat our purchasers' email list like an events newsletter, where's the fun been this month? And so going into 2020, we had a lot of momentum, and we had people who were willing to host meetups, and a lot of people would be creating content, a lot of people are genuinely excited about being a part of it.

Tom Worcester:

So fast forward, pandemic hits. So now all these people who have had an amazing first year of experience, who are telling their friends about, you got to bring Lunchbox to your next festival, they're going to drop the link to the brand in their group chats. All of a sudden, we're in March 2020 and then connection goes haywire. The whole world shuts down, COVID started slipping out of the East in December, January, and boom, the event season is done.

Tom Worcester:

All these people, these experience junkies, needed somewhere to go. All of a sudden, that physical meet up and that physical connection needed to go somewhere. So over the course of 2020, we really defined our digital community. And so we have a Facebook group of 100, I think now thousands of VIP members where they will plan and meet up. And at this time, there were a lot of online concerts, so people were having viewing parties together, people would get on Zoom happy hours, we were hosting a regular happy hours just to check in on the community. We hosted and actually threw a live stream two day event with almost 48 hours of straight music on Twitch raising money for two amazing charities in Canada and New York.

Brett:

Amazing idea. It's amazing because people that love events, that love obviously doesn't go away when you can't travel, and so shifting that digitally totally makes sense. And even if they maybe didn't need to buy a Lunchbox right then, I bet that still had an impact on the business even last year.

Tom Worcester:

Yes. And so I think what we saw is that people needed connection, we gave them a safe place to be, we made sure that they were okay. I think just showing that we cared was a pretty big element. And then while everyone was looking for connection, we were also still developing new products, bringing them in, getting them excited about what was still to come. And I think the most exciting part about all of this is that even in the middle of last year, people are planning meetups together a year from that point.

Tom Worcester:

And so this started when we started to realize that we had a such an engaged community that we wanted to really be intentional about rewarding them. So this was where we started to start to build out our infrastructure for loyalty programming, you get rewards for referrals, rewards for attending meetups, rewards for engaging on social. And so all of a sudden, on the back of this digital community we were starting to see coming together, we were building incentive structures to really drive specifically organic referral, which is one of our most important and track metrics.

Tom Worcester:

So then leading into 2021, finally, the modern day, you've got a community with a big identity behind it, there's real action you can take, we have a way to pair people up at peak moments in their lives, there are people really happy at events, this is their vacation, this is the thing they've been looking forward to, and then they come back and they associate that with the brand, at which point then they're rewarded for sharing the brand with more people, and so the organic flywheel continues. So it was a really iterative process from 2018 to now, and community is one of those things where it's like, you can't build it overnight, right? You can't build it in just a month, it's a grassroots game, and the earlier you accept that, the earlier you can build a community that's going to last.

Brett:

Yes, I think that's what a lot of people just aren't willing to do is some of the grassroots hustle, going from 10 to 10 at the live event or whatever, and then talking about Lunchbox, and having people try it on, and getting feedback. Some of those things that I've mentioned on the podcast before, but sometimes to scale, you have to do things that don't scale, right? You have to have that one on one with individual prospects and customers to get feedback to help you improve the product to build community, and things like that.

Brett:

But you mentioned another one of my favorite concept, the flywheel, right. So if you've got the right components of this flywheel, you will build momentum over time and the community will really hit a tipping point and take off. And so let's unpack that just a little bit. So when you talk about this organic referrals being a big KPI for you, a big focus for you, how are you driving that specifically? Can you talk about some tips or some tactics there?

Tom Worcester:

Yes. So I think the organic referral element, at least for us, comes from a couple different things. So there are things that drive people talking about your brand and then the ways that you capture that value in a business sense. So the ways that you can drive organic referral is a lot of, actually, content creation, right. What questions does your customer have? What problems are they running into? How can you both validate and answer that? How can you be a resource for them? What are the unexpected or unintended question that they have, that you can answer, where they relate that back to you?

Tom Worcester:

So that gets them talking about you, right. They've had a great meetup, they've had a great experience, they maybe watched a video on how to prepare, you've been a material part of their experience getting better. And then on the back end of that is coming up with mechanisms that make it really easy to share, right. One click sharing, or pre-populating text messages, or WhatsApp messages, or Twitter messages, making it really easy to refer with one click, making it really easy to share a link with one click, making it really easy to forward an email and say, hey, you guys should get this. So it's all the mechanisms on the back end that actually help you to convert on all the value driven content.

Tom Worcester:

So when we think about our email marketing and our social channel, we think about, how much value can we drive? And then how can we put little asks embedded within that where you're opening the email because of value? You know you're going to learn something, you know you're going to see something fun, but then through that is, share Lunchbox with a friend, would you like to expand this? And would you like to simply welcome somebody new to the fam and get rewarded for it? So again, having mechanisms on both sides to drive and capture is the main tip and trick here.

Brett:

So cool. And it's critical, obviously, that you have a brand that's fun, and that people want to share, and you built this personality that people connect with and stuff, but then you got to make it easy, right? And then can you talk a little more about incentives? How are you incentivizing the sharing?

Tom Worcester:

Yes. So we basically built an interesting loyalty program where we've got different tiers, and at different tiers, you unlock different levels of engagement. So one of the things that we're constantly focused on is that all members of our Lunchbox fam, as we call it, they're all the same, but the levels of engagement are different, so that becomes a differentiator. Somebody who has joined in the first month and maybe hasn't hit their first meetup yet is pretty different in terms of how they engage and interact than somebody who has been to 15 meetups, and has hosted a meetup, and has submitted 10 pieces of UGC, and so it's different.

Tom Worcester:

So we basically paired our loyalty rewards with different tiers that distinguish those people, while still making sure that everyone is still valued within the community. At our bronze tier, you get birthday gifts, you get some early deals, but that's it. And moving up to our silver, builds on that a little bit, early access to products. Our gold tier is where it gets interesting, you actually are invited to group camps with the team at major camping festivals around the world, you get Zoom happy hours with the team where we talk about new products. And then my personal favorite, if you have enough referral points, where again, you get something like 200 points, which is equivalent to a minor marketing cost for us, but 200 points for referring a Lunchbox, if you accumulate enough of those, you can actually spend that on concert tickets.

Tom Worcester:

So now, we've connected you being part of Lunchbox to you getting to that next event. So if you're an experience junkie, so the flywheel continues to spin.

Brett:

Yes, I love that.

Tom Worcester:

Yes. And then finally, then our Platinum tier, you've got all the above, now you can spend your points on actual festival ticket and you get to join our product testing lab where we send you early access to beta products to give feedback. So at every step, you're getting free product, you're getting value, you're getting access to content, you're getting access to the team, you're literally camping with us. We'll see what happen in three years when the group camps grow to thousands of people, but that's a problem for 2023.

Brett:

Yes, cross that bridge when you come to it.

Tom Worcester:

Yes, but I think a lot of loyalty programs are just, okay, refer for a discount, and I think we wanted to add a much deeper layer to that, and it's like, how do we reward the community members who are the most engage? And for us it's like, how do we get them to more of those experiences that they're really happy about?

Brett:

Yes. And I think that's the key, right, is you're coming up with incentives and rewards, how does your market want to be incentivized or rewarded? And for your market, it's events, right, it's experiences, it's community. And so you're pairing the preferred activity, the desired activity you want the customer to take with some rewards that they're going to absolutely love.

Tom Worcester:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Brett:

So any tips on how to structure that, because I know as you get into loyalty rewards and stuff, if it's too complex, how are you accumulating points and things like that, then it becomes almost demotivating or just too confusing for people to want to think about, too much work.

Tom Worcester:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Brett:

And then you also need to automate it. So any tips on how to make it simple and any tools you use, any recommendations there?

Tom Worcester:

So I think loyalty programs are not created equal. Like any channel needs to be evaluated as a channel that works for your business, you're selling a very niche car part that somebody is only really going to need to buy one time in their entire lives, you probably don't need a loyalty program.

Brett:

You don't want to create a meetup with those people, they probably don't want to ..

Tom Worcester:

Exactly. Like, hey, guys, does anybody else have a crankshaft from their 2017 Chevy Tahoe?

Brett:

This is brake pad group over here. Okay, that's fun.

Tom Worcester:

Exactly. But so I think step one is evaluating whether it makes sense as a channel, right? Are you either seeing repeat purchases or are you seeing recurring engagement with the brand that justifies it? And then on the backend, working ... I mean, right now, there's so many different providers out there that provide great loyalty program, I'm a big fan of smile.io for affordable ..

Brett:

Yes, I know those guys at smile.io, yes, it's a great product.

Tom Worcester:

Yes, they're really becoming the loyalty layer of the internet. I think you've got a couple expensive options like Yapo, where they're trying to make it simple as well. But what you fundamentally see is that you see these apps enable shareability, I don't think you need to go build this up from ground zero. And then in terms of structuring, it's really making sure that you understand, what are the things you can give away and what are you getting back for what you give? So if you're giving away a 20% discount on something, is that because you expect that the discount plus the underlying profit on that next order is still going to be profitable for you? Is that customer going to refer a recurring customer or is it one off? I think it's understanding the math behind it.

Tom Worcester:

And then in terms of keeping it automated, I go the other way is like, this is my channel, right? I am in loyalty more than anything else, right? And we do annual budgets, we've got a big block of funds that just goes right into loyalty, it's not necessarily an automated thing. So I think while some brands can look at it as an automated endeavor, the fact that we do get so many meaningful one on one touches is almost like hand to hand combat at scale, provided you have a team behind it. So I think it just depends on the business, is it viable? Does it make sense? And do people want to also be together and engage together? Are some of the three key question, but it's hard to generalize when it comes to loyalty because it is a case by case basis.

Brett:

Yes, I love that. I want to make sure we leave time to talk video content and long form video content, and your company, Carousel. But just any last tips on building community, either tips on how to do it or tools to use. I'm assuming you're probably relying heavily on Facebook groups to facilitate some of what you're doing here with community.

Tom Worcester:

Yes. So I mean, Facebook group for us is just because everybody who buys one of our packs has a Facebook account. And one of the things that I think it's important to realize is, especially if you've ... There's two elements, right. There's the first of, does your company or brand have a uniting topic? So maybe for a way, that's travel as your uniting topic. Is it magnetic blanket boards that teach your kids how to build things? And can you build a community of moms around that? Is that the uniting topic? For us, it's music and events.

Tom Worcester:

So first off, do you have the presence of a uniting topic that gets people excited and engaged? If not, I'm not sure that this is for you. If you do, okay, lean in. The second part of it is deciding where it's going to live. And so if you are a community that improves people's business lives and they actually see a growth in their income, then they're more willing to join a Slack community or a discourse community because of what you're offering. If you are offering something that's a lower touch where, maybe I'll join, I'll use an existing Facebook profile to join and talk about music, but I'm not going to create a whole forum profile for it. I think it's understanding like, how far do you think that ask can go? And where can you create a critical mass of people where it creates an echo chamber of people talking about your brand? So I think determining those two things is important.

Tom Worcester:

And then finally, building on that, what are the hooks that you have pulling into your community? Right. How do you post purchase flows, post somebody in? How do your in person events recruit more people? What are the ways that you are socializing that this community exists and it's worth being a part of? Because the more people that you bring in, the greater the echo chamber grows, and the more likelihood that you're going to be able to discover people who are real super contributors to your community. So with those three pieces in mind, you knock all those down and have a solution, and hey, you may have a community that's going to keep growing.

Brett:

Yes, that's fantastic. I love it. I know we can talk a lot more about community, but I want to make sure we dive into our next topic for at least a few minutes. So let's talk about video content. And obviously, anybody who's been listening to the show for a while, you know I love video, big YouTube guy, we do this all the time. But talk to me a little bit about, why did you start Carousel and what do you guys do? And then we're going to get into some of your tips for video creation.

Tom Worcester:

Yes. So during the pandemic, we started to run into our own problems at Lunchbox where we historically have always had our team meet up and create a month's worth of content, then the next month, we meet up and we create a month's worth of content. And the pandemic completely halted that. And for other eCommerce owners, even though their businesses were growing, they couldn't get to a local photographer, local studio, local videographer, it was impossible. But all of a sudden, we were seeing people work from home through Zoom and other digital tools, so we asked the question of, could creative production go remote too?

Tom Worcester:

So Create With Carousel is a bunch of eCommerce experts that have gotten together both on the marketing and production side to figure out, number one, what is the content that is most likely to convert for your brand? And number two, how do you produce world class shoots without having to leave your computer, especially in the video space? So that was the underlying foundation of how we wanted to establish Carousel and how we wanted to grow that.

Tom Worcester:

And where we quickly found ourselves pulled was actually towards more difficult video where it was highly narrative and like anchor ads that brands could use to really explain a product, but really do it in a long form and engaging way. The brand that's holding 90 seconds of your attention on a three minute video, that is a lot more of a purchase intent behind it than somebody who watched three seconds of a 10 second video.

Tom Worcester:

So the person who's the better storyteller around an already great product is creating this opportunity for conversion. So we very quickly gravitated towards these more complex narrative anchor ad that were fun, and goofy, and interesting, but most of all had layers of call to action through them. So we had not just one shot to convert customers, but three or four shots to convert a customer. And then you would click on it, hit on the landing page where all the assets on the landing page corresponding to the ad, so it's just a very tight campaign through and through followed by, of course, retargeting assets that nailed specific objections.

Tom Worcester:

So we started to think about the full funnel of marketing for eCommerce brands rather than individual, here is your ad, good luck. And so I think combining the ease of production without having the stress of having to do all the things that make a production great, as well as thinking full funnel strategy, emphasizing long form content, especially in a world of iOS 14.5, which Brett can tell you about, we realized that there was an opportunity for us to just tell product stories but better.

Brett:

Yes, I love that you guys did this. And like I mentioned, I'm a big YouTube guy, big video guy, supporter of that for sure. And what we're seeing on YouTube is that long form content does work. That the videos that are scaling from 10,000 to 20,000 a day in spend are typically 90 seconds or longer. And I'm even hearing from some of our clients who saw on Facebook that even though Facebook is pushing for shorter form videos, we have one big client, great friend of mine, where they're scaling on Facebook now with a three minute video. So I think it goes back to what you said, storytelling, and are you keeping someone engaged in? And do you have multiple layers of CTAs? And we've got a whole formula we talked about, I want to dig in and get your formula or philosophy as well.

Brett:

But yes, and you mentioned an anchor video, we would call it a manifesto, where it's this video that really tells the story and separates the product from all the other competitors, and that's what works great at the top of the funnel, and then you have other videos that you can run at other stages of the journey and whatnot. So how do you guys approach creating an anchor video? And I think this will be useful because there's probably some tips in there that people can grab hold off.

Tom Worcester:

Yes, so I think there's obviously a couple of components here. The first is that we assume we're wrong. And what I mean by that is, it's not our opinion as a marketer if a video is great, it's not your opinion as a founder if the video is great, it is ultimately the market that determines whether something's great.

Brett:

100%.

Tom Worcester:

So what we do is we build everything with modularity in mind. So when we write our introductions, we don't write one introduction, we write four introductions and you're going to run the one that's going to perform the best based on who's watching the first three seconds. When we write our main body, like the main meat of it, we write it so all the blocks are interchangeable, so that we can deliver editing variations where maybe if you're selling great umbrellas, for example, maybe block one is that, it's a sturdy umbrella, block two is that you've got Bluetooth tracking, and block three is that it's reflective at night. You can interchange those blocks based on what different consumers are going to respond to and make the content itself more modular.

Tom Worcester:

And then finally, we wrap up with conclusions and CTAs that hit at the end of each block. So hey, if you care about reflective, yes, after this block, we're going to put a CTA that says, oh, so if you don't want to get run over tomorrow, get this umbrella at website here, or if it's, hey, if you don't want to get blown away in the wind and keep throwing away crappy corner store umbrellas, get this. And so you attach CTAs to specific benefit statements rather than at the end of a video where most people aren't getting there anyway.

Tom Worcester:

And so I think on top of that, after we've come up with a bunch of different introduction to get into the video, a bunch of ways to recut the middle of the video so you have the most options, we also think about, what happens after the video? And what we mean by that is, why is somebody not going to buy this product?

Tom Worcester:

So for example, one of our recent clients had a standing desk, great standing desk, goes up and down, automated, it's got lights, got speakers, this whole thing is souped up. But what are some of the reasons that somebody may not buy that? So in the same shoot that we're doing the anchor, we'll shoot these mini assets where it says, okay, worried about the cost, well here are all the reasons that the cost is worth it, or worried about the setup, here's how you set it up really simply, or worried about how it's delivered, here's how it's delivered. And so we think about not just the ad, but the response to the ad that basically builds on top of that, making sure that you're hitting each individual objection.

Tom Worcester:

So I think the big first part of it is, think holistically and assume you're wrong and give yourself enough variability to then edit and adjust. And then the second part of it is, don't just think the ad itself, think about the response to the ads. If you've got somebody on the hook, how are they going to go from on the hook to a fish in the barrel? But I think those two things are pretty big parts of our strategy when we're thinking about how to properly construct this type of narrative.

Brett:

I love it. And then I've talked to a few other video production companies or at least one other that thinks that way where we're saying, hey, we're not just going to take a chance on one hook, right. There may be one hook, one opening that you as the founder like, and that we as the video people like, or the media buyers like, whatever, we're not just going to base the whole thing on that, because what if it doesn't work? What if we're wrong? A lot of times we are, right?

Tom Worcester:

Yes.

Brett:

In general, we're going to find something that works, but having this modularity or these different blocks that you can stack and change I think is critical. And the beautiful part about what we do here with digital marketing and anything that's Facebook or YouTube or whatever, is we can test it, right. We can test these different mashups of a video, and we may find that, hey, this opening A with problem solution statement C, that combo really works for this audience, but another combo works for another audience, or this combo works for a top a funnel but another combo works for lowering the funnel. And so I love that you guys approach it that way, that's just awesome. Cool.

Brett:

And then what are you thinking about as you look at a product? And this is cool you mentioned the umbrella, is that a real product by the way, or did you make that up on this one?

Tom Worcester:

No, that's a real product that my friends over at Weatherman Umbrella, which unbelievable DTC company based in Brooklyn.

Brett:

Nice. Nice. Very cool. So what else are you looking for to bring out the best story about a product? Any tips or ideas you have on, how do you uncover the golden nuggets in a story behind a product?

Tom Worcester:

So I think there's three layers to any product use, and I think a lot of people get trapped in the first layer. So obviously, when you're looking at a product, you've got the product features, right, the literal descriptions of what this thing does. And then you can bring those features to life in the next layer, which is your benefit layer, right. So back to the umbrella thing, well, if the feature is, it can withstand 55 mile an hour winds, right. And then the benefit is that, if it's an awful rainstorm, your umbrella isn't going to invert.

Tom Worcester:

So the consumers generally relate to benefit statements far more than a feature statement. But the next layer, and I think that you can take it even further, and again, we've talked all day about the experience economy, but the next is the experience layer. So what is it like for someone to experience that benefit in the real world? And so that's where we really like to focus on our narratives, where it's like, we like to build scenes that don't just say, hey, your umbrella is going to blow away in the wind, we're going to show you that scene of a 40 year old woman who just finished a 12 hour day at work and her umbrella is fly away, and then in the next shot we're going to show you the comparison. It's not about highlighting the feature necessarily, it's about showing, what is the end user experience of that benefit.

Tom Worcester:

And so I think that really bringing those benefits to life through a variety of different experiences helps you to hit a wider target market and also just really bring the story to life. Show, don't tell. And the experience layer is the best way we found to really bring that.

Tom Worcester:

Now, if somebody is comparing a product, if they're looking at two different mattresses, Casper versus Purple, they're going to be looking at the feature, they're going to be looking at the price point. But if you're introducing a product, you want to make the case of, how is this going to make your life better? Why should you care? And you do that at the experience layer.

Brett:

Yes, it's so good. And it's one of those things where you want a prospect to envision themselves using and benefiting from the product. You want them to feel that experience like, hey, that could be me. And so I really like how you broke that down. And you're right, if someone's comparison shopping, then future benefit that's going to probably win the day, but if someone's just being introduced to it ... And I think even if they are comparison shopping, they still need to experience it, feel it and picture, okay, this is what it's going to be like when I own this umbrella, or this mattress, or whatever the case may be.

Tom Worcester:

Yes. And that's why you see unboxings do so well, because people are like, what it's like to open a package. I know what it's like put that in for the first time. And that's why testimonials do so well, because they see themselves in the person.

Brett:

That's right.

Tom Worcester:

I think the term is almost visual empathy, right. How do you get that person to stand in somebody else's shoes through video storytelling? I mean, that's the goal, right?

Brett:

Yes. And it's so interesting I think a lot of times, and this used to be, probably is till today with some big ad agencies is they think, oh, unboxing, that's a tired idea, right. We don't want to do that idea, it's played out. Or testimonials, everybody's on testimonials, that's old school. No, we're going to do something super new and creative. But that stuff just works, right, good testimonials properly executed from real people that are saying compelling things, they work. Unboxing videos at a certain stage of the buying journey, they work, people want to see it, they're interested. That's why there are a few search for the latest iPhone unboxing videos, some of those have 12 million views, people want to see unboxings.

Brett:

I think there's this pull or this drive to make something super creative when that's not really the point, right. It's about telling a good story, and in some cases, following formulas and setting yourself up for testing like you mentioned.

Tom Worcester:

Yes.

Brett:

And so, we're just about out of time, I want to wrap up. If someone's listening and thinking, all right, I need to talk to Tom or the crew at Carousel, how do you guys work and where can they find out more about you?

Tom Worcester:

Yes, so you can reach us on www.createwithcarousel.com. We've got a bunch of different services ranging from mail in photo shoots, to studio sizzles, to my personal favorite, which is anchor ads just because they're the most fun. And we can get in touch at the bottom of that website. And if you're looking to stay in touch on social, I am, TZWOR on Twitter, or realtomwor on Instagram. So I'm one of those guys where I love to D2C, I love community and I love talking about this, so always be willing to take the conversation a little further.

Brett:

Awesome, man. And I will link to all of that in the show notes. And then also, mention Lunchbox as well, because I think two reasons people will want to visit that, one, maybe you're listening and you're dying to go to the next music festival and so you want to get a Lunchbox, or two, you're another eCommerce store owner and you want to watch someone that builds a great community and does great marketing. So how can people find out more about Lunchbox?

Tom Worcester:

Yes, so we're at Lunchboxpacks on all channels, you name it. And then our website is lunchboxpacks.com. And then we have our Facebook groups are private to members only which, again, part of the whole thing, but we often cover our community on our YouTube channel. And again, our website features everyone that you'd be interested in checking out, so lunchboxpacks.com.

Brett:

Awesome. Tom, this has been fantastic, man, been a ton of fun. Thanks for taking the time. Thanks for coming on.

Tom Worcester:

Awesome. Thanks so much, Brett.

Brett:

Yes, absolutely. And thank you for tuning in. Hopefully you enjoyed this as much as I did. And hey, I would love to hear from you, lets connect on the socials, let me know what you think about the show, would love any feedback, any guest ideas, topic ideas, fire them my way. And with that, until next time. Thank you for listening.

Episode 173
:
Brett Curry, Chris Tyler, & Amber Norell - OMG Commerce

Amazon Holiday Prep 2021: The Cyber 5 and Beyond

Getting the most from the Cyber 5 and beyond will really boil down to three things.

We’re all but guaranteed to see another record holiday season on Amazon this year. But that does not guarantee that you will have a banner holiday season. This year is sure to be challenging for online sellers. More shopping will take place in stores than last year during the height of the pandemic. Ad cost are also on the rise. Combine all of that with increased competition and you see why success this holiday season won't be easy. Getting the most from the Cyber 5 and beyond will really boil down to three things:

  1. Covering the basics. Proper inventory levels. Understanding  key selling dates and Amazon’s deadlines. Getting the right badges. Having listings optimized.  Without the basics in place, you’ll be seriously behind this holiday season. We’ll help you get ready.  
  2. Getting an edge. This year is sure to be uber competitive for Amazon sellers. Do you have your lighting deals and coupon strategies ready? How’s your storefront, A+ content, and Amazon posts?  Is your Amazon ad strategy primed and ready? We’ll uncover the tips you need to get an edge.  
  3. Going full-funnel and leverage what’s new. This is the year to go full-funnel with your Amazon advertising efforts. It’s also the year to fully leverage new offereinces from Amazon including new sponsored brand video targeting, Amazon’s customer engagement  beta, new display options and more. Plus, it’s time to consider a few off-Amazon strategies that only a tiny percentage of sellers are leveraging.  

We cover it all in this episode. Check it out and then share this with your team and other sellers you know who might find it helpful.  


Chris Tyler

Amber Norell


Mentioned in this episode:

Amazon Posts

Amazon DSP

Amazon Customer Engagement


















Episode 172
:
Matt Slaymaker - OMG & Vanessa Carvajal - Google

Holiday Prep 2021 - 7 Ways to Maximize Sales with Google + YouTube

Are you fully prepared for Holiday 2021? This year is sure to be unique.

Are you fully prepared for Holiday 2021?  This year is sure to be unique.  While eCommerce is still growing, it’s growing at a slower rate than last year.  Stores are opening, and, for now at least, shoppers are spending more money on experiences than they were during the height of the pandemic.  So how can you maximize your online holiday sales this year?

In this episode, we listen in to the recording of the recent webinar we hosted that covers 7 ways to have a record holiday season including:

  • How to leverage the latest YouTube ad formats to get more exposure and more conversions at a lower cost.
  • What you’re likely missing with your current search and shopping ad structure and how to fix it.  
  • Why now is a great time to consider Google Smart Shopping Campaigns
  • How to deliver the right holiday message at the right time
  • How to combat rising ad costs
  • Plus more!

Matt Slaymaker

Via LinkedIn

Vanessa Carvajal

Via LinkedIn


Mentioned in this episode:

The Ultimate Guide to Google Shopping

eE 157 Arri Bagah

eE 170 YouTube Virtual Event

Groove Rings

Original Grain Watches

Native Deodorant

BOOM! by Cindy Joseph

Eddie Bauer

Google Smart Shopping

Google Discovery Ads

TrueView for Action

Google Merchant Center

Wicked Reports

Rocker Box

Northbeam.io


Episode 171
:
Dylan Carpenter - Co-Host, Rich Ad Poor Ad

What’s Keeping You from Scaling with Facebook Ads

On today’s episode, I wanted to hear from an up and coming Facebook ad manager and co-host of the Rich Ad, Poor Ad podcast Dyland Carpenter.

With iOS 14 and privacy updates throwing advertisers for a loop and increased ad costs making reaching your ad goals harder than ever, scale on Facebook may seem illusive. 

On today’s episode, I wanted to hear from an up and coming Facebook ad manager and co-host of the Rich Ad, Poor Ad podcast Dyland Carpenter.  Dylan specializes in eComm media buying and is fanatical about testing, experimenting and finding ways to scale ad accounts.  Here’s a quick look at what we cover in today’s episode:

  • Common mistakes keeping you from scaling with Facebook ads
  • Why creative is everything and how to approach creative testing
  • Finding the winning campaign formula - learn how Dylan uses controls and tests to always be leveling up.
  • Thoughts on iOS 14 
  • Budgeting for scale and how to be aggressive without breaking the algorithm 
  • Plus more!

Dylan Carpenter

Via LinkedIn

Via Facebook

Via Twitter


Koality Media 


Rich Ad Poor Ad Podcast


Mentioned in this episode:


Zach Johnson

FunnelDash

Google Unskippable Labs

Promo

Billo.app

Animoto

Nick Shackelford

Geek Out

Billy Gene

Neil Patel

Episode 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 we're talking about scaling on Facebook ads and how things are shifting and changing and how you should be scaling right now with your e-commerce business. I've got a guest today that I think you're going to absolutely be blown away by, both in terms of his podcast skills and in terms of his Facebook ads skills.

Brett:

I'm delighted to welcome to the show, he's the co-host of the Rich Ad Poor Ad Podcast. Love that title. One of the greatest podcast names out there right now, in my opinion.

Brett:

He's also the owner of Koality, and that's like the koala the bear and TY, Koality Media. Does a ton on Facebook. With that, Mr. Dylan Carpenter. What's up, Dylan. Welcome to the show and really stoked to be chatting with you, man.

Dylan:

Yeah. Brett, man. Thanks for having me on. I'm getting sweaty listening to that intro. I'm like, "Man, hype."

Brett:

I love throwing out a good intro. You've earned it. You've got a great business. You've got a great podcast. So, yeah, I'm excited about this chat. But you and I, we get to record a podcast. I'm going to be on your podcast either in the future or in the past, depending on when someone's listening to this. But we had a blast with, "Hey, let's flip this. Let's get you on the eCommerce Evolution Podcast and talk Facebook ads." So here we are.

Brett:

But tell me, Dylan, just a quick background, how did you become a podcast host and how did you become a Facebook ad specialist in e-commerce? And so, just the quick story, if you can.

Dylan:

Yeah. So for the podcast, we just fell into it. Zach and I were looking for something to do, to be honest, and he had a huge audience already. So we..

Brett:

Yeah. Shout out to your business partner, Zach, and a quick plug on Zach.

Dylan:

Zach Johnson, FunnelDash. But yeah, we had one called The Benchmark first. It was really metric-oriented. We wanted to know your CPA, your CAC, your RoAS, break even points. But it was a little too personal for businesses to share. So Rich Ad Poor Ad came out. It was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be to launch a podcast. But luckily, we have a good team behind us. We've got three people who do the video editing, the transcription, the website, the blog posts, the copy for all of us. It's pretty -

Brett:

It's pretty labor-intensive, man. It really is a lot more work than I thought. When we first started, we were like, "Oh, you just hit record and then post it and then see." He's like, "No. If you do it right, there's a lot that goes into it."

Dylan:

Yeah. So we fell into it. Luckily, is we've got 115, 116 episodes recorded right now. We've launched about 60, 65-ish. It's getting good traction. We've had Billie Jean on, Neil Patel. So a lot of big names. For Zach, it's a good funnel for FunnelDash. But I mean, on my side, I just love to talk to badasses like you and network myself further and get more out there to build my authority, essentially.

Brett:

Yeah.

Dylan:

But yeah, it's about 80 to 100 bucks an episode to cost us right now. It's slowly racking up, and we're fixing to launch some ads for the podcast actually too.

Brett:

Nice.

Dylan:

That'll be cool. But when it comes to my bread and butter, Facebook ads, I actually randomly fell onto it on indeed.com. I graduated from Texas State here in Austin May of 2017. I did marketing with a sales concentration, and I almost moved to Orlando, Florida to be custom suits tailor at Tom James to pitch suits and sell suits. I played ice hockey. I loved suits. They looked fly.

Brett:

Which, by the way, for someone watching rather than just listening, two things. One, you're rocking a killer stache right now. So I've got to give respect to the stache. You need to watch it to see that. And then also, too, if you look in the background, you've got a picture of the Miracle on Ice, which you've seen the movie. Miracle writes a great one. You play hockey. Is that your favorite movie of all time? I mean, you've got the mural thing, so it's obviously important.

Dylan:

It's up there. My dad won that in a poker tournament, to be honest, and I just loved it. But it's signed by the whole team.

Brett:

Wow, that's awesome.

Dylan:

I couldn't sell it for a hundred K, but I'm probably never going to sell it. It's so sentimental at this point. I'm a hockey-

Brett:

1980? When was that?

Dylan:

Yeah.

Brett:

Okay.

Dylan:

yeah.

Brett:

That's amazing.

Brett:

You were going to move to Orlando, be as suit tailor. Then you thought, "No, I'm going to do Facebook ads instead."

Dylan:

Yeah. They flew me out. I didn't like it. My brother worked at Accenture. I looked on Indeed, Accenture sales job, a random sales job popped up. I applied, got a call. It was for Facebook. I went to interview there, got a job literally two hours after my interview. So I started as a marketing expert. Knew nothing about Facebook ads. I'd boosted some posts in college just to get people to come to our hockey games, but I didn't know what I was doing.

Dylan:

Yeah, after three months there, realizing what I was learning, I was like, "Oh, this is lucrative." I became a sponge, took like 10 pages of notes and journals and stuff, and really just asked a ton of questions. After being there for a year, I left. Started Koality Media, and do a lot of freelance work. It's been history ever since.

Brett:

Yeah. I love it. One of the reasons I want to have you on, one, you're an awesome podcast host, also an awesome guest. But I love getting different people's perspective on how to run Facebook ads. As you know, I'm a YouTube guy and a Google guy and also Amazon ads. I don't play in the Facebook ad space, but I understand it decently well. It's obviously a huge part of most of our clients' media mix.

Brett:

We will get into some of the new changes and iOS 14 scares. Depending on when you listen to this, it could be heating up or it could be all in the past. But definitely want to address that as well. But I love getting different people's perspectives. And so, as we look at scale, because that's what every e-commerce brand wants, whether they're looking to sell their business or hold it and just grow it, increase the value, you want to achieve scale. How do we achieve scale on Facebook?

Brett:

Like you and I were talking about, lot of people listen to the podcast, already running Facebook ads. They're just looking to take it to the next level, or maybe things have stalled out, or maybe they are dealing with iOS 14 issues. From a creative perspective, so the ads themselves, what do we need? What do we need to be thinking about so that we can really achieve scale?

Dylan:

Yes. Creative's everything. I know we're going to talk about ad account structure, campaign structure, which will tie into this at some point, but creative is everything. It's not about the audiences, the bids. It's all your creative, basically. What's really helped us scale, I think is, creative -

Brett:

Just one quick thing I think I'll add to that. Sorry to interrupt. Google put together study. They've got a group called Unskippable Labs and they study YouTube ads that people don't skip and stuff. But they came up with the statistic that 50 to 80% of your success on YouTube is driven by the ad itself, and then the rest is media bids, budgets, stuff like that. Obviously, it's hard to quantify. Some been made up, but I don't know.

Brett:

So you think that's probably somewhere on Facebook, like 50 to 80% of your success is the ad itself and then the rest is media? Your expert opinion, how would you frame that?

Dylan:

It's a really good question. Now, this is where it gets tricky. It depends on your product and your conversion cycle. If I have a quick product that's pretty cheap, under maybe 30 bucks, then I want my ad just to... It's terrible to say. We always optimize for purchase, but I want my ad to make someone click to go to the website to learn more and then buy the product.

Dylan:

Now, there are other brands we have that are a little bit more high ticket, to where we have to go more in depth on the ads themselves, to more or less... Not seldom in the ad, but just reel them in. Then of course we have other hefty ways of retargeting. But it varies, to be honest with you, because it really depends on that conversion cycle. What was the question again? I'm sorry.

Brett:

What percentage of your success is determined by the ad itself? You said the ad is everything. I was just giving a little quantification there from Google's perspective that they say 50 to 80% of your success is the ad and not the media and the campaign structure and stuff like that.

Dylan:

I would say the same thing.

Brett:

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Dylan:

I have so many accounts that I even run ads for where the click-through rates were killer, the cost per clicks are killer, but hey, there's a product page issue. So I would say it's probably similar to Google there, to be honest.

Brett:

Yeah. Yeah. Okay, cool. Awesome. Sorry, I derailed you, but ad is everything. What do we need to be thinking about in terms of getting our ads to scale?

Dylan:

What kind of budget you have basically, because, I mean, for the account we have spending 70K a month, I'll dive into, versus somebody spending 10K a month. For the 70K a month, we test 10 new creatives every single week. That could be three or four different creatives, different thumbnails, and then mixing some copy there. But I want 10 different creative variations every single week being tested, basically.

Dylan:

If somebody's spending 10K a month, I would probably say two to four creatives a week to test out, because everything dies. It's like life. Your creative's going to die, so you always need to be testing. Depending on your budget, I always allocate 10% of our budget strictly for testing. That way, I'll have our winning ads, testing ads. I feed our testing ads into our winning ad campaigns, which will go more into the structure side. But it's just having a control versus a variable substance for the most part. So it's case by case there.

Dylan:

But what you need is not crap loads of content, but relevant content. I've gotten myself in trouble here before. It's where I was telling clients, "Send me as much content as possible. The more the merrier," when in reality, that wasn't really the case, to where I just had a crap load of content to really go through and it wasn't the most relevant. So I had to take a step back and rephrase everything I was pitching to clients more or less and be like, "Cool, we want a lot of constant, but it has to be relevant to the angle of the product and the audience themselves."

Dylan:

It can't just be, "Hey, we got 10 different images here. They're all the same. One's black and white, one's colored. One's got a red button. One's got a green button." I want different angles there in different actual creatives where it's not just a color change, and I want to see how it impacts there. That's probably the biggest piece of it, is actually properly testing.

Dylan:

I always do this down rabbit holes, but I love creative testing campaigns versus control campaigns. Our control campaigns, they have all of our winning creatives in there basically. Those take up probably 70, 80% of the budget because I have retargeting, creative testing as well. But I like to have two or three control campaigns, which I just scale up the budget with. I don't even touch the budget, basically.

Dylan:

Then for the other campaigns, it's simple there to where I'll have a campaign for each creative test. Maybe it's every single week, maybe it's every single day, to where we just do broad targeting tests, two different creatives per ad sets, maybe three, to gauge what works best there. After it's spent to statistically relevant amounts, it's gotten some sales, we'll then bring our creative testing ads into our control campaign, because the control campaign, it'll die off at some point, just because the ads get creative fatigue. So this will be swap it out there.

Dylan:

But it's very important to keep those separate, because there's no reason to... If it ain't broke, don't fix it. So I would say it's more of how you're structuring these creatives versus throwing an abundance out there and seeing what sticks, because another point of this is... And I had a call about this earlier, but with one of my clients, is we had two ads. We were testing them both. One was getting really good sales. It had like maybe 20 sales and a terrible click-through rate, a terrible cost per click, but it was profitable.

Dylan:

The other ad we had wasn't profitable, maybe only had three or four sales, but it had a way better click-through rate and cost per click. Now, in Facebook's eyes, it was pushing more budget to the crappy ad because it had better front end metrics when that wasn't the case. So you had to go micro -

Brett:

Because that's what Facebook looks at, right? They're measuring more of the engagement, depending on the goal you get of campaign. But-

Dylan:

Spot on. Sometimes Facebook's not always right, and I'm sure it's the same with Google and YouTube.

Brett:

Yep.

Dylan:

But it's good to have some spend thresholds and actual goals to say, "Hey, I'm not touching this until we get 10,000 impressions," to gauge if it's relevant or not. Eight to 10,000 impressions is our sweet spot to gauge, does this work or not, for the most part.

Brett:

You're running an ad almost regardless of performance in terms of generating sales to about eight to 10,000 impressions to really give it time to show what it's going to do.

Dylan:

Yeah. That can range anywhere from probably 250 bucks to 500 bucks per actual creative, to tests.

Brett:

Yeah. Yeah. Totally makes sense. Okay.

Dylan:

If it's a lower price product like for a cosmetic brand, AOV is 40, 50 bucks, that's perfect. Now, for the other brand I'm spilling right now, our CPA goal's $140, which is a lot more than hoping for a $20 CPA. For them, I'd simply give them a lot more time. I look at our creative differently versus impressions to gauge... Our goal is $140 CPA. I multiply that by three or four. And if we don't have a sale by that spend, I'll shut it off completely, because I know it's a little bit pricier. It's going to take a little bit longer. So I like to give it a little bit more lead time, I should say.

Brett:

Makes sense. We're talking about, and depending on budget, and it does make sense that the number of creatives you need is somewhat dependent on your budget because more impressions, the more you spend on an ad, that the quicker it's going to potentially burn out. How do you approach that though? How do you approach, man, that 10 new ideas a week, 10 brand new ideas, or is it 10 variations? When you work with a client, where do you start, and how do you set up this testing structure, and what are you thinking about in terms of the creative part of the ads?

Dylan:

Yeah. Luckily, I have a better team now to help me align this because it was getting messy with folders of hundreds of assets. I had my team helping me out to where he'll find five of his data creatives, he'll match those up. Then I have a copywriter who writes 10 pieces of copy every single day. They actually mix and match these together and said, "Hey, here's for this week, here's for this week." And that's been the biggest game changer because I hate saying it, but I mean, I didn't have accountability. So maybe a week, I didn't want to do it, unfortunately, but now I'm sticking to my guns there. So it helps us -

Brett:

you don't feel inspired or something, and so you just don't get the headlines written and... Yeah. Yeah. Makes-

Dylan:

Exactly. But you need to have some sort of framework. I don't keep track of tests in an Excel sheet, but that probably would be helpful. But all of our creatives are so different in different angles where I can gauge. But if I were to hand over all of our work to another agency, they would have no idea. But I'd be able to give them a layout of what's working right now. If I get a new brand or account, it depends if they're established or not.

Dylan:

If they're established, they'll typically have a creative team in-house where I can work with them hand in hand. Also, in them, I have a drive, about 500 ads that I've made with other brands and I'll be like, "Cool, here are the best converting ads. We can take any of these, replicate them, use our product, et cetera, et cetera." That's one good way, while also...

Brett:

Love that.

Dylan:

Oh yeah. If they're already doing good, I'll reuse their ads. I mean, there's no reason to reinvent the wheel. I'll get traction with their ads, better structure, get better profitability. And then I'd incorporate my ideas to where I'll be scrolling inspiration ideas. I'm never like, "Hey, we need three more ads that convert." I'll send them actual examples like, "Yo, I saw this one. Let's totally test this one out."

Dylan:

They really don't come up with too much, to where I usually provide the inspiration there to an extent. But they usually have some assets to get the ball rolling.

Brett:

Makes sense.

Dylan:

Now, if they're brand spanking new, that's a whole nother ball game. All refer them to Promo or Billo. It's where we can send a product, get a free influencer video for 60 bucks for something. I kind of-

Brett:

What were those resources you mentioned, and are those good for a brand that has a little traction too? Or are they just mainly good for startups?

Dylan:

I think they're both killer for either, to be honest, and they're really cost-effective. Promo is stock video footage. You can add overlay tag. It's pretty cheap too. I wish I used it more, but I just have a lifetime membership, so I'm stuck with it. That's a great option there. But then Billo, B-I-L-L-O, I think it's dot app, I would jump on this train. We're testing two of their creatives right now and it's working really well. The reason I say that is user-generated content, where it's at, it's different for YouTube probably-

Brett:

Sure.

Dylan:

But people love seeing a guy like you and I on an ad versus, shit, Tom Cruise. I mean, it's more relevant to them. User-generated content is where I think the platform's going. So you don't always need to have professional footage. I mean, on our podcast, we had Truff Hot Sauce. We had a 20K video versus a free video. The paid video, substantially when it comes to actual sales and whatnot. So you don't always need to have professional quality stuff, as long as it's relevant. You can just do iPhones-

Brett:

Billo is going to allow you get user-generated content?

Dylan:

Exactly. You send a product to somebody, they record it for 60 bucks, and boom, it's usable for ads.

Brett:

Nice. Yeah. We see, on the YouTube side, we talked about this one when you interviewed me, but you can still use user-generated content. You just can't use one 15-second UGC video by itself. You need to do a UGC mashup or a UGC mixed into a slightly higher production value video. So it does look different, but yeah, I love that resource. I'd never heard of it before. Yeah, we talk to clients all the time. You need good UGC.

Dylan:

It's nice. Yeah. Because, I mean, creatives, it's what moves the needle. I mean, a good way to put this, and I talked about this a little bit earlier on a separate podcast, but you don't always need new creative. It could be new angles, to where we have a sleep product. I think I may have talked about this on our podcast together, but what we're currently doing now is, hey, fall asleep faster. Boom, that angle's hidden. People love it. People have so much trouble falling asleep.

Dylan:

Now that's going to hit a cap. At 3K a day, we really can't scale past that. So what we did, exact same creative, but two new angles. Angle one is fall asleep and stay asleep and no more tossing and turning. That's pretty scalable too. Exact same audience, different subsection within the audience, essentially. The third angle is tired of getting up in the middle of night to go pee. That's a fricking huge one. So rather than us trying to get innovative and have different crazy creatives, the creative tests for that specific week, we're just testing different copy angles.

Dylan:

I'll be honest, when it comes to creative tests, I picture creative as more of the ad itself versus the static image or just video, to where it sometimes is the copy side of things. That's a great example of diversifying the different angles with the existing and creative we have that's already working pretty well.

Brett:

Yeah. And then, so first of all, love those headlines, those, really directed at a problem-solution type of structure. And so, that's just a proven winner as well. That's always worked in advertisement. Problem-solution has always worked. I love that, and this is something important to remember, is that sometimes you get these audiences that convert. But there are subsets of those audiences where one angle really works better than another. And if you're not testing and not properly testing, you don't know that.

Brett:

Sometimes you may have, oh, hey, the fall asleep faster like, "That's working. Let's just do that." Well, but if you hadn't tested the you're already tired of getting up in the middle of night to go the bathroom, then you wouldn't know that, hey, actually, there's a subset that that converts a lot better for. So yeah, really thoughtful.

Dylan:

Yeah. I mean, what's working best is broad targeting. I'm not going in for sleep interests or snoring interests. While those do work for quick wins, I don't think they're scalable and consistent, just depending on how Facebook looks at it or even we look at it. But I love having three or four active ads per audience, and I'll throw in different angles there because depending on who's clicking on the ad and converting, Facebook knows that.

Dylan:

I mean, somebody who clicks on the one from peeing in the middle of the night, to having tossing and turning, those are complete different people. So Facebook will find people similar to them based off those ads. So it's not only optimizing at the campaign ad set level. It's also the ad level, depending on who's clicking on it.

Brett:

Yep. That's awesome. Let's talk a little bit about campaign structure then. You alluded to a couple of things a minute ago, that I want to dive into. You talked about using 10% of your budget for testing and 60 to 70%, I think you said, to controls, and you've got remarketing in there. Break that down a little bit. I know every client's going to be a little bit different, and when you see results, you're going to push or shift or whatever. But what does that budget breakdown typically look like?

Dylan:

Yeah. Basically, if we're spending a thousand bucks a day, 30K a month, I would... Trying to think what those ratios are. It's a shitty one. We'll say a hundred K a month, basically, to make it easier. So if we're spending-

Brett:

Yeah. It's way easier to do percentages when you're based on a hundred of something. Yeah.

Dylan:

I know. I was like, "Why would I pick 30K?" But yeah. If we're spending 100K a month, I'll easily allocate 10K of that to testing, and those testing campaigns, those maybe a hundred bucks a day, and I can have multiples of those. So it's pretty snazzy there to where you have enough wiggle room to... Because if I'm spending a hundred bucks a day, that's 3K a month. I could have three or four hefty tests with that basically.

Dylan:

That's typically my sweet spot. Now, with the retargeting, I'll push 20% of my overall budget to that. We've got a hundred K. We took 10K for testing. Let's take another 20K out for retargeting. This depends on the conversion cycle, of course, and how much volume you are bringing for your colder audiences, because I do have one account where we only spend 10% for retargeting just because anything more will break it pretty much. So it's case by case. But I think a good rule of thumb is 20% of your overall spend. Then, of course, the other 70%, I would say all for cold audiences.

Brett:

Yeah. Very similar when we run YouTube as well. Then the re-marketing could vary if it's a long sales cycle versus couple of days sales cycle. Then those re-marketing percentages could shift a little bit. So yeah, that's really cool. We got the budget breakdown. Then what are you doing now in terms of campaigns structure? What would you add to that, now that we've got our budget parameters laid out?

Dylan:

Yeah. I typically have two or three control campaigns, and one will be... I'll put one in the ad set in it, to be honest. I'll test out one, which is wide open, maybe age breakdown. If it's no one buys under 25, I'll just make it 25, 65 plus. I give the algorithm full room to just do its thing. It's really just creative at that game. We just input every other week, depending on what hits for the creative tests. The control campaigns, I don't touch ever. The only thing I ever do is bump the budget up 20% or add in some fresh creative from our creative testing campaign that's proven itself.

Dylan:

With those control campaigns, they have really big audiences. As mentioned, we'll go broad with literally zero. So it'll be 70 million plus. We'll do 10% look-like audiences. Those are really, really fat. Those are like 20 or 30 million people. Then we'll use an interest-based campaign which could have one or maybe two or even three ad sets with interest stacked, based off what we're looking at. But those are all 30 million plus audience size as well.

Dylan:

So the bigger the audience size, the more consistent and scalable it is from what we've noticed. We don't even really touch those as mentioned, unless we're doing 20% budget increments daily, which I love to do daily. Anything more, it usually breaks it to an extent for a couple of minutes.

Brett:

So maybe scaling up budget as much as 20% a day. If you go faster than that, you're probably going to break something.

Dylan:

That's per campaign. If I have three top of funnel control campaigns at 500 bucks a day each, I could easily add on an extra 300 bucks that day. If you're doing that every single day, that you can scale pretty quick.

Brett:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. For sure. That compounds pretty fast.

Dylan:

Exactly. I mean, a good example. I had one account I launched last July. Month one, they spent 5K. Month two, they spent 10K. Then 15K, then 18, 24, 42K. We got the ad account shut down, only spent 40K the next month. But then this past February, spent 70K and then we're planning to spend 140K this month. That's how we're scaling it up. I can make those bigger increments hinges now that we're spending 70K plus a month. But it's a little bit more risky with the smaller spends because Facebook fluctuates so much.

Dylan:

That worked really well for us. So if you are looking to find a scalable model, and this is a subscription, by the way, so it's not like a three X or anything. It's like a 1.2X, just because -

Brett:

That's all you need when you've got long lifetime value and good recurring monthly revenue.

Dylan:

Exactly. That's how we're scaling up that account. The biggest way we're doing it is I'm straight up duplicating every campaign and just adding in new creative, basically. I'll just have creative tests week three one, and then that will just run for the week. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. If it's working, I'll scale that baby up. But I started out at a hundred bucks a day, and still go to 120, then 140, then 160, and then all the way to 200. Then I go to 240, 280, and vice versa there.

Dylan:

And so, you can't scale it up somewhat fast. But if I just get a little thought that this could be a really good one, I will start testing. But it's at 500 bucks a day, just to see what happens so it gets that data faster. Then I'll shut it off in two days if it doesn't work. So it depends on how much wiggle room I really have.

Brett:

Sure. Totally makes sense. When you encounter a prospect or a client that's plateaued or stalled a little bit, what are some of the common mistakes, some of the common reasons that you find that, hey, these are the reasons why this account is not scaling like it should be?

Dylan:

I would say retargeting and exclusions. The retargeting should always do way better than your top of funnel. So, I mean, whenever I see a top-of-funnel campaign getting a four or five X, I'm like, "They're not excluding." I can almost guarantee that.

Brett:

Yeah. The funnel campaign is actually there's a section of it that's remarketing.

Dylan:

I see that a lot.

Brett:

I do too on the YouTube side. Yeah.

Dylan:

That's a big one. I think even ad formats. The amount of accounts I audit to where they're only using carousels, only using videos or only static images, I'm like, "You're throwing all your eggs in one basket, praying for the best," to where I could have the same copy, which I love to do, and I'll have that same copy with a video static and a carousel ad. But these different ad formats have different placements in the ad auction. So sometimes adding in a different creative format could lower your CPA like 10%. It's fricking bananas.

Brett:

Really? Do you have any rules of thumb for, "Okay. We're running this percentage of carousel ads, or this percentage of static ads, this percentage of video," or it's just all dependent on what's working?

Dylan:

It's depending on what's working, I would say 5% carousel ads though, 30% video, and the remainder being static ads, because I'm supposed to see-

Brett:

Yeah. I was going to see, and I'm not on Facebook, a ton. Not always a fun place to hang out these days. Great place for advertisers though. Static... I mean, I'm sorry, carousel ads, I don't see them that much anymore, like re-marketing mainly. But not beyond that necessarily. Okay. Super interesting.

Dylan:

Good little case study for that is I literally audited somebody last week and all they're running are carousel ads for their food. I just straight up said, "Make a slideshow using the same images," and that lowered their CPA 15%. And it took two days. So that was a quick win. Didn't change anything. Just took those images, turn into slideshow, and boom. Now it's converting like crazy.

Brett:

Nice. So slideshow. That's the type of thing that doesn't work on YouTube at all. But so, when you do that, are you using something like Animoto or another tool like that, just create a slideshow or...

Dylan:

I don't do it very often because I don't like the Facebook creative tools. But yeah, you would just select the images and you can make a slideshow with it, within Facebook natively. So they didn't even have an editor or anything, and it's like, "Hey, just take those five images in the carousel and put them in here." It did it for them basically.

Brett:

Nice, nice. Very interesting.

Dylan:

It's cool. But ad formats, exclusions, and I wouldn't even say too many campaigns.

Brett:

Okay.

Dylan:

Facebook pushes 50 conversions a week. I think that's blasphemy. I don't believe it personally. But I do think you can spread yourself too thin to where those cosmetic-

Brett:

Facebook, yeah. Can you explain that really quickly? They push 50 conversions a week. What do you mean by that?

Dylan:

50 sales. If you have a campaign, if want it to get-

Brett:

At the campaign level, so a campaign needs to be doing 50 sales a week?

Dylan:

Exactly, when using campaign budget optimization. That's when you set your budget at the campaign level. But if you're setting it at the ad set level, the ads, it has to get 50 conversions a week. A conversion can be anything in Facebook size, depending on what you're optimizing for. But of course purchases where it's at.

Brett:

Interrupt and talk about that for a minute. So 50 conversions, are you saying you actually think it could be less than 50 and does well or ... Okay. Got it. Yeah.

Dylan:

Yeah. We have like $20,000 products and we only get like three or four of those a month.

Brett:

Yeah.

Dylan:

I mean, the learning phase is a myth, in my opinion. But with those 50 conversions, where I was going with that, is if you have 20 campaigns and they're all getting five conversions, it's going to take forever to get out of that learning phase and longer to optimize, which isn't that big of a deal. But if you ended up having three campaigns instead of 50, where they had 50 conversions in each one, you're going to get a way better bang for your buck. Facebook will optimize faster.

Dylan:

It's basically, if I had some campaigns that's 10 bucks a day, or I could have two campaigns at 50 bucks a day. The 50 bucks a day ones are going to do way better any day of the week, just because they're getting data faster. You can optimize faster, make decisions faster, versus the others.

Brett:

Yeah. I agree. Then sometimes having fewer campaigns and you're really pushing and scaling, it's just easier to manage and easier to pull levers on. I think there's a lot of benefits that go into that. That's awesome. All right. Let's pivot a little bit. Let's talk about everybody's favorite topic, or depending on when you're listening to this, it maybe the worst topic that you could ever have imagined, or it could be like, "Oh, this is no big deal." I don't know. Let's talk about iOS 14. What are you telling clients now related to iOS 14? How are you preparing? Let's walk through that a little bit.

Dylan:

I changed up all my pricing because of that, basically. What we're seeing on Facebook, I'm only seeing this in one account right now, but I mean, we're getting a hundred sales a day, and we used to show 85 to 90 sales attributed to Facebook, but now we're only showing 45 to 50, if 50. So it's dropped about 40, 50% in tracking for that specific client when everything is business as usual. So I don't really have an explanation for that except this, but there's no way to gauge if that's it or not. So it makes it tricky.

Dylan:

But what we're telling all of our clients is, hey, we're going to be looking at Google Analytics a lot more now, to look at seven-day windows and day-to-day spend in revenue versus-

Brett:

Are you guys using UTMs to track, or you're just not going to-

Dylan:

Exactly.

Brett:

Okay. Yeah.

Dylan:

We went way harder with UTMs where we implemented it for everybody, basically, just because Facebook's not showing the true monetary value of most things. So rather than even doing reporting in Facebook, we do it all through Google Analytics. The other part of this is we're probably going to see less results than we typically do because Facebook looks at 28-day click one day view versus seven-day click one day view.

Dylan:

Now, that's not much. It could result in a few extra sales. A lot of people don't convert too quick. To combat this, shouts out to Nick Shackelford, this is two for the day for you.

Brett:

Yeah. That guy's awesome, man. He and I have spoken at the same event, some events. Nick Shackelford, real deal. I believe, I believe a good soccer player too. So anyway, for what that's worth.

Dylan:

He's a goalie, I think, because I'm a goalie, and I think-

Brett:

Oh, is that right? Okay. Okay. Oh yeah, yeah. But you're a hockey goalie. I'm getting totally sidetracked here. My daughter's playing lacrosse. None of these sports I've ever played, but lacrosse, soccer, hockey. I was a basketball guy. I always had that. But fascinated by these other sports that I have less experience with.

Dylan:

They're fun. But yeah. Nick Shackelford, I'm meeting him in a couple of weeks coming to Austin for Geek Out, shouts out, Geek Out. But yeah, he created a 28-day click multiplier. Essentially, I would go in through all of our ad accounts, look at six to eight months of data, gauge what's our revenue on a one-day click window, seven-day click, 28-day click? And that's for cold and warm audiences. So you're basically looking at past data to gauge, if I had a 2X on a seven-day click window, what would I be on a 28-day click?

Dylan:

You would have to multiply this by 1.23, for example. So we have all those figures of what it could be. But what I've actually found is that the last year has just been a fricking mess, so the COVID, the elections, the freeze that hit Texas. I noticed sales were down 40 to 60% in Texas, and some of the weeks.

Brett:

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. No away around that.

Dylan:

So there are a lot of other variables involved to make it trickier to gauge if that's really the case there. But the 28-day click multiplier, that's one part of it. But I think the biggest thing is we're looking at more blended metrics, ecosystem metrics, with UTM codes, to gauge, hey, Snapchat's doing this, Facebook's doing this. There's probably going to be some overlap here, but not too much.

Dylan:

So we just changed our whole reporting model to stick with percent of ad spend versus return on ad spend and CPA because we just don't have that info like we used to. I'll probably go to it in the future once all the kinks get worked out. But we haven't seen much change on our end. I usually always look at stuff on a one-day click and seven-day click window. I mean, for those accounts that have that, nothing's changed pretty much.

Dylan:

I think the hardest part is for how I'm relaying it to clients, is having to have them get their domain verified, set up specific pixel events and stuff to where it's a pain in the ass. So it needs to be done in order for the Facebook pixel to attract this stuff. But Facebook didn't make it easy. I think the hardest part of all of this is the grunt work I have to deliver to my clients to be like, "Hey, you just put this [inaudible 00:35:50] tag code in your website somewhere. I don't know where, but it's supposed to go there."

Dylan:

I think the implementation side is probably the hardest part, but we were just proactive. We had a lot of resources involved and had calls with all of our clients to give them expectations, to play it safe to say we're proactive. But at the end of the day, the big stuff hasn't even been released yet. I mean, I think it's just the beginning.

Brett:

It totally is. And then, we're doing a similar thing. We're sending out news information from Google to our clients and helping them get ready. We're not seeing any major changes yet, but I really like a few things you talked about there, one, blended metrics. We're going to have to get more creative about how we track and attribute and how we look at overall sales lift because, yeah, there's going to be some cases where Facebook maybe isn't given all the credit that it deserves, or YouTube is not given all the credit it deserves, but we need to be able to get some blended metrics to get a better idea.

Brett:

I love that 28-day click multiplier. We do something similar, but reverse where we're looking at like, "Hey, based on a one-day CPA, here's what we expect that CPA to be in seven days or in 30 days." So it's similar thing like, "Hey, if the CPA today is a hundred, well, that's cool because we're expecting it to be 50 by the time we get to 14, 15 days," based on what the historical data and stuff.

Dylan:

The other cool part with this is I have access to every channels marketing efforts now. So I get all the reports from the Google Teams. If I start noticing some discrepancies, I don't like throwing people under the bus. But when someone's not transparent and unethical about it, I have no problem throwing them under the bus there to where... I've had it happen twice where they were totally looking at the wrong KPIs, and turns out, they burned over 70K in cash and thought they were profitable. They weren't.

Dylan:

I was like, "Dude, they have been giving you the complete wrong figures. Let me do this for you. I'll take it over." It got me some clients. It's helped out in a way there, but I like seeing other people's marketing efforts. I mean-

Brett:

Yep. Yep.

Dylan:

It's interesting.

Brett:

Sure. Yeah. The blended metrics and digging in and yessing all the channels tied together, that's super important. I think it's actually going to reinforce one of the first points you made, which is the ad is everything. As privacy issues become tighter and there's less transparency or less ability to track, the ads are just going to become more and more important, like what you say, how you say it, how you deliver that ad is going to be more and more important. So get it right now. That's for sure.

Dylan:

Oh yeah. Something I spoke about in another podcast is I didn't know this would affect our ads, but what words you're using. If you're using, "Hey, buy this today," you could be like, "Hey, grab goodies today," or something. So specific-

Brett:

"Buy this today," sounds salesy and pushy, but "Get your goodies today," sounds fun.

Dylan:

Exactly.

Brett:

Like playing around with that. Yeah

Dylan:

But yeah, it's an auction. If a million ads with "Buy this today" versus "Get your goodies today," you could convert better at "Get your goodies today". What I've noticed is whenever we're using different lingo, our CPMs are about 10 to 15% cheaper, which on a massive scale, that's fricking huge.

Brett:

That totally impacts the rest of the math down the line. So if you're worried about RoAS and CPA, which you should, impacting your CPM can definitely impact all the rest of it because that's the leading metric there, leading versus lagging. Awesome. Dylan, this has been fantastic. We are officially running up against time here, so want to wrap up a little bit.

Brett:

But two things. One, plug the podcast. Why do you enjoy doing the podcast? If you have any recent takeaways from the podcast, and we've already shared some, so no worries if nothing else. But talk about the podcast a little bit. And then, I want you to tell people about your company and how they can learn more about you there.

Dylan:

Yeah. For the podcast, Rich Ad Poor Ad, check it out. I think you just go to Google and type in Rich Ad Poor Ad. It's all under FunnelDashes network, essentially. We have a lot of great guests who spend 50K a day, a dollar a day, organic affiliate marketers. We have brand owners talk about their brand directly, agency owners, media buyers. We have literally a bit of everything on there and it's not from beginners, Billie, Jean, Neil Patel, for, again, Brett Curry.

Dylan:

We have some legends on our podcast. I mean, there are a ton of actionable things, because we talk about what's working, what's something that crashed and burned, and some financial tip. So it's 20 or 30 minutes of good, valuable golden nuggets to be dropped. As mentioned, I do it just to network. We're probably going to monetize it. I didn't think I would ever say that, but I'm doing it strictly meet people like Brett and just level up my personal game as well.

Brett:

Sweet. Love it. Love it. So yeah, check it out, Rich Ad Poor Ad. Then your company, Koality Media, how can people learn more about your company? Any resources? Anything you want to plug there?

Dylan:

I would say find me on Twitter at marketerdylan or Facebook, you're going to search Dylan Carpenter. The website is called Koality Media, K-O-A-L-I-T-Y, media.co. I had an intern a free three years ago. I don't use it, but there may be some goodies on there.

Brett:

Hey, that's often the sign of the like, hey, you're just a practitioner. You're just doing it, man. You're running the ads. You don't care about your own website. You're out there making it happen.

Dylan:

Exactly. Yeah, if you have questions, I'm an open book. Ask me anything, but not too crazy, hopefully. But yeah. Find me on Twitter or Facebook and I love having conversations.

Brett:

Sweet. All right, man. Dylan Carpenter, ladies and gentlemen, rocking it. Thanks for taking the time. This has been a lot of fun. Really excited to see where everything goes with iOS 14 and all these changes. But you dropped some amazing golden nuggets that are going to help people no matter what happens here in the future. So really appreciate it, man.

Dylan:

Nice. Appreciate it, man. I loved it. Thanks for having me on.

Brett:

Absolutely. As always, we appreciate you tuning in. Hey, we'd love your feedback. Let us know what you'd like to hear more of, what you'd like to hear less of. If you have not done so, and you feel so inclined, we'd love that review on iTunes. With that, until next time, thank you for listening.

Episode 170
:
Brett Curry - OMG Commerce

The Winning Formula for Scale With YouTube Ads

Are you ready to crack the YouTube ads code?

Are you ready to crack the YouTube ads code?  Ready to learn how to win now and into the future even as privacy issues are causing media buyers to pull their hair out?

Here’s the Audio from a recent, wildly popular webinar I presented at.  We had just over 2,000 people attend to hear our Winning Formula for Scale for YouTube ads for eCommerce.

This presentation is fast-paced and full of practical tips and examples.  Here are 3 reasons to listen:

Learn how top eComm brands are profitably spending $500k per month on YouTube ads.  Many were spending $0 on Google ads just a few months or years ago.
Diversity.  In a world of tracking issues, algo updates and constant uncertainty - you need to diversify your customer acquisition channels.
Understand how creative, campaign and audience strategies work hand-in-hand to deliver stellar results.

Brett Curry

Via LinkedIn

Via Facebook

Via Twitter

Via Instagram

Via YouTube


Mentioned in this episode: 

Kurt Elster

Ethercycle

Smart Marketer

Molly Pittman

Ezra Firestone

John Grimshaw

eCommerceFuel

Andrew Youderian

Spotlight Social Advertising

Wavebreak

Conversion Crimes

BOOM! by Cindy Joseph

Grammarly

Volvo

Harmon Brothers

Poo-Pourri

William Painter Sunglasses

YouTube Ads Guide

Episode Transcript:

Brett:

Hey, what's up? Brett Curry here. Welcome to this virtual event, YouTube Ads for E-commerce: The Winning Formula for Scale. I am absolutely delighted that you chose to spend a couple of hours with us, and I'm excited because I've seen the power of YouTube for good brands. And now is not the time to be dependent on just one traffic source. Now's the time to diversify. And if I may be so bold, you need YouTube ads to grow your business.

Brett:

And whether you're just starting on YouTube ads, you're just considering it, or maybe you're running YouTube ads but you want to step your game up, our commitment to you is we want to deliver the goods with this event. We want this to be practical, helpful, actionable, and hopefully we can have a little bit of fun along the way. Hey, I know what a commitment it is to join a virtual event. And so I want to keep this fast paced and make it well worth your time.

Brett:

So with that, I want to dive right in and get to the good stuff. 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.

Brett:

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 sponsored 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:

So we're really looking at three steps. This is a three-step formula, this winning formula for YouTube ads. And just to break it down really quickly and then we're going to dive into each of these. It comes down to creative strategy, and then audience strategy, and then campaign strategy. And you need all three of these and you need all three of these working in harmony together and that's when you get fantastic results.

Brett:

And we've done this dozens of times now, taken brands from zero on YouTube ads up to a thousand a day, 10,000 a day, 20,000 a day, all while hitting a CPA target. And that's what I want to show you how to do today in this event. Now, you might be asking, why are we doing this event? Well, first of all, we want to help people. We are an agency. So we run these campaigns for clients. We also enjoy helping people.

Brett:

And this kind of came from an in-person event, if you remember what those were like, just before the initial lockdown. So we were invited to the YouTube LA office. This was me speaking on stage at the YouTube LA office to a packed house of e-commerce brands and laying out here's how you grow on YouTube if you're an e-commerce brand. Quite a bit has changed since then. A lot has changed favorably for e-commerce, but a lot of shifted with YouTube.

Brett:

So this is an updated presentation. That event went so well, we had people saying, "All right, when are you doing your next event? Where's the next event going to be? We got to attend." So this is the next event, right? We still can't meet in person fully and so we're doing this event virtually. But this is part two to that event. It's updated, it's expanded, it's deeper, and it fits now for where we are with e-commerce and YouTube ads right now.

Brett:

So just a little bit about OMG Commerce and we're diving right in to the good stuff. So we are an e-commerce agency. We focus on Google ads, YouTube ads, and Amazon ads. I'm very proud of our team. We've hit the Inc 5,000 list. Now, the last three years in a row, we've made Inc Best Workplaces and Local Best Workplaces in one of our main cities where we work. We've got about 50 on our team, so we're expanding and growing. And then we have both the media side, so the campaign structure side, and the creative side in our agencies. We can help with both.

Brett:

And we are one of the top spenders on YouTube ads. So everything I lay out here, not based on theory, not based on ideas, it's based on stuff we're actually doing for clients on a daily basis. And so you can rest assured that this stuff actually works. So let's talk about YouTube just really briefly and set the stage. I'm talking like 30 seconds here then we're diving into the content.

Brett:

So 2 billion plus users. I started speaking about YouTube ads probably four or five years ago now. And at that time, it was not even a billion users. So YouTube has experienced tremendous growth. It is the world's second largest search engine. And it's not a search engine. It's a video sharing site, a social media site. But more searches are conducted every day on YouTube than on any search engine not named Google.

Brett:

It's also the world's second most visited site, again, right behind Google. So you want scale, Youtube absolutely has scale. And that's what I want to do. We want to help you scale on YouTube and reach your goals and really expand. Now, what's interesting is adults 26 to 35, 77% of them use YouTube on a regular basis. And 80% of parents of young children. I fit this category. We have a lot of kids at our house. My kids only watch YouTube. That is the social media platform that they want to get on.

Brett:

They love YouTube influencers. They always want to watch YouTube, whether it's on a tablet or on one of our TVs. They want to watch YouTube. And viewers 18 plus on YouTube, 42 minutes per day on the platform. That's huge. According to several studies, that's even a little bit more than what most people spend on Facebook. Now, I'm not going to just stop with YouTube ads because YouTube ads certainly it's super duper important, but you also need to have a good landing page.

Brett:

So I invited my friend, our buddy, Kurt Elster, the man. He runs The Unofficial Shopify Podcast. He also runs an agency called Ethercycle. He has a presentation here during the event, talking about how to optimize for ROAS with better landing pages. I love this presentation. It is absolutely good. It's amazing. And so it's going to be fantastic.

Brett:

Also, you're going hear from Vanessa Carvajal directly from Google. This presentation rocks as well. The ABCDs of creatives for YouTube, all based on research, all based on Google's data, show you exactly how to approach YouTube creatives. And then you're going to hear from our expert panel. We debated on whether we're going to do this or not because, hey, our experts are busy, man.

Brett:

They're out running campaigns, they're getting stuff done on a daily basis. And so, do we want to have them all free up their time to record? And we decided we did, one, because we want to showcase how awesome they are. And two, because they're going to deliver great value to you. But these are six of our best. These are OMG Commerce team members. And so I'm going to grill them with questions, all the burning questions you have about budgets and ads and what to do if things go wrong and all kinds of stuff, and they're going to lay it all out there.

Brett:

They're going to share with you their examples and lessons from their experiences on YouTube ads. Also, a big thank you to our sponsors. We could not have done this without our sponsors. A special thank you to Ethercycle. Kurt Elster, smart marketer, my friend and our friend at the agency Ezra Firestone and Smart Marketer, Molly Pittman, shout out. John Grimshaw, that place is awesome. eCommerceFuel and our buddy Andrew Youderian, thank you as well. And all of our sponsors, Gorgias, Spotlight Social, Wavebreak, Conversion Crimes. Awesome sponsors. Thank you so much.

Brett:

So let's dive in. So let's talk about step number one. Step number one of the formula to scale on YouTube, it's creative strategy. And I got to say, guys, this is the most important step in the formula. If you get this wrong, nothing else matters.If you nail this and do really, really well, you can actually do okay on the other elements and still be all right. But you get this wrong and you are toast.

Brett:

So this is a stat from Google and from a group called the Unskippable Labs. But they say, hey, 50% to 80% of the ROI of a YouTube campaign comes from the ad itself, comes from the creative. We've seen this over and over again, where we're really good with campaign structure. We're really good media buyers. But if you have a junkie ad, it's not going to work, right? Where you take the same structure with a mediocre ad, campaign limps along, you inject the right video and that structure takes off. So super important.

Brett:

Well, we found, and I believe this is the present of digital marketing, it's also the future, and that is the machine, Google's SmartBid algorithm and their AI and machine learning and Facebook's machine learning plus smart humans. That's where it's at. Bringing our creativity and our strategy, business savvy, combining that with AI and ML. And that's where you have a powerful combination.

Brett:

So I want to walk you through six must have elements of a winning YouTube ad, and this will help shape the way you think about creatives. I want to preface this by saying one thing to keep in mind, and there are multiple differences between YouTube ads and Facebook ads, but one is the video has to do all of the heavy lifting on YouTube. There isn't these blocks of copy around the ad like you have on Facebook. It's the video.

Brett:

The video has to do everything. Everything that you need to do to convince someone, the video itself has to do that. Okay. So let's talk about these six elements. The first one, it is the golden thread or your one thing. I went to this copywriting course years and years ago, and they talk about having a golden thread. What's the one thing you want to keep going back to again and again? It's a combination of what you do best and what your audience wants most. And then you highlight that.

Brett:

So let me give you a couple examples. So let's talk BOOM! by Cindy Joseph. Ezra's company, we've been the Google and YouTube ads partner for BOOM for about four or five years and I've seen tremendous success with YouTube. But their one thing is they're pro age. It's look your best, but embrace where you are. It's not anti-aging. Don't try to look like you're 20. No, you are a powerful woman.

Brett:

We want to make you look your absolute best, but embrace this stage in your life, right? Cindy Joseph, the founder, co-founder, silver hair, but absolutely stunningly beautiful. So look good how you are. Don't try to turn back the clock, just look great the way you are. Grammarly. Spelling and grammar errors can sabotage your success. We fix those errors for you automatically as you go.

Brett:

One of the examples I thought of earlier, and we talk about this at the panel, actually. But Volvo used to, and this is an old example, but Volvo would just talk about safety. Always they would go back to safety. These are safe vehicles. That was their one thing. So what is your one thing that should be weaved throughout the video? Number two, the hook. This is super duper important. Those first five seconds, that's magic moment.

Brett:

After the five second mark, the magic skip ad button appears and likely when your ad comes on, someone's hovering. They're hovering over that skip ad button and they're about to press it. And so you've got five seconds to convince them otherwise. You have five seconds to talk them off the ledge and get them to stay and watch your video. And so this is a screenshot, of course, from the Harmon Brothers class. Shout out to the Harmon Brothers.

Brett:

Poo-Pourri, you got get the petite, cute British ladies sitting on a public toilet, in a dress, and she's talking about bathrooms smells. Now, you don't have to use shock and awe and humor, but if it fits your brand and it fits your product, it can work really well. You see her on a toilet, you hear what she says, you're hooked, and you're likely paying attention from there.

Brett:

So the idea is we want to hook the right audience and repel the wrong audience, because there's actually a benefit if the wrong audience skips. If someone who's not going to buy your product anyway, if they skip, that's actually good for you because you don't pay unless someone sticks around for 30 seconds of your video or unless they click through to your ad. So you want unqualified prospects, you want people that are not likely to buy, you want them to skip. Move along, right? We're not going to pay for them anyway.

Brett:

So what else could you hook with? If you're not going to use bathroom humor, which you probably won't want to, what is your biggest benefit? Bring that right to the front. What is the reason someone buys your product? Highlight that right up front. This was the beginning of an ad for a leg bronzer. And so it opens with, "Hey, did you know you could get gorgeous, flawless legs in a matter of seconds?" Big promise, gorgeous legs, matter of seconds. Okay. If this was what I'm wanting, then I'm maybe going to stick around and watch.

Brett:

You could lead with the biggest problem. What's the biggest problem that your product helps overcome? This is actually the opening to the Flex Seal infomercial. It's a pretty great opening. Again, a New Jersey accent, "This repair would cost thousands of dollars to fix." And so it's like, hey, what is the biggest problem? Let's lead with that. Or it could be, what's the biggest question your prospects are asking?

Brett:

We're advertising for a percussive therapy device that has become all the rage over the last couple of years. But we started with a question. This was a question people ask if they're looking to buy this is, "Hey, have you seen one of these devices and wondered, do they actually work? And if they do, why do some cost $600? What's the difference?" So what are the biggest questions someone's asking related to your product and related to your industry? Lead with that.

Brett:

Lead with that question. Let someone know you're speaking directly to them and you're going to answer their questions. Number three, the supporting cast. We don't just have one benefit. There's not just one main benefit. You buy a product, you should focus on one thing, like make the one thing the thing that everybody remembers, but you can have supporting cast.

Brett:

What are the other cool things that support that one benefit and maybe tip the customer over the edge and cause them to say yes? So my buddies at William Painter sunglasses, the glasses are titanium and they're basically unbreakable and they look just cool, man. You wear William Painter sunglasses, it ups your cool factor big time. But they also have the hook. The hook helps you pop bottles and look like a model. And it's just fun. It's an extra thing and it's an added benefit. It's supporting cast. It makes the other stuff come to life and makes you want to say yes.

Brett:

Number four, objection busters. People are watching your videos and they've got their arms folded. They're saying, "Yeah, I don't know. I've seen this before. I've heard this before. And I don't know that I believe him. In fact, I probably don't believe him." I'm from Missouri. Missouri is the show me state. We're very skeptical people, I guess, in Missouri. But it's like, hey, you got to show me before I believe. You need to think like a Missourian as you're building your YouTube ads.

Brett:

But what resistance does your prospect have to buying your product? And you have to overcome those objections. So if you end your video and you haven't addressed properly the big objections in someone's mind, or at least indicated that you will overcome those objections, if they click through to your site, then you're going to really face them severe headwinds. You're going to have some headwinds facing your videos. So people are thinking, "I've seen this before. I've been let down before. I doubt it."

Brett:

You can say things like, "Hey, you may be thinking X, Y, Z. You may be thinking this is too good to be true. You may be thinking this will never work for you, but here's what we found." So address those objections head on. My buddy, Peter Goodwin at Groove Life, awesome rings. I'm wearing one right now. They talk about, hey, it's silicone wedding rings. You're worried it's going to snap, break, you're going to lose it, whatever. No BS, 94-year warranty. Just overcome that objection right out of the gate.

Brett:

Number five, proof. We want some proof that this is going to work. So credentials, testimonials, endorsements, reviews. We want to see these proof elements to make us confident, confident to at least say maybe, maybe I'm going to believe you. But this should be fun. This shouldn't be like a term paper. It shouldn't be like a legal case. It shouldn't read or feel like a term paper. It should be fun.

Brett:

Again, this was Harmon Brothers. But this was Purple Mattress. Goldilocks lowering the 300 pound sheet of glass onto the bed frame and there's raw eggs in between, but the eggs don't break because the mattress supports it. So think fun. Think visual. But we need proof. And then finally, number six, the offer. What is the offer? Why should I say maybe? Why should I say, "Okay, I'm going to look a little bit further?"

Brett:

So what is that offer going to be? You can think of bundles or discounts, especially if you got a product that people consume over and over again, supplement, skincare, beauty products, food. Anything that's consumable, think about bundles or discounts. But also think about, hey, just click here and see it in action. Learn more. See if this is right for you. Let's take that next step. But some kind of offer that's pretty irresistible, but tell someone to take action.

Brett:

If you don't tell someone to take action, guess what? They won't. They'll just keep watching. They'll stick around for the YouTube video they came to watch if you don't tell them to take action, if you don't make it compelling for them to take action. Now, I'm really just scratching the surface here on creative strategy. There's so much more we could talk about. Vanessa from Google is going to talk about creative strategy a little bit more.

Brett:

I also created this resource and I highly recommend you download it. It's totally free. On our website, under resources and guides, this is the top YouTube ad examples and templates. It's like 16, 18, something like that, of our favorite YouTube ads with links to them explaining why they work. So check out this guide. I think it'd be a huge help to you. And then also a serious X-Factor in your videos are testimonials and video testimonies from customers.

Brett:

I'll show you how to get those testimonials that they give us on the guide section of our site, a guide to authentic customer testimonials on video, whether you're remote or in person, eventually we'll be back in person again. But here's how you get them. That's free as well. I highly recommend you get it. Okay. Step two, audience strategy. Who are we speaking to? So the creative is super important.

Brett:

But let's face it, if you've got a brilliant video and you present it to the wrong people, you've got this boom video that's aimed at it's a pro age cosmetic and you're targeting teenage girls, they're not going to buy. The message doesn't line up. So audience strategy is really, really important. And audience strategy is also different. It's different on YouTube than it is on other platforms. And I think in a lot of ways, it's better on YouTube.

Brett:

You've got more options on YouTube. Really, the possible audience combinations are limitless on YouTube. So let's dive in. So I do recommend you start with remarketing. You need that foundation of remarketing. If you want to fill in a lot of people at the top of the funnel, you want to hit a broad, cold prospecting audience, it needs some remarketing there to help seal the deal, to help close the deal and get someone to take action.

Brett:

Because when you're reaching someone at top of the funnel, it's probably the first time they've ever heard of your brand. The first time they've ever seen your product. And so the likelihood is they're not going to buy it right then, but you want to get them back through your remarketing efforts. So I highly recommend you set up remarketing audiences first as a foundation.

Brett:

But then you want to go beyond that. That's what this event is about, it's about scaling on YouTube. So we recommend some of your first prospecting audiences to scale are intent-based audiences. So what does that mean? What does it mean by intent-based audiences? Well, YouTube really has the ability to tackle and target intent-based audiences like no other platform. And here's what Google has seen. So when you target an intent-based audience versus just a demographic based targeting, 40% higher purchase intent.

Brett:

Now, that 40%, that's going to maybe translate into hitting your CPA goals versus not hitting your CPA goals. So starting with custom intent or with intent-based audiences is huge. So what do these audiences look like? Really, two main audiences. The first is custom intent, based on someone's YouTube and/or Google search behavior. The second is keyword. Keyword is actually more of a contextual targeting, but at least indicates what people are watching on YouTube.

Brett:

And that's going to indicate, hey, if they're watching videos about this, then we know what they're interested in. We know what they're researching, we know what they're planning, we know what they're trying to do. And so now's the perfect time to sneak in our message and hopefully get them to click to our site and eventually become a customer. So customers intent. This really is the precision of search with the power of video.

Brett:

One thing that's really increased in recent years is people shopping on YouTube, people looking for product reviews on YouTube, or hey, I'm looking for best fill in the blank, best noise canceling headphones. That really shot up in the midst of the lockdowns and things like that. But best noise canceling headphones, best hypoallergenic pillow, best whatever. People are searching on YouTube. They want to see reviews. They want to see unboxed things. They want to see influencer content. They want to know what to buy. People are shopping on YouTube. So looking at keywords very, very powerful.

Brett:

So our advice is start with intent-based audiences. Start with people where you know what they're in the market for, what they're shopping for, what they're researching for. Start there and then go broad. And YouTube gives us all kinds of examples, all kinds of ways to go broad. They have kind of some off-the-shelf audiences. They'll auto create some audiences for you after you start getting conversions, you start to some data in your account.

Brett:

And then you can continue to build some other custom audiences. There's a type of audience called custom affinity, which is sort of like a lookalike audience. You give Google some inputs and then Google's going to say, "Ah, we know kind of who you're looking for. Here is a lookalike audience kind of based on those inputs." Once you have those intent-based audiences and you start to get conversions, that's when you can begin to open things up a little bit and go broad and really hopefully start getting some volume.

Brett:

All right. Let's spend some time on campaign strategy. So this is where we're putting structure around everything, right? We know we got to say the right thing. We got to be compelling. We know we have to reach the right person. But what's the structure we put around this thing so that we're hitting our targets, and so this makes financial sense, and so we're building our bottom line, and so we're actually growing?

Brett:

And so this is where we're looking at leveraging smart bidding. So again, we're using the machine. We've got our smart humans. We've got our machines learning and AI that we're leveraging. And it really comes down to three things: campaign structure, bids and budgets, and then measuring and optimizing. You do these three things and price is part of your campaign strategy, good things are going to happen.

Brett:

So we're going to kind of break that down. One thing I will mention, it is required. It's not a maybe, it's not a this was better. No. It's a must. It's a requirement. You need to use the Google Ads conversion code, just like on Facebook you use the Facebook Pixel. You're not using Google Analytics for Facebook. You're not using Google Analytics for YouTube either. Now, you may cross-reference with Google Analytics. You may look at some of the user metrics and on-site engagements, a few other things with Google Analytics.

Brett:

But tracking conversions and feeding your campaigns, you need the Google Ads conversion code. It's a must. You just absolutely have to use it. What's cool, though, here is now you can create different conversion actions, add to cart, purchases, other things, and then you can specify at the campaign level what you want that campaign to focus in on. That's really quite cool.

Brett:

Now, we've developed an approach that we call AMP. So this is our approach, is we've been thinking about, okay, how do we build the best YouTube and Google ad campaigns? And not thinking about campaigns as silos, but thinking about campaigns like a team, like a portfolio that work together to deliver amazing results. And that's what AMP is, Accelerated Marketing Portfolios. These are a portfolio of campaigns that work together to really grow your business.

Brett:

Because you're going to run into trouble if you think about YouTube the same way you think about Google search, or think about YouTube the same way you think about Google shopping, or if you think about top of funnel YouTube the same way you think about remarketing YouTube. They all serve a different purpose. They're all reaching someone at a different stage of the shopping journey.

Brett:

They work together and we got to hold them accountable, but they all are doing different things at different stages of the journey. So you need better ads. That's what we talk about it with our AMP approach. You need better measurement. You need better campaign structures. Let's talk about this. So we hear this a lot, right? Well, a lot of people come to us, D2C e-commerce brands, and they want to hit a portfolio ROAS of 200 to 350. Maybe it's higher. Sometimes it's higher.

Brett:

But that's what they want to hit as the return on ad spend as a whole. Now, when we come to them, and what a lot of people think is, okay, I need to be at 300% return on ad spend. So I need YouTube top of funnel to be at 300% return on ad spend. But that's not the right way to think about YouTube. That's faulty reasoning because 80% of people that say they watch a YouTube video in the shopping process say they do it first thing. They say they do it early in the process, not later in the process.

Brett:

So it's going to be very common for someone to click on a YouTube ad, watch a YouTube ad and then not buy for a few days. And maybe they're going to click another ad before they actually purchase. So the way we like to look at it is, hey, top of funnel YouTube, the ROAS there may be like a 0.5 to a 1.5, maybe even as high as a two. Mid-funnel ROAS, so that's like search and shopping, and there's maybe a couple of YouTube campaigns that are mid funnel, three to four ROAS.

Brett:

Bottom of funnels. So branded, remarketing, some real bottom of funnel campaigns, those are maybe going to convert at a 400% to 800% return on ad spend. So then when you put it all together, total money spent, total return, yeah, you're going to hit that 200% to 300% return on ad spend, and we would aim to hit whatever goal you have and that's what you should do as well, whether you're doing it yourself, from a media buyer, however you're doing it.

Brett:

But here's the difference. Do you want that portfolio to be big? Like, we're getting a big total return, right? We're getting a lot of volume at that 200% to 350%. Or do you want a little return? Still the same percentage, still hitting a 200% to 350%, but do you want it to be small or do you want to be large? And that's what YouTube can do. And that's what we see time and time again is when we inject YouTube at the top of the funnel of those early stages of the shopping journey, then we can blow that thing up.

Brett:

YouTube itself might not hit that 2X to 3X goal, but it's going to feed other campaigns. And collectively as a portfolio, they're going to hit that 2X to 3.5X or whatever your goal is. We can get there. And so one thing I will mention is your optimizing in the platform or you're optimizing in Google Ads, you're running your YouTube campaigns in Google Ads. So you're measuring there, you're optimizing there. You're optimizing there, so you need to measure there as well.

Brett:

But consider a little money in and total money out. And I'm about to talk about a topic that's a little bit too big for this event, and we could get super nerdy and it could take three hours and you don't have that kind of time for a virtual event. Attribution. Well, isn't YouTube and Facebook and maybe Google Shopping all taking credit for the same conversion? And the potential answer is, yeah, it's going to happen.

Brett:

So at a very simple level, we have to look at performance in the platform and we have to look at total money in and total money out. And that's how we can determine success. There are other tools, other ways to look at attribution, but at a base level, this is what you got to look at as well. So you need to know your KPIs in platform that translate into the total money in and total money out goal.

Brett:

So maybe you think your goal is a 2X return, but maybe it's like a 2.5 and that's going to get you to the global numbers that you want to be at. Now, let's talk about something. I geek out about this stuff. It's super fun and interesting for me. I'll try to not make this super nerdy. My wife's sometimes, when I'm talking to her and explaining what we did this today on YouTube and I'm explaining some of these concepts, she just looks at me and gets kind of sleepy and dozes off. Hopefully I won't do that for you, but I want to talk about brand lift, lag, and lifetime value.

Brett:

So let's dive in. This will be really helpful for you, I think. So brand lift first. This is a screenshot from an actual client who was doing a lot on YouTube. Now, prior to them starting with us, they were a six figure a month Facebook advertisers. They were doing a lot of volume on Facebook, multi, multi six figures a month on Facebook. This is a screenshot from Google Trends showing the number of people searching for their brand name.

Brett:

Okay. That little arrow, that's when we started YouTube. And we dialed up YouTube pretty fast for them. And you can see search volume for their brand almost doubled. And this was an established brand in the automotive space. And we helped really create some brand lift. So that's powerful because a lot of people will see that YouTube ad and think, "Hmm, that's interesting. I like that product. I like that brand, but I'm not ready to buy right now." And they're going to buy several days later, several weeks later, whatever.

Brett:

But this showed kind of this brand halo effect, brand lift effect for this company. All right. So that's brand lift. We get that. We get that that's going to happen. There are a few ways to measure it. One is by looking in your branded search campaigns and looking at Google Trends and things like that. But one of the other things I want to mention is lag. And so let's talk about the way Google Ads handles when they attribute a conversion.

Brett:

When does the conversion show up in Google Ads? Now, if you have an aversion to being nerdy, and this was like, "Man, I like talking ads. I want to see campaigns." Okay. You don't have to totally understand this, but I think you will. So let kind of use this as a scenario. Let's say that today is day one. So today's day one, a user is served an impression of your YouTube ad. Now, today, the prospect's busy, man. They see the ad, they're a little intrigued, but they move on because they're not quite ready.

Brett:

Day two, all right, now they're seeing it. They're hooked. They've maybe got time. Not only are they hooked with the ad and they watch it, but they click through to the site. But busy, they were doing other things, they don't purchase. Day three, they don't purchase. Day four, nothing, not purchasing. What's happening, then, if you're running these campaigns? You're starting to panic. You're starting to ring your hands a little bit. You're watching Google Ads. You're thinking, "Okay. Is anybody going to buy?"

Brett:

Finally, on day five, the person says, "You know what?" And then they're another impression. They're served to think, you know what? I do want that product. I do want that supplement skincare, product, device, whatever, new microphone, whatever the case may be. Okay. I want it, so buy it. All right. So then on what day does that campaign show up in the conversion column? For which day of campaigns will that conversion tracking show up?

Brett:

This is audience participation part. I can't actually hear you. But when does it show up? It actually shows up on day two. Day two is when the click happened. That's when Google's going to give credit. So click happened on day two. Conversion happened on day five. Credit is given back to the campaign on day two. So we're swimming along here. We're at day four. We're looking back at day two's performance and we're thinking, "Eh, not so great." But we just wait a day or two and the performance on day two looks way better.

Brett:

Let me show you a couple of other visuals to really help this come home for you. This is a view that's available now in Google Ads. So you look at any time window in Google ads and you can drill in and see this data. This is for an actual client. I won't show you who it is or what the vertical is. But looking at a couple of week window or so and Google will tell you, hey, for that window, we expect an additional 130 conversions to come in for the window you're looking at right now for a total of 505 conversions for that window, another way of saying it.

Brett:

You're looking today at this particular moment in time and we're saying only 74% of the conversions are in for that window. So we're looking for the last two weeks and Google's saying, yeah, that's only 74% of what we think is going to be attributed to that window. You wait another two or three weeks, it's going to be at the 90%. 29 days it's going to be at the 99%. We started creating these reports for our clients and they absolutely love them. Super helpful.

Brett:

This is for an actual automotive client. So if you look at their account today, direct conversions from YouTube, 97 conversions. You wait a day and look back at yesterday, in this case, you looked back at that day, 115 conversions. You wait seven days, now that 97 conversion day has now grown to 127. You wait 14 days now, 97 has turned into 129. The reverse is true for CPA. You look at the day of performance, $30. You go back in seven days and look at today, well, it's all the way down to 23. 14 days and it's all the way down to 22.

Brett:

So now maybe we were a little bit outside of our range initially, day of, but you wait a little bit of time and these numbers look fantastic. And think about it, this is the way people shop. It's the way people buy. It's the way you shop. We see an ad. We're intrigued. We don't buy it today. We buy in a few days. But Google gives credit back to when the click happened or when the view happens, depending on how you have view conversions set up. Okay.

Brett:

So as we look at our AMP approach, Accelerated Marketing Portfolios, we talk about these stages of the buying process. We talk about awareness, consideration, purchase, loyalty. Those first two stages, that awareness and consideration, that's prospecting, right? We're reaching new people. We're reaching people that have never been to our site. They've never joined our list. They've never bought our product. So those are prospecting audiences.

Brett:

Below that, at the purchase and the loyalty stage, a lot of that is brand traffic or remarketing traffic. So this is the type of traffic that something else had to trigger it. Something else had to introduce someone to your brand and now you're just sealing the deal. Now you're just closing that initial sale or you're closing that repeat purchase. So this remarketing and branded and the like.

Brett:

So what should the budget breakdown be? This is something that people ask us all the time. And there's not a one-size-fits-all answer here. It does depend on your brand. Let me just give you kind of a breakdown. Typically, if you look at a YouTube budget, whatever you're going to be able to spend on YouTube top of funnel or on YouTube in general, 70% to 85% of that YouTube budget should go to prospecting. That's where YouTube shines. 80% of people that they interact with YouTube on their purchase journey, they do it early in the purchase journey.

Brett:

So 70% to 85% of your total YouTube budget should be on that prospecting stage. And then depending on kind of the way your business works, if you look at your total Google budget, then maybe YouTube is 20% to 50% of that, right? Maybe higher. But 20% to 50% of your total Google budget is allocated to YouTube. Now, what about remarketing? Well, I think you can overspend on remarketing. I think remarketing is very important.

Brett:

If you sell multiple products, loyalty campaigns, cross-sell, upsell, bought X not Y, those campaigns are super important. But we say, hey, about 20%, maybe as low as 15% of your YouTube budget, on up to 30% of your YouTube budgets should be set aside for remarketing. And that's probably going to be about 10% to 15% of your total Google budget. When I say total Google budget, I'm talking search, shopping, display and YouTube, right? So looking at that total budget for the Google ecosystem. Okay?

Brett:

And then another thing to think about is, hey, if our goal is to grow, if our goal is to scale with YouTube, then 10% to 20% of your YouTube budget, it should be spent on experimenting. It should be spent on trying new things and going after new audiences and testing new creatives. You need to set aside some of that budget where you say this budget may fail. This budget may be a complete die or maybe a winner, and it's going to unlock scale for us.

Brett:

So one of things to keep in mind is that for any brand, for your brand, you have dozens, if not hundreds, it's almost always hundreds, of audience combinations to test. So as you launch, or if you work with an agency and as you launch, maybe the first few aren't going to be home runs. We're just looking for wins. We're looking for successes that we can build upon and really scale upon.

Brett:

So have dozens, more likely hundreds of audiences that you can scale with, and also you always have new creatives to test. So we have new prospecting creators we want to test. You want to build a manifesto. We try and outline that in that guide or an explainer plus UGC. Or maybe on the remarketing side, it's more user generated content or a longer explainer or quick reminders. There's more content that you need to test in the process as well.

Brett:

And so one thing we recommend is you should always be testing five ads per ad group, different CTAs and different headlines as part of those ads so you can always be optimizing and growing. And then as a bonus, we'll talk about this because it's a YouTube event. But people will watch your YouTube video and then if they don't buy, one of the next things they might do is search. And so then you want your search ads, your shopping ads to show up.

Brett:

And so one of the things you can do, and this is what we've done for BOOM! by Cindy Joseph, is we'll target people, specifically who've watched a YouTube ad, we'll target them in search and shopping. Just check this out super quick. This is a shopping campaign where we target only people that have viewed a YouTube video but have not purchased yet. $5.78 CPA, about a 863% return on ad spend.

Brett:

You can kind of see how this campaign can really bolster your portfolio performance and help you scale and reach those goals. So we do have Q&A in the chat. We're going to keep kind of moving right along because we have a lot to cover. And I know virtual events, it takes energy to listen. And I appreciate you listening and being so engaged. But do type in questions into the chat.

Brett:

We'll answer that now or we'll get to it very quickly. Or go check out the guide that I've mentioned. Or, hey, if you want to chat, like even if you just want second opinion, if you want to just see how our agency works or bounce some ideas off of us, if you go to the website, click on the 'let's talk' button, fill out that strategy session request form, and we'll be in touch.

Brett:

We'd love to look at your account, potentially do an audit, potentially take a closer look and see how YouTube could work for you. And as I mentioned, we actually handled this soup to nuts. So from creative strategy, building out, shooting new videos, editing existing videos, to audience, to campaign structure. We manage that all. So we'd love to chat with you.

Brett:

But we also want to provide great education. So if you do this yourself or do this with someone else, we want you to win too. We want you to succeed that way as well. And so with that, thank you so much for tuning into this session. But we are just getting started. And so just a really quick transition here, and then we're going to move into a session with my buddy, Kurt Elster, on landing pages that I think you're going to absolutely love. So let's get started and let's get...

Episode 169
:
Joe Valley - Quiet Light

How to Sell Your Business for Top Dollar by Becoming an EXITPreneur - with Author Joe Valley

Several of my successful eComm friends are selling all or a portion of their businesses right now.  It makes sense.  Ecommerce valuations are at an all time high.  Also, when you consider that entrepreneurs make 50% or more of all the money they will EVER make from their business when they sell it - you have to be thinking about when and how you want to sell your business.  

In this episode, I interview my friend and expert M&A advisor, Joe Valley.  Joe is a partner at Quietlight Brokerage, one of the leading online-focused M&A advisory firms in the world.  Before joining the team in 2012, Joe sold his own business through Quiet Light. Since then, he has helped facilitate nearly a half billion in online exits and now is the author of the bestselling book, The EXITpreneur’s Playbook - How to Sell Your Online Business for Top Dollar.

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

  • What is an EXITpreneur and why it pays to think and operate like one
  • Why you should start “training” for an exit now
  • What if someone says - I love my business…I don’t want to sell.  
  • Top mistakes to avoid when selling your business
  • Real life business selling horror stories
  • Plus more!

I do highly recommend Joe’s book. You can get your copy today at EXITpreneur.io and begin to understand the true value of your business - and how to get maximum value for it whenever and however you decide to exit.

Joe Valley

Via LinkedIn

Via EXITpreneur


Quiet Light Brokerage

The EXITpreneur’s Playbook by Joe Valley

Mentioned in this episode:


Gino Wickman

Traction by Gino Wickman

Ezra Firestone

Andrew Youderian

Peter Lang


Episode 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, man, I could not be more excited about both the topic and the guests. The topic is extremely relevant to me, although maybe not in an immediately obvious way, which we'll get into in just a minute. But my guest is a friend of mine, guy that I've gotten to know over the last several years. And he's the real deal, and he's an expert in his field.

Brett:

So I'm delighted to welcome to the show today Joe Valley. And Joe, he's a partner at Quiet Light Brokerage, which really if you've ever looked at buying an online business or selling your online business, you've heard of Quiet Light. Everybody talks about Quiet Light Brokerage, but more exciting than that, and more timely than that, Joe just released a new book that's already hit the Best Seller list. And the name of his book is The Exitpreneur's Playbook, How to Sell Your Online Business for Top Dollar. It's received endorsements from the likes of Gino Wickman, author of Traction, which is also a great book, Ezra Firestone, Andrew Youderian. The list goes on and on. I endorse the book, not quite finished with it, but I've dug in, and it's absolutely fantastic. It's not only interesting and enlightening, but it's also extremely well-written. So we're going to talk today about what to think about if you're going to sell your business, all the planning and the things that go into that, or what to do if you're in my boat we're looking to buy some businesses. And so with that, Joe, how you doing man? And welcome to the show.

Joe Valley:

Fantastic, Brett. Thanks for having me, man. I appreciate it.

Brett:

Yeah. Thanks for coming on the show. We go way back. I think we connected at one of Ezra's events, I don't know, maybe three, four years ago.

Joe Valley:

At least, yeah.

Brett:

I'm bad with dates, but it's been a long time. And so Joe is just the guy who everybody like looks up to, wants to have a beer with, wants talk to, just really trust your insights. And so, Joe, I got to ask, because I know this process is painful, I know from being an author, not of a book, but of other things, of guides and of courses and things that I've done, that's hard work, man, like blood, sweat, tears, sleepless nights. So why write a book?

Joe Valley:

It had to be done, man. It had to be done. And I had so much information, or misinformation, out there about business valuations in the online space, what the process is like, and all this stuff. Historically, it's just been information from investment banking and private equity firms, but never from somebody who's sort of been an entrepreneur first and foremost, like myself. I sold my last e-commerce business in 2010. Since then joined Quiet Light, touched about a half a billion. And I can't believe I'm doing that with a B now, bruh, but I have billion-

Brett:

Amazing.

Joe Valley:

In online exits over the last decade. And I just had to write it. I've had 5,000 plus one-on-one conversations with entrepreneurs, and you know there's a lot more out there than that.

Brett:

Absolutely.

Joe Valley:

And I can't reach them all, and I can't talk to them all. And even when I talk to them one-on-one, it's a limiting conversation. So I had to put everything I knew and everything the team knows and put it in the book so that it's, as Sam says, you mentioned Sam says, "It's the definitive guide to selling an online business."

Brett:

Yeah. I love it. And what's so cool about it is, yeah, you can only have so many conversations, but there's so much misinformation or lack of information on how to get your online business ready to sell and how to do a proper valuation and how to train for exit, which we'll talk about in a minute. And I know from our perspective, as I look at creating content, and I create a lot of YouTube ad courses or Google ad courses or other things, my thought is hey, I want to help people, but also then if somebody who wants to work with us and they've already gone through the training, they're ready, they understand game and it's smooth and it's easier from that standpoint. Yeah, so the book is fantastic. Kudos to you. I was telling you before we hit record, it's not just informative, and I've read a lot of business books that are informative. It's well-written. It's an enjoyable read. And I like the written word, so I'm a bit judgy when it comes to things like that. And you did a fantastic job.

Joe Valley:

I appreciate that because writing a book about selling a business could be pretty damn dry. There could be details in there that could just make your eyes bleed. And that was the biggest challenge in writing it, was making sure that it was fun and interesting and something you'd want to come back to because you keep getting such good nuggets out of it.

Brett:

Yeah, yeah. Yeah, absolutely.

Joe Valley:

Thanks for that.

Brett:

Yeah, absolutely. So let's dig in just a little bit. What is an exitpreneur?

Joe Valley:

Well, that's a good question. I guess I had to define it, and I think did somewhere in the book. An entrepreneur is what we all are. First we just bootstrap and say the heck with it, man. I got to work for myself, and I'm going to go ahead and launch this business because I want a different lifestyle than going to work and working for somebody else every single day. An exitpreneur is that, but they also understand that the greatest value that they get out of their business monetarily is actually when they sell it. And so they've always got a mind towards selling the business eventually. And look, let's not pretend that we're not all going to exit our business someday. It may not be... For you, you love what you do. You might be doing this for another 30 years or 50. Who knows? But you're going to exit it someday.

Brett:

Yeah, at some point, right?

Joe Valley:

At some point. So you want to put it in the position of being ready for that well in advance of when you decide to do that so that in your situation if you're going to pass it onto your kids someday, that they're inheriting something that is a well-oiled machine and growing and not full of problems, and if you're going to sell it elsewhere, to somebody else, that it's got an incredible value so then it will help you and your family on your next adventure as well.

Brett:

Yeah, that's fantastic. And right, and I'm in a place now where I love running OMG Commerce. I enjoy the industry and the business and the team. And so yeah, no plans to sell, but you still got to get ready. And I remember one of the things you and I talked about before is even if you're not selling for a decade, preparing your business for sale now will make it a better business. It's just going to run better, and you're going to get more from it.

Joe Valley:

That's the absolute truth. That's so true. Well, you understand what the current value of your business is and what makes it more valuable. And we're not talking more clients and more revenue. We're talking about the other aspects of it that really blow up the value. Those really tough days that we all have as entrepreneurs get a lot easier because you know you're building towards something. So I think it's really important. Whether you're ready to sell or think you might sell or think you may never sell, I think it's really important to go ahead and put an exit goal out there and say look, in 10 years I want to exit for X amount of dollars. And then the next thing is you've got to understand where you are today so you know how close or far you are from that, because as our buddy... You're friends with Mike Jackness. I think yo know Mike, right?

Brett:

Yeah, I know Mike. Mike's a great guy.

Joe Valley:

Right, so Mike said to me, "Look, Joe, I knew what to do, and I was just going to get to it some day. And then I woke up, and some day was here." And by then it was too late to exit the way that he wanted to. He had four brands in one account, wanted to sell them all, wasn't able to sell all of them. So preparing for it, or as we say, training for it... Because nobody wants to do exit planning. That's just boring as hell... training for it is what the book is doing and getting you ready for.

Brett:

Yeah, it sounds like doing your taxes or something like that.

Joe Valley:

It's awful.

Brett:

Nobody wants to do their taxes, right?

Joe Valley:

It's awful.

Brett:

So what does that look like, then? What does it look like to train for exit?

Joe Valley:

Well, I had to put it all in writing so it's something that you can absorb over time, because if you're going to go out and run a marathon, Brett, most people are not going to be able to just go out and go to the gym or get out on the road and start running and just do it without any plan or focus. So the first thing we're doing is helping you understand what's going to be left over after the sale. And it's ballpark numbers because it always changes, changes every four to eight years with the political environment, because we're talking about capital gains taxes here.

Brett:

Yeah, yeah, exactly.

Joe Valley:

You may be paying more or less. You're not paying personal income taxes. So when you do the math on that potential exit, you got to figure out what's left over. So we're doing a little bit of that. So you're setting an exit goal, and then you're figuring out where you are today. And that exit goal, you can say 10 million bucks, but really it's what are you keeping is what the objective is. So we're talking about that. And then we're going through absolutely every aspect of the preparation and sale of a business, from valuation ranges to what buyers want to what scares the hell out of them to LOIs to deal structures, negotiating with aggregators. What the hell is a stability payment? Look it up. You're never going to find it. Now it's in the book. They made that up. All these different things that-

Brett:

that was made up by the aggregators?

Joe Valley:

Yes, made up by the aggregators. It's really an earn-out.

Brett:

So quick side note. What is a stability payment?

Joe Valley:

Stability payment is an earn-out, if you really want to just call it what it is, but they do earn us... And they do the stability payments. They call it a stability payment because FBA businesses are so risky that we're worried it's going to fall off a cliff after closing, so therefore, we want to hold back 10% in escrow, and we'll pay you that in 12 months if we're within 90% of the revenue at closing. It's pretty smart on their part. It lets them keep more of their money and buy more businesses.

Brett:

Yeah, yeah. Very interesting.

Joe Valley:

So just like if you are going to go run that marathon or just a 5K... Let's start with that.

Brett:

Okay, that sounds much more attainable. Thank you.

Joe Valley:

Right. I think you and I could both get up and go run a 5K tomorrow morning.

Brett:

We could survive it, yeah, yeah.

Joe Valley:

Exactly. We'd survive it. It would hurt a little bit, and then for the next few days it would hurt a lot more because we'd be recovering, right?

Brett:

Exactly.

Joe Valley:

It's the same thing. If you train for it, you're going to do well, and the recovery is going to be nothing. Same thing with a business. When you get prepared and you train for it, when you were in the process of exiting, it's going to be a whole lot smoother, a whole lot easier. You're going to get more money, a better deal structure. And then when it's all done, you actually will sleep at night, and you'll sleep better, as opposed to having lots of pain and a terrible deal structure where you're worried if you're going to get paid on the back end and all that sort of stuff.

Brett:

You'll experience the business equivalent of the runner's high. You'll be basking in the glow of the success.

Joe Valley:

I can't tell you if I've ever had a runner's high, to be honest with you.

Brett:

It's been a quick minute for me. I did run cross country, not well. I ran cross country in high school because my basketball coach made me. And so yeah, but I-

Joe Valley:

I was number five.

Brett:

What's that?

Joe Valley:

I was number five on the cross country team. And my kids hate the story of-

Brett:

Dude, that's intense.

Joe Valley:

No, no, no, no, no. I was the fifth runner on the team and only the top five score, Brett. Let's get this clear. I was not a good runner. And the coach... I was running too slow one day, and during a meet, he was like, "Valley, we need a number five." And I picked up my hands, and I started running faster, and I became number five.

Brett:

I'm number five.

Joe Valley:

And I've told my kids. My kids hate that story, and everybody else here does now too. But anyway, yeah, I'm not a runner, but you got to train.

Brett:

You too could be number five. This is awesome. So let's talk about what are some of the mistakes that are made? So let's take someone who's the opposite of an exitpreneur, because you've experienced lots of horror stories, sadly enough, tales of woe, which you've experienced firsthand as an advisor, but what are some of the common mistakes people make that you're trying to help them avoid?

Joe Valley:

Yeah. A lot of these are detailed in the book. And just for the record, I do change the names, yeah, and I use first names only. Look, the first one is really easy. People are not using proper accounting software. They're just winging it. They bootstrap the business. They're thinking about themselves. They're pulling enough out to get by, to grow, to buy a boat, whatever it is they want, but they're not using QuickBooks or Xero. And they're doing the accounting themselves. For the cost of a really, really nice car lease, you can get an e-commerce bookkeeper to do all that ugly stuff for you.. And that's what you should be doing. That's what you should be doing.

Brett:

Skip the car. Get the-

Joe Valley:

Skip the car. Exactly, exactly. And actually, you know what? If you get an e-commerce bookkeeper, you'll probably be able to afford that car a lot more quickly.

Brett:

Yeah, that's true.

Joe Valley:

So that's the number one mistake. And they're doing cash accounting instead of accrual. So it's impossible to initially at a glance calculate their discretionary earnings, because you got to take the time to flip it to accrual instead of cash. And that's true for content and SAS businesses as well as e-commerce physical product businesses.

Brett:

So in order to get ready to sell, you need that accrual-based accounting system?

Joe Valley:

Yeah.

Brett:

Yeah. So just to clarify, does that need to be the way someone files their taxes and does their taxes? Or it's really just they need to be able to have those reports, those-

Joe Valley:

You know I fell asleep in accounting class. I'm not going to tell you how to file your taxes. I'm pretty good at it now though.

Brett:

I did too. That was almost one of the only classes I fell asleep in in college. jazz class, astronomy, but I slept regularly in accounting class, yeah.

Joe Valley:

I think you're supposed to fall asleep in jazz class, just for the record.

Brett:

Well, yeah, and so quick side story. We had this professor who was great, passionate about jazz. And I actually liked after the class too, but we were in an auditorium. Lights were low. Jazz is playing. How can you stay awake?

Joe Valley:

Exactly. Yeah, yeah. So your tax advisor's going to do something differently.

Brett:

So that part doesn't matter. It's just can you produce accrual- based accounting reports?

Joe Valley:

Right. And look, most people... And I'm going to say most now is only probably 51%. It used to be 90%... people are growing up in this industry and get getting much smarter and much better and much more sophisticated. But half the people can't. So when I get a P&L and it's in cash and they have not done accrual accounting inside of QuickBooks or Xero, you just don't push the accrual button and have it flip. That's not the way it works. But it can be done after it's exported to Excel, as long as you've got beginning and ending inventory by month, quarter, or year, preferably by month. So beginning and ending inventory is ideal for that.

Brett:

Got it. Got it. Okay.

Joe Valley:

We got into the weeds there, folks. Sorry about that.

Brett:

Yeah. It's okay. Hey, we'll stay high level. Occasionally we'll we'll swoop-

Joe Valley:

Dip down.

Brett:

And get really into detail.

Joe Valley:

Okay. As long as we get our snorkel on. We got to breathe.

Brett:

Exactly. So what other big mistakes do you see people making that you highlight in the book?

Joe Valley:

They wake up and they just say, "I'm done, man. This is too much risk. I got to move on." And then they call me, and they say, "Hey, I want to sell. Hook me up."

Brett:

And you're like, "What?"

Joe Valley:

"Really? No, we can. What are you looking for? Ah, yeah, it's not worth that." So they wait until they're emotionally exhausted, worn out, tired, stressed, and just have to move on to sell instead of getting trained for it, planning for it a little bit. Six, 12 months out and thinking, you know what? I'm going to have a conversation with an advisor. I'm going to see what my business is worth today, and I'm going to march towards a goal. And then when you do that, you're happier, you're better, Your business is stronger, and you have a better exit in the future. But if you're not ready in 12 months, just move the goalpost. That's all you got to do.

Brett:

Just forget the business. You've been making these changes. It's probably going to be healthier, so-

Joe Valley:

You're going to love the business more too. I see that all the time. When they go through the process, they're ready. We go through the entire process, go through all the weaknesses and strengths of the businesses and get it prepared to sell and ready to list, and then I hear, "Joe, you know what? I feel like I'm leaving so much money on the table. I should've done X, Y, and Z, like you talked about. I'm going to hold it, and I'm going to come back in a year." And I think Good for you. Smartest move ever.

Brett:

Yeah, absolutely. And do you ever find like when someone... So somebody maybe comes to you, and they're a little burned out or maybe on the borderline of losing the passion for the business, they've started to implement some of the things that you advise them on, some of the strategies, do you ever find that that almost rekindles they're enthusiasm?

Joe Valley:

Absolutely.

Brett:

And then they're like, "Hey, maybe I should hold this for another year or so and get a bigger, a multiple."

Joe Valley:

Absolutely. I was at a e-commerce fuel event years ago and-

Brett:

Shout out to Andrew Youderian?

Joe Valley:

Shout out to Andrew. So I was sitting down with somebody. We talked about the deal, the deal structure. We got it all under LOI, going through due diligence. And this individual decided to be really difficult in due diligence because this individual... You notice I'm not saying he or she... decided they didn't want to sell because they were so much more excited about the business because of what they learned. And this was five or six years ago. That individual still owns the business today, and it's killing it. So it was a good decision for that person. And they've learned a lot. Eventually, that person just moved the goalpost much further down the line, but it's still in view.

Brett:

There's a really interesting concept. Do you know Peter Lang, by chance?

Joe Valley:

I know the name. I don't know him personally.

Brett:

Uhuru Network, I believe. Anyways, he was referred to me by a friend of mine, Tom Shipley, but Peter does a lot of teaching and training for people that want to acquire businesses. So he calls it systematic or programmatic M&A. And one of the things he talks about, which I really like this phrasing, he says... I don't know if it's originally him or not, but he said, "You always hear people talk about do you want to work in your business, work in it or work on it?" And so people talking about, "Hey, you don't get stuck in it. Work on it." And he said, "Really, what I think you should do is work above it, work above it like an investor. Think like an investor would think." And I thought that's a pretty interesting way to look at it. And if you look at your business like an investor would, you remove some of the emotion and you can begin to look at it objectively and say okay, I still love parts of my business. I can't fully detach the emotion from my business, but I'm seeing it and thinking about it now like an investor would. And I think in some ways that makes the game more fun for you now, but it also prepares you for that exit.

Joe Valley:

Yeah, I love that. I thought you were just going to stop with working on your business, not in your business. And I'd be like yeah, I've heard that. But now I love that. Think about it-

Brett:

investor. That's good-

Joe Valley:

Go above. I like Peter Lang. I need an intro.

Brett:

I will make that happen. I'll make that happen for sure. Cool. So then I want to talk about valuations for a minute. And you know this, and I mentioned this maybe on the podcast a couple of times, I know I have, we're looking to buy some businesses. I'm on the other side. I want to acquire some businesses potentially. But the valuation game is tricky. That's the thing where the seller thinks the valuation is one thing. The buyer thinks that it's worth another thing. What are some common valuation mistakes that are made? And kind of what are some tips on proper valuations?

Joe Valley:

Yeah. So for buyers... I wrote this book for sellers, but if buyers read and absorb the material in this book and they go out and they find a business on their own, they're probably going to find some pretty serious, what I call ignorance discounts, meaning the seller didn't do a proper job in calculating seller's discretionary earnings. These businesses are listed as a multiple of SDE, seller's discretionary earnings. And the biggest mistake that sellers make is they don't properly calculate that. The number one thing that, aside from being truly underinformed, misinformed... Ignorance discount is not the proper phrase, but is when somebody lists their... It's a rapidly growing e-commerce business, and they list it for sale using cash accounting. That's going to depress the age out of discretionary earnings.

Joe Valley:

And if you're a buyer and you can find a business like that listed by somebody individually, you're going to get some pretty serious instant equity, because discretionary earnings is probably a heck of a lot higher. The other one, Brett, that so many people don't do when they list the business on their own or with an inexperienced advisor is if the owner of that business is using a cash back credit card, and they're not having it put on their P&L, which so many don't, they're like that's a nice perk. I'm going to take that. And it's sliding over, or they take the rewards... We get the rewards here... that's an owner benefit. And that goes to the bottom line. If it's not in the P&L, you can put it in the add back schedule. So if you're getting a hundred thousand reward points every month, that's a thousand bucks a month? Or is that 10,000? Yeah, it's 1% on American Express.

Brett:

Yeah, it's thousand, yeah.

Joe Valley:

So if you get 12,000 bucks added back just because of converted reward points, it's black and white, math and logic. It's no trickery. It is what it is. It's an owner benefit. And if you're at a four-time multiple, a three-time multiple, it's $36,000 to $48,000 added onto the list price of the business. So as a buyer, if you're looking at a P&L, look for cash back or converted reward points. If it's not there, find out if they're using it. If they're spending money on advertising, odds are they're using their credit card. And then that credit card has some points. So that's instant equity that I see most people when they sell on their own, they give it away. They give it away.

Brett:

Yeah, that's awesome.

Joe Valley:

You know what's tricky... I don't want to get too far into the weeds here, so stop me, but one of the things that you can look for as a buyer, or make sure you don't do as a seller, if you've renegotiated your cost of goods sold in the last 12 months, let's say six months ago, and your cost of goods sold went down by, let's do simple math, a dollar a unit, and you sell 10,000 units a month every single month, you've got six months where that new price, that lower price, is not on the books. That benefit is going to carry forward to the new owner of the business. So you need to take 10,000 units a month times that dollar. That's a $10,000 adjustment or an add back, because that's going to carry forward, that reduction. So it's 60,000 bucks right there that should in the add back schedule. 60 times, again, that's $360,000, $480,000 legitimately added to the list price of your business. You got to look for that. And as a buyer, you want to look for the opposite. You always-

Brett:

What are some add backs that are likely missed, or some of that carry forward that was potentially missed by the seller?

Joe Valley:

Yeah. Well, you always want to ask, I would say as a buyer have your cost of goods sold gone up or down in the last 12 months? And you really try to find out if they went up, because if they went up, you've got to make an adjustment too.

Brett:

Yep, yep. Super, super interesting. That's great. And what have you seen... So you mentioned aggregators for a little bit. I have some friends that work for aggregators, and it's really an interesting thing in the space right now, not that consolidation is a new thing by any means, but there has been definitely a rise in aggregators in recent years. In fact, I just recorded a podcast the other day with an aggregator talking about the rise of aggregators, but what have they done? So your and others, what have they done to valuations of e-commerce businesses? Have they shifted the landscape at all?

Joe Valley:

Absolutely. No question about it. And they're so well known, and they're getting so much press that FBA business owners are realizing, going, "I can sell this thing." So I remember being at an event maybe six years ago when I had a little booklet. Now I have a real book, but my little booklet was called 10 Steps to Selling your Amazon Business. And the person that was putting on the event got up on stage, and he talked about the survey that he did with his group. And it was like 80% weren't even selling on Amazon. They were so proud. They were Shopify and WooCommerce sellers. And who needs this Amazon stuff? Well, he did it again last year, and it was just the opposite. 80% of them are selling on Amazon. That's where most of their revenue comes from. Now six years ago, the the perceived risk, I should say, of buying an Amazon business was incredibly high. So therefore, the multiples were lower. Today people that are a lot smarter than you and I, that have raised billions of dollars, have proved that it's not as risky as you think. And the multiples are climbing because of that, and because of the competition among them, the multiples are climbing too.

Joe Valley:

So it's a great opportunity to sell an FBA business, because these aggregators are fighting tooth and nail over each other. Brett, we've had an average of four and a half offers on every listing year to date.

Brett:

Wow.

Joe Valley:

Every one of them. 62% have gone at or above asking price because of the competition-

Brett:

That's crazy.

Joe Valley:

When it's an FBA business among the aggregators.

Brett:

Yeah. But it makes sense a lot of these areas have raised $400, $600 million to be investing in other businesses. And they can't just have that cash sitting there. They've got to go acquire some stuff to create the return. And so that, yeah, maybe they're going to pay a higher multiple than would've been expected a few years ago.

Joe Valley:

Yeah. They don't like to. When first started out, they were buying them at two times at best. And now Brad just put one under LOI yesterday. I think it was 5.4 before inventory, like a 6.3 with inventory.

Brett:

And this was an FBA-only business? Or was-

Joe Valley:

Yeah, it was, well, I call it FBA business when it is 85% FBA. Yeah, so, yeah. Yeah, and it was a substantial business. The larger the business is, the lower the risk, therefore, the higher the multiple. If you've got an FBA business doing $100 thousand in revenue, I'm sorry, you're not going to get that five and a half time multiple. But if you're doing a million and a half in discretionary earnings and you're growing like crazy and it's fully transferable and all these other things, it's possible. It's possible.

Brett:

So once you exceed the three, three and a half times multiple, it's because you're diversified. It's because you've got larger SDE, which is perceived as more valuable, and because you've got a growth trajectory as well, I would assume.

Joe Valley:

Yeah. It's all because the growth, the transferability of the business, the documentation, it's all great, great branding, maybe some recurring revenue. Buyers love recurring revenue. Whether it's B2B where they're constantly buying your product or supplements of some sort, it's trackable, and it's just money that shows up in your account every month.

Brett:

Yeah, Which is beautiful for sure. So I think everybody gets hung up on multiple. They want to-

Joe Valley:

Way too much.

Brett:

They want to brag about the multiple. They want to talk about the multiple. They get all upset if they don't get offered the multiple. But there's more that goes into that, right? I even heard a savvy buyer say one time, "I don't care what the multiple is. If they want to hire multiple, I'll just figure someone else out to make the deal work in my favor." So when I heard that, I was like all right, well, there's something there. It's almost like the car dealers like, "Just tell me how you want your monthly payment to be, and I'll figure out a way to make it work So anyway, what needs to be considered other than just multiple?

Joe Valley:

You want to look at... We're talking about a buyer or from a seller standpoint?

Brett:

From a seller standpoint, yes.

Joe Valley:

From a seller standpoint. So we've got a couple of chapters, probably three chapters, 13, 11, and 15, I think they are, on negotiating with the aggregators, what they're looking for and how to work with them. They're all good people. And I say that-

Brett:

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Joe Valley:

Most of them are really good people.

Brett:

Good people, yeah.

Joe Valley:

They're smart.

Brett:

but good people.

Joe Valley:

Yeah, yeah. Look, they're not bad people. They've managed to raise $500 million, they're probably pretty likable.

Brett:

pretty smart.

Joe Valley:

So we go into the different types of deal structures. So there's a total of six of them. Or really it's 11 because cash is one, and then it could be cash plus cash plus a stability payment, cash plus the seller note, cash plus a working capital peg, inventory seller notes and all these different things. So understanding the different types of deal structures that you could possibly have as a seller. Most sellers want to say no to anything but all cash, but oftentimes having an or seller note or an equity role can give you some peace of mind and some income after the sale. Maybe if this exit isn't enough for you to be done and stop working, you still need some income after the sale. So rather than take a smaller all cash amount, you may be able to get more for the business.

Joe Valley:

Like the one I just mentioned. The cash wasn't 5.8, or whatever the number was. It was cash and then an earn out and a consulting a bunch of other stuff. And it just gives peace of mind after the sale. But again, most people want to say no because they don't know who the buyer is. An uninformed, an ignorant, whatever kind of mind, always says no. Once you get to know your buyer, you may say yes, and it may be in your benefit to say yes, but you've got to understand all of these different deal structures before you want to say yes to any of that. And of course, you got to have a very good attorney to make sure that you are locked in and secured and that you will get paid. But we talk about that, and then we talk about how to properly negotiate with the person that's buying your business. You want to work with good people, right, Brett?

Brett:

Yeah, absolutely.

Joe Valley:

As do I. This is not Wall Street, second place is for losers or whatever.

Brett:

Yeah, not cut throat. It's not like a winner and a loser. You're trying to come to some agreement where it's-

Joe Valley:

It's a win-win. It's got to be a win-win. What I talk about in the book and what I've learned over the years through trials and tribulations, my own successes and failures, is that you don't just build a great business for yourself. You got to have the mindset of building a great business for great customers and a great buyer to eventually take over at a great price. And that great price has got to be for both of you obviously. there's a lot of greats in there. There are no losers in it. So you've got to shift your mindset a little bit and think of your buyer and giving them something that's amazing. And they're going to pay you a higher price for that if you give them something amazing. If you give them a house of cards, they're going to figure it out.

Brett:

Yeah, yeah. So in looking at these deal structures... And this is kind of top of mind because you and I have a couple of mutual friends who have recently done partial exits, so they've equity. They've taken some chips off the table. They sort of sold a portion of their business. They're retaining some equity. They're still working in the business for a period of years, however many that is, two, five, whatever. And then they're going to exit again. Why are deals like that potentially pretty attractive and maybe worth thinking about right now?

Joe Valley:

Yeah, they can be very attractive. They're unattractive if you need to get all of your chips off the table, but if you get 75% of your chips off the table and roll the dice on the other 25%, it could be a much higher exit for you. I think what we're going to see with some of the aggregators, and whether it's an FBA aggregator, somebody rolling out just Shopify sites or whatever it might be, is that they're going to try to do more equity roles. And so if you've got, for example, I'm going to try to do simple math here.

Brett:

And the reason for that is because they want to retain that founder, that visionary, that operator to some of the work, right?

Joe Valley:

Strangely enough, no. They just want to get the deal done. That's what they're fighting for now. Most of the time, they've got the in-house expertise and staff.

Brett:

Got it. Got it. Okay.

Joe Valley:

doesn't need me...they don't need me to operate it. They want me to go away, but if-

Brett:

They want to get a deal done.

Joe Valley:

They want to get a deal done. So let's just simple math though. If I've got 400,000 in discretionary earnings, and let's just say that I'm going to sell it at three times for simple math. Folks, I'm not telling you folks that your business is worth three times here. I'm just giving you an example.

Brett:

Easy math.

Joe Valley:

Easy math. So that's 1.2 million. But if I sell 75% of it, what is that? 85? Now it's not easy math, right?

Brett:

Yeah, it's-

Joe Valley:

I'm going to hold back a hundred thousand of it, 25%. I'm selling 300,000 of it, so I'm getting 900,000. I'm rolling the hundred thousand into the new co that is a bigger company, that's worth a higher multiple. So I'm getting a 300... Sorry... getting a three time multiple on my 300,000. But the moment my hundred thousand goes into the new co, that company's probably worth 10 to 20 times on their exit, like, right?

Brett:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Joe Valley:

20 times easily, right?

Brett:

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Joe Valley:

So my 100,000 now becomes worth a million. It's worth on paper more than my 300,000. That's the benefit of an equity role. The problem most entrepreneurs have with it is the concept of I have to go to work for someone? I don't want a job. And we just saw an-

Brett:

And a lot of entrepreneurs, let's face it, are unemployable.

Joe Valley:

Totally unemployable. I'm unemployable. There's no question about it. But what you can do is just become a strategic advisor to the company, which just means you're going to sit in on meetings about maybe new product launches and share your ideas on where this is going to go. And so you're having a quarterly meeting, and that's about it. That allows the aggregator to put out less of their cash and let you participate in the upside, and they know that they can draw on your expertise and your experience, but you're not working for them. You're just becoming an advisor for them. So I think that is probably something we're going to see quite a bit more of. And if you find the right buyer for your business, whether it's an aggregator or somebody else that you trust, I think it could be a really excellent-

Brett:

could mean a higher multiple. And it's just pretty interesting. And that is another one of those win-win, right, where the aggregator or the buyer gets to put out a little less cash?

Joe Valley:

Yes.

Brett:

They're allowing you to participate in the upside, but it also allows them to win the deals. So, yeah, it totally makes sense. But I love that you outlined this in the book. And what'd you say? Six, seven deal structures?

Joe Valley:

Yeah, I think there's six total deal structures in the book, but when you add cash to each of them, there's now 11, because it can be cash, or it can be cash plus this, cash plus that, or cash plus five of them. It can get pretty complicated.

Brett:

And thousands of different ways to do each one of them six categories of deals.

Joe Valley:

Right, right. exactly.

Brett:

Awesome. Let's just do a couple of quick things here because we're about out of time, but other tips, other little bits of advice for sellers? What should they be doing? Thinking? Now, other than buying a book of exitpreneurs, which I highly recommend, get it on Kindle, hard copy, whatever, what other pieces of advice would you give?

Joe Valley:

Yeah, it's a good question. I would say that you really want to figure out your own level of incompetence, and you want to figure that out pretty quickly.

Brett:

Got to be self-aware, right?

Joe Valley:

Yeah. You got to be, just because we're entrepreneurs. We have an affliction. We think we can do anything. I can do that.

Brett:

And that mindset, that spirit is valuable.

Joe Valley:

It is.

Brett:

But not always. You got to be aware-

Joe Valley:

Not always. So you may be able to get your business to 10 or 20 million, but can you get it to a hundred million? Are you equipped to bring on a staff of 35 and go overseas and work with an overseas manufacturing company once a quarter or once a month? Are you emotionally equipped for that? And do you have the ability to manage a business of that level? Or do you have an interest? Can you? Probably. Should you?

Brett:

Would you like the life that that creates? And you might not.

Joe Valley:

Exactly.

Brett:

Be self-aware.

Joe Valley:

So really be self-aware. Figure out the kind of life that you want to live. Make sure you don't promote yourself to your own level of incompetence, because when you do, your business will suffer, and then the value will go down.

Brett:

Yeah, yeah. It's tough. Awesome stuff. Joe, where can people find the book or connect with you?

Joe Valley:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I appreciate that. Exitpreneur.io. Exit preneur.io, or just do a search for it on Amazon, exitpreneur, or The Exitpreneur's Playbook. They can find me on LinkedIn. They can hit me up at joe@exitpreneur.io. I keep saying.com, but it's IO. Or at Quiet Light, joe@quietlight.com.

Brett:

Yep. And so huge recommendation for the book. Also recommendation for Quiet Light if you're looking to sell your business. And so just a quick point for Quiet Light as well, Joe. If someone's thinking about it, considering it, at what stage should someone reach out to Quiet Light? An e-commerce store owner, when should they reach out to you?

Joe Valley:

You know what? If they're at least 12 months old, I think it's time. It's time. And the key thing about Quiet Light, just to distinguish who we are and what we do, everyone on the team has built, bought, or sold their own online business. They're all very successful entrepreneurs first and foremost, and then they became advisers. Brad, who you know, rolled up-

Brett:

Yeah, Brad, I know him.

Joe Valley:

With 30 content sites, so the private equity firm. Amanda's been on the cover of Time Magazine for goodness sake-

Brett:

Crazy.

Joe Valley:

For her Pearl importing business. I am a slacker compared to some of the guys on the team.

Brett:

But you got the book, man. You got the book. You can always-

Joe Valley:

I had to write it just to keep up with them.

Brett:

That's awesome, man. All right, Joe, really appreciate you taking the time, man. This was a ton of fun, very informative, and glad we did it.

Joe Valley:

Thanks, man. I appreciate having me on.

Brett:

Yeah, absolutely. And as always, I appreciate you tuning in, and I'd love to hear from you. Give us some feedback on the show. What would you like to hear more of? What topics should we cover? And if you haven't already, I would absolutely love that review on iTunes. And with that, until next time, thank you for listening.

Episode 168
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Sheila Secrest, Derek Casas, Heidi Sturrock, Greg Maycock, Matt Slaymaker, Bill Cover - OMG Panel

YouTube Expert Panel - Your Top YouTube Ads Questions Answers

In this episode, I’m bringing you insights from some of the best and brightest minds at OMG Commerce.

Nearly every day we have eCommerce companies reaching out to us wanting to know how to grow their eCommerce brands using YouTube ads.  YouTube ads are both exciting and mysterious to most store owners.  

In this episode, I’m bringing you insights from some of the best and brightest minds at OMG Commerce. This is the audio recording from a recent YouTube ads expert panel that I moderated.  This was a really fun panel for me because it was made up entirely of my team.  I brought in 6 of our top YouTube ad specialists from team OMG to answer your burning YouTube questions.  I think you’ll really learn a lot and enjoy this format.  Here’s a look at the questions we dive into:

  • What are the best YouTube audiences to launch with and what are the best audiences to SCALE with?
  • How are YouTube ads different from Facebook and IG ads and different from ads on other platforms?
  • How long does it take to start reaching your CPA or CAC goals?
  • What kind of scale is possible with YouTube ads
  • When things go wrong on YouTube - what’s usually the cause? 
  • How important is production value to the success of your campaigns
  • What new YouTube features are you most excited about?

Sheila Secrest

Derek Casas

Heidi Sturrock

Greg Maycock

Bill Cover

Matt Slaymaker


Mentioned in this episode: 

Kurt Elster

Brett:

Well, hello, and welcome to another edition of the eCommerce Revolution Podcast. I'm your host, Brett Curry, CEO of OMG Commerce, and today you get to hear from not one, not two, not three, but six OMG Commerce experts and myself, so I guess that makes seven. But today we're doing a replay of a recent YouTube ads panel, an expert panel with six of our brightest specialists and strategists from here at OMG Commerce plus myself. So I'm grilling this crew with questions about audiences, best audiences to start with, best audiences to scale with. We talk about the differences between ads on Facebook and ads on YouTube. We talk about what should you expect as you launch campaigns on YouTube, when should we get our CPAs or our customer acquisition cost really dialed in and all kinds of other burning questions that I know a lot of you have when it comes to YouTube ads. We answer them in this expert panel, so I hope you enjoy this as much as I enjoyed moderating this panel. So check it out, the OMG Commerce YouTube ads expert panel.

Brett:

This episode of the eCommerce Revolution 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's Sponsored 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 a newly updated Google Shopping guide plus more. Check it all out at omgcommerce.com and click on guides under resources. Now, back to the show.

Brett:

All right. Well, I know this session is possibly the whole reason you attended this event. You want to hear from the experts. You want to hear from those that are behind the scenes, managing campaigns day in and day out. So I've assembled a dream team here. This is the OMG Commerce dream team. This is the team behind some of our biggest wins, some of our fastest scaling accounts. These are the guys and gals managing things and making dreams come true on YouTube. So I'm going to do quick intros and then we're going to dive into the most asked questions we get all the time from prospective clients and clients we're working with and just people we know that are interested about YouTube ads. These are the hot questions. We're going to dive into them in a minute. But, first, I'm going to do quick intros so you know who you're hearing from and who you're learning from. So, first, I'm going to start at the bottom of my screen. Sheila Secrest. What's up, Sheila?

Sheila:

Hey.

Brett:

And so no relation to Ryan Seacrest, but Sheila is nearly as charismatic and she's way better at YouTube ads than Ryan Seacrest. But she's working with some of our fastest-growing accounts, been with OMG for almost five years. She's a rockstar, got good insights. She's scrappy, and really excited to have her on the panel. Going to move up from there, and Derek Casas. What's up, Derek?

Derek:

Hey. How's it going?

Brett:

You've got almost a glow, angelic almost. Your background is bright white light. Derek also is into photography, so he's got a leg up. He's got a really cool set-up, a nice camera, and all that. But Derek has been working in digital advertising now for some huge brands across the US and Latin America for eight years. He's managing some of our top YouTube ad spenders. Derek and I work together a lot, and so, Derek, really excited to have you on the panel. In the middle, in the middle of all of this, is Heidi Sturrock. Heidi, what's up? How are you?

Heidi:

Hi, everyone. Good, thank you.

Brett:

So, believe it or not, Heidi was the first, the very first, Google Ads specialist at OMG Commerce. We have not run her off yet. And that was a solid 11 years ago, 10 years ago? I don't know. That's an eternity. I don't know.

Heidi:

Yeah, I think it actually might be going on 12. We might be going on 12 years, yeah.

Brett:

12, yeah. So I'll go with that. But Heidi knows Google Ads inside and out. She's helped us recruit other great people to OMG. Really, Heidi's just helped with the formation of who OMG is on the Google Ads side. So, Heidi, glad you're here. Thanks for taking the time, really appreciate it. Next to Heidi is Greg G-Money Maycock. What's up, Greg?

Greg:

Hi. How you doing?

Brett:

Greg is our lead technical strategist. Greg knows the YouTube algorithm. Greg knows Google ad campaigns and YouTube inside and out. Whenever we're scaling a huge account on YouTube, we want Greg's input, and so you'll learn very quickly Greg is very, very smart. He's also an entrepreneur. He's owned businesses. He's worked in the travel industry. He's got a really wide breadth of experience. So, Greg, thanks for coming on the panel. Then directly above Greg is Bill Cover, and Bill is specialist turned strategist. And I don't know, Bill. First of all, you look good. I love the beard. Honestly, we're-

Bill:

Thanks. I tried to dress up for you.

Brett:

.. But I don't know, man, something about that outfit just doesn't feel quite Internet marketing enough. It doesn't quite feel like you.

Bill:

Okay. I can go t-shirt.

Brett:

I think you need to go Internet marketing. I think you just need to adjust just a little bit.

Bill:

All right. Well, these are button snaps, so here we go.

Brett:

Yeah. Going Internet marketing, that's what we're going to call that. But Bill Cover, longtime eCommerce guy, worked in the development side of things, has been a specialist, now a strategist, of great insights. Bill, thanks for coming on, and thanks for partnering with me on that cheesy shtick there for going Internet marketing. Then, last but not least, Slaymaker. The play-maker, Matt Slaymaker. What's up, man? How are you?

Matt:

Hey, everybody. Hey, Brett.

Brett:

So Matt is a client favorite. Everybody loves working with Matt. Matt also has experience on Facebook and other platforms, so he's got a really unique perspective that he brings to YouTube and Google. He's just crushing it. He's got a really cool last name, too, so that's part of why we had him on the panel. Then, of course, I'm Brett Curry. I'm the CEO. You've heard from me a lot today. I'll be mainly serving as moderator. I want the brilliance of the team to shine forward. But I have a hard time not saying anything, so I'll probably chime in a little bit as we go. But with that, let's dive right into these questions. So first one, what are the most important elements of a YouTube ad? We're trying to create a YouTube ad that works. What are some of the most important elements? I'm going to open it up to you guys.

Greg:

I've got three things that come top of mind. I think the first thing is the intro. As you know, you can skip a YouTube ad for most ad formats, and so that first five seconds is very critical. In that first five seconds, we want to make sure that, one, we get a branding impression so that if someone does skip, at least we have gotten our brand in front of the viewer. Second is I think you want to make sure that you tease something that is going to be provided in the video, whether it's an offer, a call to action, or a promise of something that they're going to learn in that video to engage the viewer. So the key there is branding impression and engage the viewer. Then I guess I would transition into the core of the video. The key there is to keep engaging and re-engaging. So you cover whatever you need to regarding the product or explaining the product, and there's always something coming next that keeps the viewer engaged.

Greg:

Then I think the third element, which is really where the rubber meets the road, is a outro that includes a clear call to action. People want to be told what to do. If someone's engaged in the video and watched it to completion, they want to know what to do next. So we want to make sure we provide a clear call to action and then, ideally, an offer. So if this is a campaign for a new customer acquisition, then a exclusive offer or something that's discreet and unique to viewers of that video will work very well in driving conversions. To me, those are the top three elements for a video.

Brett:

Awesome. Love it.

Matt:

Yeah. And to elaborate a little bit on what Greg said, what makes a successful YouTube ad all the way through is going to vary so much based on the type of business that you are, the industry that you're in, and the voice of your brand and the way that the messaging will resonate with your customers. So the way that you are going to engage the user immediately, like Greg mentioned, getting them to stay past that five-second mark, will vary. Some brands do this with a question, so asking a question at the very beginning, "Is this you? Do you have a problem with blank?"

Matt:

Then when it comes to that call to action, create some sense of urgency, so don't just say, "Hey, come to our website now." Like Greg said, have some sort of offer attached to that that makes them feel like, "I got to act on this right now. I got to click on this video ad right now or this chance might not come up again." But all the details in the middle, that's going to vary so much based on what you know about your target market, what resonates most with them. So do as much research as you can beforehand and plan as much as you can beforehand in planning out that video ad.

Brett:

Love it. Anybody else want to chime in? Super good..

Bill:

Yeah. I feel like I see a lot of YouTube ads that do the classic Super Bowl television commercial format, which is like, "Here's the teaser and the meat of the thing," and then it's like, "Budweiser," the brand. But a YouTube ad, you can't move that cursor, and people don't have to stick around. So make sure that you're ... As you said, as Greg said, put that brand impression ... Pull that forward and pull that hook and that message forward. You don't want that traditional story arc that has a build and then a climax and then the message. You want to make sure that all of that is stacked at the front. You want to sell that as early as possible and then give a call to action. Then your ad can be two to three minutes, so if someone chooses to stick around and find out more, keep selling. What are some common objections? Supplement that earlier information with more detail, maybe some peer evaluations and testimonial. Give another call to action, that sort of thing.

Matt:

Yeah. And one thing that's super important to keep in mind, what Bill was saying, is that a lot of times you don't pay for the YouTube ad until somebody watches 30 seconds of the video or clicks on the video, so trying to stuff as much important, valuable information in that 30-second mark so if anybody does for any reason hop off, they still leave that video with a lasting impression of your brand. Maybe if they didn't watch 30 seconds or more, they'll come back and do a search for you, and that's equally valuable to us.

Brett:

Yeah. So this has been fantastic, and we've talked a decent amount across the event about what makes for a great YouTube ad. But one of the things you just mentioned, Matt, reminded me of something that we used to talk about in copywriting a long time ago, when you said, "Hey, the guts of the video is going to be different depending on who are you going after on what does your product do well." We always would look for, what's that intersection between what you're best at and what your market really wants most, right? This is two-thirds of a Venn diagram. Anyway, but thinking back to Volvo as an example, this is an old example, but they're all safety, right? Their position was safety not sexy when it comes to cars, and so that appeals to parents, right? So it's like what do we do best versus what our market wants most, where's that overlap, that's what we're going to key in on. That's something important to look at, too.

Brett:

Awesome. Anybody else? We got a lot of questions, so lots of good stuff ahead. But anybody else want to chime in? All right. Let's talk about then ... A lot of people that are tuning in today, their background is Facebook. They spend more on Facebook than on YouTube. As an agency, that's our typical client, someone that comes to us and they're spending six figures a month on Facebook or sometimes 20, 30,000 a day on Facebook and they want to have success on YouTube. So I want to talk about some of the differences, and let's start with audiences first. What are some of the differences between a YouTube audience and a Facebook audience?

Bill:

You get your demographics, you can categorize these audiences into interests and behaviors on both platforms. So all of the demographic tools are there on YouTube and on Facebook. When you look through some of the Facebook default audiences, you have interests like what forms of entertainment are they into, fitness, health, hobbies, et cetera, and then you get what Facebook refers to as behavioral traits, but when you look through the list, it's stuff like do they have an anniversary coming up, what mobile device are they using, browser are they using, political affiliation, which I think is kind of funny they have that, whether or not they're engaged shoppers, but who isn't, we're all buying something at some point, soccer fans, upcoming travel, that sort of thing. All of those things are available on YouTube.

Bill:

Where I think YouTube is able to take it a step further is that YouTube, obviously owned by Google, knows a lot about us and a lot about our behavior, and they are learning to understand very deeply what we are into and what we are about to do. So our behavioral traits on YouTube ... And I think Facebook used to have this, but when Mark Zuckerberg has to testify before the Senate, then things change. So YouTube has very advanced behavioral queues to understand what we are about to purchase, and their machine learning is constantly refining that to understand was it correct, was it incorrect. While we don't see the individual, we see groups of individuals, so privacy is still there, YouTube unblocks those tools so us as marketers, we get to tap into those groups who are about to do X. In eCommerce, that's so valuable because we want to find somebody who is about to purchase X and who is exhibiting these behaviors. So I think that's one of the key fundamental differences there.

Matt:

Yeah. I would love to elaborate on that a little bit because what Bill said is perfect. Basically, what it comes down to is that what Facebook is great at is targeting people based on their interests and who they are in terms of their demographics, and they do have some great targeting opportunities for that. Outside of that, one great thing about Facebook is the lookalike audience targeting. That can sometimes work really well for a lot of brands. But the reason that I've had a lot more success on YouTube ads versus Facebook ads is due to what Bill was elaborating on, where we can build out custom audiences based on what people are actively searching for. So rather than going after somebody's-

Brett:

That says so much about someone's state of mind and what they're trying to do, how they're searching on Google.

Matt:

Yeah, because your long-term interests can be very different than what your short-term interests are. A lot of times, I find a lot of success on YouTube with custom intent audiences or in-market audiences that are built out by Google. But it's going after people based on what they're actively shopping for right now. If they're actively shopping for it as opposed to the longer-term interest, the likelihood of converting here in the short term tends to be a little bit higher. So, yeah.

Brett:

Awesome.

Bill:

Yeah, and-

Brett:

And what about differences in ... Actually, did you have something else to say there, Bill?

Bill:

Yeah. Let me just play off that a little bit with regards to the behavioral audiences and custom intent. YouTube not only gives us audiences that are in-market, someone in the market for running shoes, but the custom intent audience allows us to create a custom profile so that we're not just looking for someone who's looking for running shoes. We're looking for someone who's looking for running shoes for a marathon or for a track race ..

Brett:

Or minimalist running shoes and barefoot running shoes and running shoes to run in the rain, all kinds of very specific stuff that you can try. Yeah. Yeah, really, you're only limited by your imagination in a lot of cases and maybe some privacy things, but you can be very creative with your audience creation efforts on YouTube.

Bill:

Right.

Brett:

Awesome. Let's transition a little bit. So we talked about audiences. What about creative? How are creatives on YouTube different than creatives on Facebook?

Matt:

Yeah, I could kick us off there as well. What it tends to be in terms of user behavior on social media versus YouTube, on social media, it's a lot more short attention span. People are scrolling through their news feed, and shorter, more promotional content tends to do a lot better on Facebook, whereas YouTube, the average watch time for a YouTube video tends to be about two and a half minutes. People are seeking out videos, whether it's a news video, sports video, et cetera, and then they're dedicated to watching that for the next couple of minutes. So to get ahead of them with a longer form video works a lot better on YouTube than it would on social media. So on YouTube we have-

Brett:

Right. I mean, kind of the goal on ... Just to riff on that for a second, the goal with social media is to scroll. That's why I'm on Facebook. I'm scrolling. The goal of YouTube is to watch. I came to YouTube to watch something, and so I'm potentially going to stick around with a video a little bit longer.

Matt:

Yeah. So the opportunity to really tell a story and have a little bit more of a narrative there is a lot broader on YouTube. You have a lot more possibilities there, whereas on social media, Facebook, you might not get that chance. You scroll to it, it charges you, and then they don't even watch it.

Bill:

Yeah. To be clear, I love Facebook advertising. I think-

Brett:

Yeah, me, too. Me, too. Yeah. I'm glad you mentioned that, Bill, because we are not anti-Facebook. Facebook and YouTube together are an extremely powerful combo. I think the reason we're calling out the differences is just because people overlook YouTube, and it's a really powerful complement.

Bill:

Exactly. Exactly. Or don't know the full capabilities of YouTube. So Facebook is a wonderful platform because it's in a feed, people are engaged, it's got the social proof right there. You can design your post. It can communicate your brand. It can communicate a call to action. All those things are really great. Some things about Facebook that are different from YouTube is ... One main thing is the audio. So the audio is off by default when it comes to a Facebook feed. Your audio is on on YouTube when someone gets your YouTube ads, so it's more engaging through both visual and audio.

Bill:

The other thing is Facebook, somebody ... Let's say it's a re-marketing ad, someone who's been to your website, you're trying to re-market to them to get them to come back and buy. I might be reading a post from one of my friends or something like that and the Facebook ad is in my window. One pixel is showing, basically. Facebook regards that as a view, which that's fine. Whatever they want to do to measure their ads is fine. YouTube waits for you to view 30 seconds of the ad before they count that as a view, and you can skip it at any point before that and not pay for that ad. So there's a huge advantage to YouTube in that you know that someone was looking at that ad and watching that ad versus on Facebook you can make assumption they were.

Brett:

Really good. Awesome. A big question that a lot of people ask, I hear this over and over again when I'm speaking at events or talking to people that are new to YouTube, is what about production value? How much do I need to spend? How important is production value? So who wants to kick us off there?

Derek:

I think production value is negatively related to value and content that you're providing within the video. Obviously, there has to be some degree of purpose and intent when editing and putting this stuff together. But if you're providing value and you're providing content to the user, you can get away with certain things when it comes to production value that would be nice to have but can potentially be a little bit expensive. A perfect example is user-generated content, right? Sometimes, brands will ask their previous purchasers to generate a review for them and film themselves doing a review and that is a huge X factor because not everybody knows how to film themselves, not everybody knows the selfie camera, lighting, audio-

Brett:

Not everybody can create an angelic background when they're on video like Derek.

Derek:

Exactly. Yeah.

Brett:

Exactly.

Derek:

Exactly. Correct. Not everybody has the 24 megapixels on hand. So for user-generated content specifically, the goal there is to provide the content and the social proof that the product actually works, and having that in the video provides that kind of validation that you would need for your brand to showcase it as successful and something work investing in or at least worth clicking onto to then go learn more on the website and then make a decision based off of what they learn there versus something like perhaps, like Bill mentioned, the Budweiser Super Bowl commercial, where there's not necessarily too much of a brand new content in there. It's just more so like, "Hey, we're Budweiser, we're awesome, we're a staple of America, but we're not going to necessarily tell you anything new about us."

Brett:

"We have Clydesdales."

Derek:

Yeah, exactly. So it's something a little bit more informative and more providing something for free to the user, which is value, for them to then engage further with you down the line.

Heidi:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Brett:

Cool.

Heidi:

And I have to also say, it's never been easier for an advertiser to get into YouTube right now because gone are the days when you had to hire a production company to film your shoot. I had a client last year who filmed some amazing, winning, high quality, high production value YouTube videos using their iPhone 11. The reality is, is that if you have a great script, if you have the right background, you've given it some thought, and you have some wonderfully placed products and images, you don't need to hire the studio anymore. You can really take it on yourself. So the barrier to entry for advertisers to get in there and really start campaigns has never been easier.

Matt:

Yeah. Heidi, you hit on that perfectly because I feel like there's so many brands who are like, "I would love to do YouTube, but I don't have the money to afford a big production company." And exactly what you said, iPhones nowadays have great cameras where you can shoot a lot of that stuff. Production value is not the end all, be all. It's the story and the storytelling, the narrative, having a strong call to action. That's what really sells. I've tested it with my own accounts and then just seen case studies across the board. It's somewhere in the middle. Usually not the highest, most expensive video isn't always the one that performs the best. So you don't need something that's $100,000. Maybe it's $2000 or something like that. It's going to vary based on your brand, but try to get something out there. It doesn't have to be super expensive to be successful.

Heidi:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). And sometimes those native formats, that kind of organic material and content, that's what people resonate for. Because when they're on YouTube, keep in mind, they're on there for a couple reasons. I like social media. As Brett mentioned, you're scrolling, you want to get to the next thing. You're on YouTube to either be entertained or to look up something to learn something in regards to that. So that content that organically lends itself to that type of usage does really, really well.

Greg:

Absolutely.

Brett:

Yeah, and some of the things I'm hearing you guys saying is some of the most powerful elements of your video ad are not expensive to produce, like testimonials, like UGC. We had a client that Greg and I worked on together, an automotive client, that spent millions on the platform, and their core video was all user-generated content. Now, it was edited. They did use an editor at a studio and it looked good, but almost all the video was user-generated, but it was super powerful. So what you say and how you say it is very important. How much you spend to get there is not as important. There are cases like ... Hey, we shout out to the Harmon Brothers, and some of those super high production value videos can work, but they also can fail. So it's better to test and iterate with a smaller budget in my opinion, and then, yeah, maybe you do land on a video that costs $75,000 to produce and you can go to the moon on it, but you don't need to start with that. I think, Greg, you were about to say something?

Greg:

Yeah, I was going to double down on, I guess, one element here, that, as a strategist, I think one of the most important things is to make sure that you have a good messaging strategy, that what you're trying to communicate with that video, one, speaks to the target audience, is compelling to them, and, in particular, is relevant to them with respect to where they're at in their buying process. Where are they at in that conversion cap? Is it awareness? Is it consideration? Or are we trying to convert with that specific video? So I think making sure that you start with a good messaging strategy that'll guide creative development can trump the overall cost and production value.

Brett:

Yeah. I also just want to underscore, we're not anti-studio, right? We've built a creative department now at OMG Commerce. We have a seasoned 17-year veteran in the advertising space running our creative department, and we've got partnerships with video editors that have created hit TV shows and done amazing things. So we have the ability to create some fantastic stuff. But just to underscore our point, you don't have to spend a lot, right, and we can test and iterate. It is more about the strategy, to Greg's point. It's more about what you actually say, to Heidi and Derek and Matt's point. Anyway, there's lots of ways to be successful, and the key to success isn't spending tens of thousands of dollars on production. So great, awesome. Really good stuff, guys. Appreciate that.

Brett:

Let's transition now. Let's talk about those first few weeks of running YouTube because that can be scary, right? We're full of anticipation and nerves, and we just can't wait to see what these YouTube campaigns do after we launch them. It's still one of my favorite times. We get the campaigns all prepped and ready, we have our audience strategy and our message strategy, and we flip those things live. For me, I still just want to sit and watch. I want to watch and see how it goes. But what are some of the metrics in the first couple weeks we need to pay attention to to know are we on the right track, are we moving towards success as we would define it? So what are some of the metrics that you pay attention to in the first few weeks?

Heidi:

We have a couple of metrics that we use. I know Sheila has a lot of information about this because she does a lot of optimization in the first few parts of our campaigns probably better than any specialist that I know. She can speak to some of the metrics that she uses. But, for us, I know those core performance metrics that we look at are definitely the views because those represent the number of times someone's watched or engaged with that video ad that you've spent so hard all that time making. Then, also, the view rate. View rate shows you number of views that your video had received and can be a big part to determine how successful that algorithm is to optimize. The cost per view is also a big one. So those are the core performance metrics that we start with. Then I know Sheila does a great job with the others, so I'll let her speak to some of the others that she works with.

Sheila:

Yeah. So those were kind of the main ones that I was going to mention as well, but I think that really does speak to that there are ... I say look at all of them. I know that's the easy answer, the easy way out, but the ones that-

Brett:

Spoken like a true Google specialist. "All the data's important. I want to see everything."

Sheila:

All of it. But Heidi made a good point that those are going to be your base. I would take it into a scenario where, let's say, your view rate was a little bit lower. I would then dive in a little bit ... No, not your view rate, sorry. You have good views, but you're not really getting the conversions that you were thinking. I think it's important to maybe even take it a step deeper, and you could take a look at your video play to percent to see, whether it be ... I think the labels are 25, 50, and 100. I could be very wrong about that. But looking at where people are dropping off, are they dropping off at that first 25% marker before that, and then being able to see, "Okay, should I be making sure that my hook or whatever is in the first 15 seconds of my video?" Yes, that is going to go into the important elements of your YouTube video, but definitely taking a look into that, how far are people getting into my video before they're dropping off. So if you have a good view rate but you're struggling with your conversions, that could be another place that you could go and look and potentially identify an issue in your video.

Heidi:

And we have the other second part of it, too, which is your click performance. Though, as advertisers, we want people to view our video and then hopefully come to our websites, either submit information to become a lead for us or a customer. So that click performance, those metrics that are super important to look for, the number of clicks, so the number of times that someone's clicked on your video, that's a big one, and then your click-through rates, so the number of clicks that your ad receives just divided by the number of times that had been shown, and that's always shown as a percentage in Google. But-

Matt:

Yeah. And every one of those metrics tells a little bit of a story, so your click-through rate tells a lot about, "Do I have an engaging call to action," not only at the end of the video and throughout the video but the actual button. So maybe instead of saying, "Learn more," I need to say something a little bit more engaging and speaks to the user a little bit more. When you look at view rate, and like Sheila was talking about, you can see what part of the video people are dropping off, and if they're dropping off really early, then maybe we get back to the client and say, "Hey, we need to rework this video a little bit to try to change this element." If it's really sharp at a certain point in the video 50% through it, then that's something you could also look at. Every metric tells a story, so it is important, like Brett said, to look at everything and see what you can pick out there, especially in the early stages when conversions might be low and you don't have a big enough sample size to really draw anything too conclusive.

Brett:

Yeah. Yeah. Really good. Yeah, because, hey, view rate is a little low. Percentage of people served the ad, it's low, the percentage that actually watch it. Well, then maybe your hook needs work or you're not getting ... Going back to Bill's point about a story arc and pulling the climax to the front of the video, maybe you're not doing that well. Or my click-through rate is really low. Well, to Matt's point, yeah, there's not an engaging call to action. You're not compelling someone to click. Or maybe I'm getting a lot of clicks but the conversion rate is low. Well, maybe then it's something about your offer, something about your landing page that's not actually completing the deal. That's where you need to make sure you watch Kurt Elster's presentation on how to optimize your landing page.

Brett:

But, yeah, all the data tells a story, and, ultimately, we're a direct response agency, right? We're all about hitting a CPA target, scaling at that CPA target, so CPA is what matters at the end of the day, no question about it. If my view rate goes down or my cost per view goes up but I'm hitting my CPA and I'm able to scale, then I'm a-okay. But these other metrics do tell the story, and they help you diagnose what you need to improve on and what levers to pull or what changes to make to make things really work. So awesome. Good stuff there. Appreciate you guys on that one. Moving right along. So how long does it take to start hitting your CPA goal, right? Because CPA, that is the metric to rule all metrics when you're talking about direct response. How long does it take to start hitting your CPA target?

Greg:

Yeah, so I will address this and look at it from a bigger picture perspective as well. This is an area where OMG really excels, and we've developed internal best practices, I think, that guide us along a very systematic launch process that helps improve the overall success of our clients. First of all, if you think about YouTube, there's, for all practical purposes, unlimited inventory and therefore potential for unlimited spend. So the first challenge is how do we launch campaigns for a client and manage that so we have a controlled launch, we create the best opportunity for success, and then we also mitigate any potential campaigns and spend that's not performing well?

Greg:

In doing that, the key is ... And this is relative to a client and the budget and what the potential market is for the products we're talking about. But the key there is setting up, one, campaign structures and targeting and testing of multiple versions of creative so that as we launch we have the best chance for seeing early success and being able to look at those metrics that we were talking about earlier and get a pretty good indication of which are going to perform and which have an opportunity to succeed. In the process that we've established with that, we'll basically look at three buckets, so to speak, as we start evaluating performance. We're talking about in a one to two-week timeframe here initially.

Greg:

The first bucket is, "Okay, these are some creative-audience combinations that are obviously performing. The view rates look good right off the bat. We're getting really close to our CPAs early on, and so these look like they're going to succeed. We're going to let them continue." We may even make some early bid adjustments or create an opportunity to accelerate the success there. Then we'll also use some metrics that will create specifically for that client and say, "Okay, if we have other combinations of video, creative, and audiences that are in this range here, they're kind of borderline, they look like they might succeed but we need more time to evaluate that, and they're in a range that we can afford to let them run a little longer, but they're on a tight leash. We're going to evaluate that daily and see where they land." Then there's going to be some other combinations of video, creative, and audiences that right off the bat don't appear to be performing well. We're simply going to pause and cut those in order to mitigate overall cost.

Greg:

Some of those fence-sitters then are going to potentially tend to trend that way as well, so we'll pause those but then come back to those and reevaluate. Because one of the things that we have to look at is conversion reporting lag, which means the first week we don't have the conversions that we need to get a good CPA for particular video ad and audience combination because of the reporting lag built into YouTube and Google Ads, where we're looking at conversions based on when the click occurred and not when the transaction occurred. Then we mind find later that week and the following week there are some of those that are borderline that suddenly have enough conversions then that they're in the performance range.

Greg:

So we've got a very systematic, methodical process of determining what's working and what's not early on. Google has a 14-day window, they call, of learning for the smart bidder within these campaigns, but we're not waiting 14 days before we take action. Basically, that first seven days, we're looking at the winners and clear losers, and then that 14-day period is probably where the focus is on sorting out those fence-sitters, those ones that may or may not perform well.

Sheila:

Yeah, and-

Bill:

Yeah, and that takes experience, doesn't it, Greg, to have seen enough success versus failure to just know, "This is headed north, this is headed south," before you get to that 14-day window.

Brett:

Sometimes, and I know all of you guys are this way, you kind of become the data whisperers, where you're like, "Yeah, I've got a feeling about this one."

Greg:

That's right.

Brett:

"It's not there, but I think it's going to get there, or it's not there, and I don't think it's ever going to get there." So you kind of start to get a feel for that. What else have you guys seen? What kind of timeframes are we looking at here? When do we start hitting our CPA target? I know there's a couple of short answers there that we can get to.

Matt:

Yeah, no, it's kind of all over the place. Most typically where I see it is anytime between a week and a month. So, usually, you have some great indicators within two weeks and, like Greg said, can start narrowing in on the winners. So you see ad creatives that are doing well, audiences that are doing well, if you're using topics, certain ones there that are doing well, and you can start to narrow in on that. Usually, I see by the end of month one you start to sit in a pretty good place.

Matt:

But I actually, really quick, wanted to touch on one thing that Greg was talking about, which is conversion lag, because that's becoming a bigger and bigger thing here recently. Think about your own user behavior. A lot of times, you might watch a YouTube video, click on it, go to the website, and say, "Okay, this looks cool. I'll come back to it later." You do come back to it later and maybe you purchase it. Or say you viewed a YouTube video and ended up coming back to purchase it. The reason that there's going to be a conversion lag there is because Google is trying to give more credit to what introduced them to the brand in the first place. So it wasn't from thin air that they just searched for your website. It was because of that YouTube ad.

Matt:

When you initially look at your results today, it might look like, "Hey, this isn't doing so well," but you check back in about a week and it's like, "Oh, wow, I got a lot of conversions from that day." So one thing to keep in mind when looking at your CPA goals and when you're going to reach it is to be patient with it and to understand your own user behavior and that that is what everybody's experiencing. So come back, check on it, see how things have changed, and you'll see.

Brett:

Love it. Well, this question I want everybody to answer. It'll be kind of rapid fire, so this could be a very, very short answer, and it's okay if the answers are duplicated from one panelist to the next. But what is your favorite audience type? You can clarify if you want, like, "This is my favorite audience to launch with, this is my favorite audience to scale with," however you want to do it, but favorite audience. Bill, go.

Bill:

Custom intent.

Brett:

Custom intent, which is? A real quick definition for those that don't know.

Bill:

Yeah, you bet. So it's kind of like in-market. That's a common term across Amazon and a number of pay search platforms. But in-market is I'm in the market for X. Custom intent is you as a marketer saying, "I want an in-market but this specific persona, this avatar."

Brett:

So these specific searches, keywords, in market for these particular things. Yeah, awesome. Slaymaker?

Matt:

Bought X but not Y. Brand loyalty is such a huge thing, and so introducing them to new products that you have that they might not be aware of is a huge opportunity to cross-sell a lot of users.

Brett:

Especially when you have a big audience and a fairly large established brand, you start getting more of your customers to consume more of your products. That campaign type, pound for pound, can do some real damage, and I mean damage in a good way. It can be really good. Awesome. Greg?

Greg:

Custom intent as well. One, the new and improved version has additional inputs that you can use to customize your audience, and that's really improved performance. Then it gives you not only the ability to see early success in launching because it's intent-based audiences, people that are in-market for products, but once you have learned what performs there, you can also use that to scale and identify other places and other audiences that you want to go next. So I think it's early success for launch as well as guiding future success for scale.

Brett:

Sweet. Heidi?

Heidi:

I think custom intent is the way to definitely start off all your testing, but because it's been mentioned a few times, and it's no surprise, it's a really great way to target and get in customers and leads, I also want to mention we had some great performance with customized placement. So what that means is going after certain channels that really resonate with your audience. This one particular client that we had, their customers were known to follow some very specific channels and influencers out there. So when we targeted these channels specifically, so having a campaign for custom intent and then expanding on that with specific placements, we were able to really expand other targeting and do well. It's a lot of understanding who your customer is and who they follow, what they want on YouTube.

Brett:

Yeah. It's sometimes overlooked with YouTube, but it kind of goes back to the ... And I've got a traditional media background, but as a TV ad buyer, you're picking programs, right? "My customer watches these programs." You can do something similar on YouTube. It's very powerful and it's often overlooked, so glad you mentioned that one. For sure, Heidi. Derek? Mr. 24 Megapixel?

Derek:

So I think custom intent is something that is basically the meat and potatoes of most strategies, right? Most YouTube strategies that I've worked on, and I think everybody here, has included custom intent to some extent. But I will say that typically what my favorite is and what gives me pure adrenaline when launching is launching campaigns that are going solely off of basic demographic targets, like gender and age, specifically those two. I will say that with the disclaimer of you need to make sure that whoever's watching that knows what they're doing and they have experience and they have dealt with it before because it really does have to be the perfect storm when it comes to launching something like that, right? It needs to be an account with enough historical data in there. It needs to be the right product, and then the right product also has to be priced the right way, and you have to have the right goals in place, too. So there's a lot of moving parts to it, but custom intent, I think, is my old reliable, but then demographic only is the game-changer for me sometimes.

Brett:

Pretty fun. I like that. Adrenaline, the adrenaline rush. Spoken like a true media expert there. Love it. Sheila?

Sheila:

Well, mine kind of could go well with Derek's. After you get that nice base built up with custom intent that everybody's already mentioned, I will veer off of that because I think they've covered just about every part of custom intent. So going off after that base is built there and you're looking for other ways to really take that brand and show it to people who you might've missed somehow with that custom intent audience, if you're not quite ready to dip your toe in that demographic, very wide, broad audience, you could take on testing topics and really taking some topics and layering them in your branded campaigns and things like that and then seeing how they perform and then taking the ones that perform well and then adding them into campaigns in your top of funnel campaigns.

Sheila:

Just seeing the correlation between, let's say, somebody who they're selling ... Your client is selling instructional videos for working out, whether it be lifting or Brazilian jujitsu, and then randomly your topic of smooth jazz music pops off with a bunch of conversions and you're like, "I would've never thought people who were buying Brazilian jujitsu things were really into jazz, but"-

Brett:

And Matt Slaymaker is a black belt. Do you listen to smooth jazz as you're working out, Slaymaker?

Matt:

Not as I'm working out. Working on other things.

Brett:

But the rest of the time you might. Okay, cool. So I derailed you. Sorry, Sheila.

Sheila:

No, no-

Matt:

But, Sheila, that's-

Sheila:

I-

Matt:

That's such a great idea, Sheila, though, about testing topics out on your branded campaign as an observation audience. It's a no-risk type of thing where you can see, people who are searching for us by name and actually converting, how are these different topics doing. Yeah, no, that's great. Then you can take that information over, layer it onto your audiences. Yeah, I love that.

Brett:

So I derailed you there, Sheila. Just, I thought of the black belt thing all of a sudden.

Sheila:

No-

Brett:

So you're looking at topics, and you've done a great job with topics. That's something as an agency we haven't scaled that many accounts using topics, and you're doing an awesome job with it. Did you want to finish your point?

Sheila:

Just that was it. Thinking about this question, I had lots of time to think, and I was trying to get creative with it. But I just realized when I've got that base and I'm like, "Okay, back to the drawing board, how can we keep spending efficiently, obviously, or keep testing," that's somewhere that I always end up because there's so many pre-filled topics that Google provides. It would be a waste if we didn't at least touch them.

Brett:

Yep. Yep.

Matt:

Yeah.

Brett:

Awesome. Love it. Fantastic. I'll chime in here, too, because I've got to. It's not called this anymore, but custom affinity. I love custom intent, too. But custom affinity, it's sort of Google's version of a lookalike, where you're giving inputs on people that visit this site or this topic or whatever. Build me a lookalike audience, Google, based on that, is sort of what custom affinity is now. It's all just custom audiences. They've dropped the custom affinity moniker. But I love those audiences. With some accounts, those are the audiences that truly scale, but they're not always the best to lead with, although they're not quite as risky or as much of an adrenaline rush as demo only. That's a .. Sorry, Bill.

Bill:

But if you're seeing success on Facebook with an interest-based audience, that's your closet thing to affinity on the YouTube side, so worth testing.

Brett:

Yep. True story. True story. Awesome. Okay. So we are running out of time. Man, you guys are long-winded. Just kidding. This is awesome. But we're running out of time, so I'm going to actually combine the last two questions, and you get to pick one or both in your answer. But what do you do if the first few weeks don't go that well, right? So what do you do if the first couple of video campaigns don't work that well? Then a very related question is what are common hiccups, right? If things don't go well, what usually are the main culprits? So what do we do if the first few campaigns, first few weeks aren't great, and what are the common causes for hiccups or speed bumps?

Sheila:

I think more ... Okay, so I'll be quick because mine isn't necessarily going to be technical. I hate failure. I think most people in business obviously hate failure. But I think it's important when you launch something to realize that this is just a battle within a never-ending war. With Google, there are so many opportunities. Don't take that and don't get discouraged about it. You just say, "Okay, check that off the list, never-ending list of things that I have tried and I can try," and move onto the next thing. Getting a little more technical, I guess I can, is go look at ... Like we talked about, look at your hook. Where is the hook falling in your video, or is there some piece of creative, maybe a character that isn't hitting right with your audience or things like that? I know one of the common issues ... I guess I wouldn't say common, but my most recent failure that I did have with a client was they used a character that was kind of like the beef jerky ... Who's the guy in the woods?

Brett:

Slim Jim?

Sheila:

Sasquatch?

Brett:

Oh, are-

Sheila:

Yeah, Sasquatch.

Brett:

Bouncy, maybe? Oh, okay, got it.

Sheila:

So they used this. But this Sasquatch was terrifying, and the business owner knows. Obviously, he knows, too. He said, "This might not work, but let's give it a shot anyways." He was accurate. So I think going back and, again, analyzing where are people dropping off. Are we even getting the view rates? Then after you do that analysis, take that knowledge, understand there's many more opportunities, and then launch a new ad, launch a new video, test a new audience. There's endless opportunity.

Heidi:

And I think one of the things that we just have to say, for being in this business for as long as we have, first thing, if you do not see conversions populating in your account, what do we do? Come on, guys.

Heidi:

We check our conversion tags. So make sure that tag is working and recording data properly. Once that's cleared up, use those nice metrics we were just talking about earlier to really clue you in as to what to focus on next. So if you're not getting conversions, look at your audience. Is it bringing in the volume of clicks that you need? Do you have enough of an audience to serve ads? If you do and your ads aren't getting great view rates, like Sheila said, look at that first part of your ad. Look at the hook. Is it compelling enough to get people to really view, take that next step, or are they skipping? The other part, look at your CTRs. Is your call to action strong?

Heidi:

If your conversion rate stinks and all those things are good, look at that landing page. What's going on with your offer, with your landing page format? Is it resonating with the video? All those connections can really help you alleviate all those little hiccups that can prevent you from getting to the next spot and go from getting success, like Matt said, in that first week instead of waiting a little bit longer, which sometimes can happen when you're testing them.

Matt:

Yeah, even in the biggest failures-

Brett:

We can't underscore enough the value of conversion tracking, and so you got to set it up properly, got to do test purchases, got to check and re-check. Don't get a week or two into your campaign launch and then realize, "Oh, conversion tracking." All right, well, then you've wasted time and money and all kinds of bad things. Yeah. Go ahead, Slaymaker.

Matt:

I was just going to say, even to go off of what Sheila and Heidi were saying, even in your biggest failures, if a campaign fails, that doesn't mean that every element within the campaign was a failure. Just dig into your data and find out what were those things that did work well. So it's like, "All right, well, we didn't get many conversions, but we had a really strong click-through rate. Let's keep that element. So maybe our call to action is really strong, but maybe it's something with the landing page or maybe it is something with conversion tracking." So try to identify what are those wins, even in the losses.

Brett:

Yeah, or maybe this particular audience didn't work well, but as we drill into some of the segments and combinations, we realize, "Oh, but there was one pocket of this audience that did great," and so now we know what to do as we build our next audience to test.

Matt:

Definitely.

Brett:

Cool. What else? Common hiccups and/or what do you do if the first few weeks don't go well?

Bill:

Yeah. So I see a number of accounts that we don't manage through our sales prospecting process where they're running custom intent, and I know that we sat here and four out of five specialists recommend custom intent. This is just a shell of an idea. It's just a tool, the way you build it, comes down to a little bit of geeking out and expertise. What is happening with these keywords? What do they mean to the robot that's running these ads and finding you an audience? You can't just throw custom intent out because it didn't work. That would be like, "Oh, I hired a construction worker and he used a circular saw and we hate circular saws now." It's how you use it.

Brett:

No circular saws. I love that. That's a good analogy.

Bill:

Yeah. So just make sure you're geeking out on it, testing new ideas within these tools, because you can't just throw out the tool because it didn't work the first time.

Brett:

Yep. Yep. Yep. Because, sometimes, it becomes clearer as you get into that what we thought about the buyer's mindset of people searching for these keywords was actually off, right? We may have thought, "Hey, I want to target buyers of a related product." Then we realized, "That's actually not our buyer. It's actually people that are going over here." So, yeah, don't throw out the tool just because you were using it incorrectly in the beginning. It's a great analogy, Bill. What else, guys?

Derek:

A lot of people also tend to think of ... I've worked with clients in the past where they're like, "Well, just increase this bid or just do this specific thing and that will fix this other metric," and they're not looking at the entire picture and not realizing that YouTube is not necessarily a mathematical equation or a scientific thesis. It's also kind of an art form, right? So understanding that it's both and being able to dive in and look at the metrics and say, "This is what the numbers are telling me," but then also looking at the more human side and artistic side when it comes to, "How does my creative resonate with the user? How do users that are searching X, Y, and Z term fall into a custom intent audience I may or may not have built?"

Derek:

I think that is all something that needs to go into, first of all, the plan that you set up when you're first launching but then your evaluation process in that first and second week when you're taking a look at what the performance may have been. Then, when it comes to just hiccups in general, I would just say be ready for them. Some of our most invested clients, most hands-on clients that you would never think would lose conversion tracking for a day have lost conversion tracking for a day.

Brett:

Developer makes a change, and, oops, they drop your code, and you're like, "Ah, why did you do this?" Well, I'm the developer. I don't care about your code.

Derek:

Exactly. Yeah, exactly. So the more that you can invest on that front side of the art and the science and building the momentum up the right way, the harder it will be for those little hiccups to make a dent into the momentum.

Brett:

Yeah. I would, just to piggyback on that, it's really good advice, Derek, thank you, is that expect hiccups. They're going to happen. If you're building something great and you're trying to scale, there's going to be little hiccups. We try to build the right foundation to minimize hiccups, but you're still going to have them, and you just roll with it and you adjust and you know what to do and you move forward. G-Money, you want to close us out?

Greg:

Yeah. I look at it very systematically. In other words, analyze the data, what's working, what's not. Make adjustments, whether that's campaigns, bids, creative. Then test, test, and re-test. What's unique about the platform is that it is very efficient and very easy and low cost to test multiple variants of the creative, the audiences, the different combinations. So I think the key is revise and re-test.

Brett:

Yeah, love it. I did let everybody answer that, right? Sheila, you started us off, is that right? Okay, awesome. Man, fantastic job. I wish I had a standing ovation sound effect that I would play right here. That was awesome, guys. You brought the thunder. Proud of you guys and impressed anyway, but this was just next level. It's always cool to get you guys all in the same room talking, well, virtually, all in the same virtual room talking. Super, super fun. You guys brought the value. So thank you, guys, well done, and we'll have to do this again sometime soon. With that, our journey is almost complete at this virtual event. Stick around, though. Next session coming up momentarily.

Episode 167
:
Chris Tyler - OMG Commerce

Prime Day 2021 Recap

I brought in OMG’s Amazon Director Chris Tyler to help unpack what we experienced with our clients this year during Prime Day.

Prime Day 2021 was a year of firsts.  It was the first year Prime Day took place in 2nd quarter.  From 2015 to 2019 Prime Day was in July.  In 2020, due to the pandemic, Prime Day was moved to October and became the de facto kickoff to holiday shopping.  

This year was also the first year that Prime Day experienced year-over-year growth of 10% or less.  But when the 2-day event brings in $10-11 billion in sales, any year-over-year growth still represents HUGE growth in real dollars.  

For this episode, I brought in OMG’s Amazon Director Chris Tyler to help unpack what we experienced with our clients this year during Prime Day.  Here’s a look at what we discuss:

  • Some surprises we saw in the OMG client sales data
  • How advertisers may have been more excited than shoppers this Prime Day
  • Prime Day may not be a great fit for every seller - some categories crushed it during Prime Day, other categories were “meh.”
  • Why inventory issues for many sellers influenced the prevalence of deep discounts and likely took some of the urgency out of Prime Day shopping.  
  • The strange shopping behavior we saw during day 2 of Prime Day. 
  • How to maximize Prime Day or holiday shopping by thinking Full Funnel with your ad approach
  • Plus more!

Chris Tyler

Via LinkedIn

Mentioned in this episode:

Amazon Prime Day from Statista

OMG Commerce Blog

Sales Force Prime Day 2021 Recap

OMG Blog Prime Day Prep

Episode Transcript:

Brett:

Well, hello and welcome to another edition of the eCommerce Evolution Podcast. I'm your host, Brett Curry, CEO of OMG Commerce. And today we're talking Prime Day 2021 recap. What happened with Prime Day this year? Lots of really interesting things to uncover and dissect. I think some things that may be a preview to what we're going to see the rest of the year, and also some things that maybe considered for Prime Year next year, potentially. We're just going to unpack the data and the trends.

Brett:

No better person to have on the show than the Director of Amazon and OMG Commerce, Chris Tyler, a crowd favorite. Chris, how are you doing? Welcome to the show, man.

Chris:

Doing well. Thanks for having me.

Brett:

Yeah, absolutely. So always good to have you on the show. First of all, Prime Day, it has become kind of a summer holiday for us in retail and us, people that enjoy shopping, but today or rather this year, Prime Day was different. And so I thought it'd be fun to do a quick history of Prime Day, like 15 seconds and what we've seen in previous years and then let's dive into this year, because this year was a different beast for a couple different reasons.

Brett:

So 2015 was the launch of Prime Day, and a lot of people don't know it was the 20 year anniversary of Amazon. And it was one of those events fabricated by Amazon really to drive prime memberships, and that's what it did for so many years. You'd have millions of new people signing up and trying Amazon Prime because of Prime Day. And we know that prime memberships really fuels Amazon's flywheel.

Brett:

So for a long time, it was about building prime memberships. Now, it's just a massive sales event. It's bled into other retailers jumping on the bandwagon. You got Walmart and Target, Best Buy and every other retailer imaginable also doing big deals around Prime Day. But this year it was different. So historically, Chris, Prime Day has always been in July, the Christmas in July type of thing.

Brett:

Q3 is not a good quarter for retail typically. So last year was different as well. Last year Prime Day was in Q4. It was moved to October because of logistics issues caused by the pandemic and Amazon just not being ready, the infrastructure not being ready to handle Prime Day in July. So it got moved to October. Nobody really knew what to expect, right?

Brett:

It's the first time the Prime Day has been in Q4 and it really launched the holiday shopping season, likely pulled forward some of the holiday purchase activity last year. So a couple of interesting things from last year and just to show how much this event has been growing year over year. 2019 versus 2018, Prime Day sales grew about 70% according to Statista, but then about 45% year over year growth from 2019 to 2020, right?

Brett:

But again, you're comparing apples to oranges here. 2019 was the normal July date, 2020 was October. So it was Q4, all kinds of interesting things. And then this year, Chris, we got the announcement that Prime Day was moving to June, not July. And even though it's a few weeks difference, it's a different quarter, right? Moving to Q2 instead of Q3, which was the norm and Q4 last year. Did you hear any speculations as to why it was moved to June?

Chris:

Honestly, I did not. We didn't find out till last minute. At least it's better than last year where it seemed like a week before they said, "Hey, we're having it in October." So at least they told us a few weeks before, but I think Amazon kept that close to their chest.

Brett:

Yeah. Our Amazon reps do a pretty good job of keeping us up to date, but, and it makes sense, they don't want word to leak about Prime Day too early because then people wait for some purchases, right? So you want to give enough time to build hype and make it a big event, but not so much time that you kill sales four weeks out from Prime Day.

Brett:

I heard a couple of different pieces of speculation who really knows, but this will help Amazon with their comps, looking at Q2 this year versus Q2 last year, because Q2 2020 just had an amazing spike because of the pandemic, especially on Amazon because stores were closed. So this will actually help Amazon probably comp pretty well Q2 of this year versus Q2 of last year. That's probably not why Amazon did it, but that is an interesting side note for sure.

Brett:

A couple other interesting things as usually and this is in July, you got back to school sales that could be a part of this. It's not really feeling like back to school time, right? This is June. Summer still feels like you got a lot of runway left in summer. So not as much of a back to school event. So just an interesting event and timing and all of that.

Brett:

And so we're seeing numbers that Prime Day 2021 versus 2020 grew anywhere from nine to 11%. I saw one report showing it didn't grow at all, but I think that was a bit of an outlier as far as the report goes. So 10% growth or whatnot over last year, but we're comparing a June event to a Q4 event last year. It's pretty hard to compare this as apples to apples.

Brett:

What were some of the... And one cool thing too Chris, and this is why I had you on the podcast. OMG is big enough now. Our client base is big enough that we have a considerable amount of data that we can look at from our own clients. Advertising data, sales data that really paints a nice picture. It's kind of a microcosm of Prime Day and third-party sellers globally. And so let's dive into this a little bit. What were some of the key takeaways, the big takeaways from Prime Day this year?

Chris:

Yeah. Great question. I don't know. To your point, we've got enough clients advertising, spending data, to understand, "Okay, what are the trends that we're seeing as an agency?" And so the data we pulled was based off of the two weeks prior to Prime Day this year and weekly segments, each Prime Day individually.

Chris:

And then what we're going to do is track the weeks after. And we do have the week post-Prime Day, but I will say in the advertising there's usually attribution lag, so that may be somewhat different in the coming days. And then that is to give us a picture of post-Prime Day versus prior to Prime Day and then obviously Prime Day in between. And we did the same thing last year.

Chris:

So what we wanted to look at, at the start was we know nothing's the same in the sense of last year we had a big COVID E-commerce spike in the summer and then Prime Day was actually like you mentioned, Q4, which really just blasted the last three months of the year. And then this year it was in June, which worth noting that we started to see in April a lag in sales or softness in performance, as well as..

Brett:

April was really strange across the board. Even non-Amazon sellers, April 2021 was pretty soft.

Chris:

Yeah. And that led into May and June being a little bit better, but we're not seeing that E-commerce push that COVID gave us. So then year over year comps are kind of wonky within that. And so what we first looked at then going back to the Prime Day data was year over year, what were the differences?

Chris:

And it was really interesting to see last year, the week prior to Prime Day saw a boost in impressions and traffic between 10 and 20%. This stayed, obviously pre-Prime Day, it saw a big push, but then post-Prime Day it actually increased again, 15%. And so traffic was there and then in the same side, total sales.

Brett:

When we started, Chris, you said there was an increase in impressions?

Chris:

Impressions. So we wanted to figure out, "Okay, is the traffic there? And then within that, what are the sales doing? What's the CPCs? What's our ad spend ratio to total sales?" And we found last year, the impression were boosting even prior to Prime Day and then stayed post. What we found this year-

Brett:

That makes sense because it was the beginning of holiday shopping.

Chris:

Right. Right.

Brett:

And so this is an interesting take. So we've got our line of sight into Prime Day and what happened is really through the advertising lens, right? But if you see a lift in impressions, more ads being shown, it means there's more eyeballs there, right? This is a really interesting perspective. We're seeing what retailers are doing, what advertisers are doing based on response to shoppers, basically.

Chris:

Right. And then for us as advertisers it helps us understand what is the pie we're looking at, and then what tactics strategies we are using to formulate, "Okay. How much can we on that in terms of the goals for our clients?" And then in Prime Day this year, what we found was the impressions and clicks, correspondingly, saw a very small decrease. So in our mind they were flat a week before Prime Day versus that preview period, where last year we saw a boost. And then going into Prime Day-

Brett:

A week before Prime Day this year was flat or potentially down just a tiny bit-

Chris:

A little bit.

Brett:

... to the week before Prime Day, last year. So that leading up period.

Chris:

Yep. Yep. And then even to the week before this year, so if we're looking at June 7th, it would be two weeks prior, and then June 14th would be the week before Prime Day. They were about the same in impressions and clicks. Where last year we saw a boost week over week going into the period right before Prime Day. That said, there's window shoppers, but traffic's coming in, it's building.

Chris:

We didn't get that this year. And so that was a sign that there just was a smaller audience whether it's the fact that it's in June, that with COVID, restrictions are being eased. People are traveling. It's the beginning of summer, people aren't thinking, like you said, buying, where July had more of an impact, I think, than October. It was just... That is the mindset. So we noticed that going into there.

Chris:

And then when we hit Prime Day, I would say that the numbers corresponded to this year. So if I look June 21st and June 22nd, those sales metrics jumped between 108% and 126% compared to the period right before, right? And those are similar to last year's comps. When you look at Prime Day versus the week prior to Prime Day.

Chris:

But what happened, like we mentioned, was the traffic clicks and even total sales were softer prior to Prime Day this year versus last year. So the ratio's there, but that's why we're only getting nine, 10% increase is because it was already soft before Prime Day this year. And it was a lot of data ..

Brett:

.. look at the data, right? We want to see how did Prime Day do this year versus last year, but also how did Prime Day do compared to the weeks leading up to it. Because that is really what you want to look at, is what's the Prime Day lift, right? You got this baseline of sales that happen on Amazon regardless of whether there's a big event and then measuring the lift of Prime Day. That's super interesting. So 108 then 120, is that what you said ..

Chris:

Yeah. So it was around 126% day one, I think 108, 114% day two, which were very comparable to last year's percent ratios though overall the sales just went up a little bit compared to last year, as you mentioned. We did find... And our assumption is this is based on a smaller amount of impressions, is CPC went up about 25% first last year.

Chris:

And this was prior to Prime Day, but especially on Prime Day, I think it was on the high end of 30, 35 and ACoS went up about 10%. And what I mean by that is ACoS went from 30% to 33%, that's a 10% increase, but I don't want people thinking 30 to 40.

Brett:

That's 10 points.

Chris:

Yeah. And so it was much more competitive, less space, but more competitors in that space is what we found. And so we were paying more to get the same traffic. Conversion rates were comparable, but because we had to pay more for each click, that's the relation to why ACoS increased.

Chris:

And then the biggest thing that we want to track ongoing, we're going to do this weekly. We'll put it in our blog. I think it's something that anyone listening to the podcast will want to follow along, is we want to know what happens post-Prime Day, because last year it was amazing, right? It makes sense. It's Q4. And I want to say, even in 2019, the numbers were up post-Prime Day, but it's only one weekend and so I don't want it to be like the norm per se, just yet.

Chris:

But what we have found is looking at 23rd through 29th, that ACoS is higher, that TACoS is higher. Conversion rates are lower, which makes sense than for ACoS and TACoS, and then click through rate is 5% lower, so it's nominal in my mind. And then CPC is about 10 to 15% higher when we look at May and April.

Chris:

And so we're still finding that there's a tail end of that push that everyone made for Prime Day, that it's still there, but the customers are at least at the same level. And so we're paying more for the same traffic and then the sales are not increasing with that. And so it's a more volatile space to look at.

Brett:

So if I had to simplify some of this, advertisers are maybe jumping on Prime Day to a higher degree than customers are this year, right? Prime Day still grew year over year by almost every account, which is pretty significant, right? And we start talking about billions and billions of dollars over a two day period. This is a massive event.

Brett:

And so the law of big numbers kick in, right? You can't grow 40% year over year forever, right? That does begin to slow down at some point. You start to reach some market saturation type points. But I think the data we're seeing is that advertisers know. We're conditioned, we're trained, we know that we've got to be aggressive to not miss out on shoppers for Prime Day. So we're bidding more, right?

Brett:

So CPCs are going up. We're really trying to go get those sales, but it sounds like there's more advertising competition and not the same year over year growth that we've seen on Prime Day. So some things are becoming more inefficient, it sounds like.

Chris:

100% and I appreciate you taking all that data jargon and putting it back in a nice way for the listeners. I would add to that, and this is its own discussion, that in general the space is getting more competitive. Amazon's releasing more placements for ads and there's benefits to them, but it also means that there's more places to spend money and more competitors that will want to do that.

Chris:

So even taking out June, if you look at April, May versus last year, I think CPC was still up 10 to 20%. So it's not strictly Prime Day related, but it is highlighted because the traffic wasn't there. And so then it impacted really everything, especially conversion rate and total sales.

Brett:

Yeah. And then that is just the trend, right? As the third-party marketplace becomes more and more competitive, that does drive up CPCs. Eventually that does self-regulate to a certain degree. We've seen this one on the Google side, we see Google Shopping, Google search for retail clicks. They do hit a top end, right? Where just the economics no longer makes sense. You can't pay $7 per click with conversion rates of one to 2% for an item that cost 30 bucks, right? You just can't can't do it, right?

Chris:

Yeah.

Brett:

So those CPCs will regulate a little bit, but when a big event like this happens, advertisers get aggressive, right? And they just want to go for it. One thing that I think will be interesting to unpack a little bit is the categories, right? Prime Day isn't a huge event for everybody. This is becoming increasingly clear to us.

Brett:

Some of our clients see massive jumps on Prime Day. Others do not. And I was looking at some data. I've got actually the Salesforce recap of Prime Day, pulling it up right now, and this will probably be no surprise, but one of the largest segments of growth, year over year growth, was luggage and handbags.

Brett:

So luggage was up about 74% Prime Day 2021 versus Prime Day 2020. Totally makes sense. People were still not fully thinking travel even in October of 2020 and that is coming back, so no surprise that that grew. But talk about that a little bit, Chris. We saw some real disparity. Some clients crushed it in Prime Day. Other clients were like, "Meh, this is a normal day."

Chris:

Yeah. So I think at the category level, some of the bigger ones we saw jump were gift related items based on price points that I think their AOV was 20 to 40 bucks so that they were able to run some deals with those products that brought in good volume, but also allowed for customers just kind of jump in on, "Okay. Yeah. I can just buy that, right? I'm looking to buy anyways."

Chris:

You've got the two days in Prime Day compared to maybe somebody selling a product for 800 bucks. And I would say categorically-wise though, our best performers were the toy category. We had a couple new electronic space that did see really good numbers. And one of them ran a good amount of deals alongside pairing that with our DSP offering and really had a full funnel approach for that leading up to Prime Day. And they saw a three to 4X growth and they didn't really see a low prior to Prime Day, so those numbers were phenomenal.

Brett:

Yeah. So talk about that just a little bit. That's kind of intriguing. You mentioned a full funnel approach leading up to Prime Day. Some categories you may just try to do a little better over Prime Day but some categories you can really capitalize on Prime Day. What was that full funnel approach just kind of high level leading up to Prime Day?

Chris:

Yeah. And I would just put it out there that we have on our site the blog. I can walk you through what that will look like, if you're curious, after the podcast, but ..

Brett:

What was that blog? Is that the blog that Amber did on Prime Day?

Chris:

Yeah. The Prime Day Prep.

Brett:

Yeah. Prime Day Prep. So search OMG Commerce Prime Day Prep blog. You'll find that also linked to in the show notes.

Chris:

So the full funnel really starts with a mixture of DSP, Demand Side Platform alongside PPC within seller central.

Brett:

Running display ads and then the standard PPC.

Chris:

Yep. And then any external traffic and then obviously product page readiness. And so DSP, that was a factor, especially with this client prepping the audience and traffic two weeks prior to Prime Day. So focusing on competitors that were similar to their products that they were running deals for, that we knew our price was going to slay and so building an audience of those people who viewed the competitor and did not purchase as well as building our own customer in-market audience.

Chris:

People in-market for keyboards or just bought a computer or whatever it might be that they need a corresponding product so that when Prime Day hit, we weren't scrambling to say, "Who are we going to target? Are we just going to update?" So we actually set a plan in motion to have that funnel, build the audience that we wanted to highlight.

Chris:

And then also build correspondingly a retargeting audience then, because anyone who goes to that product page of our brand that we're running and did not buy, we can target again. And really we push the creative and then the budgets during both Prime Days to say, "Here's the deal. We know you haven't bought anything based on the audience we've built." And we found the results there just phenomenal.

Chris:

And then a lot of that does tie... We worked with this client months before to make sure the product page were ready, that they've got a storefront up and running and it's prepped with a deals page and then they've got posts they're going to launch for these products. So it was full funnel on the ad side, but also on the organic side that everything was ready there because you don't want to just use PPC as a weapon. You want it to compliment the foundational piece that you should have in place.

Brett:

Yeah. I love it. And this was a strategy that works for holidays. So as we're preparing for holiday, which is coming up, right? We should be laying the groundwork right now for holiday. We've got a webinar coming up for Cyber 5 Prep, stay tuned for that. But yeah, this idea of, hey, remarketing is always your cheapest form of advertising, right?

Brett:

And so we know, and we just talked about CPC is going up 25%, even the weeks leading up to Prime Day. And on Prime Day, CPC is up 30%, right? So it becomes more and more expensive to advertise during those peak shopping days because the advertising competition is so high.

Brett:

So if you can start to seed some audiences, reach some in-market audiences. We do this on the YouTube side as well, where we try to reach people who're maybe shopping for toys or home decor, or different supplements, whatever the case may be. Seed that audience, get them to visit the site, check things out.

Brett:

Now you've got a big remarketing pool that you can really hit during your Prime Day deals and get them for a lower cost and get them to convert with your product. So thinking full funnel totally makes sense. That's definitely something to file away for next year's Prime Day, but also for Cyber 5.

Chris:

And one of the things I would add to that, it's not new, but it seems like it's new in some of the forums we're having and what we're hearing from advertisers is getting traffic from external sources to Amazon. And we talked about impressions, clicks were lower this year until the thought was, "Okay, where can we get ideally the same CPCs or better."

Chris:

And one of the ones that we highlighted and run as Google to Amazon in terms of running search ads on Google doc to Amazon product pages or storefront. And not to go on a tangent, but there's Amazon attribution, which allows you to track sales return. And storefront also has tags that you can add to that if you run any pages on your storefront.

Chris:

And we found we go after low-hanging fruits, so searches on Google that have Amazon in their query. You can get 10 to 40 cents CPCs, or better put probably 30 to 70% less CBCs than you have on Amazon. The conversion rates are lower, but you're building traffic.

Chris:

I look at it as almost like how DSP has mid-funnel where you're building a retargeting base and you're also building awareness because people are coming to Google to search maybe mirrors on Amazon or a Derma Roller on Amazon. And then, one, I don't know why they search on Google, but they do. The search volume is there. You can ..

Brett:

So people that.. To buy something on Amazon, but they start their search on Google. And it happens millions of times every day. I actually just did a talk with Orange Klik recently.

Brett:

I can link to their interview and Chris you'll help me prep for this, but I pulled data on people who search on Google for bedsheets, but Amazon is in the query, right? So I'm searching for Amazon Prime bedsheets. That was a pretty popular query or whatever. Almost a million searches a month for those keywords related to bedsheets and Amazon.

Chris:

Here's a hack for you. If you're going to do that, just go to amazon.com and put in bedsheets. You're going to figure it out. You're going to get right to what you want to see. I've got a buddy that will put Facebook into the Google search and then click the Facebook link. And I'm like, "You know if you use a dot-com at the end you're right there."

Brett:

So this underscores an interesting consumer behavior, shopper behavior thing. For a lot of people, the web begins on Google, right? That's just where they begin everything. This is where they start. Like, "This is my entrance into the web," and it's hilarious. So one thing I'll underscore here.

Brett:

I think there's been this evolution for Amazon sellers where back in the beginning days of the third party marketplace, you could win by just having a product there and maybe gaming the system and keyword spamming, and doing some stuff to get organic rankings, right? So just have a product, get organic rankings, you make a lot of money, right?

Brett:

Then it became more complex. Now you are having to advertise on... You're doing giveaways, maybe doing a little bit of advertising on Amazon. As things become more competitive, we have to be more sophisticated, right? So what we like to talk about at OMG Commerce is, "Hey, if you're selling on Amazon, you need to have a base of Amazon advertising rights, sponsored products, foundational, sponsored brands, sponsored brand video," I think that is a must now. Amazon DSP for the remarketing side and maybe top-of-funnel.

Brett:

But then you look at other traffic sources. The next frontier that a lot of people are tapping into is Google to Amazon, right? And that's what you're just talking about. It's this incremental growth, it's maybe reaching the shopper before they get to the Amazon category page and before they see all your competitors ads, you can reach them when they're on Google, which is where they enter every site. Thinking about now, this is going to be key for holiday, key for Prime Day next year, a sophisticated approach to marketing and growth versus just, "Yeah, I'll just let my organic rankings do it."

Chris:

Yeah. 100% agree with that.

Brett:

Cool. Other takeaways. And I'm excited. I know you and Amber and team are going to be working on a blog with full recap and stuff, so we'll just be watching the OMG Commerce blog for that. That's coming out pretty soon. But other interesting takeaways from Prime Day this year.

Chris:

What I would mention is we found it interesting on day two. So the whole Amazon team at OMG is like... For those two days, we're just at our computers. We've got eight tabs up, whatever, we're looking at all of our clients.

Brett:

Re-courses, right? You're just ..

Chris:

Deal with the mind type thing but with a better ending. And what we found was the second day was trending much lower than the first, and this was for at least the first half of the day for most of our clients and our assumption was, "Hey, we may end, I don't know, 20 to 30% lower in sales, just based on that first half of the day."

Chris:

And then we saw this climb, a very steep climb, maybe 70% of our advertisers that the sales started to go back up and it was actually higher in that last, let's say, the third quarter of the day. From 4:00 PM to 8:00 PM, the sales just jumped up and we ended up being down maybe five to 10% with a lot of clients actually being up the second day and that wasn't expected.

Chris:

Yeah. We're still digging in. Some assumptions we have is people are waiting to the end of Prime Day and they're like, "Oh, I got to make a purchase. Or there's deals..." There's that fear of missing out that says like, "I am back home maybe from work or I just have time now the last few hours and I'm going to just push through." And the other thing tied to that was we found conversion rates are up around 15% the second day, even though impressions ..

Brett:

Up 15, so conversion rates are up the second day, 15% compared to what?

Chris:

To day one. Sorry.

Brett:

To day one.

Chris:

Yeah. To day one. So they were better there and impressions and clicks dropped between 20 and 30%, but sales only dropped between five and 10 and that's because conversion rate picked it up. And so it seemed like the traffic was more intent on like, "I got to buy." And I don't know if that means set more deals up and I know you don't have full control for the end of the day. What do you do with that? We're still figuring it out. But I think that's an interesting thing we saw.

Brett:

It kind of speaks to the consumer behavior though. We all have FOMO, fear of missing out, but also procrastinators to a certain degree. So, "Hey, the tail end of a sale urgency, I got to get the deal now, or I'm not going to get it." So it does kind of make sense that there'd be a huge push for day one. There's excitement, there's buzz. People are checking it out.

Brett:

Maybe kind of a lull on morning of day two, but then it really picks up after that. So I think you kind of plan your advertising around that a little bit, right? And be watching the campaigns. You can't... I know we weren't because we were glued to our screens, but hopefully people didn't just go to sleep on Prime Day or figure that it was over after a soft morning on day two, because it really picked up after that.

Chris:

Right. Yeah. And to tie to that-

Brett:

But it also-

Chris:

Oh, sorry. off.

Brett:

No, go ahead.

Chris:

To tie to their budgets, right? We prepped and made sure we weren't on a budget. Like you said, we were glued to the screen, but if somebody is listening, they're like, "Oh yeah, max budget midday or before the end of the day on the second day." I think that's a key indicator of maybe reallocation-

Brett:

They missed out. Yeah.

Chris:

Yeah. So thinking about that for next year in a better way that says you don't miss that opportunity.

Brett:

Yeah. It was also really interesting Prime Day is obviously deal driven, right? It's a shopping holiday. We're looking for deals. I didn't see any real deep analysis on this. This was more anecdotal, but it didn't seem like there was an overwhelming amount of deals. I know just talking to friends. I don't know many people that really bought that much stuff on Prime Day this year. We bought a bed for Benjamin our four-year-old, it's an elevated bed with a slide. That was about it.

Chris:

Nice.

Brett:

Last year we did start doing some Christmas shopping-

Chris:

I got one of those too.

Brett:

Did you get? I know I saw it, I was like, "Dude, this is really fun. It's made of metal. I could probably get on it." I don't know if it'll hold my frame. I don't know. Again, this is just anecdotal, but a couple years ago we were buying entertainment center, TV stuff, just getting ready.

Brett:

It felt like a huge buzz. Last year just really felt like holiday shopping, which was cool. But this year, I don't know. It obviously grew and it's still a massive event, but the deals maybe didn't seem as appealing or as amazing as they have in years past.

Chris:

I would agree with that. And I would say for some of our clients that in the past that run pretty steep deals they had inventory issues and they had other challenges that ..

Brett:

So you get inventory issues you just don't discount, right?

Chris:

Right. Right. They're going to sell it anyways. And so that was a balance there. And then others that ran, I'm going to talk about the electronic company, they crushed it, but they put steep deals. They could do it. Inventory was really good. And then a few others that ran deals both 2020 and '21. It was softer this year. And I don't know if it's... Like you said, there just weren't as many good deals.

Chris:

It seemed like there was a lot of deals, but they weren't great. And so when I looked a little bit, I got overwhelmed and I'm like, "Some of these, I don't even know if it's a better price if I were to look at it 60 days ago," right?

Brett:

Yeah.

Chris:

And so I definitely think deals didn't have the same impact overall, but if you're able to do a steep enough one and you balance it with, again, PSP, PBC, and try building it, we did find really solid success there. And they were actually the outliers in terms of best performance.

Brett:

Yeah. And I'd be really curious to see what was the lift for these other retailers, right? Walmart did their Deals for Days event and we do a lot of YouTube advertising here on OMG Commerce. So I was watching YouTube, a decent amount. I always do. I'm looking at for ads and stuff, and Walmart was blasting YouTube with their Deals for Days on electronics and some other things.

Brett:

So curious how other retailers did. I think some of the early data was pretty positive that Walmart and Target and Best Buy did pretty good. But yeah, it was a unique Prime Day. I'm sure next year will be different too. Who knows what quarter it's going to be in... Next year we'll keep an eye, but really some good takeaways. Just thinking about what is your growth and advertising plan leading up to Prime Day? Think full funnel, think holistically.

Brett:

Know the competitor who's going to drive up ad costs and who's going to be really cut-throat during those two days. So what can you do to prepare for that? Understand that maybe there's a low early day two, but there's going to be that push for the finish line at the end of day two, which is super interesting. And so hopefully some of this will get you ready for next year, but also ready for Cyber 5. Any closing thoughts, Chris Tyler.

Chris:

Yeah. So you nailed it with the Cyber 5 coming in the sense some of these takeaways I think could be seen in Cyber 5 period. It will be different because it's Q4 and people will be in that purchasing mindset.

Brett:

Yeah. Conversion rate should be elevated for that normal.. Traffic period.

Chris:

But keeping a close eye, leading up to it during and after to see, "Okay, has traffic gone back up," especially looking year over year because we still should be knock on wood out of this COVID space at least better than we were last year. And so we'll keep everyone updated within blogs and stuff leading up to it, but also acknowledging, if you want to do it right, the foundation is your product pages, your storefront, your inventory, everything we know.

Chris:

And I would say, again, that Prime Day prep functions almost the same for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but then making sure that at least the two weeks, we looked two months before that you've got all these other pieces in place. Like we mentioned, external traffic, DSP, even just campaign types.

Chris:

More advertisers are using it for sponsoring video. It now can do targeting. Make sure you know what's out there and what's available and prep so you've got these things running at least two months prior. So you have data so that you can put your best foot forward when it matters.

Brett:

Yeah. Get data while costs are lower and while costs are more predictable so you know what to do as CPCs go up because CPCs will go up just like always and we got to be watching that ratio if CPCs go up. So cost per click goes up, but conversion rate also goes up and you're golden, and you can just keep pushing.

Brett:

If there is some disparity there CPCs go up faster or more than conversion rate, then you've got to be able to adjust. And that's where having that full funnel approach, having some remarketing audiences you can tap into, really just having a plan is what you need.

Brett:

So stay tuned to the podcast and also to the blog, we'll keep you up to date. We'll help you get ready, locked and loaded for Holiday 2021, Cyber 5 2021. Stay tuned for that. With that, Chris, man, really appreciate it. Thanks for coming on and thanks for ..

Chris:

Thanks for having me.

Brett:

I know you're still probably recovering from the late nights during Prime Day.

Chris:

It was a nice break, but yeah, I appreciate always coming on this podcast. It's great.

Brett:

Awesome. And as always, I appreciate you tuning in. We'd love to hear from you. We'd love that feedback on iTunes or wherever you consume podcasts. That review helps other people find the show, makes my day as well. And with that, until next time, thank you for listening.

Episode 166
:
Anders Piiparinen - Wallaroo Media & Madison Grover - Pouch Marketing

Virality and Growth with TikTok and SnapChat Ads

Anders & Madison give us a crash course on what we need to know about TikTok and SnapChat ads.

You want low CPMs (like the early days of Facebook)?  You want massive engagement from eager shoppers?  Are you looking for a little virality to go with that?  Then you need to consider TikTok  and Snap ads.  I’ve had more clients and other agency friends ask about TikTok and SnapChat ads in the last few weeks than I can ever remember before.  Both platforms are still in their infancy from an ads standpoint (with Snap being more established than TikTok).  Both still offer tremendous opportunities for first adopters who are willing to learn the platforms.  

Today I’m bringing on two experts, Madison Grover VP of Social from Pouch and Anders Piiparinen CEO from Wallaroo Media.  They’re giving us a crash course on what we need to know about TikTok and Snap ads.

  • Why you should build TikToks and NOT ads
  • How creating consistently great content on TikTok can have a compounding or “resurfacing” affect
  • How to repurpose TikTok content on other platforms
  • Why you can’t repurpose YouTube or IG content on TikTok
  • Understanding key TikTok metrics
  • The basics of a solid Snap ad
  • How to drive conversions from TikTok and Snap

Anders Piiparinen

Via LinkedIn


Wallaroo Media


Madison Grover

Via LinkedIn


Pouch Marketing


Mentioned in this interview:

Vessi Footwear

Vessi’s TikTok

Enquire

Knocommerce

Cotopaxi

Oracle (Bought Datalogix)

Nielsen Data

TikTok Business Center

Snapchat Business

Episode 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 I am absolutely jazzed, if that's a cool word to say these days, it probably isn't, about the topic of today's podcast. And one of the reasons why is because I actually think my kids would enjoy listening to this podcast, I have some teenage kids and some younger kids. I think my teenagers would dig the topic of today's podcast and you will too. We're talking today about TikTok and Snap, and how to run ads, how to do organic on these platforms. So this is a topic that I hear coming up more and more in different marketing groups and masterminds I'm a part of, and I realized that I don't know much about either platform, and so I decided to bring on the experts in this space.

Brett:

I'm absolutely delighted to welcome to the show, Anders who's the CEO of Wallaroo Media, and Madison who's the VP of social at Pouch, which is a division of Wallaroo Media. So Anders, Madison, welcome to the show. How's it going? And thanks for coming on, guys.

Anders:

Thank you, Brett. Going great. We're excited to be here in the chat. Yeah, TikTok and Snap.

Brett:

Yeah, now let us know where you guys hailing from? You're hailing from the beautiful state of Utah, correct?

Anders:

Yep. I am in Salt Lake Valley, our office is in Provo. So just down the road from Brigham Young University in Utah Valley University. We've got a office right there on Center Street. And then we've got... Though, our team is spread out across the country. We've got some in New York and Chicago, a bit remote, but a lot of our team is here in Utah. And then Madison?

Madison:

Yeah, I am as well. I'm located in Salt Lake City.

Brett:

Awesome. Only been to Salt Lake City one time, beautiful place. Love it. So little jealous of your weather a lot of the year, not in the winter, but the rest of the year, a little jealous.

Anders:

You got to come back.

Brett:

I will, I definitely will. So Anders, I got to know Anders... Several years ago he was working with one of our brands that we've been the agency for, for a number of years, and now Anders is running his own agency. So this topic of TikTok and Snap ads, it's heating up, man, people are asking about it. We're hearing about all kinds of crazy organic growth on TikTok, and the ad platform is really maturing, as well. I guess as kind of the first question, let's start on the ad side of things with you Anders, how should we think about TikTok ads? So what do we need to understand about the platform? And maybe talk strategy just a little bit, and then we're going to pivot, and also look at the organic side of TikTok.

Anders:

Yeah, TikTok is still very early in its infancy from an ad platform. Advertising on the platform has been around for about two years or so with beta advertisers. We came on board about a year and a half ago through their managed platform. They're continually working out kinks, different things on the back end, account setup. Self serve wasn't even set up. So with that, there's a lot of things that they're fixing on their end. And for a lot of advertisers, sometimes it does mean more risk, the platform may not be as stable as, say, Facebook or Google and these have been around a lot longer. So that's something to, I guess, use a little bit of caution with.

Anders:

But it's also an opportunity where a lot of advertisers are not yet, and we know that TikTok as a whole has just blown up, the fastest growing platform right now, especially here in the US. So the eyeballs are there. And there's not nearly as many advertisers, so while Facebook CPMs rose 30% in January, we were spending and seeing CPMs between $2 and $6 during Q1.

Brett:

$2 and $6, that's insane.

Anders:

Yeah. So it's a much cheaper way to get those eyeballs out, or eyeballs on your brand. But there's a lot of testing going on, there's a lot of things that we've got to keep in mind. So with that, using this, it should be incremental to your business, we're not looking and bringing brands on to TikTok to replace Facebook or Google ad spend. We're looking to help it supplement that and to diversify ad spend and strategy to just diversify things. There is this new customer, like you mentioned, this younger Gen Z, and the younger millennials, but I'll also say we've had a few brands that we've worked with, and we see buyers over 45.. So it's really growing quickly there.

Brett:

Yeah, I know, it's going to continue to grow, those older demos, and my wife and I have some friends in their 20s and 30s and stuff and we know a ton of them are on TikTok. I was just hoping that I could be cool again for my teenage kids, because they don't think I'm very cool right now. So that's why I mentioned that. But yeah, I love this idea of incremental growth and supplementing some of your big channels. So you're not saying, "Okay, go slash your Facebook spend by 50% or your Google ad spend by 50%, so you can do TikTok, but add this on." And it is where the attention is right now. And someone like Garyvee talks about a whole lot, attention is oxygen, you have to go where the attention is. And so really, really interesting.

Brett:

What about on the organic side and then we'll kind of talk about content and ads in just a minute. But Madison, I hear stories of people saying, "Hey, we'll post this on TikTok and it'll go viral." In fact, our controller, Patricia, we call her DJ PattyB, she posted something on TikTok with her dog, her dog and her cat got in a fight or something like that, and it went completely viral, it was like half a million views or something like that. She didn't really try and didn't even know what she was doing. I was in the kitchen the other day and she's like, "Did you hear that I went viral?" And I was like, "Are you sick?" I didn't know what she meant about viral, but then she said TikTok. And so pretty crazy what's happening there on the organic side.

Madison:

Yeah, I mean, that's a good way to describe it. Things on TikTok are crazy. And they're hard to expect honestly, even as marketers who do this all the time on TikTok, you don't always expect what's going to go viral. But the exciting thing about TikTok is that there is this huge viral potential that's really, really hard to find on other platforms these days. And there's a lot less brands on TikTok, more and more are jumping on, I'll say, especially with the overlap now with Instagram reels and YouTube shorts. There's a lot of ways to cross promote this type of content these days. So more and more people are jumping on, but it's still somewhat early for brands too, and so there's a huge potential.

Madison:

What I would say in terms of organic content for brands is that if you're going to do it, you have to really be willing to commit to it because you can't take your other strategies and try to apply them to TikTok, you have to really be willing to get into what TikTok is and who the people are that are there. They don't care about brands that just want to be there to promote, they want to see brands who are really understanding TikTok and the trends and becoming a part of that really unique culture.

Brett:

Yeah, so let's unpack content a little bit and I will talk about organic first Madison, then I want to I want to find out about ads too from Anders, but certainly we've got things like Instagram reels and YouTube shorts which are taking off and gaining some popularity. But to have success with TikTok you need to create content for TikTok first, right? You create for the platform because the expectations and the behavior and the mindset of the people that are on the platform is different, right? So what does organic content, what should it look like on TikTok? And maybe what are some ways where it's different from Instagram and/or YouTube shorts? So what are some things to keep in mind there?

Madison:

Yeah, great question. You're completely right, it has to start on TikTok, or else it's not going to be successful. The place that I would suggest with starting is always with sounds, TikTok revolves around the sounds, and if you start there, you're automatically-

Brett:

Talk to a guy who knows very little. I downloaded TikTok after our last conversation. I've gone on a few times, I confess, not very many. So what do you mean by sounds?

Madison:

When I say sounds, it includes music and unique sounds. So there are songs on TikTok, all the popular songs are there, and if you're a business account, you do have limited access to some of those more popular songs, which is when we start to talk about the unique sounds. And these are anything that another TikTok user uploads into the app, we're then able to take that sound that they used on their video and add it to video and add it to our own. So that's where trends sort of pick up are around these sounds, and people will create similar or different videos using that same sound and take it to all different places. So some of the sounds are just music, background sounds, and some of them are really the entire trend that's happening. So if you start there, you're probably 75% more likely to be on trend than if you just create a video from scratch, because you think that it will be funny or clever.

Brett:

Got it. How else is TikTok different from other platforms? Because it seems to me, in my limited exposure here, that with Instagram or something you could just get on and start talking, right? Or YouTube shorts could be you just kind of talking about something. But that's not really what you're doing on TikTok, right? TikTok, it's got a different pace, and it's kind of a different flavor. So how else is it different?

Madison:

Yeah, so one of the biggest ways that it's different is how you're finding the content. It's all coming through your For You page, and you don't necessarily know who it's coming from when it pops up. So you're right in that the pace is really quick, if I watched three seconds of the video on my For You page, if it doesn't grab my attention in some way, you're already skipping it, you don't have that name or profile attached to it like you would with people that you're following on Instagram, because you already know that you want to see their content, this is all random, so you have to grab people really quickly, and you have to create content that has those elements where people will recognize the content as it comes through there For You page, so that they stick around long enough to watch the full video.

Madison:

So that's why influencers are obviously taking off, you see their face and you stick around long enough. As a brand, you have to do the same thing. You have to have types of threads and themes throughout your content that people will pick up on so that they recognize you and care.

Brett:

Awesome. Okay, Anders. Let's talk the ad side of things really quickly. I know YouTube ads really well, thinking about what makes for a good YouTube ad all the time, we're dissecting things and even though I don't run ads on Facebook or Instagram, I got a pretty good idea of what works, sometimes it's just a simple product demo. But those platforms do have, and especially YouTube, have some similarities like TV ads, right? Direct response TV ads, that's a pretty good comparison to YouTube ads. But I know TikTok is different. So what do we need to know about TikTok ads, both in terms of the creatives, but then let's also maybe talk about how they function in a minute too on the way they're sold and stuff?

Anders:

Yeah, definitely. It's very similar to what Madison was talking about, we recommend creating ads specific for TikTok. Snapchat, we'll talk about later, I'm sure. You can take a good Instagram story ad or a good Facebook story ad, throw that on Snapchat, and a lot of time, that's going to work. But we have tested time and time again, and a lot of times it's when a new client comes on, that's all they've got. We'll throw it in there, and it just flops. We've also tested it where we create something specific or work with Madison and her team or the brand and influencers to get something that looks and feels like a TikTok, 9 times out of 10 that's going to outperform the more polished ad.

Anders:

TikTok did this massive campaign last summer, where they said, "Hey, don't make ads, make TikToks." 100 million dollars to small businesses to come and test and do that. And I think a lot of those businesses that came in didn't go and make ads or make TikToks, they made ads. I think we didn't see those perform nearly as well. In terms of functionality, your TikTok ads are actually not connected to your profile, yet, at all. So that's one thing. You don't need to have an organic presence on TikTok to have an ad account, which is a little bit different. Not to say that it would be more beneficial to do both, obviously. But if you're just getting started, you don't have the bandwidth to do organic or don't have the bandwidth to do ads, it's not like you have to do both.

Anders:

The other thing too, why a lot of that Instagram story, we're so used to saying swipe up, swipe up, swipe up. Well, TikTok, everything is swipe left to load the page. If you swipe up, you swipe off of your ad. You swipe off of your piece of content and on to something else that may be more attractive to the user and take them away from your brand or product. So we still see, and I've seen this time and time again, from even just big brands, I don't know if they're working with just a lazy agency or what, but they'll throw in their Instagram content that's running on and say, "Swipe up." You're telling people to go away.

Brett:

Like on YouTube, "Hey, skip this ad, because we have something really important to say."

Anders:

Exactly. So that's something to keep in mind. In terms of time limits and things, well, also, just in terms of content, it's only video, you can't take a static in here, either. So it is a higher barrier to entry than just a static ad for Instagram or a display ad on Google.

Brett:

Gotcha. And how long are these ads typically? Are there really defined limits, or is it more about these are just the limits that are most effective?

Anders:

Yeah. So there is a limit, I believe right now, it's still one minute. TikTok, organically, that's what the limit was, until, I think really recently, they've started to up that and play that to three minutes. So we might see some longer form ads coming. And I'd say it's similar to YouTube or another platform, the ad, we haven't found a sweet spot, in terms of like your length. It is as long as you can keep them engaged, keep them around and pushing the product. We've seen minute long ads crush it, we've seen a 15 second ad crush it. Because the other thing that's nice too, about these smaller, shorter videos, is if it's 10 seconds, TikTok's automatically going to loop it. It's not like Instagram stories where it just goes to the next video and your six second ad, somebody blinked and missed it. TikTok is going to replay it until somebody swipes away from it.

Brett:

Interesting. Talk a little bit about pace and sort of how you structure the creative, right? Because I know, on YouTube as an example, the first five seconds are critical, because that's the time before someone skips. And so we usually want to have a couple elements in the first five seconds, maybe one cut, but something that really grabs them. So we have what we want in the first five seconds. Talk about pace and what you want in that TikTok ad.

Anders:

Yeah. So definitely we almost always recommend product first. Make sure that you're showing your product, it's very easy to get into a TikTok trend, and not show the product until like 15 seconds, or sometimes we'll work with the influencers to create some content, and the first piece of content that we get back from them is them talking about the product, and then they hold it up like 10 seconds later which is definitely not ideal. Now that said, there's one particular example that the product I don't think was shown until like 25 or 30 seconds in, and Madison and her team worked on this with Vessi, brand that we work with, the waterproof shoes.

Brett:

Waterproof shoe, absolutely.

Anders:

And we brand this as an ad back in October of 2020. And it was with this influencer, her name's kallmekris, she's based in Canada, she has blown up, I don't know how many followers she has now, it's like 10s of millions. I think it's like 30 some. But she's got a character, and it's a trend that people follow her with or follow her for. She talks about waterproof shoes, or talks about shoes, but the product itself, and the product demo happened around like the 30 or 35 second mark. However, the interesting thing is..

Brett:

That's the exception though, that's not the rule, she's really engaging, and people loved her otherwise this

Anders:

Exactly. And that crushed it organically, that crushed it, we were able to boost it as a Tiktok, that crushed it. So in terms of that formula, it differs really based on that content. Now, if you're making something internally and you're doing something like an unboxing, there's also ways to... It really is just go on the For You page, start swiping to get ideas, see what trends are currently happening, and think, "How can I take this and turn it into a trend?" There's a big trend, especially around like TikTok made me buy it. So we've created several ads.

Brett:

TikTok made me buy it?

Anders:

Yeah.

Brett:

That's great actually. Yeah.

Anders:

And we'll create several ads around that and use this TikTok voiceover, it's not Siri, but it's got a voice that speaks the words out and there's text on the screen. And TikTok made me buy these shoes or this iPhone case, and you can then do the unboxing there. Whereas on Instagram, you might just start with the unboxing, and that might perform really well. So there's ways to tack on and use that from... use trends as a best practice as well. So I'd say product first, and then focus on trends. It is very difficult to just like... We haven't seen an ad just take off that doesn't follow some sort of trend. I'll just say trend videos outperform 9 times out of 10.

Brett:

Nice. And is that what you do on the organic side as well, Madison, where you're... Obviously, you have to have a deep understanding of the client's product and their market, but you're starting with tend first, and then seeing how you can leverage that trend with a given brand?

Madison:

Yeah, typically, and it depends on how much flexibility we're given too, because trends happen very quickly, and they come and go.

Brett:

And do they fade... Okay, yeah fade quickly.

Madison:

100%. Most of the trends that come through TikTok die within a week. And then there are some standout trends that will stick around for a couple of weeks, really, they're very strong. And then you can still do that trend and use that sound a month later, and it's still relevant because they were big enough that everyone saw them, right?

Brett:

Like TikTok made me buy it, that's maybe one with a little more longevity, at least for now?

Madison:

Yeah, TikTok made me buy it is interesting, because it started a while ago, probably six months ago, and just this week came up on the Discover page, which is where all of your trending hashtags show up, and it was like number three trending hashtag. So some really, evergreen trends like that will come back around every once in a while.

Anders:

One thing I want to call out too, because this really started organically, was a lot of people would do like, "Things you didn't know you need on Amazon, part one." There are pages for this. And then they put a link in their bio and drop an affiliate link, whatever. Well, now Amazon actually promotes all of that content. They're working with influencers directly to push that. So that's another one that... It's been around for a while, it started a while, but still... Yeah, I'd say it's more evergreen now. And that's specific to Amazon, the giant that they are.

Brett:

Yeah, super interesting. I've got so many, so many questions. I'm trying to decide what to ask next. What's our metrics in what we're seeing there? So we'll get into that in a minute. First, I want to talk about content a little bit more. So when you create an organic post, are there any similarities between this and Facebook, where then you're boosting that organic content? Or are the content pieces quite different? And so you've got your organic and your paid? That's the way it typically is on YouTube, right? Typically, YouTube, ads are different, organic is different, but it sounds like there's probably some overlap here. Who wants to take that? I know you

Anders:

Madison, I'll let you take it, that way... Because I think what would be interesting, I think people want to know, like, what is the length of a piece of organic content? Because we do boost some content. But typically, we wait a little bit. So I'll let Madison take it first, and then I can talk towards the paid.

Madison:

Yeah, there is a lot of overlap, because again, what we're talking about with ads that perform really well, it's because it looks like a really strong piece of organic content. So it sort of starts organically, and then we take the things that are really working, and that's where we're putting the money. A strong organic piece of content, I would say, is usually 15 to 30 seconds, try to keep it on the shorter end. But like Anders said, as long as you can keep people's attention. That content, when it's posted, will typically get the most amount of engagement within 48 hours, let's say. If it's going to blow up, it blows up almost immediately. But then it has a lifetime that's indefinite, honestly, it depends on how other things perform. It will keep gaining traction, especially videos that do perform very well for a week, sometimes even two weeks. And then what will happen is if you get another strong piece of content later, TikTok says, "Oh, now look at these new 50,000 people who are interested in that brand's content," they'll pull from old videos and start pushing them back into the feed as well.

Madison:

So the lifetime of a video is really dependent. But typically we like to see that one to two weeks, let that content really live it all out, get all of those views, and then that's when we start to look at, "Okay, what's really performing and where do we want to put money behind this now?"

Brett:

Yeah, it's super interesting. So the shelf life of a given video typically is pretty short. But if you have a good strategy and you're releasing more content that people like, there's kind of a compounding effect, right? This resurfacing effect that really, really makes it attractive to say, "Hey, let's keep putting content out," which I think goes back to your first point, Madison, of you got to commit to this. We're going to do it, commit to it, content.

Madison:

Absolutely. And that's where those themes and... not trends, themes, and storylines come through. So for example, with Vessi, one thing that we did was what we call a pour video, where we just pour random liquids over the shoes. That really grabs people's attention really quickly, it's very interesting.

Brett:

It's like the will it blend videos from so many years ago, right?

Madison:

Exactly.

Brett:

It's attitude wore it out.

Madison:

That's funny, we actually talked about doing a series called will it repel, completely based on that. Will the shoes repel these liquids? So when we do that-

Brett:

Acid

Madison:

... when we had a pour video perform really well, TikTok immediately recognizes the five other pour videos that we've done beforehand, and will show those same types of videos to people. So that's where having those themes and storylines in your content really pays off, too. Because as soon as one hits, if you will, then TikTok will find the rest of it.

Brett:

Yeah, cool. So what are the metrics we're paying attention to? And it's really interesting that you kind of know in the first 24 hours, if this thing isn't going anywhere after 24 hours, it's pretty well dead, right?

Madison:

Yeah.

Brett:

So what are the metrics we're looking at? Is it just strictly views and engagements? Are there other ways we can tell if people... I know on the Facebook side, likes and comment, likes are great, comments are maybe better, shares are even better than that, from what I know, from my Facebook friends. What are those key metrics here?

Madison:

Yeah, I would say views is just absolutely the biggest one, because the way TikTok works, once you start gaining views, it's exponential. They're showing it on more and more and more For You pages. The other thing that you can see within 24 hours of posting your video are the analytics of that specific video and you can see how many of your views are coming from your profile or your followers and the For You page. And if you see more than 50% or more like 80% or 90% coming from the For You page, that video is getting a lot of traction, right?

Brett:

Yep.

Madison:

Shares are also a huge metric.

Brett:

Got it. Are shares pretty common? Is that a big thing, are people mainly just watching from For You and people they follow and stuff like that?

Madison:

Sort of depends. You can have a really successful video that doesn't get a lot of shares. But typically, shares are a really good indicator. They do happen even more than you would think, some videos don't seem like something that people would want to share and they still get a lot of that on TikTok.

Brett:

Nice.

Anders:

I'll chime in real quick too about shares because shares on TikTok are really unique, where Facebook, those shares are more like on the platform, and more and more, I think you've started to see shares happen through Messenger. But when you share something on TikTok, I don't know the stats on this, but I would bet 90% of them go to a text message.

Anders:

I find a funny TikTok that I like, I grab that link and I send it to my family list or my wife or whoever, and they can see it right there in iMessage or in their phone and it opens right up. So you're not DMing it all the time. My wife and I, we've never really DMd a link over there, through TikTok's messaging portal, but we do it through text all the time. And then same thing, if you share it on to Twitter or somewhere else, and a lot of times you can save a video and then you'll go repost those or they'll get reposted on Twitter, it's always cool. TikTok does have that watermark which I'm sure you've seen that ..

Brett:

Totally. Yeah, we've used TikTok influencer clips on YouTube ads, and they've worked really well when combined with other things. So yeah, I do see that that watermark a lot.

Anders:

Yeah, so that's a cool feature too, because it always gives that credit back. And we've seen too, I don't know, necessarily with many other brands that we've worked with, but definitely I've seen content that has crushed it on TikTok, and then all of a sudden it's on Instagram reels and trending on Twitter. A lot of times, it wasn't even the person who posted initially to TikTok that shared to the other platforms.

Brett:

Yeah, so it does seem like TikTok content can be shared elsewhere, and it works. You just can't go the other way. You can't usually create something for Instagram or YouTube and then share it on TikTok, that sharing doesn't work, but it does work from TikTok to other places. So let's talk about the relationship of ads and organic. It sounds like you're often posting organically, seeing if it's got traction, then you're boosting it, potentially. Does putting ad dollars behind content help with organic reach as well? So as an example, on the YouTube side, there's almost no connection, right? In fact, in some cases, if you promote, send ad traffic to something, it will hurt the organic reach, because your watch times drop and all these things and so that hurts organic. What's the relationship here between paid and organic?

Anders:

Yeah, as I mentioned earlier, your paid account and your organic aren't even connected at all. So the only way that they are connected is if you do a boost. And the way that these boosts are done, actually is TikTok, really cool, we've heard of whitelisting on Instagram or YouTube, or like all these ways, and permissions is just an absolute nightmare from an ad agency to get those from influencers. TikTok's got a really nice way, the user just goes and clicks that share button, but then it will allow them to generate a code and anybody can do this, you don't have to have 10,000 followers to do it. You don't have to have a brand profile with 10,000 followers, and then it generates that code, and then you get that on the back end TikTok ad manager where you can put that in, and then boost.

Anders:

Now that said, it's still... I don't believe that this feature is widely available yet to advertisers, we have it on our accounts that we're connected to, and there's a lot of beta features that come out. But that whitelisting may not be available to everybody yet. I know that TikTok's rolling it out. And it might not be available for every country either. And then there are as well, some other objectives, similar to Facebook, where you can boost a post, or say you've got a business, you post on Instagram, and there's that little boost button down there, and you can optimize for traffic to your website or engagement. Tiktok's starting to test and do more. And they do have conversion objective or traffic or brand awareness, and one that's opened up more to, and is still I think more of a beta, is engagement. So we..

Brett:

What exactly have you found to work best... On the YouTube and Facebook side, if you choose views or engagements, that's what you'll get. If you choose conversions, that's what you'll get. But what do you find working on TikTok?

Anders:

Very much the same. It wasn't always the case. Last June, for instance, we ran for a brand. And that was back when the pixel was very rough, tracking was very difficult. You couldn't even post events in your code. You had to do it all through their portal. And so we ran actually traffic a bit last June for one brand in particular, and according to the post purchase survey results at the end of the month for their Shopify store, Tiktok absolutely crushed. And we were definitely bummed, we didn't go and spend some more dollars on traffic. But since then, conversion of the-

Brett:

The numbers in TikTok looked bad, but the numbers in the back end on Shopify looked great?

Anders:

Yeah. Oh, the numbers and TikTok back then, it was like nothing. We saw like five purchases, and I think in that month, I think we spent maybe like six or seven grand, but on the back end, post purchase survey, it was like $45,000 in sales.

Brett:

Whoa,

Anders:

So it was absolutely... It was a big difference. Now that said, we have seen the conversion objective work so much better. Just like Facebook, and like a lot of these other ad platforms, they do recommend that you optimize for an objective that you can get out of learning, and that learning needs 50 conversions a week. So-

Brett:

50 a week, okay.

Anders:

50 a week, just like Facebook for that learning phase. We have tested a lot, add to cart, optimize it for an add to cart, we've optimized for PDP view, we optimize for complete payment or initiate checkout. All the testing that we've done, it's just once you get a complete payment, or a purchase, optimizing for that is just far better. Sometimes it's more expensive and definitely more expensive to get traffic or sometimes an add to cart, but we've seen it's much more qualified.

Brett:

Nice, it sounds like things are getting better there. Although at the time of this recording, we're battling iOS 14.5 and 14.6. And so we're seeing that big impacts on YouTube and Facebook and other places, so that's likely going to create some headwind for any iOS app. But there's actually a big release recently, right, with TikTok attribution where now it's like a seven day click, one day view attribution where before it was not.

Anders:

Yeah, so that was a recent update, and it went to, yeah, seven day click, one day view polls auto advanced matching or advanced matching with phone number and email match and user ID and IP address. So they are able to do that. It's not able to get around, obviously, if they opt out on iOS 14 devices, but we've already seen an improvement on the back end, and in Tiktok metrics, especially, it used to be single session. So if you're selling $150 pair of shoes, in Vessi's case, that's not always an impulse purchase buy.

Brett:

Right, you need to think about that for a little bit, maybe to get approved from your spouse or your significant other, you're maybe not buying on that single session. Yeah.

Anders:

And if you didn't buy on that single session, TikTok wouldn't report it, and it wouldn't get any of that data back that that buy happened. So it's-

Brett:

That made your job tough.

Anders:

Yeah, we didn't have a lot of advertisers that were like... like I said, you've got to be willing to risk... It's a higher risk .. I think-

Brett:

What's interesting, though, is that there's going to be a lot of platforms kind of moving in that direction, potentially, we'll see. There's all kinds of solutions to iOS was 14 that are out there, data modeling, and things like that. But it's very possible, there's a future where we're going to have less visibility into that clear conversion data. And we're going to have to find proxies and ways around that and just be smart marketers, so super interesting.

Brett:

I want to talk about... And getting into Snap first, but TikTok has been so much fun, we may have to do part two at some point, to really dig into Snap. But usually we're running direct response ads, we're running YouTube ads, we have direct calls to action, we're telling people to go do this, or download that, or shop for this, that type of thing. What are you seeing on the Tiktok side? We'll start with you, Madison, are you specifically telling someone to take action? Or is it more kind of fun and light and soft sell?

Madison:

Yeah, on the organic side, we're not doing a lot of hard call to actions. It's more about appearing, again, as a brand who knows how to TikTok, if you will, and people sort of get excited about that. And the other approach is the sort of exposure, everyone's talking about this product. So you can have that sort of like unboxing or UGC style, people just talking about the product without saying, "You need to go get one of these." We do that with influencers too, just talking about I love this product. But really know, especially on the organic account, we don't have any strong call to actions. The only exception is influencers who have specific codes or affiliate links, who will drive those specific ones-

Brett:

Go get my code or mention my name and stuff like that.

Madison:

Yeah, but typically on the organic side, we're just trying to appear cool like every other TikToker on the app really.

Anders:

And Madison, do you see a difference in performance? I know sometimes brands that we work with will have a promo or a big sale, and they want some piece of organic content. Do you see any difference on how that performs verse, yeah, the more fun casual, soft sell?

Madison:

Yeah, typically, a promo is not actually the easiest thing to do on TikTok, it doesn't perform as well as it would. Whereas on other apps, you have a group of following that are so excited when you have a promotion because they already know and love you. On TikTok, again, your content is being shown to a bunch of random strangers who don't even know who you are, and they don't care if you're running a promotion or not. So it is a bit tougher to do a promotion or call to action in that way.

Brett:

Super interesting. What about on the ad side, Anders? Are you asking for action, are there buttons or call to action links? Talk about that a little bit.

Anders:

Yeah. Well, I think the Tiktok user is very savvy, for the most part, they understand how it works, they understand that-

Brett:

They were born online, right? They were born with a cell phone in their hand..

Anders:

..yeah. So they swipe left, they know they're loading the website. But that said, we do, especially when we're creating a piece of content and are doing post production and maybe we will close that video and go to the brand logo and then we'll have a swipe left to shop, kind of call to action, we do some of that. But even that kallmekris video I mentioned earlier, that's one that there was nothing in there that was like, "You need these shoes," or anything. It was a very soft sell, engaging piece of content, and it sold the product in a very, very soft but easy way and it just made sense. That's, I think, what we see the best content that works the best from a performance standpoint, is it's selling the product and it's making it a no brainer for people to buy. And it's probably similar to your YouTube stuff where they just... The video should sell the product, you... You can give them those little jabs, click here or swipe left, but that's typically what we see best.

Brett:

Yeah, and it can be very, very simple. We talk about that a lot on the YouTube side that is just simply a learn more or visit site, it can be very simple if the product demo is powerful, and the hook is powerful, and you're really creating desire, you just need a little nudge at that point and people ...

Anders:

Now, there are, like the call to action button, we can change on the back end, we can change it shop now, watch more, learn more, buy now or get offer. There's a bunch of options, there are-

Brett:

What are you seeing there, are you seeing any trends there? Because on YouTube, for example, buy now doesn't work well on YouTube. But shop now, learn more and visit site honestly works super well. Weird.

Anders:

Yeah, we typically see shop now and order now. Those work best. The other thing too, on that little button there, TikTok's starting to work more with catalogs, and especially for direct response. We're doing a lot of that where we'll upload their catalog in, and then it gives you a little-

Brett:

Not to get too nerdy, but on the catalog side, are you using a feed service like a data feed or data feed watch or something like that, or-

Anders:

Yeah, we use data feed watch. But also, if you are-

Anders:

... it will connect it with Shopify and the Tiktok sales channel app. So you don't even have to worry about any of that. But the way that this call to action works is it will actually show one product and then the name of that product and the price. And then every three seconds it cycles through to a new product while the ads playing. So if your ad's 30 seconds long, it's going to cycle through three products, several times each and that's eye catching to the user saying, "Hey, we're selling things." And we've seen those collection instant experience catalog ads actually perform really well. Higher cost per traffic, but more qualified user for sure.

Brett:

What kind of audience targeting is possible on TikTok? What's available there?

Anders:

Yeah, so again, very limited in compared to Snapchat, Google, Facebook, and these guys who have been around for a long time. But there's a lot that has come out recently, specifically around behavior. So every TikTok profile is connected to some sort of theme, I guess. So are they into video games? Is it a news type video? Is it about animals and pets? And there is behavior targeting on the back end.. That's something we've seen work well, it is-

Brett:

Behavior targeting, it sounds like that's maybe more interest targeting? Or are you targeting other TikTok influencers? Or what do you mean?

Anders:

There's interest based targeting, and I'm not 100% sure how TikTok gets all that data, how much of its in platform versus outside and data partners. But then there's behavior targeting. So I can target people who watched videos in the last seven days, or who shared a video in the last seven days, that was in the baby maternity, kid space.

Brett:

Interesting.

Anders:

And we know it's relevant because it was in the last seven or 15 days that you can do. You can say if somebody liked or watched all the way to the end, or they commented or they shared. And I think overall, because we've done exports and done some of this, I think it's around like 650 behaviors that you can target up to that many.

Brett:

I know, everything is still pretty new. And it's going to vary from advertiser to advertiser. But what types of targeting tend to lead to the best result? Is it behavioral, is it more interest based? What are you usually starting with?

Anders:

Well, we're starting broad, we're saying, "Hey, let the machine do that, go and find that." But you are able to do behavior exports on your data and see, "Okay, when I went broad, who were those behaviors that were performing best? Who didn't perform?" And then we can narrow down and do a little bit of testing there, we can also get ..

Brett:

Then you can double down on whatever the data shows you that, "Hey, this audience was performing well, so maybe you can get more of that."

Anders:

Exactly. For a while we saw these behavior audiences especially performing better than broad. I'll say more recently, we've seen broad work better. Their look alike system too, and email list and phone number upload, that's not available to all advertisers, but I think ..

Brett:

Okay, got to spend a certain amount to get-

Anders:

Yeah, you've got to get whitelisted for it. But I will say that look alikes haven't performed as strong as maybe they do on other platforms. So I think there's still some work that they're doing on there.

Brett:

Interesting. It really seems like Facebook and IG have nailed look alikes. Google's still behind there, honestly, which is crazy because Google is so advanced in so many ways. But what about remarketing, is remarketing possible? Can you upload remarketing lists or target your email list? It sounds like maybe.

Anders:

Yeah, so you can, if you get whitelisted, you can obviously... You can upload phone number match and email. Phone numbers, because TikTok, you can't sign up on the desktop, you have to do it on mobile. And phone number match is actually a higher rate there. So that's important. In terms of visitors to the website, with this new pixel change, this recent pixel change and the seven day click, one day view, they are getting more data and matching more. So we are able to do some on the visitors. But historically, it's only when you can retarget people who came in through an ad.

Anders:

Say your brand gets 100,000 views a month and you start spending 100 bucks a day on TikTok. Well, your 100,000, we're not going to be able to retarget, we're only going to be able to retarget the people who came through your $100 a day in ad spend. It's gotten better, and-

Brett:

It will continue to improve, I'm sure.

Anders:

Yeah.

Brett:

Super interesting. I like that approach where you talk about going broad first and then looking for trends and looking for audiences and doubling down there. And I think that makes sense, because once APMs are low, things may go viral a little quicker, like all of that. On YouTube, we actually do the opposite, where... At least this is our approach, where we like to go very, very focused, because YouTube is so massive, and the CPMS aren't as cheap, relatively speaking. So we want to train the algorithm and then we go broad, but I could totally see the reverse working in this case, which is super interesting.

Brett:

This is awesome. And I think one of the key takeaways I'll underscore here is, it does make sense, just like with other platforms, to think about the platform first, design and build your content for the platform. But the beautiful thing about TikTok is, I believe it's very, very shareable. You can spend some time with Madison's team or Andres team building this great TikToks content, and some of it you're going to be able to repurchase on Snap and reels and even on YouTube, like I said, we're using little snippets of TikTok influencers on YouTube videos now and they're working well. So I think that's a nice benefit.

Brett:

Cool. Anything you would kind of wrap up here, and then we'll spend about 10 minutes talking Snap ads here in a minute. But anything else that we need to know, and I know we could probably talk for hours about TikTok, but any other little nuggets you would share?

Anders:

I think the biggest thing for TikTok ads is just making sure you're set up with some measurement for success. What is success going to be for you? If you rely on in the platform, it's like what we're seeing on Facebook and Google and all these things with iOS 14 and tracking falling, don't come into TikTok an expected a 3X return on the platform. Do a post purchase survey, do something and don't just rely on Google Analytics, either. Because that last click or first click isn't going to match-

Brett:

It'll really under report as well.

Anders:

Yeah, I would definitely say get a post purchase survey going, especially as you're diversifying, to rely a little bit more on people and less on the pixel, especially as the pixel maybe gets less and less accurate.

Brett:

Yes, so interesting. And I think that's going to become more and more important, the post purchase surveys. Any tools or pieces of technology you recommend for that, for the post purchase survey?

Anders:

Yeah, there's two that we use, and recommend every brand that we work with specific to Shopify, these are Shopify apps. The first is Enquire, E-N-Q-U-I-R-E, and then that one, I think they've got a $20 a month plan, that works just great. And then there's another one that's called K-N-O, KnoCommerce. Both those are in the Shopify app store. Kno does have a free plan. And both of them it's just a very simple... At the end of the buy, on Shopify confirmation page, it just says, "Hey, basically one more thing, how'd you hear about us?" And then you can customize that and, "We started on TikTok-

Brett:

Pretty good.

Anders:

... make sure you've got TikTok there.

Brett:

Yeah, great. Awesome. Madison, what about you? What do we need to know, any final nuggets on the organic side of TikTok?

Madison:

Yeah, on the organic side, I would say it's all... Like you were talking about... TikTok content is really working in a lot of other places right now. So it's so worth it to dive in and, like we talked about, it's all about commitment, you have to do a TikTok first, but if you do that, it's really going to pay out. The benefit of doing organic paired with ads and having a really strong organic influencer approach, they're all working together really well. We're taking influencer content, using it on our organic page. We're taking organic content, using it on Instagram reels. And suddenly, before you know it, you have 100 videos, which every brand is dying to have, and it's just really, really beneficial. But like Anders said, there's risk involved, it's different, it's unique. You have to be willing to be flexible and put your hands up and say, "Okay, I don't know, TikTok." And let your marketers do it.

Brett:

Yep. Awesome. Really, really good stuff, guys. That was fascinating. I'm suddenly excited about TikTok. So let's talk Snap a little bit. So Anders, what do we need to know about Snap ads? I know they're a different beast, different animal, what do we need to know about them?

Anders:

Snap ads, obviously, their stock has been just crushing it. And they're continuing to come out with new products and new partnerships. And the commerce.

Brett:

I see Snapchat advertising for their ad platform on YouTube all the time, which is interesting.

Anders:

Oh okay, interesting. I have YouTube Premium so I don't get your ad spread.

Brett:

Thank you, Anders, you're killing me, man. All right, keep going.

Anders:

But Snap ads too, they, earlier this year, I think it was Q1, they did come out and say that Snap ads has more like millennial, like 18 to 40 users, I think, daily active users than even TikTok and some of these others. So the Snapchat user is using the platform daily, it is also a very different user. TikTok, they're on daily, but Snapchat, they're messaging, they're constantly.

Brett:

Yeah, but you TikTok messaging isn't so much happening. Snap messaging. I mean, I know, my son is 19, that's how all his friends communicate is Snap, let me Snap this person. That's it.

Anders:

Yeah. So there's that, there's the back and forth, there's the Discover section, which is kind of got all of these stories, and it's a lot of clickbait articles and your influencer that you follow probably has stories on there that are trending and that you can click into. So it's a unique platform, but people are there. Their ad platform is also very, very good, and it's gotten a lot better just over the last couple years. And I'd say even the last year in general has gotten much stronger.

Brett:

Would a Snap ad be more comparable to an Instagram ad?

Anders:

Definitely. Whether you're chatting or watching a piece of content on Snapchat, or watching the stories on Snapchat, just like Instagram story ads, it will intersperse with their story ads on Snap. There's a way to put in your catalog and do dynamic product ads as well, to show the pair of shoes that you were just looking at on the website, make sure you show it to that user there. There's AR filters as well that are a little bit more pricey to go and build out. But it's a different experience, and that's a chance to get a little bit more in the messaging space. If your son, all he's doing is messaging back and forth, and he's not using the other stuff, he's probably using a filter on some of his chats. So you can run a filter to do that. And whether it's a filter, or an AR lens, you can run sponsored versions of those as well. But it's a strong.

Brett:

Does that work well? Would you suggest a sponsored filter as an example? Or is there just like a standard ..

Anders:

Yeah, those work really well. So when I used to work at Cotopaxi, which is an outdoor gear brand, we had this-

Brett:

Awesome outdoor gear brand, man. Such a cool brand.

Anders:

Thank you. We had this event called Questival, and it was a 24 hour adventure race, and we would host these events and there would be a starting basically where you picked up your packet and everything and then we had a closing ceremony. It was very easy inside Snapchat, I could just go geo-fence the park and I could put a filter on there, because I knew everybody who was coming, especially at that time, they could go through and make sure that people knew they were at Questival, and it was a branded thing. So it's much more on the brand play, I would say, for filters. It's not amazing for selling product.

Brett:

Yeah. So the filter's not going to be a direct response play, but it could be a nice brand play and that certainly has value too.

Anders:

For sure. The AR filters, I will say, are a little bit different because you can actually-

Brett:

This is where you can see the couch in your room or on the wall or maybe apparel, that price, pretty

Anders:

Yeah, I think it was Nike or the sneakers app, it was one like last summer that really came out and did... It was a Michael Jordan, I think... A new Jordan shoe. And you could put that out in your living room and look at it. And then there was actually, "Hey, you can buy this." And that was the first, I think, drop that they did with this feature, Snapchat did, and you could check out really quickly. So they are getting there, they are doing, I think, a lot more to make that more approachable for advertisers. But I think there still needs to be some adoption, for sure.

Brett:

Nice. So then on the pure ad side, are you seeing direct response type ads working? So-

Brett:

Just like you're seeing on Instagram or Facebook, those are working well on Snap too?

Anders:

Yeah, Snapchat, super low barrier to entry, there's like no minimum a day ad spend, you can take what's working well on Instagram stories and throw that in, get the pixel up on the website. If you've got a Shopify store, they've got a Snapchat app, links it within a minute. And you can be off to the races spending $10 a day retargeting people to your website. You most likely have a good amount of users that are on Snapchat.

Brett:

.. on Snapchat.

Anders:

With a lot of our brands, we make sure that, hey, this is a part of the customer journey. We don't recommend take just what's running on Instagram, and put it on Snap. We also like to think-

Anders:

... how can we make a good experience? But that said, those users are there. I think that that's just an important call out, is like, they are there, and if they're there, more people probably are, new customers, and they're targeting, look alikes are really pretty good there, there are interest-based on targeting. They also partner with Datalogics and Oracle... Or maybe Oracle, can't remember. Nielsen data. There's these audiences directly built into the platform, you don't have to work with a third-party partner. You can ..

Brett:

..income targeting, obviously geo targeting, income interests, stuff like that.

Anders:

Yeah. People who shop at Foot Locker in the last 365 days, you can go and do that, or did they go to Bed Bath & Beyond? So it's actual credit card consumer data that you pay the premium CPM inside the platform, but you're not getting invoiced separately. Those audiences, you can... And it's something we're starting to test a lot more with iOS 14, obviously is going after more of this data.

Brett:

Totally makes sense. What about attribution? Is the pixels, the Snap pixel pretty accurate, or what are you finding there?

Anders:

Yeah, I mean, pixels in general, I feel if you've set them up properly and through the channels, they don't lie to you.

Anders:

Yeah, they might show more numbers than if... Snapchat, because there's so many users on there, and also CPMs are dirt cheap on Snapchat. So retargeting wise, you could, on a $10 a day budget... Say you had 500 or 1,500 people to your website, on a $10 a day budget retargeting, you're probably going to show your ad to every one of those people who are on Snapchat.

Brett:

Wow, that's awesome.

Anders:

Really inexpensive. And people also don't get tired of seeing ads in Snap. Frequency can go really high, but ..

Brett:

Really? How do you think?

Anders:

I think it's just the user inside of there. They're in there constantly, they go to the Discover page, they know, because they're in there so many times a day that it's not updating constantly, it is, but not everything's changing, just like when I go to the news website that I read. I don't expect..

Brett:

Big companies time reload in the day. Yeah.

Anders:

But because of that, we also... Again, going back to that incrementality and making sure you have a post purchase survey, Snapchat will take credit, especially on a... So their default is a 28 day swipe, one day view, I think it's transitioning more to that seven day swipe, one day view. But that one day view, like I said, 10 bucks a day or whatever, on a smaller site, will show it to everybody. So Snapchat will take credit in the platform and..

Brett:

..on the attribution, which is okay. That's where you triangulate the data by looking at post purchase survey and then ..

Anders:

But you can also narrow it down to one hour view or three hour view or six hour view. So that's what we do with a lot of our brands is we narrow it down to that one or three hours to say, "Hey, if they bought within that period of time, this is probably a little bit more interesting to attribute and give credit to Snapchat on the retargeting front, as opposed to somebody who saw an ad 23 hours ago."

Brett:

Sure.

Anders:

But the other thing, and Snapchat, finally, I've been bugging them for this information, they've got a lot of details around shopping retail. So many people Snapchat an outfit when they're at Forever 21 or whatever and send it to their girlfriends, "What do you think about it?" There's that, but from direct response, finally, just recently got some data from Snapchat, and it's something like 75% of Snapchatters don't take a last click action when interested in an ad. It's like 25% of them open it in a new browser, or like 25 just remember it and

Brett:

Go search later or something like that, search on Google the next time they.. Yeah.

Anders:

But it will pick that up though still, the attribution. It's really good.

Brett:

Cool. Awesome. Well, guys, I have more questions. But we've gone a little bit over our allotted hour, which was totally worth it. This was a ton of fun. Where can people learn more about you guys? And then like I mention in the beginning, I've got more people asking me like, "Hey, who's the Snap agency recommended? Who's the TikTok agency?" So I'm sending them to Wallaroo, for sure. But where can people connect with you? And then do you guys have any free resources or anything you'd recommend that people check out?

Anders:

Yeah, definitely, wallaroomedia.com, or-

Brett:

Will you spell that real quick, Anders?

Anders:

Yeah, W-A-L-L-A-R-O-O media.com. I'm on Twitter @rpiip, you can always just shoot me a DM or something there. We've got a lot of resources, our blog, we do a bit as well, and we talk a bit about TikTok and Snap and why you should be there and try and keep those up to date with profiles that are doing good examples. But I'd also just say, and from a resource standpoint, TikTok has... Got to business.tiktok.com business.snapchat.com, those resources are so underutilized and they have your best practices. You got to the business.tiktok or ads.tiktok, first message you'll see there is, "Don't make ads, make TikToks."

Brett:

Nice.

Anders:

And the advice you're going to get straight from the source is always my go to.

Brett:

Yeah, cool. Awesome. What about you, Madison? Would you like to connect on socials, or should people just go to wallaroomedia.com?

Madison:

Yeah, I think the best place to go is through Wallaroo. We have a really close connection between our organic and ads and typically work together with a lot of clients. So Wallaroo is a great place to start. And you will happen upon our organic division, Pouch, as well.

Brett:

Pouch, yeah, awesome. Guys, this has been totally amazing, and we'll have to schedule a follow-up here pretty soon, because I know we could go a lot deeper, and there's probably more questions that other people have as well. But really appreciate it guys. Thanks for spending the time.

Anders:

Thank you so much, Brett.

Brett:

Yep, absolutely.

Madison:

Thanks for having us.

Brett:

You bet. And as always, we appreciate you tuning in and giving us an hour of your life each week, or there abouts. And hey, we'd love to hear from you. If you liked this show, share it, share it on TikTok or Snap if you want to. But let other people know about this show, it means a lot to us. I think it will be helpful for them as well. And with that, until next time. Thank you for listening. All right, guys, that was a wrap.


Episode 165
:
Quinn Zeda - Conversion Crimes

eCommerce Conversion Crimes to Avoid

While I love talking about driving more traffic, sometimes the best thing you can do for your business is improve your conversion rate.

Every website is leaking sales and conversions somewhere.  While I love talking about driving more traffic, sometimes the best thing you can do for your business is improve your conversion rate.  In this episode, I interview the founder of Conversion Crimes, Quinn Zeda and we discuss the most common eCommerce conversion crimes she sees.  If you fix even a few of these you’ll see a meaningful improvement in your website performance.  Here’s a look at what we discuss:

  • Understanding visual hierarchy and the metaphor of volume knobs
  • Creating a process of testing and iteration vs. launching a full site overhaul
  • Using customer intel to create marketing breakthroughs
  • Keys to better navigation and menu structure
  • How to not confuse or overwhelm your visitors
  • Using action colors
  • Plus more!

Quinn Zeda

Via LinkedIn


Conversion Crimes


Mentioned in this episode:

eCommerceFuel

Andrew Youderian

Magic Spoon

SkaterTrainer

Revolution Balance Board

“Atomic Habits” by James Clear


Episode 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 a crime show. This is a crime show, this is a mystery show, actually it's not a mystery show at all, but we are talking about conversion crimes and how to avoid them.

Brett:

This episode is brought to you by eCommerce Influence. If you enjoy my podcast, you've got to check out eCommerce Influence, hosted by my friend, Austin Brawner. Austin interviews world class eCommerce operators like Native Deodorant founder, Moiz Ali, MVMT Watches CEO Jake Kassan, and Pura Vida Bracelets founder Griffin Thall. He deep dives into what's working right now to scale your business and he offers a refreshing break from the crushed culture plaguing our industry. The eCommerce Influence Podcast will not only change your perspective on building your business, it will change your perspective on what's possible for your life. I've known Austin for years, he's the real deal and he's someone you need to listen to if you're serious about growing your business. Check out the eCommerce Influence Podcast for free wherever you get your podcasts. And now, back to the show.

Brett:

I am delighted to have on the show the CEO and founder of Conversion Crimes, love the name, you're going to love this topic, my business partner Chris Brewer, he met my guest today through eCommerceFuel, awesome forum, shout out to my buddy Andrew Youderian, but Chris my business partner met Quinn Zeda from Conversion Crimes, they started working together, we sent a couple clients to Conversion Crimes and super impressed. And so then Quinn and I started talking, I thought, "man, there's a podcast episode here, we got to get you on and talk on the podcast." So with that quick intro, Quinn welcome to the show, thanks for coming, and how's it going?

Quinn:

Thanks for having me, that was a great intro, the crime scene and stuff, in our dev we've named part of it the crime scene where we actually do the testing, so that was great.

Brett:

You're like CSI for eCommerce conversions.

Quinn:

Yeah, so I so badly want to make a spoof website that's the CIA that's the Conversion Intelligence Agency.

Brett:

Yeah, that would be fun. I'm getting all kinds of ideas now for YouTube videos where you're dressed up like Dragnet or something like whatever that investigator was, and that's super old, that was even before my time, but you're dressed up like an interrogator and you're on the scene, you're on the case, so I like it. So Quinn yeah, if you would, give us your 30 second background or so and then we're going to dive into the most common conversion crimes and how to avoid those and how to make your site better and convert better, but yeah what's your quick background?

Quinn:

Yeah, so I started my business right out of college so I started freelancing design, eventually moved into websites and then user experience design, helping websites increase conversions. And so I ran an agency, Zeda Labs, where we helped on some businesses scale, and through all of these big projects that we were doing we found that the 80/20 of conversion rate optimization and user experience was usability testing. And so yeah, we built Conversion Crimes to help small businesses do that because this tool was out there for enterprise companies and we wanted to bring it to the SME market, so yeah.

Brett:

Cool. So a lot of times we walk about our guest's company at the end of the show, but I want to just let people get a teaser, an idea, what is Conversion Crimes? Because I love the model, I love the way it works, so talk about that.

Quinn:

Yeah, so basically it's usability testing. We work on our things, we're on our store every day, we know how to find things, how to filter for stuff, but you don't know what it looks like to someone for the first time. And where they're struggling, what they misunderstand, what they get frustrated with. So we have testers that meet your demographic and we have them record their screen while speaking their thoughts out loud while they're trying to do something like find an item in your store, answer a question about it, add it to cart and check out. And by watching these videos you can understand, just pinpoint exactly where the friction is. And if you fix the friction, you increase conversion to improve the user experience, you have happier customers, and yeah.

Brett:

Yeah, usability is key. Having good graphic design and pleasing aesthetic, I love that, but usability that's where it's at. It's impossible for us as business owners to fully look at our site objectively. We can to a certain degree put ourselves in our customer's shoes no doubt, and we can think about, "Hey, is this easy for me to navigate?" But we can't fully thing like our customers and I'm confident from feedback that I've heard people listen to these records they're like, "Oh, I've never thought of that, didn't even see that, I was so used to that." So super, super helpful. Well, we'll circle back to that in a little bit but let's talk about what are the most common conversion crimes that you see that just come up again and again?

Quinn:

You know, so really the most common one is that people go to a website and they don't know who it's for, what it's about, what they're supposed to do there. To really that's the value proposition's not clear. On eCommerce stores it could be that they're showing a collection or something and so they assume that the store's about bags when it's really about something else or that's just one piece of the store and so they bail out. And so yeah, the biggest one is value proposition. And it seems like that would be the easiest thing to do, but it's actually one of the hardest because the simpler and more concise that you can explain something, the longer it took to figure that out.

Brett:

Yeah, like that old saying, I'm sorry that I wrote you a long letter I didn't have time to write a short one, or something like that. But yes, to get something concise and clear takes work, it's like a tagline for advertisers is one of the hardest things to create because it's so concise. So yeah, what are some great examples here, who really does this well where you land on the page and you know, "Okay, I know exactly what the benefit is here for me as the user, as the shopper, and know exactly what I need to do next. And I know why this product is different or better than other or why it's better than me doing nothing." Do you have any good examples?

Quinn:

Oh man, those are hard to do right off the top of my head.

Brett:

I know, so if you don't have examples then, maybe you can think of some as you talk, and if not I'll think of some tips on how do you make that proposition really clear.

Quinn:

Yeah, it's a hard process. Even I'm struggling with this for Conversion Crimes because it's like what is that sentence or thing that's really going to attract people's attention and make it super clear exactly what you do, who do you do it for, and why it matters to people. I think one of the examples that I pulled up recently was Bench, and I'm going to look it up.

Brett:

Do it, yeah.

Quinn:

Because they said, "You run your business, we'll do your bookkeeping." Very clear, it's like I don't want to do my bookkeeping so they take care of it, "Get a professional bookkeeper at a price you can afford and a powerful financial reporting with zero learning curve." So it's just short, sweet, tells me everything I need to know. It's like if that's not me I'm going to bail out, but if that's totally me I'm going to go ahead and continue to learn more.

Brett:

Yeah, I am a big fan of cereal. I love cereal, I would eat it multiple times a day and most days if I could, but it's not very good for you and I'm trying to stay at least somewhat fit and I'm just past the 40 year old mark so it's not as easy to stay fit. And so I discovered this company called Magic Spoon, I don't know if you've heard of it. It's high protein, low carb, almost no carb cereal. It tastes really good, some of it tastes like Fruit Loops and some of it tastes like Cocoa Puffs kind of. But anyway, you get to their page and it's, "Healthy cereal that tastes too good to be true." So it's a really good line. But then as you see it, it's fun because cereal's fun. And their market is adults, their market is adults who are on a ketogenic diet or just trying to go low carb, and so it's very clear it's high protein, low carb, it's sweet and delicious. The site's fun, easy to navigate, I think it's a really example. And they got me hooked on the subscription and I've kept ordering. So that's one, and it's easy because it's very different. Most cereal is high carb and high sugar so this is high proteIn lower carb, sugar, and they do that in a fun way so I thought that was a pretty good example.

Quinn:

Yeah, another one that I liked was skatertrainer.com. So it's the original Skater Trainer, the number one tool for mastering skate tricks fast. Build confidence, practice anywhere, patented design made in the USA. But it's their background video that goes with that that shows you exactly what the product is and what it does, so just immediately clicks there. Even if the text isn't completely on point, it's just all those elements together paint the picture really well.

Brett:

Yeah. I'm trying to be a surfer, but I live in Missouri so I can only surf a handful times a year.

Quinn:

There's no surf there.

Brett:

No, there's zero. You can actually surf behind a boat, you can surf at the lake. That's pretty fun, you can do that.

Quinn:

That's wakeboarding.

Brett:

Well no, there's wakeboarding and then there's wake surfing.

Quinn:

Really? I've never heard of that.

Brett:

It's cool, I'll share what that looks like, but it's fun. And so anyway, I recently bought at the recommendation of some peeps a balance board from Revolution Balance Boards and they do a really good job. So basically it's a board that sits on this long cylinder so you balance on it and you can kind of mimic you're riding a wave, but they do a really good job of explaining what the board is, what you're doing, and it's a really clear value prop on their pages. It's revbalanace.com, another good one to check out.

Quinn:

Oh yeah, those are cool. I want one of those.

Brett:

Yeah, they're really fun, yeah you'd like it. So tips then in how you make the value proposition clear, because like we talked about it's not super easy.

Quinn:

Yeah, it's really hard. But when I'm writing stuff, when you can sit there and you can brainstorm all day, sit there any write out hundreds of headlines to figure it out. But really the best thing that i found is just to talk to people, talk to the audience. I record a lot of my sales and demos calls and I go through the transcript and I'm just highlighting cool things that they say, and that's actually how we got one of ours on Conversion Crimes. It was, this guy was just like, "Yeah, every store's losing money somewhere."

Brett:

Yeah, isn't that great? It's such a good line. My buddy Austin Brawner and I, Austin runs a podcast eCommerce Influence, shout out Austin Brawner. We were just doing a joint podcast together the other day and he was talking about he interviewed somebody, I can't remember her name, but she said, "You don't need to be a copywriter, you need to be a copy paster." Because you really need to just listen to good lines that customers or users are giving you because they're using the language of other customers and users and then repurpose that, copy and paste that. And so obviously you're going to write some too, but that's where some of the gold is is just in what your customers are saying.

Quinn:

Exactly. Like running surveys, so one of the questions that I love to ask is like, "How would you describe us to a friend?" And so we send that out, so we see how are other people describing us. And so it's like literally you don't have to sit there and wrack your brain to come up with all these ideas for your value prop, it's literally just asking your customers, surveying them, getting on calls, doing transcript, whatever, and start to see patterns between what people are saying. And then you're just taking that and you just wordsmith it a little bit.

Brett:

Yep. Wordsmith it, make it concise, make it where it's not colloquialisms or whatever, make it work. Okay, I love that. So think about it, is your value proposition clear? And probably it could be better, probably people are going to your site and it's not immediately clear, it's not immediately obvious why you're different, better, valuable, why I should buy it, why I should feel good about spending my money, why you're better than competitors, why you're better than just doing nothing, it's probably not clear. So definitely ..

Quinn:

Yeah, and one of the things that I see that a lot of stores do as well is they put collections and these sliding images on their home page when people come on. And big stores, Target can do that, Walmart can do that, Macy's can do that, whatever, because they already have an audience that knows exactly what they sell. And I see a lot of smaller stores copy these things and do that, but the problem is if someone's coming there for the first time and you're showing a collection or just one part of your store, people interpret that differently and they think maybe that's all you offer or they get confused on the offering. And so what I've found come up in the testing is that a lot of times first time visitors are just confused about he store because they're trying to push collections or a specific product or something like that and they can misinterpret it. Now, it depends on what your store is, where you're traffic's coming from, all of that, how far I would take that advice, but just something to look out for.

Brett:

Yeah, absolutely. Sometimes, we want to learn from places like Amazon and other big retailers, but you can't always do what they do. And you're exactly right, people know and trust Amazon and so they can display everything, but they don't know or trust you yet so you need to be really clear on what you offer and who you are and why they should trust you. Awesome, okay. So getting your value prop clear, super important, not always easy but definitely worth the time. What's next? What's another common conversion crime?

Quinn:

Yeah, so the next one is visuals hierarchy issues. So what I mean by that is it's basically how important is prioritized on a page and when someone's coming you have a million things you want to tell them like, "Hey, we got free shipping. Hey, we got this new product in. Hey, we got this thing." And so you overwhelm your pages with all this information you want people to know, and all the information is important but what is the most important thing for them to know? Because what happens is if they come to a page and they have all of this and it's not laid out in a way that shows them a clear hierarchy of the importance of each piece of information then they don't know where to look and they're kind of scanning around, they're confused. And you want to visually lead people from one thing to the next. So I kind of think of it as volume knobs. So you want to turn on, for example the value prop, the biggest headline, you want that to be the loudest and most obnoxious thing, so you got to turn up the volume. How do you do that? Bigger text, bolder text, having more space around it, making it a color that stands out against your color scheme. All of these different ways are ways you can turn up the volume and make it stand out more against other things.

Quinn:

So then you think about what's the second most important thing? Okay, we're going to turn down the volume a little bit from that so we're going to make it a little bit smaller, maybe it's a regular font not bold, it's under the headline. What's the third thing? Okay, the CTA, so let's make a big orange box or whatever for people to click. So it's just giving them information in the order they want to see it, you're progressively revealing that information. A lot of stores I go to and they just put everything and there's just no method to the madness, it's like total chaos.

Brett:

Yeah, if everything is displayed as important then nothing is important, nothing stands out, so you really got to make that clear. So you talked about a big orange CTA button, do you have any recommendations there? I've heard all kinds of different things on testing your add to cart or your start checkout button or whatever. Sometimes I hear people say it should be a different color from what's on the rest of your page, other people opt to make it blend it and match. Do you have any tips or advice there, anything you've seen based on your user testing?

Quinn:

Yeah, so what I liked to do when I design websites and build websites and stuff is make what I call an action color. So out of all of the colors that you use in your brand, what's the most eye popping attractive one? What's the one that stands out amongst all of them? So you take that one out and you designate it as your action color, and you only use that color when you want to designate an action like CTA. And so that way when it's on the website, it stands out like this is the action that I want you to do. This is attracting your attention. This is the end goal where you're supposed to go so that helps lead people to it, it makes it stand out, it makes it very clear that that's the action. Because you want them to go there, you want to help them with you product, so you're leading them there. Now you don't want to necessarily make everything that you can click the action color, so usually we also have a secondary action color. And sometimes that's just an outline, so if you have a big orange button that's colored in, the secondary button would be maybe white with the orange outline or something like that. Yeah, I don't like when they make everything the same color because it blends in and you don't really know where to go.

Brett:

You don't know where to go, you don't know what to do. There are no visual cues there. Okay, so we want to think volume knobs, so we're going to turn up the volume on some of the most important elements, that value prop, want to turn on the volume but not quite as high on other important things, we want to think about an action color. What are some other tips for visual hierarchy issues and solving them?

Quinn:

Yeah, so breaking out text, giving it space. White space is another way to really give visual hierarchy. So a lot of people try to crowd things in and push things in, and the more space you give things the more the eye is able to move from one piece to the next, so I kind of also talk about progressively revealing information. So sometimes what you can do is, okay what information do they need to click on this thing? Give them that information. Once they click on that, then you can reveal the next information that they need or what have you.

Brett:

Don't want to overwhelm people. You want to give them enough to allow them to say, "yes I think this is what I'm looking for," so they click and they keep taking the next steps and so there is a progression there, I really like that. Okay, awesome. Okay, so we got value prop, we got visual hierarchy issues, what's the next conversion crime we need to avoid?

Quinn:

Yeah, so specifically for eCommerce stores are the filtering issues. So how people filter through the different products that they have, the different categories, how they're grouped together. So that can be confusing, especially if you have a lot of products with a lot of variables in it and things like that. So there's one store recently that I was watching testing for where they had a lot of colors. And when I say a lot of colors, I mean 100. So it was like they had a filter for every color. It was like baby blue, dark blue, navy blue, all 20 different shades of blue, so to actually find teal the tester couldn't find it. They actually scrolled past it like six times and they got frustrated not being able to find it. It was there, but they couldn't find it.

Quinn:

So having a really good hierarchy in your filtering so you're filtering products in a way that people actually use them. And also again going back to that progressively revealing information. So if you have a lot of colors, how can you filter those in a way that progressively reveals it? So start with blue, and then's it's like baby blue, navy blue, all the different blues that can go in, because then people are going to be able to find that so much faster. So if they sell blue, it's like blue, okay there's teal, all right maybe I should put that in green, I don't know, maybe that..

Brett:

No, I'm definitely the wrong person to ask there. But I get what you mean. So simpler options, do I choose blue and then once I get to blue then I can view other options, other blue variations.

Quinn:

Exactly. And also how they organize the filters. I've had sites where it's like they have five items and they have six filters, you don't need filters, you have six products. What are people going to filter through? Yeah, it's just the way that they also categorize items as well it not necessarily the ways that the users are thinking or wanting to filter things by. So a good example it maybe they have filtering by brands or cut or any of these kind of things. Like one of them had themed, but the customers weren't looking for those themes, they were looking for different things.

Brett:

The customers weren't thinking in themes, they were thinking specific product or something.

Quinn:

Yeah, they were looking for a specific cut or something like that, or they didn't know what the brand was and it was like they could only filter by brand. So making sure that your filters and categories match how users actually would filter and looK for that product, which is harder than it looks sometimes too.

Brett:

It is hard. So sometimes do you need to filter or do you need to categorize by use case? So I'm trying to do X, or I'm this type of person, I'm a business owners, or I'm a homeowner, or whatever, and so you kind of categorize that way. Or if it's something home décor or furniture related do you shop by room or do you shop by category? So thinking through those things. Any suggestions, obviously once you have something built and you can send users through it using a tool like Conversion Crimes would be super helpful. But other thoughts on how do we try to understand how do people shop for this? And so let me build my site accordingly.

Quinn:

Yeah, so usually when I'm starting anywhere for that stuff I kind of go and look and see what other stores are doing, especially the big ones, and then look at the smaller ones as well, how are they categorizing it? And that's a good place to start because you don't want to be wildly different. There is a standard for a reason because people expect things to be a certain way and so there is a time when you should deviate, but it's also good just to get a good baseline to understand what everybody else is doing in the market. I usually go through and I categorize like, okay they're all doing this, well why are they all doing that? There's a good reason for it so I probably need to do that too. These ones are doing this differently, why do they do that differently? What the reason for it, does that work for me? And that's kind of how I think through it and come up with my own for my own or whatever I'm working on, that's kind of the process that we've gone through.

Brett:

Yeah, totally makes sense. And as far as those things where you want your product to be different, you want it to stand out, you want the value proposition to be unique and to be compelling. And hey, some of your colors and designs and photos, that can all be, but you want the structure to feel comfortable and to feel familiar in a certain way. We don't walk into a store and think like, "Well, where's the checkout? Is the checkout on the sides of the store?" No, you know where it is, you're going to find it and you kind of know your way around. Things that are too disorienting can be problematic for sure.

Quinn:

Yeah, exactly. It's like okay everybody usually has their chat bot in the bottom right screen, so if you're going to move it you better have a good reason for that. The checkout is usually always in the top right. The menu and logo is always in the top left. And so when you change things up, it kind of catches people off guard. And in some ways, it can be a good thing, there's a reason to break the rules sometimes. Rules are meant to be broken. But the rules are also there for a reason, and so yeah people like things that they can ..

Brett:

But not just because, we don't break the rules just because. There should be some kind of strategy or some kind of, "Hey, I'm trying to wake someone up by breaking this rule," not, "I'm trying to confuse people by breaking this rule.

Quinn:

Yeah, exactly.

Brett:

Okay, awesome. So we have value prop, we got visual hierarchy, we got filtering issues, what's the next conversion crime?

Quinn:

Yeah, so pop ups. And this one's a little bit controversial because testers in general hate pop ups. They're always going to complain about them on usability tests especially.

Brett:

But do they work?

Quinn:

Exactly. So you may upset the tester and they may be talking crap about it and stuff but you're like, "Okay, but it converts. I may annoy you, but I didn't annoy the five other people that did this."

Brett:

Right, maybe it annoyed them at first but then once they actually saw the discount and they liked it, "And oh by the way, I sold 30% more," or whatever, so yeah.

Quinn:

Exactly. So this one is very contextual, you have to take it in with the other information and understand if that is valid or not valid. So a lot of the things that come up with this is the pop up comes up within a couple seconds of landing on the site and then the chat bot comes up, "How can I help you?" Then there's the pinwheel that flies out on the side like then you just hit me within three pop ups and I've been here like seven seconds. I'm overwhelmed. So that's a very valid experience that that's overwhelming and people in general don't like that. But if somebody's browsing the site and they're on a product page and they've been on the page for a minute or what have you and they get a pop up that says like, "Buy now, save 10% on your order." Am I going to click on that when I'm ready to buy? Yes I want to save 10%, that's going to convert, that's going to work. So it's about right now, right place on pop ups and the sin, the crime is just overwhelming people before they've even had a chance to know who you are.

Brett:

Yeah, and think about it from a physical store perspective. We walk into a physical store, maybe it's the first time we've been there, we want to get our bearings, we want to look around, and I've some studies that show if an associate comes up right away and says, "Hey, what can I help you find or what can I help you do?", most of the time a customer will say, "I'm good, I'm just looking." But if the customer goes somewhere specific and then the associate asks, then sometimes they get feedback. So you can just imagine if you walk into a brick and mortar store and three people bombard you with, "Hey, can I help you with anything? Are you ready to check out? Are you ready to buy something?" You'd want out of there, you want to get oriented first, and the same is true online as well.

Quinn:

Yeah, exactly. I kind of think of it as like when you're at a conference or whatever and there's people, you're like, "Hi, I'm", and they're already handing you the business card.

Brett:

And you're like, "Easy buddy, I didn't say I wanted your business card."

Quinn:

Yeah, I don't even know you yet.

Brett:

Right, exactly, that's another great example. Okay, so pop up issues, right time, do some testing, be cool about it, I think there's definitely a right way to do it. And I think it's been established, if you do the right kind of pop up you're going to get more email sign ups, you're going to get more of all of that, but just do it the right way.

Quinn:

Yeah.

Brett:

Okay, awesome. What's the next conversion crime?

Quinn:

Yeah, so the next one is that the process is not clear. So this kind of ties in a bit to the visual hierarchy one as well but this is more about the steps that you have to take. So there's a lot of stores out there that are like, "Okay, here's the product," you buy it, you put it in your cart, you check out. But there's also tons of stores out there where they have, "Okay, we're doing customized products." Whether it's printing t-shirts or they have where you can make the custom bedsheets or now they have glasses, whatever it is, the steps that the customer has to do to create that product, to customize the different things about it, is unclear. And that's one of the other crimes because if a person can't figure out how they're supposed to customize the product or you've made it confusing, then they're not really going to sit there and figure it out, they're just going to bail.

Brett:

Yeah, exactly. We are impatient online, because maybe in a physical setting or in person setting we don't want to offend people or don't want to appear rude or don't want to appear impatient, some of us anyway, but online no worries, I'm out of here if this is unclear, it's not working, I'm bailing because I'm not hurting anybody's feelings. Yeah, so great, so then tips, suggestions, how do we make the process clear?

Quinn:

Yeah, that one's a little bit harder because there is definitely UX involved in that, you have to think about it kind of goes into all the other said crimes put together and that you have to progressively reveal that information. Don't give them all the options at once, what's the first option that they need to make? And make it clear how they're doing it. I'm thinking of a very specific store in my mind right now where they sold all kinds of household products but you could custom design them and stuff, and I remember sitting there and I had no clue how to customize the product on the thing. And then when I finally clicked on something it did something I didn't even expect, which surprised me. So that one's about really thinking through which steps does the customer have to go through to do these? How can I make that as clear as possible and as obvious as possible for them so they go through it, they know exactly what they're supposed to do, and we meet their expectations along the way. Because that's another one, another crime is mismatched expectations. So our customer clicks on something and they expect one thing, like to get more information, and then it opens a Facebook group, you're like, "Wait, why'd you send me to Facebook?"

Brett:

Yeah, really thinking through what are people expecting when I label the button or the action or the section this way and then am I delivering on that expectation. Okay, awesome. That was conversion crime number five, process not clear. I believe we have one more, the sixth and final, maybe not the final conversion crime, I guess these are the big crimes, there could be subtle crimes, there could be misdemeanors that fall..

Quinn:

Yeah, there's a lot more crimes. We did testing on a lot of SME stores and these were the commonalities, like the top ones that came out over about I think about 35 stores.

Brett:

Okay, cool. So conversion crime number six, what is it?

Quinn:

Navigation issues. So with the site menus and stuff on the stores. So some of the big crimes we see here is gian mega menus, which if you have a ton of products, mega menus are helpful, but if you have not put again visual hierarchy on those menus then people don't know where to click. So if they go to this menu and there's 40 things on it and they're looking for this one thing, people skim and if every single thing is the same volume then they can't skim, they can't use that as a map to the information. So I kind of think of it like this, when you go a Chinese restaurant and they give you this menu and it has 100 items on it and you're sitting there looking through it and you're like, "What should I eat? What should I go?" And it takes you like 30 minutes to figure out what you want to eat. Well, when you go to more of a fine dining restaurant, they've just got like seven items there. And you can look at it in literally 20 seconds be like, "Yep, I want the chicken parm, that's what I'm going to eat tonight."

Quinn:

And the same thing is with menus, you got to make it what are the top seven categories? Make those big bold fonts. And then t-shirts, pants, whatever. And then you're going to put the smaller sub items in front of those which helps make your mega menu or the big navigation more easy to navigate, which helps people find exactly what they want. So yeah, it's kind of all of the things in on, the categorization, how they filter it, the visual hierarchy, being able to progressively reveal even if that's a big heading and then smaller ones underneath it.

Brett:

Yeah, I love this. First of all this has been fantastic, it's been a ton of fun, you're great to interview and thoroughly enjoyed this. So let's talk though, do you have resources? Do you have anything for people to download or check out that walks through conversion crimes or anything you'd point people to?

Quinn:

Yeah, we've got a case study thing that we just made that kind of goes over these conversion crimes, so I can send that to you or we can link to it.

Brett:

Awesome, I'll totally do that. And then yeah, so anything else you want to share about conversion crimes? So if someone says, "Okay, yes I want user testing, I want to have users goes through my site and my product detail pages and I want to see these recordings," how does the process work? How does someone go about getting signed up?

Quinn:

Yeah, so there's kind of two ways that we work with people. We have our self serve or guided. So a lot of friction to getting started with testing is, "Well, I don't know how to write a test." So we actually write the tests for you. You tell us, "I want to find this information," or, "I don't even know what I'm looking for, I just want to find my crimes on my site," or, "People are hitting me up support asking what color backpacks I sell, why can't they find that on the product page? Why are they hitting me up?" Or, "I'm getting a lot of customers saying I'm a scam, why do they think I'm a scam?" We had that one. So we take that, we write a test, we send it out to the testers and then they deliver it, you watch the videos, you make notes, you tag issues. And you kind of extrapolate the information from that and make changes on your site. Now, some owners they want to save time, they want someone to do it for you. So we actually also have a pool of experts that will actually watch the videos for you, make the notes, then make a test summary and then say, "Okay, here's all the crimes we found, here's exactly how you fix them."

Brett:

Nice. That is awesome. And so do you have more people choosing that option or the self serve option?

Quinn:

Both. I find the expert insights is a bit more popular.

Brett:

Yeah, just easier, we've not done tests we maybe need someone to walk us through that.

Quinn:

Yeah, so sometimes we have customers that they start with the expert insights to understand and then they move into watching the videos themselves or they just always have us do it. It's really easy because you take it and you're like, "Okay, yes, yes, yes, yes, no," or whatever, and they hand it to a developer and then it's pretty hands off ..

Brett:

Cool. That's awesome. Any favorite stories, success, wins, surprising things that people find out by going through and using your testing service?

Quinn:

Yeah, so my favorite one is the scam. So they were getting these emails from customers accusing them of being a scam and they're like, "Our customers are whack, that's totally not the truth."

Brett:

Something's wrong with our customers.

Quinn:

Yeah, they were literally, and I was like, "Hey, let's run a test, let's figure it out." And so we ran this test and so they ran a high end consumer electronics store so they also had a financing option, so when you went in and put stuff in the checkout you could then go to a finance kind of thing. And what was happening is that when they were sending that form to the third party, it was putting an error in one of the form fields, so it was automatically sending the information so the customer didn't have to enter it again, but it was sending that information incorrectly. So the customer is getting an error but not knowing what they did wrong. And given that we're dealing with financial information, they thought the entire store was a scam and they were stealing it and they were going to steal their identity. They're going to have to close down their credit.

Brett:

Yeah, that makes them feel very suspicious.

Quinn:

And so when they saw the video of that they literally, it's a five minute fix, they just took that thing off the form and their conversions went up like 120% after that or something. I can't remember the number off my head, it was 100 and something. And the other interesting thing was their cart value went from 1000 to 1500 to 1800, like literally overnight.

Brett:

Yeah, that's beautiful. And one of the things we talked about too as we were prepping a few weeks ago is sometimes people get tired of their website or it's not quite performing the way they want it to or maybe their competitor does a site redesign and so they have website envy or whatever. And so they just decide, "Oh, I'm just going to redesign my site." Well what would probably be a better first step is do some user testing and see if there's just some little tweaks and some little changes and some little iterations that you can deploy that will make a big difference, because that has a much higher probability of success versus a complete overhaul and redesign which is expensive and timely and, oh by the way sometimes it doesn't even improve.

Quinn:

Risky.

Brett:

It's risky. Sometimes, and I remember seeing this, we used to do marketing for a design agency and a developer, and sometimes you'd redesign a site and it looked better but it didn't convert as well. So now you've spent all this money redesigning a site that now performs worse than you had before, which is scary.

Quinn:

Exactly. Yeah, I've had a few friends that redesigned their stores and their conversions actually dropped significantly. And it's because it's risky, you're making so many changes at once. And I used to sell these websites, I used to do these big redesigns, and I actually found my most successful project was actually a 16 personalities, and what we did was it's like, "Okay, what can we launch and execute in this time period to make this site better?" So it's like, "Okay, it needs a new header, it needs a new footer and we need a new value proposition." Boom, done, traffic doubled, conversions doubled just from that. And it was like the next month, "Okay, what are we going to do here? Okay, the sales page needs some work. Okay, what are some tweaks we could make there?" And we just kind of tweaked it to success rather than change everything at once, because when you change everything at once you don't know what made it do what.

Brett:

Yeah, you don't know what was successful or you don't know what just broke, you have no idea. And yeah, this process of constantly iterating and improving, that's the way Amazon works, that's the way Google works, it just totally makes sense.

Quinn:

Yeah, and if you make it a habit to continue to improve and find this low hanging fruit and make little changes, all of that compounds over time. I've been really inspired by James Clear's book, Atomic Habits.

Brett:

Atomic Habits, I love that book.

Quinn:

He's just like, "Get one percent every day and that's 37 times improvement," or something, I can't remember the exact number.

Brett:

Yeah, it's 360% better, so it's basically 37 X, yeah.

Quinn:

Yeah, exactly. And that's way less risky, it's way better to do that. So rather than redesign your site, it's like, "Hey, let me visit this every month or every quarter, bi-monthly, whatever, and find these things that we can tweak and just do that over time." It's like interest, it compounds.

Brett:

Yeah, and I said that incorrectly, it is 37 X not 360. One percent compounded over 365 is basically 37 X. Yeah, so man it just works, it absolutely works. So highly recommend it. Quinn, this was awesome, thank you for delivering the goods, appreciate the time and we'll have to do this again sometime.

Quinn:

Awesome. Thank you for having me. This was a really fun time.

Brett:

Good, good. So check it out, Conversioncrimes.com, see for yourself, I think you need this tool, I think it's going to make your website, your business, your life better, so check it out. As always, we'd love to hear from you, we'd love to hear feedback. And hey, if you haven't done it already, leave that review on iTunes, that helps other people discover the show and it would make my day. And so with that, until next time, thank you for listening.


Episode 164
:
Ryan McKenzie - Tru Earth

The 7-Step Video Ad Framework Behind $100k/Day in Ad Spend with Ryan McKenzie of Tru Earth

Ryan McKenzie is doing what he can to help save the planet. He also wants to save your brand from bad video advertising.

Ryan McKenzie is doing what he can to help save the planet.  His super-effective laundry detergent strips are keeping millions of plastic laundry jugs out of landfills each year.  He also wants to save your brand from bad video advertising.

I invited Ryan on the show again because his approach to video advertising is just awesome.  Here at OMG Commerce, we have the privilege of running all of his Google and YouTube ads so we’ve seen firsthand their rocket ship growth.  They were Canada’s 2nd fastest growing start-up and have grown from 7 employees to 200 in record time.  In this episode, we break down Ryan’s  7-step framework behind his video ads that are fueling $100k/day in ad spend.  Here’s a look at what we cover:

  • What is a powerful pattern interrupt and how to use one.
  • Why having a villain in your ads is a good thing.  Hint: Your villain probably isn’t a person.
  • How many and how to most effectively use Calls to Action.
  • Biggest surprises on what works and what doesn’t.
  • How to use logic and emotion.

Ryan McKenzie

Via LinkedIn


Tru Earth

Via LinkedIn

Via Facebook

Via Twitter

Via Instagram

Via YouTube


Mentioned in this episode: 

Groove Life

Purple Mattress

Harmon Brothers University

Travis Sago

Tru Earth Ad “Stop!”

Episode Transcript:

Brett:

Well, hello and welcome to another edition of the E-commerce Evolution podcast. I am absolutely thrilled to be discussing this topic we're about to unpack for you and thrilled about my guest who's coming on the show. Guest is a personal friend of mine. We hang out for a while or hang out a number of times over recent years, maybe not so much with the pandemic but pre-pandemic we did and we hang out online a decent amount.

Brett:

And so today, we're talking about YouTube creatives and really video ads specifically. So video ads across platforms and the guy I'm bringing on the show today, he and his company are just creating some fantastic content. We have the benefit of running this content on YouTube and GN and it's just brilliant.

Brett:

This episode is brought to you by E-commerce Influence. If you enjoy my podcast, you've got to check out E-commerce Influence hosted by my friend, Austin Brawner. Austin interviews world-class e-commerce operators like Native Deodorant founder, Moiz Ali, MVMT Watches CEO, Jake Kassan, and Pura Vida Bracelets founder, Griffin Thall. He deep dives into what's working right now to scale your business and he offers a refreshing break from the crushing culture plaguing our industry. The E-commerce Influence podcast will not only change your perspective on changing your business but change your perspective on what's possible for your life. I've known Austin for years. He's the real deal and he's someone you need to listen to if you're serious about growing your business. Check out the E-commerce Influence podcast for free wherever you get your podcasts. And now, back to the show.

Brett:

My guest today is Mr. Ryan McKenzie. Ryan's an awesome guy. He is also the co-founder and CMO of Tru Earth, a laundry detergent strip company, and so you'll get to hear all about Tru Earth in a minute. They are just absolutely blowing up in Canada, the US, and beyond. And they've created some amazing video ads. We're going to unpack those and want to dig in a little bit to what Ryan's philosophies are and what the anatomy of a great, winning video ad is. So lots of fun stuff to unpack there. But with that, Ryan, welcome to the show, man. How you doing? And thanks for coming on.

Ryan:

I'm great, man. Thanks for having me, Brett. This is actually the second episode that we've recorded I think.

Brett:

This is the second episode. That's right.

Ryan:

Yeah. This is the second.

Brett:

Man, it's been a little while. Yeah. So we were just reminiscing about when we met and I think we've got it nailed down. It was at Blue Ribbon Denver, which was one of Ezra Firestone's mastermind. I just got off stage. I think we were in route to the bathroom and we struck up a conversation and the rest is history and so it's been a fun ride for sure. And man, you guys have just absolutely exploded because that was just maybe two years ago, three years ago. I'm terrible with dates by the way. So I have no idea.

Ryan:

Yeah. I think it was three years ago this summer. Yeah. Because Nashville was the January event. So yeah. It's been about. It was before Tru Earth because I did ... Tru Earth didn't exist.

Brett:

Right. It was even pre-Tru Earth, which blows my mind even more because you guys are setting growth records and killing it and just doing amazing things. So really, really fun. Before we dive into your philosophy, your formulas for winning video ads, tell everybody what is Tru Earth, why is it so unique, why are you so excited about it, and why is it blowing up?

Ryan:

Yeah. It's been pretty crazy but, yeah, Tru Earth is, as you can see if you're watching on video, it's this little tiny laundry detergent strip that replaces liquid laundry detergent, powder laundry detergent, or even pods. And what's crazy about it is this strip weighs 1.7 grams where a regular load of laundry weighs anywhere between 30 and 45 grams, which is like an ounce to an ounce and a half ...

Brett:

The laundry detergent itself, like liquid detergent.

Ryan:

Yeah. So it's super tiny. It's premeasured. You don't have to measure anything. You just take it, throw it in your laundry.

Brett:

It's smaller than the size of an index card for those who are just listening and not watching.

Ryan:

Yeah.

Brett:

It's a piece of paper basically. In comparison to the iPhone, it's considerably smaller than Ryan's iPhone 12.

Ryan:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. And then on top of that, it comes in ..

Brett:

As thin as paper.

Ryan:

Thin as paper. It comes in a cardboard sleeve, which is compostable, which helps keep plastic laundry jugs out of landfills since very small percentage of them are recyclable. So it's been really fun. We're getting to grow a business that's positively impacting the world and helping make sure that my kids and your kids get to have a healthy planet.

Brett:

Yeah. I love it. And what's so interesting is that it's become more trendy to talk about environmental causes and to have a smaller footprint and to be more responsible as a company and there's certainly some companies that have nice marketing messages but you get the sense that ... okay. I don't doubt that you believe you're making an impact but are you really? But with your product, it's so unmistakable. This is making a massive, massive impact because laundry jugs are a real problem and, again, if this small strip of paper replaces laundry detergent, it is a measurable, meaningful impact.

Brett:

And here's the other thing. My wife is used to this now because I've been in the advertising business forever. So I'm always like, "Hey. We're going to try a new vacuum. We're going to try a new this crazy thing." Because I met a client and this ... we're going to try this out. She's used to it. So when I said, "Hey. We're going to do laundry strips," she wasn't totally shocked but she was like, "What? What is a laundry strip?" And we have eight kids and I know you know this, Ryan. We have like a massive washing machine. This is like industrial size. We put this washing machine to the test. Multiple loads a day, everyday, and I would say my wife was skeptical at first.

Brett:

She was like, "Hey. I know this guy is good but it's been fantastic." She loves it. It works very, very well and, if it works for us, it'll work for anybody. And so great, great product.

Ryan:

Appreciate that. That's a great testimonial. We should be recording this. Oh wait. We are.

Brett:

I'll send this over to you. We .. I mentioned that. I got to record a testimonial for you. I will do that. I'm committing to that on air. I will record a testimonial for Tru Earth. So awesome company. Awesome background. You guys are based in ... I don't know if anyone can tell. You've got an awesome accent. Tell me where you're based though and then you said some Canadian growth records or something like this.

Ryan:

Yeah. I'm in Vancouver, British Columbia. So you see. Well, actually we're in Port Moody, which is like 25 minutes from Vancouver, but we are on the water, which is pretty sweet. But yeah, we were the second fastest growing company. Sorry, sorry. Second fastest growing start up in Canada last year and just to give you some context, when we won that award, we had nine staff and now we have like 229. So I think we got a pretty good chance this year.

Brett:

I think you're keeping that pace up to say the least.

Ryan:

Yeah.

Brett:

You guys are just ..

Ryan:

Yeah.

Brett:

So that's just awesome, man. Well, like I said, we have the privilege of running your YouTube and Google ads and stuff and you guys are just cranking out just some fantastic video content that's killing it on Facebook as well. And so I want to unpack ... let's unpack your anatomy. I think it's a seven step framework for a winning video ad and then, we'll get into some details about some specific campaigns and stuff too. But can you unpack that for us? Let's start with ...

Ryan:

For sure.

Brett:

Step one of that creative framework.

Ryan:

Cool. So there's seven steps and I'll give like a brief overview of what happens in each step and that should probably give a little bit of insight. So the first and very most important step is the patten interrupt. That's basically, you need ... we're in this attention economy and it's not that people don't have an attention span. It's just that they're very selective about what they give their attention span to. And I know this because we produce four minute videos and absolutely every person that I show my videos to says, "You know what? This is going to convert way better if it's shorter. It's going to do way better if it's short."

Brett:

Yeah.

Ryan:

Our attention rate is absolutely insane when people watch these videos and the longer they watch, the more likely they are to purchase. And it all starts off with hooking their attention. So it could be ...

Brett:

And what's interesting and just a little side note to throw in here, that's been true on YouTube for a while. And we've found this minute and a half to three and a half to four minute videos on YouTube and crushing it. And so some people accept that pretty readily but almost everybody is pushing for shorter videos on Facebook and you guys are finding these long form videos are crushing it on Facebook too.

Ryan:

Totally. Yeah. They're everywhere and everybody, everybody tells me, "You need to try making a shorter cut," and, you know what? We make a shorter cut every single time and, every single time, the shorter cut loses.

Brett:

Yeah, yeah.

Ryan:

I mean I'm sure there's content ... there's times when potentially that will work but it all starts out with a pattern interrupt and that could be throwing a bucket of water in somebody's face. Our first big video like this, we threw water in Thalia's face and she had like makeup running down her face. It was awesome. The second video, we had a couple ... we had Trey blowing laundry with his 52 inch chest and this last one that we put out, it's just really fast cuts with Trey, again, with a big afro wig and wearing a big, blue velour suit. And you know ...

Brett:

He's like a 70s game show host, right, in this one?

Ryan:

Yeah.

Brett:

Yeah.

Ryan:

Yeah. Big microphone and it's just basically what do you have to do to pull people in. And it doesn't necessarily have to be related to whatever it is you're doing or selling. It just needs to make people stop what they're doing and give you their attention.

Brett:

Yeah. Which is so important and it's often overlooked, right? But unless you have someone's attention, you cannot sell them or show them anything else. And I love the phrase pattern interrupt. That's a phrase that maybe some people are familiar with but it's something unusual, out of the ordinary that doesn't follow the normal script or the normal pattern we have in mind. So someone just talking head on the camera, that's not a pattern interrupt. That's something we expect to see from an ad.

Brett:

Now, maybe someone that's a talking head can say something that's so outlandish or so unique or so on point that it does jolt you out of your slumber or does cause you to pay attention but, using a pattern interrupt like you've talked about where you're combining something visual with something spoken ... and it doesn't even have to directly tie into ... I mean you guys always tie the message back to the benefit of the product and it's beautiful. But throwing a bucket of water in someone's face, a 1970s game show host, right, with a massive wig, a dude with a big barrel chest blowing laundry like he's the wind, that's all very unique stuff.

Brett:

So you're getting their attention. So pattern interrupt, step number one. Most important. Also, can be pretty challenging. Any specific stories and any time that hasn't worked or any surprises or anything you can share on the pattern interrupt that they thought was maybe going to go well but didn't or maybe they thought wasn't going to go well but did?

Ryan:

Yeah. Yeah. So we did a video. It's still running. It's not ... it wasn't a total bust but we did a video with a great big Sasquatch and he looked like ... I thought the Sasquatch was really cool. We spent a lot of money getting that prosthetic head made but it kind of looked like he had one foot in the grave. He was a bit rotten looking.

Brett:

It was a diseased Sasquatch. He'd seen better days. Yeah. Yeah. He was on the downhill slide.

Ryan:

He definitely didn't get his vaccine. But he ... and you know what? The other challenging part about that video and I can't necessarily say that it was because he was ugly but it was a new product we hadn't tested before and so the video actually does really well to warm audiences. It just ... outside of the ones that can't stand him. But we did get a lot of feedback that people hated the Sasquatch and never want to see him again.

Ryan:

And it was funny. We were getting 10 paragraph long emails talking about how they love us but they don't like the Sasquatch and here's an alternative that we think would be really cool. It was funny.

Brett:

We dislike this so much we're willing to write a new ad for you because Sasquatch is haunting our dreams and so please get him out of my feed. Anyway ...

Ryan:

There was a scene too where he was eating beans off the table or the counter and we were talking about how there's E. coli on counters and it's like eating poop. People didn't like that so much either. They were fairly disgusted by that. Yeah. We heard quite a few people didn't like that scene.. people were literally having nightmares.

Brett:

That's awesome. That is amazing. Yeah. Hiding your children from the YouTube screen or the Facebook screen when this comes on. But it is working to warm audiences and so not a total bust and, like you said, not really sure if it was the product or the video, probably a combination of both a little bit. But what's cool is, one, you were willing to run this. You were willing to do something a little bit edgy and then you're also willing to test it and you also found a spot for it to work. And you continue to get some leverage out of that. So that's an awesome example. Love that. Any other surprises on the pattern interrupt stage or step?

Ryan:

Yeah. I mean from the pattern interrupt stage, that one's really the only one that I've ever had that didn't perform. I was anticipating it to be the best one we'd ever done because I thought it was great. But 90 percent of the time, when I think something's amazing, I'm usually wrong. But everything from just having ... we had another YouTube video that you guys ran and it was really basic, really, really basic. I recorded it all. I used a lot of b roll film and I started with just like a stop sign, a stop sign that pops on your screen and I said, "Stop!"

Ryan:

And it's been viewed like 12 million times and it can ... yeah.

Brett:

Super low budget but it just worked and I think you got to test this stuff and you got to be willing to go there. One of the examples that I talk about some, one of our mutual friends, Peter from Groove Life, and I'm actually wearing a Groove wedding ring right now.

Ryan:

Nice.

Brett:

.. launch on YouTube and then one of their first I call it a manifesto video that they created was really great and there was a version of it that actually had a Trump joke in it, right? It was someone that does a Donald Trump voice, a brilliant rendition, and it wasn't like pro or anti-Trump. It was just a ... Donald Trump says, "There's two things I love: Russia and Groove Rings." It was just fun right. But we had people saying, "What are you doing? Get the Trump joke out of there." Whatever. Some that were pro or con.

Brett:

Some that love Trump saying, "You're offending me," and vice versa. But we tested that ad multiple ways without the Trump joke. The Trump joke ... that version always won. .. sometimes yeah. And then I remember also, Brant Garvin from ... used to be from Purple Mattress. Actually he's at Groove now too. Just now making that connection in my head. We talked about this print ad they ran that everybody hated and it was just, "Shh. This is science." That was the headline. And they were like ... he said everybody on the marketing team hated it but I don't remember why they tested it and it was one of their best performing ... that was a display ad.

Brett:

But anyway, just goes to show sometimes pattern interrupt you think is going to work won't and something you think is going to be a bomb actually is a winner. So fantastic. All right. Good stuff. That's step one. Step one: pattern interrupt. What about step two?

Ryan:

So step two is the problem. So ... I'm just writing down that, "Shh. This is science thing," because that's brilliant.

Brett:

Dude, you got to test that. Isn't that funny?

Ryan:

Yeah.

Brett:

It does really make you think, "What do you mean? What is it?" Shh.

Ryan:

The problem is what your product solves. So for us a bunch of different problems that we solve ... this could even be the villain if you're looking at it from a story brand perspective. But we want to talk about ... and if you're a copywriter, you're taking the problem and you're agitating it a little bit. So in our scenario we talk about how there's a billion laundry jugs a year that end up in landfills and ... sorry. A billion laundry jugs a year that are purchased and 70 percent of those end up in landfills because they can't be recycled. And over a time that ends up being a hell of a lot of laundry detergent jugs that are filling up oceans and ... you basically dig into the pain a little. You want people to get emotional about the problem and you want to really get them thinking about how this could affect them essentially.

Brett:

Yeah. I love that. So it's one of those things where people are much more motivated to get out of pain than to prevent pain that may be out there or may be perceived as distant or in the future. Whatever. But if you could show that something is a pain right now, agitate that problem, and you guys do that very well with some of the visualizations you do with dropping this mountain of laundry jugs and just talking about that process and so you're stirring up that pain. You could also go with the ease, ease of use of, "Hey. Just a little strip. Set it in there. You don't have to worry about laundry detergent or pouring it or spilling it or little packets or whatever." So yeah. Agitate that problem a little bit so that people want that solution or stir up the villain. Get the villain. Make the villain seem nasty so we want to attack it.

Ryan:

Yeah. And I also follow ... not necessarily with these videos but just as a whole with all of our copywriting or any sort of sales. We approach it from ... you always approach the child first. So the child's the person that gets emotional about the benefits and gets excited about things and gets, "Oo we're going to get a lollipop!" Because a kid doesn't care about they're going to get a cavity right?

Brett:

Yeah.

Ryan:

And then you approach it as the parent who basically does basic kitchen table logic on, "Okay. If I eat this lollipop am I going to get a cavity? Well, I guess I could brush my teeth afterwards." So you want to check all the boxes for why they could use this and ... sorry, the adult, not parent. And then parent. Parent's like, "We've eaten lollipops before. We've gotten cavities. What's different about this?" Risk reversal and all that stuff. But so I always try to take people through that process. I don't like to let them be logical until they've been emotional. So the problem .. emotion.

Brett:

Love that. There's been several studies done in like the fundraising, not for profit sector and advertising as well where, if you can trigger the emotional side of someone's brain first, there's much less resistance to anything financial. So you trigger someone's emotions. You tell a story about an individual a charity's going to help as an example, people are more likely to give. You start dipping into facts and stats and stuff too soon or get too logical too soon, people ... the logical side of your brain is telling you not to spend, right? Or not to invest money.

Ryan:

Totally.

Brett:

So love that. Stir up the emotion first, use logic then to affirm and backup and support those emotions you stirred up.

Ryan:

Yeah. And even like check the boxes on confirmation bias, right? Like when you believe in something, you're doing research. Smarter people are generally more susceptible to bias than less intelligent people because they're able to go and do research that confirms whatever it is they want to confirm. It's easy to go search Google and find some evidence that the world's flat.

Brett:

Right. Whatever it is. Pick a belief, even a crazy belief, search for it, you'll find all kinds of articles to support that.

Ryan:

Yeah. Exactly. Sorry. I'm tangenting here now. Sorry.

Brett:

Yeah. This is good man. So, we've got pattern interrupt. We got problem or villain. What's next?

Ryan:

The next is the solution. So this is where we're going to introduce our product as the tool or the guide to, basically, defeat the villain or solve the problem. And so in our case, after we show the bottles fall from the sky and that they take however long to decompose and that jug is never going to be recycled and turned into a bicycle, we're going to demonstrate ... we're going to show the product and introduce it as a solution and why you'd want to use this versus the problematic version.

Brett:

Love it. And so we got show the solution. And now that they've been interrupted, they're paying attention. The villain has been made clear and ugly in their mind. Now, let's talk about the solution and, "Hey. This product is the guide. It's going to help us get ... it's going to help you get where you want to go and it's going to help solve this problem." Okay. Love it.

Brett:

So any tips on making the solution believable? Making it something that really resonates or really sticks with somebody?

Ryan:

Yeah. I mean at this point too it's not really about being logical still. You still want ... at this point, we're still introducing the product as an emotional solution to the problem. We're not necessarily spitting out a bunch of facts to try and convince them at this point. We're still saying, "Hey. This is going to fix your problem." And some basic product demos and stuff like that are probably enough to, with smiling, happy people after they use your product, is enough to get them considering because not everybody needs to go through all three of those phases in order to make a purchase. Lots of people will make snap decisions based on emotional purchases.

Ryan:

I bought this ball here. I like to play the guitar a little bit but I suck but I was ... this is a silicone ball and I turned it on once but it was buggy but it's this music machine and you can make like many things with it. And I thought, "That would be really cool. I could make bass lines and stuff like this and I could probably mix it with the terrible guitar that I play." But I did not go through any sort of logical phase. I was sitting on the floor with my kids in the basement, watching TV, and I saw this ad and I'm like, "Oo. I want that." And I just bought it.

Brett:

Right. Right.

Ryan:

It was like a hundred bucks. It was a stupid purchase. I've never used it because it's buggy but at the time I was like, "I've never seen that before. It's really cool. I think I could play with that while I'm at work on calls or something like that." And I bought it and kind of regret it but..

Brett:

But people do that, Ryan. But you rarely do that if almost never if you're tapping into the logical side of the brain only, right?

Ryan:

Yeah.

Brett:

The logical side of the brain doesn't cause you to make impulse purchases but the emotional side does. And so you can take advantage of that as a marketer, right? So we have the solution and, again, you have more on the emotion side, happy, smiley. We're the solution to your problem. Then, what comes after that?

Ryan:

So the next one is a call to action and I see a lot of people actually do this wrong. They'll say like, "Try Tru Earth today," and there's not really that much effort put on it. I would specifically tell the person that's watching the video to click the link below or click the link on this video to try Tru Earth today. And the reason being is, especially older demographic, are you still watching ads on TV. If it's on YouTube or whatever, they probably just think, "Oh, I could check this out in the grocery store." Unless you're specifically asking someone to do something, I would anticipate that they're probably not going to act unless they're very aware of what they're watching.

Ryan:

And stuff like laundry detergent isn't something you normally buy on the internet.

Brett:

Yep. Exactly.

Ryan:

So ..

Brett:

Most people have never purchased laundry detergent on the internet. Maybe they do from Amazon but ... yeah.

Ryan:

Yeah. But ... yeah. So it's very important that you specifically tell the user the action that you want them to do, if you want them to purchase from you online.

Brett:

Nice.

Ryan:

Try Tru Earth today. Click the link below. Just be very specific.

Brett:

Awesome. Now that was step four, Ryan. So we have pattern interrupt, problem/villain, the solution, call to action. Don't we end with call to action? What are the next couple steps? So I'm real eager to hear step five.

Ryan:

Yeah. So step five is where we're going to introduce logic. So this is objections and credibility. So this is where you want to take all the common objections that people have. So like for us, does it work in high efficiency and regular laundry machines? And demoing these things in use. Does it actually get the stains out of your clothes? Showing these in use, kind of like feature benefit or benefit feature, as well as stuff like social proof. Tru Earth has been purchase by more than 300 customers around the world and over 16,000 people have given it a five star review. It's ...

Brett:

300,000 people, right, have purchased?

Ryan:

Yeah. Yeah. So it's stuff like that. It's social proof. It's objection busting. But you're also using this as an opportunity to demo the product in specific use cases so that people ... "Oh. I never thought that I could possibly use it like that." For this section, obviously, dig through all of your reviews. Dig through, if you have some sort of part or thing in your vending cart where you're asking people why they didn't buy. Go through all your Facebook comments and see what questions people are asking. Put them in a list, bucket them into the most common things, and use this as an opportunity to nail all the big ones because this is where you're going to get that logic addressed.

Ryan:

You're also going to want to include, if you have one, a risk reversal. So this is a critical parent. Why is this different than before? For us, we say we have a 30 day risk-free trial, 30 day love it or return it trial. If you don't love the product, return it and we'll give you your full refund. So we're covering logic. We're covering social proof. And we're covering risk reversal in this segment.

Brett:

I love it and I'm a huge believer in social proof. I love video testimonials. I love highlighting the number of five star reviews and even showing little snippets of those reviews. I think the thing to keep in mind here is that there's a right way and a wrong way to do testimonials, right? So again, if we're thinking maintaining people's attention and using emotion, what are the emotionally charged testimonials that we have? What's something that tells a little bit of a story even if it's in a soundbite. Don't just pick the testimonials that say, "It's a great product. I really like it." Well, okay.

Ryan:

Yeah.

Brett:

That doesn't tell me anything. What's moving the narrative forward? What's keeping me engaged? What's making ... maybe overcoming an objection from the customer's point of view? And so all really powerful and I think one of the things I'll highlight about the risk reversal because some people either are hesitant to do it for a variety of reasons or maybe they think, "It's implied. Everybody knows you can return stuff if you don't like it." But something about giving that confidence that, "Hey. It's totally cool with us. If you don't like it, return it. We'll be easy to work with." That provides some assurance and that is in the back of people's mind. So you saying it does make a difference.

Ryan:

Totally. And even in questions like, "Does this actually work?" Half of them, I don't even say, "Yes. It actually works." I just say, "Listen. We're so confident that you're going to love our product that, if you don't like it, we'll just take it back." I don't even need to tell you that our product is good or better than the competitions because, literally, if you don't like it, I'll just take it back. I mean hell, I'll probably just let you take it.

Brett:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. And just give you your money back. Yeah, exactly.

Ryan:

Yeah.

Brett:

Yep. Which is awesome. Fantastic. So we're introducing logic now, step five. Step six.

Ryan:

Step six. Again this is something that I don't see people do very often but it's a second call to action. Again, very specific. You've now covered the problem, solution. You've got them emotional. You've asked them once. If they didn't click the first time, maybe they needed some logic and some risk reversal. This is where you're going to ask them to do it again.

Ryan:

Again, very specific. Try Tru Earth today. 30 day money back guarantee. Click the link below. You have absolutely nothing to lose. And it sounds simple but it's amazing how many people don't do it.

Brett:

Yeah. And it is one of those things and I've said this for years and years. If you don't ask someone to take action or if you don't tell someone the next step, they won't take it. And one thing I will say that we don't always do and some of our clients don't always do is that second CTA. Always do the first but maybe not the second. And if you even go back to email copy as an example. If you think of really good copywriters, there's multiple places in that email where you can click and take action because sometimes all you need to see is the headline and the first paragraph and you're thinking, "I'm in. Just let me click that link." Other times you just want to keep reading and see what's there and then you start clicking on the second or third link. But the same could apply to a video. That first CTA is going to get some people but other people are going to stick around that need more convincing or they just want to keep watching. So that second CTA may hit them.

Brett:

Awesome. Step seven.

Ryan:

Step seven. The final step. So again, this is another thing that I see people do a lot. At the end of a video, if you have your call to action and then the video sits there for like a second, what's going to happen on YouTube is it's going to transition to the video that the person came there to watch. If it's on Facebook, it's just going to either transition to the next video or it's going to have that little loopy watch this video again thing and it's done. So you want to give people time to click. We basically call this the outro. But you can either have some sort of ... your call to action displayed on the screen or what's another fun way to keep them going is put some bloopers at the end for five seconds but with the call to action on the screen so that they have ... you're just giving the person time to click.

Ryan:

If they're on their phone or if they're watching it like on their Apple TV or something, they might need to scramble to get their remote so they can click.

Brett:

I bought a set of outdoor furniture during the pandemic from a YouTube ad I saw on TV for a company called Yardbird. I was so impressed that I'd been shopping for outdoor furniture.

Ryan:

Awesome.

Brett:

But they had a great ad. But it's so true. Now more and more people are seeing YouTube on a smart device or smart TV rather. So if you hook them and all these things are going well, that little extra outro so they can find their phone and start searching. That's brilliant. It's super important.

Ryan:

Yeah. So that's the last thing and there's a lot of other tiny little things that we like to include in there and a lot of this stuff I, personally, learned from going through some of the Harmon brothers courses and then the child, adult, parent stuff I learned from Travis Sago and other random marketers that I've had mentor me over the years. But a lot of people don't mention their brand enough in the video too.

Brett:

Yeah. Agreed. Agreed.

Ryan:

You know you should be..

Brett:

Show it, mention it, have a logo on the packaging. Yeah.

Ryan:

As much as physically possible, you want to say your brand name without it sounding awkward.

Brett:

Because people forget, right? And this is some of the .. I got my start in radio believe it or not. You had to do it. It's kind of perceived as a must in radio. You had to repeat the name five to seven times or whatever. You need to do it on YouTube too. As long as it sounds natural, because otherwise they're going to forget. They're going to forget the name. They'll be impressed by the ad. Something will resonate with them. They're going to forget your name. Yeah. I like that a lot.

Brett:

So maybe a couple things here. We got just about five minutes or so as we'd like to wrap up. But as your ... because you guys went from that first video you talked about, that literally had a stop sign and you're saying, "Stop," and it's a really affordable video to produce to now, you guys are cranking out some high quality, high production value commercials. How are you evaluating those before you run them? Obviously, we never know until we start running them and getting some data and some media dollars behind it. How are you guys evaluating it ahead of time though to understand, "Okay. This is ready to start running and start testing."

Ryan:

Yeah. So I mean, I work with my friend, Joe. I think you might have had him on your show. I can't remember. You did ..

Brett:

I have not yet but I've got to.

Ryan:

Yeah.

Brett:

I love what he does. He's fantastic. on the show.

Ryan:

He is. He's fantastic. He's amazing at what he does. But our process is we come up with the big ideas together. He fleshes them out. We review the fleshed out version of it. We have comedians come in, funny it up. Then they film. They edit. We got through it, make sure there's nothing that is super off brand or whatever, review for like typos and stuff like that and then we launch. But it's ... we don't really have a crazy game plan. I have a Facebook launch plan that I've kind of come up with myself where we usually have three different hooks, which obviously makes it more expensive to film.

Ryan:

But we usually have a good idea which hook's going to win before we even start. And yeah. The process really isn't super complicated. Usually, send the new creative to our list once it's done, which I don't think a lot of people do, and that usually generates close to a $100,000 from an email to content, which I mean ... I don't know.

Brett:

Crazy. That's crazy.

Ryan:

I think that's pretty good.

Brett:

Yes. I would call that a win. Yeah. keep doing that.

Ryan:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). And it seeds the content. So I mean it gives it better engagement on the platforms. There's a lot of really good things but I don't really have too crazy of a process. I know you did mention the other video too, the one that was lower budget. And I know a lot of people are concerned about or don't know how to create these longer videos or they think that it does need to be super funny in order to win. It doesn't. The template that I've outlined doesn't have to be in a funny format.

Brett:

It doesn't.

Ryan:

It can be in a super serious. If you got to YouTube/Tru Earth Movement and you go and you find, it's the only video that's got 11 or 12 million views. You'll find ... it's one of our older ones but it starts with like, "Stop," and I literally ... I took this framework that I'd just laid out. I wrote this script and then I ... and I'm not a videographer or anything like that but I went in, took a little bit of crappy b roll with my iPhone, and we edited it together and it did great on Facebook and it did great on YouTube.

Brett:

It did. It did do great on both. It sure did. And you can totally start there and that's what's beautiful about this framework is that it will work with something that's lower budget and that's a great place to start. And so just love that. Love watching you guys and how you've grown and evolved and how you're continuing to just crush it. And then, one thing I will underscore about what you just said is, if you're going to test different elements of your video, hook is the most important thing to test.

Brett:

I think it's well worth it. You said it's more expensive but it's not that much more expensive once you have the idea. This is the meat of the video, right? The problem, villain part, the solution, the multiple calls to action, the introing logic, all that. But so that can stay the same but then you have maybe three different openings, three different hooks to test and ... because you may find, "Hey. This is the hook that works best with cold traffic, the prospects, people that have never heard of my brand. But this other hook is actually better for warm traffic or for remarketing traffic." And so it's really important to test those different hooks.

Ryan:

And expensive doesn't necessarily mean better.

Brett:

That's true too.

Ryan:

Just to give you an example. Parker ... I think that's how you spell his last name. He's a buddy of mine and Joe's. And he's run a lot of the ads for Lumi and other big Harmon Brothers productions. And they spend 70 grand on one pattern interrupt and I don't know which company it was with but he said that the cheap version absolutely smashed it. So it's more about having variety than it is ...

Brett:

Exactly.

Ryan:

You know you don't need to blow up a car or something crazy.

Brett:

Yeah. Yeah. And what's an interesting thing too about ... just a little side note there on somebody blowing up a car. That's not really a pattern interrupt anymore, right? Now many movie trailers begin with a car being blown up? A lot.

Ryan:

Yeah.

Brett:

Yeah. Yeah. So exactly. Does now have to be high budget. Be creative. Test things. I would say start with these lower budget things first and then graduate your way up as you get more comfortable.

Brett:

Awesome, man. Really, really good stuff. One of the things we underscored before we hit record and who knows when you guys will be listening to this but, as we're recording it, the IOS 14 updates are coming out. So privacy's a big concern. Lots of discussions now about how will tracking be impacted and cookies are going away in 2022 and various things.

Brett:

And one of the things that I believe and I know you agree with it as well is that good creatives will win, right? Right now I think that there's some companies that are benefiting by being too dependent on the algorithm and they've got okay creative and fantastic targeting and the algorithm is saving the day. As some of those things shift, great creatives will win and so this is something that you need to invest in and focus on and work on. So really good stuff man.

Brett:

As we kind of wrap up, anything that you want to point people to? Obviously, they should go check out Tru Earth. So let them know how to do that but any other resources or you want people to connect with you or should they just go buy laundry detergent and help save the planet?

Ryan:

Yeah. You can ... I'm a real person. You can connect with me. I'm on Facebook. You could search for my name. I'm on LinkedIn too. I think I'm Ryan McKenzie on LinkedIn but definitely try Tru Earth if you haven't. You can check it out at www.tru.earth. Tru.Earth. It's funny. I think I've been on so many podcasts and stuff now. I think I probably have more marketer customers than anything else. No. It's great. Even if you don't like laundry ... I still enjoy ripping off a strip and hocking it in and not measuring, not having a mess, and more cupboard space.

Brett:

Absolutely. So it's got the imagine the Curry family stamp of approval, which I think carries some weight.

Ryan:

It's big.

Brett:

It's pretty big. And the other piece is check out Tru Earth, one, so Ryan can remarket to you. You do want to see his ads I promise you. You want to see the Facebook ads. You want to see the YouTube ads. So check those out. I'll link to some of that in the show notes as well but ... man, Ryan, this has been fun. Round two. I appreciate you coming on the show again and it's been super fun, man. And I know you've been super busy what with blowing up Canada and the US and the world and so keep up the good work, man.

Ryan:

Well, man, this is call to action number two. So now we need like an outro.

Brett:

So the outro is this. Appreciate it. So put this stuff to work. In addition to creative winning, I believe video ... this is not a bold statement, right? Video is where the video is today. It's where it's going tomorrow. So you need to master this and don't just master this for Facebook. Manage it or master it for YouTube and other channels as well. And so with that, hey, we'd love to hear from you. Let us know what you think of the show. We'd love that review on iTunes. It helps other people discover the show. And with that, until next time, thank you for listening. See you. That's a wrap.


Episode 163
:
Jason Boyce - Avenue 7 Media

Advice from a Former Top 200 Seller on Amazon

My guest today is Jason Boyce. Jason is a former Top 200 Seller on Amazon - a spot he held for 10 years before selling his company.

If you think the Amazon marketplace is wild right now, you should have seen it in 2003.  My guest today is Jason Boyce.  Jason is a former Top 200 Seller on Amazon - a spot he held for 10 years before selling his company.  Now he’s frequently interviewed and quoted in the media on all things Amazon.   He was recently interviewed for a PBS Frontline Documentary called Amazon Empire: The Rise and Reign of Jeff Bezos.  We discuss some hot takes on broader Amazon topics, plus dive into specific tips for sellers.  


Here’s a look at what we discuss:

  • How big is Amazon really…and why it’s actually BIGGER than you think
  • Amazon and antitrust and what it means for sellers
  • How little improvements to CTR and conversion rate create a compounding effect
  • Owning the digital shelf - what it means and what you should be focusing on
  • Controlling your brand.  How to proactively control and protect your brand
  • Lessons from Jason’s new book - The Amazon Jungle

Jason Boyce

Via LinkedIn

Via Twitter


Avenue7Media.com


“The Amazon Jungle” by Jason Boyce and Rick Cesari


Mentioned in this episode: 


eE 156 Rick Cesari


Amazon Seller Central


Joe Kaziukenas


Marketplace Pulse


James Thomson


Prosper Show


Amazon Empire


Jeff Wilke


The S-Team


Andy Jassy


Dave Clark


“Atomic Habits” by James Clear


Joe Hansen

Episode Transcript:

Brett:

Well, hello, and welcome to another edition of the eCommerce Evolution podcast. I'm your host Brett Curry, and today I am absolutely excited to welcome a very well-known guest, a guest that's just all over the media. You see him in documentaries, and interviewed on the news, and all kinds of other places.

Brett:

My guest today is Jason Boyce.

Brett:

Jason is the founder and CEO of the Avenue7Media. You'll hear more about that in a minute. Also, he was a top 200 seller on Amazon for over a decade. He also is the author of a new book with his co-author Rick Cesari. The name of the book is The Amazon Jungle. It's a fantastic read.

Brett:

Also, Jason was interviewed on a recent Amazon documentary, which is a must watch. We'll talk about that in a minute as well. We're going to dig into several things related to Amazon to better equip you to dominate on Amazon, and better understand it. And so with that quick intro, Jason, thanks for taking the time, man, and welcome to the show.

Jason Boyce:

Hey, thank you, Brett. It's great to be here. I feel like we're of like mind here. You've got this great agency, and I'm trying to build one. And so, it's always great to talk to colleagues.

Brett:

It is. It is, and it's been fun. We've been able to catch up a couple of times, and of course, your co-author, Rick, is an awesome ... He was on the podcast, maybe a couple years ago, talking branding and stuff. But yeah, you can tell you built your Amazon business the right way, building your agency the right way. It's fun to talk shop, for sure.

Jason Boyce:

Absolutely.

Brett:

So I think just as a great background, because I think as anyone that's deep into the Amazon game knows, that you were a top 200 seller for over a decade. That's a big deal. That's a huge deal. Can you walk us through the 90 second version of what you sold on Amazon, what that looked like, and why you got out of it?

Jason Boyce:

Yeah, sure. I actually started as an eCommerce direct to consumer website called SuperDuperHoops.com back in 2002 and-

Brett:

Now, I didn't ask you. Are you a hooper? Because I love basketball. Did you like-

Jason Boyce:

I played in high school. My brothers and I, who I founded the business together with, we're huge Laker fans here in LA.

Brett:

Nice.

Jason Boyce:

It was just a good fit for us, and we played a lot of pickup games. It was just a really fun fit for us. We were doing direct to consumer eCommerce, and we had connected with this company called Overture, who invented pay-per-click advertising.

Brett:

They sure did.

Jason Boyce:

They had a little office-

Brett:

They sure did.

Jason Boyce:

... in Pasadena and-

Brett:

Well, yeah, little known fact now, but Overture started the PPC game.

Jason Boyce:

That's right. And then, they were bought by Yahoo, and Google had to license the technology after a court battle, and perfected it into AdWords. And so, we were all over the search engines at the time. A year later, Amazon picked up the phone and called us, and said, "Hey, we want you to sell your products on our website."

Jason Boyce:

And I was like, "What are you talking about? You guys sell books." Because I had no idea that they were moving into the sports and outdoors category, which is where we spent a lot of our time. Later on moved into toys, and then also into some household categories, but mostly in the sports and outdoors category. Made every mistake you can make, Brett.

Brett:

Did you?

Jason Boyce:

And learned from them over the course of 17 years. Had an exit, and took a lot of those learnings, and the playbook that we lay out in the book The Amazon Jungle, with my co-author, Rick Cesari. And now, we fancy ourselves a champion for brands with Amazon, because you need a warrior to battle Amazon these days. We help brands. It's very similar to what you do at your agency ... double, triple, quadruple, or take off on the Amazon platform.

Brett:

Yeah, I love it, and you're right. You do need a warrior in your corner. And really, I like how you and Rick work together, because I think really the next evolution of successful Amazon sellers are going to be those that build a brand, that build an identity. And not just a, "I'm private labeling a product and creating a great listing on Amazon, and going to try to get rich with it."

Brett:

But, "I'm creating a brand that consumers resonate with, and that has a following, and that has value in the eyes of the consumer, and also value in the eyes of Amazon." That's going to be useful. You know Amazon inside and out, so it's a great tag team there, with you guys, for sure.

Jason Boyce:

Rick has forgotten more than I know about branding. He's built billion dollar brands with a B. I built eight figure brands on Amazon, but his tactics ... and we share a lot of them in the book. They tap into human nature and-

Brett:

Yeah, -

Jason Boyce:

... this science and psychology of selling, if you will. It doesn't matter if it's DirecTV ads, which is were Rick really cut his teeth and became famous. But whether you're selling online, direct to consumer, or on Amazon, a lot of those strategies still work because the human mind really hasn't changed much in the last, I don't know, millennium.

Brett:

Exactly, and likely won't. Some of the tools, and mechanisms, and channels, and platforms change a little bit. But at the core, human nature is the same, and a lot of the core branding principles are the same. It's just the way you execute that really has evolved. And so, let's just do this ... quick takeaways from the book. Who is the book for? And just a couple of highlights we may touch on as we go too, but I would love to hear that quick take.

Jason Boyce:

Sure, thanks. Really, the book boils down to ... There's two elements of the book, talking about what is this Amazon thing? How big is it? And then basically, we say ... The premise of the book is Amazon is not your friend. You have to be on Amazon, because that's where now, I think, 60 percent of the online market share is after COVID-

Jason Boyce:

And if you're going to be there, learn from my mistakes over nearly 20 years of iterating on the Amazon platform, and follow our strategy. And the strategy is, like you pointed out, Brett, the long game on Amazon is you have to have your own brand. You have to have great products. You have to be listening to the customer, and iterating on what they're saying, what they don't like about your product, and making it better.

Jason Boyce:

And then, we walk you through everything from coming up with a product idea, a branding strategy, and then all the technical basis for launching on Amazon. So if you're brand new, if you're an entrepreneur, solopreneur, and you want to start a product company, the book is great. If you are selling in brick and mortar retail, or through DRTV, and you want to learn more about a successful strategy on how to sell on Amazon, the book is great for that as well.

Jason Boyce:

I've got to tell you. One of the most surprising things for me, Brett, when I started with the agency and wrote the book was I didn't think that Amazon sellers who were doing seven figures could benefit from me because I figured they knew everything. I am amazed at how many of these sellers we've taken on, and doubled or tripled their revenue. Because to be honest, they're so busy.

Jason Boyce:

They have so many other parts to focus on with their business. So to have an agency like yours, or like mine, to come in there and really double down on best practices ... Existing Amazon sellers can really launch their business as well, with the help of an agency. It's been really quite a learning for me over the last two years, and been enjoying the heck out of it.

Brett:

Yeah, it's awesome. Maybe we can get into some of those mistakes that you see when you're working with other successful sellers. You were making mistakes back when they were brand new. You had to make mistakes because you were one of the first, but now people could and should learn from that. Actually, while we're on the subject, could you pick two or three? What are some of the biggest mistakes you see sellers making on the Amazon platform that can be fixed pretty quickly?

Jason Boyce:

Well, the first thing whether you're a small brand or a big brand, stay away from 1P. Stay away from the vendor central world if you can. There are some, definitely, reasonable use cases where it makes sense to be in 1P.

Jason Boyce:

For example, one might be if you're selling to Walmart, and you have no control over your retail price, and you don't care. Give that product through the vendor central platform. We clean up a lot of folks who are on 1P, but really shouldn't be, and move them over to 3P. It's a tricky dance to do that-

Brett:

.. that's right because Amazon can get pretty angry about that. They can -

Jason Boyce:

They can call you back.

Brett:

... domestic stuff.

Jason Boyce:

They can absolutely call you back, so you have to be really careful about how you do it. Just picking the right way to sell on Amazon is step one. And then second, not having a decent seller policy for your brand to make sure that you're the only one in your own buy box.

Jason Boyce:

That's really, really important because if you are selling wholesale to other sales channels or distributors, and then those guys have the ability to attach to your hard work and listing, not only are you going to lose sales and profits, but you don't get 100 percent access to the data needed to improve your listing. And so, channel controls ... Being on seller central, channel control is really important, and laying down a solid foundation so you can prevent folks from attaching to your listings. And then, I would say the third thing is these listings are ... You can't set it and forget it.

Brett:

Yeah, totally.

Jason Boyce:

I just talked to a potential client earlier this week. And they were like, "Yeah, we launched these things up. We're doing seven figures. We haven't done anything with it in three years." I'm like, "Oh, my God, we're going to triple your revenue. Let's get going." Because you have to constantly optimize.

Jason Boyce:

Optimize for SEO. You have to constantly optimize for merchandising, so that all these great feedback ... All the negative feedback that you're getting, or comments through the review system and the seller rating system can be put forward and upfront on your listing. So if you're doing that continually, then you'll have much more success, rather than just setting it and forgetting it.

Brett:

Yeah, it's such good advice, because I think some people can get lulled to sleep a little bit by success, or by what seems to be success. Like, "Hey, it's a seven figure channel. We're doing good. We're selling. We don't need to do anything else." When really, they don't understand that there's so much more that could be gained there.

Brett:

And if you build it, nurture it, optimize it, you're succeeding because Amazon is so huge. It is likely 60 percent of all eCommerce, by some estimates. But likely, you're not getting the share that you could be getting if you're doing all the things that you talk about.

Jason Boyce:

Yeah, and we also developed some proprietary software. We call it our Early Warning Detection System. Sometimes sellers just don't know when their listings have been taken down, and it's gotten worse in the last 24 to 36 months, really bad. And funny thing about eCommerce ... If you're not in stock, and your listing isn't live, you really can't sell anything.

Jason Boyce:

Sometimes we just take over that piece, and we're automatically increasing sales by 30, 40 percent. Because we're just giving better visibility to the client about, "Hey, you're out of stock. Do you know this?" "No, we didn't know we were out of stock over there." Or, "Your listing is down because of an NCX reason." Insert whatever reason you're down for.

Brett:

Yeah, when that product is not on the digital shelf, you won't make sales, obviously.

Jason Boyce:

That's right.

Brett:

So find out all the reasons why it could be removed, or blocked, or taken down off that digital shelf, and just get it there more frequently.

Jason Boyce:

Yep, absolutely.

Brett:

Yeah, amazing. So you talked about it in the first part of the book, and then something we talked about offline too, is how big is Amazon, really? I think this is interesting to understand. It's important to understand as sellers, or if we're just competing with Amazon. It's important to know.

Brett:

I think there's some myths about Amazon. There's still people that believe Amazon's not profitable. Amazon's only growing because they don't have to turn a profit, which is actually wildly inaccurate. Amazon is turning immense amounts of profit. And also, Amazon is much larger than they appear because of, really, some accounting rules. Do you want to walk us through? How big is Amazon really?

Jason Boyce:

Yeah, absolutely, so Amazon is a public company. Every quarter they have to make reports to the Securities and Exchange Commission about their revenue. The revenue that Amazon reports to the SEC does not include the total dollar value of goods sold through Amazon.com.

Jason Boyce:

For example, you or I, Brett, through our Seller Central account ... We make a $100 sale on Amazon. We're likely, depending on the category ... We're going to give $15 of that $100 to Amazon. And we're going to take the $100 of the sale. Amazon is not reporting the $100 sale that happened on their website. They're only reporting the $15 and-

Brett:

Right, that's the third party marketplace rules for ... The GAAP rules, the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. You can only report your take on that, which Amazon's 10, 15 percent, somewhere in there.

Jason Boyce:

EBay has been reporting GMV forever in their public documents, and others have as well. My personal opinion-

Brett:

GMV is Gross Merchandise Value. Is that -

Jason Boyce:

Gross Merchandise Value, so that's the $100 of that value sold. Amazon may say, "Well, that's not our sale." Well, when you're taking 45 cents of every dollar of that sale, then I think it should be recorded as a part of the sale.

Jason Boyce:

And I think regulators and investors would find that information incredibly helpful in their investment decisions, and the same with the regulatory side. Anyway, I think they should announce that. I've had the good fortune of meeting a lot of really smart analysts who can extrapolate what that GMV number is. The GMV for 2020 by the most recent estimate from my friend, Joe Kaziukenas at Marketplace Pulse, is that Amazon pumped 490 billion dollars of goods sold through their website last year and-

Brett:

Which is just insane ... And so, the breakdown in this ... You get the 1P, which Amazon does account for that fully. But then you've got the 3P, the third party marketplace where they're just counting their take rate, 10 to 15 percent, in that range. And now they're ... More than 50 percent is 3P now, correct? Do you know the breakdown there?

Jason Boyce:

Yeah, so if you breakdown that number according to Marketplace Joe, 300 billion of that 490 is third party sellers. Amazon retail was 190 in GMV. And so, three to two ratio, third party sales versus one party sales.

Jason Boyce:

Now look, there's some folks out there that say that Amazon's going to get rid of retail. They're not. You can't just give away 190 billion on your top line. They're not going to do that, but their third party marketplace, in my opinion, is the most important part of what makes Amazon tick.

Jason Boyce:

There's a lot of public stories that say, "Oh, AWS is the profitability. That's where the profits come from." You take that 300 billion and you pull out 15 percent of that. That's 45 billion dollars. And then later on another ... Let's say another 10 points for ad spend, right?

Brett:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jason Boyce:

Ad revenue has become a huge part of the third party seller. That's another 30 billion. That's 75 billion dollars ... I don't want to say pure profit, but very high margin-

Jason Boyce:

... profit dollars. AWS last year hit about 50 billion. Why is Amazon not telling that story? I don't think they want anybody to know that the third party marketplace is a cash cow. Number one, because it keeps competitors at bay, but I also don't think-

Brett:

It keeps regulators at bay, maybe, or it did.

Jason Boyce:

That's the second part. That's the second part. Well, until we started talking about it, until analysts started pushing this information out there. I think regulators are starting to get a good idea that they're massive. I've made this prediction, and so has Joe, that I think Amazon, in terms of GMV, will surpass Walmart's numbers, which is in the $520 billion range, but at a much slower growth rate overall ... that they will surpass Walmart as the largest US-based retailer in the world this year, 2021.

Brett:

Wow, but if you look at their percentage growth, and you look at that 490 billion GMV value, it's almost inevitable. It's going to be this year at some point-

Jason Boyce:

Absolutely.

Brett:

... which is just mind-boggling. Because there's still some people that believe, "Oh, well, Walmart is still way bigger than Amazon." Well, only if you're looking at the financial reports that have to be reported to the SEC, not if you look at GMV. And so-

Jason Boyce:

Yeah, look, Walmart's last stand is the grocery business. And they're innovating, and they're doing some really cool things there, but Amazon's coming. Amazon is a runaway train about to pass them on the tracks. It's just going to happen.

Brett:

And so, we alluded to the keeping regulators at bay, and the antitrust business that's coming up. I think Google was the first one to officially end up in antitrust court, but it's going to happen for Amazon. Do you have any thoughts or predictions around that? What should we be watching for related to antitrust and Amazon?

Jason Boyce:

Oh, wow, there was just a couple of announcements. The Biden administration ... Their names escape me right now. But they've brought in some really heavy hitters to be part of the FTC, and part of the Biden administration's team to take a look at big tech. Not just Amazon, and Amazon's clearly in their sights.

Jason Boyce:

But there's no question in my mind, and in my opinion, that Amazon has not one monopoly, but two. In the AWS space they have, according to Gartner, 50 percent market share. And we know from our analysts on the market place side, they own 62 percent, 60 percent of the online retail market share.

Jason Boyce:

They are so massive that they ... I mean, what company in history has ever had two monopolies at once? And Amazon does. I fully expect the Biden administration, the FTC to come hard, and the antitrust committees, the judiciary committees in both the House and the Senate to come after Amazon and the other big tech companies in a big way.

Jason Boyce:

Now, will they be successful? We'll see. I think with Ms. Khan, who was just announced as trying to be the head of the FTC ... has some very interesting ideas. But the antitrust laws themselves need to be updated before they take action. If that happens ... If they lay the foundation for new rules and laws in antitrust for the 21st Century, then absolutely these companies will be broken up.

Brett:

Yeah, and that would be the end result, right?

Jason Boyce:

Yeah.

Brett:

You'd see these companies broken up, where AWS is split out into its own business entity, and break ups like that with Google, and with other tech companies as well.

Jason Boyce:

Yeah, and the funny thing about Amazon ... If I'm Jeff Bezos, I don't care. Because if that happens, and AWS gets broken up, you're going to see a three times valuation increase. AWS is actually being constrained in its valuation because it's under the Amazon umbrella.

Jason Boyce:

I feel the same way about the Marketplace, and the advertising angle, even the fulfillment network. I think Amazon may be internally ... Again, this is just my opinion. I don't have hard evidence. I think they're preparing for the inevitable. Maybe not this year, maybe not next year, but five, 10 years down the road where these business units are already, technically, standing up on their own. But there's real potential for them to be broken up.

Brett:

Yeah, that totally makes sense. One thing that you and I were talking about a couple weeks ago that I think would be interesting to mention here is Jeff Bezos stepping down as CEO. People are like, "Oh, retirement ... going to buy a yacht and sail the world." He's the Chairman of the board. He's going to be very involved, so what do you think this move is really about?

Jason Boyce:

Yeah. No, I think this move is about Jeff Bezos wanting to play in some other spaces, but he hasn't left Amazon. Whatever Amazon looks like 10 years from now will be because of what Jeff Bezos is doing today, and as he steps into this less visible role as Chairman of the board. He likes to look at the future.He's going to push poor Andy Jassy into the hot seat in front of those House Judiciary Committees, so he can answer all those antitrust questions so he doesn't have to. And he's going to work on the fun stuff, and frankly, he's brilliant at it. I'm sure-

Brett:

Yeah, why wouldn't you? You'd rather ... If you were an Amazon shareholder, you want Bezos working on the next 10 years of Amazon, not answering questions before Congress.

Jason Boyce:

Absolutely, and his crystal ball is as good as anybody.

Brett:

Poor Andy Jassy.

Jason Boyce:

Yeah, poor Andy Jassy. Bezos' crystal ball is as good as anyone, and he's not going anywhere.

Brett:

Right, yeah, totally agree. I got to watch a documentary recently that you and our mutual friend, James Thompson from Buy Box Expert and also PROSPER Show ... a documentary that both of you guys recommended, and for whatever reason, I missed. You recommended it, and I watched it. And then, I'm like, "Oh, well, Jason's in this documentary," which was pretty awesome, and so was James. But talk about ... It's a Frontline documentary. Talk about ... The name is escaping me ... The Amazon Empire, I believe.

Jason Boyce:

Yep.

Brett:

Talk about the documentary. What's it about, and why were you in it?

Jason Boyce:

Oh, good question. I'm an old guy, so I've been in this game for a very long time. I was one of the few sellers who has always been willing to speak out against practices that Amazon takes that are bad news for sellers.

Jason Boyce:

I think they appreciated that, and again, I've just been around a long time. That's it. 2003, I was an Amazon seller. There aren't a lot of people who say that. And so, it was a really fascinating documentary. I thought they did a brilliant job, as always-

Brett:

Well done piece.

Jason Boyce:

... Frontline does.

Brett:

Yeah.

Jason Boyce:

To me, when I think of the documentary, the most interesting piece to me ... I don't know if this had anything to do with Jeff Wilke stepping down, who until just days ago was head of Global in the dotcom business. -

Brett:

Wilke was the heir apparent. Everyone believed Wilke was going to take over for Jeff Bezos when Jeff Bezos one day stepped down.

Jason Boyce:

I secretly wish he had, because he's got the consumer experience, and I'm from the consumer world. That's not to say that Andy Jassy doesn't have enough experience to do well, but I really was hoping that Jeff Wilke would take over that role. But announced late last year that he was stepping down, but there was this gotcha moment in The Amazon Empire where ... I tipped off the interviewers about this product safety issue that the Marketplace has. Section 230 of the Consumer Decency Act protects platforms like Facebook, like Amazon from liability from folks selling on their platform, or saying things on their platform and-

Brett:

Yeah, because they can say, "It's not my product. It's just my platform."

Jason Boyce:

That's right. Yeah, that's right. And so, Amazon didn't really have a massive incentive, especially as it rolls out the red carpet to China mainland factories to dump goods on its platforms at cheap prices, to require product safety. The interviewers, who were just brilliant, were given 30 minutes ... Not 30 minutes and one second, 30 minutes with each of the S-Team members that they interviewed for the documentary. And I had to-

Brett:

Just real quickly, because I've heard this term before. Inside the higher ups at Amazon are called the S-Team ... What is the S-Team?

Jason Boyce:

Gosh, it's ... I don't know what the S-Team stands for, to be honest with you. I've just -

Brett:

That's like the execs of the execs, right?

Jason Boyce:

That's right, the leaders-

Brett:

- top echelon of Amazon.

Jason Boyce:

... of the individual business units that make up Amazon.

Brett:

Right, okay.

Jason Boyce:

So Andy Jassy was head of AWS. He took it from zero to monopoly status, and he was in charge of that business unit. Jeff Wilke was in charge of Global. Gabe Clark was part of ... Now, he's a member. He's taken over for Jeff Wilke.

Jason Boyce:

He was on this team, and Head of Fulfillment and Delivery, and Warehousing, and Supply Chain. And so, these are the decision makers. These are the folks that set the strategy at Amazon.

Jason Boyce:

They're not doing the day to day operations, but they're developing, hiring the team, putting the message, and making Amazon work. That's this S-Team. The interviewers from Amazon Empire had 30 minutes that they literally shut down the cameras at 30 minutes and one second. And they had-

Brett:

I just got word it stands for Senior Team. I just -

Jason Boyce:

Oh, Senior Team. Well, I just learned something.

Brett:

... used a little tool called the Google and found it.

Jason Boyce:

Well, thank you for that, Brett. Now I know. Senior Team, okay, that makes perfect sense. I thought it would have been something goofier, but yeah, Senior Team makes perfect sense.

Jason Boyce:

And so, I was interviewed by The Amazon Empire folks two days after they had this round of interviews, and they did such a really good job. The one gotcha moment that sticks out ... And look, it's a fairly balanced view. Amazon is a victim of their own success.

Brett:

Right.

Jason Boyce:

They have done this better than anyone.

Brett:

They've done so ... They're so brilliant, and so amazing in so many ways. But yeah, they've also made mistakes, too.

Jason Boyce:

Yeah, but it's an American success story. Jeff Bezos is living the American dream, so it's really hard to knock them for what they have done in terms of the innovation scale. They're a remarkable company.

Jason Boyce:

But they also took a fair and balanced look, I felt, of the dark side. One of those is product safety. I just remember this painful moment in the interview with Jeff Wilke where Jeff Wilke basically admits that, "We're not requiring safety product sheets, safety testing for toys on the platform." And the interviewer says-

Brett:

That's scary.

Jason Boyce:

"How can you be customer obsessed if you're not making sure that the products you're selling on your Marketplace don't injure your customers?" And it was just a ... It was one of those moments. That's the one thing whenever I think of The Amazon Empire ... It wasn't the six hours that interviewed with them.

Jason Boyce:

It's that moment, but it's a great overview of the growing power of Amazon, how their success has been. And there's a lot of discussion about some folks that would hope for more from Amazon, the seller community, warehouse workers, delivery drivers, et cetera. It's definitely worth watching.

Brett:

It's worth watching. It's a great background. It does highlight some of the success, and Amazon is a great American success story. But it does highlight the dark side as well, so I think it's a must watch.

Brett:

Check it out, and you get to see Jason Boyce, again, interviewed on the doc. It's a great one. Fantastic, so let's talk more about sellers, and how they succeed now, and what things are going to look like here over the next few years. What are other recommendations you're making?

Brett:

You can highlight something from the book, or just something from the agency. What do sellers need to be focusing on in 2021 and into the next few years to really succeed? You may underscore something you've already mentioned, but I want to pose that question.

Jason Boyce:

We talked a little bit about some of the basics. I'm amazed at how many basics escape successful sellers. I mean, click through rate is a really important metric on Amazon.

Jason Boyce:

What are the two things that help you drive click through rate? Great main image ... Does your main image and does your product color stand out on the search results page? If the answer is yes, your click through rate is going to be terrific.

Jason Boyce:

If it's not, your click through rate is not going to be good, and you're going to lose traffic, and sales, and clicks. And then, the product title ... Not only is the product title important for SEO reasons ... I think you should have at least three of the highest volume, most relevant keywords in your product title. I'm amazed at how many don't.

Jason Boyce:

And you should duplicate that keyword in another area, bullet points, or description, or back in keywords, or subject matter. Just those right there are really, really important for success, but it doesn't replace making a great product. I hear these stories all the time. "This Amazon shopper left this review. They're so terrible. They're evil." They take a defensive stance instead of saying, "Thank you."

Brett:

It's the shopper that's dumb. The consumer doesn't know what they're talking about. It's not our product.

Jason Boyce:

They don't know what they're talking about. They didn't read the instruction manual. Well, you always should have to read the instruction manual, right?

Brett:

Yeah.

Jason Boyce:

So there's lots of that kind of ... I think it's a mistake if you're a product company to not say, "Thank you," every time you get a negative review, and to identify themes from other shoppers or customers of yourself. And build, and talk ... put that in front of your product manager. Say, "Hey, next time we bring this product in, we need to fix this problem because now we've got six shoppers who took time out of their day to tell us what they would prefer didn't happen with our product."

Jason Boyce:

That is really critical. That's something that Rick and I compared notes on. Part of Rick's massive success in the DRTV world with brands like the George Foreman Grill, OxiClean, and all these others, is he would pull together ... For the purposes of recording a testimonial to use in an infomercial, he would pull together real shoppers who paid real money for the product. And he would put them in a studio and ask them a series of questions, and by the time-

Brett:

- fantastic way to learn. Not only do you get these great videos, which we need for YouTube ads and other things, but man, you learn so much. Yeah, sorry, go ahead.

Jason Boyce:

Exactly. He said, "By the time I got to the sixth or seventh interview, I knew what was wrong with the product, and I knew what they loved about the product. And I ran with that, and I took the information that was wrong with the product back to the brand to say maybe before you spend $50 million on a TV ad campaign, you might want to fix this before it goes out there." And when he told me that, the lights went off in my head.

Jason Boyce:

I'm like, "My God, we've been doing that with reviews forever." Yeah, look, nobody wants to have someone tell them that their baby is ugly, but you've got to take that information because you can do something about it. We entered into that same process by reading. I personally read, for my brand at the time, Harvel ... It's been since rebranded under the new owner. But for my brand, Harvel, I read every single negative review over eight years. And-

Brett:

You have to -

Jason Boyce:

... whenever I got a theme, we fixed it. And then, you know what? At one point, we started getting four to five stars only. We didn't get any one stars anymore, because we were iterating on the product. Nothing replaces that.

Jason Boyce:

Once you get to that phase, the next phase is what can you do on the listing itself? Amazon has, I think, a limit, 1000 pixels is their minimum. We do 2500 pixels. We go way overboard.

Jason Boyce:

We want the equivalent of our imagery, and our branding for additional images, to appear like you're walking into ... A, you're seeing a beautiful premium brand in a high gloss magazine ad. Or, you're walking into a premium store with amazing lighting, with great product placements and settings. As opposed to what I see every day on an Amazon listing, which is the equivalent of walking into a brick and mortar store with light bulbs out on the neon sign.

Jason Boyce:

You walk in. The flickering fluorescent lights, some of which are out ... And you're walking the shelves, and half are empty. You don't get that warm fuzzy feeling, right?

Brett:

Right.

Jason Boyce:

So we try to-

Brett:

I was shopping ... Just for a quick anecdote, I was shopping for a product the other day. It was actually a pretty well-known brand. I clicked on their Amazon listing, and this was likely an anomaly for just this one product. But I get to the product detail page, and there was one picture.

Brett:

I can only see one angle of the product. I'm like, "What is this?" You want to be able to simulate what it would be like in a showroom. I want to pick this up, and look at it from all angles, and examine it, but it was one picture. I think there's a lot of successful brands that are still doing that with their Amazon listings, so that's to your point.

Jason Boyce:

That transition from a wholesale brand, sometimes a nationally known wholesale brand, to direct to consumer thought process is really difficult.

Brett:

It is.

Jason Boyce:

We've got a couple of really good clients that we're helping make that transition. In the old days, they would make a great product. They would give it to a retailer, and the retailer would do that.

Brett:

Right.

Jason Boyce:

But Amazon doesn't do that for you. Amazon is a DIY platform. You've got to do this stuff yourself, and you've got to know how to do it. And another lesson that I learned from Rick was features tell, and if it's-

Brett:

Yeah.

Jason Boyce:

At the end of the day ... We were talking about these images. At the end of the day, those additional images should be pushing the benefit of the product.

Brett:

Exactly.

Jason Boyce:

I use this example in the book, but when I first met Rick, we were selling ping-pong tables, and it looked like a factory spec sheet. It had one image. I did have a video, but it was an assembly video, to which Rick said, "Boy, that looks like work."

Brett:

You successfully convinced me not to buy this product. Thank you.

Jason Boyce:

That's right. I really don't want it. And so, I took some of ... I sat at Rick's feet, and learned how to do this. And we went from showing the dimensions and weight of the playing field and all this specifications to, "Bring friends and family together," as a marketing message. It's like, "That's what this table is for, for you to have special time with your family and your friends, and for you to build memories. That's what this product is for." Very few people care about the thickness of the legs, right?

Brett:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jason Boyce:

I see that everyday on Amazon, still. People are just throwing it up there. They're not sprinkling that pixie dust, the brand .. Making that connection for the end user, "This is what you get when you get my product."

Jason Boyce:

I think those are the biggest opportunities. Still, when we take a brand who's had some success on Amazon and we do these things for them, they double their revenue. They triple their revenue.

Brett:

Yeah.

Jason Boyce:

It's remarkable.

Brett:

That's not hyperbole, that's actual results.

Jason Boyce:

No, those are real numbers.

Brett:

You're doubling, tripling sales.

Jason Boyce:

Right.

Brett:

Yeah, and it makes sense. I think there's always been this impact. And I've mentioned this book a few times on the podcast, I think. But it's called Atomic Habits by James Clear. And he talks about the power, just in your personal life, of making one percent improvements every day.

Brett:

I'm going to get one percent better in a bunch of areas. Over the course of the year, if you do that, you're 37 times better because you're making just these little incremental improvements. The same thing can be said about your Amazon listing, or any area of your business.

Brett:

Hey, we're going to make little improvements to the product, and just like your product, where we're eventually going to get to where we only get four and five star reviews because we've listened to our customers. We've made improvements, and we're going to make little improvements on our listing over time. We're going to improve all these little areas. When you combine that together, it has a compounding effect, and it's pretty massive.

Jason Boyce:

I couldn't agree more. I love that book, and I love hearing the stories about how these professional athletes ... Half a percent improvement makes a difference, a one percent improvement. And that's exactly the process in product improvement.

Brett:

Yeah.

Jason Boyce:

That's exactly the process in listing improvement. And you've got all the-

Brett:

How can I improve my -

Jason Boyce:

... metrics you need to know.

Brett:

... by one percent? How can I improve my conversion rate by even one percent? Those things really add up. Yeah, sorry.

Jason Boyce:

No, absolutely, I couldn't agree with you more.

Brett:

Fantastic. Cool, well, let's talk a little bit about the agency then, Avenue7Media. And if I'm not mistaken, Avenue Seven is where the Amazon HQ is, right? In Seattle.

Jason Boyce:

7th Ave, that's day one, buddy.

Brett:

That's where the bio-dome thing is and stuff.

Jason Boyce:

You mean Jeff Bezos' glass balls. That's what I refer to them as, yes.

Brett:

That's exactly what ... Funny story, so a couple years ago my Amazon director, Chris Tyler ... He and I got to fly out to Amazon and spend time with the DSP team. We were one of the fastest growing agencies, and so we got invited out. Yeah, we heard that that's what it's called, Jeff Bezos' glass balls. It was hilarious. But yeah, what a cool area, and some fantastic food down there. It's a cool spot.

Jason Boyce:

Yeah, that whole area ... At last count, they had 45 high rise buildings in Seattle.

Brett:

Wow.

Jason Boyce:

I didn't say four to five. I said 45.

Brett:

45, yeah.

Jason Boyce:

That's insane. Now, they're taking over Bellevue, which is a sister city next to Seattle. It's just amazing. Now, they're going to do the same thing in Virginia. They're amazing.

Brett:

They're a monster, for sure.

Jason Boyce:

An amazing company ... yeah, a monster.

Brett:

Talk about the agency. Why did you form the agency? What do you guys do, specifically? Why should someone reach out to you? Let's chat about those things.

Jason Boyce:

Well, thank you for that opportunity. Avenue7Media ... I learned this a long time ago at the first PROSPER Show. You know the PROSPER Show for Amazon sellers-

Brett:

Absolutely, yeah. -

Jason Boyce:

... founded by our friend, James Thomson, and Joe Hanson. Light bulbs went off for me. I was on a couple panels. I didn't actually give a talk, but I was on a couple panels.

Jason Boyce:

And after the presentation, as if often the case at these trade shows, there's a line of 30 people asking questions like, "Hey, Jason, this is happening to me. What should I do?" And I was like, "Oh, yeah, three years ago that happened to me. Try this." And they were like, "Thank you."

Jason Boyce:

And then, the next person would come and say, "I'm having this problem." I'm like, "Oh, yeah, this happened to us six months ago. Try that." And they're like, "Oh, thank you."

Jason Boyce:

I got such massive feedback, even after I left the show, from people emailing me and saying, "Thank you so much for that tip. You've changed our life." Something occurred to me while I was in the midst of building my own big branding company. I really enjoyed that more.

Jason Boyce:

I enjoyed helping others battle Amazon, and succeed on Amazon, than I loved building my own brands. And so, I always knew when I left my previous company that I was going to start an agency. And that's whatI've done. I was a seller. I made every mistake you can imagine.

Brett:

Yeah.

Jason Boyce:

And I learned from it the hard way, losing and making my own money. And so, we just put all that together. A lot of those strategies are in the book, but we put all that together, and adopted those repeatable processes that we used over 17 years.

Jason Boyce:

And we've built this agency where we apply those lessons learned. We help with strategy, but we also are basically your fully outsourced Amazon department. I mean, you know this, Brett. In the old days, you could have an Amazon person. You could hire one person. I don't know, at a college, or high school, or whatever. Go figure out Amazon, and have success.

Brett:

Yeah, because nobody knew at that point.

Jason Boyce:

Nobody knew at that point, and those days are over.

Brett:

For sure.

Jason Boyce:

I've got seven different departments with experienced Amazon operators, team leads in each of those verticals, that are necessary for success on Amazon. You didn't have to do that 10 years ago, but you can't succeed without it. You have to have as many people to manage your Amazon business now as you do to have success on your eCommerce site.

Brett:

Yeah.

Jason Boyce:

And I think the number's growing. I think, ultimately, it will be more.

Brett:

It's not getting simpler. It's getting more complex.

Jason Boyce:

It's getting more complex by the month, and that's what we do. We simplify things and we say, "Look, you make great products brand. You give us your brand book. If you don't have one, we'll make one for you. Let us make you a brand on Amazon, and we'll help you grow." It's just been incredibly meaningful.

Jason Boyce:

Just one side story ... We took on a client a year ago. They had had six, seven different consultants, or Amazon guys over the years. I'd never seen an account or listings that were so screwed up. It took us nine months to clean them all up. And now, they're on a hockey stick growth trajectory.

Brett:

Man.

Jason Boyce:

There isn't any agency out there ... Maybe yours could. There isn't another agency out there that could have done this without blowing it all up and starting over.

Brett:

Yeah.

Jason Boyce:

We didn't want to lose the history, and we didn't want to lose the reviews. We figured out how to do it. So that's just incredibly meaningful, and that's what I love about the picks and shovel business, instead of the gold digging business.

Jason Boyce:

I really like where I'm at, and we get better every day, which is hard to say after you've been doing this for 20 years. But we do, and it's just really meaningful. I enjoy the heck out of it.

Brett:

Yeah, I love it, and I think there's a special ... It takes a special personality from a leader standpoint, and then you have to hire the right people to run a successful agency. But for some people ... I'm with you. I really enjoy helping great brands.

Brett:

I really enjoy the ... You also have to be a servant mindset to a certain degree, to help in these areas. And yeah, to your point, our agency's great at the ad side, and some of the strategy pieces. We're not a fully outsourced Amazon department to the point like yours is. But yeah, I have the same mindset. It's just fun to help great brands, and to see those turnaround stories for sure.

Jason Boyce:

Yeah, and look, for brands that have that Amazon team who are great, they don't need a fully outsourced department. So they come to you, and you rock the traffic for them, right? And the conversions ...

Brett:

Exactly, 100 percent. So let's talk about if someone's listening and they think, "Man, that's what I need, or I at least need to talk to Jason." How can they best reach out to Avenue7Media?

Jason Boyce:

Look, I'm going to give you my email address. It's-

Brett:

Oh, beautiful.

Jason Boyce:

Yeah, Jason@Avenue7Media.com. If you want, you can go to the website, Avenue7Media.com, and you can put inquiries through there as well. I'm on LinkedIn. Jason R Boyce on LinkedIn, and @JasBoyce, B-O-Y-C-E, on Twitter. I like to try to keep Amazon honest on Twitter and LinkedIn so-

Jason Boyce:

I'd love to have you follow and see what I'm thinking about Amazon. And yeah, if you're a brand and you're struggling, or even if you're having success, let's have a talk and we'll see if we can help you hit that next level.

Brett:

Awesome, love that. Jason, this has been tremendously fun. We'll have to do this again as more Amazon news and things come out, which is all the time. But we'll have to circle back up, because I know you've always got a really great inside perspective, and you know people on Amazon, which helps. We'll definitely have to do this again. Appreciate the time, man. This was awesome.

Jason Boyce:

Same here, Brett, thanks for having me. Great podcast ... I'm a listener. Keep up the good work.

Brett:

Awesome, we'll do. Hey, check out the book, The Amazon Jungle. Check out the documentary, The Amazon Empire. And with that, hey, we'd love to hear feedback from you. What would you like to hear more of on the podcast? What would you like to hear less of? And as always, until next time, thank you for listening.


Episode 162
:
Itay Paz - Morning Dough

Web Core Vitals + Low Cost Growth with Email Marketing

Finally, I think most people agree that email marketing is here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future.

The death of email has been boldly proclaimed and then retracted so many times I’ve lost count over the last 10 years.  Finally, I think most people agree that email marketing is here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future.  

This episode is a double-header in terms of topic but still delivered in the same amount of time as usual.  It’s a “two topics for the price of one” special! Itay Paz is an online marketing veteran of 25 years.  He’s also the publisher of the Morning Dough newsletter and an SEO expert.  

Morning Dough is one of my favorite newsletters.  It’s one of the few that I open regularly.  In this episode, we talk about how and why eCommerce brands should be using email marketing beyond just transactional emails.

We also talk Web Core Vitals and how Google is going to use certain core performance metrics to score your site.  How your site scores in Google’s eyes will have a direct impact on both your SEO and your paid ad performance.

  • How to land on a newsletter strategy that fits your personality and your brand
  • Tips for getting your emails opened and read
  • How often you should send emails and how to avoid spam and promotional folders
  • What are Web Core Vitals and why you should care
  • How to test your site in 60 seconds to see how it performs what Google’s Web Core Vital

Itay Paz

Via LinkedIn

Via Facebook


Morning Dough


Mentioned in this episode: 

Huckberry

J. Peterman

Everyday California

Chris Lynch

eE Episode 136 Chris Lynch

BOOM! by Cindy Joseph

Morning Brew

The Hustle

1440 Newsletter (1440 Daily Digest)

GlockApps

Sunday Scaries


Episode 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 kind of have a two part special for you. Two major topics that I believe have a big impact today, but will also have an impact into the future as we look at a privacy first internet, and SEO is always going to be important to a certain degree.

Brett:

My guest today is Itay Paz and Itay is the founder and CEO of Morning Dough, which is one of my favorite newsletters. It's a daily online marketing newsletter. He's also an entrepreneur and a veteran digital marketing, he's an affiliate marketing SEO email marketing, content marketing, conversion, optimization, monetization. He knows his stuff. And so, today we're going to be diving into two topics. One, how to build a good email newsletter. And I believe this was super important, whether you're an e-commerce merchant or service provider, or regardless of what you do online, especially as privacy kind of takes over. Having a good email list and having a good email plan I believe it's critical. And then we're going to talk about a really important topic. It's a slightly nerdy topic, but it's really important, and that's a core web vitals and how that's going to impact your organic traffic now and into the future. So with that quick intro, Itay, how you doing? Thanks for taking the time and thanks for coming on the show.

Itay Paz:

I'm good, and thank you for inviting me.

Brett:

Yeah, it's great to connect with you. I don't even know how I found your newsletter, but I remember after a week or so... A lot of times I subscribed to things and then I realized, why did I do this? This was such a bad idea. And my inbox is full, so me and my assistant were unsubscribing. But your newsletter, I don't know how I got it. And then I'm like, this is great. And I'm sharing stuff from the newsletter with my team, it's just really valuable. So, maybe just a quick insight on what is Morning Dough. And then I'm just going to pick your brain on email marketing and newsletter creation, and I think it'll be a lot of fun, but what is Morning Dough?

Itay Paz:

So Morning Dough is a daily newsletter that curates the best online marketing news on a daily basis, we sent five times a week. And the great thing about it, or the two great things it's curated manually. At the end of the day someone is doing the work manually. And second thing is, this someone has 25 years of experience, meaning myself. So-

Brett:

That someone is you.

Itay Paz:

Yes, me.

Brett:

You are the magic behind.

Itay Paz:

So I'm actually the person that wants... Well, we have a system that actually curates initially all the titles and have it, and then we take it into a smaller list because some of the things are duplicated and written in many places. And then there's a 300 titles list, and from that I select personally the things that's interesting to me. And we just put it plain and simple. People can read it in less than two minutes. You get what's going on. If you need to read more, you read more, like you said, you can transfer it to someone else, but it's really cool, very simple, clean format, and we get reviews just because it's so simple.

Brett:

Yeah. And the thing that I noticed and the reason I started consuming all the time was I opened it in three days in a row I was like, oh, that's the stuff I'm interested in. Those are the articles I need to look at. Hey, here's what Google's doing with moving away from cookies. And here's some privacy changes, but it was some of the best articles and you'd have the tiny snippet so all you want to do is the headlines and snippet great, otherwise click through and read it. So, really great stuff. Kudos to you. I'll link to it in the show notes, I think you should check it out.

Itay Paz:

Thank you.

Brett:

But let's talk about building an email newsletter because... And I kind of alluded to it a minute ago, but as we get into this privacy first web and then some of the ways that we target people with our advertising it's going to change a little bit, I think there's still be plenty of opportunities to advertise, but it's going to change a little bit. I think people have kind of predicted the death of email for a decade or something, and now finally people have stopped or it's like, okay, yeah, email is going to be here probably forever. And the most successful e-commerce companies I know they have a large email list and they utilize that list, they communicate with that list effectively, and they monetize well. And so, let's talk about if you're advising a merchant or service provider like myself, the agency something, what are the tips you would give in building an email newsletter?

Itay Paz:

So, I'll give you the tips and you mentioned earlier that everyone should have it. It's very effective. It's so effective. Every research done shows that it's also cost effective, so the investment you make in your dollars coming back few times more than any other investment in online which is very important. So, creating a newsletter is pretty simple. So don't be stressed about it. Some people say, "Oh, I don't have writers, or I do have writers. It's complicated, we don't have time." And it's totally understandable. You need to remember you want to build some kind of an email marketing it's like a muscle. What I mean, as you strengthen it, right? You do the exercise again and again and again, then the muscle gets adjusted to what you do. Same way goes to email marketing.

Itay Paz:

So your audience, as long as they keep on sending them emails and they open it, they get to used to opening your emails and that's the easiest way for you to get your current customer to buy more, or just people that registered into one of your opt-in or one of your either deals or relearn discount, whatever it is coupon, and then you can email them as well. Now, in order to do that you need to do one simple thing. When people subscribe to your newsletter and we'll talk about what type of newsletter, the most important thing is always to tell them what they get and when they get it. Because if you just subscribe and now you mail, let's say once a week or once every two weeks, and then suddenly you say, "Whoa, I have a big promotion. So now I'm sending every day an email." These people will opt out and probably complain about you spamming, although you're not spamming because they did give you the permission apparently.

Brett:

They opted in but now they feel you're spamming them.

Itay Paz:

Exactly, because the button is very simple, just click spam and that's it. So it's always good to tell people, "Okay, we're going to email you four times a week, two times a week, once a week." Tell them what you're going to do. And I wouldn't recommend it to be less than once a week, just for one fact that they want to remember who you are. So if you send them once a month and then they forgot who you are, this is why I'm sending them.

Brett:

Yeah, that's one of those counter-intuitive things of email marketing, right? Where people think, oh, I can't email too much. I'm going to email every month or two. I remember when the lockdown's first or COVID was kind of first hitting and everybody sent out their emails of what they're going to do about COVID. And it was like, oh, I forgot I subscribed to that. Cool, I'm going to unsubscribe. I don't need to be on that list. This was the first time you've emailed me in a quarter or something, I don't need to be on this list. And so yeah, if you email too infrequently it's just going to be a reminder for people to unsubscribe. So you're saying no less than once a week?

Itay Paz:

Yeah.

Brett:

Okay.

Itay Paz:

You want to be in their minds, they remember you, and also you can actually segmentize the list. So if you have people registering to get send me deals, so that's a different list than the newsletter and they get the deal. And you tell them, "I'm sending you the deal as soon as they're out. So if there's a deal at two o'clock and then you have another, whatever special coupon offer tonight, you might send two emails, but you tell them that they'll be happy because they're looking for this deal. They're looking for coupon. So it's very simple. Now, if you go to transaction emails, it's a completely different thing. It's normally the systems, the transaction people buying confirmations. These are not the things we're talking about, but these are also something that is important for you to set up if you haven't until today.

Itay Paz:

And lastly, of course is what we call the newsletter. The newsletter is a simple format, you can select one, two or three simple formats that you mail with. Usually either updates news about your company, your products, what you do, and it could be also earn, or you can have a newsletter which is what we do is curation. So we don't have our own products. So we deliver news about the industry. So for example, if you're an e-commerce store selling, let's say fitness products. So if you send a weekly newsletter that has five, six, 10, depending on your market, of course, curated titles or information about special research that's done about something, or a new video that was released by someone that is relevant, or if there is a special event for fitness, the day of the fitness or whatever it is.

Itay Paz:

So you can curate and put this information your audience will love it because you're actually making it fun, right? If I love fitness and going to the gym and doing this stuff so I like to read about it. So you're actually giving me service by just pointing me and telling me, "Hey, here's an interesting article to read. And this is how like you said you got the newsletter for the Morning Dough and you said, "Oh, this is what I'm interested in." And we didn't try anything. We just curated for you, and it's high value. People perceive it as high value. It doesn't matter if I wrote it or I just curated it, it's the same thing.

Brett:

Yeah, I love that. And so, how do you see this playing out for an e-commerce store owner? So, I run an e-commerce store. So let's say it's an apparel brand. What tips might you give me for creating a great email newsletter? And would you recommend that email newsletter be a once a week thing, a minimum as well? Or how would you advise an e-commerce store owner?

Itay Paz:

I would still do that, because if you're doing an apparel and if you're doing digital marketing you probably have a blog to that, then you probably have some different blog posts. So maybe, the collections of the week or a certain season is coming, or a holiday or why do women love to wear hats and what hat you want to wear which event. So you have the content there. You don't have to send them out to other content you can... And that's what I said, or you can actually say, "Here's what we wrote about hats or the new season. " Whatever it is. And you can also say, "Here there's a new event for whatever it is, the new fashion week, and you give the link to whatever it is.

Itay Paz:

So it's perfectly fit for you just collect the information and the things you're already making, you don't need to say... Well, you can write from scratch and use it, all right? You can have the... Okay, so I'll go back to the start. You can have a newsletter which it looks like a blog. So basically, you're writing a newsletter. It's a blog post, it's a long one. You write it nice, and that's one way to do that. The other way is just directly to the content you already create anyway, and you don't need to make all the efforts of writing in again the new stuff, you just package it differently and push it to your audience. Does that make sense?

Brett:

Yeah, it totally makes sense. And I think one of the keys here is thinking about repurposing content, right? So, I host this podcast and so, we're cranking out three episodes a month. And so, we transcribe these podcasts and we email our list of podcast so that they can check it out and people will dig into the content that they want, and then we can sometimes create a blog post about the topic of the podcast. And so now we've got multiple ways to use that content and then to share that content, and I know my buddy Ezra Firestone with one of his companies, he does a weekly digest where he highlights, okay, here's some cool things from our blog, here is something cool on social media, in our community, and here's an article, too. Right?

Brett:

So it's kind of similar to Morning Dough, but it's a curation of what's already in their ecosystem. You can do something very similar, I think for an e-commerce brand. So I think the cool thing about content is that it's very intimidating at first and it feels you're just going to burn out, and how could you ever create one email a week? But once you start understanding the structure and what goes there, it really can become kind of fun. And it's not as intimidating or as hard as it sounds.

Itay Paz:

Just to share with you. So when we began the Morning Dough, and it went through different formats, but it took us about, I would say one day to craft. So it was one day worth to craft to one newsletter, just because the process wasn't there, but once we did figure out what works for us, what's good for us. If you like to write, I would say write. If you like to curate, curate. If you have content already ready, then use your content. But once-

Brett:

If you like to speak do a video and have it transcribed and then use that.

Itay Paz:

Exactly.

Brett:

Yeah, do what fits for your personality.

Itay Paz:

It takes us only one hour, for me one hour today to craft a newsletter. Well, maybe a little bit, one and a half hours. That's it, it's very short and it fits to what I like to do. And I want to say one more thing, you need to know your audience.

Brett:

Yeah.

Itay Paz:

So if your audience are... Let's say you're a e-commerce store that sells business suits. So your audience are probably business people. I would imagine their time is usually very limited. Just giving you an idea, try to be shorter to the point versus if your audience is, I don't know, you sell a website for, I don't know, something that fits to the elderly people. I have no idea what could it be. I don't know, bow ties. I don't know, something like that.

Brett:

The bow tie shop. I like it.

Itay Paz:

Yeah, it goes to the elderly people. They love to read, they have more attention-

Brett:

Elderly and hipsters. Hipsters like the bow ties as well. So you don't get the young crowd, but anyway, we we'll stick with-

Itay Paz:

I meant in terms of the attention span, think about the attention span of your audience. For me I know that the audience for Morning Dough they are all marketers, business people, so they read faster. There's so much content, they don't need me to write them a long newsletter. They will never read it. I don't want to read it, so why should they read it as a digital marketer?

Brett:

Yeah. Yeah.

Itay Paz:

So the same thing, think about your audience whether they like to write, read, and how much time they have, and just build a format that works. You can even ask them. Many times we ask people, and we got the reply. People said, "Hey, listen, this was the long word." And then we shortened it. And we shortened it and we shortened it, and then we were left with just the line, which is a snip like you said. So you just amend it and fit it to your audience.

Brett:

Yup. Yup. I love that. So any point you would point as a great example for a newsletter that people can learn from and potentially copy, or be inspired from? Obviously your newsletters' great. I'm also thinking of e-commerce brands and I'll mention a couple that I think people should subscribe to and learn from. One is called Huckberry. So Huckberry is a men's apparel line, and they're always just telling a great story about a new desert boot or a new jacket, or a bomber jacket or something. Just their fascinating stories sort of... If you remember the J. Peterman catalogs from long ago, and J. Peterman was kind of made fun of in the show Seinfeld back in the day.

Brett:

But, Huckberry is kind of like that only like not cheesy, but they're telling stories about price. I love their newsletter, I open it a lot. Everyday California, good friend of mine Chris Lynch, he's been on the podcast before. They sell cool apparel based in San Diego. And so it's kind of a so Cal brand, they've got a great newsletter. I mentioned is it Boom by Cindy Joseph, I think sign up for that watch what they do with their email marketing. Who else would you recommend people watch and pay attention to?

Itay Paz:

Well, in terms of e-commerce I can't really pinpoint the specific website for e-commerce.

Brett:

Yeah.

Itay Paz:

But I would say first of all, and before I name a couple of names, go in like you said, registered to view even in your niche and see what people do, look at the formats and find what works for you. Don't copy the format . Well, you can copy, but I mean, do-

Brett:

Be inspired by but don't copy..

Itay Paz:

We began by copying something that the format that the other people do, and we said if that works for them and they have millions of subscribers, happy ones, we should do the same. But we felt it... Eventually, that didn't work for us. So just find something that looks good but fits to you, so one of the formats that we as the Morning Dough. So there's the Morning Brew, it's completely different industry, but they have a very-

Brett:

I like the Morning Brew, too.

Itay Paz:

Yeah, they have a cool... It's a longer format.

Brett:

It is.

Itay Paz:

Much longer format and they have their own writers, but to get inspiration, definitely also the hustle, and that also it's 1440 newsletter. And it's also a great one. So this two I would definitely subscribe to get some information and see how it looks in the format.

Brett:

Yeah. I'll second the Morning Brew. So I'll link to both Morning Brew and Morning Dough. Those are the two newsletters that I pay attention to the most different formats. Yours is curated, Theirs is more of a long form, you just kind of read what's in the email, but really good stuff. So what are tips and tactics for... How do you get people... How do you keep people consuming your newsletter over and over again?

Itay Paz:

Well, the thing is all about the content you send. But some people would say it's all about... You see the open rate, for the many people see the open rate if you do a sequence or something, you see their open rate goes down and down because over time people don't read it. And we tested so many titles, just idea to see is the title actually affecting the subject line. Yeah. Yeah.

Brett:

Correct.

Itay Paz:

Subject kind of email. Yeah, sorry. And about two and a half weeks ago, I had a day that I couldn't figure out what's the best title. I didn't find something that is, oh, wow. So I said, "Let's put Monday mornings roundup. That's it. And we saw that the open rate was the same as the other emails, then I see the Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and we found out that it's the same thing. So how can it be? Right? It's crazy, and that goes to what you say, how you make people actually consume it. It's all about what you put inside, right?

Brett:

Yeah.

Itay Paz:

So if I take for investors, okay, let's look at the investors. And we have Berkshire Hathaway CEO, right? And he writes a newsletter, it has one paragraph. It says, here's my weekly tip. It doesn't matter what the title will say, the subject of the email, if you're into investing you'll read it, right? Because there's gold inside. So that's the same thing. What we try to do is see if we give enough value that we'll see that the same people still open, it doesn't matter what the title is and what the subject of the email and that works well. So going back to e-commerce or anyone else, it's all about the value you put inside.

Itay Paz:

If you make it a sales promo, pushing just... It's okay if you told them in advance it is like that, but if it's an user for updates, then make it fun. Like you said, make it enjoyable so people will like to read it and they will open again and again. They'll have a smile and say, "Oh, this is really important for me. This is interesting. Oh, there's a new gadget or there's new product that is coming up soon. I can now preregister. Cool. Pre-order give me the details." So it's all about what you put inside, make it fun, make it effective so people get to open and again, and again. Once you do that... It's a cool secret. Once you're able to make them open again and again, at least once a week or more, then you can actually send more emails. So we're sending them out five days a week. I don't want to call it get away, right? Because it's not getting way. But I can send another two, three emails just with a promotion or anything and no one will complain.

Brett:

Yeah. No one want to.

Itay Paz:

They're getting enough value from you. That's what I'm saying. Put the value, people will open your emails, your promotion emails, whatever you send with the value inside. And like we discussed earlier, it could be interesting things, links, your information, whatever it is.

Brett:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. And the curation process can be simple if that's something you enjoy, making a collection of things that are interesting to you and that you think will be interesting to your audience. And now you've got a curated newsletter and the Morning Dough is proof that that can be super powerful. I think, where people get into trouble is when they start crafting an email newsletter or any type of content because they feel like they have to, right? I'm supposed to create an email newsletter, so I'm going to. And then it can feel forced or staged and there's no real purpose here, but if you're delivering value, if you're giving great tips or ideas, if you're entertaining a little bit, if you're delighting the person that reads the newsletter in some way, yeah, once you get into a habit of opening an email, people will stick with that. Do you have any kind of quick tips though on subject lines? Cause people always like tips. I know some of the things we've found that help is lists, so seven ways to XYZ, or a secret to do this, Any kind of formulas or structures, or tried and true subject lines you go back to?

Itay Paz:

So first of all, emails with numbers, people always open. Numbers, it could be figures. Okay, it could be-

Brett:

People just want to know, right? It's like curiosity type of thing.

Itay Paz:

Always, and that's why also short titles could be very intriguing, like really, for example, or this is true or whatever it is, people are intrigued to see what's inside the email. So definitely, short and intriguing, and numbers are always winning. I can tell you also empty emails, empty subjects also work, but not every time. Once in a lifetime.

Brett:

Five days a week they're all empty subject lines. Yeah.

Itay Paz:

But also they know it's you. Yeah, and also having re RA it's the return email again, do it smartly. Don't put it as a spam thing because people don't like it. Also forward, right? So, if let's say you're sending me an email and it's very interesting, I will do F, well, W, right? In the subject, and inside I'll say, "Here's an email I got from Brad and he was talking about that and that, and I'm putting a quote from what you're saying, so people will open it again. It's all kinds of things that on the top people are looking, and another factor that is really important is the sender.

Brett:

Yeah.

Itay Paz:

So an e-commerce store usually don't have a face. Most of them.

Brett:

Usually it's the brand.

Itay Paz:

Right? It's Amazon, Amazon. Does Amazon write from Jeff? Powell Jeff? No.

Brett:

Yeah.

Itay Paz:

So we always try to put... Well, I'm putting my name and Morning Dough. So I'm getting again, remember the muscle we were talking about that people get to know me and also the name, they're opening an email from Itay as well so they have the personal relationship. When I ask them, can you tell me your advice about something they understand and not answering to the best team or best regardless team. It's someone. Have someone sign on it. It's not a big deal, and it's humanizing the emails. So people love to open emails from people, not from companies, or it's better in many ways.

Brett:

Yeah. Make it personal? I totally agree with that, totally.

Itay Paz:

One more thing.

Brett:

Yes, please.

Itay Paz:

Put some favicons or icons if you can.

Brett:

In the subject line?

Itay Paz:

In the subject people love it as well and open, but I would say if you build a sequence and some people build a sequence, and you say by the way, it doesn't need to be... It could be a evergreen sequence of newsletters, and I would always test the emails are there actually inbox or not because you can either send emails but you're writing something that triggers the spam box, usually Gmail, and then it throws all the emails to the spam. So, you definitely need to check your emails before you do it. There's lots of online tools that you can actually use to do that.

Brett:

Yeah. So those are there tools you can use to test your email before you send it to hopefully avoid the spam box or junk box.

Itay Paz:

Absolutely. So we actually just started to use a cool tool. It's a great actually thing that you can use, and I'll let you know in a second. I need to find the name, but while I'll do that, first of all, I would start with sending an email even to myself, everyone almost have a Gmail box, right? So just go and just do that. Very simple, go to your inbox and look at it. The second thing is, there's something called Glock ads, GlockApps. Sorry, glockapps. G-L-O-C-K apps.com. You can put this as well later, I'll send it to you.

Brett:

Sure. And basically, they have already a list of Gmail and Gmail, Hotmail, all the different types of emails. And before you send an email, you can actually send it to them and they spread it to the list and you get to report what's your problem, where are your problem, and if you have a problem.

Brett:

Nice. That's great.

Itay Paz:

So it's good as you grow as always to have something, a feedback about your emails how they're getting other than reaching the box because you sent an email and said, "Oh, no one reads my newsletter. Oh, it's not that they don't read it. You're not right. And it's also affecting your other emails, for sure.

Brett:

Yes.

Itay Paz:

And one of the ways always, it starts people register firstly and use their newsletter, or getting coupon or making the first purchase, or where I always ask them to wipe list the email of the store, the email that you're sending from. So just in the first email or in the thank you page you tell them, there's a process exactly saying you can write online a white list email, and it will show you what you need to tell them in Gmail, you need to drag it into the inbox and not fall into promotions because you don't want your emails in the promotions box.

Brett:

Right. Right. Totally makes sense. Awesome. Any other tips for structure tools, any other little nuggets that people might need as they dive in more to email marketing? So I love clean emails, but definitely people love photos. People click on images more than on other things. So do add photos into the emails. Definitely, I will do that. I would do what we call list hygiene, which means, and sometimes it's hard for a business to say, okay, I have 10,000 subscribers or emails, and now I need to throw 3,000 to the trash or just remove them to the list. Yeah. It's a vanity number, right? I don't want to go backwards, I want to go from 10,000 to 7,000. But in reality, it's a really good move.

Itay Paz:

Yes. And I'll just give it a quick explanation of why it is because at Gmail, which is the biggest email provider or mail provider is looking at what's the percentage of people opening your email versus the number of actually emails you sent. So if you sent them 1,000, let's say they're all Gmail for example, and you have 3,000 openers, then you have 30% open rate and... Okay, GMO says that's the number. Now, if you clear the 3,000 that hasn't opened email, let's say for the past 30 or 60 days, now we have a 7,000 people list, but there's still 3,000 opening it because these are the same. So now your percentage is whatever 40 something percent. So it says, oh, this is a good email. So that the less chances he will throw it to the trash, sorry, to the spam folder or to promotions, it's more likely to go into the inbox. So it's really tough when people do, you said, "Oh, I'm going backwards." but it's just a number that you don't care. You care about actually, what's the end result. And what's the end goal, which is getting the results and getting the money into your pockets, right? Sales.

Brett:

Yeah, exactly. It's understanding, yeah, the metrics that matter. And then, it's so true in every part of business, what are your vanity metrics versus what are the metrics that really matter? And they've really moved the needle. And in this case, open rate matters, deliverability matters. And so list hygiene, cleaning up the list I know that's another super important.

Itay Paz:

I want to share one more cool thing that you can do in your email marketing and use that, or even if you don't have the newsletter, you can do it through email marketing. So I would say it's what we call JV or affiliate marketing.

Brett:

Yeah. Love this. Love this.

Itay Paz:

So you can actually work with other store owners that have the same audience. Okay? Let's say not the same product specifically you sell, but similar audience. And then what you do, you just sell, promote each other's products. You can still get commissions as an affiliate anyway. So it's extra income on people that buy stuff you don't anyway have. So if you have closing for pets, so think about a store for closing for pets,

Brett:

So pet toys or whatever.

Itay Paz:

Yeah. Yeah. So he has the same audience. You can cross promote each other and you can make lots of money. We, in some, in some ways, and again, depending on the structure we even find ourselves sometimes having in the thank you page. So someone subscribed to my gift or whatever it is on the thank you page, so thank you for subscribing to my list. And I also suggest you should subscribe to this list, and it gives them an option to subscribe to someone else let's say Brad's list. And the same thing you do Brad when someone subscribes to us and thank you I say you should subscribe to that lists.

Brett:

Exactly.

Itay Paz:

It doesn't harm each other, it's just making more. And suddenly, you find out every day you get subscribers without doing actually anything.

Brett:

Yeah. Yeah. It's the common counting effect. Yeah, sometimes people are too guarded with their list, and obviously you should protect it because we want to deliver value, but sometimes they're too guarded. Right? Think about ways you can do joint ventures and add more value. I mentioned Everyday California a little bit ago, a friend of mine and a client. So they sell apparel, but they also do adventure in San Diego, and so they partnered with a group called Sunday Scaries, who is CBD gummy company. And so they both did a cross promotion, rather. They have, in fact, even did like this was a deeper level, they had a co-branding, they created a product called Everyday Scary. So it was kind of the combination of Everyday California and Sunday Scaries and they made it Everyday Scary, but then they both emailed their list and the boost it was super fun, and it fit for both brands, and it gave them both a lot more exposure. It's a compounding or expanding effect and it was really successful.

Itay Paz:

And this is also bringing another ideas to do an online event. And I'm not talking about doing an online event, hey, like a seminar for 10 hours, but the webinar. We're talking about newsletter, but if you say, I'm not talking about that, but here we're jumping on a call and today I'm interviewing a trainer for dogs. So my audience would love to, right? They buy close to my two dogs or two pets, and I'm bringing someone to talk about training your dog to whatever, to bring your newspaper. And that's huge value, you can later on also repurpose the content and turn it into other stuff, but I'm just saying here's the value, a weekly value that you can have 10 minutes conversation or 15 minutes conversation about something and share with all your audience. It's very simple, it's just there.

Brett:

Yeah. I love it. I love it. So thank you, Itay. Tons of value on newsletter creation, email marketing, and like I said, I truly believe this was going to grow and it's super important now. It's going to grow in importance and the smartest marketers, the most successful e-commerce brands they're going to have a good email list. and then they're going to grow that list and they're going to use it and monetize it well. So let's pivot a little bit and just hear for the next six or seven minutes or so, let's talk web core vitals. And that may be a totally foreign concept to people listening, or some people may have already read up on it. But for those that don't know, what is web core vitals?

Itay Paz:

So, web core vitals are a set of specific factors that Google consider to be the most important when it comes to your website overall user experience. And it goes to something... The first thing that everyone knows is all about speed, right? That's the most important thing is if people say, "Oh, how fast it is going up?" And if it goes one second or two seconds, or millisecond, it's a huge difference for Google and other search engines. So it's all about the user experience, and Google is having here a set of parameters that it checks your website and tells you is your website is moving fast enough and is it good enough for the audience. And according to that, Google decides whether to send you more traffic or less traffic, or the same traffic, and they are not talking about it yet, but I can tell you definitely, it's also going to affect the ad side. So if people buy advertising, right? If someone click on an ad and it slowly goes up, usually what the person does go back, right?

Brett:

Yep.

Itay Paz:

And Google never charge for this back or for this click because it's not a valid click. So Google wants your website to go out fast, otherwise it doesn't really make sense. That's where it came in about at the beginning, right? When more advertising people is talking about paid speed. That was the thing, paid speed. Now it's more about lots of parameters that goes into how the pages upload, what's ways, how the things are looking, which elements are moving and not moving, how fast is the first layout that the user is seeing. So it's sort of small things, but eventually, they're coming from the backend of the website, it's not something that, well, the user sees it, but eventually Google looks at the hardcore codes of the website.

Itay Paz:

And if you're building your website based on Google traffic, eventually I would say Facebook, but Google traffic, either SEO and eventually will be paid. This is something that you have to take care of that. The first thing you need to do is go to right on Google speed test, and that will jump you the first result will be Google speed test. Of course, it's there Google, put your URL and click submit or whatever the button says, and give it to take like minutes and then you'll see your number. Your number should be green. Green is usually 90 and above. If it's not green, you need take care of it, because sooner or later it will happen. Google said it will be in May, so in a couple of weeks. And now they're saying it will be in June. I can tell you from our experience and what we see it's started already three months ago.

Brett:

Yeah, yeah. It's happening some now, it's going to continue to happen. And there are lots of speed test tools, right? Lots of tools you can test out there, but use Google's, right? Because that's the tool that they use. So if it's going to impact your Google ads or your SEO use their tool, because that is the standard that they use. And I 100% agree with you, Itay, this is going to be more and more important. And I think you have to look at what is Google's mission here? What is Google trying to do? One, they're trying generate really relevant results, right? So whether it's organic or advertising, they're trying to really understand the intent of the query, the intent of behind the searcher so they can deliver the most relevant options.

Brett:

And they want to delight the user so that the user keeps coming back and keeps clicking on more ads and then uses Google all the time. And so, there's a couple of things that Google is fighting against, right? They're fighting against poor experiences. They're fighting against that slow page load. They're fighting against pages that the bots crawl and they like but then users look at it and they're like, "This page is terrible. It's filled with ads, it's filled with stuff that's not relevant." Whatever. And so, Google is fighting that, they're also fighting ..SEO people as well.

Brett:

I've been doing SEO since 2004 and I know you've been doing it forever as well, Itay, and things have certainly shifted. And so, Google part of their war is against the furious SEO people so they can deliver those relevant results that delight customers. And so, yeah, we focused on the ad side now. So we're running a lot of YouTube ads, Google search ads, shopping ads, and then we see it to page speed is super important. So, any other tips here? Because I want to create some clarity with this, but I also know it's pretty technical and pretty nerdy. So if we dive too deep, we'll create sleepy listeners here, but any other tips or anything else that you would put around web core vitals?

Itay Paz:

So unfortunately, like I said it's technical thing so we can't actually say, hey, click there, do this code or whatever it is. There's a process that needs to be done. It's a methodology. It takes usually a few days to create it, and putting the time to make sure that the website completely has the best as possible user experience and the core web vitals are going to be in the top notch. It's a process, like I said, it's a few days up to a week to prepare then it takes Google another 30 days to actually understand what you did. This is how it works. It looks at the average. I think the best way to say this is something that interesting people they can just reach out to you or to ask and we'll try to help them.

Itay Paz:

The thing is we got to it when we... I think we're the only news writers that are around out there they're doing SEO. Most of them just writing their content, they do email marketing where. I came from the SEO or in an email marketing. So we did SEO, and as soon as we understood there's a need, we started to fix it. Then once we fixed it, we saw that the numbers of people getting to our site and the SEO goes up immediately, seven days, we started to see the ramp ups, which is amazing. So, it's very simple. If you are getting traffic from Google paid ads, or you're doing SEO, you have to fix it. Just look at the numbers, if you're an under 90 they can reach you and we can connect and try to help them.

Brett:

Yeah, and the page speed tool gives a few tips and things like that as well. But yeah, it's one of those things just you're just going to have to address and so use that free tool. And then if you need help we don't offer a service or anything related to core web vitals. I mean, certainly we're happy to talk to anybody. But Itay, you do. So if someone does say, "Hey, I checked my score and I'm a 70 or 60 or 40, or sometimes we have people coming to us they're like 20s and 30s. And we're like, hey, we can run ads to your pages but it's going to be, we're going to be fighting a little bit of an uphill battle. So let's work on fixing this, too. How can people either find out more resources from you or find out about the service? How can they check that out?

Itay Paz:

They can just reach out to me either online, LinkedIn, Facebook, or go to the Morning Dough, and my email is itay I-T-A-Y @morningdough.com. It's very simple, or you can just... Once you subscribe, you get an email. That's an email from me. It's an automated one but once you reply back it goes through me. I see the replies.

Brett:

The emails actually go to you, and I'm an assessment for that. But that's all I got because I got the email and I was like, I'm just going to see if this is a real guy. So I email Itay is real, okay.

Itay Paz:

Yeah. It's funny. Sometimes people, this is really your email. Really? Your email is so simple, like you will email jeffbezos@amazon.com you might even get to them, but no one is actually emailing because there's no chance that he's using this email, right? So this is really my email, just write itay@morningdough.com, or through the social media, just connect to me and I'll be happy to see if I can help you fix the issues with your core web vitals as we did for ourselves.

Brett:

Awesome. Itay, thank you so much. This has been extremely valuable. Like I said, I'm very bullish on both of these topics, email newsletters, and email marketing and general, web core vitals, both critical right now. So check it out, Morning Dough and Itay at Morning Dough if you want to connect with him directly. Oh, that's .com. I skipped that. And so with that, Itay, thank you so much. It's been a lot of fun.

Itay Paz:

Thank you, Brett, for having me. I love it. Thank you.

Brett:

Yeah. Awesome. And as always, thank you for tuning in. We would love to hear from you, what would you like to hear more of? Any guest suggestions for the show? We'd love to hear from you and connect with you. Also, make sure you sign up for the email marketing for this show, we talk about new episodes and also new blog posts and guides where we're cranking out some amazing content right now that we don't want you to miss. And so with that, until next time. Thank you for listening.


Episode 161
:
Andrew Morgans - Marknology & Startup and Hustle Podcast

3 Tips from Top Brands on Amazon

Andrew Morgans is a true OG when it comes to success on Amazon.

Andrew Morgans is a true OG when it comes to success on Amazon.  Andrew is the founder of Marknology (think marketing combined with technology) an Amazon brand accelerator and the host of the Startup Hustle podcast.  He’s been helping brands grow on Amazon for 9 years.  Needless to say a LOT has changed on Amazon in 9 years and Andrew has seen a little bit of everything.  In this episode, we go deep into what successful brands are doing right now on Amazon and where things are headed on the platform….

  • Andrew’s philosophy of “if your product can’t sell with your photos and videos alone, you need to go back to the drawing board.”
  • How your copy and photos should flow
  • How A+ content, storefronts and copy really come down to just 2 things
  • Andrew’s favorite tools that he uses daily…but when he doesn’t use them to make decisions.
  • How to view Amazon ads in light of how the advertising industry is shifting
  • Going international - Amazon is doubling down on international growth…why now is the time to consider it for your brand

Andrew Morgans

Via LinkedIn

Via Instagram


Marknology

Via YouTube


Startup Hustle Podcast

Mentioned in this episode: 

Jared Mitchell

Prosper Show

PickFu

eE Episode 73 John Li - PickFu

Amazon Posts

Amazon Live

Helium 10

Jungle Scout

MerchantWords

Twitch

“Who Not How” by Dan Sullivan and Benjamin Hardy


Episode Transcript:

Brett:

Hello and welcome to another edition of the E-Commerce Evolution Podcast. I'm your host, Brett Curry. Today is all about Amazon. I am thrilled to be speaking with my guest and really excited about this topic.

Brett:

My guest and I first met through a mutual friend of ours, the legendary Jared Mitchell. Jared made the connection and when Jared makes the connection, I pay attention, right? I think everybody does. Andrew Morgans is with me today. He's the founder of Marknology an Amazon brand accelerators. We're going to talk about, what are top brands doing on Amazon right now? Hey, we may riff into really anything and everything e-commerce. We're both e-commerce guys, so anything is fair game at this moment. But with that, Andrew, welcome to the show man and thanks for taking the time.

Andrew:

Thanks for having me. I'm excited to get into what the brands are doing. I have a lot of fun talking about strategy as it relates to Amazon. I think there's a lot of light bulb moments with e-com guys that maybe aren't living in the day-to-day of Amazon. It's just fun to share what some of the other brands are doing, what we're doing and even what some other agencies are doing. I talk to a lot of other Amazon agencies and we get into stuff.

Brett:

Yeah, it's really cool. Then we're an Amazon agency as well, and I know we've got a little overlap between what we do and what you do, which is awesome. But you've got a real front row seat running the brand accelerator, so we're going to dive into that. Before we do though, let's get your 60 second background, because I know you're a legend in online marketing. How did you get started and how did you end up here helping Amazon brands?

Andrew:

Okay. I'll skip the long story and start with helping brands throughout the last nine years on Amazon. I got a degree in Computer Science, Networking and Security. Started out as a NOC technician at MasterCard global and pretty prestigious companies as far as dotting that line on a resume. I was overwhelmed by what that meant. I had been touring, playing music and finally got my degree and was jumping into the corporate world and was overwhelmed. But once I was in there about two or three months and picked up some of that tribal knowledge of what the other guys were doing and what the ropes look like, I honestly felt like if I wasn't being held back, I could outperform within the room.

Andrew:

In regards to just doing the job, it wasn't that hard of a job. It was like watch the networks and see if they break and if they do, start reporting on it and call ... project manage the solution out. After about a year of that, I just had enough and I was like, "If this is IT, this is not for me." I didn't know what IT could be. I didn't know about e-commerce at that time. I moved from Kansas city to Tampa, Florida and took a job at a startup. I had NOC technicians blow me up for jobs, safe you know they kind, they give you back rubs and Red Bulls and stuff at work. That culture sounded fun to me..

Brett:

Sort of nice, Red Bulls and back rubs. Can't complain.

Andrew:

It did like. It really did and they were literally pitching me that in the interviews and stuff, and I wanted that environment. I was in a new city, starting a new life and having coworkers and that culture was enticing. But I didn't want to go back to that job. I went to this startup company and they were a car parts website. They had four or five different sites and we sold everything from hitches to aftermarket car parts and all of that. There wasn't a lot of car parts online nine years ago. Not really. I'd like to think I'm personally responsible for several million of the parts that are there today.

Brett:

Yes. ..take credit.

Andrew:

We were contacting brands like mom and pop shops being like, "Do you have photos? Are your parts online? We'd love to have them on our site." I was learning that call to a manufacturer or that call to a brand and telling them that we want to optimize their stuff. At that time we were just drop shipping a lot. We'd put their parts up, organize them, have them fit the right mix of models and when people ordered them, we'd placed a call into that company and get it ordered. Then we started private labeling.

Andrew:

We started bringing stuff from China, like tonal covers and trailer wheels and trailer lights and things that have big margins that we were moving a lot of. I was there for a little over a year, but I learned a ton. I did over a million in sales with those just on eBay and Amazon with what I was putting up. Life of the van took me back to Kansas City. I started at Us Toy Company, which is a midsized retailer, 300 employees or so at the time, eight brick and mortars. They had traditionally been a catalog business, so challenge number two, right?

Andrew:

One was like, none of these car part companies have any digital assets or anything like that. No photos, no descriptions, nothing. Number two, we had photos, but they were photos for a catalog or very small descriptions to fit as much as you can in a catalog. It's just a different layer.

Brett:

.. just like a schematic, like a sketch. We worked with some auto parts companies, and it's like, this was not going to really work on e-com.

Andrew:

Okay. That was definitely with the auto, but now I'm in the toy, the toy business here in Kansas City and the toys and the catalogs was traditionally like toys were sold through catalog way back when, and this was a company that had a lot of reach back then. They did everything from outfitting preschools to the Chucky Cheese type toys to more toys like Lego and Thomas the Train. I know way more about toys than I ever should probably. But they had issues too in regards to digital assets. It was a huge overload to take four brands and get photos and copy and all this stuff.

Andrew:

But plug me in; I was hired for my experience on eBay and Amazon. My last startup came in, we started optimizing things like that, getting logistics, using FBA, using Amazon advertising when it came out and grew sales by 1.3. They'd already been cruising a several million in sales, kind of plateaued for a while, so to see lift was the big deal. It was there that I started freelancing. Got top 10 in the world on a site called Upwork at the time in the marketing category.

Andrew:

I think I was just really the only Amazon person in the marketing category that was US-based honestly at the time. A lot of people were building Amazon stores, but they were doing it for themselves. I was helping them-

Brett:

There's a bit of humility on your part, but also I love the transparency, and yeah, it's still a newer game, right? Sometimes it's hard. We try to hire seasoned Amazon ads specialist, and they're really hard to find, so..

Andrew:

It's hard have only been out, if you haven't been all in, if it hasn't been the only thing you're doing, if you've been at a company where you're doing a lot of different things, how can you be an expert at something that's so new? You can't even really take courses on it or go to the university or anything. I just started doing these jobs and Upwork works just like Amazon in some ways, where if you're getting reviews and you're getting positive feedback and you're getting people that are booking you, they continue to promote you.

Andrew:

It was there that I got client like Adidas. Adidas had that light bulb moment for me where I'm like, "If Adidas is hiring me to help them on Amazon and they have these massive agencies-"

Brett:

And they're hiring on Upwork that's crazy too. That's interesting.

Andrew:

There were not Amazon agencies. There were not marketing agencies that had Amazon arms or branches of it. There were not Amazon conferences like Prosper at Vegas. There was barely even e-commerce conferences, much less the Amazon. I was capitalizing on it and I was getting results. If you've ever been a freelancer ever doing a side job or a project for someone, it goes way better when you're successful. I was doing affiliate marketing. I was doing email marketing. I was doing web because my passion is e-commerce really in general.

Andrew:

But across all those projects, every time I did an Amazon project, I was winning and it was like, we were selling stuff. They were wanting to keep me on, wanting to keep me hired. I just went all in on Amazon. That was probably about a little under, a little over seven years ago and started building Marknology. I knew I couldn't learn everything myself as a consultant, so I early on knew I wanted a team. I'm more of a team player myself, and I wanted a team, so I didn't have to obsess about everything graphic related or I didn't have to obsess about writing copy and SEO. I didn't love it.

Andrew:

I loved the science behind it. I didn't love doing it. I started building a team to mirror a lot of what's needed on Amazon. That's how my Marknology came about. We've worked with over 300 brands managed, managed over 200 plus million in sales on the platform, and really starting out with tiny brands, to even get to those numbers. The brands that were embracing Amazon were the ones that were really looking outside the box, ones that were really trying to either private label or just find another opportunity, because they weren't finding opportunity. It wasn't the big Adidas of the world being like here's-

Brett:

Right. They came on later ..

Andrew:

... here's 100 million. Yeah, like it's happening now.

Brett:

.. or something, they're working directly with Amazon not on the marketplace.

Andrew:

Yup.

Brett:

Really excited to dive in. Another thing that we have in common other than just being buddies with Jared Mitchell is, we're both from KC. KC, MO shout. I grew up in Springfield, Missouri, which is where OMG is headquartered, but I was born in Kansas City. All my family is from Kansas City, so go Chiefs, go Royals.

Andrew:

Home grown. Let's go.

Brett:

Yeah man. Home grown that's right. That's right. Let's dive right in and let's look at what are top brands are doing on Amazon. When you take on a new client, so if someone comes to you, they want to use your brand accelerator, they want to tap into the brain of Andrew Morgans and team, and you start optimizing, you start looking for growth opportunities, what are some of the most common levers you pull first or things you do to really start to improve and scale? I'm sure there's several, but what are the most common?

Andrew:

Well, It does start out with a conversation with the brand. I know that sounds basic, but it's very important to understand what their goals are on Amazon, what they're hiccups have been, what their roadblocks have been, what's been working, what's not, because I can come in and look at metrics and there's not always red flags. There's not always a clear direction on where to go. it's super important to just understand what's going on at their companies. As I get into manufacturers and brands, I'm learning that it's not just what's being done on Amazon, it's what's happening internally at their company.

Andrew:

They might have an issue, I say issue, but they might have some stuff to overcome with their sales team. They might have some stuff to overcome with their accounting or financial team. It's really those people that are, let's say giving the e-commerce manager or even the CEO of that company the most struggle, the most hassle, the most issues to getting in e-commerce. They can't understand it. They don't know how to make sense of it. They don't know how to ... They might be a North American distributor for a company in France and be having map pricing issues from 1D to 3P and not understand what's going on. Well, I'm not going to see that initially, like in an audit.

Brett:

Just at looking at the data, looking at a cost, looking at you don't know the story.

Andrew:

I'm going to get any of the politics, and understanding the politics can tell me what to focus on for that company and what to make them feel comfortable with early on. That's just a little veteran trip. I'm sure everyone has their own way of doing that. But for me, it's not just like, it's our way or the highway. It's really trying to figure out, what their pain points are. Growth is going to be what I'm going to naturally go to. If it's not growth, I want to know what else is an issue. Then whenever we're into the account, we've gotten access; I'm going to try to plug all my tools in. I'm trying to plug in my advertising tools.

Andrew:

I'm trying to plug in my reporting tools. I'm trying to plug in my analysis tools, so they can start gathering data. As I get plugged in, I can start using that data to make decisions. But as early on as possible, I want to start getting data from the brand, whether that's advertising keywords, whether that's sales reports, sales numbers, conversion rates, things like that. I'm in, and the things that we're focusing on are first in my opinion the product detail page. Unless they say, "Hey, we're losing money left and right on advertising, jump in and stop the bleeding."

Andrew:

At first, it's going to be, "Let's get the product pages looking great." If someone has a thousand skew catalogs, we're not taking all thousand. I think that's one of the big issues with the big brands is that they want to focus on the big picture and make changes that affect everything, but that's not how Amazon works. Amazon works in a one-to-one way.

Brett:

It is.

Andrew:

It's identifying in those early conversations as well, what are your top sellers? What are products that we should focus on first? What would you like us to really optimize? Traditionally it's like, take five or 10, start focusing on those, everything from imagery that captures the attention; give a shout out to a partner, pickfu.com. It's a way you can have Amazon customers evaluate the seven images on your Amazon, or maybe you have 10 or 15 you're thinking about and really get customer feedback on what they liked about those photos, what they don't. We take it to that level. My visual director in that team is digging in and really evaluating their photography. Is it good for Amazon?

Brett:

Actually quick shout out the guys from PickFu who are on the podcast long ago. Great guys based in San Francisco where they were at the time ..

Andrew:

Okay. I've only worked with the ladies on the team, but they do awesome work and it's just like, you want to take your stuff to the next level? You want to really dominate, take that extra time and use a service like PickFu and have some customers give you some real feedback. As we start dealing with bigger brands and manufacturers, I have less issues with that artist really holding onto their photos, because they're the ones that did them. But it's super important, and I'm starting with photos, even though we're both ad guys. I know OMG is strong on the ad side, but the photos play a part into the ads.

Brett:

A huge part.

Andrew:

The first image that you see, I only avoided it because I didn't really have anyone on my team that could do it in-house and so it was, I needed to rely on the brand to go out there and get good photos and really dictate what needed to be happening on Amazon. I would show them examples, but it just wasn't executing very well. Now that we have it in-house, it's not even about it being a profit center and me talking about it in that way. It's like literally maybe the most important thing on Amazon next to the copy and stuff.

Andrew:

A lot of times we're tying in the value proposition of the products, the bullet points, for example, maybe the headers of those bullet points and what's really important, pulling those into the photos. A lot of people are trying to copy what people did in the early days on Amazon, which is just jam pack all this information, almost like infographics into these photos. I don't really think that's the way anymore. The marketplace changes and so on those photos, we're really trying to just hit big text, the main key points, storytelling stuff.

Andrew:

If your product is simple, talk about your story, talk about why you built the brand, up sell your other products if you can in some of those photos. There's a million things you can do with them. If you just have a lifestyle photo with no call to action or no value proposition there, it's a wasted photo. It's not helping anyone buy, I can guarantee you that. Starting with photo and then we go to copy and ...

Brett:

Just a couple questions on photo. Do you typically recommend adding video as well? Does that make a difference or is that just a case by case basis? I know if you had a thousand skews getting video on a thousand skews is going to be really tricky.

Andrew:

Well, no, I love video and thanks for bringing that up. I just think that most brands are not prepared for video in general. I come back to video almost like when we've done a phase one. Now, if they've got video, there's usually a simple ask that goes right up front that's just like, "Do you guys have video? If not, we'll re-circle." But I highly recommend video. Amazon is promoting video. If you align yourself as an agency or a consultant or a brand to just buy into what Amazon is trying to do, and when they push a new initiative jump in head first and try to figure it out, whether it's video, whether it's Amazon post, whether it's Amazon live, whether it's whatever the case might be.

Andrew:

Typically, I've always found wins in that. Video, you could probably go to my YouTube and find a couple year old video where I was just talking about how video is going to be huge on Amazon before it came out. The brands that had videos ready to go for video ads, we crushed it before anyone else got up to speed.

Brett:

Yeah sponsored brand video is just, it's still killer. It's not as amazing ...

Andrew:

Click through rate is amazing.

Brett:

Yeah. It's not as amazing as it was when it first launched, but still fantastic. Often the best performing ads.

Andrew:

I think Amazon dialed it back more so than just competitors getting into this space. I think it was a little bit of both, like Amazon just giving amazing results early on. They played us a little bit. But the click through rate is still fantastic. If you are paying attention to those types of metrics on your listing, how high is your conversion rate? Those things matter to Amazon. The videos are the best because the click through rate is fantastic. But yeah, it's video. If you have a thousand skews, think outside the box. You don't have to have an individual product video for every single skew. You could have a brand video.

Brett:

A brand video. Yeah. You load up on your best product photography and you got lifestyle, and you got showing what's inside the box and just a variety of pictures and then yeah, have a brand video on there for those that want to see it and really want to dig in deeper. That's ..

Andrew:

Yeah. Could you sell your product with just the photos and video? If yes, you're doing a good job. If no, get back to the drawing board is how I feel. The copy and everything else we do compliments those things. But that's where customers are living today is, photos and video and things like that. A lot of what the big brands are doing that's working is simply a strategy that has intentionality. They have intent on the keywords and the story they're trying to tell and the advertising that's backing it up and it's all working together and there's intent.

Andrew:

I think even the brands doing lots of sales, it's honestly very rare nowadays that I have a full scope of team, when it was just me doing ads or simple things like that. There was some brands that were just already doing enough that they didn't need me. Now, a few years later with our team being able to do storefronts and eight plus pages and advertising and SEO and international brand production and all those things, it's very rare that I meet a brand or a manufacturer that's even crushing it, that doesn't need some level of Marknology to help them out or another agency or an expert.

Andrew:

It's just, whether it's too many, you need more hands or you simply just need more hands in there, more time, more people that know what they're doing to handle your store, or your advertising is doing well, but is your advertising and the SEO or the keywords in your listing, are they mirrored? Do you have a strategy around that? In summary, it's like focus, focus, focus on those product pages. Before I spend anything of the brands dollars on advertising, I want to make sure our pages are looking great.

Andrew:

Let's say they have a thousand skews, as they release five, I'll say, "Okay, let's start advertising on those five." Because I don't want to lose their trust in spending endlessly. I want to get more ad budget. If they give me $2,000 to start with, and those $2,000 perform, I'm going to get $4,000, I'm going to get $6,000. If I start with two and I'm like, "Oh, we learned some stuff. We need to really backpedal to get these listings up to speed and then try again." I feel like as a consultant, as an agency owner, I'm doing them a disservice because I'm starting on a bad foot.

Andrew:

We really start with the product pages. I think if Amazon was on this call or on this podcast, Zoom, they would say the same thing. Whenever they give you advice, they're saying, "Assuming that all of these product detail pages are really dialed."

Brett:

Right, that's the foundation, if that's not solid, you're going to be wasting money overpaying, underperforming with your ad strategy no doubt. Then a couple of quick copy tips and ideas. I know you talked about people just loading up as many images as they could in the past. I know in the past also people would just load up the headline and the headline was a paragraph basically, and then you had all kinds of crap in the bullets and stuff. What, does good copy look like now on Amazon in your opinion?

Andrew:

Okay. It's just fine. It's like a dance. It's a little bit of art, a little bit of science. On our end, we are legitimately researching competitors listings. We run reverse look-ups on them, which tells us what keywords they rank for. We are combing their reviews for customer feedback to see how we can be better. We're using tools like Helium10, Jungle Scout, MerchantWords, all of them to get a keyword base for the listings, like what keywords matter. I'm not going to give my exact science because, there's a little bit of art to that, but it's essentially finding keywords that have good search volume, not necessarily the highest just because search volume and making sure they're extremely accurate to the product.

Andrew:

Meaning like, sometimes you'll type in, let's say red photo frame and you'll see that a bunch of other listings come up, brown photo frame, black photo frames, blue photo frames. In my opinion that could be dialed in better, whether their ads are sloppy and they're broad or the SEO in the listing is just not as specific to say that it's a red photo frame and so you're hurting yourself. Sure you're getting more sessions, you're getting more traffic, but you're actually getting people that bounce off as well. It's like trying to get copy that's extremely relevant. I'll give like an example here.

Andrew:

I think it's worth learning. I'm launching two products for a brand and they're both baby products. They're both photo frames and one of them is a 12 months, like pictures of the baby for the first year of their life, and the other one is a kit baby hand print and footprint that goes in the photo frame. The hand print and footprint photo frame, I can advertise on anything almost and it's getting sales. What I mean by that is, baby photo frame, infant photo frame, hand and foot baby kit and infant gifts, newborn baby gifts, you name it, right?

Brett:

It's a pretty broad appeal-

Andrew:

Pretty broad appeal.

Brett:

... and it kind of crossed different categories and things like that.

Andrew:

The other one, complete opposite. Now I'm not discouraged by that, because sure the other one can get more sales volume, et cetera and all those kinds of things, it almost makes it harder though to dial in. The other one which is a first-year baby, if I just did baby photo frame, it's not what people are looking for. It needs something like first year, or it needs like 12 month or it needs like first year of life or it needs like something very specific to what we're selling. If I just was going after photo frame or baby photo frame or infant photo frame in my copy of that first year, 12 month photo frame, for example, I would not be hitting the mark with accurate SEO.

Andrew:

On the advertising side, it's the one that's telling me what's working and what's not. The advertising is going to then dictate what I do in the copy to come back and revise it and get it more accurate and more dialed in. Does that make sense?

Brett:

Totally makes sense. Absolutely. That goes back to something you said before, where you're having this conversation and really understand the brand and the goals of the brand and the company, and you're being very intentional. Then also part of that is understanding the nature of a product, because there are some of those products that really have pretty broad appeal and they're cross categories, and then there are other products that's just, it's very specific. This is very niche product and so we branch outside of these specific keywords in the specific frame. It doesn't do well.

Andrew:

Yeah, I think a major hiccup to brands that, and this space has grown. Some of the understanding on the other side of who I'm working with has grown as well, and there's more understanding just in general. But it was very often that I would have a brand or a client that would launch products and be successful early on, one because I know what I'm doing and we're taking guesses, right?

Brett:

Yeah, sure.

Andrew:

But also some of those guesses would hit too early and I almost wish we had struck out three or four times and then hit gold on product number five or something, because whenever they get it so easy the first time they're expecting that to happen each time. In this example, you can see that I'm not discouraged by either product; it just requires a different level of analysis and a different level of work and a longer ramp up time to get that product super dialed in and going. Some people would just launch a bunch of products and be, give up on half of their products because they're not taking off, because they had this pre-assumption of what it should do.

Andrew:

Those are the products like ... That's why if I can just rant a little bit, the wholesale game, the reseller game, which a lot of the people have put out a lot of Amazon content on YouTube, on Instagram or whatever. They're just finding hot products. They're finding those five hot that were moving and trying to replicate those versus being the team that's going to make the bottom five kick-ass. When you can dial both of them and you feel like, "Well, I got the keys to the kingdom so to speak." It really comes down to SEO and advertising.

Andrew:

All those things we're talking about, the intentionality behind it is just if you have intentionality, that's usually what's missing. Not every brand is missing that, but a lot of them are missing ... We know what we're doing, but how do we pull it all in together where it's all helping each channel or each part of Amazon is helping the next one.

Brett:

Yep. Totally makes sense. Love it. What about any other content on the product detail page? Are you doing an additional brand content? Is there other things you're thinking about beyond copy and what ...

Andrew:

I mentioned it briefly, but just went over it probably just speak in my terminology, a little tech speak too much, but A Plus Pages and storefronts. Marknology is basically, I'm not sure that there's anyone we're working with that doesn't have a trademark, which gives you access to brand registry. Once we started understanding how all of this works, not having that felt like our hands were tied behind our backs.

Brett:

Sure.

Andrew:

We can engage with a brand that doesn't have it and educate them on how to get there, but it has to be in the plan to get there. The storefronts and A Plus Pages for anyone that doesn't know that's listening, are essentially like if you're on an Amazon listing and you see the brand name at the top, maybe it says, "Sold by Marknology" or, "This is the Marknology product," you click on that and it would bring you through to the store that almost looks like a website. Then the A Plus Page is where the description would be.

Andrew:

But if you've ever bought anything on Amazon, which I'm sure everyone listening has, and you're scrolling through the listing and you get to the reviews, there's a description of the product. Sometimes it looks like a magazine article almost like kind of a branded thing. What we're really trying to do is, we're mixing what they're doing on their website to the storefront and trying to have cohesion here and really have the same brand voice and brand messaging in both places. Then with the A Plus Page, more like dial into the product itself if possible, story tell, what are added values, anything that the first seven photos didn't cover, we want to cover here.

Andrew:

Then you can cross sell right there. A Plus Pages give you a chance to compare your other products against each other. Kind of like, say like this receiver has this and this receiver has these features and this receiver has these features. You're just showing all of your products right there. It's one of the only spots in Amazon where you can, without a variation jump to more products in the same person's store without leaving and going back to Amazon.

Andrew:

For brands that's absolutely huge, when it comes to introducing maybe a new product or a product that's not selling as well. You can take your big product, show off your younger product or your underperforming product and really, really boost it.

Brett:

Yeah, that's awesome. We've had a lot of luck with A Plus Flash, EBC, enhanced brand content and there's a lot of improvements to be made there. That's often an overlooked thing, more overlooked than even photos and copy, probably less important too ..

Andrew:

It's more challenging.

Brett:

It's more challenging, yeah.

Andrew:

You don't just need a photographer. You need a graphic designer that understands the layout. A lot of brands are just smashing way too many keywords in there. Our eyes, if you're looking on a mobile phone or like, we just don't even read it. If you get to a point where you're trying to keyword stuff, but no one can read your listing to understand the story you're trying to tell, you're wasting your time. I know a big challenge for Marknology was, we probably really faced this about three years ago when we really started taking on this hurdle, but it was like, what do you do with brands that have 200 new skews a spring or a fall that all need A Plus Pages, they all need updated on the storefront. It's a lot bigger undertaking. It'd be like creating 200 individual landing pages on a website.

Andrew:

That was a big challenge for us. We needed a bigger team to be able to handle brands of that size, and really forced us to optimize our processes.

Brett:

Cool. Love it. All right. We talked about maybe not all things PDP, but we went deep, we talked about a lot of good stuff. Then where do you go from there? Is it ads or what's the next step for?

Andrew:

We talked about ads and how it's helping me to dial in those two new products. Advertising is absolutely huge on Amazon. If you're not advertising, you're dropping the ball. There's no way that you're getting any feedback on the keywords you're using. You're not able to dial in your conversion rates by getting the right traffic there. It's a pay to play platform, and sure in the early days, maybe not, but it is now. It's a very, very big part of the Amazon flywheel.

Andrew:

But let's leave advertising there because I think there's a lot of people that talk about advertising in regards to Amazon, because if you were in the PPC world, if you're in advertising before Amazon came around, you have a lot of expertise and so you'd jump into Amazon through the ad platform. I think it's the third largest now, third largest advertiser.

Brett:

It is. It's growing like crazy. It's over 20 billion in ad revenue in 2020, which is the size of Facebook maybe four years ago.

Andrew:

They acquired Twitch.

Brett:

That's the size of all of Facebook, but this is just Amazon's ad revenue, which is crazy. It's still growing like a weed.

Andrew:

Something under the radar is the Twitch stuff, and I'm not completely into that. If you get in there, you let me know, but Amazon acquired Twitch and Twitch has, there's more gamers than ... They have more viewers than all pro sports combined across the world.

Brett:

Crazy.

Andrew:

That is an insane stat. You can Google it, you can look me up, you can validate what I'm saying, but gamers now have more views and more eyeballs than every other pro sport or entertainment thing that we're watching combined, and that's crazy to me. That will at one point be included in Amazon advertising stats. I wouldn't suspect that they wouldn't pass maybe even YouTube or Facebook depending on what happens. Because another thing is, all this international expansion which is really where Amazon's focus is now and becoming global. I'd like to talk about that a little bit, If you don't mind, what kind of some of those other things are doing.

Brett:

Yeah, let's do it. And just one thing I'll chime in. I don't know about catching Google and Facebook. We'll see. I would not like tell Jeff Bezos, you can't do something because ..

Andrew:

Well he's gone now. He's gone, right?

Brett:

Yeah. The rumors I hear are that he just did that because he didn't want to sit in front of the Senate. He's still involved. He's the chairman of the board or whatever, but yeah he's not the CEO. But I think with some of the privacy ... I don't want to get off on a tangent too much, but just a really quick note, with all of the privacy updates right. I was 14, Google was saying now they're going to do away with third-party cookies on browsers in 2022. There's just lots of things changing there. Really the winner when those things happen is people that own first party data or people that have data and who has more shopper data than Amazon? Nobody.

Brett:

Amazon's ad platform, I see it being more and more relevant and more powerful as we move into this privacy first web. We'll see how it plays out, but yeah, the Amazon ad business is going to continue to be huge, and you're right, if you're not utilizing it, you're missing out because it's a requirement.

Andrew:

Yeah. Bezos, I've researched the guy. I've built a business around what he built. I've spent my time trying to get into his mindset and what he was trying to do. I have never talked to him obviously, but reading books, reading ...

Brett:

But he's a listener, so if you have a message, I'm sure he listens to this podcast, so you just quick shout out to Jeff if you want.

Andrew:

Cool. Thanks, Jeff. No, but he started with the books to really get customer data and build customer profiles. From the books, everything else has come out of it. from the very, very, very beginning customer data and customer profiles has been his MO, and so it's not hard to understand that is the core behind everything that we're doing. The difference is just that he hasn't given everybody else access to that personalization.

Brett:

Right. That was really smart on his part for sure. Okay, cool. Let's dive into international expansion, talk about that.

Andrew:

Yeah. I'm finding just a lot of wins. I'm finding a lot of wins for my brands that are expanding, and Amazon's making it easier and easier and giving tons of incentives. I have one of my brands that we've grown 4X, 4X, 4X, 4X, and we're in the millions, so it's not like $4,000. We're still growing like that in the US and we're looking to expand to Canada and the EU and UK, and Amazon's incentivizing us to do so, so giving us a rep, giving us, paying for VAT, paying for the paperwork to get registered there. If you pay attention, like I said earlier, if you pay attention to what Amazon's trying to do, where they're putting their money, where they're putting their incentives, where they're bribing buyers and manufacturers to make moves, you can understand what direction they're heading pretty easily.

Andrew:

Put your ear to the ground the old West ways and just hear the horses coming kind of thing, and I'm like, it's not really that hard to predict where Amazon wants to find wins. I think that's where the opportunities lie. That's a little nugget for anyone listening, but I think ...

Brett:

I think it totally makes sense because if you think about it, how much more growth does Amazon have in the US? There's still growth, no doubt as there's more and more purchases move online, but if they want to keep the same rate of growth, that's going to become impossible when you're just so huge in the US, so international expansion it is definitely the next ..

Andrew:

Massive right? It's understanding localization when it comes to translation. A lot of people are getting that early push and using Google Translate. The next level is get localization, translation. That's been a huge win for us. That's what some of the big brands are doing. It takes a lot of time to translate A Plus Pages and get them all done. But if you imagine being an expert on Amazon, like let's say, you're Andrew Morgans and you are launching a brand and you're doing it right when Amazon started instead of nine, 10 years later trying to get in the game or whatever as an expert.

Andrew:

That's how I feel about international expansion. You're getting into these marketplaces before they blow up, and so there is some risk, there is some early mover risks there. But Amazon Australia, for example, great seasonality for a brand that has a winter selling season or a barbecue selling season, for example, summertime. Use Amazon Australia, offset your seasonality. Be smart about where you're going obviously. If you're selling foods like Amazon Singapore or Amazon Brazil or Amazon India, what do those populations eat? What are they missing? What are those ex-pat communities and those communities eating? You could literally grow off an ex-pat community. Do they have those products in those countries? Or can you be the first to bring them there? One of the biggest wins that I've found and we've been talking advertising is on the advertising side in those countries. A cheap-

Brett:

It's the ground floor there too. It's probably dirt cheap, lots of inventory available, so you're getting a ..

Andrew:

When I launched in Australia for the first time, I honestly didn't think it was working because it was just charging me like $5, and I had everything dialed all the way up. I was just like, "Is there not enough searches? Are the ads not working, whatever?" It was just that the cost per click was literally pennies. I was just like, "Am I not being charged? What's going on?" That's how crazy it was. But the way that the platform works is as your listing gets sales under a keyword, like let's say it's AirPods, right?

Andrew:

Every single time you get a click and a sale for AirPods case, your listing gets stronger and stronger and stronger. You should think about it like that. Then it becomes proactively, how can I get more of those so that I'm ranking even higher, higher, higher? Well, imagine going to another marketplace, you're the first one there, instead of even having to pay for ads, and maybe you are paying for ads every time someone types in AirPods case, you're the only one showing up. You are dominating. I know I'm pushing it kind of hard, but I really just think it's a huge opportunity when you have people slugging it out in some competitive categories here in the US, and I think there's 18 marketplaces now across the world that Amazon is.

Andrew:

As they add these programs like global export or global listings, or the programs where you can be in Canada and Mexico at the same time and in the EU, you're in all those marketplaces, eventually EU, US Canada, Asia, for example, will all be unified I think under an Amazon, kind of Amazon umbrella if you're selling in all of those places and you'll be able to combine inventory and things like that. For our brands, I'm always trying to be just a step ahead and try to help them prepare for what that would look like.

Andrew:

Don't set yourself up in ways now that you won't be able to scale later if that happens. Things like having the same skew, naming conventions and simple things like that that just matter.

Brett:

Cool. Any research tools or strategies you'd recommend for international. Someone's listening and thinking, "Okay, I got to think more internationally, got to get serious about it." Where should they research, explore? What should some of their first steps be?

Andrew:

I think they should try to ... Even I, like I used another agency to help launch one of my brands in Japan. I didn't do it myself, and then I took over. Once it's up and running, I can run it and with my tools and different things like that, but I found a partner to help me do it. They understood ...

Brett:

A partner in that country? That actually goes back, there's a great book that I read recently called Who Not How, and usually the best answer is a who not a how, and sometimes we're asking the wrong question. It's not how do you do this, but who could be helping me to figure out the how.

Andrew:

Can help me do this. Exactly. In some countries you need to have a business license there and some countries you don't. In some countries you need to have VAT, or tax collection in other countries you don't, and Amazon's doing that automatically. There's a little bit of nuances around that. I'm actually working with Amazon right now on a guide, partnering with Amazon on a guide on international expansion.

Brett:

That's like awesome. Looking forward to seeing that.

Andrew:

Like what need to know. How can they compare you? Things like that.

Brett:

I want to get a digitally signed copy, Andrew with your ..

Andrew:

I don't know if they'll even say Marknology helped at all, but we're an Amazon advertising partner like a lot of agencies that are in this space, but this is one of the projects we're giving feedback on and having some fun with. But you talked about the tools and I love the tools, but I use the tools for analyzing data and what to do with it and helping me run ads better. I rarely use the tools for proof of market, if that makes sense. I'm just not the type. I don't need all these answers to make a decision. I lead that way and I try not to.

Andrew:

But if you're doing it yourself and that's not your way, and I say that because if you've been doing this nine years and some people have even been doing it longer, there weren't a lot of brands in specific categories or niches at that time. If you're doing research, you're going to come up with, no one's here selling this. There's no one here selling men's high-end suspenders at $99 a pair. They're selling them at 9.99. I think Amazon is just a cheap marketplace. You've got wrong data. You miss an opportunity.

Andrew:

That happened to me lots of different times. I've been the first to launch products before they were competitors to study or categories to study the movement, and we were very successful. I take, it is important to see what is that market, what's that category doing in those marketplaces? Or like, is there a potential for us to be there, but there's also, if you can shoulder it, if you can bear that burden or take that leap of faith so to speak, there's a huge upside to be there first, even if you'd have to wait on that marketplace to grow in nature.

Andrew:

I promise you if Amazon has launched there, they're not going away. If that marketplace gets below or slower than some of the others, they're going to push the crap out of it. Let them be pushing your brand while you're there early chilling.

Brett:

Yeah. I love that. I love that. That's fantastic. This has been so good, man. Great energy, great insights, just really fun. As people are listening, obviously I think we've got a pretty good picture of what Marknology does, but we'll talk about that really quickly. Where can people learn more? What are the first steps? Then curious if you have any resources you'd recommend too.

Andrew:

Totally. We are on the web Marknology is a made up word, M-A-R-K-N-O-L-O-G-Y, just e-commerce being in the middle of marketing and technology. I just didn't really want to pay for an expensive domain. I was poor back then, but if you search Marknology, a lot of resources come up because we're the only one. But everything from YouTube, you can find us on YouTube at Marknology. You can find us, I have my own podcast Startup Hustle. I'm on Tuesdays. I cover all things e-commerce and Amazon, would love to have you tune in there.

Andrew:

Bring a lot of guests on just like yourself here. We just talk, we were talking YouTube on that episode a lot, so covering all things, e-commerce really. I'm on Instagram at Andrew Morgans. I love connecting on Instagram, is one of my organic platforms that I started on a few years ago, so I'm very comfortable there. But on YouTube on Markknology.com, you can find more information on us. We got customer testimonials. We've got some of our case studies that we've done there.

Andrew:

We've got who are we and meet the team. I really built a site for people to just get to know us. That's what my site does. We essentially are a full service Amazon agency, so everything from logistics to international expansion strategy, proactive strategies, product optimization, helping people get unsuspended when their accounts are suspended, brand protection. We run the gambit. If you're needing help on Amazon, we're not for people that don't have a brand story, you don't have a brand put together anymore.

Andrew:

We're really looking for brands that have a story they want to tell, and we want to help them tell that story. There's just not enough money in the world to have me just keep giving my energy to brands that don't exist yet. I'm having to draw a line there, but I still love doing that, doing some of that on my own, but if you're a brand that has a product that's ready to be on Amazon or be in the e-commerce space, even if you're not and you just want to chat, happy to get on a call with people interested in the Amazon space and just talk about what that roadmap looks like for your brand.

Andrew:

We work a lot with manufacturers that have never been in e-commerce before and helping them get into the Amazon space, the e-commerce space. We also help brands that have been digital first from the beginning, so kind of run the gambit.

Brett:

Love it, man. Really good stuff. I will link to everything in the show notes, marknology.com, also YouTube channel and Instagram. Yes, check out Startup Hustle. Look for the episode with me. It was a ton of fun. You're a great podcast host obviously, and that I think partially why you're a great podcast guest as well, because you've been on the other side, which is super fun and so I'll link to everything. Check out Andrew Morgans with that, man. Thanks again, dude. This has been a ton of fun.

Andrew:

Thanks, Brett. I'll see you next time.

Brett:

Awesome. Sounds good. As always, thank you for tuning in. We'd love to hear from you. We'd love to hear feedback, what you'd like hear more of, what are some topic ideas, what's going on in your world? We'd love to connect with you either on our Facebook page or through the website at omgcommerce.com. As always until next time, thank you for listening. Oh man, that's a warp. Thanks for doing that dude.

Andrew:

Thank you.


Episode 160
:
Austin Brawner - Ecommerce Influence

The Future Of Ecommerce: Consumer Privacy, Successful Business Models, & High-Converting Content

Austin is one of the sharpest minds in Ecommerce. He’s either friends with or has consulted with some of the biggest names in DTC Ecomm.

This is a special episode. My very first podcast appearance as a guest was on Austin Brawner’s Ecommerce Influence podcast back in 2015. Austin is one of the sharpest minds in Ecommerce. He’s either friends with or has consulted with some of the biggest names in DTC Ecomm like MVMT Watches, Pura Vida Bracelets, Snack Nation, and many more. On this episode, Austin and I interview each other! We dive into some pretty wide-ranging, but highly relevant topics. Including:

  • Why Austin is so excited about subscription businesses and who’s running them well
  • How different business models could be your next growth evolution
  • How privacy could create a renaissance of sorts when it comes to the value of good ad creatives
  • How pricey changes will impact audience building and audience targeting
  • Formulas for creating high-converting content
  • Shifting your role in business to greater growth

Plus more!

Brett Curry

Via LinkedIn

Austin Brawner

Via LinkedIn

The eCommerce Influence Podcast

Mentioned in this episode:

Ezra Firestone

Traffic & Conversion Summit

MVMT Watches

Pura Vida Bracelets

Chris Lynch

Everyday California

FLoC

Custom Intent Audience

Avinash Kaushik

“Made to Stick” by Chip Heath

OMG’s YouTube Ad Examples and Templates

Val Geisler

Klaviyo

Jay Abraham

Three Ways to Grow a Business

BOOM! by Cindy Joseph

Verb Energy

John Warrillow

“Built to Sell” by John Warrillow

“The Automatic Customer” by John Warrillow

“The Art of Selling Your Business” by John Warrillow

Hammacher Schlemmer

Onyx Coffee

Josh Snow

Sarah Still

Episode Transcript

Brett:

Well hello, and welcome to another edition of the E-commerce Evolution Podcast. I'm your host, Brett Curry, CEO of OMG Commerce. Today's episode is different, you get not one E-commerce podcast host, but two. I have my good friend, Austin Brawner on the show today and this is a joint podcast, a fusion of the E-commerce Evolution Podcast and Austin's podcast, E-commerce Influence. It was one of the first podcasts I was ever a guest on, believe it or not. So we decided to do this podcast together. I interview him, he interviews me, and I think you'll find it to be a lot of fun.

Brett:

Now, a quick background on Austin. I first met Austin at an E-commerce event we both spoke at. I think it was about 2013, I think it was Ezra Firestone's, one of his first events, and that's were we met each other. Then Austin and I had this dinner after Traffic and Conversion Summit one year. It was a dinner that Austin put together and it was the who's who of cool E-commerce brands. Guys from Movement Watches were there, guys from Pura Vida Bracelets were there, my buddy Chris Lynch from Every Day California was there, a couple of big agency people. It was really, it was a ton of fun, Austin put it all together. It just shows you how connected he is in the E-commerce space.

Brett:

So I do want to mention, you've got to listen to E-commerce Influence. He interviews founders like the ones I just mentioned, and he's a brilliant podcast host as you'll soon hear as we dive into this episode. So we really cover a wide range of topics. We talk about privacy and iOS 14 and what that means for digital ads. We talk about creatives and what my approach is to crafting great video ads. We talk about things like subscriptions and E-commerce business models that we're excited about, and where do we see things headed in the E-commerce world. So I hope you enjoy this as much as I enjoyed recording it. So with that, let's dive right in, listen to this joint podcast with Austin Bronner from E-commerce Influence.

Austin:

Brett, excited to chat with you, man. It's been quite some time. We were just reminiscing, I think the last time we saw each other in person was probably at Traffic into Conversion Summit years ago with dinner with Steve and Drew? Was that the last time?

Brett:

I think so, yeah. So in person's been years, it's been too long virtually as well for podcasts and stuff. I know we send people to each other, we're like, "Hey, you need to talk to Austin for this," or you send people to me, but it's been entirely too long. So I'm really glad we're doing this right now, yeah.

Austin:

Yeah, man. It's definitely exciting, and yeah, lots has changed. This episode today, we wanted to hop on and connect and do a joint episode where we talk a little bit about some of the exciting things that are happening in E-commerce related to privacy. I say exciting because they're exciting for some people and not for others.

Brett:

Terrifying and nerve racking and anxiety inducing but also interesting. I think it'll be one of those moments, some watershed moment, whatever you want to call it, where it likely will create some true winners and losers and it's going to be interesting for sure.

Austin:

So yeah, so we're going to cover, we'll talk about that and we'll talk about also what we're excited about, things that we're seeing happening and I don't know, general trends and what's going on. It's a good time to catch up and dive into that.

Austin:

So I want to start by turning it over to you because you are in the ad buying world a little bit more than I am, on the front lines of the ad buying world. What is going on with some of the privacy changes? What are things that people need to know about? I have a little hesitation because there's a lot of talk about this, but we can get really nerdy, but overall, what is going on? What do you see is... what should people care about right now as we see all these privacy changes?

Brett:

Yeah, it's such a good question. I think the strongest word to use right now is uncertainty. We don't know exactly what's going to happen or how this is going to play out. We hear all types of plans that different platforms have. You got Facebook throwing up their arms and saying, "Hey, this is going to be unfair," all the privacy changes from iOS 14 and things like that. Google's announcing different things they're going to be testing and experimenting to try to get around some of these privacy things. They announced no more cookies starting next year, so we're moving away from cookie based targeting all together. So it's really interesting times.

Brett:

Just to give a little context, I'm a Google and YouTube guy, so we do some Facebook but I don't really get into Facebook so I can't speak personally with too much expertise there. We do a lot on the Amazon side as well, but Google's experimenting with things like, I don't know, Austin, have you heard of FLoC? Have you heard of Google... this will be slightly nerdy but just a little bit. Not enough to put anyone to sleep, but slightly nerdy. So as Google's moving away from cookies and targeting individuals, they're talking about how to target groups of people where identities are private and cloaked and stuff.

Brett:

So FLoC, it's an acronym and I think it's an acronym that I think they thought of the acronym first and then tried to fill in the meaning, because-

Austin:

Sounds like they definitely did that.

Brett:

Yeah, because it's Federated Learning of Cohorts. I'm like, okay, that's interesting, but basically what they're doing is they're saying, "Hey, instead of targeting individuals and based on behavior, based on search behavior, based on websites they visit, things like that, we're just going to put people into these flocks or these groups based on behavior but it'll all be anonymized and stuff." Anyway, so Google is saying, "Hey, early tests show the performance of FLoC is 95% as good as what we're doing now," but then you hear from browsers like Firefox and Microsoft Edge and a few others that are saying, "Yeah, we're probably not going to implement that. We're not going to use the FLoC technology." So then that technology would just be available on Chrome, as an example.

Brett:

So I think the bottom line is there's just uncertainty. The way there's been this trend where marketers have been able to give more and more control to the algorithms and to machine learning and just let the machine, let Google, let Facebook decide what to do. We may see a decent pivot away from that, at least for a time and at least to a certain degree, or maybe old school marketing comes back into vogue, or maybe some of the old ways of targeting become more valuable. Where it's all about building an email list and where it's more about the creative than it is anything else. So yeah, I think uncertainty really captures it, and we may see a renaissance of sorts in some forms of advertising. We can unpack a lot more there, but that's just a general first thought.

Austin:

I'm excited to dive into all of those things. I want to go just to the privacy side where like you said at the beginning, they're making changes. Where are they making changes, at what level? At least, what are you familiar with? What are some of the big, I guess, top level changes that are being made?

Brett:

Yeah, so right now if you look at Google search and Google shopping, so query based marketing, search based marketing. I don't think that's going to change a whole lot. We're not seeing any changes right now. We're talking to our Google reps every couple of weeks about this and trying to stay up to date and stuff. Not seeing any changes there, not really seeing any changes on YouTube just yet, although you and I were talking the day of this recording, seeing some volatility, especially hearing some Facebook advertisers, some volatility right now.

Brett:

So some of the audiences we've relied on in the past, so I'll talk about a couple of my favorite audiences on the Google side. One is called Custom Intent or that was the original audience name, that's were you can build a group of people based on what they're searching for on Google. So that's a pretty cool signal to use, what you're searching for on Google is a pretty good signal of what you're interested in and whether you're in the market for something or looking for a solution or whatnot. So, those audiences-

Austin:

Like size 12 Nike Airs, it's like, you know that's something-

Brett:

Yeah, yeah, exactly. Right, so or we, like in another example, and I'll pick one here. We have a client that has a solution for kids who hate to brush their teeth, which as you know, Austin, I've got eight kids so I've got quite a bit of experience in this environment that sometimes you have to bribe, you have to threaten, you have to do hostage negotiations, whatever, to get kids to brush their teeth. So anyway, this client of ours, they have a product that's real easy to brush your teeth, kind of fun, it's like animals, and anyway. So we started doing some toothbrush targeting, people looking for toothbrushes. That didn't work. So then we started looking at, what about people who are just saying, "How do I get my kid to brush their teeth? What do I do when my kid refuses to brush their teeth?" So, that kind of Google keyword, and it's crushing it. So it's like, all right, you can get creative with what people are searching for.

Brett:

So, so far, those audiences still exist and they still work, but that's like, we don't know. Google's indicating, yeah, those audiences will still exist but they're going to be powered by FLoC or whatever. So-

Austin:

Which may not be adopted, which makes it the chance it could go away.

Brett:

Exactly, so that's the thing, it's really targeting is going to change, and attribution is going to change, where I know you and I could talk about attribution for a long time and it's a bit of a black box and a gray area and every marketer has a different opinion on how to properly work your attribution modeling, but that's likely going to get messier and harder. So I think audience targeting and attribution are the two biggest areas that are going to change.

Austin:

That's interesting. Yeah, I see a lot of where we're going. You talked about old school marketing and I think people have different ideas of what old school marketing is, depending on how old they are, but I think what we're going to see is... With all this stuff, frankly, I'm not that concerned. I think it's going to be more of a pain for... I think it's going to cause more disruption for advertising agencies and freelancers, than it is actually for business owners, because it'll change the way that things need to be done. With that shifting, it's going to involve... I don't know, I think the uncertainty is how we're going to get from point A to point B, not necessarily whether or not we're going to get to point B. Point B meaning, somebody making a purchase. People are still going to be buying things and advertising's still going to be effective. It's more like, how on earth are we going to... we've gotten used to doing things a certain way, now it's going to change.

Brett:

Yeah, and so as an agency and I'm very interested in your perspective. How do you think I'll impact agencies? I believe, I agree with you, by the way. I think you're right, but in what ways?

Austin:

I think the uncertainty is more of a challenge for the agency than it is for the business owner because... so the reason I think that is that the way systems, as you build an agency and you get larger and you've got all these systems to do things, you train people. There's just going to be more people involved with having to shift and adjust with that.

Brett:

Yeah, when your SOP's all changed, this is the way we've always done YouTube and now it's got to shift, if you're a nimble agency, great, if not very nimble, yeah, it's trouble.

Austin:

It'll be more internal. I think there's benefits and downsides as well, because you're also going to then get an opportunity to go through and revisit how you're doing things, which can be really helpful and can lead to making some improvements, but yeah. That's where I see some of the uncertainty, volatility happening and it can be challenging in that space.

Austin:

I think it's going to be interesting for business owners because they're going to have to figure it out and I think when you say old school, in my view, it's going to be back towards like, we're spoiled.

Brett:

Oh man,

Austin:

The fact that we can say, "Oh, I spent $1,000 and I made $2,211," even though that attribution is artificial.

Brett:

It's not perfect.

Austin:

It makes us feel good.

Brett:

It's definitely not perfect, yeah.

Austin:

Yes, it's not perfect but it makes us feel really good.

Brett:

Yeah, yeah.

Austin:

It makes us feel really good, oh, I'm putting this amount in and I'm getting this amount back out, where 50 years ago we weren't even thinking about that at all.

Brett:

Yeah, yeah, or just to go back a little bit. I'll date myself a little bit, I'm not that old of a guy, I do have a lot more gray in my beard that you do, Austin. Your beard has stayed the same, my beard has really gotten a lot grayer since the first time we did a podcast. Maybe it's the kids, or I don't know, but.

Austin:

Or a growing agency. It's the-

Austin:

It's the privacy changes, the privacy changes.

Brett:

Yeah, people on a team, exactly, I love them but yes. So back in the early 2000s, I was doing radio and TV and some other stuff, so I was working all with local regional businesses and running TV and radio ads and stuff. We could tell, the business owners could tell when the phone rang more, they could tell when more people came in the store, but attribution was a mess. We'd have people, we'd be running radio and direct to mail and people would come in and say, "Oh yeah, I saw your TV ad." We're like, we're not running TV, I don't know how you say a TV ad. So that was really imperfect attribution.

Brett:

So now even the tools we have, we are spoiled because even if they're not exact, they're directionally correct. It's at least indicating there's some impact from these campaigns and from these messages, where before it was substantially harder.

Austin:

I think back to the old school style, you see... So, one of the things I really think is great and has been relatively new in the last couple years innovation is, just going to surveys, post purchase surveys at the end of a checkout. It's like, you can build your own attribution model based on what's happening from a survey. You can look at your different... Actually, we were having a call last night for Intentional Wealth, which is my mastermind group. One of the guys was talking about, he was like, "I spent 45 hours looking at attribution over the last two weeks." We were all laughing, I was like-

Brett:

.. that sounds really fun, yeah.

Austin:

Yeah, we were all... he was joking around, but he was like, and he was like, "What I realized, I'm just trying to find my own model." He was like, "The reason I spend so much time is I'm looking at all the models to create my own model, and one that I can go forward with. I recognize that everyone's putting their thumb on the scale a little bit. So we'll figure out what works for me."

Brett:

Yeah, and one interesting thing I'll say about attribution is we're a Google Premier Partner, so top couple percent of Google agencies, and have been invited to Google Marketing Live, it's an agency event that Google hosts every year. Used to do that live, in person. I remember, it was maybe five years ago, something like that, Google announced... I was at the New York Google offices and they announced Google Attribution, and they were like, "This is going to be it. It's going to tie in, it'll use machine learning, it'll look at Google Analytics, it'll look at your ad accounts, and it will use machine learning to look at conversion, paths."

Brett:

So hey, Austin bought from the website and he clicked on a Facebook ad first, and then a Google ad, and then organic search, and then this. We're going to combine those and look at those, use machine learning, and say, "Here's what you should attribute to each platform." So it was like, everybody was excited, I was geeking out, I was telling everybody about it, but nothing really happened. Then the next year, at the next Google Marketing Live, Google's like, "Yeah, attribution, okay it was a little harder but we're working on it, it's coming." Then nothing.

Brett:

Then the third year, I'm like, what happened to Google Attribution? Someone said, "Well, there's a dude at a small booth back here who's the Google Attribution guy." It's like, it faded, it went away. I think it sort of still exists, but so if you've got the smartest people at Google working on Google Attribution and they still don't have a real good solution... and I know there's other third party solutions and stuff that help you try to get closer, but I think that just underscores, it's not an easy problem to untangle. It's not a... even with machine learning and stuff, it's pretty challenging.

Brett:

So I think if you can... and one of my favorite quotes on the topic comes from Avinash Kaushik, he was the Google Analytics evangelist, has written books and fantastic guy to listen to, but he said your goal was to be less wrong. Just work on being less wrong because you're never going to be exactly right. I like that perspective.

Austin:

I like it, until we're all micro chipped and we're transacting but via our eyeballs, look at what we look at.

Brett:

Right, right.

Austin:

There'll be perfect attribution.

Brett:

... Google homes listening, everything in our eyes are being tracked. Until that comes, which probably isn't too far away. Yeah, exactly.

Austin:

Or just flash pockets who transact. That's-

Brett:

It's really encouraging future we're talking about here, I'm really excited about where this is going.

Austin:

Oh man, well so outside of the privacy stuff, what else are you excited about? What are you seeing that's been cool, that's making you say, "Oh wow, that's interesting"?

Brett:

Yeah, so I'll start with and this is top of mind because I get to... So I'm CEO of the company, so I'm building a team and running things and I'm also still managing, or not managing, I'm in some client accounts, and so looking at stuff like that too, but I mentioned this earlier. I believe the creative side is going to be more and more important. What you say is so valuable.

Brett:

I remember and again, we're tying this back to old school, tying it back to the old days but I just remember a good TV ad or a good radio ad versus a mediocre one and just the huge response difference. So I think there's going to be a lot more dependency or good creatives. So that's something we're doubling down on, we're finding good videographers, good script writers and pulling them together to work on creative projects. So I'm super excited about that. I still think there's going to be ways to test and improve on the creative side, even if some of our audience targeting and audience measuring things go away.

Brett:

So I like that, I used to like infomercials as a kid, which is really weird. I enjoyed watching the Ginsu Knife commercials and some other nerdy stuff like that. So I really get into the creative side of it, and I think that's going to be coming back. So that's the first thing that comes to mind and I've got more so I'll get into that, but. What about you? What are you excited about right now?

Austin:

I have some stuff but I want to ask you some more about creative-

Brett:

yeah, yeah, yeah, great.

Austin:

... because the thing that came up for me was the unique perspective you've got with a large agency of, how do you pump out creative? What are the systems? What are the things that you guys do that people can learn from? Because it's hard, it's not... I think a lot of times people talk about just, you have better creative. That's freaking hard.

Brett:

It is, it is really hard.

Austin:

It's really hard to do it over and over and over and again, new and... So yeah, what have you learned about pumping out good creative?

Brett:

Yeah, I think a couple of things. One of my favorite books that I'll recommend is called, Made to Stick. Have you ever read that? Chip and Dan Heath?

Austin:

I haven't read it.

Brett:

Got to check it out. So one of the things that they do a really good job of talking about and highlighting is that the creativity can be formulaic and good communication can be formulaic. So there's a study they reference in the book where they say... they took the most successful ad campaigns in recent decades and they realized, we can classify all of these campaigns into six or seven different categories. They all follow a similar pattern.

Brett:

Then they looked at a whole bunch of ad campaigns that just flopped and they said, "We can't really categorize any of these. They're all bad for unique reasons," but good ads can be formulaic, not that you want to be just a me too or you want to just duplicate what Squatty Potty is doing or something or what a big YouTube or Facebook advertiser is doing, but you can learn from formulas. So I think that is one of those things that can free you up a little bit.

Brett:

So I actually got, I put together a free resource where we pulled in our favorite YouTube ads and categorized them and broke them down on how they work. So it's a free guide, it's on our site at omgcommerce.com, so check that out.

Brett:

But one of the things that I would say is, really if you break it down and think about, I'm not reinventing my message. My core, if I have, what is my one thing, what is the thing I want to be known for? Then, what are the supporting elements that go with that? So Geico is, save 15% on car insurance, 15 minutes saves you 15% or more on car insurance, but they have lots of other little benefits too, like they're really high in customer satisfaction, and they have all these other things. So they've got the one thing, and then they've got their supporting cast. So that doesn't really change.

Brett:

So if you keep in mind, I don't have to reinvent that, those things stay constant. I just need to think of a fresh way to say it and really, we break it down on a few things like, let's test different hooks. So what are the... we know we want to lead with our strongest benefit, we know we want to lead with our one thing, but how do we lead with it? So let's throw out a bunch of hook ideas, let's test 10, 15, 20 different hooks. Okay, what is our offer? Well, let's test five, 10, 15, 20 different offers, and then in the middle as we're looking at the problem, solution, presentation, or the proof elements, some of those things, the myth busting. We test a few elements there too, so it's like, if you create formula, you break it down, then it can become fun. I know I say that because I'm a geek that likes ads, but I think it can be fun for other people too. Also, when you realize you don't need that many home runs, you really don't even need very many home runs at all. Doubles and singles are great too, and so I think those are important.

Brett:

Then the other piece is, I think relying on your customers. Let your customers feed you with new content. So getting testimonials, and you can do that remotely. Mining your product reviews and your customer support tickets and things like that. Mining that for content, for headlines, for hooks, for objection busting, things like that. Let your customers do some of the work too, I think that helps a ton.

Austin:

Yeah, it's one of those things that makes it easier and more effective. A win-win.

Brett:

Yeah, yeah, exactly, yeah. Maybe the most effective thing you could ever do is just repeat something a customer says to you. It's like, wow, that didn't take any creativity at all. That's another thing, and Chip and Dan Heath, the author of that book should pay me some of the royalties because I recommend it so much, but that's one thing they talk about too, is sometimes creativity is just spotting the idea.

Brett:

So one of the examples in the book was, remember the Jared, Subway? Jared, the guy that went on the Subway diet?

Austin:

Yep.

Brett:

Ended up he fell off the wagon and that kind of faded.

Austin:

Fell off the wagon quite hard.

Brett:

It was ugly, it's like, so forget about that part but for this, there was a number of years where that was a beautiful, beautiful campaign. It's like, hey, the person that did that just spotted the idea. They were like, oh, there's something here, I'm going to run with it and I'm going to make something huge out of it, and they did. Sometimes that's all we need to do. We don't need to maybe necessarily manufacture a creative idea, we just need to spot it, and then know how to exploit it.

Austin:

You need to spot it, use it, and then get rid of it before it ends up in prison.

Brett:

Yeah, before spokesperson goes to jail or whatever happened. I don't even remember what happened, but it was bad.

Austin:

I think he went to jail, I think he went to jail. That's really interesting, I'll have to check that out. Yeah, I was just interviewing Val Geiser, she is the customer evangelist at Klaviyo, but she's been a copywriter, freelancer, ran an email agency. She was talking about one of the things she loves doing is customer research. She throws out a... So when she starts, when she would start working with clients, she would email 800 clients a survey. On that survey, have a checkbox that also said, "Would you be interested in being interviewed if we select you?" So as soon as that 800 or 1,000 people gets back 100 or 200 results, filters through, finds the best ones, and then if the ones that are selected for an interview will actually dive in.

Austin:

It's to your point, it's just selecting the idea because it's coming to you. She said she's not... she's like... it was a great saying, I don't know who said it to her or if she came up with it. She's like, "I'm not a copywriter, I'm a copy paster."

Brett:

Copy... I love it.

Austin:

I'm a copy paster.

Brett:

It's so true though. Just one other quick example, worked with an automotive brand that just crushed it on YouTube and other platforms. We had an ad that just scaled like crazy for over a year. It was entirely a mashup of user generated content. So we added text, we strung it together, we had an awesome... I say we, I gave advice. They had their own editor, but it crushed it. It was entirely UGC with just a little bit of editing and some stuff to it. That's still the case, I don't see that going away anytime soon.

Austin:

Yeah, yeah, I mean it's we're in a unique time where it's easy to pull from our customers.

Brett:

Yeah, yeah, way easier now than ever before for sure.

Austin:

Don't need a focus group.

Brett:

No, no.

Austin:

I think what I'm interested in right now, couple things. One is just continuing to go down the path of subscription and adding subscription. I think the thing that's interesting to me more these days is less marketing tactics and more business model.

Brett:

I love this, I love this.

Austin:

Focusing more and more on like, okay, where is the underlying business model? What are some things we could change to make this more effective and make it... build it in a way that allows the company to grow faster without taking so many resources, and also allows you to out compete your customers just based on your business model?

Austin:

I think one of the things that's been most interesting to me over the last year or two that I'll share is, I had a guy on my podcast. We were talking, he sells commercial grade marijuana growing equipment.

Brett:

B to B or to people that are just -

Austin:

B to B, B to B. Mostly B to B, there's some B to C but it's primarily B to B type thing. These are very expensive and you can't advertise them.

Brett:

You can't advertise anything CBD, and certainly not anything marijuana, of course, yeah.

Austin:

Yeah, and so he was like, okay, well I got to get creative here on how I can get traffic. One of the things that he did, because he told me, he was like, "Yeah..." he's like, "I have negative customer acquisition cost." I was like, okay, how does that work, but what he did was he went out and he connected with all of these huge grow operations. So these are big, big grow farms in California and I don't know, wherever else they are. They said they would... he was like, "I pitched them to film a Cribs episode at their grow operation." They paid him to do it, he put it on YouTube and made his Cribs channels. It got millions and millions of views and then he linked to sell his products directly in the comments. So he has negative customer acquisition cost, which I think is pretty darn cool.

Brett:

Yeah, yeah. That's amazing. So a couple quick questions there. First of all, I love this. You and I, I think when we did our first podcast, we both talked about the fact that we were Jay Abraham's students from way back in the day. He's an old school marketer, but he talks about the three ways to grow a business. He talks about business model and stuff too. I think this is so interesting, so I've got a couple thoughts here and a couple questions for you.

Brett:

One, are you finding... So I love subscriptions as a consumer. I end up subscribing to probably too many things, but I like the convenience of it. Then my buddy, our mutual friend, Ezra Firestone, he runs Boom by Cindy Joseph, and we do all the Google and YouTube ads for Boom. People in his market actually hate subscriptions. They just took it off because he said people would call after they made a one-time purchase and just say, "Hey, I'm just making sure I'm not a subscription here." Are you seeing, is it millennials and Gen X-ers are really more into subscriptions? Are you seeing any trends like that, or is it more across the board?

Austin:

I think it has more to do with the product and the creativity related to the subscription-

Brett:

That makes a lot of sense.

Austin:

... than anything else. Also, I think the messaging around it as well is incredibly important. What one of the things I've worked with some clients around is, it had a lot of success is, revamping messaging around their subscription. Trying to figure out, I think a lot of people don't put enough effort into making their subscription work or worthwhile for a product that may actually have some success on subscription. I think one of the reasons I have maybe a unique perspective is I've worked with a lot of different clients. When you see a subscription working really, really well for a product that you wouldn't expect it to work well for. Then you realize why, it's because they put so much time and energy into it.

Austin:

Then you can take that and you can transfer that over to another business who may not have the same frame of reference, where they don't realize, oh, well the reason it works well over there is not just because people like subscriptions, because they're very deliberate about risk reversal. They're very deliberate about telling people, addressing any of the challenges in someone's head about why they... the biggest reason people don't want to subscribe to something is because they're afraid they're going to get caught on a subscription and won't be able to easily cancel. So you need to address that.

Austin:

I think it's interesting to me because it allows for you to compete on these paid social channels or on YouTube or in advertising, because you're going to have something that your competitor might not have, which is recurring revenue. The other side of it, it's a much more pleasant way to grow a business when you have, when you know generally a good percentage of the sales you're going to make the next month. I've been on both sides, I've been on both sides where my business now is primarily driven by recurring revenue. I sleep a lot better than I did when my business was primarily driven by events or one-time sales.

Brett:

Yeah, I love that predictability, it is amazing for sure. I'm just curious, can you give an example? So you talk about some businesses or products you might not think about being applicable for subscriptions? Can you think of some interesting ones that you can share?

Austin:

Yeah, so things that... one of them that's very interesting is Verb Energy bars. Have you seen those?

Brett:

No, no, sounds cool though.

Austin:

Okay, so they have a-

Brett:

Verb? Like with a V-E-R-B?

Austin:

Yeah, Verb. Verb, I believe it's called Verb, let me look it up. Yeah, Verb Energy Bars. So they have a trial to continuity model, which is very interesting. So it's a starter kit where you get an initial offer of four bars, it's basically free plus shipping type thing. Then it recurs into a subscription, and they manage the entire thing via text message.

Brett:

Nice.

Austin:

So you-

Brett:

So you can cancel via text anytime you want?

Austin:

You can cancel via text anytime you want, and they also... so the communication is very clear via text what you're signing up for, you actually, it's like the signup for text is a huge part of their checkout process. Where it's like, you need to select, enter your phone number, and it's very clear, we are going to be texting you about, this is the initial offer. Then we'll be texting you in this many days to let you know, and you can decide at that time whether or not you want to have subscription. So that's really interesting.

Brett:

Very easy to say yes to, and then if the product delivers, the product is good, then it's easy to keep saying yes.

Austin:

Exactly, they made all these things stacks so it's easy for you to say yes and that's the first step, is get the product into your hand, especially with something like an energy bar. First of all, it's weird, it's caffeine in a bar. It's not something that you can determine if you know that you want it before you try it. So, they're breaking down some of those things.

Austin:

Other interesting products, well, I think that there was a... I was just interviewing John Warrillow. You know John Warrillow who wrote the book, Built-

Brett:

I know John.

Austin:

Built to Sell. I've read Built to Sell or the Automatic Customer or the Art of Selling your Business. The Automatic Customer is interesting because he talks a lot about the different ways that you can build a subscription business in. One of them is replenish-able, which everyone thinks of, oh, subscribe to razors or something like that, or coffee. The other one is a curation, where you curate some sort of a box. Then there's - Like a Stitch Fix, type of thing? Blue Apron?

Austin:

Stitch Fix, exactly, yep. Then there's also interesting things you can do with a benefits. So this was an interesting one. I didn't even know I signed up for it, I don't know. I think this is a little bit slimy, but it worked extremely well. I bought my dad something, a sweater from Hammacher Schlemmer. You know Hammacher?

Brett:

No.

Austin:

It's been around for a long time.

Brett:

That sounds yeah, very distinguished.

Austin:

Hundred-year old brand or something like that.

Brett:

Did dad adequately appreciate this gift, or what was his reaction?

Austin:

Yes.

Brett:

Okay, okay, great, yeah.

Austin:

Yeah, I knew it's what he wanted. I knew it was this nice sweater. So I get it, and they gave me a refund on my shipping to sign up for their rewards program, which happened to be $11 a month. So re-billing, and so it was their version of their own personal version of Amazon Prime, kind of, but it was interesting, I was signed up for that for like two-

Brett:

$11 a month do? What do you get from that?

Austin:

It gave me discounts for the future. So I would get enrolled for automatic discounts. Again, it's one of those things that people buy a lot from them. I think they're one of those companies, it's a catalog business people could buy a ton from. So it can be worth your time, worth your energy, but they also know they're getting that $11. It's at a price point where you're not generally going to cancel. That was interesting to me.

Brett:

I love it, and think about the psychology of Amazon Prime or any subscription model where with Amazon Prime, that makes people absolutely think Amazon first for any purchase, right?

Austin:

Yes.

Brett:

So the sweater company's doing the same thing for apparel. It makes me think if I want a new sweater, cardigan, blazer, whatever they sell, I'm going to look there first. There's also this interesting thing too about, have you heard of a reticular activator? Have you heard that term before in marketing?

Austin:

I've heard it but I don't know what it means.

Brett:

Okay, so it's like, if you start shopping for... and I just bought a truck recently, so this is fresh on my mind but if you start shopping for a particular vehicle, you'll suddenly start noticing those vehicles everywhere. So you're looking for a 4Runner or something, you'll start seeing 4Runners all the time. It's like, where did these come from? Well, they've always been there but your brain is always scanning for things that are familiar or also your name. Your name is a reticular activator. So you may be in a room where there's lots and lots of noise and you hear Austin, and you're like, oh, I heard my name. It's a reticular activator.

Brett:

So there's something also then once you purchase something and you're no longer thinking about it, now you stop noticing it. So I just recently did a coffee subscription with this company called Onyx Coffee out of Northwest Arkansas. They're one of the best that I've ever had. So now I'm hooked on this coffee, it's fantastic. So I find I'm not thinking about or paying attention to coffee as much, whereas if I was paying attention or I was thinking about, man, I really would like good coffee. I would probably be even subconsciously be on the lookout for coffee. Now that need is taken care of so I don't think about it.

Brett:

So, it's interesting, just the power of subscription to even keep someone away from competitors because they'll probably stop seeing it, stop thinking about it, if they're on a subscription and if they're well taken care of.

Austin:

Yeah, it's super powerful, it also leads to larger valuations if you're looking to sell your business down the road.

Austin:

Speaking of coffee, Brett, 20 days no caffeine.

Brett:

No way?

Austin:

20 days. It's the longest-

Brett:

Now, if I'm not mistaken, have you tried this? You've gone down this path before?

Austin:

Many times, oh yes.

Brett:

Yeah, how do you feel, though?

Austin:

I feel great that first week or so. It's funny is, I don't even drink that much coffee. I just always have one cup of coffee. I'm addicted to one cup every single day. I was like, I don't want to be addicted to something. I don't want to, you know?

Brett:

Yeah, I love it, love it.

Austin:

So no coffee subscriptions for me right now.

Brett:

Okay, good, man.

Austin:

It's definitely been on my mind though. When you were talking about the reticular activation, I think I had some sort of activation for the first week of seeing coffee everywhere.

Brett:

You're seeing coffee everywhere, like, where is all this coffee coming from? Yeah, exactly.

Austin:

Smelling it in my sleep.

Brett:

Yep, yep, oh man, well good for you, dude. That's some serious will power and yeah, I think even if... and you know I'm a big coffee fan so I'll probably never go to it fully, but even if you do little cleanses, little purges to try to slow down that addiction would probably be good.

Austin:

For sure, yeah. No, the valuation thing is very interesting to me. I look at it and I'm like, okay, what can you do right now to start engineering a sale of your business in the future that's at a higher valuation? Those are the things that I'm interested in. It's like, can you, one, it's like, adding subscription's a great way to do that and being creative around that. The other side is, hiring and building an incredible management team that can run the business without you there so that you have a larger valuation. Also, in that time, a better existence when you run your business. Those are interesting.

Austin:

Then on the marketing side of things, yeah, just creating better offers. The reason I was asking you so many questions about creative is, creative is super interesting. It's freaking hard, it's so hard-

Brett:

It is hard.

Austin:

... to do well.

Brett:

It is so hard. Yeah, the offer that you make is super important. How are you enticing that first customer? I love the example you gave of both the energy bar company and the sweater company, super interesting. I think that's another thing too, where again we've gotten spoiled by hyper targeting and algorithms that help us optimize our ads, where maybe just a lame offer does good enough. So we're able to be lazy in our marketing but the machine, so to speak, helps us out. I think that's potentially shifting, so now we got to be really creative with our offers and with our messaging, but it's fun too.

Austin:

It is, it is. What are you thinking about as an agency owner right now? What's on your mind? What's the thing that keep you up at night that people may not think about?

Brett:

That's good. So, I mean it is the privacy topic, definitely is top of mind. I think one of the things that I'm thinking about a lot and this applies to all of E-commerce and certainly agencies, is just how fast things shift. So we have a good part of our agency is based on Amazon. So we run Amazon ads, we do some Amazon consulting and it's exploding, but it's so interesting how quick things shift in the Amazon world. How what people want there and or new software releases, how quickly that can change things.

Brett:

So my thing is just trying to think, trying to think about, what are the elements that are never going to change so we can really be good at those? Then, how can I listen better, pay attention to customers better so that then the things that do change, we can pivot pretty quickly? But one of the things just to give an example, and this may be a little bit boring, but on the Amazon side, it used to be in the past there'd be several people that would come to us and say, "Hey, we need someone to manage the entire Amazon channel for us. We don't want to touch it." There'd be a few of those but there were a lot of people that just said, "Hey, we just need help with ads." Now it seems like a lot of people say, "We don't want to touch Amazon. Could you please just manage all of it?" So that's really shifted recently.

Brett:

So anyway, I think that's it, is just the speed of change and trying to not let that drive you insane. So doubling down on the things you know won't change. Then really getting good at listening and not holding too tightly to anything so that you can pivot quickly. So I know some of that's a little bit general, but that's where my head's at.

Austin:

It's interesting. What about from... I mean, you have a much larger team now than you did four years ago or I think the last three, four years ago when I saw you.

Brett:

Yeah.

Austin:

How have you changed? Yeah, how has your role changed and what do you as a leader think about these days?

Brett:

Yeah, it's so interesting and I love that question. My head is here a lot more than it is other places, even new technology and stuff. It's like, how do I need to show up? How does my role need to shift as CEO, because we've got a great operator, we've got an awesome COO, Sarah Still is her name. She crushes it, in terms of the day to day management of the team and process implementation. I used to be the guy when it came to some employer related things or even some campaign related things. Now it's more about, how am I building my team? How am I regularly meeting with my top specialists and giving them ideas and inspiring them and helping them work through problems? But really helping them become the star. I used to definitely think if a client relationship is going to be successful, I've got to be heavily involved, and I no longer think that.

Brett:

I remember, I was at a client meeting in Denver with a shoe company, you would actually know the owner, but I went because I always go to the client meetings. I was sitting around the table and I had five of my team members there. I realized about 30 minutes in, I was like, I don't even need to be here. Not that I don't want to be, but just couple of the people on my team were just explaining things so well. I'm like, I can just go grab coffee or pizza or something, this is good. So I think it's about, how do I bring out the best in the people around me? That's what I'm thinking about. So how do I cast vision? How do I look ahead and think, where is the industry going, where are agencies going? Then, how do I just bring out the best in my people. It's really fun.

Brett:

I actually got roped into coaching basketball. I can't remember if I mentioned this. I think we've talked about basketball, because I know you're a basketball guy. You blew out your achilles, I remember that. So I got roped into coaching high school basketball, and it was crazy stressful and it was not a good idea when you have a big family and a business and coaching basketball, but it really taught me like, okay, I can't step on the floor to go do something. How do I bring out the best in these people? It was really a trial by fire and I've learned a lot but I think there's a lot of correlations between coaching and being a COO or CEO. It's like, how do I bring out the best in the people? How do I create scenarios where they shine? So yeah, that's where my head is at most of the time right now, so yeah.

Austin:

That's cool, I like that. I had Josh Snow, head of Snow Teeth Whitening on the podcast. He was talking about, he was like, "I want to attract the Lebron James' of business." He's like, "My role is like, I got to make sure that the gym is good enough for them, and that they can come in and work in there. That they won't... maybe it's not perfect but when they show up they're not like, oh man, this is not up to speed."

Brett:

Yep, yep. Yeah, how do we create an environment where the brilliance of our people can shine? I was reading this thing recently where Jeff Bezos, according to the author of this book, it's called Always Day One, and he's talking about how really Bezos worked as a facilitator. Of course, brilliant guy coming up with ideas on his own for sure too, but how do I just facilitate great ideas and make sure the best ideas rise to the top? Do we execute on that, and how might people get unstuck and things like that? But more facilitator is how he operated, which is super interesting.

Brett:

But what about you, man? This is funny because this is a joint podcast. So we get to fire questions ..

Austin:

Yes.

Brett:

How has your role and how's your perspective shifted in recent years?

Austin:

Well, I think the thing that has shifted the most for me has been a shift towards the things that I am really good at, and just trying to get myself into the two things that I'm good at. One which is content, creating content. Then the other side of that is coaching.

Austin:

So there are few things that are really easy for some people, and everyone's got something that's really easy for them and hard for other people. For me, the coaching and being in a workshop or a mastermind and helping people out, that actually gives me energy. I'm really good at it, I could do that all the time. So it's trying to figure out how to put me in a position to be able to be more effective in that space and help the team be effective in their roles that allow me to be in that role. So that's where we're at right now, if I do more content and do more coaching, we continue to grow.

Austin:

The rest of the stuff, it's incredible because I'm trying to attract really the best people that I can to be able to do those things. I'm always thinking about seats. I think that's one of the... there are things about the traction, EOS method that I like and things that I don't like. But one of the things that I really like is the seats, getting people in the right seats and thinking about that all the time and trying to recognize that your business has seats. Don't try to create seats for people, but try to put people in the seats and try to find the right people for the seats that you have. That's really interesting to me.

Austin:

Then the other thing that I realized over the last couple years is, one of the most valuable things that I can do is go and talk to other founders and come up with ideas that way, and spend more time, whether it's in my mastermind group or whether it's going... I went on a six-day backpacking trip with-

Brett:

With other founders?

Austin:

Most of them yeah, were. It wasn't a specifically founder only, but almost everybody there ran a business. I came back and I was like, man, I feel so clear about where we need to go.

Brett:

Were you completely off the grid or were you still checking in and stuff like that?

Austin:

Completely off the grid.

Brett:

Dang.

Austin:

The first night, it was four degrees with wind chill. It was very cold.

Brett:

Wow.

Austin:

It was very cold.

Brett:

You have to have the right gear for that.

Austin:

Yeah, I definitely had a summer sleeping pad so I was rocking an emergency blanket for the first night. It got warmer after that, the first, but it was definitely... I'll look back on that night, it was like, oh man, that's what I remember about the trip for sure.

Brett:

That was dangerously cold, yeah.

Austin:

So yeah, those are the types of things that I've been thinking about is, how do I put myself in a position where I can show up more as myself to attract people who want to be in our company? Who have the same vibe, message, goals and aligning those is really, really the thing that's exciting to me.

Brett:

Yeah, yeah, I love it, man. When you're doing that, when you're executing and doing the things that you're best at, everything just better. Then you create this environment where that's the expectation and other people do the same thing. So it's really cool, man, really cool to hear for sure.

Austin:

It's fun, and it also makes... I think the thing that I've been thinking about more and more is, I mean, it's a long game. So you don't want to burn out and you don't want to... how long have you been running OMG Commerce?

Brett:

Since 2010. So yeah, 11 years. Yeah, which is crazy.

Austin:

11 years.

Brett:

Things have pivoted and changed so dramatically. We were doing local marketing the very beginning, and then pivoted all to E-commerce. So yeah, a lot has changed.

Austin:

In those 11 years though, where has... the last three years, how different were the last three years and the first three years as far as growth, revenue, profits?

Brett:

Oh yeah, the last three years have just been ..

Austin:

It's all compounded.

Brett:

It's all compounded, exactly. It's compounded. Yeah, we made the Inc. 5000 list now three years in a row, and have been growing on that list and stuff. Yeah, it's definitely compounded, but a lot of the decisions and the learnings and the disciplines of those early years helped create that compounding, so.

Austin:

Oh, no, for sure. I mean, that's what it is, you had to put in the time at the beginning and be able to continue to stay in the game long enough so that you can get those compound returns that come later. They come from... the reason that you can hop on, you promote a YouTube event and you have everybody promoting it in our industry is because of 10 years of you being out there going to events, talking to people, people know you, all those different things. So yeah, that's interesting to me, but.

Brett:

It's awesome.

Austin:

Brett, this has been freaking good, man. I like it.

Brett:

Good, dude.

Austin:

It's fun catching up.

Brett:

We talked privacy, we talked creative, we talked subscription. We talked what we were excited... this was good stuff, dude. We could keep going, yeah, that's awesome.

Austin:

Well, let's do a little promo. So if you're listening on my podcast, Brett, why don't you tell them about your podcast?

Brett:

Absolutely.

Austin:

Yeah.

Brett:

Yeah, so E-commerce Evolution is my podcast and I really started it one, because I enjoy being on podcasts. So I thought, well, easiest way to consistently be on a podcast is to host one. I like meeting people and it really gives us an excuse. I mean, guys like you, Austin, where it's hard for us to schedule an hour to sit down and just chat for no reason, but if we're on a podcast. So I learn so much from the podcast, I connect with awesome people, but E-commerce Evolution. What's new, what's next in E-commerce. We talk traffic, we talk conversion rate optimization, it's all interview based. So yeah, if you're not a listener and not a subscriber, what are you doing? You got to check it out.

Austin:

Go check it out.

Brett:

Go check it out.

Austin:

Go check it out for sure.

Brett:

Then for my podcast, yeah, let's hear about-

Austin:

Yeah, if you're listening to this on Brett's podcast, my podcast is called E-commerce Influence. We just hit our 300th episode.

Brett:

One of the first E-commerce podcasts, correct? I mean, it was maybe like you and one other, right?

Austin:

Yes.

Brett:

Yeah.

Austin:

I think it was me and Youderian?

Brett:

I think so.

Austin:

And maybe Steve, but yeah, over 300 episodes. We really focus on, how do you build wealth and how do you live fulfilling life while running an E-commerce business? We have interviews that talk about random stuff, how to grow your business, and that's been my focus is exploring different paths to those things recently. So, check it out, ecommerceinfluence.com. Yeah, Brett, thanks man, this was really fun. We will talk soon here.

Brett:

Thanks, dude. You're a true OG. Thank you, appreciate you.


Episode 159
:
Chris Tyler & Amber Norell - OMG Commerce

Important Tips, Dates and Tactics to Maximize Prime Day 2021

Join me for this week’s episode to break down what we’re expecting for this year’s Prime Day and what you need to do to get ready.

Prime Day is one of the biggest shopping events of the year.  We now fully expect Prime Day to land in June of 2021 (at the time of recording this podcast we were still uncertain of whether it would be June or July).  OMG’s Amazon Director, Chris Tyler and Amazon Specialist Amber Norell join me for this week’s episode to break down what we’re expecting for this year’s Prime Day and what you need to do to get ready.  

If you do nothing as an Amazon seller, you’ll likely see some lift in sales for Prime Day.  If you use some of the tactics we discuss in this podcast, you could generate some record sales days for yoru brand.  Here’s a look at what we cover in this episode.  

  • Prime Day discounts and coupons - which is usually better and how to structure your offers.
  • Amazon Live! - a perfect compliment to your Prime Day deals
  • Lightning Deals
  • Amazon posts
  • How to maximize your storefront for Prime Day
  • Does and don’ts to get your listings ready for Prime Day
  • Plus more.

Also, read our complete Prime Day Blog here.

Mentioned in this episode:

Amazon Sponsored Brands Video

OMG Commerce Blog - Prime Day Prep 2021

Amazon Live

Open Broadcaster Software (OBS)

Amazon DSP

Amazon Sponsored Display Ads

Chris Tyler

Via LinkedIn

Amber Norell

Via LinkedIn

Episode 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 I am super excited about today's show. Today, we're diving in deep, to Jeff Bezos's favorite holiday. Yes, this was a holiday all about shopping. You love it, I love it, as Amazon sellers, we love it. We're talking about Prime Day 2021. How do we prepare for it? How do we maximize it? How do we extend the value and the impact from Prime Day to beyond?

Brett:

Today man, I get to bring on some of my team. Some of OMGs very young, some of our best and brightest. And I'm just going to grill them with questions about what we're planning and thinking for our clients, for our brands on Amazon this year. And so I want to first welcome back to the show and I think this is man, this maybe four. Is it? Real quick, Chris, is this the fourth episode you've been on or five?

Chris:

I think it's fourth.

Brett:

I think it's the fourth. That was my thought as well. So Chris Tyler, he is our Amazon director. Tons of experience. He's kind of a PPC mad scientist. A little bit of a savant when it comes to PPC. But also just understands business growth and online marketing and knows the Amazon platform inside and out. And he's becoming a really solid podcast guest as well. And he's got a fun background that he's using right now if you're watching the video. So welcome back to the show, Chris, and how's it going man?

Chris:

Man it's good to be here. Things are going well. Keeping busy but always have time for your podcast.

Brett:

Thanks. I mean, you have to say that. But I also felt like you meant it-

Chris:

I do.

Brett:

So that's all that matters. And then in addition to that, we've got a newcomer. And I just found out this is the first time that this guest has ever appeared on a podcast. And so we're bringing on our Amazon specialist and she heads up our Amazon full service offerings. She's got seven years experience managing brands on Amazon. That's like a lifetime of years working on Amazon. She's very, very bright. She's managed some amazing brands on the Amazon platform. We're just thrilled to have her at OMG. But I want to welcome to the show, Miss Amber Norell. Amber, how's it going?

Amber:

Good. Brett, I'm excited to be here.

Brett:

Yeah. Thanks for taking the time guys. So it's going to be a lot of fun. So we're going to dive in and as we get started, I just want to set the stage. I want to look at Prime Day globally. We all know it's huge. We all know it's the biggest day of the year for Amazon sellers, or biggest few days of the year typically. But just a quick recap. So last year, 2020, odd year obviously because of the pandemic and all the things that transpired there. There was such a huge COVID bump with e-commerce and Amazon had crazy volume all throughout the year that they weren't ready to do Prime Day in July like usual. So for the first year ever, Prime Day was in Q4, Prime Day was in October last year. But it was still a big increase over 2019.

Brett:

So let me just unpack the growth, talk about the growth a little bit over the last couple years of Prime Day. And then I want to get Chris and Amber's perspective on what are we anticipating for this year? What are we expecting? So in 2019, total of about seven billion, 7.19 billion, I believe in total sales on Prime Day. That's when it was in July and this was according to Statista. And that represented about a 70% year over year growth in 2019. Last year again, it was really kind of a kickoff to holiday shopping because it was an October. 10.4 billion in total sales.

Brett:

So nice increase really just a huge, huge couple of days there, but it was a slower growth rate. So it was a 40% year over year growth rate from 2019. So now as we look at 2021. I've got some thoughts here, but curious Chris and Amber, what are you thinking? What are you expecting in terms of year over year growth and total volume? And then just what do you think we can expect? And I'll dig into a couple of specifics in a minute. But just globally, what are you expecting this year for Prime Day?

Amber:

Yeah. I think-

Amber:

... go ahead, Chris.

Chris:

Oh no. You're good, go ahead.

Amber:

So I think similar to any year, we're going to expect to see a normal growth. I think more similarly to 2020, we can expect some curve balls just because of the state that we're still in. Some things popping up, movement of deadlines. But similar to 2019, I think we can expect a more normalized timeline. Where we're not so close to Q4 experiencing really difficult situations with inventory going in and running out of inventory from Prime Day and trying to replenish with replenishment limits. I think that's something that could clear up a little bit this year.

Brett:

Yeah. Awesome. What about you Chris?

Chris:

Yeah. I agree with everything Amber said-

Brett:

Hey, I think that could be the strategy for this show Chris. You could just say," No I totally agree with Amber."

Chris:

You've given away my plan. So now I got to think of something.

Brett:

I tipped your hand.

Chris:

I do think the benefits of this Prime Day is we have months to prepare. There shouldn't be any challenges on Amazon's end. I remember last year clients kept saying, "All right, When is it really? When is the day?" And even references people that we chatted with within Amazon were, "Hey, we don't know or we can't tell you." And it was a few weeks it felt like before and they're like, "Here's Prime Day." But I think as advertisers, there's challenges we face and that even the customer is not really knowing when it was coming out.

Chris:

We're not going to face those headwinds, so I do think it'll be more normalized this year. I do think though on top of that it's going to be hard to follow 2019's 70% growth, right? As these numbers increased, I think you said 10 billion last year. Even 40% is 4 billion which is more than 2020's 40% growth. So I can't say I'd see the 70% because that's 7 billion would be pretty massive, though that'd be fantastic. But I do think it'll be normalized. I do think we have time so as a team on our end and as advertiser being able to prep for that, it's going to be so beneficial.

Brett:

Yeah. I agree with you guys. I think once you get into really huge numbers, which Amazon has been there for a long time. But $10 billion over a couple of days, doubling that or increasing that by 70%, I think it would be really really tricky outside of some crazy outside circumstances. Like a global pandemic, like last year, hopefully we won't be dealing with anything like that this July. But yeah, I think we can say it's going to be bigger than last year. Almost certainly probably a slower growth rate. But lots more opportunity. I think this year for sellers to benefit because of the things you mentioned, because there's not as many inventory concerns and because we do have a clear timeline and so we can execute that and be ready.

Brett:

Any specific things you guys might share on what you're expecting this year in terms of ad spend and... We'll start with ad spend. Any expectations there for this year and what clients might expect with ad spend for Prime Day?

Chris:

Yeah, I think looking at the numbers from 2020 and 2019 there has been an increased use in CPC. Also, the correlation with Prime Day growth, whether it's 40 or 75% does tie into ad spend growing with that. So that's naturally going to happen Amazon would continue these expanding their PVC offering. Some of that pay-to-play mentality comes in. Granted, if you get organic, that's the place to be. So I do think expectations are ad spend will increase at the same rate or even a little more than previous Prime Day periods. And then one specific campaign call out I would say is sponsoring video.

Chris:

That was pretty new last year, kind of the golden era and still performance is great with advertiser we're working with. But CPC and a cost to continue to take up as more and more... I'm trying to skid get into that space. Depending on your goals, your margin, what you're trying to accomplish you definitely want to review and see if you should be pushing or if the numbers just don't line up with maybe the goals you've set in terms of expanding ad spend there.

Brett:

Yeah. It's very similar to Q4 on other platforms as well. So I'm more of a Google guy in terms of my background and my day to day. But when holiday comes search, shopping, CPCs do go up, but conversion rates also go up. So performance is still good. Volume is up. So it's guaranteed, we're going to spend more. And wholeheartedly agree with sponsored brand video is a place to be right now. And even though it's getting more competitive, it's still very powerful and I think should serve us well. And our clients well for Prime day. Anything you would add to that Amber?

Amber:

No. I am totally in agreement with you guys.

Brett:

Cool. And just for those that don't know and I'll show this really quickly. This is what a sponsor brand video ad looks like. It's used to be video and search. I think most people know, but just in case not. It's where you see that video ad in the search results as you're cruising through and looking for products on Amazon. So it's probably my favorite ad unit right now on Amazon because I've always loved video and I used to love the tie in with video and search and it's pretty powerful. So awesome.

Brett:

Let's talk now about our game plan, our plan of attack. So how do we get the most from Prime Day? I think it's clear that most sellers could do nothing and still see a bump. Because there's more shopping, more people on the platform, rising tide raises all ships type of thing. But why would you want to do that? Why not come with a game plan? So you can maximize those couple of days and build some momentum there that you can carry on into the rest of the year and into holiday shopping and things like that. So let's talk about this Amber.

Brett:

As we're looking at planning how we're going to maximize Prime Day talk to me about Prime Exclusive Discounts and Prime Week coupons. Because like holiday shopping people do expect Prime Day deals. And so they're ready to buy, but they don't want to buy a full price that they're looking for deals typically. So what advice would you give around Prime Exclusive Discounts and Prime Week coupons?

Amber:

So I just from experience have noticed that the Prime Exclusive Discounts do tend to create a higher lift. Part of that could be because the minimum for setting those up is higher. You have to offer a minimum of 20% off. But they also have a deal badge that says Prime Week deal exclusive. So it kind of ups that urgency where they feel it's not just a standard coupon, I need to buy now in order to get this discount. I think they're super effective. And if it's something that you can set up you definitely should. Some things to keep in mind is that you do have to have FBA inventory available.

Amber:

Again, that 20% off. And the deadline to submit those are two weeks prior to the event, which we don't know the event dates. So we don't have a firm deadline on that. We're tending to just kind of submit them now, just so they're out of mind. And you can cancel them at any time, but once that deadline hits, you will not be able to set them up at all. So definitely get those in if you're wanting to go that route.

Brett:

Awesome. And we are still thinking July. That we haven't seen any indications it would lean towards a late June or something. We're still thinking sometime in July?

Amber:

Yeah. That's kind of what I'm thinking. Chris.

Chris:

I would think so. It's interesting how many people I've talked to or articles I read and it's like, "Oh, for sure June. Oh, no, it's back to July." So to be safe, I would say definitely summer. And I'd probably look at June, July with July being the higher probability.

Brett:

Yeah. So have all your stuff together. And I know Amber is going to cover some more dates for a few other things, a few other deadlines. And we also have an amazing resource and also blog posts that Amber put together. Thank you, Amber, that we'll link to that has all the dates there. So you can have that as an easy reference. But yeah, just kind of plan on, okay it could be late June into July. And kind of three to four weeks in there just to be safe to prepare there. So I liked that though and considering what's going to create the greatest lift? What has the best perceived value to the customer? What does maybe Amazon favor and then what have we seen as far as results? So you're saying that Prime Exclusive Discount is working a little better than just doing a coupon during Prime Week.

Amber:

Yeah. It tends to work a little better. I mean a coupon is always a great fallback because it will show up on all ad types. So it is still giving that extra incentive. And at least that's something, I think the minimum is 5% for that. So it's if you have products that have tighter margins, that's definitely the way to go. And I've seen standard coupons get submitted during Prime Day and go through. So there's a little more flexibility with the deadline there.

Brett:

That's awesome. Okay. Let's talk about Lightning Deals. And I only have a slight understanding of Lightning Deals. I've seen them obviously. But you guys are the pros on setting these up and maximizing these. What advice would you give around Lightning Deals?

Amber:

Yeah, so Lightning Deals, if you're listening to this podcast, the deadline has already passed you can't opt into them now. But if you were able to slide some through, definitely be keeping an eye on your price prior. You don't want anything off of Amazon at a lower price point that can cause a deal cancellation. Keep an eye on the timelines, because if you get like a really wonky date or it's late into Prime Week, maybe you feel like you want to cancel it. Just knowing that that price to opt into a Lightning Deal is 500 bucks per deal. That would be my main thing is just watch your pricing on Amazon and off don't make any crazy pricing increases. 30 days leading up to Prime Day.

Brett:

Nice. You said 500 bucks per deal. Can you explain that?

Amber:

Yeah. So there is a $500 price to run a deal during Prime Week, normally it's 150, right.

Brett:

Okay. I was thinking some kind of discount or what was something that we're showing the customer and I was confused by that. Okay. Totally makes sense. Let's talk then about Storefront Deal pages. So that's something that we help with at OMG. We help build client storefronts and really help maximize those. I think that that's an important part of managing your brand and growing your brand and really maximizing Amazon as a channel. But talk to me, Amber, about Storefront Deal pages. What are those, how do we get max value out of this?

Amber:

Yeah. So a deal page is super easy to set up. It's just a matter of setting up an additional page on your storefront. There's a module that you can use that's featured deals. You basically just populate any ACE that you plan on running a coupon or a Lightning Deal or anything like that into that module. And it's basically done and you can run traffic to that page. Sponsored brand ads will give us some flexibility to mention Prime Day, so we can... as long as we're canceling it on Prime Day, so that it's ending with the event we'll have-

Brett:

Because you want it to be a true Prime Day deal and not just something we're calling Prime Day deal.

Amber:

Yeah, exactly. So we can run additional ads there and it's really just highlighting anything that's going to have some sort of incentive. The other thing that's really cool about this module is that it's dynamic. So say you're running a deal during Prime Day and then some during Prime Week, it's going to change out according to deals. And very few of the modules on Amazon are dynamic. So that's a pretty cool thing where you're not having to monitor it.

Brett:

That's awesome. Chris Tyler anything you would add on storefronts. So that's something you've been involved with and we've definitely seen an impact and a benefit as we have clients that we help build out their storefront. Anything you'd say to that in general or to deal pages.

Chris:

I would say we just think solid success, even when creating these not during Prime Day. And we have some clients that ran some aggressive deals during their own seasonality. And so I'm excited that this Prime Day what it can do. And as Amber said being able to run sponsored brand campaigns. I can run DSP and we'll talk on that a little bit later. I think we'll just do really well. And then one thing I would add the coupon in an exclusive discount discussion is... One cool thing with those, especially if you're a category in a product that does get repurchased or as a really high margin. Going aggressive with those Prime Day discounts, we have seen much higher improvement in performance compared to the coupons. They both do really well.

Chris:

So being able to plan out that you can tie that to, okay, what's going to be in the storefront. How aggressive do you want to be? One other kind of PBC and DSP do you want to run for that? So just be thinking if you're in that space that 20% steep as a coupon, but could you really well to bring in new customers and previous subscribers to the account and a few other things.

Brett:

Nice. Okay, awesome. So I want to talk about something now that I think well, it would just be interesting to dive into this a little bit. People are getting all excited about Prime Day and we're talking about how do we maximize and get the most from it. And I have a suspicion that there may be some people that are saying, "My listings are not all that well optimized." And Chris Tyler talked about, "Hey, I want my ads to really be performing well and at their peak, but also organic. I wanted to capitalize on organic. So I'm optimizing my listings. Let me see if I can get more organic traffic and optimize those listings." Amber, what would you say to people that are having this internal urge to maximize and tweak their product detail pages and their product listings on Amazon?

Amber:

Don't do this in the weeks leading up to Prime Day. Do this well in advance. So this is something you should be doing now. Look at your search term reports, things that are converting really well for you that are maybe missing from your listing especially your title. Work that in now, because if you experienced a listing suppression or D indexing, you do not want to be dealing with that during the days leading up to Prime Day. Another thing to consider is that A-plus content is now taking up to seven days to review. So if you're considering testing different things in your A-plus content, you don't want to be waiting to get things approved. I mean, it's taken... if you make additional revisions, it's taken three weeks in some instances for changes to go through for us. That's crazy right now. So be doing that now and-

Brett:

Now as in the time we're recording. Probably by the time you're listening, the answers just don't do it until after-

Chris:

It's too late.

Amber:

But yeah, another thing that you can definitely leverage, is experiments under brand features in seller central. So if you want to really prove that what you're doing is working. Do some AB tests with the title of the A plus content, the main images, so that it's serving two different options through that tool. And you can really weigh that out and go with the best option during Prime Day.

Brett:

Awesome. Anything you would add to that, Chris?

Chris:

No, I agree with Amber.

Brett:

Game plan is in action.

Chris:

Yeah.

Brett:

Yes, I agree with Amber. Very smart. I like it. Okay, good. That's brilliant. Okay. So let's talk about Amazon Posts. And this is something that they could be new concepts, at least some people listening. But what are Amazon Posts? How do we utilize them for Prime Day?

Amber:

Yeah. So for Amazon Post it's something that should definitely, I feel be implemented because it's driving free clicks. I mean where are you going to get free traffic on Amazon other than that. We don't have the ability to see what's actually converting, which is kind of a bummer. But we can see the clicks now, which is great. You can easily repurpose anything you're using on social. So it's very low effort to do that. And kind of breaking news this week, we've spotted that posts are automatically populating on Amazon Storefront as a page. So if you're running ads to your Storefront, your posts are going to be showing up there. It's also something that you can use to kind of promote a Lightning Deal. So you can schedule it at the same timeframe or right ahead of a Lightning Deal that you know is going to run.

Brett:

And how do you, for those that are unfamiliar with that don't know. How do posts drive organic traffic? And Chris you want to talk about this one because I know you've done quite a bit with posts, maybe not as much for Prime Day, but in general.

Chris:

Sure. Yeah. So placement for posts are mobile, the product pages, young brands pages, competitor pages, and the past few months, it actually also came out that it could show on the bottom of search results, which is pretty awesome. So it's not just relegated to specific pages. And then brands have their own feed that customers can follow the brand and be able to see what posts come out. And we actually have a couple of brands with several thousand followers, which I think is pretty awesome. And I think that Amazon has a focused on brand presence and building that whole brand equity. That posts what they're doing with Storefront are going to be more and more important.

Chris:

And so I think you mentioned it at the beginning of the post section, you're saying some people might not know this. And it's a pleasant surprise to a certain extent because we're able to tell them. But there's an audits we do that on thing, "Hey, what about Amazon Post? You're running that." And they're like, what? So I think that that value alone, if you're not running it, just setting it up, reviewing what it does, what you can put out there and then putting the game plan. We're kind of saying in place can do a lot of good for free essentially.

Brett:

Yeah. And not a huge amount of effort either, right? I mean you want to be strategic. You want to think it through, but it's not a mountain of work and then there's no cost other than creating the content and-

Chris:

You've got the one image and you can put up the 10 ACE and that used to be just one ACE. Now you can put a child variations in there. And I think it's up to 2000 characters, though we usually recommended a paragraph or so. People aren't really going to read a whole novel within that. And at least at the time of this recording, they're not indexing by the keywords and characters you put in that content. They do auto kind of categorize what your product is. And so your posts can go into whatever station or categories in. So I would just be more attention grabbing and clearly stating what the product is or what it does. Lifestyle images do best. Don't do the white background images and try to improve click rate. Think kind of that social proof mentality.

Brett:

Love it. Let's talk about another concept that I just think is awesome. And I've always enjoyed infomercials. I like a good sales pitch. This is fun for me I guess I'm little bit weird that way, but let's talk about Amazon Live. So Amber, what is Amazon Live? How can we use it for Prime Day?

Amber:

So Amazon Live is an option where you can live stream depending on whether or not you're using a brand account or you have an influencer doing this for you. It'll show up in various places. Main places, the Amazon Live hub. Also if you have a brand account or a seasoned influencer account it'll actually show up on the detail page. My thoughts on Amazon Live are, we're getting a boost in traffic on Prime Day. It gives you a rare opportunity to really like engage with customers real time. It can be really impactful to showcase products that have Lightning Deals and answer questions while it's happening. From what I have seen it converts really well on Prime Day. Click through rate is great on Amazon Live videos and you can get a huge burst of views and traffic. So I think if you have someone in place that has that experience and is familiar with OBS, it's super easy and it's a no brainer to definitely tap into that during Prime Day.

Brett:

Sorry, what was that acronym you just used?

Amber:

OBS.

Brett:

Which is what? Sorry.

Amber:

It's a streamer software that you use-

Brett:

Got it. Got it. Okay. Okay. And yeah, I mean people love QVC and they love to see... even though there's like a little bit of cheesiness to those things sometimes. People like to see a product live in action and see people demoing it and talking about it and stuff like that. It just ties in really well to retail is a hobby for some people. There's shopping therapy that goes on and we like to watch and see demos and explanations. So definitely tap into Amazon Live if you can. Let's talk about ad budgets. So we already talked about this a little bit and you know what some expectations are there.

Brett:

But let's maybe put some parameters around that just a little bit and create some expectations of, okay we're expecting this huge lift in overall traffic, in lifting competition, more advertisers jumping into the fray and bidding on keywords or increasing their bids on keywords. So I'll pose this to you first, Chris and then Amber, I want to hear your perspective too? How are you advising clients to adjust or look at their... prepare their ad budgets for Prime Day?

Chris:

Yeah, great question. For specific answers, we always like to go client by client and be able to get their own data. But high level, the things we're looking at is what are the trends for the past couple of years of Prime Days? We know there's anomalies with last year. But we don't want to say that that is worthless. So just seeing what happened then, what were some wins or some challenges or what were things that are available now that weren't then that they should be using and if they are using should be pushed and then breaking down and probably carry it into the lead up. The two days of the run of Prime Day and then the follow-up because I did mention earlier, you normally see a 10% plus increase in sales post Prime Day. So we want to prep for that, we want to capitalize on that-

Brett:

And post Prime day. How long is that post Prime Day window typically? And again, obviously it's different for every client, but how long does that 10% average bump last after Prime Day?

Chris:

I would say for most clients that actually kind of starts that next level of growth for some that are seasonality based it's about two weeks, and then we'll kind of settle into wherever their numbers should be. But we found as we get more aggressive kind of post Prime Day with DSP, coupons, PBC that that kind of pushes the next quarter, at least in our view to be a bit stronger. Obviously I said fits the KPIs the clients are going after but I would look the two weeks after, but you use that as kind of a jumping board for the next few months.

Brett:

So maybe that just unlocks a new level of growth Prime Day kind of unlocks that. And now we can accelerate growth just a little bit afterwards.

Chris:

Yeah. We've seen success with that. I also think that obviously you have your client and for us we work on this with our clients. We want to know what the strategy is all the time. What are you going for? Is that eight cross tacos growth or next year? And it always is a combination. But determining what it is that you, as an advertiser want to be seeing during Prime Day, some clients just want to do that. "Hey, I'm just going to rise with the tide." Others want to own the space for products or keywords, or just capitalize on sales with some coupons and deals. So I think high level figuring that out is even talk any kind of budgets. And then based on deals, coupons, promotions you're running go product level to figure out, okay where should a budget be spent during the lead up, during an after, but at the product level, because if you're running a deal on 10% of your products, those need to have some focus and not just one size fits all.

Brett:

Awesome. Amber, anything you would add to that or did Chris do a good job? Or do you want to like, make him feel good just say, "I agree with that."

Chris:

Or did I do a bad job?

Brett:

Really kind of you Amber to help Chris out like that? I agree with Chris as well. Okay, good. So let's let's move on then. I want to talk about DSP and typically if I'm invited to speak at a YouTube event or I'm sorry... Tell where, what I usually talk about is YouTube. I get invited to speak at an Amazon event or Amazon podcast I'm usually talking about DSP. I love it. It's fascinating to me. So just a quick explanation of what DSP is, and then I want to dive in. And I want to hear from both of you on why you view DSP as a bit of a secret weapon for Amazon sellers for Prime Day? And not the DSP itself is a secrets so much anymore.

Brett:

I think a lot of people are talking about it. But it could be a secret weapon for Prime Day. So DSP for those that don't know stands for Demand Side Platform. It's really just a way to target shoppers on Amazon, off Amazon, but based on their Amazon shopping behavior. So you can run ads that appear on news sites or blog sites or things like IMDb or other Amazon owned properties, or just across the web, even like kind of through a back door of the Google display network. You can run ads to people, display ads based on what they're doing on Amazon. So it could be remarketing ads, people that have viewed your ACEs on the Amazon, they didn't buy. Now you can hit them up with an ad on potentially espn.com or something like that and get them to come back.

Brett:

So there's all kinds of opportunities with Amazon DSP. I think it's still not a fully understood platform conceptually, yet people understand it. But how to maximize it people don't typically understand that. So I'll kind of to both. I don't know who wants to start. But why do you DSP is kind of a secret weapon and how should sellers approach DSP for Prime Day?

Chris:

Yeah, I can-

Amber:

I agree with Chris. Take it away.

Chris:

I was going to say whatever Amber says.

Brett:

This is super productive guys. Thanks.

Chris:

Yeah. So as you mentioned DSP isn't as secret anymore. There are more advertisers that are leaning into it. But I would say the secret weapon part is that full funnel approach. The lowest hanging fruit is retargeting, repurchasing and cross promotion, things like that. And those should always be run on one benefit obviously during Prime Days, you're going to have an increased traffics when you want to kind of lean into that and make sure you have the budget for it. But the difficult part is-

Brett:

Marketing audiences will suddenly balloons, a lot more people to target on your remarketing lists and then cross promotion, repeat purchase stuff, or just true remarketing that there's going to be huge opportunities for that. So yeah, awesome.

Chris:

Right. Yeah. And that's naturally going to happen, but the hiring the funnel aspect says you can push that more leading up to Prime Day, that you can have that competitive advantage that maybe your other competitors aren't leaning into. And so that's competitor targeting, so targeting people that your competitors and not purchase their products or yours, in-market people that are in market for the category you're in. And there's a few others with different placements, but it's kind of that just throughout. And one of the strategies we run is kind of the two weeks prior, we start to ramp up that targeting. You want to feed the funnel. You want to be able to during Prime Day period and onwards, be able to retarget to those. And one of the benefits of that, especially if you're running a deal, any type of promotion that does show in the ad copy, when you're running a dynamic eCommerce ad, which is just the way of saying the creative you build within DSP.

Chris:

And you can kind of push awareness for that product leading up to Prime Day. And then as you run those deals get really aggressive on the retargeting and the competitor targeting. If you're running on Prime Day exclusive discount of 20% and your competitors not being able to target people that viewed those competitors and have not purchased yet with your 20% off Prime Day badge is such a unique way to steal sales. I don't think there's other platforms that do it quite this way. So I think there's kind of a secret kind of approach there. And one of the things we also say is going back to that two weeks after Prime Day when we are going to see a lift.

Chris:

We found really good success, even putting like a 5% coupon, 10% coupon and running that retargeting still for people that need your product, even during Prime Day period, when you have that influx and it's not purchased we also normally add in purchases competitors as exclusions. Because someone could obviously look at your product during Prime Day buy another, hopefully not. Probably doing everything we said, that's not going to happen. But the ability to kind of extend that audience targeting that influx with DSP and coupons does fulfill that beginning to end approach through our strategy and adds another layer that I think not as many advertisers are using as I thought. And so I think it's a secret weapon.

Brett:

Yeah. For sure. Amber anything you want to add to it DSP?

Amber:

Nope. I think that was pretty well put together. Chris, did you want to talk on the dynamic ads and that as an alternative maybe?

Chris:

Yes. A great thought Amber. So sponsored display is DSP lite lite lite. With DSP you can manipulate where the ads are off and on Amazon device types, timelines, ACE and things like that. But sponsored display is enhancing and improving what it offers. And recently a new update came out where they-

Brett:

And maybe just to clarify that just really quickly, Chris. So Amazon DSP is a separate platform, separate program. It has minimums. You have to sign up for it. There's some, there's some hoops you got to jump through to get that going, or an agency can help you. But the benefit is you have all kinds of controls, all kinds of control on who you target and who you exclude and where you show up and all kinds of stuff. But then there's also sponsored display, which you call it the lite lite lite version, which I would agree with you. Easier to set up, easier to get going.But yeah, so let's talk about the differences there a little bit.

Chris:

Yeah. And that's available within seller or vendor. So it's something that anyone can access and then the benefit there is the accessibility to it. But up until now it's been very limited in what you can target. Amazon rolled out an update where now you can go after in-market, life events, lifestyle and interests. And this is really new. We're testing it. Don't have the results maybe at the time of this publishing we'll have maybe some stats we can add. But the benefits of this is there's no minimums with DSP you need 5,000 unique visitors for your audience and you can combine the ACE, but for advertisers that have new products or maybe products that just don't meet that threshold, which like everyone has, I think running these type of campaigns helps kind of give you the potential on that lite version, but still meaningful in general. But leading up to Prime Day and using a similar strategy in a condensed version I think can do well.So I recommend everyone kind of looking at sponsored display, getting familiarized with this new update because I do think it will be impactful.

Brett:

That's awesome. Really good. So before we kind of talk about maybe a couple of dates to remember, although we'll mainly keep that focus in our blog posts that Amber wrote just because that'll be an easier reference. I want to just kind of step back a minute and think what broad general Prime Day recommendations do we have? Anything we missed? Anything that you would add as we look to kind of wrap up here?

Amber:

Yeah. I think just going back to making sure everything's really aligned make sure that you don't have coupon overlaps. So if you have a deal going, you don't have coupons scheduled or you're monitoring that and canceling them and restarting them after the deal closes. Because you definitely don't want to stack coupons unless that's your intention. Just making sure that your budgets and what you're monitoring and PPC is aligned with your deals. So if you have a Lightning Deal going and you have a high budget auto campaign, you don't want it that to just go through the roof again unless that's your intention. So I think it's really just keeping an eye on everything holistically. Again, off Amazon pricing is huge, make sure everything is stable for L30, leading up to Prime Day.

Brett:

And when you say off Amazon pricing, mainly what you mean is you don't want there to be a lower price off Amazon leading up to Prime Day or during Prime Day that will hurt you significantly.

Amber:

And don't make... I would recommend if you can, if you're going to increase pricing on Amazon, do it incrementally and do it before the 30 days leading up to Prime Day, don't start making changes during that month leading up.

Brett:

Great advice, Chris, anything in general from you?

Chris:

Yeah. So taking that same thought of stability on the PPC side. I think thinking of what type of campaign you're going to want to be running during Prime Day and for what products and having those have data prior to Prime Day is key. Don't think, to build all these campaigns the week of Prime Day and just push them. You want to have somebody throw up a significance within Amazon, get the data and be able to have an efficient KPI, whatever that may be for you. And things that stand out are two months of display like we talked on, I would start testing that ASAP. So you have a month or two of data. So you know, what's working, you know where to push. And then sponsoring video, even though more advertisers are using it. There's still a huge amount of growth potential to kind of scale to more products.

Chris:

And I think that's one where if you're going to do that, do it a month or two prior, so that you can kind of leading up to it, get data, tweak it. Because the idea with Prime Day is you're going to lift budgets and push what you know, will work ideally. Instead of saying, "Hey, here's new campaigns." And let's find a lot and hopefully get the desired outcomes. So I think prep work so that you're stable during Prime Day is key.

Brett:

Yeah. So this has been brilliant. Thank you guys so much. I love the idea though, of thinking about this and being strategic, regardless of what your product is, regardless of your category, maybe Prime Day historically has been pretty good for you. Maybe it's been gigantic for you. I think just getting the most you can out of it. How do we leverage it so that those couple of days are huge? But so that we leverage that for growth beyond that. And that takes some planning and some prep and then some strategy. So maybe just a couple of dates to keep in mind. Amber, and then we'll mainly link to our resource. But any really important dates you want to point out?

Amber:

Yeah, I would just keep an eye on inventory shipments. That'll be in the blog post, but just depending on different regions and where you're selling, make sure that you're getting your inventory in and plenty of inventory in well in advance.

Brett:

Awesome. Sounds good. All right guys, fantastic man. You crushed it. It's going to happen again. I'm going to have to invite Chris back for the fifth time and Amber for sure inviting you back for a second go around here very soon. So thanks guys. Thanks for taking the time. Even though I didn't really give you an option, but I do appreciate-

Chris:

This was exciting.

Brett:

And you guys yes-

Chris:

Thanks for having us. Yeah.

Brett:

Awesome. And as always, really appreciate you as well. So we'd love your feedback. What would you like to hear more of on the show? And if you haven't already, leave us that review on iTunes, let us know what you think about the show. It helps other people discover the podcast and hopefully get some good stuff out of it. And hey, if you know other Amazon sellers that could benefit from this podcast, share it with them and love to connect with you on the socials as well. And so with that until next time, thank you for listening.


Episode 158
:
Matt Clark - Life Boost Coffee

Scaling eCommerce Sales from $17k to $2 Million Per Month with Matt Clark from Lifeboost Coffee

Matt Clark knows what it takes to scale a business.

Matt Clark knows what it takes to scale a business.  He’s the CEO of Amazing.com the creator of the most successful information product of all time - Amazing Selling Machines.  

He’s also the co-owner of Lifeboost, a company that he and his business partner Charles Livingston have grown from just $17k per month in sales to over $2 million in monthly sales in just a few short years.  So that begs the question - How did they do it?  That’s what we dive into in this episode.  We discuss their keys to scale both from a marketing and a product development standpoint.  Here’s a snapshot of what we cover:

- How focusing on the hook, headline and offer in their ads allowed them to scale from a few thousand in spend to over $400,000 in monthly Facebook spend.

- Their simple approach to testing and optimizing that doesn’t require any fancy software or split testing tools.

- How they are building their business to sell to the right investors

- How they forecast and measure to make sure they are constantly improving and hitting targets

- Mistakes they made while expanding their product line and their new approach to developing products

- How to better listen to customers

- More!


Mentioned in this episode:

eCommerce Evolution 98 Charles Livingston

BOOM by Cindy Joseph

Ezra Firestone

eCommerce Evolution 96 Matt Clark

SellerCon

Facebook Ad Library: Lifeboost Coffee

Matt Clark

Via LinkedIn

Via Facebook

Via Twitter

Via Instagram

Via YouTube


Amazing.com

Amazing Selling Machines

Lifeboost Coffee

Episode Transcript:

Brett:

Hello and welcome to another edition of the eCommerce Evolution podcast. Today is going to be an amazing episode. We have a returning guest and this guy is the man. He probably needs no introduction.

Brett:

This episode is brought to you by Ecommerce Influence. If you enjoy my podcast, you've got to check out Ecommerce Influence hosted by my friend, Austin Brawner. Austin interviews world-Class e-commerce operators like Native Deodorant founder Moiz Ali, Movement Watches CEO, Jake Kassan, and Pura Vida Bracelets founder, Griffin Thall. He deep dives into what's working right now to scale your business and he offers a refreshing break from the crush it culture plugging our industry.

Brett:

The Ecommerce Influence podcast will not only change your perspective on building your business, will change your perspective on what's possible for your life. I've known Austin for years, he's the real deal. And he's someone you need to listen to if you're serious about growing your business. Check out the Ecommerce Influence podcast for free wherever you get your podcasts. And now back to the show.

Brett:

Matt Clark is joining me and he is the CEO of Amazing.com, creator of Amazing Selling Machines. And there's also the co-owner of Lifeboost Coffee. And so this is going to be a merchant story. We're going to dig in, see behind the scenes of how Matt and his business partner, Charles have scaled Lifeboost Coffee. It's an amazing stories, it's amazing product, and they do some really, really cool things. And so we're going to dive into that.

Brett:

But with that intro, Matt, welcome to the show, man. And thanks for coming on. Appreciate you taking the time.

Matt:

Hey, what's up Brett? Thanks for having me on again, excited to be here.

Brett:

This is round two on the podcast. And the first time you were on, we went meta or something, like we were talking about making better decisions. That was a really fun podcast. Today, we'll do maybe a little bit of that, but also going to get pretty tactical and practical as well, which will be really fun also. Do you want to share maybe just the brief origin story of Lifeboosts like how did it come to be? How did you and Charles start working together?

Brett:

Were you like workout buddies? You're both very buss and very fit. How did that all come to be?

Matt:

Charles started in Lifeboost, it was like a side project, I think back in like 2015. This was before he and I started working together maybe 2016 or so. I didn't even know he had it going on. And so he and I met because we were doing our big events for Amazing and Amazing Selling Machine. And I saw him, somebody told me he was sitting in the audience and I was familiar with him because he used to have the number one product, him and his business partners on ClickBank called Fat Loss back there.

Matt:

When I was first getting started in like internet marketing stuff, I was trying so many different businesses trying to get something to work. And I tried a few like info products, like a muscle building one, a weight loss one. And basically I was just ripping his stuff off, not the content, but the whole marketing for -

Brett:

Like his style, his approach type of thing.

Matt:

Yeah. I was like, "Okay, long form sales letter, cool videos." I was like all this kind of stuff. That's how I was familiar with who he was. And then, yeah, long story short, went and did a whole thing with amazing and e-commerce and everything like that and found my path there. But then yeah, he was looking for another business to do, and so he bought our course and he was in the audience. And then he and I hitted off a lot of similar interests. I did some work with them off and on for a while.

Matt:

And then I think it was 2000, I guess it had to have been like 2018-ish, I started having some more time because we'd grown Amazing so much. And I was like, "Okay." Because I went from doing only e-commerce to teaching e-commerce to being like, "I've been teaching e-commerce so long, can I still actually do it myself?" I was looking for something to do in that space because I finally had some free time again.

Matt:

I started getting really into healthy coffee and then was reading all of Dave Asprey's stuff and going into all the coffee shops. Yeah. And then I found out he had this business there that was selling the same exact kind of product. And I was like, "Okay, this could be cool." And so I was looking at his numbers because he wasn't really doing much with it, because he was just busy on doing other things.

Matt:

And then I found out though, people just kept rebuying, and rebuying, and rebuying, and rebuying. And I was like, "Okay, there's something really to this product, I love the product-

Brett:

The science of a great product.

Matt:

Yeah, for sure. It's amazing coffee, but when we first started working together in beginning of 2019, it was only doing like 16, 17 grand a month at that point. That's how we got started.

Brett:

Which is amazing. And so, to get the intermediate story, I did interview Charles Livingston, he was on the podcast for episode 98, so I'll link to that in the show notes, go back and listen to that from Charles' perspective. And he shared some great insights, but what's crazy is even since that episode, you guys have scaled even more, just amazing growth. And if anybody's watching the video, can see you get the Inc 500 plaque behind and you guys are rising in the ranks there on the Inc 500 list, which is awesome.

Brett:

But now let me make sure I have this right, just doing like two million a month in revenue, so from 17,000 a month to two million a month in just a few years, that's pretty insane.

Matt:

Yeah. I think after about the first year, so we started 2019, beginning of 2019, started scaling it. By the end of that year, we were doing about a million a month. And then we're right here at the beginning of 2021, but basically another year later, so two years total, yeah, we've gotten to about two million a month right now.

Brett:

That's insane. And so I wanted to look at this from a few different perspectives. We're going to talk about keys to scale from a marketing perspective and the way you guys approach your marketing efforts and how you scale those. I also want to talk about product because you guys have done a good job of adding to your product line and getting people to buy more. And of course, it is a consumable, so that's nice to, get people on automatic reorder and it's an awesome product.

Brett:

But you've also had some mistakes along the way with the products that you've shared with me, so I want to dive into those. But before we do that, you mentioned something before we hit record that I thought was really interesting. And I think this is a great place to start the conversation. But you talked about how you believe one of the keys to your success, that you and Charles have had is your ability to forecast.

Brett:

And your ability to look at the business, create this forecast and set these expectations for you thought you could do and then compare and measure along the way of what you were actually doing. And then being able to know, hey, should we do more of this, less of this, and that type of thing. So do you want to explain that a little bit and what that process looks like?

Matt:

Yeah. I actually got this from a coach of mine and his kind of story is he took a company public in his late 20s and went on a whole self-development journey after there. But he ended up teaching the model on the finance side that's worked amazingly. It's basically just like a 12-month rolling forecast. And so you have a few targets for the year. It's like, okay, we think we want to do 20 million in revenue, 10 million in gross profit, two million in net profit, for example.

Matt:

Like a high level forecast for the year and then you break it up by month. And so like for the month we could say, "Okay, January, we think we're going to do this, February, March and so forth for the rest of the year." And then when January comes, okay, you're doing your thing, you're growing your business, you're producing sales. And then by the time February is there, you compare that to, okay, what did we think we're going to do in January versus what did we actually do?

Matt:

So then you're able to reality check yourself and see how far you're off. When we first start doing this, you're going to be pretty far off, most likely, unless you've already got all your numbers dialed in. And then you do the same process again for the rest of the year. Update those numbers, another month comes comparing to what you thought you were going to do. To me, this system is like a perfect compliment to somebody who's very marketing-focused, which is me.

Matt:

And maybe a lot of people that are listening to this, you love doing the marketing stuff. You love figuring it out, selling stuff online. But if you don't sit there and try to forecast what you think is going to happen versus what actually happens, then I feel like it's really easy to start lying to yourself and diluting yourself, which ties back to the more decision-making podcasts we did. But I think it's a great compliment to direct marketing.

Matt:

And so rather than just doing a bunch of stuff and being like, "Well, maybe these numbers are kind of good or I think they're okay." It's like before you even start, you have an expectation of what good is going to look like. Write that stuff down, even if you only do it for one month. Write what you think is going to happen, do all the stuff you're going to do, and then compare what actually happened to what you thought was going to happen.

Matt:

You're going to get a lot smarter, a lot better at forecasting and allows you to plan expenses and cost of goods sold and all that kind of stuff. Because maybe you produce good sales, but maybe your gross profit was way lower than what you thought it was going to be. And it could be nothing sales-related. Maybe you spent too much on ads, maybe your supplier overbilled you.

Matt:

But if you don't have that kind of forecast in place, I find it's real easy to not be able to sort that stuff out when you're just like in the weeds. And we've done it with Amazing also. At one point we were paying affiliates 50% commission, and we're like, "Okay, if we keep paying them this amount for the whole year, it's going to cost us however many millions of dollars." We're like, "That's a lot of money. What happens if we reduce this to 40%?"

Matt:

And so we did, and then didn't lose any affiliates, and all of a sudden we made way more money. But without extrapolating that out for a full year, it's like we would've never had that clarity because we'd been doing this for years, and years, and years, and years, but you're just in the weeds sorting problems out. And so we did the same thing with Lifeboost and I think it allowed us to be a lot smarter with our decisions in terms of how much to spend on ads, how much to focus on recurring sales. When does it make sense to try to reduce cost of goods sold, all that sort of thing.

Brett:

I love that. And yeah, it's interesting how you find areas, and then to use that example from Amazing where you can reduce something by 10 points, or maybe it's only a couple of points or five points or whatever. That can sometimes double your profits. It can double your total profits, and so looking for those little things. But you're right, we did this on the agency side as well where we've got specific targets we want to hit for our net income.

Brett:

And then if we don't hit those expectations and you want to look at why. So I love that process because if you don't have an expectation of the goal upfront, then you'd be very tempted to say, "Well, this could have been worse. This was probably good." Right? Or maybe it wasn't.

Brett:

Any tips on how to go through that process? Like where do you come up with some of these numbers? And I know we could get too complex, I want to keep it as simple as we can. But where do you come up with some of these numbers? Are you just pulling them out of the air? Are you basing it on previous businesses? Where are you coming up with these baselines?

Matt:

Yeah. I think it's like the less experience you are in this specific business, it's the more you're kind of just guessing. For Lifeboost, for example, the business was only doing 17 grand a month at the beginning of 2019. We put together a full 12-month forecast for that business. It got to be like a few months in and we were so far above that forecast, the original forecast, but that's the point of like re forecasting. You've got your annual targets and we're like, "Okay, we're going to blow through these."

Matt:

Great. But now that we have more real data, say, we originally thought we were only going to be doing 50 grand a month and say, it was by I don't know, halfway through the year. But instead we're doing like 200 grand a month in sales. Is that great, pat ourselves on the back? Awesome. But now that we have this information, what do we think we're going to do next month? We're not going to do 50 grand a month in sales, but are we going to do 300, we're going to do 400.

Matt:

What our cost of goods sold going to be? What is the resulting gross profit and net profit? And then allows us to sort out any surprises like, "Hey, what the heck is this operating expense that popped up that's like an extra $1,000?" Without that kind of forecast, we're just tiering throughout the year, but then we're missing all kinds of opportunities to be more efficient financially.

Matt:

And so I think at first it's going to be pretty much a guess, and you may end up completely overshooting your annual numbers, but each month you should get smarter, and smarter, and smarter, and smarter. And so you're really dialing it in. Our sales can fluctuate because there's... Especially last year with all the craziness going on in the world-

Brett:

Sure.

Matt:

... and politically and all that kind of stuff. And with a lot of our acquisition being from Facebook ads, it's very volatile because of all that stuff going on. But we're still in general fairly accurate, I would say on the revenue side, plus or minus like 15%, and then on the profit side-

Brett:

Awesome.

Matt:

... it's like we're definitely digging into stuff far by more than like 25% on net profit after everything than what we expected to be.

Brett:

Totally makes sense. Awesome. That's super helpful stuff. Let's dig into the marketing side of things because you guys are fantastic at this. But what are some of the keys to success, what you've identified as keys to success that has enabled you guys to scale with your marketing efforts?

Matt:

I think the first one is picking your battles. I don't claim to be a great person on social media, or even SEO, or any of that kind of stuff. It's like my main tool is direct marketing and the best way to do it now, I think for most businesses is going to be through Facebook ads. And so we pick that channel, and then at first I was running all the ads myself and we kind of had a process that we ran through that I think is very replicable.

Matt:

It's a bit of work, but I think will work for just about anybody if they're willing to put in the time and effort. The first step is to think about like what is the main hook? And I hate to use that word because it sounds... people have a hard time understanding what that even means in marketing. It took me probably like eight years of doing marketing before I really wrap my head around it. But in general-

Brett:

It sounds like a really simple concept, but it's not that easy to execute. It's almost like landing on a good tagline or something. A tagline is only eight words, but yeah, it could take you like years to really get a good tagline.

Matt:

Yeah. So to me, a hook in general is like, what is that thing that's going to grab people that stands out that's going to make them want to buy? And you may have a lot of ideas for the general angle for that in your business because a lot of times we just assume, and then we run with it. And so for us, it was like, okay, is it that most coffee is toxic and this one's not. That's a potential angle.

Matt:

We donate a portion of profits to an environmental organization so it's like is it the environmental angle? We try to make it the healthiest coffee possible, and so is it that angle? A lot of people have stomach pain and then this coffee helps them drink it, so is it like a stomach pain or acid reflux angle? So we had these guesses, and I cannot remember who guessed what, but it's like, okay, these are the general things that we think is going to get people to buy.

Matt:

And then we basically put those into headlines, essentially. Headlines and a leading paragraph on the sales page and didn't change anything else on the page. And we used a very direct marketing typical long form sales page. Still to this day, that's our main acquisition funnel. But all we did was change the headline and maybe the first paragraph or so, and to tie into the headline.

Matt:

And so we threw these angles against the wall, had one ad for each that tied in, so there wasn't a big disconnect between the ad and where they hit on the page. And then we started testing. That was the first thing that we tested was like, okay, what's the main angle that's going to grab people? So we figured that out. And then the next thing we tested was like, okay, a big thing in direct marketing is the headline can dramatically improve or hurt your performance.

Matt:

And so we're like, "Okay, we got the general angle, what are like 10 different headlines that fit that angle?" And so then we tested that next. Once again, didn't change anything else on the page. And so then once we figured those two pieces out, the next major thing we tested was the offer. And so the typical direct marketing from supplement funnels all the way back in the day was like a one, three, six. So you can buy one model at this price, three models at this price or six models at this price.

Matt:

We replicated the same thing, one bag, three bags, six bags. And then we tested a ton of different variations. Like what if we give people the same discount on all of them? What if we give people escalating discounts is what you would expect? What if we frame the discounts and dollar amounts versus percentage amounts? What if we did a two, four, eight, what if we did a bunch of different combinations?

Matt:

And what ended up working our best for us was just, they didn't have to buy three or six. We don't even have a one bag option on there-

Brett:

Nice. Nice.

Matt:

... because shipping costs just kind of kills you. So we do three or six and we give them a 50% discount versus retail price. And so it's a huge discount, we frame it basically as like a first-time customer discount, but they have to buy three or six, then we do all kinds of order bumps and upsells and that kind of thing after. And so once we really dialed in the main angle, the headline, the offer, that's when we were able to scale this thing extremely quickly.

Matt:

So I was running all the Facebook ads at first for the first few months, but I had a friend of mine who his main expertise is taking you from like 100 grand a month in spend to like 500 grand a month in spend, plus he's good at the scaling piece. But he's very honest like, "Look, I'm just going to be costing you a bunch of money if I'm trying to get you from nothing to like picking up traction."

Matt:

And so he was working with me behind the scenes because I had run way more Facebook ads and stuff for like an information marketing business at Amazing than I ever had with e-commerce. That was years ago and I used different channels and very big on Amazon, but it's different than that sort of channel. So he was mentoring me a little bit behind the scenes on the e-commerce side.

Matt:

And then as soon as we picked up the right numbers, handed it off him and he's been scaling it ever since. He basically scaled it from like when we were like maybe 30, 40 grand a month in spend and now we spend 400 plus $1,000 a month on Facebook ads.

Brett:

It's amazing. I wanted to get into a few things, and then first of all, that was awesome, and I love the breakdown of the hook, the headline, the offer. What's interesting, when you laid out in the beginning, these like all the potential feature/benefits, right?

Matt:

Yeah.

Brett:

It's free trade, it's low acidity, it's clean, it doesn't have all these pesticides and stuff, but what's really going to resonate. And so one of the things I think is pretty easy for entrepreneurs is that step, here's all the benefits. But then what is going to be the hook? What do we lead with? That's the really tricky part. And so a way we frame it as we're building YouTube ads, we call it the supporting cast versus the golden thread.

Brett:

All those benefits, hey, free trade and we donate 1% for the planet and stuff like that. That's probably your supporting cast. Those are nice things that once someone is really hooked and interested, it's like, oh wow, this is the great company, of course, I want to buy. But those are not the main thing. I'm just curious, were there some surprises along the way? Were you surprised by what hook and/or headline actually landed?

Matt:

The environmental thing just completely bombed. It's like as much as people say, they want to feel good about the products they buy and stuff. That's not been our experience for this product anyways. We have like-

Brett:

What's the worst thing about that is, I think people... Obviously, nobody wants to hurt the planet, but we still buy for selfish reasons. Maybe I don't buy if I know a company is really harmful to the planet, but that's not the main reason people buy.

Matt:

Yeah. But we do use it as you call it a supporting cast, we have all those things on there somewhere. Because it's like, okay, if there's just one person who's sitting there, that's like, hey, they also support the environment. Okay, I'm in. After everything, then it's totally worth it. One thing that has surprised me is like, we've run so many different headline tests and we have not been able to beat one of the original headlines that I came up with for the ad, which is like coffee almost as alkaline as water.

Matt:

Within Facebook, if your headlines too long, then it gets truncated and you can't really read it. And so it's what kind of punchy headline, I think really stands out. We've tested so many things that have not been able to beat that. Also on the creative side, what tends to work best for us is almost like this really delicious looking little video clips of like a piece of cake getting cut out of all thing.

Matt:

But one of our first early ads that just crushed, it was literally just a piece of chocolate cake being cut with a fork, and it just grabs people's attention and it clicked on it-

Brett:

And there was like coffee next to it or something, right?

Matt:

No, no.

Brett:

No, just the cake?

Matt:

Just really a very close up image of like a piece of tape getting cut. And so we run a bunch of different ads like that. And then we've run more typical like before and after ones of somebody who was like their stomach is hurting with a coffee and then another person is holding it up and they're happy and stuff. But yeah, a lot of those little like food tasty videos of have worked really well.

Matt:

I had a little of an advantage because I've been writing copy for 10 years or so. But I don't think it was anything that crazy. I think it's like you either hired a copywriter or just picked up your copywriting one-on-one stuff for like... The good thing is, is like with an e-commerce business with a relatively low transaction value, it's like testing is so cheap as long as you stay focused.

Matt:

I think if you start trying to test a million different things at once or you aren't really clear on your ad channel stuff, it's like it's almost impossible and it's going to be way more expensive. But if you're focusing on like one channel, one ad, one landing page, then testing, as long as you don't get too distracted is relatively cheap. And so I don't think you have to be the best copywriter creative person, because I think you can just add so much stuff and figure out what works rather than guessing.

Brett:

And this really, this process of getting a little bit better each time, gaining a couple of points of efficiency, increasing your conversion rate just a little bit and increasing the AOV just a little bit. It all really adds up, and so I'm glad that you said it because I think sometimes we're looking for like one magic breakthrough, which is that's not the way it works. Like test headlines, find the winner, test the offer, find the winner, tweak the landing page.

Brett:

Any insights you can share on your testing process or methodology? How do you know what to focus on for your tests and how long do you let a test run? Any insights there on testing?

Matt:

Yeah. Our main Facebook ads guy would be able to talk to this way better, but it's like I was running it with him at the early stages. And so a few tips or principles is like, one is, test as cheaply as possible. Even though we knew we wanted to scale up really big, we were starting with... The campaign structures changed a little bit over the past year with Facebook's campaign budget optimization and all that kind of stuff I'm sure you could tell people about.

Matt:

But back then, we were basically running like $20 an ad set to start off with. And so super low budget because I find with most of these businesses, every business I've been involved in, the biggest nightmare at the beginning is the tracking piece. And it's like, you can spend 1,000 bucks a day if you've got the budget, but it doesn't mean the tracking is going to be any more correct until you really have like beat it up and you're very confident.

Matt:

And so starting super small helped. And we started off trying to use Google's split testing tool, but then we found that it was way easier for us to just test, do our split testing with Facebook. And so we would run like a brand new clean ad set. And then we would have a control version with no social engagement history or just a clean, basically fresh one. And then say, if we wanted to test five different headlines, we would have five different landing pages where the only difference was a different headline.

Matt:

And so then we would have five different ad sets all with the same ad, same ad copy. The only differences are going to a different headline page. And that for us has been the cleanest way to test. We actually don't use any split testing software-

Brett:

Nice.

Matt:

... kind of a unique, they don't really have a lot of people talk about, but it's worked really well for us. It works so well that we just stop looking at split testing software, and that's how we test. Whether it's an ad test or a landing page test.

Brett:

It's a simple thing, and then you're only changing one variable in this case. Right? It's just the headline. The ad's the same in same ad set, but different different landing page.

Matt:

Yeah.

Brett:

Whereas if you're testing a whole bunch of things at once, it's hard to know, was it the headline or was it the ad or was it the audience?

Matt:

Yeah. And for us it was like, I didn't want to have to spend the rest of my life running freaking Facebook ads. So it was like trying to pick up enough traction where it made sense to hand it off to an agency. Because the guy that we hired, we get a little bit of a discount because we're friends, but it's like his normal fee and it's not that far off what we pay. His normal minimum is like 10 grand a month, and so you got to be doing some certain volume for that to even make sense.

Brett:

Absolutely. Just starting out, you can't really make the numbers work paying that kind of fee.

Matt:

Yeah. So my whole thing was trying to do like the 20%, the 80/20 that was going to get us enough traction to I didn't have to run Facebook ads any more myself so that he can manage all that split tests and stuff and I could move on to other things. Other thing that surprised was, on the landing page, we have this long form, ugly landing page that we've tested all kinds of stuff. We try to have a nice little pretty landing page, it looks like a nice e-commerce store and stuff and it's just like completely terrible performance.

Matt:

And so I would love to beat it because I think it would make our brand look better, but we haven't been able to beat it. And so like along the way, we also didn't really focus on the e-commerce store at all. We still don't spend a lot of time there. We spend it mainly on the acquisition channel and then the email marketing after, and the subscription. But we don't spend a ton of time optimizing our own e-commerce store, because it's just one of those things. It's like we run this business super lean even at $2 million a month in revenue.

Matt:

So it's like, that may be an eye opener for some people who think they have to have the prettiest, nicest looking e-commerce store that's on par with all these billion dollar direct to consumer businesses and stuff. And that's not been our experience I guess.

Brett:

And you're tracking and measuring it. And that's one of those things where, man, don't let your preferences dictate what you do. Look at the data and the way you guys are scaling and growing with Facebook ads, if those are the pages that are working, that's what you got to double down on. And it sounds like you're making the right choices there for sure. That's really good.

Brett:

Any other thoughts on keys to scale with your marketing before we transition to product strategy?

Matt:

Yeah. We've been able to get multiple channels to work well, but I think it all was because we had one funnel that we really dialed in the numbers. And so we had this one funnel that we focused exclusively on Facebook ads, Facebook and Instagram together, but Facebook ads. And we really dialed in that thing. We knew our conversion numbers, our revenue per visitor, all that kind of stuff.

Matt:

And then we were able to take that and then use it to get a lot of other channels working very quickly. Started with affiliates, and so affiliates have been huge for us. Charles and mainly him has a lot of personal relationships in the health space from all his past stuff, so he's got some of them to promote. I also started contacting all the sites ranked for like best organic coffee, best low-acid coffee.

Matt:

Started contacting all of them and was like, "Hey, you're promoting this Amazon associates thing where you're making your like stupid 5% or whatever." I was like, "We'll pay you $30 per person that buys."

Brett:

Wow.

Matt:

"You're going to have a lower conversion rate because we're not Amazon, but it's going to make up, so you're going to make way more money." And I even made them an offer, I was like, "Hey, I'll guarantee you I'll double your commissions next month from this page if you put us there for a month. You can always swap us out later. I'll literally guarantee you this amount of money no matter how many sales you make." And so that was enough to get a few people to try it out.

Brett:

Nice.

Matt:

And then was able to say... I went to their competitors after that and I said, "Hey, this site is promoting us because they make way more money off of their best coffee affiliate site." And then, so it was real easy to get people to sign up back to that. So if you search for any of those terms, now you'll find us listed like all over there. We're the number one organic coffee, number one low-acid coffee according to all these coffee affiliate sites.

Matt:

And I used to think, it opened my mind because... And I've been doing marketing stuff for a long time now I feel like, but I still had something that was like, "Yeah, these review sites, it's people that are just super passionate about coffee. They're literally talking tasting and reviewing all these."

Brett:

testing, they're just choosing this..

Matt:

Oh, freaking way. It's just somebody who took a course or something on how to do SEO. Not really good at it, and then now created a site that basically just has all these review pages, which is 100% and just engineered for Google. Some of them asked for coffee samples, but some of them don't even care. They're literally just that's his business. Usually a guy, I guess it could be a girl, but in experience, it's guys.

Brett:

Whatever reason in the SEO space, that has always been dominated by dudes. I don't know why.

Matt:

I don't know. Literally just whoever can make them the most amount of money is all they really care about for the ones that I've seen. But it all started with having one funnel working really well, which I think is the secret for all affiliate stuff is like, you can have relationships and you can beg them to promote, but they're not going to keep promoting unless they're making money. So it's like once we have this dialogue get affiliates working, Google search working.

Matt:

Some more retargeting, but YouTube a little bit. We have some acquisition on Snapchat, a lot of retargeting on Snapchat and Pinterest. And it's all because we have this one funnel working and getting everything else working at the same time was all very easy at that point.

Brett:

Got it.

Matt:

That's basically been our approach to marketing, and Charles manages all the email marketing stuff. But it's like pretty typical email marketing stuff for like a direct marketer. That's like, we want to manage the relationship with the customers and all that, but we're doing promotions all the time and we're probably mailing at least five times a week or so. Which somebody who does direct marketing through email is going to be like, "Yeah, that's normal."

Matt:

But then other people are kind of like... More typical e-commerce people are terrified to email people too much, which I think is a mistake, but that's like-

Brett:

It is a mistake, yeah. You're almost certainly not emailing your clients, customers enough. I want to just highlight a couple of things. One, I love that approach of, hey, get one funnel that's working. So one landing page, one offer, that whole formula that's working because to your point, if you're going to get people to promote your product for you, you can get them to do it once. But if it doesn't work, then they'll likely never do it again.

Brett:

And I love, I love your approach to SEO because a lot of people are probably thinking, oh man, I got to get my site to rank so that I can capitalize on organic traffic. That's not the best strategy. Right? What's that?

Matt:

I don't have the patience for that.

Brett:

Yeah. It's great, so okay, create some content, do some things, of course, get your page looking good instructional that, but it's a slow game, man. It's months and months and probably years. So why not just contact the people that are already ranking and say, "Hey, I'll cut you a deal." And I love the fact that you were bold enough to say, "Hey, I'll double, your commissions, doesn't even matter how it works." Because you knew and the fact that you had a funnel that worked gave you the confidence for that and it was totally worth it in the end.

Brett:

You sort of bought your SEO to a certain degree and now you're in so many more places than if you had just said, "Hey, I'm going to go hire an SEO firm and see if I can start to rank over time -"

Matt:

It's like we could have spent 12 months doing SEO ourselves and maybe got the same result and there's this thing we have to manage. Or instead we had literally number one rankings all over the place in like a month, like 30 days. And the other benefit too of that is not only the consistent sales and everything, but we've taken screenshots of our number one rankings on those sites and added them as social proof, because we're like, "Hey, we're the number one coffee on this, we're the number one coffee on this."

Matt:

Because it's like a lot of people like look at those sites and they think they're super credible. Maybe to some extent they are, but it's your opinion, I guess, but I'm like, "Hell, if they say, 'We're the number one coffee,' I'm going to let people know that just until I get something that

Brett:

Absolutely.

Matt:

... gives you an award or something."

Brett:

Absolutely. And that's just looking for all the assets that you have at your disposal leveraging it, and getting a little bit more from each channel, each opportunity. It's brilliant. That's awesome. All right. We got about 15-ish minutes, something like that left. Let's talk product for a minute because you and I had a fascinating conversation about product several weeks ago when we were prepping. If you're going to get to $2 million a month in sales in e-commerce, you probably don't have just one product.

Brett:

You probably got several products and a variety of stuff. Walk through how you scaled with your product development, product launches. And I'd also love to cover some successes and failures along the way.

Matt:

Full transparency, Charles manages most of the product stuff, but we make a lot of the decisions together. Like we started off with our basic product, which has all the major roasts, medium, dark, light, decaf, espresso roast, but the main ones are medium, dark and light and decaf. Those are the main products that bring in probably 70% of the sales if not 80%. And then we also have a line of flavored coffees. Charles has been building those out for a while. We keep adding new flavors.

Matt:

And then along the way, we had one kind of premium more exclusive coffee that we would do like limited batches just to have extra stuff to sell people that were already customers. Because it's like, if you just bought six bags of medium roast, because that's what you drink, it's like getting you to buy more bags of medium roast. It's like you can only physically drink so much coffee.

Matt:

If you have a flavor that you can buy or a special roast, you can buy that and maybe give some bags or something like that. It's like it works out well there. But then along the way, like any business, we're like, "Okay, cool." I've done a bunch of information marketing stuff, so is Charles. Used to have as super successful weight loss product and stuff. That was all information-based.

Matt:

And we're like, "It'd be nice to have like a product that we could sell that at zero cost of goods sold, 100% digital." So we ended up paying a guy to create like an inflammation course that... We paid them like a fixed fee. So then once it was created, it was ours to sell for whatever we wanted. It just didn't really work out. It's not really what people wanted. They knew us as a coffee business and they were sitting here trying to sell like an inflammation course.

Matt:

Then we started talking with an investment bank because we're eventually going to sell this business. And so we were talking with the investment bank and then they were advising us and stuff and saying like, "Hey, stay really focused with your products there. Otherwise, it's going to be way harder for like a potential acquirer to wrap their heads around this business."

Matt:

We also tried like a few supplements because we both sold lots of supplements in the past. -

Brett:

Yeah. It always another recurring revenue product and-

Matt:

Yes.

Brett:

... you're selling healthy coffee, so the supplement made sense. And honestly, the inflammation product made sense too, it's healthy coffee so that it makes sense that you tested it, but it also makes sense that it didn't work.

Matt:

Yeah. And so then with the supplement is the same kind of thing, it's like we did all this work, created this product. Sold okay, but then we're like, "This is just like a huge distraction and it's also like really diluting the brand." And it was harder for us to sell, but it's like as soon as we add like a new coffee flavor, a new special version of coffee, then those are so much easier to sell.

Matt:

And it's like I found the same that... I learned the lesson quicker in this business because I'd already learned it very painfully in Amazing where just like back in the day with Amazing, we tried to go from like just teaching Amazon stuff to teaching everything in business, and then like nearly killed the company. And then had made a few more mistakes. It took multiple mistakes to really ingrain that in my head.

Matt:

But then as soon as we went back to like, okay, what else can we teach related to Amazon courses, events, mastermind, software? Everything sells very well because that's what people are expecting. Same thing in this business, it's like we started deviating from coffee stuff. People are like, "What the hell is this?" But then we'd go back to selling more coffee stuff, it's very easy.

Matt:

And only slight variation we've had from that is we've created a coffee creamer product, which we both, Charles and I both, we both try to be pretty healthy and stuff. We both literally put college and creamer and MCT, the whole kind of like bulletproof approach in our coffee. And so from an authenticity standpoint and also it's very much related to the coffee experience. That has gone pretty well.

Matt:

And we think that'll be more of a long-term product, but anything that's just started some random other health product is been a waste of time for us and waste of money too.

Brett:

Yeah. Keeping it tight and focused and also being simple. I think sometimes entrepreneurs, we're idea people and we're always thinking about the next thing, the next innovation, the next breakthrough. And so that can lead us to wild ideas. And sometimes it's okay, but with your product mix, stay tight, stay focused. What do your customers expect? What do they know you as? And really double down there?

Brett:

I love the creamer idea. I think that is going to stick, and that is very... For a lot of people, the two go together, you can't have coffee without creamers. I think that totally makes sense.

Matt:

Yeah. I think it also depends on your goal with the business. Our goal has been very clear, to sell it. And so, because that's our goal, it's like we want something that's very easy for people to wrap their heads around it, potential acquirers like, "Okay, this is a coffee company that sells typical coffee stuff." Also, what's gone very well for us is adding K-cups, biodegradable K-cups, because we're in line with the environmental angle. So we didn't want to do typical like plastic K-cups biodegradable.

Matt:

Those have also gone exceptionally well. Another coffee product, big surprise, it goes very well for us versus like other stuff that didn't. And also it's just makes it real easy for a potential acquirer to wrap their heads around this thing versus like, oh, I'm buying this coffee company, but they're also selling these inflammation products, inflammation. They also have some supplements it's like... Nevermind, I'm going to get something else that's easier to understand.

Matt:

Maybe somebody's goal is different though. Maybe their goal is like, I want to build a lifestyle brand and around me is like an influencer or just try to produce as much profit as this thing. I don't ever really care about selling. And maybe their answer will be a little bit different, but for us, the outcome has been very clear, so if that is your outcome, I think also thinking in terms of like, why would somebody actually buy this thing and what's going to be like the easiest thing for them to understand? That's helpful too.

Brett:

Yeah, totally makes sense. What is your ultimate outcome? And how do you build towards that end? Because yeah, to use an example, look at Amazon, they're always inventing crazy businesses. They're venture into voice devices, and a voice assistant, and speakers. That was a departure from a lot of what they were doing before, but now it all totally makes sense and it ties together. And so, yeah, I think that's a perfect clarification there, really depends on what your goals are with the business. That's going to dictate product strategy too.

Brett:

Any tips or insights you can provide on like when do you add a new product? How do you get ideas for new products? Is it driven by customer feedback? Is it just you and Charles like brainstorming? What does that process look like?

Matt:

As far as when is, I think the whole theme for this thing for me has been staying as focused as possible, which everyone talks about, but it's like how do you actually put that into action? And so for us, it was like very focused on the marketing side. I know Amazon stuff better than a lot of people because I've been doing it for so long and we teach and all that kind of stuff. I've got access to everybody on the planet.

Matt:

We didn't add Amazon until like four months ago. It is because-

Brett:

Interesting. Would we can elaborate on that a little bit? That was actually one of my next question was, what was your Amazon strategy? Because you were the Amazon guy. But behind the most successful Amazon course or most successful info product of all time, Amazing Selling Machines. Why did you decide to go that route waiting before you got on Amazon?

Matt:

Because we knew we were going to have another channel we had to manage. And as soon as we have multiple channels to manage, we're probably not paying good enough attention to the first channel. And so for me, the channel being like the Shopify store, another channel being Amazon. We didn't want to have to do any of that sort of stuff and take our focus away from the sort of main channel we were running.

Matt:

But then for us, it's like once we got, call it like 18 plus months into this and the Shopify store, we've got our Facebook ads acquisition dialed in, our subscription dialed in or email marketing dialed in. It's like there wasn't a lot of variability happening over there. We could very well kind of predict what was going to happen and we... It wasn't a big load on us anymore. So at that point we were like, "Okay, now we're ready for another channel."

Matt:

And it's like, I'm not saying one is necessarily better than the other, but it's like, I feel like you've got to pick your battles. Basically we tell the same people the same thing on Amazon, "Don't start trying to add another channel until that first one is super stable." And so for us, that's how we made the decision to transition from Shopify and add Amazon. And we actually have an external team who manages the whole thing for us, because we've kept this business as lean as possible.

Matt:

And it's like our model, it's like me and Charles are full-time. We've got a full-time operations person, a bunch of customer service people that are kind of full-time, but they're contractors. Everything else is outsourced. All the ads, design, development, managing Amazon, all that kind of stuff is outsourced, which has been our model. And so for me, it's the same thing on the product side is when we felt like we had really tapped out the potential of our core products, like we're trying to get as many freaking customers as we possibly can and sell them our main rows.

Matt:

And we're trying to sell as many of these flavors and other products to our current customers. It's like at that point, it makes sense to start adding more products. And we feel like we fully tapped out the first ones versus like adding a whole bunch of stuff, it's a whole bunch of extra stuff you have to manage, but you're leaving the low-hanging fruit, which is all your current products.

Brett:

Right. Really maximize and be very, very good at your primary channel and to expand from there. And one thing too, I think in some ways it's harder to build a successful brand off Amazon than it is on Amazon in some ways. And Amazon is a jungle, it's tricky for sure. But I think if you can build that momentum, that brand off Amazon, then when you do launch on Amazon, you are going to have a ton of momentum, there's going to be a lot of people looking for you. Native Deodorant... Go ahead.

Matt:

Sorry. I didn't mean to interrupt. That was one of the big reasons we jumped on there is because like, if you went and did a search for our brand on Amazon, there was already like a million different searches that were in because people are looking for it and I was like... And we experienced the same thing with another brand. We manage for a period of time, those super heavy into direct marketing. Just being on Amazon, we immediately start making sales because some people will just-

Brett:

You immediately get a lift.

Matt:

Or buy on your store.

Brett:

Yeah, exactly. We worked with Native Deodorant and they saw the same thing where they built this amazing brand off Amazon and they knew, and they were getting feedback from Amazon too, that as soon as they just put their product there, an immediate lift. We're helping Boom, as we run Boom by Cindy Joseph right now, we run their Google, and YouTube, and stuff and we're helping them now on Amazon or get ready for Amazon and expecting the same thing.

Brett:

There's already a ton of people searching for Boom on Amazon right now. It's not available, so it's going to be a pretty and immediate win that way. That's awesome. Any, any other thoughts on timing and where you get the ideas for new products? Just any other insights on the product piece?

Matt:

Yeah. I wish I had more to add there. The big one for us was on the K-cup side. That actually wasn't even on our radar because neither he nor I use K-cups at all. But he did say, because Charles, he likes to be very tied into the customer side of the business, which I think makes sense for his position. And so literally, every customer support ticket gets emailed to him in addition to the normal ticketing system where it's handled, but he just wants to see all that stuff..

Matt:

Because he would say like, "Probably a couple of times a day, somebody would be asking for K-cups." And so eventually we're like, "Okay, we probably got to add this thing." It's a bit of a hassle because you got to find, where do you get the little cup things? Who's going to put them in there. Where do you get the box there? Who's going to ship them all out? So was a little bit -

Brett:

How can you environmentally friendly? Otherwise, you're going against your core.

Matt:

Yeah. So it's a bit of a hassle that we're going to figure all that out. Now that we've done it, it's getting better. But that was another thing where we were seeing the data from the customers, and then we are also heard about this from the investment bank that we're talking to. And the thing is helpful to talk the whole idea of like thinking with the end in mind. If your goal is to sell the business, talk with somebody who sold a lot of these businesses and they may have some good ideas for you to.

Matt:

We've run a lot of ideas by them and they kept hounding us. They were like, "When are you going to have to K-cups? When are you going to K-cups? When are you going to add K-cups?"

Brett:

Nice.

Matt:

Why they keep making such a big deal about this? It can't be that big. And then, so I started researching statistics and it was like one in four coffee drinkers in America only uses K-cups.

Brett:

Is that right? I had no idea it was that many.

Matt:

I always thought it was just like a separate thing that people did, but it's like almost one of those core forms of coffee. There's people who like ground coffee, there's people who like beans coffee, and there's people who like pods. They're all equally as important, and so as soon as we added that, the thing started selling like crazy. Because some people will only use those and they don't really have to use the little one where you put it in there yourself and stuff. It's messy, but we used to that back in the day. So yeah, that has been huge for us too.

Brett:

That's awesome. I love several elements of that. One, Charles getting those customer emails. And I hear, and prick off as true. Bezos did the same thing, he would get customer complaints. They would be sent to him because he wanted that data, he wanted that information and-

Matt:

I did the same thing in Amazing. It's like we've got a lot of customers over there and but I eventually just put my email inside of the actual course. I was like, "If you ever have an issue, email me." And there's a lot of times people think that all people are just going to hound you all day long, especially with ad business, if I get info marketing like mini celebrity kind of business. But it's like most people, unless they're just crazy, are only going to email you if there's a real problem.

Matt:

And it's like, I may get a few a week in there, and like thousands of people have seen that. And usually it's pretty legitimate stuff. And so, I'm a big fan of that strategy, of like being as close as possible to the customers, literally let them contact you directly.

Brett:

Being as close as you can and getting data as quick as you can. Don't have it filter through three levels of people before it gets to you, just get it. Get that feedback. Because sometimes it's like a really simple thing, or sometimes I know in our business like as an agency, reporting is an issue, like how do we show the results that we're getting for our clients? And I remember early on some things that people just kept having issues with, and I'm like, "Man, that seemed obvious to me." But now I see that it's not obvious.

Brett:

And so we fixed it, and added more visualizations, stuff like that. Or in this case where I would have been in the same boat as you and Charles. I hang out with coffee snobs at times. I like fresh coffee and I've got a nice Bonavita coffee maker and a nice grinder. It's like, K-cups, no way, man. I'm not using the K-cup. But listen to the customer. And if it's 25 or 30% of people use a K-cup, you better offer it. That's a no brainer.

Brett:

But if you're not listening to the customer and then also people will experience like your investment bankers and stuff. Really good -

Matt:

And I think, because we've had some products that it works, some products that have not worked. I think that as long as you're maximizing the sales of your products that you already have, and with the new products you roll out, you try to reduce risk as much as possible. And that is one smart thing we did on some of the supplement products is we found a way toe barely order any or get the supplier to actually fund the inventory and stuff.

Matt:

Then I think it's way less risky to add and test more products. And we've used that to be able to scale up pretty quickly without huge financial risk.

Brett:

Yep. Small calculated risks. Then you find winners, you double down, you go all in on all those that are winning. That's awesome. Fantastic stuff, man. This has been a ton of fun. This was a perfect compliment. Go back and listen to the episode where Matt and I talk high level decision-making and mass process there, but this was tactical, practical, really, really good insights. Appreciate it very much.

Brett:

Matt, how can people find out more about you? If someone's wanting to enhance their Amazon game. Talk a little bit about Amazing.com and your events and products and stuff. And then we'll talk co coffee in a second too.

Matt:

Sure. I finally have created like a personal brand website that's like a hub for everything.

Brett:

Nice.

Matt:

Everything Matt Clark has taken, so I did mattaclark.com. Middle name is Alexander, mattaclark.com. You can have links to social. I've got a few blog posts I've been putting there that are the best advice I can possibly give on how to make money, how to keep money, time management, building a team-

Brett:

Awesome.

Matt:

... is so far what's on there, so it'd be cool to check those out. If you're interested in e-commerce stuff, building an e-commerce business, we've got amazing.com. We've got our main program, which teaches you how to go from scratch, which is Amazing Selling Machine that you'll find a link to on there. We've got other free training. We've got some stuff for existing sellers, if you want to scale sales on Amazon.

Matt:

Our main wheelhouse at Amazing right now is very Amazon-centric, so we've done a course with Ezra actually. That was basically how to go from Amazon to Shopify, but still your main thing is Amazon. So you're probably better off going to Ezra at this point, by the way, if you want to learn Shopify stuff, like he's got that stuff covered, so ours is more Amazon-centric. But yeah, check us out if you're interested in that stuff.

Brett:

Awesome. Then you also have an amazing event, SellerCon, which is annual, which just happened. And I got to speak there, thank you for that. Are recordings and stuff so available from that? Or was that live only?

Matt:

Yeah, we do have recordings. They should be available for sale by now. But yeah, if you hit up amazing.com, if you don't see them on there and then definitely just email our support team and we can kind of get you a link. But I'm not 100% sure if we put those up yet, because it takes a little bit to get them. But yeah, we do have our events that we typically do annual, which is SellerCon, which is, I would say, 70% Amazon, how do you sell more on Amazon? What products do you sell on Amazon. Then maybe 30% more like general e-commerce and business.

Brett:

It was a great event. I got to participate in a little bit, got get to meet other speakers, get to see behind the scenes. Of course this year was virtual, so it was interesting, but a great event. So highly, highly recommend that. And then now let's talk coffee. Man, I do enjoy coffee. I'm sure as people are listening to this, they're like, "Man, I got to go brew a cup. I got to go make some." Talk about Lifeboost. Where can we find Lifeboost coffee?

Matt:

Definitely hit up a lifeboostcoffee.com. And for all of the marketers out there, give you like a little bit of a hack is like, if you just look up in Facebook ad library, if you look up Lifeboost coffee in Facebook ad library, you're going to find our ads there and you're going to find our 50% off page and stuff. We do some cooky things on there, so maybe it's like some people who don't really know what they're doing can't buy multiple times and stuff.

Matt:

If you want a discount, you can definitely go over there. Or if you just shoot me a message, DM on Instagram or something like that, I can hook you up also. But yeah, just check out lifebosstcoffee.com.

Brett:

Sweet. I'm really glad you mentioned that resource. That's one I don't mention on the podcast enough, but the Facebook ad library it's like go and find all the top advertisers, find some of their best to add. So look at what Lifeboost is doing on Facebook. And then I also recommend, go to their site, sign up for their emails. Get those emails. Even if you put them in a folder and only review them from time to time. Get those emails, see what they're doing. We learn a lot by observing smart marketers.

Matt:

Yeah, you can definitely sign up for our email list wherever you find it on the site and we're not crazy. It's like if you unsubscribe, you're done. It's not like we're somehow take your email and then spam you from multiple places. Literally, if you unsubscribe, you no longer get emails. So it's definitely a great place to check them out. You'll see all the emails that Charles primarily writes himself, but we have some copywriters. but it's what we do, it's how we sell a lot of coffee.

Brett:

It's really good stuff, really good stuff. Awesome, Matt. Thanks, man. You crushed it. That was an amazing interview. Really appreciate taking the time.

Matt:

Thank you, Brett. Appreciate you having me.

Brett:

Awesome. And so with that thank you for tuning in. We'd love to hear your feedback. Let us know what you'd like to hear more of, what you'd like to hear less of. Any feedback on the podcast, we'd love to hear it. And hey, if you feel so inclined, we'd love that five star review on iTunes. It helps other people discover the show. And with that until next time. Thank you for listening.


Episode 157
:
Arri Bagah - Conversmart

4 Keys to Effective Text Marketing

Myth: marketing texts are annoying.

Truth:  bad marketing texts are annoying.  Good text messages foster customer loyalty and drive sales.  

Ready for the 4 Keys to powerful text marketing right now?  While text marketing isn’t overly complex, there is certainly a right way and a wrong way to approach it.

81% of all shoppers have signed up for text messaging from a brand.  Customers are clearly open to receiving texts from you.  If you approach text marketing strategically, your customers will even welcome your texts.  Arri B is here to show you how to effectively do that.  Here’s what we cover in this episode.  

Choosing the right text platform
No list, no bueno.  Learn the most effective ways to build a list fast.
Using your text list to build community
What to text?  Learning an effective content strategy for your text campaigns
Optimizing and split testing
Plus, more!

Arri Bagah

Via LinkedIn


Conversmart

Mentioned in this episode: 

Smart Marketer

Ezra Firestone

PostScript

SMSBump

Episode 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 returning guest and we're going to be diving into a topic that is extremely relevant, extremely important right now. If you're ready to finally scale with YouTube ads, I have a free exclusive event just for you. Our YouTube ad experts here at OMG, including myself, are partnering with our team at Google to deliver a power-packed virtual event. We're calling it YouTube ads for eCommerce, the winning formula for scale. During the event, we'll show you exactly how other eCommerce brands we work with are spending $5,000, $10,000, even $30,000 per day or more profitably with YouTube ads. You'll get to learn directly from Google, with information from their unskippable labs team. This presentation on what ads get skipped and what ads don't is amazing. I've seen it before, and it will definitely help drive more conversions for you.

Brett:

You can also ask your burning YouTube ad questions to our expert panel, and as a bonus, fellow podcaster an eCommerce expert, Kurt Elster, will be talking about landing page optimization to add fuel to your customer acquisition efforts. When you sign up today, you'll also get access to the replays. Check it out at omgcommerce.com under events, or visit the show notes for this episode. And now back to the show.

Brett:

And so with me on the show today, I have Mr. Arri Bagah. Arri and I met a few years ago now, several years ago, at a smart marketer event, so a mutual connection, mutual friend in Ezra Firestone. We were both speaking at this event. I heard Arri speak and thought, "Man, this dude is smart. He's a whiz kid of sorts when it comes to text marketing and more than text marketing, but he's known as the text marketing guy. And so we're going to be talking about how to use SMS and text marketing in 2021. What should we be doing, not doing? How does this all work? So with that in mind, Arri, welcome to the show again, and thanks for coming back.

Arri:

Thanks for having me.

Brett:

Yeah, absolutely. So we both work in the eCommerce space, or that's where we tend to play and of course the audience here is all eCommerce, and so we're going to be talking about how to use SMS and text marketing in an eCommerce environment. And so I think one of the first questions people think of is, yeah. Okay. So if we're sending marketing messages through text to prospects and customers, won't they just get annoyed? Won't they just be mad at us? Will we be worse off sending these than having not sent them? So what are your thoughts there? Are text messages annoying, and how do we make sure that they're not annoying?

Arri:

Sure. This is one of the things that I hear all the time and it always comes up in every conversation, right? It's kind of going back to pop-ups, right? People think pop-ups are annoying, no one should be using popups. I think it's kind of the same conversation. So I think that people have had bad experiences with text marketing where you never subscribe, you go home, and then you receive a random text message and you wonder, "How did they get my number and how did they send this text message out to me?" So people have had about those bad experiences, right? And it's completely understandable for people to be skeptical of the text marketing channel.

Arri:

But I think that at the end of the day, you are not your customer. And we've had many brands that thought text marketing wouldn't work. They try it. Revenue comes in within a week, and then they love it and they want to do more. So I think that you're not your customer. It's always great to test something out before making the judgment that it's not going to work for my audience. It's annoying. People are not going to want to receive text messages. And we've done a recent 2020 state of DDC text marketing report. And we found out that over the past year, over 81% of consumers have signed up to receive text messages from Shopify stores. And over 79% of consumers want to receive text messages. And most of them are already receiving text messages from presidential campaigns, two factor authentication, delivery notification.

Arri:

So it's not something new that someone hasn't seen, most people already have text messages going to their inbox. So that said, people are already using it. You never know until you test it out, the data is there, that the revenue is there. So yeah, you might as well give it a try.

Brett:

I love that. So several lessons there that are really important. The first one that I'll point out is, yeah, you are not your customer. I am not my customer, right? We can certainly take our own experiences and learn from them and maybe apply them to our customer. But you have to be open to testing things. And even if you hate getting text messages of any kind, or you hate getting marketing messages via text, there's a lot of people, 81%, who have signed up to receive text messages from a merchant in the last year. That's significant, and I know for a lot of people that is their primary mode of communication. I think that's pretty far reaching. I think most people are avid texters now. And if it's not the favorite mode of communication, it's certainly up there.

Brett:

I think the other thing, and I'm glad you use the analogy of a pop-up, right? We all hate pop-ups. Pop-ups are, that's a bad word, pop-up blockers, and the different browsers now have pop-up blockers in them, but really, we don't like bad pop-ups, right? If there's a welcome message that shows up on a site we really wanted to visit, and it's an offer for something we really want or a discount or something new, then it's welcome, right? Then we're okay with it. So I think the same is true with texts, right? Bad texts are annoying, but texts to the right people with the right message at the right time can be really, really positive. And so, can you kind of talk about that? How do we go about operating our tech smart messaging plan strategy so that it's effective and not annoying?

Arri:

Exactly. Yeah. Yeah, you definitely got that one, that bad texts are annoying, and good texts are welcome, right? So I think one of the first things to do in order to start setting up text marketing is to figure out what platform you want to use, and not to say that platform mattered, because at the end of the day, everyone has access to the same platforms, but there is a reason why some brands are doing great and some are not. And that is because it's the strategy that really matters. So that said, platforms like Postscript, Attentive, Yappo, SMS, are some of the great ones out there that are built for eCommerce that you can start using today. And once you have that, I think it's really important to figure out some of the ways that you can grow your list, right? Because at the end of the day, if you don't have a list, you're not going to make any money.

Arri:

I've had many people come up to me, "I've tried text marketing, it doesn't work." And I ask, "How many subscribers you have?" And it's like, "I have 250 subscribers." "Well, you can't do that much with that many subscribers. It's really important to keep growing your list." So we can get into some of the strategies to grow your list, but once you have your list, then it comes to content, right? What do you send? And we can break that one down to automated flows, campaigns, as well as customer support. And lastly, optimizing, looking at the data, and continue tweaking things with testing to continue improving. Those are some of the ways that I recommend people to start text marketing, right? But yeah, we can dive into each of those.

Brett:

Yeah. I love that. That's fantastic. Let's talk platforms for just a second. I'm glad you mentioned that it's not so much about the platform as it is how you execute, right? How do you build your list? What content are you sending? What's your strategy, right? That always matters more than the platform. But any additional feedback on platform, you mentioned several, any places that are better to start for or better for people with small lists versus large lists, any additional context you would provide on platforms?

Arri:

Yeah. Yeah. Usually people ask me, what's my favorite platform? I don't have one. I love all of them. They're all our partners. But if you're a new Postscript is a really great one, especially for Shopify brands, they only serve Shopify brands. Postscript is a really great one. The Apple SMS bump is also another one. I know my friend, Ezra, is launching his own text marketing app called The Connect for his audience that you guys are going to be able to check out soon. I'm going to be doing a few things here and there with Ezra. So that one is good. And then you have Attentive for bigger brands if you're doing hundreds of thousands of text messages per week, then I highly recommend Attentive. They integrate with more than Shopify, Magento, eCommerce, custom built platforms. So that's more for brands. Yeah. Attentive. That's more for bigger and larger brands.

Brett:

Great. Okay. Awesome. Sounds great. So let's talk then, let's transition to growing the list, because if you don't have a list, you don't really have any text marketing abilities. So how does one go about building a list?

Arri:

Yeah. So one of the first things is to figure out what's going to get someone to actually join the list, right? But what's the incentive? What are you going to offer someone? What is the value for someone to join your list? Because let's be honest, people are not just out handing out their phone numbers. It's very hard to get someone's phone number.

Brett:

Yeah, they're not just saying, "I'm not getting enough texts right now. I'd really like to, if I could find some advertisers to send me some marketing texts, that'd be great."

Arri:

Exactly. So people are not doing that right now. So yeah. What is the value in someone joining your list? And I think the value is the power of community. How can you build an engaged audience that when you launch a product and when you have a promotion, they go crazy, you sell out the product. So those are some of the ways that we're looking at text marketing. So I was just in a Clubhouse room with some brands, and they were talking about how they make it a little bit hard.

Brett:

Quick side note, how are you liking Clubhouse? Has that been valuable for you? Have you made new connections? Are you using it well? I'm on Clubhouse, but not doing anything. So I'm about to change that. So if you want to connect with me on Clubhouse, let's do it. But how is it working for you?

Arri:

Yeah, I just started using it too. I know you can connect with some top talent and great brands, great marketers, people that you don't have access to on a regular basis. So for me, it's been great to get those people into other sessions, have conversations, and then maybe take it onto the next level. So that's kind of how I'm planning on using it. I'm very new to it. So yeah. I mean, yeah, I've been in rooms hearing people talk, just checking it out functionality wise, how it works and everything. But I think it's a great platform to connect with people that you can't just email and get a conversation, but if you invite them to Clubhouse, they might join you in for a conversation. So yeah, you could even do this podcast on Clubhouse.

Brett:

On Clubhouse. Yeah. Yeah. The podcast content is great for Clubhouse. I'm just, yeah. I'm still figuring out, but I'm going to accelerate that endeavor and hopefully be more active on Clubhouse soon. So I love this idea of building community and figuring out what kind of incentive are we going to offer? How do we get someone to give us their number? But practically speaking, tactically speaking, what does that look like?

Arri:

Yeah. Almost turned into a Clubhouse expert for a second.

Brett:

I was totally, I was making mental notes.

Arri:

Yeah. I also, with text marketing, anywhere you can collect an email, you can collect a phone number. The only thing is that we're making sure that you're compliant, that someone is actually opting in to receive that text message. So if you have an email popup, you can have a phone number field as well and collect that phone number. I know the platform that I mentioned make it really easy to collect both an email and a phone number. This could be a whole nother topic, you focus on email or text.

Arri:

So what I would say is that on mobile traffic, I prioritize text. And then on desktop traffic, prioritize email first, but also collect the phone number, because if someone is on their phone, it's super easy for them to get that text, whether you're offering discount or whatever it is you're offering to get them in, it's super easy for them to Optane. So on mobile, definitely prioritize text. Checkout is a really good one, too, if you're using any Shopify checkout, Zipify, CartHook, whatever you name it, you can get that customer's phone number at checkout and have them subscribe to receive abandoned cart messages, follow up.

Brett:

And is that just as simple as just having a field for phone number, or are you explaining, or you're putting that field there and then saying, "Hey, here's why you should give us your number?" Or what do you advise there?

Arri:

So you can have a checkbox that says, "Subscribe to receive our text messages or subscribe to receive offers, updates, early access to product launches, et cetera." So usually if you have Shopify Plus it allows you to add an extra check box at check out and that would allow you to collect them as a subscriber.

Brett:

Got it. Got it. Okay. And are you seeing, what kind of percentages are you seeing or should you be seeing to get new text subscribers?

Arri:

Yeah. So that's a good question. On average, we're looking at 5% opt-in rates, and people usually, say, "Okay, but I'm getting 15% over email," but we have a brand that's doing the same amount of revenue with email and texts, but they have 10% of their email list. So even had a brand that had 50,000 subscribers doing $1 million a month in text marketing, just via text alone. So the size of the list isn't that important, because the text marketing is very different where you're getting 99% open rates, you're getting 10, 20, 30% click through rates. So those numbers are pretty crazy. And you have brands that are selling out their products, just via tax even before sending it to their email lists, so even though small lists can do really large numbers of revenue just because of the reach and the engagement.

Brett:

Totally makes sense. Yeah. And so even if you are getting 5% opt-in on texts versus, say, 20% or something on email, the responsiveness of that text list really balances it out. And it is true. When you get a text message, it's much more personal, it's a little more intimate, and you're going to check, right? You get a text message, you don't ignore that. Everybody looks at every text message, right? Maybe I opt out or something if I forgot I opted in, but I'm going to see it. I'm going to get it. So totally makes sense. So we're opting in by really, in the cart, in the checkout, anywhere we have an email opt-in, why not ask for texts as well? And I love the idea of prioritizing text for mobile traffic, and then maybe leading first with email for desktop traffic, certainly still asking for texts in both. And any other tips for how to get subscribers?

Arri:

Yeah. I think when people look at texts marketing, they think that text is out to get email, or you're supposed to shut down your email service and just use text marketing, but we want both channels to be working together. So we're not looking to stop email marketing in any way. We're looking to leverage both channels and have them work together, because we've done this test where we'll send out just, for this brand, we're sent on one text message alone. I think that did about $6,000. Now, one email alone, and that did around $3,400. And when we send out an email and a text, and we did $15,000. So, because you're using both, you're generating revenue, so don't look at it as, "Hey, I have to shut out. I don't have to do email anymore. I have to focus on..." We want both to work together.

Arri:

So that said, with collecting subscribers, you can leverage your own audiences. If you have Instagram followups, do swipe ups leading to texts. We've had brands that are now adding stickers to, let's say, their retail products. If you're selling on Amazon or Target, whatever, you can get those customers sooner. You can add a sticker that says, "Text this keyword to this number to get this offer." And that could be a great way to customers to come over to direct to consumer as well. You can leverage a Facebook ad to collect phone numbers. The possibilities are endless. So yeah, but those are some of the top ways that I recommend for brands.

Brett:

Love it, love it. So this will be a good point then to kind of transition in, into content. What are we actually sending? And you talked about auto campaigns for things like abandoned cart and whatnot. So we'll have you break that down, customer support, and I think you had one other category as well. So you want to kind of talk that through? What are the main elements? What are the main content types that we're running with our text marketing?

Arri:

Sure. Automated messages are a huge part of email marketing, right? Someone gives you their email, then automated welcome series. They go through an abandoned cart series, et cetera. So we want to do the same over .. When it comes to content, you don't want to just copy the same thing, email, and just paste it in text, because text in itself is different, is a one-to-one communication channel. When you talk with friends, family, coworkers, are you having a conversation with, it's not anything professional, serious. It's emojis, gifs, images, et cetera. We use it the same way, and kind of humanize the brand a little bit, instead of being too, more casual when it comes to text.

Arri:

And when it comes to automated flows or a welcome series, and the purpose of the welcome series is to introduce your brand customers. And if you have an incentive, you can deliver that incentive in the first message. And over a period of 14 days, you can deliver text messages that convincing someone to buy. You can focus on the value of the product. A social proof over 250,000 customers are using this product. Scarcity because people are going to get that text, right? How can you get them to act right away when they receive that text message? If you're sending an offer, does it expire within the next 24 hours? So things like that, that you can add to your text messages that would get those customers to act pretty quickly. And then you have your abandoned cart flows. And the purpose of the abandoned cart flows is to get that customer to come back and complete checkout.

Arri:

So what you can do is, many brands have abandoned cart set up over email already. So what we want to do here is maybe send a text out within 30 minutes to an hour after they abandon their cart, because when shopping, they, most of the time have their phone on them already. So it might be better to send them that abandoned cart within an hour to get them to come back. And if they don't purchase, then they can receive that email within four hours or so. So if you're looking at, how can I use both flows at the same time? We typically just stagger them, just send out the text is going to get the most.

Brett:

Makes way more sense. Yeah.

Arri:

Yeah. It will be way quicker. And then you can have that email go out. And obviously the platforms are connected to Shopify. If someone makes a purchase on text, they're not going to receive an email after. So that solves that problem there. And then post-purchase, order confirmation messages, we've had many brands say that the customers ask, "Hey, did my order process?" And their customer support team gets that every single day, many, many times. So what if you could send an order confirmation via text and be sure that someone is going to receive it so that you don't have them reaching out to your customer support team, asking if their order has processed. And one thing that we did find over the past year is that when someone is in buying mode, they're more likely to buy again.

Arri:

So if you send them a thank you message and say, "Hey, here's another 10% off for your next order," they're probably going to come back and purchase again. So that could be a great way for post-purchase, to get those customers to come back. And then you have reviews, you can hit up those customers, maybe in two weeks after the product is delivered to leave a review. If you're using product, it integrates with their loyalty and reviews programs, so it makes it really easy to set up. And then you have your customer went back, right? After four or five weeks, you can send that customer, who have purchased certain collections, other products in the same collections that they're more likely to buy. And that can be a great way to bring them back. But those are some of the initial flows that I recommend in terms of setting up your automated flows.

Brett:

Love it, love it. And then customer support also makes sense. And so order confirmation, do you like shipping confirmation as well? I know a lot of people really like to know when their item ships also.

Arri:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. Shipping confirmation. Actually from one brand, we had saw that shipping confirmation was generating a lot of revenue for some reason. So if you notify that customer and then maybe send them a link to check out another product or whatever it is, you might also see people coming in and end up buying the product. So yeah, those automated flows are a great, but you also have campaigns, right? Broadcast campaigns, what people usually find as spam. "Hey, don't send me any promotional offers," but those work really great. people always ask me, "What's the right cadence? Should I send once a week, once a month?" It really depends on your audience and how great your content is because it's not the channel, it's the content that people usually don't like.

Arri:

So if you're seeing high unsubscribe rates, that means that you need to redo your content, you need to humanize it. You need to send something that is unique, something that they're not seeing on your website, something that they have not received through email already, because what's the point of me subscribing to your text list if you send me an email saying the same thing, right? There's no reason for me to engage anymore because I've already seen that message. So when it comes to those campaigns, you don't have to do sales all the time. Every marketer that I talk to is like, "Hey, text is a sales channel. People send the same discount every other day." So you don't have to do discounts. I think marketers think that they have to do discounts, but you really don't have to. If you want to send content that is fun, engaging, you can do that. You don't have to offer a discount every single time. And you can see super high open rates, click through rates and conversion rates doing that.

Arri:

So I really think that, yeah, for your broadcast campaigns, if you're seeing high unsubscribe rates, find a different direction for your content. We've had a brand that was really skeptical about text. They were doing it, but they were kind of scared. They were sending one text every month. We took over, we started sending two text messages per week, and their unsubscribe rate went from 8.9% to 2.9% within four weeks. Although we increased the frequency, the content was better and they generated more revenue. So at the end of the day, if you do it right, it's going to be a great channel, you're going to get people engaged.

Brett:

Yeah. And what's so interesting about that, because I'll think about this from a consumer standpoint. Sometimes I'll sign up for a text service, and then if I don't hear from that brand for a long time, I may forget that I subscribed, right? Or be like, "I'm no longer interested in this thing anymore," right? If it's four weeks after I signed up, so I can see where the scenario you just laid out, where maybe if you're sending too infrequently, that increases the number of opt-outs right? Where if you're sending a little more often, and you're building that relationship and that community and the messages are fun and engaging, and maybe there's a combination of education and fun with sales, and then also new product launches and stuff like that, I'm assuming that's a great place to use text, and for events and things like that as well.

Arri:

Yeah. 100%. Product launches are great. That's probably my favorite part of text marketing because you have brands that are launching new products. What we typically do is we sending it early, maybe 24, 48 hours early to our text list, and some brands will actually sell out their products before even sending it to their email list. So if you do text marketing, right, and keep your list engaged, when you have those product launches, those promotions, they're just going to sell out quickly and you probably won't even have to send it to your email list. So typically, what I recommend is for a brand to keep their lists engaged. You don't have to do promotions all the time, but send out content that is relevant and fun. Use gifts. Gifts really help in keeping the user's attention for a lot longer. So instead of them just opening up the text and closing it, now they open it up, there's a flashy image showcasing the product. They know why you're promoting, and they're more likely to also click. So that's another hack that you can leverage for increasing your engagement.

Brett:

Cool, love it. Well, final concept, final topic here as we look to kind of wrap up, let's talk about optimizing, split testing, how do we get better and better? Because as marketers, that's we should be doing, whether we're running YouTube campaigns, or search and shopping campaigns, or Amazon ad campaigns, we're always finding winners, we're identifying losers, we're adjusting, we're tweaking, we're optimizing. What does that look like from an SMS standpoint? How are you optimizing and improving?

Arri:

Sure. Yeah. In eCommerce space, there's a saying that, "Set and forget it." I'm sure you've heard of it. So we tend to do the opposite. We want to set it up and look at it every single day. So split testing is a core component of what we do. And split testing allows you to really figure out, is it the messaging that could help me optimize, improve my campaigns? Is it adding an image, a gift? Is it the call to action? Is it the segmentation? Segmentation is a core part of text marketing. Especially if you're using Shopify, you have a lot of different segments that you can use. So I always recommend segmenting. And this goes into engagement, right? The more relevant the content is, the more engagement you get, the more revenue you're going to generate, So don't be one of those marketers who send out blanket emails to 500,000 people, get 8% open rates, and maybe half a percent click through rates.

Arri:

And that is because they're not segmenting. They're not trying to create different content that's more relevant. If you do that through text, you're going to get the same result. You're going to have that big list and you're going to have little to nobody engaging. So what we want to do is we want to segment, send more relevant content. And although you might have a higher frequency, you're going to see that the content's relevant and you're going to get more people clicking through and buying the product. So split testing is part of that too, for your automated flows, split testing. The times that you're sending, split testing, the copy, the call to action, scarcity, different components that you can really split test to figure out what's going to drive up the clicks, what's going to drive up the revenue per customer, and looking at data, right? Every text that we send, we like to add UTM tracking codes, because let's be honest, every platform likes to over report on the revenue.

Brett:

For sure. Every platform takes credit for one purchase. I've heard a lot of people say, "Hey, if I just added up all the conversions from all my channels, my sales would be double what they actually are." But that's just the nature of the platforms. You have to understand that nobody's being nefarious. It's just the nature of the way the platforms tracking works. You just got to know it going into it.

Arri:

Exactly. So we add a UTM tracking code so that we can double check in Google Analytics and see what the last click attribution in Google Analytics says, so that you can take a look at that data and really know what's working and what's not, because obviously the results would be inflated in the platforms. And using UTM tracking codes, you can really see the conversion rates for all the campaigns that you're launching, and then looking at the trends, right? I sent this text with my CEO holding the product, it's very humanizing versus a very salesy texts. What performed better? What made it perform better? And kind of taking what has already worked and then creating different versions of it and continuing to improve.

Arri:

So typically that's how we do it. Data is really important. And also sometimes in Google Analytics, you can create a user profile. Who's engaging with us via text? Because sometimes people think, "Hey, it's only people who are 18 to 22 years old that are engaging." Yeah, exactly, "that are engaging via text." And we have these brands doing over a million a month via text, and their audience is 55 plus. So it's not really a specific demographic that works. It's relevance, community, people who are engaging with your brand, that's what works. So that's another thing when it comes to data, look at that customer profile and continue to create content that's more relevant to them.

Brett:

I love that. Watch the data, always be split testing, always look to get better segmentation so that you can increase your relevance with your message and your offers. And it just works. I mean, when you put attention on these things you're going to improve your performance. No doubt about it. So, Arri, let's do this to where we're kind of wrapping up here. I'm sure there's a lot of people listening, saying, "Man, this is good. I love this. I've got to do better with my SMS marketing." Where does Converse Mart come in? So what can you do? How can you help people? Because I'm also guessing there's a lot of people watching and saying, "I like the idea of doing more SMS marketing, but I don't want to do it myself." So where do you guys come in?

Arri:

Sure. We come in. Usually when someone wants to work with us, they just want to offload everything to us, which we really love, because we want control of the channel. Usually what I don't like is when some, and then they try to tell you what to do. You hired the experts, do what they're supposed to do. So that's how we approach things at Converse Mart. So we come in from, you're picking out your platforms, subscriber migration, your strategy, your automated flows, the copywriting, the creative. We do everything. Hiring us is like 10 people at once to do your text marketing. So those are some of the benefits that you're looking at. So manage all of it, you really don't have anything to do besides approve the content, and we're very transparent with our brands, come from an eCommerce background.

Arri:

And at the end the day, revenue is what really matters for eCommerce brands. You can create beautiful looking text messages, a beautiful looking image. If they don't have to generate revenue, then who really cares, right? So that's the mentality that we're bringing for the brands. So revenue is always in the front of our mind. What can we do to increase revenue for these brands? And thus what we really focus on. So that's that for, we got into email marketing too seven months ago, and I know what you're thinking, "Hey, this guy, text marketing, getting into email?" Yes. Email is a great channel. Brands have requested for us-

Brett:

The two go together so well though. I mean, they just compliment each other. They work well together.

Arri:

Exactly. Yeah. So it just made sense for brands to offer as a service. So we're running the most lean and effective texts and email marketing services, helping brands reach their customers on those two channels. So we come in same way, fully manage white glove texts and email marketing service. So that's what we can help eCommerce brands.

Brett:

Love it. That's so good. So Arri, how can people best connect with you? Just through the website? On socials? What's the best way to connect with you?

Arri:

Yeah, that's my favorite question on any podcast. Go to conversemart.com, C-O-N-V-E-R-S-E-M-A-R-T.com. And you can reach out to me at arri@conversemart.com. That's A-R-R-I. This podcast could be eight hours long and I could be here talking about text marketing. So if you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me, I'm more than happy to help you out.

Brett:

Hit up the text marketing guy, the text and email marketing guy now, to rebrand that just a little bit, but yeah, reach out to Arri. Awesome guy, and can help you guys a lot. And so with that, Arri, man, thanks so much. Thanks for coming back on. It's been a lot of fun, and you're right, we could have gone another several hours and then this still would have been engaging.

Arri:

Awesome. Thanks for having me, man. It's always great to meet you.

Brett:

Absolutely. And so with that, as always, thank you for tuning in, and we would love to hear from you. So give us some feedback. What are topics you want us to dive into on the show? What do you like? What do you not like about the show? And with that, until next time, thank you for listening.


Episode 156
:
Jordan West - Little and Lovely

The Magic of Gated Launches

So what’s a gated launch? It’s a product launch that’s only available to VIPs or top customers.

How would you like to generate a whopping $250k in sales on a new product launch without running Facebook ads and without offering deep discounts?  Sound impossible?  It’s not.  It’s the magic of Gated Launches.

So what’s a gated launch?  It’s a product launch that’s only available to VIPs or top customers.  While it may sound complex, it’s really not.  It does take some work to build a VIP community. But, if you do it right, it’s actually pretty easy to maintain.  In this episode Jordan West, founder and CMO of Little and Lively, a children’s apparel brand, breaks down how his gated launches have generated as much as $120k in sales in the first two hours after going live.   

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

  • The psychology behind gated launches and why they are so powerful
  • How to build a healthy, vibrant VIP group that is low maintenance
  • How to foster the proper buying mentality in your VIP group
  • How to harness VIP feedback for new product development
  • The secret of using personalized 1-to-1 videos
  • Plus more

Jordan West

Via LinkedIn

Mindful Marketing Co

Mindful Marketing “eCommerce Sales Launch Checklist”

The Secret to Scaling Your eCommerce Brand Podcast

Little and Lively Clothing @ The Kindred Studio


Mentioned in this episode:


Zapier

Bonjoro

CliftonStrengths

Wisepops

“Contagious” by Jonah Berger

Postscript

Attentive

Recart


Episode Transcript:

Brett:

Well, hello and welcome to another edition of the eCommerce Evolution podcast. I'm your host, Brett Curry CEO of OMGCommerce, and today we're diving into a topic that I am really, really excited about. It's something that actually I'll share with you in a minute. I saw this brilliant offline example of this years ago in a successful retailer, and since, I've never seen anything like it, until I met today's guest and heard what he's doing online. It's just fantastic. So we're going to be talking about VIP groups and gated launches. Totally psyched about. I'm so excited I'm slurring my words. We're going to talk about this.

Brett:

Delighted to welcome to the show Mr. Jordan West. Jordan is an eCommerce entrepreneur at heart building multiple brands. He's the founder and CMO of Little & Lively, which we'll talk about some today on the show. So with that, Jordan, welcome to the show, man, and thank you so much for taking the time.

Jordan:

All right. Thanks so much for having me. It's been great getting to know you recently, and I'm so pumped to be on your podcast. You're going to be coming on mine as well, so I think this is going to be the beginning of a great friendship here. I'm looking forward to sharing some hopeful nuggets for the audience to be able to use in their business.

Brett:

Totally. Yeah. This little teaser, I'm going to be on Jordan's podcast, which will be fun. Yeah. As you and I were prepping and talking about this, I just love these ideas. So excited for the value you're going to deliver here. These two concepts are very much tied together. I'll talk about my offline example for gated launches in a minute. It's an interesting one. I think it creates a nice mental picture, but let's talk about VIP groups first. Give me the why's and how's of a VIP group, and then we'll probably unpack a few things that are related there.

Jordan:

Yeah, totally. So I'll give you the whys first of all, and I'll give you the what actually to start. So what exactly is a VIP group? So a VIP group is basically any gathering of your super fans. Where do you gather them? In my opinion, the best place to gather them, and it really depends what type of business that you're in these days. I still think that Facebook VIP Groups are probably the best place to gather a VIP community. If you're listening to this and you're in business-to-business, Slack I'd say is that side for a VIP type group on the business side because everybody's checking the Slack all the time.

Brett:

All the time.

Jordan:

But consumers for the most part are still checking Facebook all the time, as far as what the data shows. So I like to gather VIP customers within a Facebook group. The algorithm still really favors groups on Facebook, and so it's a really great place to gather these subscribers. Some more whys of why these groups do-

Brett:

And then just to quickly to talk about something that you mentioned there. So you mentioned super fans. Ideally these are going to be, the most passionate, the most enthusiastic, and also the most ideal. These are your ideal customers, those that spend the most, stay the longest, promoted the most. Any other thoughts you would add to what a super fan is?

Jordan:

... So I'm going to have a quick little talk about levels of traffic. so we talk about this all the time. I learned this years ago. I think I originally learned it from the digital marketer guys about levels of traffic. So on Facebook and YouTube and all of these areas, we talk about five different levels of traffic. So cold, they've never heard of you. Two, those would be engagement audiences. Three would be people who viewed content. So they've gone to a product page.

Jordan:

Four, they've added to cart, and five they've purchased. It doesn't end there. It doesn't end with five levels. After that there's levels six, seven, eight. I mean, you can get into all of these levels. Basically level eight to me is those super fans who are actually going to stick up for you. They're the fans who are going to tell all of their friends about you, but if you just stopped at level five which is what everybody does, they stop at level five. They don't go beyond that and actually start to nurture their customers in a group.

Jordan:

There's a big difference between nurturing somebody with email sequences and actually nurturing them within a group where they're able to talk with each other. Lots of brand owners are really scared, like, "Oh, my gosh. There's going to be all this negativity." Wonderful. If you have people who are actual super fans, they are going to stick up for you within this VIP group. That's the beautiful thing.

Brett:

Now it's one thing for you to defend your brand and talk about why criticism may not be true. It's something entirely different if a customer of their own volition sticks up for you and defends your brand and defends the product. It's amazing, and there's nothing else like it.

Jordan:

It's true. We recently had some interesting staffing issues, especially around this COVID time. So we were getting packages out 10 days after people had ordered, which is crazy. I mean, normally it's next day, but we'd run a couple big sales. We're short-staffed, and it was taking a long time to get packages out. It was incredible because on the VIP group, some of the newer customers who had maybe only ordered once or twice that were in the group started to say like, "Oh, my gosh. Where's my package." And people would just stick up for us. We didn't have to do any of that for ourselves.

Jordan:

VIP groups in their own sense are incredible, especially on Facebook. We get about 10 to 20 posts a day, user generated content posts that reach about 3,000 people. We don't write those posts. That's people saying like, "Oh, my gosh. Check out my daughter in these clothes." Then it goes to two or three thousand of the VIP members just perpetuating the VIP group, and it's user generated content. It's not our content. So if this was just about VIP groups, I think the value is right there. Go start a VIP group today because there's so much value within these groups.

Brett:

Yeah. So how do you build a VIP group? How do you attract people to the group? Then I'm also curious about, how do you encourage, foster, develop engagement? Because the Holy Grail here is when people just start posting and it takes on a life of its own. But my thought is you probably can't just create a group and hope for the best. You probably helped engineer that and encourage that and fostered that. But first, how do you build it? How do you attract it? And then how do you manage it, so to speak?

Jordan:

Yeah. Yeah. Great questions. So we use a really interesting technique, probably the main way that we get people in is with personalized videos. Somebody orders from us the first time, we have a trigger that goes over. I'll let you know all the software that we use. It's no secret because it's very hard. I find ideas are fairly easy, and execution is very difficult. So I like to just tell people everything because we do some of these things as a service at our agency. So I'll just tell people exactly what we do, then it's like, "Well, you probably don't want to do it anyways, so just hire us."

Brett:

Exactly. Yeah, we totally do that as well.

Jordan:

Yeah. So from Shopify, when there is a new customer created, we have a trigger. We use Zapier for that trigger over to a service called Bonjoro which creates a task, a video task. We have one of our virtual assistants reach out to them with their name and what they ordered, and then we also say, "Hey, if you have any questions and you want to ask the VIP community, the Little & Lively VIP community, join our VIP group here." So we have a huge uptake from those brand new customers. The first time that they've ordered, they come into the VIP community.

Jordan:

We've already got people in there who are our super fans who are sticking up for us all the time, and it really, I think, helps them go into that level six, seven, and eight, where then they become those raving fans. It's incredible actually to see over the years the percentage of money that we're spending on ads comparatively to revenue. We have so much word of mouth now that it's exponential. We're always running a decent amount of advertising, but we've really had to with, especially because this is a made in Canada brand. So as far as manufacturing is concerned, we really do have limitations. We generally just sell out of everything all the time. So it's amazing.

Brett:

That's so amazing. I thought of a couple of Canada jokes when you said that, but I'm going to save those. Just kidding. I love it. We have some team members in Canada, great friend and clients in Canada. It's all good. So I just want to clarify what you said, because this is brilliant, and I really don't know anybody else that's doing it like you guys are. I see how it's feeding the VIP group. What you're saying is, I'm looking at the site now.

Brett:

So let's say that I order this, I'm looking at a bamboo/cotton flutter, really cute, pullover sweater. So what I would get then as an email from one of your VAs saying, "Brett, thank you. Saw that you purchased the bamboo flutter pull over. You're going to love it. If you have any questions about that or want to connect with our group, go here." So now it's two things. One it's-

Jordan:

But via video.

Brett:

... Yeah. Via video. Right. Which is crazy.

Jordan:

Yeah. Not just an email. This is an actual video which you will get.

Brett:

A video in the email. Yeah.

Jordan:

Yeah. We get about a 70% watch rate on these videos.

Brett:

70%. That's outstanding. So how do you execute on that? You talked about the software that was tied together, Klaviyo and Zapier and Bonjoro. Hopefully I didn't miss any, but then is most of that script then or most of the video scripted, and then there's just a few pieces the VA plugs in name, what they ordered, and then the rest is scripted?

Jordan:

Yeah. Exactly. Exactly. That's really the only way that we can do it is have a general script for them to work off of. We tried this with in-house employees. I thought, "Okay. Let's just try it for a little bit." It was terrible. They were taking 10 minutes per video. They didn't quite have the right angle. They're like, "I don't know if that's maybe the right video."

Brett:

Like 20, yeah.

Jordan:

So when I reached out to... I mean, my, my life is my assistance. I cannot execute on things, and so employees and assistants and all of that, I feel like that's one of my super powers is just finding people to do the right thing. So I found in our VA network somebody who is really interested in doing these videos, and so they can do about 40 of them an hour.

Brett:

Whoa. That's insane. I just wanted to highlight something because you mentioned superpower. You and I were talking about this before. I think, one of the greatest strengths of an entrepreneur is when you're self-aware. You know, what do I do best? Am I an operator? Am I a finisher? Am I a starter? Am I an idea person? And then putting the systems and the people around you to make you successful and to allow your superpower to shine, that's the formula. That's the secret, and you're doing that exceptionally well.

Jordan:

It's just a quick aside into strengths. We run all of our organizations based on Clifton Strengths, so StrengthsFinders. If anybody's ever read that book or done the test, we run all of our organizations. We manage based on strengths. So within Clifton Strengths they talk a lot about pointy people. That well-rounded people actually aren't the ones who do amazing, incredible things. It's pointy people who are pointy in those certain areas. So for me, my strengths are all around influence and relationship, and that's it. I have no executing strengths whatsoever.

Jordan:

It's interesting. I didn't mean to do this because we built our businesses before we started managing with strengths. I look, and there's one strength in executing called "the achiever." Every person in my life that is in my management, my wife, my business partners in every single endeavor all have achiever. So to me, I didn't mean to do it, but I think subconsciously I knew for me to get things done, big things done, I need that person to come alongside of me, grab that idea, and then execute it.

Brett:

Yeah. I love that. And then I love the idea of pointy people. I hadn't heard that, but I think it is usually pointing people to do something really remarkable and unique and different. For someone to be pointy, it means they're really amazing at something and probably really bad at a lot of other things, but that's totally cool.

Jordan:

Totally. Which is so hard.

Brett:

Yeah. I understand that.

Jordan:

It's hard as an entrepreneur. Especially, you're a person who sees success all the time, and it's hard not to... I hear people like, "Oh, I want to work. I want to know every part of the business." Okay. I don't. We're doing a couple of acquisitions right now, and my CFO is looking at these acquisitions. I'm like, I just want the high level. I just want to know, are there places we can plug into what we're doing? I cannot go in there and learn everything. I think reading a financial statement is incredibly important.

Brett:

Yeah. You got to do that.

Jordan:

But I'm not going to build out the model.

Brett:

Yeah. Totally smart. I think that's the way you have to do it. So, okay, awesome. So you're sending these personalized videos via email. Brilliant. 70% view rate on those videos. What else are you doing to build the VIP groups? I'm guessing that's the biggest effort and that has a really high success rate, but are you doing anything else to actually build the group, attract new members?

Jordan:

Yeah. The only other thing that we use is we use a pop-up for when somebody has purchased at least once on the website when they come back the next time. We have one pop-up that says, "Hey, join our VIP group. We noticed you've already purchased."

Brett:

That's amazing. What tool do you use for that?

Jordan:

We use Wisepops for that.

Brett:

Wisepops.

Jordan:

Really great tool. A little expensive for just a pop-up tool. It's about a hundred bucks a month on Shopify for the traffic level that we're at, but honestly, it's worth its weight in gold just being able to segment out so ridiculously easy. Especially when I don't want to become an expert in all these tools, and I don't want my staff to have to get a university degree in a pop-up tool.

Brett:

Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Totally makes sense. So I want to get into gated launches in a minute because that's super fascinating, but then let's talk a little bit about the management of the group. So how do you foster and encourage engagement? How do you manage it? Because it's not going to manage itself. So any tips or ideas on the management piece of it?

Jordan:

Yeah. Great question. So honestly, probably only had to do it for about the first three months, we had a daily post scheduled. I would just solicit responses. So first of all, before you do this, know your audience. If you don't know these people inside and out, you're probably going to have a really hard time with a VIP group like this. So first thing is just know your audience. For us, I'm saying this with all absolute love. Our audience for this brand is hipster, Christian moms. We really know that that's-

Brett:

That's amazing.

Jordan:

... I'm not saying they're all Christians. It's just this is like-

Brett:

Yeah, I get that. That's the persona. If you had to, I think one of the things you have to do in marketing-

Jordan:

... You can picture them.

Brett:

... Exactly. You have to build a picture of them, and that's the thing with marketing. Some people are like, "Oh, you're stereotyping. You're doing this." But you have to do something so you can picture them in your mind or else you're just talking to a demographic, and that doesn't work. You need to talk to a person.

Jordan:

Totally. My wife was quite insulted actually when one of our employees pointed that out a couple of years ago. She was like a 20-something working for us, and she's like, "Man, it's just only hipster, Christian mom's that come and pick up their orders." We're like, "Oh, my gosh. That's brilliant. Of course."

Brett:

That's it. Yeah. Yeah. I love that. When you have that picture, then that also says, "Okay, what should we do next? What tone or flavor should we put on things?" Well, hipster, Christian mom does help define that, and then it does help you make decisions.

Jordan:

It does.

Brett:

It's a useful, avatar to have there for sure.

Jordan:

Totally. Totally. And I think having a general avatar is really, really important, especially when building a community. These two new brands that we're acquiring right now, they're both outdoor brands, and they're really big for the environment. So I'm going to need some shorthand to really remember who this ideal customer persona is the same way that we know it at Little & Lively and our other brands that serve that same customer.

Jordan:

So yes and know your customer. Then ask questions to solicit some sort of engagement out of them daily. So that's what we were doing is every single day we were asking a different question just to start getting their opinion on things, see where they're at. We try and keep everything apolitical, especially in 2020. There's just no need to-

Brett:

Totally. You have to. Things just get nasty if you don't.

Jordan:

... Yeah. And we're predominantly Canadian too. So we're just like naturally apolitical.

Brett:

Yeah. You guys are beneath us geographically and all that. Hey, we're not going to get into your political nightmare. So yeah, exactly.

Jordan:

No. No. No. We just have popcorn and watch. That's all.

Brett:

Oh, man. That's fantastic. Yeah. And I mentioned I probably phrased that somewhat incorrectly in the beginning where I said it won't manage itself. Actually probably over time it does, but in the beginning though, you have to get it going. That's where what you said comes into play. You've got to seed it. You've got to get engagement. You've got to be engaged. You've got to understand your audience. So you've got some work to do there, a