Audio

174: How Sol Orwell Grew Examine.com To A 7 Figure Business By Using Reddit

Share On Facebook

How Sol Orwell Grew Examine.com To A 7 Figure Business By Using Reddit

Today I’m thrilled to have Sol Orwell on the show. Sol is probably best known for starting the company Examine.com, the leading resource to get unbiased information on nutritional supplements.

He also runs the popular site SJO.com where he writes about entrepreneurship. Anyway, what’s really interesting about his company examine.com is that he grew it to a 7 figure business primarily by using reddit. Enjoy the show!

What You’ll Learn

  • Why Sol started Examine.com and what led to its creation
  • How Sol got a one word domain and why he bought it
  • How Sol got his initial traffic
  • How to leverage reddit to gain traffic for a business
  • How Examine.com makes money
  • How Sol created his first product
  • How to rank #3 for creatine

Other Resources And Books

Sponsors

Klaviyo.com – Klaviyo is the email marketing platform that I personally use for my ecommerce store. Created specifically for ecommerce, it is the best email marketing provider that I’ve used to date. Click here and try Klaviyo for FREE.
Klaviyo

Scope.Sellerlabs.com – If you are selling on Amazon, then Scope from Seller Labs is a must have tool to discover which keywords will make you the most money. Click here and get $50 off the tool.
Scope

SellersSummit.com – The ultimate ecommerce learning conference! Unlike other events that focus on inspirational stories and high level BS, the Sellers Summit is a curriculum based conference where you will leave with practical and actionable strategies specifically for an ecommerce business. Click here and get your ticket now before it sells out.
Sellers Summit

Transcript

Steve: You are listening to the My Wife Quit her Job Podcast, the place where I bring on successful bootstrapped business owners and delve deeply into what strategies are working and what strategies are not with their businesses.

Now today I’m thrilled to have Sol Orwell on the show and today we are going to go back to the beginning and discuss how he created the seven figure company Examine.com, the leading resource on nutritional supplements. But before we begin I want to give a quick shout out to Seller Labs for sponsoring this episode, and specifically I want to talk about their awesome new Amazon tool, Scope.

Now if you know me I get really excited about tools that I like and use, and Scope is the tool that actually increased my Amazon sales on several listings by 39% within the first week of use, crazy, right? Now what does this tool do that could possibly boost my sales so quickly?

Well, quite simply, Scope tells you what keywords are driving sales on Amazon. So here is what I did, I searched Amazon and found the bestselling product listings in my niche, then I used Scope to tell me exactly what keywords that the bestselling listings were using to generate sales. I then added these keywords to my Amazon listings and my sales picked up immediately.

So today I use Scope for all my Amazon products to find high converting keywords in the back end as well as for my Amazon advertising campaigns. So in short, Scope can boost your Amazon sales almost immediately like they did for mine, and 39% is nothing to sneeze at. And right now if you go to Sellerlabs.com/wife, you can check out Scope for free, and if you decide to sing up you’ll get $50 off of any plan. Once again that’s Sellerlabs.com/wife.

Now I also wanted to give a shout out to Klaviyo who is also a sponsor of the show. And I’m super excited to talk about Klaviyo because they are the email marketing platform that I personally use for my ecommerce store, and I depend on them for over 20% of my revenues. Now you’re probably wondering why Klaviyo and not another provider. Well Klaviyo is the only email platform out there that is specifically built for ecommerce stores and here is why it’s so powerful.
Klaviyo can track every single customer who has shopped in your store and exactly what they bought which makes it extremely powerful. So let’s say I want to send an email to everyone who purchased a red handkerchief in the last week, easy. Let’s say I want to set up a special auto-responder sequence to my customers depending on what they bought, piece of cake, and there is full revenue tracking on every single email.

Now Klaviyo is the most powerful email platform that I have ever used and you can try them for free at mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O. Once again that’s mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O. Now on to the show.

Intro: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. We will teach you how to create a business that suits your lifestyle, so you can spend more time with your family and focus on doing the things that you love. Here is your host, Steve Chou.

Steve: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. Today I’m thrilled to have Sol Orwell on the show. Now what’s funny about my story with Sol is that I asked him to come on my podcast and then like two days later he publishes this post on Facebook that reads like this.

He wrote, “Many people have been contacting me lately but not a single person has made a compelling case. Going to someone you don’t know with let’s chat or I want to mentor me or the worst I want to pick your brain causes me to only respond with just one word, why? Time is the single most precious thing you own and control, and I guard mine like a zealot.”

And so when I saw this and I just contacted him just before, I was saying to myself, oh crap, did I just do exactly what he was complaining about, and fortunately he actually replied after a couple of weeks and I managed to land him on this interview. Anyway, who is Sol Orwell? Sol is probably best known for starting the company examine.com which is the leading resource to get unbiased information on nutritional supplements, and he also runs the popular site SJO.com which are his initials where he writes about entrepreneurship.

Anyway what’s really interesting about his company, examine.com is that he grew it to seven figure business primarily by using Reddit, and with that welcome to the show Sol. How are you doing today, man?

Sol: I’m great, thanks for having me on.

Steve: So yeah, I was – after I contacted you and you posted that thing I was really worried, and if you look at your email I actually wrote another one afterwards and I pointed out the reasons why you should come on the show.

Sol: That’s right, that’s right. I mean to be honest it was more in the context of like you and I we had at least engaged, right? So I knew who you were and you knew who I was, that was fine. But what always happens is every time on — I was on Ramit site at that time and Brian Clark had mentioned me, and Nathan Shane. And the first [inaudible] [00:04:53] happened with Ferriss.

Man like people just come out of the wood work and I have no idea who they are, I have not context of who they are and it just makes you realize more and more as you build up an audience, you need to start building in almost filters, and most people just, they think- we talk a lot about entrepreneurship. We talk about you have to think about the you, right.

You have to convince the other person why they want to buy from you or why they should follow you, why should they listen to. But inevitably people forget that that applies to them also, and so when they contact you it’s all me, me, me, me and you are just kind of like, I have no idea why we should have a conversation. Which makes me sounds like a bit of a dick, but at the end of the day right, like we’ve got family, we’ve got friends, we’ve got business, there is only so much time we have and often time people squander it, but like you read, I’m quite the zealot about it.

Steve: Yeah, and it happens to me too and I completely understand. I actually don’t even open emails. Like I read like the first sentence a lot of the times and if I don’t really know who the person is, or if they are not compelling in like the first couple of sentences I usually don’t finish the rest of the email.

Sol: Yeah, no kidding, especially when you got like essay emails that are- that’s going to take like ten minutes to read and another 40 minutes to reply if you really want to do it right. You have to triage emails, right? And I think what’s interesting is as I’ve learned this more myself, I have become better at communicating with other people about this is why we should have a conversation, this is why we will get along, or this is what we will talk about and it’s done great for me too. So it’s one of those fascinating things that when you are in it you just become better and better at it.

Steve: Right, and then your little post on Facebook was a reminder that I should put more effort in my email even for people. The thing is we hadn’t talked for couple of years, right? I didn’t even remember if you knew who I was at that point actually so.

Sol: It was a while. I think it was an email chain though. So it’s always easy to just go back up and see it, right?

Steve: That’s true.

Sol: But yeah, a lot of people they come in cold, you have no — so I actually send, one of the people who sent me one of these emails, this is like, I thought this was just fun. He sent it to me and I was like I was just waiting for my girlfriend to come home, so I wrote him like the scathing email. I’m like listen, I’m not trying to be a jack ass, and I just like totally ripped into it.

And he replied and he is this incredibly successful CEO who’s got so many employees doing really well, and he is like you know what? You are right. So hopefully our [inaudible] [00:07:06] will impact other people in a positive way and everyone will win from this.

Steve: So Sol, let’s talk about examine.com real quick.

Sol: Sure.

Steve: How did you start it and why did you start it and what lead to its creation?

Sol: So we actually just turned six years old two days ago.

Steve: Congrats.

Sol: Thank you, and basically I used to be a lot, lot heavier and when I started losing weight, I got suckered into it. I bought a lot of supplements. I’ll send you the link to the image so you can add it to the notes at the end. It was a lot of supplements and-

Steve: Is it a fat image or?

Sol: No, like two of my other supplements I owned.

Steve: Okay, got it.

Sol: Trust me it was a ridiculous amount. And so as I lost weight I realized there are so many companies, they are misrepresenting science, they are ripping us off, and I was actually in Colombia. I was hanging out with two of my post doc friends and I was complaining about this. And they said listen, you are bomb, you are not doing anything with your life right now, why don’t you do something about it.

So some back-story, I had we had had other successful businesses and to me entrepreneurship has always been about independence. I’ve never really chassed money per say, so a lot of it to me was just like relaxing.

And so after they caught me out on it I realized you know what, this is something that needs to be done. And so from day one we’ve never sold any physical products. We’ve never done any supplement sales, we’ve never done any coaching, we’ve never done any consulting. We’ve always been an education company.

And the hard part of it all was most often and most like areas like entrepreneurship or even- especially health and fitness it’s usually around the personal brand, right. It’s this one person that has a PHD or a doctor or whatever that everyone listens to, whereas for me the focus was always on I want examine.com to be a repository. Whenever people think supplements, I want them to think of examine.com.

So that’s kind of how we started, that’s what got us going. We were actually only covering body building supplements, then we got into health supplements, then all supplements, then nutrition. Now we are into like education certification or we are getting into it. But yeah, it’s been an interesting journey, we get over two million visitors a month now.

Steve: Nice.

Sol: And the other important thing is that a lot of the time people get focused too much on their own niche, right? They only stay in their own little bubble. So we did- we are all over men’s health and men’s fitness and muscle fitness and all those, but our real point of pride is that we’ve broken out. So you’ll find our stuff in New York Times or BBC or all these, like we wrote about Boom Broth for mother Jones. So that’s been the most rewarding part is getting our message across to a lot of people instead of just the most focused hyper fit people out there.

Steve: So of those other publications that you mentioned, did they just start coming to you once you established your site as an authority?

Sol: So a bit of A, a bit of B.

Steve: Okay.

Sol: Some of them do come out to us especially even when you search for let’s say Creatine or fish oil we are usually top five, so they do find us there. We do put a lot of effort in outreach. The reality is that most nutrition information out there, most any information out there is very sensationalized, right? We have click bit headlines and we are driven by page view. So we’ve put in a lot effort of whoever is writing in a no non-sense manner, we tend to reach out to them, introduce ourselves, explain what we do and just because of what we do and what they do, we become fast friends.

So it’s one of those things where examine.com is a calling card, you just look at the website and you instantly know, oh my god! These guys are nerds. And that’s done a lot for us. And the other important thing is we stay in our lane. We know we are researchers, so we don’t say hey, we are going to write for you or hey you should do this. We always say listen, this is the latest nutrition research and we can help you analyze it and get it across to your audience, and people love it when we just help them do the job.

Steve: So do you have scientist on staff that can like verify the stuff that’s being published? Does that make sense?

Sol: Yeah, so basically there is a bit of misinformation out there. There is researchers who are in the labs who are doing the bench work, and then there is people outside who are analyzing it. And so we have the entire spectrum. So we have medical doctors, we have PHDs; we have pharmacists which are very underrated. We have registered dieticians, we have people with clients, we have people who are only on the research side, and you need all these people because that’s the only way you get the entire breadth and depth, right?

You’ll hear some person say, oh, I’ve figured how to do exercise and nutrition. Like we have over 50,000 references and we only stick to nutrition and we have a team of up to 30 people who contribute. There is no one person who knows everything or even 10% of everything, and the only way to do it is with a huge army really.

Steve: I’m just curious what happens when you get conflicting advice? Because a lot of times doctors might not agree, right?

Sol: Right, so actually what’s really interesting is this is one of those examples where a lot of research is hyper specific, and research actually rarely conflicts. It’s just it’s so specific that in broader context it may seem like its conflicting. So for example, a few years ago a study come out saying that, fish oil my cause prostate cancer and you are reading like holy shit! I’m done with fish oil. But when you actually get into it you find out that they actually only analyzed people from 50 years and older, and it was only this one specific group from I think it was like 55 to 60 that were taking this and this and this. That’s all higher rate of prostate cancer.

And so the research doesn’t that often contradict each other. It’s just when you generalize it, it becomes very contradictory, but when you look in depth and like, oh, it’s different when someone has diabetes already versus someone who doesn’t, right?

Steve: Okay.

Sol: It’s different versus someone who goes and exercises a lot. So it’s this, it often times is just adding one piece of the puzzle to the bigger picture, but people imagine it as if it’s like 50,000 pieces all put down at once.

Steve: Okay, and then they probably choose a title that’s more click baity or not click baity but, okay more clickable.

Sol: Exactly and it’s one of those things where because the internet is driving traffic and traffic drives ads and ads is what they are all after and the newspapers are desperate for, the quality of reporting gets — in a way it’s not even it’s getting worse, they have less and less time to analyze it or research into it, and that’s where we become sort of valuables. We are that resource source for them.

Steve: Okay and I was kind of curious about it. How the heck did you get a one word domain and I assume you had to pay a lot of money for it.

Sol: Absolutely.

Steve: Okay.

Sol: So I used to be in the domain name industry, I have dabbled in a lot of different things and so I know a lot of top domain brokers. And so examine.com cost me 42,000 and then SJO.com cost me 27,000. But the reason I mention it is, I knew that there was a base of at least 30,000 for examine.com. So if there was some emergency and I had to liquidate the domain, I could get 30,000 within 24 hours. So there is more on that it was some cost of maybe 10,000 into it, than oh my god! I’ve put down 42.

Even now man, examine.com alone as a domain is likely base of worth of 50,000, so same thing with SJO, right? 27 but I could easily sell it for 20,000 within 24 hours. So it’s one of those things where I would rather put in a bit of money, knowing that it’s still liquid than come up with something you know more generic — not more generic but more like harder to remember. Whereas examine.com often times I tell it to people, and they are like how do you spell it, and I’m like literally as the word is, so yeah.

Steve: I’m just curious why you felt it was so important to get a one word domain from the start.

Sol: I mean to me it was one of those things if it failed as a project I could repurpose it. So I could have bought supplement.com, and I think it was a friend of mine who had it. He wanted 25,000 or 20,000 but that would have stuck me into the world of supplements. So examine.com was generic and it was something I could have easily used for something else.

So back in the day- so I know the guy who created HostGator. In fact I bought a website from him in 2002 and used that money to start it, and I bought launchpad.com for 50,000 and he was like, what’s the plan? He is like, I have no plan, but I can use it for like ten different things. And that always kind of stuck with me where I’m like, examine.com isn’t one specific area. I can do whatever I want with it. And going to somebody and saying hey, I own examine.com versus I own Solsupplementresearchsite.com, it’s nowhere near the same, right?

Steve: That’s true, yeah.

Sol: And everything I do is really long term oriented. So I knew that worst case if it failed that’s all right, but long term examine.com was a brand that we could keep for a very, very long time.

Steve: Interesting. So would you recommend that for new people starting out too?

Sol: I mean, at the end of the day it’s really about how much money you have to throw at it.

Steve: Okay.

Sol: Like to me 42,000 was let’s say 40% of my 100k outlay into the company.

Steve: Okay.

Sol: So I wouldn’t spend more than 25%. I spent more because I knew the industry, I knew what would work, I knew what I could resell. But in terms of like overall marketing budget I would never spend more than 20-25% on the domain just because there are more important things at that moment, you can always rebrand. I just found it for myself it would be a lot easier not to.

Steve: Okay, okay, fair enough. Let’s talk about traffic. So you have this site, you have a lot of great information on it, how did you actually get people to go and take a look at it?

Sol: So originally like you mentioned, we actually spawned from Reddit. So when I joined Reddit fitness, so people who don’t know Reddit it’s basically the world’s largest message board. I joined Reddit fitness when it had maybe 50,000 people. Right now I think it’s at almost at seven million, and what I noticed is people kept asking the same damn question.

Steve: Okay.

Sol: So I thought about entrepreneurship, I always talk about like opportunity is right there; you just kind of have to have your eyes open. So people kept asking the same questions, so like, is Creatine bad for kidneys, and somebody would post all these scientific paper links, right? And then three days later because no one never actually searches the history, someone else post the same damn article, and people eventually get tired of it, so that’s why we spawn.

And instantly we had a very symbiotic relationship where Reddit was a source of questions and answers for us and things to research on. And for Redditers anytime these newbies would come and ask the same question over and over again, instead of having to answer with these long witted answers or copy paste, they just be like go to examine.com, go to eaxmaine.com. So that’s how we originally started.

And then afterwards honestly man, like people ask me, how do you get links from X site or B site? Like high authority sites. It’s all relationships, right? Like the way we set it up is because we don’t do any coaching, because we don’t do any consulting, we are not competing with anyone. We are not competing with legend dietitians, we are not competing with personal trainers, and overtime I have built up relationships with all of these guys and girls that every time someone asks them about supplements, they all link to us. They all talk about us.

So for example right now I said, we turned six two years ago, we are doing a quick anniversary sale as of this conversation that is, and so Charles Poliquin, god father of strength and conditioning training. He has been on for example on Ferriss’ podcast twice. He has heavily promoted our sale, because we have this relationship, because we stay in our lane everyone talks about us and it just adds and adds and adds up over time.

Steve: Let’s talk about Reddit in particular because I have some experience with Reddit and I’m definitely not engrained on there at all, but like the culture there can be pretty nasty, right?

Sol: Quite super nasty.

Steve: And I’m just curious like how you get people, like I remember one time I posted a link to my site and I got roasted, right?

Sol: Yeah, for sure, for sure. So the thing with Reddit is they are very, very, very sensitive to people coming in to try to get traffic. I have been a Redditer now for over ten years. In fact in like four months or three months I will hit 11 years. So I was part of the Reddit ecosystem before I ever created examine.com, before I even had the idea of it. And if you-

Steve: For a long time you mean before-?

Sol: Yeah, yeah, so I was on Reddit for about like four years, right before examine.com even came into existence. And the other thing is everyone’s comments and posts are public. So if you go look at my history, if you look at what I have posted, I rarely post about examine.com and I post in other areas. I post in Reddit Toronto, I post in Reddit Canada politics, I post in Reddit NBA and NFL.

So if you look at me and if I’m posting an article or a link to examine.com, no one says anything to me because they know I’m a Redditer first, that I’m a part of the community more than someone coming in and trying to monetize it, or abuse the community for my own good.

Steve: Okay.

Sol: So when I do, like if in Reddit entrepreneur which I got I think two-300,000 people. If I go in and I drop a link, no one is like hey, this asshole is just promoting himself because I’m part of the community. Because I comment there, because I post there other things that have nothing to do with me, they are a lot more forgiving. So that’s it, a lot of people just try to use for themselves, they just try to promote themselves but Reddit is very sensitive. If you are part of the community then you can promote happily and they’ll like you.

Steve: So as a new business who would like to leverage Reddit, do you recommend — okay how would you approach that?

Sol: So yeah, I would not recommend Reddit as a leverage for traffic. The traffic tends to convert poorly. What Reddit is great for is research.

Steve: Okay.

Sol: It’s amazing, it’s a great way to find out what are people talking about. So Reddit basically- again for those who don’t know, any article you can give it one up vote or one down vote, and the more up votes it gets the more popular it is. And so you can actually sort what the most popular posts ever have been in the past month, in the past week, in the past year or all time. So if you are getting into a new area, if you are getting into a niche and you go to that specific section in Reddit and you look at what their top articles are or questions are, you instantly know what you need to write about because users have already voted for you.

So it’s a great way to do research, it’s a great way to find out what’s going on, but it’s way too long term to be like, oh, I’m going to use Reddit for traffic.

Steve: Okay.

Sol: And the other thing is honestly Reddit traffic converts relatively pace poor. In terms of conversion it’s as bad as Twitter and Twitter is not something I ever recommend to anyone to focus on in terms of generating revenue. It’s good for other things, again it’s good for community building, it’s good for networking, there is a lot of interesting people there. It’s great for research as I mentioned, it’s even good for employees, you can find — because Reddit is as a chess pool, right?

People are mean and they are nasty to each other and being successful online is a big part of just having a thick skin. So you can find people on it that have thick skins that are subject matter experts on whatever you are talking about and poach them for writing, hire them full time whatever.

My co-founder for examine.com, he was a moderator in the Reddit fitness section, and the only — well not the only, but a big reason why I chose him was because people would hurl abuse at him and it would just bounce right off of him. He never took it personally and that’s great for working online.

Steve: So you said you got your start on Reddit, but I would imagine that you just mentioned that that traffic doesn’t really convert and what not, and so how did it evolve from Reddit to other traffic sources then?

Sol: Right, so Reddit basically what it allowed me to do was say hey, look how much traffic we are getting. So it gave me the topics that we needed to talk about. It gave me the initial let’s say 500 visitors a day or 300 or 1,000. I think right now we get maybe a couple of thousands a day just because we are still embedded in the system, but again honestly man, it was all relationships.

It was going to these people and like for example, I have a genetic disorder which causes my ligaments and tendons to tear easily. I’ve had seven surgeries and I have huge shoulder problems. So this guy named Eric Cressey, he teaches a lot — he trains a lot of professional baseball pitchers. That’s his area of expertise, and so he created a product and he talked about shoulder health and it worked for me. And I mass emailed him and I said, hey man like I just wanted to say thanks for the shoulder thing, it really helped me blah, blah, blah. And again I showed my value and all that jazz we were talking about.

Steve: Sure.

Sol: And he replied and that’s where our relationship started, and that’s kind of then he started writing about — so he covered things that we wrote about. So it was all these confluence events and eventually as more and more of these important or influential people started writing about us our rankings went up and up and up, right. So if we’re like let’s say 75,000 visitors a day now, Google sends I think 40 of those, 40,000 that is.

Steve: Okay.

Sol: Because we rank so highly for fish oil, Creatine and all that. It’s all interconnected, right? The more better relationships we build, the more links we get which increases our search engine rankings which makes it easier for us to build even further relationships, and it just goes round and round and round and round.

Steve: So let me ask you this, was that accidental or do you make an effort like I’m going to contact X number of people every single month and just see where it goes?

Sol: So a big part of who I am especially if you look over my Twitter feed is I share anything I find interesting. And I would say 75% of it has literally no connection to me at all whatsoever in a professional capacity. I am of the mindset of if I read something interesting, I will share it and then I will contact the author and say, hey I like your work.

And I work online long enough that you’ll hear from people who hate your work 100 times more than you’ll hear from people who actually like your work. And so when I reach out and say, hey I like your work and I talk — and I’ll mention about why I’m even saying this because for example I’m used to people hatting on my stuff, this is why I wanted to say thank you for it. That’s where the relationship starts building.

So I have always been about how do I get deeper relationships with people. You and I previously talked about like the cookie off and all that kind of stuff, I’m very fascinated by human connections and it helps my business, but I’m more interested in, is this person doing something interesting?

For every four or five people I come across in any industry I will maybe contact one person because when I contact them I want to contact them from position of authenticity saying I actually like your work and I actually want to get to know not, oh you are influential so I think we should become BBFs. So that’s my approach.

Steve: I just want to take a moment to tell you about a free resource that I offer on my website that you may not be aware of. If you’re interested in starting your own online store, I put together a comprehensive six day mini course on how to get started in ecommerce that you should all check out. It contains both video and text based tutorials that go over the entire process of finding products to sell all the way to getting your first sales online.

Now this course is free and can be obtained at mywifequitherjob.com/free. Just sign up right there on the front page via email and I’ll send you the course right away. Once again that’s mywifequitherjob.com/free, now back to the show.

Can you give us an example of an approach email that you might write? And like earlier in our conversation, at the very beginning we were talking about how we get lots of emails and it’s hard to stand out from the crowd, right? So how do you stand out from the crowd?

Sol: Okay, easy. So for example recently think I read someone on Mental Floss. This writer on Mentalfloss.com, she had written about some supplement, let’s just say supplement X. And I read it and I really liked it, and so my next step is to then further read the person’s other stuff. And so I read her other stuff and she has the same genetic disorder I have EDS, and this will be another little spin and I’ll add on the end. So I send her an email saying, hey Cate, you know I read your article, really liked it and I tweeted it too obviously first.

Steve: Sure.

Sol: But I really liked it, I enjoyed, it’s always good to see no nonsense information because we get a lot of nonsense. And then I explained, this is what we do and this is why I’m so used to nonsense, and then I’m like, oh, and one of the big reasons I really wanted to reach out was because I have EDS and not a lot of people talk about EDS. Man, it’s always like good to read about it, people becoming more publicly aware of it.

Steve: Okay.

Sol: Now, and then so I just sent that email and she replied being like, oh yeah, somebody knows what EDS is. But the way it ties into the rest of the things is I hate reading books about business, about marketing, about entrepreneurship. Every time I see a list — sorry I have to be honest. Eveytime I see a list of like 42 business books you have to read, I’m like, what are you going to read in the 9th book that you didn’t read in the first eight books, right?

Like business in itself is an easy concept. Figure out something people want and sell it to them. And we can get into the marketing psychology and that’s all important, but that’s the basic premise.

Instead, I spend most of my time reading random things that have nothing to do with business. So for example right now I’m reading about living with the borderline mother, which talks about how women with BPD impact their families.

Steve: Okay.

Sol: I’m also reading the oral history of the daily show, and I just recently finished Michael Jackson Inc. which talked about the business that Michael Jackson made and how he made all of his money which was through music licensing. So what happens, because I read so much but I read about things that have nothing to do with business and entrepreneurship, whenever I meet someone, I can instantly go on depth with something that’s of interest to them because I have also been exposed to it. So the reason I became good friends with the editor in chief of Entrepreneur Magazine is because he is a huge NBA fan and so am I.

And so he loves the Miami Heat, I’m a huge Raptors fan, we are both under East Side, and so when I speak to him in this language he knows I’m a serious like fan, right? And I find this is the key, this exposure to external things is what makes ‘networking so easy for me’ is because I connect with people on a 100 different things instead of, oh, did you read about the latest AB test that growthhacker.com is talking about? That’s boring as hell.

We want to connect on a personal level, we want to work with people we like and we like them on personal connections, not oh I think you are supper smart because you are successful, and oh I think you are supper smart because you are so succefull, none of that. So I focus on the personal side or the human side.

Steve: So let me just kind of summarize what you said to me.

Sol: Yeah.

Steve: So when you do your outreach, you try to find out as much about that person as possible and pick something non business related to kind of establish rapport with?

Sol: Yeah, I connect with them on things that I’m also interested in or something that I’ve also been exposed to. And I always — I don’t read one thing, I read multiple things from them and often times when I start reading other stuff, I’m like, no, we are not going to connect and I don’t bother. I’m very big on only contacting people I actually want a contact with, and so my cold email response rate is above 50%.

Steve: Wow! Okay.

Sol: Because I only contact people I actually want to have a conversation with, and that I think — and I always write my emails from scratch. I’m a fast typer which I think makes it a little bit easier for me. But I always write emails from scratch so that you can almost feel the energy or the vibe in my words that I like you, I think you are an interesting person, I like what you are writing, let’s become friends. That’s always my mindset.

Steve: So while we are talking, would you mind opening that email app that you sent to that woman?

Sol: Sure.

Steve: I’m just curious about the part where you are establishing yourself as someone she would actually want to talk to as well, right? Because that woman who had EDS she probably gets a ton of emails every day also I would imagine, right?

Sol: Yeah, you know what? I just opened up another one that’s just sitting in my inbox.

Steve: Okay.

Sol: And so this guy is an editor at a popular science magazine. And so the email is, Hi Stephen, after our exchange I found your post via my RD friend Robin and saw exchange on Twitter. I spend quite a bit if time reading your stuff, very interesting and your bit about teaching creationalism to debunk it actually made me laugh. And so he had talked about creationism in school, and I had done a lot of research or reading about how the Texas curriculum has a massive impact on what’s taught in the US because they are the number one text book buyer in the States.

So there is that little randomness that I’ve learned that we were able to bond on. And then so hey, anyway I just wanted to quickly introduce myself, hey I’m Sol, this an old email now. Over four years ago I helped found examine.com. We are an intermittent organization, no donors, no sponsor, no advertisers and we just look at the evidence behind nutrition and supplementation. We recently released an examine.com Research Digest where every month we analyze nutritional studies. If you are interested I’d love to show it to you. I promise you it’s like nothing else you have seen before, regards. That’s it.

Steve: Okay.

Sol: That was the entire email and he responded to me like, hey I just visited your site. The few pages I visited sum up exactly what I’ve found. I really like your human effect matrix, blah, blah, blah. And so he actually mentioned — this is actually funny, he mentioned this seems like a site that Reddit fitness would find very useful.

Steve: Interesting.

Sol: And then I responded being like, blah, blah, blah, and so it’s just this right there. One little mention about creationism and that basically I understood what he was talking about on the text, his perspective, that was our connection, that’s it.

Steve: What attracted to you to this person in the first place, and did you contact him with the intention of getting the word out about examine.com?

Sol: No, so I actually contact a lot of people. I am very, very — so I am big on human connections, and the reason I mention this is it opens up things that you would have never considered. So like my life goal is to enjoy as many shenanigans as I can. And two real life examples are one, I bought this piece of art. It is this gorilla and there is like all this color on the outside, and it’s very calm on the inside.

And I send an email to my list saying I bought this piece of art and this is why bough it. It reminds me of me. It’s chaotic on the outside, it’s very cool on the inside and this is why I love it. And a guy replied and he is like, hey I am Banksy’s broker, if you every want a Banksy let me know, and I’m like [inaudible] [00:32:33].

I would have never thought about me buying a Banksy. For those who don’t know who Banksy is, he is a very well graffiti artist. Very well known, like people they will cut out, if he does graffiti on like a house, they will actually cut out that part of the house and save it as a piece of art.

Steve: My goodness, okay.

Sol: And just because I was interested in art. Or another time I was hanging out with an entrepreneur and I’m like, hey man, like I’m really — we were just talking and I’m like yeah, one of these things I want to do is get my pilots license. And he said, hey, I have a plane but I don’t get the minimum number of millage I need on my engine every year. You are free to use my plane for free; you just pay for the gas. I’m like yes.

So what I found is that I almost rarely ever go into any conversation with a plan, with a mission, being like oh, this is how this is going to help me because almost everything awesome that’s come out it including the cookie off and the sausage off that you and I talked about was completely irrelevant to my business interests or to anything specific. It was just okay, let’s see where it goes. And so the case that attracted me to him was, he had actually published a graph about reliable sites about science and nutrition.

Steve: Okay, got it.

Sol: And that’s what made me go like, oh this is cool and I agreed with most of what he wrote. Like I have like guys like David Wolfe and Food Babe, they are horribly misrepresenting nutrition and research and science and all that stuff. And so that’s what originally made me come across his work and then reading about creationism stuff I’m like [inaudible] [00:34:03] we should get to know each other and that was it.

Steve: It sounds like we have similar thought philosophies except that I use my podcast to reach out to people that I actually want to get to know.

Sol: 100% right, it makes sense.

Steve: And you get to chat with them for like an hour so.

Sol: Exactly and you can get to ask questions that you want to ask, works perfectly for you.

Steve: Exactly. So let’s talk about okay so you are getting all this traffic from examine.com and you are getting back links from experts that you’ve reached out to. From what it sounds like, examine.com did grow pretty quickly, right?

Sol: Actually no. It’s one of those things where people think that there is this big hokey pokey and all that. I published numbers like a year ago in traffic, and don’t quote me on this exactly, but I think it took us about two years to get to 10,000, then another year to get 20 and another year to like 40 then 50 now 75.

It seems like it’s quick growth but in terms of the actual graph, it’s actually pretty linear a curve. Because we are not like one of those cool Chinese sites, right? Like it never — TechCrunch is never hearing about us. Mashable doesn’t read about us. It’s not that the Technorati has ever taken attention to us.

Steve: Okay.

Sol: We have been slowly but surely sloggin away and it just keeps growing and growing and growing and growing and that’s it.

Steve: Okay, it sounds like my blog as well. No hokey pokey at all on my end either.

Sol: No, no hokey pokey. This is — but it’s one of those things where it’s like a snow ball going down a hill, right? The momentum builds up and builds up and builds up and in absolute numbers it seems like it’s a big jump, but as you keep going it just seems to be a pretty relatively stable hill.

Steve: Okay, let’s talk about monetization. So you have all this data right?

Sol: Yeah.

Steve: And I remember you mentioning before that you do not sell supplements or anything along those lines.

Sol: Correct.

Steve: So how do you guys make money exactly?

Sol: So we are an education company.

Steve: Okay.

Sol: All we do is we have three products, two of them — all three of them are PDF based. Two of them you just buy straight up and then the last one is a subscription which we’ve built for professionals. So in that email I was reading you I mentioned the Research Digest. Every month we analyze six nutritional studies and we break it down, we analyze it. And so if you are registered dietician or personal trainer or a medical doctor it’s supper useful to you.

And in those health industries you have what we call continuing education units. So for example to be a registered dietician you need to do 75 hours of approved credit work every five years to remain an RD. And so our Research Digest is approved with all the training organizations, with registered dietician organization.

So it’s like a double bonus for professionals, they are learning, they are being better with their clients and they are also getting their accredited hours. The other two products then are more for the end user basically like, hey, take this supplement, don’t take this supplement. It’s very much what we found is our free information is I think three million words now on our website. It’s just incredibly in-depth, but at the end of the day people want step by step directions, and that was where we found our monetization was.

Steve: Let me ask you, how did you figure out what to create?

Sol: A lot of it is through conversations.

Steve: Okay.

Sol: So one of my talks for example is about the three lessons I’ve learned over 18 years of entrepreneurship, and one of the main lesson — one of those three is you need to talk to your customers. And when I say talk I don’t necessarily mean just surveys, which is what everyone does. You need to pick up a phone and you need to have a conversation with them, because it’s when you are having that conversation that you really realize what they want from you, what they are looking for, what they need, what they want you to solve, and it’s in that conversation that you realize not only what they want and what you can sell to them but also what language to use.

Steve: How did you choose who to talk to on the phone because obviously it’s not scalable?

Sol: Yeah, honestly it’s one of those random things. Like when you are new you are just desperate to talk to anybody.

Steve: Okay.

Sol: So you are like listen, I want to talk to you. Eventually now so our Research Digest we have three tiers. We have a monthly, a yearly, and a life time. And the reason we added life time is if you look at a credit card and on average a credit card will last you three years when somebody signs up for you.

And so what we did was if we can just get someone to pay us upfront for three years, that’s a win and so we would talk to our life time customers who have paid us a 1,000 bucks and we said, all right, what do you want from us? And so we usually, we tier down now to like the most highest paying customers and then go downwards there.

Steve: I guess before you have any customers at all, like how did you even know that you needed this membership tool? You see what I’m getting at?

Sol: Yeah, yeah, so-

Steve: Like in the beginning you don’t know anything.

Sol: Yeah so we had already built an audience. We weren’t making money and we specifically on purpose didn’t make money. We were like all right, we are going to build something high quality and there is a rush towards eye balls and all that kind of stuff but that’s more like a generic brand thing. Like oh I’m Snapchatting, I’m going to get ten million eye balls or 100 million eyeballs and I’m somehow going to monetize it.

For us it made sense. We are doing research, its high quality information, its high quality users, right? It’s like Shane over at Finance Street, right? He gets a million page views a month. But his audience is very, very high level, so he know he can sell them high level stuff or like what Ramit does or IWT.

Steve: Okay.

Sol: So we were building up an email list and from them we started asking what do you want? And so the first thing people wanted was, oh you know we want one way to quickly look up what the human research says about supplements. Boom! That was our first product.

Steve: Was that via email that you asked these questions?

Sol: Yeah, this is all via originally, right? Just to kind of get it going. And then we started having conversations with people who bought and then on the front they were like, yeah it’s great, I love it, but I’m a little bit overwhelmed because this is huge. It is like 1,000 pages, it’s a huge tabular data. They are like I don’t know exactly what to do. That’s when we created our next product which was Stack Guide which is step by step directions.

Steve: Okay.

Sol: And then after we did that we talked to more people and we talked to more like trainers and RDs and they said, you know what, I love it, this is so great, I use it on my clients all the time, but my client will come up to me and be like, hey man, I read this study about fish oil causes prostate cancer, what do it do? Or high protein is as bad as smoking three packs of cigarettes a day. What do I do? And then we are like all right, this is where our other opportunity is. Is that they need to stay on top of the latest research and we can do that for them.

And so our next one that we are working now is certification and the same thing, they are like hey, how do I know who I can trust with supplements? How can I come across as a teacher of supplements? How can I be an expert in supplements like you guys are? We are like all right, there is the opportunity for us. Let’s teach other people how to be great at supplements, that’s our expertise, so yeah.

Steve: Okay, okay, so it sound like you started by pulling the audience via email and then you actually had some customers and you ended talking to those customers by phone to figure out what to do next?

Sol: Exactly.

Steve: Okay.

Sol: Like and maybe you just want to have a conversation, and it’s even people sending messages in contact form, great, that is your opportunity. Customers buy — we are big on — so there is a man named Joy Coleman and he talks about 100 days after. Brilliant speaker definitely, if you’re listening to this, go check out his stuff. And he says basically you have 100 days to convert a customer into an evangelist, and we are big on that.

So when they buy we reach out to them, ten days later we are like did you download it, or we check if they downloaded it. Hey, what did you think? What did you like, what did you did you not like. 35 days later we contact them, three months in we contact them. So we are very, very big on making ourselves accessible and that just parlays into everything we do.

Steve: And how did you know when was the right time to actually develop a product? Because you have this wealth of information.

Sol: Yeah.

Steve: At what point did you say, hey it’s time to start making money?

Sol: There wasn’t a specific moment that just hit for us. It was one of those things that the demand was coming and coming, and I think we were at maybe 10,000 visitors a day. And I just felt — and this is like two and half years in, this was not overnight. And I was like, all right, I think we are at this position that we have leverage. To me it’s all about leverage, right? Do we have leverage over in a way our audience to say, we are awesome, you guys trust us, this is what we are going to sell.

And I think I was hoping we’d sell 1000 over four days. I think that was my original target and I think we sold 1,400 in the first day alone. So the demand was definitely pent up and waiting. So it just, we felt like we had enough of an audience that this was the time to go, but there was no specific metric that I can point toward and say this is how we knew at this moment.

Steve: I guess what was trying to ask is like at this point you have a staff, right that you have to pay?

Sol: At this point, no. it’s just my co-founder and I.

Steve: Okay, okay, got it.

Sol: My arrangement with my co-founder and this is how I do everything now is, listen you focus on your one thing and for my co-founder was research, and I will take care of everything else, the customer service, web hosting, web design, web development because I had programmed the website from scratch. Customer service, editing, copy editing, all of it, I’m going to do it.

And so what’s great about that is then and then like you give a percentage of the company and I gave him a stipend basically. Like I think I paid them $800 a month or something. I’m like, listen, you know the potential — and the nice thing is I had a reputation, I had already built sites, he’d already seen that stuff, we’d actually hang out in real life too. So he knew I was the real deal, and so he was willing to go along with it, and obviously he has been well rewarded for that now.

Steve: Okay, so all the scientist and everything they came after you already started making money and you could afford to pay people, right?

Sol: Yeah, so once we actually made that money from the first sale, that’s when we started — so we had already built up a team of advisers that we regularly had conversations with that gave us feedback, but it was definitely that led us to get to the next, next level.

Steve: Okay, and in terms of — I just typed in Creatine just now and you rank number three I think right now.

Sol: There you go.

Steve: Are those SEO efforts just a result of outreach and just people naturally linking to your site?

Sol: Yeah, so pretty much now we get random links all the time from random websites. We use [inaudible] [00:43:41] .net, for example I use it just to see what people are talking about. And I’d say about 80% of the links that go up; I had no idea they were going to go up just because we built up the reputation in the brand.

Steve: Okay, got it, got it, and today are you still involved with examine.com?

Sol: So I’m essentially like a chairman if you wish.

Steve: Okay.

Sol: We do a conversation once a month with the top people on the team just to see what everyone is up to, that we are all on the same page. But for example Kamal who runs it now. So Kamal has a double MBA MPH which is a Masters in public health which is like the macro level policy stuff from Hopkins, and he was doing his PHD in nutrition when we picked him up. He’s like yeah, you know we are working on our side effect database. I had no idea it was even happening. I was like okay, cool tell me more about it.

So I’m effectively outside of the organization, and part of it I think that a lot of entrepreneurs struggle with when they hire people is they micro manage them, or whenever they screw up or do something wrong, they are too harsh on them. But the reality is that someone like you or someone like me who’s been doing it for five, ten years or whatever that we are deep in, we have all this domain expertise built up that they don’t. And people are very uncomfortable with their employees failing, and I’m big on like let them fail but they better learn from that failure and we’ll go over why the failure happened, and then they will be better for it.

And so during this sale we’ve had, we’ve sent out this segment of emails and that segment of email and this and this and that. I’ve heard to do none of it, all I’ve done is talk to some of our affiliates who I initially contacted years ago and just be like, hey, we have a sale going on and they are like, cool, that’s it.

Steve: Nice and so that was kind of like my Segway because we chatted a little bit before this interview to see what you are up to now, and I just want to touch on those topics. Like your cookie challenge and some of the philanthropic stuff that you’ve been doing as well.

Sol: For sure, for sure. So to me the entire point of entrepenunerhsip is independence. I am so independent that I legally changed my full name. That the idea that I did not get to choose my name was completely unacceptable, so I changed it. And a lot of entrepreneurs I know get lost in making money or hitting some goal or this or this or that.

But for me it’s more like what stupid things can we get into. And so this entire cooking thing happened because I was trash talking a friend about this place has the best cookie, she is like no. We went there, she tried them, she’s like yeah, you know what, you’re right, best cookies ever. I’m just giving you the super quick version.

Steve: Sure, sure.

Sol: Then she started trash talking me the week later on my Facebook thing, I found better cookies, I’m like, you are crazy. Her friend came in, I have no idea who her friend is, never met her before. Her friend is like, I make even better cookies, I’m like you both are crazy. We agreed to do a blind taste test and I’m like you random person you came to my wall. I’m inviting myself to your house; we’ll do the cookie off there.

So we had 18 cookies there, it was insane event. I posted on Facebook, people started saying, hey I can make better cookies. And this is usually where the story ends where I’m like okay whatever. But being the person I am I’m like all right, prove it to me, send me your cookies. So one person sent me cookies, then three then five then ten from Australia, from the UK, people started sending me pies, peanut butter, random stuff.

So in the last 13 months I’ve had over 130 people send me cookies and other versions of deserts. And to me it was always about a reminder that if you have an audience, you don’t need to make to make money from it. You don’t need to become more internet famous from it or be a celebrity or whatever from it. You can use it to have and do ridiculous things. And so earlier this year, January we had our second cookie off. This one became an event. There was 140 people showed up, we had 27 professional bakers and pastry chefs come with their cookies, and then we made it a charity event.

So we raised 2,500 bucks. And so in June we are doing the sausage version and this time I’m charging it even more because I want to raise $10,000 for charity. So it’s one of those things where to me having an audience is more about what can we do and what fun can we have than, oh I’m going to sell a course now, or I’m going to do coaching or consulting. So yeah that’s what I’m up to.

Steve: Yeah, it sounds like a lot of fun man, and it’s for a good cause at the same time as well.

Sol: Exactly, and I’m big on like supporting local charities just because you know the money is going to be in your neighborhood, it tends to be better spent. You know the people so you know exactly what they are doing with it. So yeah it’s really satisfying to be honest.

Steve: Cool, so hey, we’ve been chatting for quite a while, like where can people find more about you or reach you the right way of course? And where can they find more about the sausage challenge that’s coming up?

Sol: Oh yeah, so honestly so if you just head on over to SJO.com and link to my Facebook and my Twitter where I talk about all this stuff. All that stuff is out there. Just SJO.com, that’s all they need to know.

Steve: Cool man. Hey Sol, thanks a lot for coming on the show man, it was a pleasure having you.

Sol: Dude, it was my pleasure, thank you.

Steve: All right, take care.

Hope you enjoyed that episode. Now I love Sol’s story and it just goes to show that if you really want something it’s never really too late to take action and change yourself for the better. For more information about this episode, go to my WifeQuitHerJob.com/episode174.

And once again I want to thank Klaviyo for sponsoring this episode. Klaviyo is my email marketing platform of choice for ecommerce merchants and you can easily put together automated flows like an abandoned cart sequence, a post purchase flow, a win back campaign, basically all these sequences that will make you money on auto pilot. So head on over to mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O, once again that’s mywifequitherjob.com/ K-L-A-V-I-Y-O.

Now I also want to thank SellerLabs.com as well, and their tool Scope has completely changed the way I choose keywords for both my Amazon listings and my Amazon advertising campaigns. So instead of making random guesses Scope tells me exactly which keywords are generating sales, and within the first week of use I saw a 39% increase in sales. It is a no brainer. So head on over to Sellerlabs.com/wife and sign up for free, and if you love the tool you will receive $50 off. Once again that’s sellerlabs.com/wife.

And if you’re interested in starting your own ecommerce store, head on over to mywifequitherjob.com and sign up for my free six day mini course. Just type in your email and I’ll send you the course right away, thanks for listening.

Outro: Thanks for listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast, where we are giving the courage people need to start their own online business. For more information visit Steve’s blog at www.mywifequitherjob.com.

I Need Your Help

If you enjoyed listening to this podcast, then please support me with an iTunes review. It's easy and takes 1 minute! Just click here to head to iTunes and leave an honest rating and review of the podcast. Every review helps!
 
Share On Facebook

Ready To Get Serious About Starting An Online Business?


If you are really considering starting your own online business, then you have to check out my free mini course on How To Create A Niche Online Store In 5 Easy Steps.

In this 6 day mini course, I reveal the steps that my wife and I took to earn 100 thousand dollars in the span of just a year. Best of all, it's absolutely free!

173: How To Run Profitable YouTube TrueView For Shopping Ads With Brett Curry

Share On Facebook

How To Run Profitable YouTube TrueView For Shopping Ads With Brett Curry

Today, I’m thrilled to have Brett Curry on the show. Brett is someone who I met through Drew Sanocki at the Traffic And Conversions Summit In San Diego and we hit it off right away.

He runs OMG Commerce which is a 7 figure ecommerce agency that has helped over 125 companies with their pay per click advertising.

Not only does Brett speak at major ecommerce events across the country but he also writes for a variety of sites like Digital Marketer and Search Engine Journal.

He’s also the author of the ultimate guide to Google Shopping published by Shopify and the host of the ecommerce evolution podcast.

What You’ll Learn

  • How Google Shoppable True View Ads Work
  • A specific strategy to get YouTube ad campaigns profitable
  • How YouTube ads work
  • Examples of successful You Tube TrueView campaigns
  • How to optimize a Google Shopping campaign

Other Resources And Books

Sponsors

Klaviyo.com – Klaviyo is the email marketing platform that I personally use for my ecommerce store. Created specifically for ecommerce, it is the best email marketing provider that I’ve used to date. Click here and try Klaviyo for FREE.
Klaviyo

Scope.Sellerlabs.com – If you are selling on Amazon, then Scope from Seller Labs is a must have tool to discover which keywords will make you the most money. Click here and get $50 off the tool.
Scope

SellersSummit.com – The ultimate ecommerce learning conference! Unlike other events that focus on inspirational stories and high level BS, the Sellers Summit is a curriculum based conference where you will leave with practical and actionable strategies specifically for an ecommerce business. Click here and get your ticket now before it sells out.
Sellers Summit

Transcript

Steve: You are listening to the My Wife Quit her Job Podcast, the place where I bring on successful bootstrapped business owners and delve deeply into what strategies are working and what strategies are not with their businesses.

Now today I’m thrilled to have Brett Curry on the show, and we are going to talk about a cool ad platform that is very effective that very few merchants are using today. Brett has spoken at various conferences, and I know you’ll learn a lot.

But before we begin I want to give a quick shout out to Klaviyo who is a sponsor of the show. Now I’m always excited to talk about Klaviyo because they are the email marketing platform that I personally use for my ecommerce store, and I actually depend on them for over 20% of my revenues. Now you’re probably wondering why Klaviyo and not a different provider. Well Klaviyo is the only email platform out there that is specifically built for ecommerce stores and here is why it’s so powerful.

Klaviyo can track every single customer who has shopped in your store and exactly what they bought which allows you to do many things. So let’s say I want to send an email to everyone who purchased a red handkerchief in the last week, easy. Let’s say I want to set up a special auto-responder sequence to my customers depending on what they purchased, piece of cake, and there is full revenue tracking on every single email.

Now Klaviyo is the most powerful email platform that I’ve ever used and you can try them for free at mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O. Once again that’s Klaviyo, mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O.

Now I also wanted to give a shout out to my other sponsor, Seller Labs, and specifically I want to talk about their awesome new tool, Scope. Now if you know me I get really excited about tools that I like and use and Scope is a tool that actually increased my Amazon sales on several listings by 39% within the first week of use, crazy, right?

Now what does this tool do that can possibly boost my sales so quickly? Well, quite simply Scope tells you what keywords are driving sales on Amazon. So here is what I did, I searched Amazon and found the bestselling product listings in my niche, then I used Scope to tell me exactly what keywords that bestselling listing was using to generate sales. I then added these keywords to my Amazon listing and my sales picked up immediately.

So today I use Scope for all of my Amazon products to find high converting keywords in the backend as well as for my Amazon advertising campaigns. So I’m sure Scope can boost your Amazon sales almost immediately like they did for mine and 39% is nothing to sneeze at. So right now if you go to Sellerlabs.com/wife, you can check out Scope and save $50 off of any plan plus your first three keywords are free. Once again that’s Sellerlabs.com/wife. Now on to the show.

Intro: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. We will teach you how to create a business that suits your lifestyle, so you can spend more time with your family and focus on doing the things that you love. Here is your host, Steve Chou.

Steve: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. Today I’m thrilled to have Brett Curry on the show. Now Brett is someone who I met through Drew Sanocki at the Traffic and Conversion Summit in San Diego and we hit it off right away. Now Brett runs OMG Commerce, which is a seven figure ecommerce agency that has helped over 125 companies with their pay per click advertising.

Now not only does Brett speak at major conference events across the country, but he also writes for a variety of sites like Digital marketing and Search Engine Journal. He is also the author of the Ultimate Guide to Google Shopping published by Shopify, and the host of the Ecommerce Evolution Podcast.

Now, today what I’m going to do is I’m going to pick Brett’s brain and talk about some of the PPC platforms that not a lot of the little guys are using yet such as shoppable TrueView ads. And with that, welcome to the show Brett. How are you doing today man?

Brett: Hey Steve, I’m doing fantastic, really excited to be here. Thanks for having me on.

Steve: Yeah, really happy to have you. Let’s start by having you give us a quick background on how you got into ecommerce and why did you decide to create an agency of all things?

Brett: Yeah, so I kind of fell in love with marketing. I started working for a radio station in college. So I was kind of trying to pay my way through college, I was selling ads to business owners. I fell in love with marketing; I fell in love with ads, just kind of kind of a psychology behind it, what causes people to take action and buy things, and so changed my major to marketing surely after college.

I don’t know if this was divine providence or just youthful ignorance, but I started an agency right out of college, probably not the best idea, and but just grew it and it started working mainly with companies doing traditional marketing, so TV, radio. TV was my passion and so helped that, and then I guess in 2004 I had a client coming to me and say, hey do you know SEO? They were an ecommerce company and I said no, I know nothing of it and he said, we will pay you to learn it.

Steve: Wait, why you?

Brett: And I said great that sounds fun; that sounds awesome. So I learned SEO, I get them actually ranked on page one for the search term brochures. And I was using like article directory and stuff that does not work anymore, but I was hooked man. I was hooked as I mean the search engine stuff is awesome. And so really started digging in and then a business partner and I started OMG, Online Marketing Giant is what that stands for but started OMG…

Steve: I’m sorry, what does that stand for?

Brett: Online Marketing Giant.

Steve: Oh, okay, I was thinking of it, oh my gosh!

Brett: That’s what everybody thinks, but it’s one of those things where we kind of started the business as more of a project. We didn’t even put like time and energy into the name. So Online Marketing Giant is what came out.

Steve: Okay.

Brett: But then everybody started calling us OMG, so that’s what we stuck with. But yeah, started doing — tried everything in the beginning like a lot of agencies do and that was a mistake. We were doing development and design and all kind of stuff. And we realized, we are good at search, like we do search really well. And so that’s kind of where we’ve been focusing since about 2010.

Steve: How has that evolved into like Google Shopping and some of the other search campaigns that you have done? Like it sounds like before you started out with SEO, right?

Brett: Yeah, and we still offer SEO and I’m still a believer in SEO, but it’s changed so much. Like I think now one of the best things you can do with SEO is just to make sure your data is correct, and make sure your site is crawlable and structure it, and then make sure you are putting on great content as there are no shortcuts, no secrets, tricks to SEO any more in my opinion. So we still do a little bit of that, but the thing that forced us to do more on the page search site is Google start changing the SERPs, the search engine results pages.

Ads are now dominating the top, you know often the top four spots, and you got Google Shopping which is very prominent. And so we started doing more and more paid because we love the math there, future campaigns down, then you spend more, you make more. Everything is measurable and trackable, and you have a lot more control which is great. And then I guess it was about, I was getting my — I’m bad with dates, but I think around 2012 is when Frugal which was the old Google Shopping right it used to be free.

Steve: Yeah.

Brett: It transitioned, yeah so transitioned into product listing ads. I had a friend of mine who owns an ecommerce store who pulled me aside one day and he is like, dude, I’m getting ten to 12X on my product listing ads. I was like whoa, so I kind of dug in then with both feet because we had some ecommerce clients, and I just felt like man, this is going to be huge. And so we really tried to establish ourselves as experts there.

Steve: Okay.

Brett: And so yeah, so it’s worked well, so I get to speak at Traffic and Conversion which is where I met you and speak at RCE in June on Google Shopping. So it’s phenomenal but then it also relates to what our topic is today of shoppable TrueView which is pretty cool.

Steve: Yeah, so before we actually get into that I’m just curious and I want the listeners to hear this because I always get questions on how to rank organically in search. And I just wanted quickly your take on you know, if you are just starting out going after organic versus PPC traffic, and I know my answer to this question, I’m just curious what yours is.

Brett: Yeah, I would definitely go — I would focus more, well, I would do both, but I would, I would put more emphasis on the paid search in the beginning because you can control it. And also if you’ve got a site that has no traffic, so nobody is visiting the site, nobody is clicking around or anything, Google is going to be pretty hesitant to rank that. That’s what we’ve seen anyway.

Not the traffic itself is a huge signal but zero traffic can cause some hesitation, recently what we’ve seen. So I would definitely work on getting your structure correct, your title tags and good content, but I would put a little more emphasis on paid searches, did you ever thought that Steve?

Steve: Yeah, my answer I always give is SEO is always kind of a slog, like you might not even see results until like a year, a year and half later.

Brett: Exactly, exactly.

Steve: And so you need to get some traffic there. And then Google actually needs that traffic to determine whether your content is actually any good because they have a lot of measures for like time on page and user metrics and that sort of thing so.

Brett: Exactly, and I think that’s fantastic right, like I know a lot of SEOs complain about that. But I think Google looking at those on site metrics and using that to influence the ranking out rhythm makes sense, like they want to rank sites that people consume, and that they are actually good. So the other thing I think you can do is you can start to use some of your copy, your headlines and some of your hard copy that work to potentially influence your meta description, which is mainly — it’s not a ranking signal, it mainly just helps to get the clicks, so you can use that.

You can maybe use some of your headlines and ads that work to influence your title tags which I think can work. And then and one thing that’s weird is about the hierarchy of your ecommerce sites. So home page is most important, then category pages, and then product detail pages. And if you can spend time on these categories pages, try to build the authority, try to share them, try to make sure they are structured right, that can kind of pass through the authority to the other pages.

Usually for new sites though it’s those product details pages that will rank first because they will rank for long tail product specific queries. So yeah, fully grip. SEO it is a marathon for sure, months and months usually in the works.

Steve: Okay, it’s good have that it’s coming from someone who does this for a living. I’m just curious also before we begin like how do you kind of differentiate you agency from like the thousands of other PPC agencies out there?

Brett: I know, I know it’s tough. There is a lot us, that’s for sure. I think it comes down to a couple of things. One, we think — we try to think more like business owners than just technicians when it comes to AdWords. So of course we are geeks when it comes to the numbers and we have formulas we use for Google Shopping and AdWords, and then so we all about the performance. We try to think strategically and try to think like business owners because my business partner and I, we are all business owners.

We try to instill that in our people as well. We’ve had the good fortune of becoming a Google premiere partner, so in the top 3% of Google partners. I just found out a few weeks ago we are one of the fastest growing in season North America from Google’s numbers which is cool, but we will try and emphasis results and reporting, right?

Steve: Okay.

Brett: So we want to be keyed in on what your goals are, but then how do we show you what we are doing? And that’s really I don’t know if you’ve talked to many other agencies, but the act of reporting, like getting the showing clients what you’ve done and how it works and all that, it’s just tricky. We have a lot of clients come to us saying, I don’t know that my previous agency was terrible, but I never got any reports, I never knew what was going on, so reporting is huge as well.

Steve: Okay, so Brett one of the reasons why I want to have you on the podcast is because you work with a variety of ecommerce companies, and you have a lot of data and experience with a bunch of different types of products, right? Specifically I want to talk about shoppable TrueView because it’s actually one of the few ad platforms that I’ve actually not tried myself. And so let’s start out for the benefit of the listeners, first of all what is it and how does it work?

Brett: Sure, so let’s talk about TrueView first, just in case anybody doesn’t know what TrueView ads are. You’ve all experienced some, so if you go to YouTube, watching your favorite cat video or whatever. And before your video starts you see the ad that pops up and about five seconds in you see the skip ad button pop up.

And what’s always amazing to me is and I’ve had this happen before where the ad will pop up and I’ll get angry, I’ll be like no, I want to watch the barbecue video or whatever it is that I’m looking at. But then something in the video hooks me, and I end up watching the whole thing. It seems to be like the Red Bull videos for me, for whatever reason they are mesmerizing.

Steve: Okay.

Brett: Yeah people jumping out of spaceships and back flips on motorcycles and stuff. But anyway I’m planning on skipping but then I don’t skip, and that’s kind of the idea there is you want to hook the person so they do watch all the way through. But the beauty of TrueView ad is if someone hits the skip ad button, the advertiser does not pay for that. So it’s called the TrueView, you have to watch at least 30 seconds of the video or the whole video, whichever comes first.

So if it’s less than 30 seconds, yeah, watch the whole thing or the advertiser is not charged. If it’s longer than 30 seconds then the viewer has to watch at least 30 seconds before the advertiser is charged. And one of the things I mentioned briefly that I did some work in TV and radio. TV was always my favorite. I love the video component. I never created, I mean videos, but I worked on the campaign side of things structuring buys and where the video would run and things like that.

But there is just something kind of magical about video I think. There is like almost a celebrity status if someone sees you or your product on a video especially if it’s on TV. But I think you get some of that with YouTube as well. Like seeing that video ad, just it can bring credibility, it’s just pretty powerful. But with TV, we were doing TV all the time with my small agency back in the early 2000s.

We didn’t know if people were engaging with the video, if they were watching all of it or if they are changing the channel or is if they T bailing it, or if they are getting up and going to the bathroom, we have not idea on any of that. With YouTube you can see, you know you don’t pay if someone skips, you also can see how much they are viewing, to what percentage are they viewing. So it’s pretty cool, so the viewer has to at least watch 30 seconds of the whole video or they have to interact with the video. So…

Steve: Let me ask you about YouTube Videos in general.

Brett: Yeah, go ahead.

Steve: So I noticed some of them force you to watch like the full 30 seconds and some of them are the TrueView ads. So do you recommend using the TrueView type of ads?

Brett: I do recommend TrueView. So the ones where you have to watch all 15 seconds or whatever, now they got some six seconds and eight second ads. We are actually experimenting with some of those six second and eight second bumpers is what they are called for a shoe client of ours, online retail that sells shoes. But it’s kind of a different purpose there, and usually you will see larger advertisers will do that just because all they care about is the branding.

Steve: Okay.

Brett: But if you are looking for someone to take action which we usually are looking for someone to click through, to visit the site, to click on the product listing ad, whatever the case may be, then we want a little more time and we also want people to self-select. So if they are not interested at all, then we don’t want to pay for that person.

Steve: Okay.

Brett: So yeah, usually it’s the TrueView that we are recommending.

Steve: I’m just kind of curious what some of the metrics that you see are, because I actually, like when I’m on YouTube, I want to watch the video, right? It’s very rare and I don’t think I have ever actually clicked on an ad to actually get taken off the site to go somewhere else. I’m just curious what are some of like the click through rates that are good for like a YouTube ad?

Brett: Yeah, so that’s kind of very pretty, pretty wild layer. There is a couple of metrics that we’d want to look at. One is the view through rate, right? So that’s kind of the first metric we want to look, and that’s the percentage of people that see the video, that actually complete a view. So again that will be the 30 seconds or whole video, whichever is first.

So with that I mean ultimately it doesn’t matter I guess if you are making money on the back end what your view through rate is. But we see anywhere from on the really low end like nine to 12% on up to 20 to 30% if the video is compelling and if it’s highly targeted.

Google will also show you your cost per click as well. So they don’t charge you for the click just to be clear there. So let’s say you are running an ad for your product and you get some kind of offer that overlays on the video, someone clicks on that to go to your site, basically you are charged your view rate.

Steve: Okay.

Brett: So if you are biding like nine cents to 12 cents is often kind of what we are looking at on a CPV or cost per view bid. Sometimes it’s low as a penny, we’ve done as low as a penny in certain cases. If someone then clicks you are actually charged your view, your CPV, your cost per view

Steve: Okay.

Brett: But what Google does is they’ll calculate a true cost per click, so they will look at all of your expense divided by clicks and give you a true CPC but that’s often a few dollars. Like if you are just looking at the CPC, you’d say, oh this is terrible compared to AdWords to look at click through rate. So the other metric we want to look at is view through rate as well which lets someone — I’m sorry, view through conversions so that someone who views the ad does not click on anything but then they purchase within a certain window.

Steve: Okay.

Brett: And to me that’s valuable because like you said, okay if I’m on YouTube it’s because I want to watch the sports highlight, or I want to watch this how to video, how to fix my mower, my dishwasher, whatever. But seeing that message, seeing that offer maybe I’m going to come back later to the site. So looking at the view through conversion rate as well is also important.

Steve: And so Google can tell like if you switch devices and still consider that a conversion?

Brett: There are — I mean Google is getting better and better at cross device conversions which we had our reps come in right from Mountain View a couple of weeks ago, and we were talking about that specifically. They are getting better at that, I mean it is not perfect in that Google kind of needs someone to be signed in on their desktops and on their mobile device to be able to be really connected, but Google is getting better and better at that.

So yes, so someone can see, Google can see if maybe I convert on the desktop so I view the TrueView ad, I don’t click on anything, but then later I visit the site and Google can track that that person actually did convert later.

Steve: Okay, and so you mentioned like a good ad that you’ve seen can get like a 20 to 30% view through rate?

Brett: Yup, yup.

Steve: Wow, okay that’s really high, okay.

Brett: It’s really high. Now I’m looking at some of the — I’ve got one campaign up now so the skin care products. It’s actually Boom by Cindy Joseph just a good friend of mine. We partnered on some deals, but this is one of his videos. It’s actually done very well; its view through rate is more like 11.78%. So again like you can’t take your view rate to the bank.

Steve: Of course.

Brett: You take conversations and sales to the bank of course, but it can at least indicate, okay how engaging is this video, and then we want to dig in a little further and see, okay when are people bailing, at what percentage? It could be that they are bailing when they see our offer pop up, and if so, great. Like we want them to take the click through and take the offer, but we do want to pay attention to that. This particular video that I’m looking at now that had the 11% view through rate, it’s a long form video, it’s like a four minute video.

Steve: Wow! Okay.

Brett: But their view through rate is based on the 30 second minimum though, so yeah, it’s going to vary.

Steve: Okay, and in terms of targeting then, is this more like top of funnel stuff or is it more like retargeting? Like what do you recommend? Like if I was just starting out with my store for example and trying the YouTube ads, what would you recommend?

Brett: Yeah, it’s good question. So yeah, for Bumblebee Linens as an example or any site, the first thing I would is start with remarketing list.

Steve: Okay.

Brett: And that’s where this has the most predictable wins. You know I think probably most people that are listening are learning some form of remarketing, I would anticipate that they are. And yes it’s pretty easy in AdWords to set up your dynamic remarketing where the products someone looked at, that’s a product that’s going to be in the ad provided that you get your feed set up and everything. But I would look at — for shoppable TrueView I would look at a couple of different remarketing lists first, and I’ll kind of break these down from least likely to convert to most likely to convert.

So you can start with just all site visitors, and typically the more recent that visitor was the more likely they are to convert. So you may have all site visitors from 180 days, 90 days, 30 days, and then the most recent are going to convert the best. Usually we break up those audiences into different ad groups at least to manage different campaigns.

Steve: Okay.

Brett: But all side visitors, so obviously that anybody who has visited the site that they didn’t convert, let’s consider remarketing to them kind along the next step up they will be more likely to convert, would be product page visitors. That’s where you are saying, okay target people that visited a product detail page or PP viewer and maybe will bid a little more on that view.

And then one step up of that would be then cart visitors, so people that have visited cart but abandoned. And again I would at the recency of 30 days, 15 days, seven day. Usually the 15 day or 14 day, seven day is what’s best, and then the step up from that and this one is kind of interesting. This takes a little custom work with your audiences, but the bought X but not Y list is a very powerful one.

Steve: Okay.

Brett: So back to Boom by Cindy Joseph, and Ezra actually had a case study that will be released maybe here in I don’t know, a month or two, but one of their more popular products is BoomSilk. So it’s a moisturizer, a skin care product for females over the age of 45, is kind of his target demo. But basically we get this list of all these buyers who have purchased from Boom but did not buy Silk. And so the beauty of that is then we can run a video targeting them that features BoomSilk, and then with that video then we have the product listing ad that runs next to it.

So that’s kind of the beauty of shoppable TrueView. I guess I didn’t really explain what shoppable TrueView is, but that’s where you get your TrueView ad that’s based on a- you are only if someone views or clicks through to your site, but then right next to that, either under it on a mobile device or next to it or top of it on a desktop, you get your product listing ads. So picture priced title, those ads are right there by your video. So it really encourages shopping, pulls someone through to click on your products. So that bought X but not Y, I mean that’s a killer list right there that works very well.

Steve: I just want to take a moment to tell you about a free resource that I offer on my website that you may not be aware of. If you’re interested in starting your own online store, I put together a comprehensive six day mini course on how to get started in ecommerce that you should all check out. It contains both a video and text based tutorials that go over the entire process of finding products to sell all the way to getting your first sales online.
Now this course is free and can be obtained at mywifequitherjob.com/free. Just sign up right there on the front page via email and I’ll send you the course right away. Once again that’s mywifequitherjob.com/free, now back to the show.
Okay, and yeah, I would imagine that works well because someone has already purchased from you and it’s a related product to what you have already purchased, right? So-

Brett: Yup, yup, exactly.

Steve: Just curious and maybe we can just use as an example since you are already doing a case study on it. So what do the conversions — what do the ROIs look like kind of going up that tree of audiences that you specified?

Brett: Yeah, so we are having the most luck with cart visitors and then the bought X but not Y. The bought X but not Y that’s smaller list, so total conversions are a little bit less. I don’t have the actual numbers of that one — yes I mean we are looking at their cost per conversion goals. These are right under it. So we are kind of maintaining or coming a little bit under the cost per conversion goals for that particular list. Now actually for this one, for Boom, the cart visitors has actually worked a little bit better. It’s well below; it’s almost like a third of their CPA goal.

Steve: Okay.

Brett: They were getting on cost per conversions for that audience. A little bit different video, the one is just targeted just for Silk is that for specific product video, so it can be part of it. But yeah, I mean typically if you are looking at, hey what is my CPA? If you are doing, if you are running this as a remarketing vehicle and you got your lists set up properly, you got your products and your products listing ads are running next to the video, you can usually hit that CPA target or come in a little bit below it.

We got a jewelry client, so they sell earrings, body jewelry, things like that. We are coming in at about 30% under their CPA target with this platform, and then getting some nice volume as well.

Steve: I know for me I haven’t tried these YouTube ads yet but just my regular retargeting on Google, like the all website visitors tends not to return my investments that well. So I switched over to just cart ads and then all of a sudden it’s — and I’m just curious whereas you know on Facebook I’ll do visitors and it works pretty well or product views I should say, and it works significantly better than Google. Would you expect like the display ads to perform similarly to the YouTube ads with the retargeting?

Brett: Yeah, I would think so, I mean I don’t know that I have ever done a comparison of the two to see how comparable they are. But we definitely see the same thing, so with all of our clients we recommend remarketing and typically dynamic remarketing because we are already running Google shopping; we got the feed there so we can do the dynamic remarketing. It is a little hit or miss when it comes to the all visitors. You are absolutely right, sometimes for certain clients that does really well, for others not that as much. But yeah, the cart visitor or even per detail page viewer is much more likely to convert, that’s for sure.

Steve: I guess what I’m asking is should I be using these YouTube ads, the shoppable TrueView like if I’m successful with shopping and my display ads, like is this shoppable TrueView like the next step for me? Like should everyone be doing this basically?

Brett: You know it’s kind of hard to say that everybody should be doing it, and I’m all just a little bit skeptical I guess as far as that goes. But I mean one, you do with that video assets and your product has to lend itself well to video. I think most physical products do, but there may be some exceptions. So if your product, you know probably demonstration, testimonial, having a good video that really shows the feature benefits of the product, it’s got a good call to action, you got your viewer rated products right there next to it, it can work very well.

So in most cases I would say absolutely through running. If you got some success with Google Shopping, your remarketing ads are working pretty well, your display ads are working well, I think this is a great next step because a little bit different ad format, it’s interactive, you got sight, sound, motion. You can see the product in action; it’s a little bit different as well. It’s also the combination of; hey this is like it’s my shopping ad all over again. It’s my shopping ad but with this commentary, this video running right next to it which is pretty cool. So yeah, I think for most people it can be great. You do have to work on the video content, we had a…

Steve: Yeah, can we talk about that for a little bit, like what makes great video content? Like you have five seconds to get them to watch, right?

Brett: Exactly, exactly, so yeah, that’s one of the first steps is you got to hook them in the first five seconds because that’s all you have. So we had a — we got a client that sells barbeque grills and pellet grills and camping stoves and things like that. And so they brought us this one video they wanted us to advertise, we do a lot of video work for them. But they brought us this one video and it was like six seconds of the logo flying in and doing stuff and we were like guys, this is not going to work.

Your logo is cool, we like it, but not six seconds worth of logo animation. So you got to catch within the first five seconds. You are one of my favorite examples and I mistakenly showed this video to my kinds and then paid for it because they were quoting it all the time, but the Potpourri video, where you got the…

Steve: Oh yes, yes, yeah.

Brett: Yeah, it’s a great video, so there is this young attractive British girl in a toilet in a dress, yes so it’s very appropriate. She is on a toilet in a dress and something to the effect of- hopefully this is too inappropriate, but she says you will not believe the mother load I just dropped, right. So that’s the opening of the video and you are like what is this you know. So obviously that’s the humor play, and that can work for some businesses, obviously it wouldn’t work for others, but it at least hooks you in the first five seconds and makes you think.

So back to the barbeque grill place like we said, hey, show the food, like show the food sizzling. I want to see a rack of ribs on a grill or some music behind it, the steam coming up, something like that. So hook them in the first five seconds, right? You also want to lead with the strongest benefits. So what am I getting from this? What is this ultimately doing for me? Is it a time saver? Is it money saver? Is it changing my life in some way? Is it allowing me to cook the best barbeque I have ever cooked? Is it allowing my bathroom in office to no longer sting? Whatever it is, lead with that, the strongest benefit.

I think one of the things that people don’t do with videos, they don’t use it to its full strengths right so show me, don’t just tell me. Don’t give like just the bullet list, just flash like a bullet point up on the screen. Like show the product in action, show the video working and cutting through this really thick underbrush or whatever. Like show the product in action [overlapping conversation] [00:31:55].

Steve: Can you talk about production quality? Because I know probably a lot of listeners don’t have like the budget to create like a professional video, is that required or?

Brett: Not at all, I’m really glad you asked that. Yes, I’ve mentioned some kind of well known ones that are high production quality, but no I do not believe it has to be high production quality at all. Shooting even with an iPhone, but as long as it’s to the point. I think it should look clean and it shouldn’t look sloppy, but it doesn’t have to have like a high finish quality right. If it was making via testimonial based thing, right? So it could be even a customer saying, hey, use this skin care product, I absolutely love it, he’s been using it for 30 days, these are the results that I saw or whatever. So it could be even more like a customer testimonial type approach.

So there is not one right or wrong way to do it. I wouldn’t say, hey, let’s invest $5,000 worth of video production company to test this, like that’s kind of silly. I would look at how can we — the minimum viable product type approach. How can we get a video that speaks to our customers, that highlights the product, that has a good call to action, and how can we do that really affordably?

Steve: Okay, so let’s assume that I have my shopping list or the feed, my product feed set up and let’s say I have a creative set up and I’ve run some ads into my retargeting list, so what do I do? Like what am I looking for in terms of metrics? So you mentioned the number, the percentage of people that actually view the video to completion, what are some good percentages? Like how do I know it’s a dud, and what are some of the next steps after I’ve let the video run for a little bit?

Brett: Yes, so I would look at the view through rate in a couple of different ways. If it’s really low, like if its sub 10% then you may either want to think about two things; either the video is pretty bad. You know it’s not capturing someone, it’s not picking their interest, there is no benefit whatsoever. So it’s not causing them to want to watch.

Or something is wrong with the targeting right, which probably shouldn’t happen if you are doing a remarketing list. Like that should be a pretty good list. But maybe, consider this has happened where someone thinks that their marketing to a remarketing list but they just have that in addition to a general audience or something.

So if it’s sub 10% I would look at those two things; like either we are not targeting the right person or this video is really bad. So that’s something to look at for sure. The thing that we always do, this is not like your bread and butter campaign, right? If I were to say okay, your foundational campaigns that you are going to build your business on are your text campaigns and your shopping campaigns.

Like those are your bread and butter, those are your real money makers. This is something you run in addition, like this is something that you help get more total conversions, because they didn’t convert initially and it’s your remarketing vehicle. We can talk maybe a little bit about top of funnel stuff in a minute if you want to.

Steve: Sure.

Brett: But this is not going to be your bread and butter, how I make millions of dollars you know with this campaign, but it can be very powerful. So then I want to look at your conversion rates, so how many direct conversions and the default there is those are conversions where someone clicks through the video and buys right then, right? Because the default is always last click attribution. So someone clicks through the video, they buy right way.

So I would look at that, but then I would also combine your view through conversions and then calculate your total CPA, or total return on ad spend whichever metric you prefer to see okay, is this within my goal? So for remarketing campaigns I’ve got a $15 CPA, that’s my goal. Well, if I combine those view through conversions and the last click conversions, am I getting there or not?

So ultimately for me that’s the biggest number is looking at my total conversions and view through conversions, and am I meeting my target, but you can also look at it at a couple of different ways. We have a few — they are not large clients like fortune 500 or anything but people with pretty good size budgets. They also view this as I just want to make sure people remember my name you know.

Steve: I see.

Brett: And so then we’ll look at audience building as well. So one of the beauties of running anything on YouTube is you can build YouTube remarketing list. So as you run these videos, as people engage with them, they get dropped into a YouTube remarketing list. So that’s a list you can use in other purposes as well which that’s kind of cool. So you can say okay, people who have seen this video now I want to remarket to them with this other video.

Steve: Okay.

Brett: And almost create like a funnel with your YouTube targeting. There are also there a few YouTube lists. You can even remarket with your text ads, or you use like a remarketing list for search ads.

Steve: Interesting, okay.

Brett: Yeah so that’s growing and it’s only — I don’t even remember which list it is. It is limited so not all your YouTube lists can you use to target on search, but I do anticipate that will expand over time. Google is doing a pretty good job about making, allowing more and more audience layering, audience targeting even on the search platform.

So that’s another thought, like the outdoor cooking company we work with. A lot of what want to do is like they just want; they want people to know their grill, right. And then they want those people to come to the site, so it’s kind of an audience component with a few of our advertisers, but ultimately I’m looking at CPA.

Steve: Here is a random question, like let’s say someone watches one of these YouTube ads and clicks on it, but later on clicks on one of my AdWords and makes the purchase. Does Google double count that as a conversion?

Brett: So right, so they would count that if it was in the view through window, then yeah, it would be conted as a view through conversion for that YouTube video, right? But the last click conversion, assuming you got a last click as your attribution which most people do, that’s the default, then it would also be attributed to that text campaign as well.

Steve: Okay, so that makes ROI calculation confusing, doesn’t it?

Brett: It can, it really can. Yeah, I mean one of my favorite quotes when it comes to analytics is by a guy named Avinash Kaushik. Have you ever read any of his stuff yet?

Steve: Aha, I know who he is, yeah.

Brett: Yeah former Googgler and Occam’s Razor is his blog, all that analytics, supper smart guy, but he says your goal with analytics and attributions is be less wrong. So you are never going to be right, you are never going to be 100%, so just continually try to be less wrong. We are experimenting with different attribution models now, so there is last click is what almost everybody uses so that’s the default.

That’s where, say someone clicks on a YouTube ad and then they click on one of your text ads and then they come back through an organic search, with last click all the credit is going to go to that organic click, because that was the last click before conversion.

We are looking at you know linear, we know some of these linear, there is time decay where you can maybe get a little more credit to the first click, a little more credit to the last click and a tiny bit of credit to those in between. We are also playing around with the data drone which is kind of interesting is where Google begins to look at all the attribution models, and they begin to assign different weights based on the numbers to first click, last click, middle click. But anyway yeah, that long winded answer, but yes it does make it tricky.

Steve: Okay.

Brett: So one of the things we recommend people do is let’s consider what that view through conversion actually means right. So and let’s make sure that we are building an audience and that we have other goals in place as well. So if you are looking at your click through conversions and you are just like barely meeting your CPA targets, then maybe you need to do some adjusting because likely it’s possible that that view through conversation is being attributed to something else as well.

Steve: How do I come up with a good CPA target?

Brett: Yeah, so I keep saying CPA because a few of the examples that I’ve used here that those clients prefer CPA. To me it’s either going to be — it kind of comes back to are you building a customer or are you are making a sale, right. So if you are making a sale and that’s all that matters, then is that am I profitable on that first sale. So I’m looking at AOV and my margin, and then I’m calculating okay, what percentage of my margin can I give up as a cost of advertising.

Steve: Okay.

Brett: Other people and Boom would be this way and we’ve got a few other where they look at, okay, we know people are going to purchase maybe a couple of times for the first year, so our CPA target is going to be based on that.

Steve: Okay.

Brett: But we actually use, we use return on ad spend a little bit more. And so that’s where — but it’s basics you get to either number it kind of the same way, but we try on ad spend as revenue divided by cost.

Steve: Right, right, that’s what I use too. I actually tend not to use CPA but yeah.

Brett: Because then, because a lot of our — we have some merchants that are like Boom where AOV is very consistent, so CPA makes sense. But we got clients that have over 100,000 products, so did someone buy the $10 product or did they buy the $1,500 product that makes a difference. So that’s why we usually favor return on ad spend.

So that’s where again you are looking at okay, here is our margins so quick math, you have 25% as our margins. If you want to break even on that first order, we need a four X return — for return on ad spend. So you kind of get into the numbers either way, but yeah preferable 80% of our clients will look on return on ad spend, but CPA works as well.

Steve: Can we talk about top of the funnel a little bit; I mean it sounds like you would use up a lot of money on top of funnel.

Brett: Yeah, yeah. So this is something I just want to be totally transparent, we are experimenting a lot with this, so we got a couple of clients where they know, we know, hey this is experimental so we are not going to use a big budget, we are just going to start testing some things.

So if you are just starting out, if the majority of businesses on Amazon let’s say you are just building your store, don’t go top of the funnel with video. They’re like — it’s kind of like getting a half-court shot at the buzzer, you know when it happens it’s awesome and not supper likely. Go for the lay-up, go for the remarketing list first.

Steve: Okay.

Brett: But what — so what we are doing though, I’ll just give you a little bit insight here. We are looking at similar audiences, so you can take your purchase list, all those that are, all converters and then just like in Facebook you get the look alike audience, you can do a similar audience with Google. And so that’s a pretty good audience to test.

Steve: What does the landing page look like, just curious for those ads?

Brett: Well, if you do shoppable TrueView, your landing page is probably your detail page because that’s the way that item, that’s how that platform works.

Steve: But for top of funnel, like, they won’t have visited your site yet right? So are you just showing them random products then or related products to the video?

Brett: Yeah, so usually you try to relate the products to the video. So it depends, like if you are going top of the funnel and you more want to get them into like a sequence, a presale sequence where you just get them plugged in, then it’s probably not going to be shoppable TrueView. It’s just going to be TrueView with click through to the site, and then your page is informational.

You want to definitely try to grab their contact info in some way. I love how you guys are doing the spinning wheel on your site. Some of the clients same end working pretty well, but yeah, it’s top of the funnel purely then, then maybe you don’t do shoppable TrueView. But we are still testing shoppable TrueView even with top of the funnel because we are looking at a similar audience. Sometimes we will refine that a little bit more.

What seems to be the most promising audience right now is looking at a combination of in market audiences and keyword targeting. So if you look at in marketing audiences, those are people that identify themselves through their behavior or something else for this that I’m in the market for skin care, or I’m in the market for an automobile, I’m in the market for hair care, something like that.

So you get this audience you can pick in and YouTubers saying, okay, these people have indicated they are in the market for this product, and then want to layer in keyword targeting. So now I’m saying, okay and this person has recently searched for organic skin care where they recently searched for barbecue recipes or best pallet grill or something like that.

So now you are saying, okay I’ve got this audience that they have identified they want to buy something and they are searching on YouTube for keywords that also cause them to be more qualified. So that audience seems to be the most promising and the most exciting. But it’s still, we are still testing a lot of things and I would not start with top of the funnel.

Steve: That’s interesting; I didn’t know you could do that. So you can target people based on what they’ve searched in the past recently?

Brett: Yeah, yeah, what they’ve searched for on YouTube, so you do your keyword targeting.

Steve: On YouTube, okay, okay got it, got it.

Brett: Yeah.

Steve: Uh okay interesting, so I cut you off, yeah.

Brett: Yeah, so that’s what I’m most excited about, so I mean so then what I would look at let’s say we are promoting pallet grills which we’ve done this a lot with their huge portion on holidays. So I’ve got my pallet grill video, in that case, I’m going to go ahead and put the pallet grill PLA. So I’m going to make that shoppable TrueView because why not, I want to show the price, I want to maybe get some people clicking and shopping.

So I’ll run the pellet grill video. I have the pellet grill PLAs right there with, it’s going to be Shoppable TrueView, and then I’ll go after that audience, so if in market plus keywords. But again, it’s going to be nowhere near what your remarking list is and in some cases you’ll get nothing in terms of [inaudible] [00:46:07].

Steve: Okay, I mean this sounds like a lot like Facebook top of funnel also right, I mean like whenever I run top of funnel Facebook, I’m just trying to get their email for the most part.

Brett: Exactly, trying to get their email, trying to get them on a list so you can remarket them in a slightly different way exactly, yeah. It’s definitely the long play. Like if you are just looking at, okay, I’m running top of funnel to get some direct conversions, good luck. That’s probably not going to happen right away. You need to push them into your funnel.

Steve: Okay, okay. I’m just curious like what is like the minimum budget you would recommend to even start running these types of ads like the shoppable TrueView ads?

Brett: Yeah, if you are doing remarketing, then I wouldn’t really put that much of a minimum on there, you may as well set it up and start testing. I guess the one variable though is like the effort or the expense to create the video right. So you a want pretty decent size remarketing list. The minimum I think is 1,000 people on the list as your absolute minimum, but if that’s all you have you are going to be pretty limited in your visibility there. But I would look at, do I have 1,000 people on my marketing list or hopefully more.

And then really whatever budget you want to put out there, a lot of times we are looking at $500 so a month budget for shoppable TrueView just because we kind of calculating, okay that’s going got get us X number of views, and will that give us any meaningful data? But if you are going after remarketing list, as long as you’ve got enough people to target then go for it. If you are a smaller store with smaller amounts of traffic, and you are only doing remarketing, then likely whatever budget you have you are not going to quite hit.

Steve: I guess what I’m trying to ask is like how do I know, like in Facebook like there is this, there is frequency right, and so how do I know whether I’m saturating these people, is it just adjustment based on like the return on ad spend when it comes to ranking these ads?

Brett: I mean that is definitely the most important metric in my opinion is to look at the return on ad spend and CPA. But we do often look at frequency capping when we are setting up these campaigns, we just kind of did that for one of our retail clients recently. And it depends, I mean it all goes back to testing in my opinion, but maybe three views within a week or something like that and that’s going to be your cap on frequency. But just kind of look, dig into the numbers.

But to me it’s like would it be a worthy effort in starting; probably need to have a remarketing list of minimum 1,000 to 5,000 and hopefully more before we kind of dig in you know.

Steve: Okay, okay yeah, I mean of course you have to look at your numbers. I was just looking for like some general guidelines since you run this for so many different companies.

Brett: Yeah I got you; it’s all over the board on some of that, so I’m having a hard time getting an exact number there.

Steve: Okay and I know you specialize in shopping. I’ve actually, we spend a lot of time talking about TrueView, but I was wondering if you had some — like when someone comes to you with their shopping campaign and let’s say it’s not performing well, what are just, like the first three things that you might do to try to see what they are doing wrong or how to fix one of their Google Shopping campaign?

Brett: Yeah, yeah it’s a great question and actually it’s very related because when you start working on your feed as an example to optimize your feed that’s going help with shoppable TrueView as well, because shoppable TrueView uses the same feed, the same product feed you use for Google Shopping and it’s used for shoppable TrueView. But usually the first three things we look at, the first is going to be the feed, we want to look at the actual product. So how optimized is your title, description, product type, you got the correct Google product category.

A lot of times we see miss matches there which can throw Google off just a little bit and kind of to go back to the SEO days you know back — it’s kind of where I got my start was optimizing titles and descriptions and things like that. So we look at that first, and it’s very common to either find clients that have lots of products that are disapproved, or very weak tittles that are not very descriptive without keywords in the title.

So look at the feed first and then you want to look at the structure of the campaign itself. So I’m a big believer in even looking at full funnel for Shopping. And Shopping by nature is kind of lower in the funnel anyway, so I mean there is not a true top of funnel for Google Shopping, but relatively speaking there is.

So like if some just typing in, going back to the barbeque example, I’m kind of stuck on that I guess. But if I just type in just pallet grill, I’m probably higher in the funnel on the search there because I don’t know brand, I don’t know details, I’m just pallet grills is what I’m typing it.

Steve: Okay.

Brett: But I have someone to target that person most likely, so we like to have kind of a top middle and bottom of funnel campaign in Shopping. Now as you know and I don’t want to get into all the details because I know you got another episode all about Google Shopping. You don’t pick your keywords; you influence keywords with your feed and with your negatives and with your bids and things.

So we typically just try to pull out top products, push those into the top of the funnel campaign. So what are our top converters? That’s what we are going to bid higher on, we are going to structure that campaign where someone who is typing in that really broad general term, that’s the product you want to lead with.

Then we look at — we like skew level biding, so kind of on the middle of funnel, bottom of the funnel where we at least want to look at skew level performance. And this is another one of first things we look at is, okay if it’s underperforming, there is probably some winners and some losers in there. What are the products that are doing well, what are the products that are not doing well? And we like to separate those out on separate bids. There is some disagreements on that, I think at a minimum you have to look at reporting at the skew level, but I like to bid at the skew level as well.

Steve: Interesting, okay.

Brett: And so what we’ll look at is okay this product is really underperforming, then why is it underperforming because we are at price competitive, is it an image issue, is it something else? And so we will try to trouble shoot that product so that basically you are trying to prune the campaign and feed the winners and starve the looser.

But then also one of the things that’s just fascinating, we try to run a bottom of funnel campaign that is super low bid, put everything in it and occasionally those do really well. But we like to look at yeah feed and then structure and then bid, and then those are typically the areas where you win.

Steve: I notice in my feed there is always like a handful of products that just don’t get any impressions, but in terms of what the merchant center is telling me everything is set up properly, is there a reason for that do you think?

Brett: It could be a number of things; I mean it could be that just there is not much search volume for that product. It could be that your title that you don’t have enough detail in the title description product type for Google to say, ahh, this is exactly what this is. It could be, so if you haven’t double checked that everything is approved, then one of the other things we’ve seen is that sometimes people think it’s okay, but it’s actually listed as out of stock when it’s actually in stock.

Steve: I see, okay.

Brett: But typically like one of the things we do is we’ll take things with zero impressions and make sure that they are actually eligible to be served, and then we’ll bid up on it. It could just be that you are not competitive; there are some, some areas where even the competition is really fierce for that particular product and those particular keywords. So you need to push the bid a little bit more.

Steve: Okay.

Brett: So that’s another place to look.

Steve: Okay, hey Brian, we’ve been chatting for 50 minutes.

Brett: Yeah, yeah, all right.

Steve: I know, yeah I can’t believe it actually. I do want to be respectful of your time. Really learned a lot about shoppable TrueView today because I’m not using it and it’s only been up for about a year or so, has it been a year?

Brett: Yeah, I think it’s been about a year, so it’s new for us to. I mean we knew Shopping forever but yeah, it’s still newer and not a lot of people are using it, at least I don’t encounter that much so I’ll talk to a lot of people using it. But I think it’s pretty exciting and I think it’s getting continued to improve, and I think it could be a good little addition for most commerce stores.

Steve: Yeah, absolutely, I mean the conversion rates for someone who comes to your site is what? The average conversion rate is like 2%, right? So the more ability of view to bring people back like the more sales you’ll make, right?

Brett: Absolutely, absolutely.

Steve: Brett, where can people find you online if they need help with their shopping campaigns?

Brett: Yeah, absolutely so check us out at omgcommerce.com, I’m also on twitter occasionally @BrettCurry, get me on LinkedIn or Facebook whatever you prefer, but at omgcommerce.com is probably the best.

Steve: Cool. We’ll Brett thanks a lot for coming on the show man, I learned a lot.

Brett: Yeah, really enjoyed it, thanks Steve, we’ll have to do it again.

Steve: All right, it sounds good, take care.

Brett: All right, you too thanks.

Steve: Hope you enjoyed that episode. Brett is an expert when it comes to Google advertising, and we are actually working on a joint case study right now where he has taken over a couple of my Google ads and I will report on the results. This post will come out in the next few months, so stay tuned. For more information about this episode, go to MyWifeQuitHerjob.com/episode173.

And once again I want to thank Seller Labs. Their tool Scope has completely changed the way I choose keywords for both my Amazon listings and my Amazon advertising campaigns. And instead of making random guesses, Scope tells me exactly which keywords are generating sales, and within the first week of use I actually saw a 39% increase in sales. It is a no brainer. So head on over to Sellerlabs.com/wife and receive $50 off. Once again that’s sellerlabs.com/wife.

I also want to thank Klaviyo which is my email marketing platform of choice for ecommerce merchants. You can easily put together automated flows like an abandoned cart sequence, a post purchase flow, a win back campaign, basically all these sequences that will make you money on auto pilot. So head on over to mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O, once again that’s mywifequitherjob.com/ K-L-A-V-I-Y-O.

Now I talk about how I use all these tools on my blogs, and if you’re interested in starting your own ecommerce store, head on over to mywifequitherjob.com and sign up for my free six day mini course. Just type in your email and I’ll send you the course right away, thanks for listening.

Outro: Thanks for listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast, where we are giving the courage people need to start their own online business. For more information visit Steve’s blog at www.mywifequitherjob.com.

I Need Your Help

If you enjoyed listening to this podcast, then please support me with an iTunes review. It's easy and takes 1 minute! Just click here to head to iTunes and leave an honest rating and review of the podcast. Every review helps!
 
Share On Facebook

Ready To Get Serious About Starting An Online Business?


If you are really considering starting your own online business, then you have to check out my free mini course on How To Create A Niche Online Store In 5 Easy Steps.

In this 6 day mini course, I reveal the steps that my wife and I took to earn 100 thousand dollars in the span of just a year. Best of all, it's absolutely free!

172: Ramit Sethi On The Psychology Behind Starting A Successful Business

Share On Facebook

Ramit Sethi On The Psychology Behind Starting A Successful Business

Today I have my buddy Ramit Sethi on the show. Ramit is a New York Times bestselling author and founder of I Will Teach You To Be Rich.

His site reaches millions of people every month where he uses psychology and systems to help others to automate their finances, make more money, find their dream job, you name it.

In fact, I’ve generated millions of dollars over the years selling my class because I was inspired by Ramit’s success. Make sure you check out his latest book here

What You’ll Learn

  • Why Ramit waited 10 years to write his second bestselling book.
  • How he helps his students decide what business to pursue.
  • How to validate your business before investing a lot of money.
  • How to get your first customers.
  • How to make money when you have very little to invest.

Other Resources And Books

Sponsors

Klaviyo.com – Klaviyo is the email marketing platform that I personally use for my ecommerce store. Created specifically for ecommerce, it is the best email marketing provider that I’ve used to date. Click here and try Klaviyo for FREE.
Klaviyo

Ignite.Sellerlabs.com – If you are selling on Amazon and running Amazon Sponsored Ads campaigns, then Ignite from Seller Labs is a must have tool. Click here and get a FREE 30 Day Trial.
Ignite Logo

SellersSummit.com – The ultimate ecommerce learning conference! Unlike other events that focus on inspirational stories and high level BS, the Sellers Summit is a curriculum based conference where you will leave with practical and actionable strategies specifically for an ecommerce business. Click here and get your ticket now before it sells out.
Sellers Summit

Transcript

Steve: You are listening to the My Wife Quit her Job Podcast, the place where I bring on successful bootstrapped business owners, and delve deeply into what strategies are working and what strategies are not with their businesses.

Now today I’m thrilled to have my good friend Ramit Sethi on the show, and Ramit is the founder of the popular website, iwillteachyoutoberich.com. And today we are going to talk about his strategies for starting a successful business from scratch all the way from initial idea to execution.

But before we begin I want to give a quick shout out to Klaviyo who is a sponsor of the show. Now I’m super excited to talk about Klaviyo because they are the email marketing platform that I personally use for my ecommerce store, and I depend on them for over 20% of my revenues. Now you’re probably wondering why Klaviyo and not a different provider. Well Klaviyo is the only email platform out there that is specifically built for ecommerce stores.

Klaviyo can track every single customer who has shopped in your store and exactly what they bought which makes it extremely powerful. So let’s say I want to send an email to everyone who purchased a red handkerchief in the last week, easy. Let’s say I want to set up a special auto-responder sequence to my customers depending on what they purchased, piece of cake, and there is full revenue tracking on every single email.

Now Klaviyo is the most powerful email platform that I have ever used and you can try them for free at mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O, once again that’s mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O. And if you are interested in starting your own online business, head on over to mywifequitherjob.com, and sign up for my free 6 days mini course. Just enter your email on the front page and I’ll send you the course immediately. Now on to the show.

Intro: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. We will teach you how to create a business that suits your lifestyle, so you can spend more time with your family and focus on doing the things that you love. Here is your host, Steve Chou.

Steve: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. Today I have my buddy Ramit Sethi on the show. Now if you don’t know who Ramit is, you’ve probably been living under a rock. He is a New York Times best-selling author and founder of iwillteachyoutoberich.com.

Now his site reaches millions of people every month where he uses psychology and systems to help others automate their finances, make more money, find their dream job, you name it. And what is double cool about Ramit is that he is fellow Stanford grad, which is pretty refreshing considering that I have interviewed my fair share of Cal alumni over the years.

Anyway here is a quick story about Ramit and I know that most of you out there probably do not know about. So way back in 2010 when Ramit released his Earn 1K program, I was actually one of his earlier affiliate partners for his course. Now this was about a year before I launched my own class and even before I had an email list.

So basically I read a blog post promoting Earn 1K, and I made eight sales in like six days, and that completely blew me away. Basically that was four- actually how much was it? So I think $4,000 in like six days, and after that experience Ramit actually indirectly convinced me to start my own email list and to create my own class. And today I generate millions of dollars over the years selling my course because I was inspired by Ramit’s success with Earn 1K. And with that welcome to the show Ramit, how are you doing today man?

Ramit: Hey I’m great and I didn’t even know that story, so that is incredible. I’m really happy to have played a tiny part in that.

Steve: So I think you were working with Charlie Hoehn at the time?

Ramit: Mm-hmm.

Steve: And I remember Charlie telling me he was like hey, I had only been blogging for a year at the point, and he was like, “Dude, you need an email list.” Like if you had sent an email I’m sure you would have sold a lot more than eight sales, and so I was like, “Wow! Okay, yeah.”
Ramit: So true, that is very true. Getting an email list is one of the best things you can do. One of the biggest mistakes I ever made was taking too long to set up my email list.

Steve: And not only that, I remember like your pair was half of the course sales, and I was thinking to myself, well if I create my own thing, well I get to keep 100% of that. And so that’s what kind of what inspired me to create my course in 2011 in fact.

Ramit: Yeah, that’s great. I think more people should think about what skills they have and turn around and create classes. I do think that everybody out there is telling you to create a class, and we try to take a very different approach, which we can talk about today because we always believe quality first, and I’ve seen it myself.

I’ve seen it to the tune of millions of dollars of difference between creating something that is super high quality and designed to stand the test of time versus just creating a piece of junk in two weeks, and just getting it out there because you want to make a quick buck. I think there is a huge difference, I love the craft, I want to talk about that, but I do think that every one of us has something interesting inside of us that other people might be willing to pay for.

Steve: Absolutely and we’ll get into that more during this interview, but Ramit, you know most people probably already know your story. But one thing that I’ve always kind of been curious about is how I Will Teach You To Be Rich has evolved over the years. And so back when we first met, I think it was in 2013, you were more focused on personal finance, but now it’s just like so much more. So what is like the long term game plan for your platform?

Ramit: Well, we changed a lot since we started. We started in 2004 and I started this not as some genius master plan. I started it out of frustration, because I was trying to teach my classmates at Stanford about personal finance and nobody really wants to listen. And in retrospect what college kid wants to talk about money and taxes and all that, nobody cares.

So what I did was I started a blog because I got frustrated, and I figured maybe these annoying college kids will actually sit in their dorm rooms, and we can talk about stuff that’s fun. We can talk about the cheap friend who doesn’t want to chip in for his tip when we eat out. We can talk about how to make your money work for you et cetera.

And that ended up being a great decision. The key learning I had from that was if you have a message that the world needs to hear, they might not listen the first time, they might not like the way you deliver it the second time. But if you keep persisting and you find the right channel, then people will sit up and they’ll pay attention.

So when I started off with personal finance that was awesome. To tell you the truth Steve, personal finance isn’t what motivates me every day, like I don’t wake up and talk about oh, let’s talk about tax deferrals, who cares?

Steve: Sure.

Ramit: But I do love psychology and I love using our behavior in pro social ways, so finding a better job, starting a business. So after I wrote a book and that did better than I expected, I started to see the potential of this business. And I learned about this thing called information products, online courses and really decided to double down there after trying a whole bunch of other options.

So since then the business has really evolved. Money is one of our core areas, but we’ve also added on careers and salary negotiation, starting a business, inner psychology, we even talked about cooking. So every part of a rich life, if we have something valuable to add we want to create material round it.

And what you’ll find is that our students who come to us. They’ll typically come to us for one reason, maybe they need to get their finances in order, they want to learn how to invest, or a lot of them negotiated $20,000 raise using our material. And then their eyes open up, they like, “Wait a minute, I can take these same principles and apply them to other parts of my life,” and that’s when they really start to stitch together their own version of a rich life.

Steve: So the rich and I will teach you to be rich is more like rich as in rich life as opposed to rich as in money, anyway.

Ramit: That is correct.

Steve: Okay.

Ramit: That is something I’m so glad you brought up because the first thought when people hear the word rich is a lot of time is just Scrooge McDuck. Sitting around, throwing gold coins in a vault, and swimming it and that is not my life. Now I will say this, I will say I think money is a small but important part of a rich life, and that’s why I started writing out about personal finance, because if your personal finances are not in order then it’s going to be very difficult to start a long term profitable business if you can’t even pay your bills.

It’s going to be very difficult to focus on losing weight or finding a new job and being patient enough to do that if you’ve got bill collectors, or you are worried about if you can afford Starbucks coffee. So I believe it’s an important, small, but important part. And then I do think that a lot of people try to nag us into telling us what we are not allowed to define as our rich. “Oh no, you can’t go on vacation. No, you can’t buy that leather jacket. No, you can’t do that.” No, no, no, and my approach was always, let’s use our money to say yes.

So if you want to go to Vegas and fly your buddies out with you for a weekend, awesome. Let me show how to do that. If you want to buy an expensive coat, beautiful, I’ll show you how to do that. You want to pay for your parent’s retirement; I can show you how to do that. So you define what a rich life is to you, whether it’s working from your home office like I do, or it’s going out and getting VIP service somewhere, that’s awesome. But I would rather say yes to a rich life instead of all the things you can’t do.

Steve: Basically focus on what makes you happy and then spend less emphasis on the other things that you don’t care that much about.

Ramit: Yeah, I mean if hear another person telling me to cut back on my lattes; I’m going to jump out of the window. I mean it’s the kind of advice that people say it sounds catchy, but nobody even follows. I know a lot of these personal finance experts; they do not care about spending. They love their lattes, and by the way if you actually ran the numbers and realized how much you actually save, three dollars a day for the next 25 years which by the way you are not going to do, it’s not even that much.

I would rather get a $20,000 raise or start a profitable business and buy all the lattes I want. So a lot of times we forget that we are cognitive misers, and instead of worrying about 20 or 50 little things, we should focus on those five to ten big wins in life, get them right, and then you never have to worry about, can I afford this appetizer or this coffee.

Steve: Those are great points Ramit, and I know that you talk about some of these things in your book, in your latest book called ‘Your Move: The Underdogs Guide to Building Your Business.’ One thing I was kind of curious about is your last book, ‘I will Teach You To Be Rich’ was released way back in 2009, and one question in my mind actually was, what made you wait so long to write this new book, and why did you decided to make it Kindle only?

Ramit: Well, it’s really hard to write a book.

Steve: Okay.

Ramit: I mean, that’s the truth. You know my publisher, they had a very, they had a very good experience with the ‘I will Teach You To Be Rich’ book, and we were very fortunate because our community really rallied and made that book an instant New York Times best seller and all that. So of course they want me to write more, and I love the idea of taking my very best concepts and advice and putting it into something that stands the test of time.

You’ll hear me say this a lot “Stands the test of time,” because I think that there are so many people and so much emphasis on creating the cool new Instagram video of the day, or the Facebook post is going to get a lot of likes. And I think that’s great, there is a time and a place for that, but 20 years from now I want my material to stand the test of time, or 50 years from now.

I find some of the most valuable insights are in books written decades ago, and that is something I aspire to, and that’s what we design for. So I didn’t want to write another book just for the sake of it, I wanted to wait until I had something really valuable to say. As for why we did it with Kindle, Kindle only, we started there because we wanted to create something that was easy for people to consume, and we also wanted to — we are focused on experimentation, so we want to try different things and see how they work.

You will notice if you really track our business closely that at any given time we are running many, many experiments. And I just think that living an experimental life is a really interesting way to live. It actually means you have to be pretty humble, because you might be good at what you do, but you realize that maybe 50% of what you believe is wrong. So you know I believe that eating this makes me overweight, or I believe that this price is the right price. Well, let’s figure it out, let’s test it and we discover very, very, very frequently that the things we were convinced of might actually not be true.

Steve: So this book is an experiment in a way then.

Ramit: Everything is an experiment.

Steve: Okay, and what is your goal for your book, for this latest book as opposed to the last one?

Ramit: Well, the last book was a technical book. Here is the deal. Many of the things that I do in life are because I’m super frustrated at something. So I started my blog because I’m sick of people not coming to my free class at Stanford. All right I’m going to start this blog, and then still the funny thing is nobody still actually came to my blog for like six months, but I kept at it, and finally people started to come.

With the I Will Teach You book, people were emailing me asking these random questions, what bank account should I use or should I do a Roth IRA or a 401K? All these weird questions, and they are good questions, but after you hear them 100 times a day for four, five years, you start to say, wait a minute, I want to give them something I can hand to them and say, here are the answers to all your questions, and even questions you didn’t even know you should ask.

So that was the IWT book. People got it and if you follow anybody who’s used that book, a lot of them since the book came out in ’09, many of them have generated over six figures, over $100,000 sitting in their bank account and investments, just following the basics in the book.

This book, what I wanted to do was to show people like, yes, we have very advanced courses. Some of our courses are $2,000, or $10,000, okay, and when you are ready you can join us. But for a lot of people it’s not just the information that’s stopping them from creating a business, it’s first of all meeting people like them and seeing that other people have the same concerns or fears. Like do I have an idea? Do I have time?

And kind of really showing them in an approachable way, hey lot of other people had the same challenges you do, so let me show you how they solved it. You may not need to use their exact techniques, but I find comfort in knowing what other people did to solve a similar problem.

I also wanted to tell some of the stories that we’ve learned. You know we’ve been battle tested, and we have created over 20 products, we’ve done dozens and dozens of launches. We know a lot about what works and what doesn’t. And I consider it a service and an honor to be able to put something in the market place that we definitively know is true and it works because we’ve been doing it for years and years and years.

As opposed to you know, somebody comes up with this thing about, oh, let me teach you how to do Facebook ads, you know, they’ve been doing it for four weeks, maybe they made a couple of thousand of bucks, and now they want to create a course. I’d rather wait, I’d rather wait, and do it right than arbitrarily do it quickly.

Steve: So for all you guys listening out there, you know one thing that I like about Ramit is that he’s blunt. He doesn’t BS and plus he’s Asian, so I can totally relate to all the stories. But today what I was hoping to do actually Ramit is to kind of actually walk through the steps of building a business, some of the concepts that you talk about in your book, kind of from your perspective and from some of the experiences of the students in your class.

And one of the most common question that I get asked since our audiences do overlap is how to find that profitable business idea. So what is your take and how do you actually help your students to decide what to pursue in the first place?

Ramit: This is one of the most common questions people have. What should my business idea be? And let me first start off by saying that I can give you an amazing business idea right now, in fact I’m going to give you a perfect business idea right now that has generated millions of dollars, here it is. Teach people about personal finance.

Steve: Okay.

Ramit: Or teach people how to find their dream job, or teach people how to start a business or improve their social skills. Okay, I just gave you four ideas that have generated millions and millions of dollars. Now here is my question to you, do you know what to do with it? Of course not, because so many of us are using this idea that, oh I don’t have the perfect business idea. If only the perfect business idea fell down from the sky, then I would magically open my mouth, angels would rush out, and I would know exactly what to do.

That’s not how it works. Okay ad one of the things — I’m glad you said that I try to be blunt because I think that more of us actually want someone to be blunt and honest with us instead of feeding us this typical BS. Find you passion, oh, passion solves all problems. No, it’s not true, your passion is great, but you know what makes me passionate? When I get really good at something, and when I help other people.

So I will be more than happy to talk about how we find a business idea. But I just want to start by telling everybody listening, I can give you the perfect business idea, in fact I just gave you four, but it’s not just the idea, it’s the process of finding it, and it’s then knowing what to do with that idea.

Ideas are a diamond dessert and I have a million ideas so does everybody. You do it right now, I’ll show you how find it, they are in your own head, but that’s just the first step. And when you can really understand it’s not just about the idea, it’s about actually executing on it, that’s when you have a real business.

Steve: So let’s talk about the process and the initial execution to know whether that business first has legs or not.

Ramit: Okay, all right. First off let’s start with the concept that it’s not magic, it’s math and Steve, are you good in math?

Steve: I’m all right. I’m Asian.

Ramit: Okay, I’m not good which is-

Steve: You are not, really?

Ramit: No, I know, it’s very surprising.

Steve: Oh I’m going to have to revoke your membership card then, I didn’t realize.

Ramit: I know, it’s really bad. As and Indian guy, I’m not good in math and I don’t like mangoes, so we got a real problem here. The only math I’m good at is conversion rates though. I memorize every conversion rate of almost every campaign we’ve ever done, really weird. But anyway okay, you don’t need to know any advanced math for this. I’m just going to give you some real basic math.

What I love about this concept of ‘it’s not magic, it’s math’ is that you know, we might look at somebody like Elon Musk or Bill Gates and say like, “Oh my God! They have something I don’t have.” And it’s true, right? They have a lot of skills and experience and resources that you and I don’t have, but at a very simple core level business is just very simple math.

So I want to show you what a million dollars in revenue looks like, and I bring up a million dollars because that’s a good amount of revenue, and to the outsider it seems like pure magic to be able to generate a million dollars. But I’m going to give you about five examples of how you can make a million dollars, okay? Write this down, it’s not magic, it’s math. So to create a million dollars you could sell a $50 product and sell 20,000 of them. You could sell $100 product and sell 10,000 of them. You could price your product at $200 and sell 5,000, a $500 product you could sell 2,000 of those, or you could sell $1,000 product a 1,000 times.

So to me this actually starts to be really interesting, because it’s approachable. I realize that if I can sell a $50 product five times, hey that’s pretty interesting. Maybe I can scale that up to ten and if I can do ten in a month I can probably do 20, and then maybe I could add on $100 product. So and it’s totally up to you, some people prefer the $5 products, some people prefer the $10,000 products.

Now there is pro and cons. I have created products at all those points, so I could tell you about each. The point is suddenly it’s not just a million dollars in the cloud; it’s actually something that is pretty approachable. $50 product and if you can start to sell five a month which is not that much, then you can scale up from there. So that’s the first concept, it’s not magic, it’s math, right?

Steve: Okay.

Ramit: Should I go to anything on that or should I keep…

Steve: So here is the thing, like most people have problems, at least when people email me they are like, everything is already saturated out there, so-

Ramit: So what does that mean? We can’t do it? We better give up and go home and cry?

Steve: Basically, basically they say there is too much competition out there, how am I going to stand out, right?

Ramit: Oh life is so difficult, oh there is so many people who have brown hair, I better not have brown hair. Oh, there is so many people who drink Starbucks coffee, I better not buy Starbucks, what do you want me to give you, a hug? Hey, let me tell you a different way to look at it. When I started writing about personal finance, do you understand how many people wrote about personal finance, tens of thousands.

There are entire bookshelves in book stores with personal finance books on. So what did I do? Did I sit and cry? No, first of all I got really good at knowing about personal finance. So I knew all the basics, I had read all the books. And I actually build my own system to manage my own money, and I started helping friends very casually with theirs.

As I got further and further along, I started to realize there are certain things I disagree with and certain things I really agree with. This is why I’m one of the only people who talks about — forget about the latte thing, it’s irrelevant, and start talking about earning more. That came out of my discussions and my beliefs and my history, and I have a lot of other things that I was different and I have lot of other things that I’m similar on like low cost index investing.

Well over time I started to develop what I was the same at and what I was different at, just like you know how any of us go through life. Same if you are a fitness instructor, you know there is — every fitness instructor under the sun is telling you basic things, cut you calories, move around more et cetera.

But there is different gradations with inside of fitness. There is the good guy, there is women only, there is nerd fitness, there is a whole bunch of stuff. So what I would say is there is lots of ways to stand out, one is who is your audience? My audience that I was talking to was typically younger people. So when I use examples like flying out to Vegas or buying a round of drinks, that’s appealing to younger audience, not a 72 year old guy planning his estate taxes.

Okay, the next was in the language I used. If I’m running for men versus women, it’s often going to be very different for money, definitely for fitness okay; we are using different words in a fitness world for men versus women or young versus older. Then…

Steve: How do you figure out which audience you should be targeting? Like so, let’s take one of your examples, like fitness for example, how do you decide which audience that you should be targeting based on your skill set?

Ramit: Okay, so first of all if you have been helping anyone you can simply look at the people that you have ended up helping and see if there any patterns. You might often discover about yourself that you prefer to work with men or women, or just happens that you relate more or they relate more to you, so I would start there.

The second is to ask yourself, who do I understand more, and the third and this is really important, which audience is willing to pay? We call this the pay certainty technique. You want to be certain that they will pay, and here is how it goes. All you have to do is ask two questions. Do they have the ability and willingness to pay? Ability and willingness.

Let me give you an example. Steve, let’s say you are a stylist, you are just amazing, you dress really well okay, and everybody always compliments you on how you dress, and it’s something you just enjoy, you read style magazines all the time. So let’s pick three different example audiences and let’s see how we would apply this to narrow them down, okay.

So audience one is 20 year old college kids, audience two is 75 year old retirees and audience three is 40 year old senior executives, okay. So let’s use this pay certainty techniques, do they have the ability and willingness to pay? 20 year olds, do they have the ability to pay? No, they have no money. Do they have the willingness to pay? What do they care? They wear hoodies every day, okay eliminated. Now let’s go to the retirees. Do they have the ability to pay? Sure, they saved some money. Do they have the willingness? No, they are wearing a golf shirt every day.

Okay, oh I’m so mad Remit, you are stereotyping. I really don’t care about offending and stereotyping because at this stage it’s okay to come up with some guestimates. You are going to test those assumptions later. So I might — you know if I said, hey, I actually don’t think they are all wearing golf shirts, and I’m going to write that down and go talk to ten of them. I can quickly find out if they actually have the ability and willingness, okay?

Now to the third category, senior executives, do they have the ability to pay? Yes they have money. Do they have the willingness to pay? What do you think Steve?

Steve: I just want to take a moment to tell you about a free resource that I offer on my website that you may not be aware of. If you’re interested in starting your own online store, I put together a comprehensive six day mini course on how to get started in ecommerce that you should all check out. It contains both video and text based tutorials that go over the entire process of finding products to sell all the way to getting your first sales online.

Now this course is free and can be obtained at mywifequitherjob.com/free. Just sign up right there on the front page via email, and I’ll send you the course right away. Once again that’s mywifequitherjob.com/free, now back to the show.

So the answer is yes, but what questions would you ask these people to determine whether they would be willing to pay, because often times you’ll ask someone if they are willing to pay something, but then when it comes to time to collect the money, they don’t actually want to pay.

Ramit: Yeah, that’s because people ask the wrong questions.

Steve: Okay.

Ramit: If you’d ask, “Hey, do you want to buy my weird eBook?” What are they going to say? They are going to say, “Yeah, yeah, just send me an email when it’s out so that I can send it straight to my spam folder.” Nobody wants your eBook, nobody wants your course, what they want is the outcome of what you can deliver.

So my book is not called six weeks on financial literacy so that you can optimize your compound interest returns, it’s called I will teach you to be rich and I will. Similarly when you speak to someone, here is the number one question you want to ask is, you want to find out if they have actually tried to solve this problem in the past, that is the best determinant of whether they will try to solve it in the future, and when I say solve it I mean paid to solve it.

Steve: Okay.

Ramit: So for example, I would ask somebody, you know I might say, hey, tell me what’s going on, like walk me through your day, I’d love to understand your day. And I start of really broad. So they are like, well I wake up at eight and I drink coffee and I go to work and then I come home and watch Netflix. Awesome, I love it. Okay, fairly typical day, that sounds good, talk to me what happens after work. Okay again let’s say in this case I’m a fitness instructor.

Well, I come home and I really, I try to work out about three times a week, and then you know, I come home da da. Oh, that’s cool, so like did you work out yesterday? Well, no, I’ve been really busy. What about the day before? No, it was raining. Okay, so on average a week, what would you say you work out? Two, I really should do four, but I really do two. So talk to me about that.

Okay, right here so far I have, it’s not intrusive, I’m not asking them to buy an eBook. In fact in your research phase you cannot sell anything to them. You are not there to sell; you are just there to do research. What I really want to know is I want to hone in on that area where they say one thing and they do another. I really should keep a budget, I don’t keep a budget. I really should work out, I don’t work out. I should eat less, I should dress better, I should start a business, and then I want to ask them why.

Now after I ask them why and they are going to give me some reason, I want to dig in, I want say have you tried to solve that in the past? Most people you talk to have not tried to solve it, you know why? Because they are not really serious. Oh, I should start a business, okay so have you tried? No, I’ll do that another day. Okay bye, I appreciate the time. That person is not serious. The best answer to that would be yes, yes I actually joined, I bought this book, I tried it, I like this part, that part didn’t work. Then I joined this course but that didn’t work either.

Now I’m leaning in, tell me more. What would it look like if you waved a magic wand, what would happen, and I want to understand. This has nothing to do with price. Price is determined, way, way, way later and it’s not determined by your users, okay, and it doesn’t even have to do with how long your eBook is or how many videos are in your course. It’s all about their problems; this is pure research at the beginning.

Steve: Okay, and so let’s extend that fitness example. So do you ask them why he works out in the first place or?

Ramit: Absolutely, guess what? So this is where you start to – so let’s say you don’t know if you are better serving women or men. So if you ask, tell me a little bit more about why do you want to work out, what does it mean to you? And you are going to get radically different answers from men and women. Men in their 20s are going to answer differently than men in their 40s. Steve, what’s the difference between what a 25 year old guy would say versus 45 year old guy?

Steve: For me I work out so I don’t get injured.

Ramit: Love it, that’s a great answer. You think that a 25 year old is going to say that?

Steve: Yeah, he wants to pick up girls.

Ramit: Bingo. So again we are stereo typing and we’re generalizing, of course there are exceptions, and of course there is nuance to that. But at a high level if I were to create, get ripped six pack abs for 50 year old men, that’s likely to fail, whereas if I created a more vanity focused or aesthetic focused approach for 20 something men, that’s likely to succeed, and in fact that is exactly what you see in the marketplace.

So you don’t actually need to worry about your competition, your competition if anything is telling you there is a big market here and a lot of buyers, that’s a good beacon. The good news is that your competition generally doesn’t know anything about business. They are usually not that savvy about marketing, they’ve never really studied this like the courses we teach, Zero to Launch and on and on. And if you actually do the research and ask the right questions and build a product for a hungry market, you can very often surpass your competition.

Steve: So let’s extend that example a little bit further. So let’s say I have decided that I want to pursue fitness for 40 year olds. How do I stand out among the crowd? There is like thousands of thousands of personal trainers out there, thousands of programs, fitness programs. How do you stand out?

Ramit: Okay, again when you say 40 year olds, let’s get even more specific.

Steve: Okay.

Ramit: 40 year old men or women?

Steve: Let’s do men.

Ramit: Okay, what are some different types of goals that 40 year old men might have?

Steve: Let’s see, not being able to plays sports better, recovery time, not getting injured, those are my goals and just general strength.

Ramit: Aha, so guess which one of those stands out the most to me?

Steve: Strength.

Ramit: Yeah, you know why?

Steve: Why?

Ramit: Because in general people particularly in America don’t pay for prevention. Now this is a little subtle nuance that you will learn over time as a business creator for everybody listening, but you kind of just think about it. Like do people pay for melt the fat around your stomach? Yes that sounds very appealing, or do they pay for live healthy life by avoiding these bad things and having a moderate lifestyle? No, they don’t care about that, not in this country.

So when I hear you say strength, that instantly makes my ears perk up, and I say to myself, wow! Okay, so we have a 40 year old man who wants to improve his strength. So if I were going to position myself and go out there, the first thing I would go is I’ll go find ten to 20 40 year old men and I would talk to them. I’d say, tell me about your fitness goals, tell me about how you wake up in the morning, et cetera et cetera. And if they said I’m really interested in this, I would say, why? And they are going to tell me the why.

So one, I’m going to know how to position myself differently. They might want strength so they can be a good role model to their grandchildren or their children, okay? That’s one example. Two, they might actually want to be as strong as they were in their 30s, okay. This is a common thing you will see in the beauty market, the old idea of you know, youth and beauty and regaining that, that’s another position.

You want to talk to them and you want to say which of these is most appealing to you, tell me about what would it look like if you had a magic wand, and they are going to tell you in their own words. Suddenly all the other people who are out there, fitness instructors who are just doing six pack abs and these you know 25 year old guys, they are not appealing to those 40 year olds anymore, you are speaking to them.

To give you one great example of this, I used to be a really skinny guy, I was 127 pounds. There is not a lot of stuff out there for guys like me especially back in the day. There is amazing program called bonny to beastly. Think about that name, bony to beastly. That is an amazing position in the marketplace for skinny guys who want to get bigger. So there are so many ways you can position yourself, but you want to identify your market and find out if they have a real pain they’ll pay for.

Steve: So to summarize what you just said, in order to stand out you have to get super specific and focus on a small segment of the market?

Ramit: That’s right.

Steve: Okay.

Ramit: And I can demonstrate that with I will teach by the way. Personal finance it’s very similar, so you know you can look at the core market from the outside and just be like, oh my God, there is some much competition. But when you get into it, you realize okay, most of the personal finance material out there is written for older people. Why? Because nobody really cares about their money until they are really 40. That’s just weird, but it is what it is.

Two, it’s generally written with a slight masculine slant. That’s not as true anymore, but it used to be. And three and this is huge, almost every piece of financial advice out there is focused on frugality. Cut back on this, cut back on that you know, don’t buy any groceries, and reuse your toilet paper. I say I’d rather be dead than reuse my toilet paper or take out the oven light. Okay, these are real suggestions, I’m not kidding you.

So I said all right, I’m targeting young people. My friends were generally, they had good jobs, they were fairly affluent, they wanted to go out, they wanted to have a good time. They didn’t want to cut back on everything, but they also wanted their money to go where it needed to go. And my background was in psychology, so I didn’t know this from day one, but I started to figure it out. I would write just the way I talk.

So I was writing casually, I was using casual examples like the tipping friend. I was talking about not just cutting back, but earning more. That was unusual. And then I was also taking the conventional advice and showing why some of it did not work. So people enjoy that pointed view. If you can say, hey, everybody is talking about this for abs or back development or whatever, and you are saying here is how it actually works, that can be very powerful.

Steve: Let me ask you this question since we are on that topic. You mentioned that you wrote in a certain tone, you were very blunt. And one of the questions I often get asked is, if I’m starting my own business, do I have to be — does my personality have to be in it? Meaning do I have to show my face when I sell a product?

Ramit: Absolutely not, and in fact the little known secret of a lot of online businesses is that there are certain people out there using pen names just like they were novelists.

Steve: Okay.

Ramit: So you absolutely do not have to show your name if you do not want to, and you can use a pen name if you like. What I find with my students, the students who join Zero to Launch, a small percentage of them have this concern. Typically it’s for professional reasons, they might not want their co-workers to know they are talking about X or Y topic. What they typically find out is after they do this for a year or two, they realize they actually don’t mind anymore, and that they are happy to share their name and their face, and it actually makes a decent impact to the business.

Steve: Okay.

Ramit: We saw this in the personal finance world by the way. You know this Steve, like a lot of people in their early days had pen names, and then eventually they came out and shared their names and it was perfectly fine. So if you don’t want to share you don’t have, but ultimately it’s really not that big of a deal is what most of my students find out.

Steve: Okay, so let’s say okay, so we have come up with the idea at this point and we’ve got really specific about the target customers, how do I get my first paying customers?

Ramit: Okay, so at this stage you have come up with a few ideas, you’ve picked one and you’ve decided to kind of spend some time on it. So you’ve gone through, you’ve talked to 15 or 20 people. How do you talk to them? Well, I always say if can’t find them during research, how are you going to find them during sales?

So if you are going after pair up with somebody you want to learn a violin or people who want to get into college or whatever, whatever the topic is. You better be able to find those people and it’s actually not that hard these days. There is Reddit, there is forums, you can set up emails. And the truth is most people will actually talk to you and they’ll talk about openly. They’ll talk about their problems if they believe you are willing to listen not you are trying to shove something down their throat, okay?

So like I will have conversations routinely with people who talk about relationship problems, they will talk about fitness stuff, they will talk about very emotional stuff. I would strongly encourage you to talk to at least 20 people. When I say talk to, email is okay, phone conversations are the best. One phone call conversation is worth a hundred or even a thousand survey responses.

So after 20, you start to say like, oh wow! This is really — people are interested. In fact if you are really good at your research, by the end you’ll have people saying things like please if you create something like this please take my money. In fact I’ll be willing to sing up right now knowing that it’s not even ready. People actually say that.

And if that is the case at the end your call, you can say, hey, I’m planning to think a little bit more about this. I might create something you or not, can I add you to a tiny list, and I’ll email you when I’m ready? This is a very simple way of getting your first five to ten buyers. And so if you’ve done your research right and you’ve found people who are interested, they will easily buy your first products. Exactly what I did with my first products.

If on the other hand, this is very common, you don’t really listen to your market. You think that when they say, oh yeah I may be out to buy that, that that’s a yes, and then you kind of create this product fast to just make money, then the minute you go to sell it people are not going to pay. And that is in my opinion a huge tragedy, because your time is limited and you should spend it building something that can actually help people that they want to pay for.

Steve: So to figure out exactly whether they are truly going to pay for your product, would you recommend taking a small amount of money upfront?

Ramit: You can do that. You absolutely can. I don’t think that’s the only way, but if people are serious, you can absolutely say hey, you know I’ll be willing to put you in the top five or first in line, and I’ll take a deposit. It’s totally refundable, you know, 10% or 50%, honestly all that matters is they pay you $1.

Steve: Okay.

Ramit: The difference between zero and $1 is massive, massive. So many people for example don’t understand that if you have 100 people on your email list maybe 0.5 of them will buy particularly as you scale up. So don’t be angry if you talked to 20 people and 19 of them don’t buy, that’s okay, maybe they’ll buy later maybe not. But the law of internet numbers says you are going to have a bigger denominator than the number of buyers.

Steve: Where are some of your go to places to do your research?

Ramit: I love Reddit although you have to take it with a grain of salt, because people there are cheap, angry, bitter, and young. But aside from all that it’s great. No, there is a lot of great insights there. Like I love reading about you know if you’ve tried to lose weight but you’ve failed why. I love reading about relationship things, they have money, personal finance, there is some really good stuff, you just need to take it with a grain of salt.

I love Quora; I think it’s really good. I read a lot of forums, so if you are looking into style for example, there is styleform.net, there is a whole bunch of stuff. And then the best of all is I actually love knowing people from very diverse backgrounds in real life.

You will often find that people will say certain things online and certain things in real life, and they often won’t cross over. So the best research incorporates both, because people online will though often be anonymous, they’ll be more honest in certain ways, but they won’t talk about certain things. Only somebody you know who trusts you will open up and share you know often times the real biggest fears and pain points about a certain topic.

Steve: So I guess that implies that it’s much more important to get someone in person, right? Because they will be more — yeah.

Ramit: The better. Yeah and again if this intimidates you, good, it should. It’s not supposed to be easy. This is why you are competition, you don’t need to be worried about them, because how many people do you think actually talked to even five prospects in their market. I’ll give you an example from my book, okay check this out. When I was starting to write the book, I went and I bought like almost every personal finance book that you can read, all right, and I read all of them, took notes on every single one.

And I actually went to Barnes and Noble and I would just be sitting there browsing, and I’d see people browsing next to me. Okay, here is the fascinating thing, Steve in virtually every single personal financial book, what does chapter one start with?

Steve: I have no idea.

Ramit: It starts with okay; let’s figure out how much you are spending so we can start a budget. How do you think the average person feels when they open a book and see that?

Steve: Probably a negative feeling like as if I don’t know how to budget already.

Ramit: Yeah, what else? You are right about the negative feeling, but they don’t know how to budget, they don’t and they know that. So why do they feel negative?

Steve: That they have a problem.

Ramit: Yeah, so the average person picks up a personal finance book, and the first thing they are told is let’s figure out how much you are spending, okay so let me get this straight Mr. or Mrs. Author. You are telling me that number one, I need to do a bunch of work to figure out how much I’m actually spending, because I don’t even know how where my accounts are and the passwords.

And number two, I have this feeling in the back of my head that I’ve been spending way too much for the last ten years, and I don’t even know how much debt I have. No, thanks I think I’m going to put this book back on the shelf and go you know, eat a piece of cheese cake, okay.

Steve: Right.

Ramit: So you would only know that if you had talked to people. You would never see that online. No one would ever even have the knowledge to share that. So instead with our book the first chapter, instead of telling you how bad you are doing, and all the things that are wrong with you and you are a horrible person, it was, hey, you’ve got a credit card; I’ve got a credit card. Let me show you how to beat the credit card companies at their game. And in that first chapter a lot of our readers you know, they beat a $22 late fee; those students are students for life.

So when you are thinking about doing your research, you are going to discover these things only talking to them in person and on the phone. Don’t be an internet nerd and be you know, so afraid of talking to people. If you want to start a business and you want to grow it past ten dollars, past $100,000 into the seven or even eight figures, then you are going to have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable, and that means talking to people.

The first four, five times, maybe they are not going to go that well, but that’s okay. You can just tell them openly, here is a script you can use. Just say look, I’d love to ask you a few questions about fitness. The reason why I’m asking is I’m thinking maybe of creating something, I’m not sure, maybe I will, maybe not, but I just love to talk to you and see how you think about fitness. And if it turns out into something that would be awesome, but if not I appreciate the time. Super candid, supper causal, not weird at all, and that is how you are going to get people to talk you.

Steve: How important is it to have to your own platform?

Ramit: It’s very important.

Steve: Okay.

Ramit: We see so many courses that have come telling people you know all these tricks to do on Facebook and Instagram et cetera. And those are cool, if you want to that great, but every channel we see inevitably the channel creators like Facebook et cetera will constrict and restrict your ability to reach your own people. The best platform you can have is your own, one that you control, and typically that’s an email list.

Steve: So I guess where I was going with that question was, is it a chicken and egg problem? Like should you work on getting a platform and followers first or should you just go ahead, jump into it, and just do what you are suggesting. Talk to a handful of people and just try to sell something before you have a platform?

Ramit: Well, you don’t need to wait to create a platform. Okay, one thing that really annoys me that I see, is people creating all these unnecessary steps before they watch their business. Oh, I spoke to somebody yesterday, oh, I need to create a website, I need to learn how to learn how to do copy writing, and I’m like, no you don’t. You need to go find three clients. You can find that on Craigslist, okay.

So can you talk to 20 people without having a website and opt-in follow? Of course these people want to be talked to. They want to be listened to. So you can go find 20 people. If I were somebody listening to this, I’d be sending out ten emails a day minimum. Okay, minimum ten emails a day, more like 15 emails a day to 20, and I’d be scheduling those calls. You can do 20 calls in one to two weeks, it’s no that hard.

Steve: Okay.

Ramit: But ultimately to scale, then you are going to want to have — you are going to want to create some content and give people a reason to come to your platform. And that’s how you are going to build a more sustainable business.

Steve: Right, so the order that you would advise to proceed is to get those three customers, validate that you have an idea, then work on the platform when you want to scale.

Ramit: Yes you can – that is absolutely the fastest way to go.

Steve: Okay, okay. A couple of questions that I also get asked are from people who have very little money to invest in a business, and what would you suggest for these people?

Ramit: Why don’t you get a better job?

Steve: Okay.

Ramit: I find it a little bit puzzling, I get emails from people who are like Ramit, I have 30 days left of money for my rent. I have no groceries, my fridge electricity just turned out, so I’ve got about eight hours of food left, can you help me start a million dollar business? Like no, go work. Get a job, get a good job, stop thinking about this passive income.

That’s why I started off this whole call Steve talking about money is a small but an important part of a rich life. Starting a business is challenging, it’s not what everybody tells you, oh a million dollars overnight, it’s BS, people are lying to you. I’m here to tell you the truth, this is hard, talking to people is uncomfortable. You don’t know how to do it the first time. That’s okay you could do it, but it takes time.

If you have very little money, then my question to you is why not first focus on getting a solid job, get stable, put a month of savings in the bank. I’m not saying that to be condescending at all. I actually think it’s the most respectful thing I can tell you because it’s honest. If you are down to a few weeks or a month worth of savings, and the clock is ticking, there is no way you are going to make patient long term decisions. No, no, no, instead you are going to make impulsive quick decisions to try to make a quick buck. And now you have joined everyone else out there on the internet who’s trying to make a quick buck.

You talk about competition that is the competition you do not want to be in. One of the ways that we separated our self is by not having to make quick buck decisions. Steve, do you know one decision we made that cost us millions of dollars a year?

Steve: Let’s see, you probably worked, you probably released a course, and then you cancelled it.

Ramit: We’ve done that, we’ve done that many times and those I hope to never repeat, but they somehow always seem to come up every so often. One thing we do is we don’t allow anyone with credit card debt to join our flagship courses, and that’s nobody else in the market place does that because most of them would go out of business.

We do it for two reasons, one; if you don’t have money, if you have credit card debt, you should use our free material which is 98% of the stuff on our site is free, and you should pay off your debt, okay. That’s what you would do, that’s what I would do. And the second thing we tell people is if we found out they joined with credit card debt, not only will we refund their money in that refund period, we will ban them for life. And so we actually turn down millions of dollars in revenue. That’s a way to stand out from your competition is who you serve.

So I think that it is a bit disingenuous when people ask you know, I’m running out of money, I don’t have a lot, how do I start a business quick? These people are always the worst customers. They don’t have the fortitude or the patience. And again not to be condescending but to be respectful I would strongly encourage them, focus on your career, get a job, it’s much easier to get a solid job than to start a profitable and growing business.

Steve: So Remit, we’ve already been chatting for 50 minutes, I want to be respectful of your time. It seems like you actually cover the entire garment, right? You teach people to hag at their job, the dream job in the beginning, and then transition gradually to earning their first thousand bucks, and then launching a potentially million dollar product. So where can people find you. Can you tell us a little bit about what you have to offer?

Ramit: Yes, you can find all of our materials at iwillteachyoutoberich.com okay, and everything there is going to guide you to the right place. You should join our email list. You will really enjoy the emails; they are different than anything else you will see out there, I think you will really love them.

And we have a new eBook on Amazon called Your Move: The Underdogs Guide to Growing Your Business. I think you are really going to enjoy it. We priced it low; we want everybody to get it. It’s on Kindle or any Android, any device. It’s going to be a quick read, and a really new way of looking at starting and growing your own business.

Steve: Plus it’s three bucks, that’s like a no brainer.

Ramit: Thank you for saying that.

Steve: And the other thing is, join his list because the way it’s written is actually the way he’s been on the podcast today. He doesn’t hold back, he doesn’t sugar coat anything and he’s actually hilarious, especially if you are Asian, because you will actually get a lot of the Asian jokes.

Ramit: Steve, are you basically telling all non-Asian people not to join my list? Come on, non-Asians you are welcome too, everybody is welcome.

Steve: Okay, yeah, fine, fine you will like this if you are not Asian as well, but-

Ramit: I’m very inclusive on this list of 800,000 people, so please join in. I’d love to share. It’s not just about money, it not just about business. A lot of fun stuff about relationships and just a different way to look at life. I think in the first week you will be compelled by something you learn there.

Steve: Yeah, and I’ll link up all this stuff in the show notes, so you guys don’t even have to memorize all this stuff. All right Ramit, take care, really happy that you came on.

Ramit: It’s been a pleasure, thanks for inviting me.

Steve: All right man, take care.

Hope you enjoyed that episode. Ramit is someone who I’ve looked up to for many years now, and I highly recommend that you check out his latest book. I’ll have a link to the book in the show notes, it’s only 2.99, and it’s basically a no brainer to pick up. For more information about this episode, go to my wifequitherjob.com/episode172.

And once again I want to thank Klaviyo for sponsoring this episode. Klaviyo is my email marketing platform of choice for ecommerce merchants, and you can easily put together automated flows like an abandoned cart sequence, a post purchase flow, a win back campaign, basically all these sequences that will make you money on auto pilot. So head on over to mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O, once again that’s mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O.

Now I talk about how I use all these tools on my blog, and if you’re interested in starting your own ecommerce store, head on over to mywifequitherjob.com and sign up for my free six day mini course. Just type in your email and I’ll send you the course right away, thanks for listening.

Outro: Thanks for listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast, where we are giving the courage people need to start their own online business. For more information visit Steve’s blog at www.mywifequitherjob.com.

I Need Your Help

If you enjoyed listening to this podcast, then please support me with an iTunes review. It's easy and takes 1 minute! Just click here to head to iTunes and leave an honest rating and review of the podcast. Every review helps!
 
Share On Facebook

Ready To Get Serious About Starting An Online Business?


If you are really considering starting your own online business, then you have to check out my free mini course on How To Create A Niche Online Store In 5 Easy Steps.

In this 6 day mini course, I reveal the steps that my wife and I took to earn 100 thousand dollars in the span of just a year. Best of all, it's absolutely free!

171: How To Run Profitable Amazon Marketing Services(AMS) Ads With Brian Johnson

Share On Facebook

171: How To Run Profitable Amazon Marketing Services(AMS) Ads With Brian Johnson

Today I’m thrilled to have Brian Johnson on the show. Brian is the founder of PPC Scope, a PPC measurement and optimization tool for Amazon Sellers.

In addition, he runs a course called Sponsored Products Academy which teaches Amazon sellers the ins and outs of Amazon PPC ads.

He was also one of the speakers at my conference as well. Brian is an expert on Amazon PPC and today we are going to delve deeply into how to optimize your campaigns.

What You’ll Learn

  • Brian’s process for launching an Amazon product.
  • Outdated strategies that should be avoided today.
  • What is AMS and how do you get access?
  • What AMS ads allow you to do.
  • How to structure AMS ads and how they are different

Other Resources And Books

Sponsors

Klaviyo.com – Klaviyo is the email marketing platform that I personally use for my ecommerce store. Created specifically for ecommerce, it is the best email marketing provider that I’ve used to date. Click here and try Klaviyo for FREE.
Klaviyo

Ignite.Sellerlabs.com – If you are selling on Amazon and running Amazon Sponsored Ads campaigns, then Ignite from Seller Labs is a must have tool. Click here and get a FREE 30 Day Trial.
Ignite Logo

ReferralCandy.com – If you’re already getting steady orders every month, adding a refer-a-friend program to your store can give you a new sales channel. And ReferralCandy is the best in the business. Click here and get a FREE $50 credit towards your account.
referral candy

Transcript

Steve: You are listening to the My Wife Quit her Job Podcast, the place where I bring on successful bootstrapped business owners and delve deeply into what strategies are working and what strategies are not with their businesses.

Now today I’m thrilled to have Brian Johnson on the show, and we’re going to talk about strategies on how to improve your Amazon sponsored ad campaigns. This is a great episode, and I know you’ll learn a lot.

But before we begin I want to give a quick shout out to Klaviyo who is a sponsor of the show. Now I’m always excited to talk about Klaviyo because they are the email marketing platform that I personally use for my ecommerce store, and I depend on Klaviyo for over 20% of my revenues. Now you’re probably wondering why Klaviyo and not another provider. Well, Klaviyo is the only email platform out there that is specifically built for ecommerce stores, and here’s why it’s so powerful.

Klaviyo can track every single customer who has shopped in your store and exactly what they bought which allows you to do many things. So let’s say I want to send an email to everyone who purchased a red handkerchief in the last week, easy. Let’s say I want to set up a special autoresponder sequence to my customers depending on what they bought, piece of cake, and there is full revenue tracking on every single email.

Klaviyo is the most powerful email platform that I’ve ever used and you could try them for free at mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O, once again that’s mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O.

Now I also want to give a shout out to my other sponsor Seller Labs, and specifically I want to talk about their brand new tool Ignite which helps sellers manage their Amazon sponsored ads. Right now I’m using this tool to manage my Amazon sponsored ad campaigns, and it makes things a heck of a lot more convenient.

So number one, I’ve always found it a major pain to generate my PPC reports on Amazon, cut and paste the data over to an excel spreadsheet and use pivot tables before I’m able do any analysis. Well Ignite pulls all that info for you automatically and allows you to easily see what keywords are working and what are not immediately, there is no need to manually create reports or play with excel.

And second of all unless you’re a data geek, Amazon campaign data can be kind of hard to understand, and what is cool is that Ignite makes keyword and bidding recommendations on the fly that can be applied with a couple of clicks.

So let’s say one of my keywords is bleeding money, well Ignite will alert me of that fact, and I can reduce that bid immediately. So bottom line Ignite makes managing your Amazon sponsored ads so much easier, and the fact that they provide me with alerts means that I no longer have to monitor my campaigns like a hawk.

If there are keywords that are doing well, Ignite tells me to add them to my exact match campaigns. If my keywords are losing money, well Ignite tells me to either remove the keyword or to reduce the bid. So head on over to Sellerlabs.com/steve where you’ll find awesome tutorials on how to run Amazon PPC ads and the opportunity to try Ignite for 30 days for free. So once again that’s Sellerlabs.com/steve. Now on the show.

Intro: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. We will teach you how to create a business that suits your lifestyle, so you can spend more time with your family and focus on doing the things that you love. Here is your host, Steve Chou.

Steve: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. Today I’m thrilled to have Brian Johnson on the show. Now Brian is the founder of PPC Scope, a PPC measurement and optimization tool for Amazon sellers. In addition he runs a course called Sponsored Products Academy, which teaches Amazon sellers the ins and outs of Amazon PPC ads.

He’s actually also going to be one of the speakers at my conference in Fort Lauderdale Florida in about four weeks, and he’s an expert on Amazon PPC, and today we’re going to delve deeply into how to optimize your campaigns. And with that welcome to the show Brian, how are you doing today man?

Brian: I’m doing fantastic, thanks for having me here.

Steve: Yeah, so Brian, what is your background with selling online, how did you kind of get into physical products, and how did that kind of gravitate your career towards teaching PPC?

Brian: Absolutely, so I actually started out on the eBay platform many years ago. I was in – I was selling physical products. I was actually selling like banking equipment, coin sorters, money counters, that type of thing to governments, to the FBI, to movie CDOs all over the place.

It was kind of fascinating but it was a lot of work, because my margins were like 15% because of the way that I was doing it, primarily drop shipping through eBay. But I did that for about seven years.

Steve: Wow.

Brian: And at some point I started switching over, and I actually got pulled in during – was it Amazing Seller machine two, or ASM 2 by a friend of mine who was going through and sign on Amazon. And so that was probably what, three years ago now, and time flies. And so I jumped over and started selling on Amazon and realized, okay knowing – because I had tried Amazon before and I just didn’t know all those steps, I didn’t know how to game the system if you will.

I had to ask for reviews out, you know what the weaknesses were. I made a lot of assumptions as far as the similarities between Amazon and eBay, and I found out that eBay does a lot more work for the seller than Amazon does, at least originally did. And so I did and once I started selling and started sourcing for products on Amazon, I realized, okay I get much better margins, and I’ve got a whole new environment I can play in, let me switch over to AMS — to Amazon, excuse me. And I left eBay behind.

Steve: Did you start by drop shipping on Amazon at first like similar to eBay or no?

Brian: I was yes, so similar to eBay I started out with the products that I already knew, and one of the things I found was it was a different animal, because I was typically dealing with higher price point products, those that were $1500, $4,000, that type of thing.

Steve: Okay.

Brian: And I found on both platforms that fraud was still an issue. The same kind of fraud issues that I would have on eBay, the same kind of problems on Amazon.

Steve: Sure.

Brian: It just wasn’t converting as well, because you couldn’t get all the reviews and the social proof, and so you just couldn’t get the conversion. So I immediately realized that, okay I need to kind of conform to what the popular teaching is right now, and that is the whole small item, with no moving parts, and something that you’d easily source and re-label and that’s how I started out.

I actually started out in – what was it, in kitchen. I think my first product was a Julian vegetable peeler which I still use like a demo or a training product today.

Steve: Okay, so you’re basically not passionate about per se about the price that you sell, and are they like all over the place, or are they all within…

Brian: Yeah, I think like most people is that they are opportunity buys. They are primarily ones that – initially I started looking at ones like a lot of people do, you look at the ones that are, like hey this would be cool to sell and everything. I realized you know what, there is a lot less competition, there’s a lot more money in the stuff that is absolutely unsexy. Kind of my jokes example of that is yoga mats.

Steve: All right.

Brian: Very probable, you could sell them all day long, but you don’t want to tell anybody.

Steve: That goes along the same line as handkerchiefs. For the longest time I didn’t want to tell anyone that because it’s a feminine product, but anyways.

Brian: Sure.

Steve: So how did that evolve to PPC?

Brian: So I started selling and I had friends of mine who were also their own business owners, they weren’t on necessarily on Amazon, but they were friends of people who were trying to sell on Amazon and were struggling. So they said, hey can you start helping them, can you give them some advice? And I had learned just enough to be dangerous, and so I started helping them.

Quickly that took over, so I was actually consulting and managing their entire account of over 800 products selling on Amazon.

Steve: Oh wow, okay.

Brian: What evolved from that, I started adding like second, third, fourth company or different company while I was consulting. Suddenly I was consulting for brand management, dealing with FBA, dealing with support, dealing with the customers, everything. And one of the things that I kept on struggling with was the advertising. Like there’s got to be a better way that I can do this, and nobody was teaching anything that makes any sense when it comes to the advertising.

So out of survival I learned how to do sponsored products, and I spent way too many hours. It’s something that I usually say on – Tommy [ph] was, don’t do what I did, because I spent way too many hours and way too much money testing all this stuff and I still do to this day.

But two and a half years later of doing, finally I actually just came into only working on sponsored products and AMS. You get a certain amount of expertise when you finally, you do it every single day.

Steve: Yeah absolutely. Did you have any prior like Google AdWords experience for example?

Brian: I did yeah. So I had used Google AdWords, I used other ad platforms before, and so I certainly respect that those are much more powerful, much more flexible platforms than what sponsored product or AMS offers. But at the same time Amazon has got to start somewhere just like Wal-Mart and Jet will eventually start somewhere.

Steve: Sure absolutely. I guess let’s start this interview since you sell your own products, like if you were to launch a brand new Amazon product today, you know incentivized reviews are gone, what would be your process and how would sponsored ads kind of fall into that mix?

Brian: So I generally teach the – in 2017 I’ll tell people that you got to really understand who your target audience is. A lot of times we come in as sellers and we make opportunity buys based off of some analysis we do. It’s not necessarily a product we’re passionate about, nor do we know who the specific sellers are, or rather the [inaudible 00:10:05], I guess that would be true too, the other sellers as well as who the buyers are, and so you’re just kind of jumping in blind.

We can use sponsored products because that’s the only platform that Amazon has given us as feedback as far as what the customers are using, or those shoppers and terminology is, so that we can learn what it is that they are looking for, what they’re searching for, so that we can understand them better and what flavors they’re looking for, how they’re using the language as far as how to find a product and to convert to a product. And we can continue to horn in and target that specific audience that’s working well for this specific product variation.

And so a lot of times if we can first learn who our audience is, we can do a much more effective job with a much better ROI in targeting that audience, both through the product listing content as well as any kind of external promotions we might do in order to boost an initial product launch. And certainly through our advertising, we can put a lot more money into very targeted phrases that have a lot more impact in moving units, in getting profitable with our advertising.

Steve: So walk me through this process of kind of getting to know and understand your target customer.

Brian: Okay so in sponsored products, because sponsored products is the one that gives you that customer search term list.

Steve: Right.

Brian: I’ll set up a series of campaigns starting out with automatic, an automatic discovery campaign, which is basically going through, and just kind of testing the market, allowing Amazon to show the ad to audience relevant. They may not necessarily have product relevant search terms, but they’ll certainly show it to relevant audiences. They may be looking for products similar to the product that we’re selling.

Steve: Okay, how granular do you put these campaigns, let’s say you had ten products and they are kind of despaired items, would you create ten different campaigns at that point?

Brian: No, I’d actually create – I mean so if there are two total or if there are ten different audiences with the expectation that the search term analogy and the keywords are going to be different, those would justify a different campaign, because that’s a different target audience. If they are simply variations, the same product group, they’re all variations targeting the same audience, likely to have the same search terms and keywords, or a high overlap, then I’ll put those into the same target audience campaign.

But then I’ll separate each product into their own ad group or ad group set. So single ad group in an automatic campaign because that’s all you can do because it’s just a broad match. And that’s kind of give me better analytics and optimization control that allows me to really identify, okay this search term performed best for this specific product variation, that kind of segmentation.

It also allows me to do have a very fine grind control of optimization, my negative keyword matching as an example with automatic campaign. I can do that at the product level because a search term that may seem relevant to both may perform very well for one product, may perform very poorly for a different product. I want to be able to drop the one that’s performing poorly for that specific search term, but then I want to amplify where it’s working well for the other product.

And so that kind of segmentation is necessary in order to accomplish that.

Steve: So you start with these automatic campaigns, like how much data do you gather before you start making any decisions?

Brian: I usually within two days. So I typically set up my manual research campaign at the same time. I’m not waiting around for data any more. I used to, just like go through and do really high bid and then switch to a low bid and then wait a couple of weeks. That was all fine ideally, but this year we have to move a lot faster because there is way too much competition to just kind if sit on it for too long.

So with the automatic discovery campaign, essentially what we’re just trying to do is allow Amazon to run with a fairly low bid, sometimes that’s 30 cents, 50 cents, so lower than you would expect for that target audience and for that product line. The manual campaign is a research campaign. This is where we’re going to be testing, we’re going to be researching a ton of related keyword phrases to the product that I’m selling, and I’m going to dump those into what I call the ad group set.

So the same similar structure in that you might have one campaign that covers ten similar product variations, but then I segment further so that each product has three ad groups, one for each match type.

Steve: Okay, right.

Brian: That gives me even more control when it comes to analytics and optimization, because now I can control between each skew, each product range, and between each match type. And there is a lot of confusion as far as match type progression or match type optimization on Amazon compared to AdWords. There is a lot of…

Steve: Yeah there is no money those orders actually, yeah they are different ones.

Brian: Yeah different strategies.

Steve: Okay so for the automated campaigns, so you said you start driving data from that within a couple of days, does that imply that you’re just picking the keywords that you think are going to convert for your product from that automated campaign list, and then creating manual broad match campaigns in the beginning?

Brian: Well so let’s say in the manual campaign it’s going to be in all three match types, phrase by far at a minimum I will do phrase match, but that’s kind of a longer discussion there. But what I’m doing is essentially I’m not waiting around for my automatic campaign to tell me what to do. I’m simply just turning it on to allow Amazon to show my ad to audience relevant as well as competitor search terms.

So they do a pretty good job as far as that goes, but I’m going to go out there and do my own keyword research, be aggressive about and not wait around for an automatic campaign. I’m going to set up my manual campaign with my three ad group structure for each product. I’m going to go out; I’m going to research hundreds if not thousands. I might start out and just create a presence – actually I create a cheat sheet for this whole thing.

But initially well I’ll start out with my initial keyword research. It’s simply just using Amazon’s own internal suggested keywords when you create an ad group for its product variation. That’s the minimum, but that’s only going to give you like 10, 20 keywords maybe. And then I’ll move on to using basic keyword research, so I’ll go and use something like keyword.io or a Samurai tool or Merchant Words.

And I will go out and find several hundred, a couple of a hundred to several hundred keywords that are directly related to the keywords that I think are most likely to be the big, my number one keyword or number one keywords for my product, and I’ll add those into my manual research campaign in each ad group, in each match type. I’m not concerned about duplication of keywords.

That allows me to test all these keywords, it basically gives Amazon – I’m telling Amazon here’s all these options for you to show my ad across multiple match types, across multiple products. And then I’ll take a step further in my keyword research and I’ll go out and I’ll really reverse engineer my competition using more advanced tools such as like say Keyword Inspector for instance, and some of these tools that I can pull in a lot more keywords.

And I’ve got some pretty specialized research methods that I use for the things like Keyword Inspector.

Steve: I want to take a moment to thank ReferralCandy for being a sponsor of the show. Now in this day and age, word of mouth is a huge driver of business for most ecommerce stores, and the best way to amplify word of mouth marketing is through a referral program, and this is where ReferralCandy shines. With just a couple of clicks of the mouse, you can add a referral program to your ecommerce store and reward your customers for telling their friends about your shop. And this tactic works wonders, and in fact it is not uncommon to get a ridiculous return on investment.

So for example, Greats Footwear who is a ReferralCandy customer is currently seeing a 20X ROI, and referral word of mouth marketing is also useful for building up your social media presence as well, because everyone is talking about your company with their friends on Facebook and Twitter.

And the best part is that ReferralCandy is a set it and forget it service, requires no technical set up and they are giving My wife Quit Her Job listeners 50 bucks to try them out if you go to promo.referralcandy.com/Steve. Once again it’s promo.referralcandy.com/Steve to get a $50 credit to try out the service risk free. Now back to the show.

So your automatic campaigns, you’re not really using them in the beginning, right? You just kind of let them run in the background?
Brian: Yeah pretty much because what I’ll do is I might run it, I may start it out, I’ll kick it off just kind of arbitrary and entirely understand the product, the competitive average cost per click of the product that I am in. If I’m launching a brand new product that I haven’t been before, I might start it out at 75 cents, I might start it out higher just to kind of get an idea, okay what are some of the popular search terms going for from a cost per click stand point.

But ultimately probably within two to four weeks, I’ve already dropped down my automatic campaign to half of that, like maybe 30 cents, may 50 cents, something very lower than what I’m definitely spending in my manual research campaign as an example. And at the same time if the automatic campaign does pick up any converting search terms, I’m going to pull those over to my manual campaign and test them across all products in each match type anyway. So I’m essentially constantly just gutting the automatic campaign.

Steve: Right, right.

Brian: But I want to run it in the back ground because the automatic campaign does a decent job of showing your ad for again audience relevant and competitive brand names.

Steve: Okay, and in terms of launching a brand new product, you start running these right away?

Brian: Correct.

Steve: Okay.

Brian: Yeah, in fact a lot of times what I will do is I’ll set up a shell campaign even before I have the product stocked. So as soon as I create the product listing and I’m waiting around, I can do all kinds of keyword research in advance. I don’t need to wait until my product is live.

Steve: So you are doing this is via an automated – are you running ads actually before your- actually that can’t happen, right?

Brian: You are not running ads before you have a product live, but you can do a keyword research on your competitors as an example.

Steve: I see you are just prepping yourself for the campaign before your product is in stock?

Brian: Exactly.

Steve: Got it.

Brian: Because it might take me a few days in order to collect all the data that I need because I might be collecting thousands of keywords in my keyword research.

Steve: Right.

Brian: And I don’t want to wait until after my product is live because I’m losing a precious amount of time during that initial honeymoon phase where you are trying to get that sale velocity going for a brand new product.

Steve: Okay, and in terms of your target ACOS — actually let’s talk about the matrix that you use for a spread. I assume you use a cost and conversion rate. In the beginning when you’re first launching a product, are you trying to — are you devoting a much larger percentage of your product kind of like a giveaway?

Brian: Yeah.

Steve: Okay.

Brian: So in other words I’m overspending on my ad.

Steve: That’s correct.

Brian: So as an initial advertising objective, and that’s something I indefinitely teach is to identify what your advertising objective is, because that’s going to dictate how you are spending your money, how you are doing your weekly activities on optimization, or competitor targeting or something like that. Initially I am overspending; I am basically just flooding Amazon with a ton of keywords.

They are only going to show — I might give them, even if I gave then 50,000 keywords, they might only show ads for 50 of those keywords per products as an example, because they have a very limited attention span if you will. But the problem is I don’t know which 50 until I give them everything.

So that’s part of the reason why we do all this, and it seems like it’s really wasteful, but at the same time we don’t have many options that allow us to really focus in on — like only show the keywords that we think have the highest potential, because the data simply isn’t offered, not by third party tools, not by even Amazon itself as far as only pick these 50 and only run these 50. Unfortunately he had to shotgun it so.

Steve: Interesting, so there is no way for you to know which keywords Amazon actually is going to use. Are there things you can do to kind of better influence Amazon to use those keywords, so to speak?

Brian: Well, I wouldn’t say that there is absolutely no way. There are ways, but the problem is that the advanced tools that are necessary in order to do the analytics regarding relevance have not been fully developed yet. We have some in — we have prototype tools right now within our software team, but we haven’t made those public yet.

Steve: Okay.

Brian: So there is basically, there is ways that you can test for relevancy; there is also ways you can test if you have an AMS account. For instance you can test to see what Amazon’s own internal expected volume rage is, otherwise any kind of third party tools is going to be a rough estimate as far as tra — anybody who comes from the AdWords background is always reliant on the search volume. We always kind of live and die by that search volume number and unfortunately Amazon doesn’t divulge that information to anybody, to any third party tool and so a lot of those are primarily estimates.

Steve: There’s probably a pretty good correlation though between like Google searches, right and Amazon searches?

Brian: You would think, yeah, I mean one of them is informational search engine that was an ecommerce search engine. However if you can narrow it down, I wish that the Google keyword planer tool allowed you to focus just on Google shopping as an option, because that would give us a more, a stronger, a closer correlation to what it might work on Amazon.

Steve: So your objective in the beginning is to flood everything. So when do you start turning back the dial, like do you do that based on like the number of reviews that you’ve gathered so far. Like kind of, like how does it transition down?

Brian: Yeah, so initially my first advertising objective might be simply just to get sales velocity. In other words pushing as many units as possible that’s going to contribute all be it a small amount to the number of units that are being sold overall for the product in hopes that that’s going to help bump up my organic search position. Obviously the sponsored products may only contribute 15 to 20% units, total units sold to that volume and so it’s not going to have, it’s not like you can turn on sponsored products and just suddenly be on page one.

Steve: Right.

Brian: It simply doesn’t work that way. However it can make a small contribution and it may be enough to carry you up to page two, maybe even page one if you have weak competition, to hopefully allow you to stick your landing if you will, to get up into that high position. Same kind of thing, I would probably also supplement that with some kind of a launch service. If I can do giveaways without the review incentive of course, then I would now probably combine that in order to try to get the biggest push initially.

Now once I see that I’m starting to hold a higher position, then I’ll switch my advertising objective to more of an audience research. That’s primarily where I’m still willing to overspend, just not to an extreme that I might during a launch.

Steve: Okay.

Brian: And at that point what I’m doing is I’m collecting as many search term data as I can about the shoppers for this product, how they are finding me, especially what the clicks through rates are for the products, for the campaigns, for the keywords or the search terms rather. And then ultimately carrying that over to what the conversion rate is or the conversion is for each of those search terms. So I can start identifying a set of search terms that convert the best for each product variation, for each skew.

Steve: You mentioned click through rate, what is like a good click through rate in your eyes?

Brian: So at the campaign level usually I’m looking to try to get in the, at a minimum above like say like 0.3% click through rate.

Steve: Okay.

Brian: Ideally what I’m expecting typically is over 4.4% at the keyword level, at the campaign level. I started dropping down below 0.2% and I’m losing my audience relevance. I’ve got to disconnect with my audience.

Steve: So that’s interesting that you look at those two metrics, so you don’t look at ACOS or?

Brian: Only the ACOS, not necessary just because I use tools that obviously with PPC Scope we calculate profitability and profitability is more accurate than ACOS.

Steve: Okay, Sure.

Brian: Ultimately if you know which most sellers unfortunately don’t know, please find this out is what your net profit margin percentages is for each product. What is your break-even number, what is your break-even percentage before advertising? That can equate to what your break-even ACOS is. So you technically could use the ACOS number, the advertising cost, or sale percentage as a guideline as far as whether or not your advertising is profitable. But ultimately I also like to calculate the full profitability so that I know how profitable each keyword is let alone each product reach campaign.

Steve: Okay, so what’s interesting here is the click through — let’s say you had a keyword that had like a pretty low click through rate like below your guidelines, but the conversion rate was excellent. Has that ever happened to you?

Brian: Oh yeah.

Steve: Okay.

Brian: No, I mean that does happen because there are some product niches that have — where shoppers tend to gravitate toward one or two very generic keywords. Like a one word keyword, maybe a two word keyword and unfortunately it has such broad appeal across a lot of different products, but it’s used, it’s kind of like — it’s used by the popular group, by the masses. It’s not as long tale; it’s not as descriptive as some other products have.

And so sometimes you don’t have a choice but to simply compete with other sellers on these really high competitive search terms. And I can tell you is that especially products that — here is where that click through rate really tanks for most people and conversion rate, is anytime you have a product that you are selling that has either a lot of competition, has a lot of style, flavor, color, size, variations, clothing is an example, cell phone cases, anything that has a lot of different style variations reduces the chance of a shopper to make a decision quickly.

Steve: Right, Okay.

Brian: And so they tend to — they get into this window shopping mode, and they browse around, they are just shopping surfing around for different styles that seem to jump out at them that they like. The problem is that your click through rate, and your conversion rate usually get pretty poor as a result of selling in that type of product.

Steve: So at that point you probably would cut down on those keywords and use more specific ones that specify the color in the search?

Brian: If you can, if you can segment. That’s one of the reason why we segment into separate ad groups, so we can try to identify these five search terms as an example seem to gravitate toward this one product variation. That way we can emphasize for that product variation rather than try to force it for all the product variations.

So that’s when we start looking at — and certainly taking each I’ll certainly go in and look at the ones that are converting, and I’ll do additional keyword research in order to see if I can find a handful of other related, directly relevant keywords to that one that is converting but maybe has other poor metrics to it, and see if I can find some alternatives that I can supplement or even replace that.

Steve: Okay, but often times there is one advertised search volume right, of course, the specific ones.

Brian: No, no, true, true. But cumulatively, cumulatively they may.

Steve: Okay, so okay so, let me just kind of summarize what you said. So you run all out, and you flood the market at first, but then once you start getting some traction, meaning like you are moving up in the organic search ranks, you start dialing it down. Do you always, at the lowest point of your campaign, are you just trying to break even or are you trying to be profitable with your campaigns?

Brian: Well, and so that’s I mean that’s another advertising objective. Do you want to move the most units you can while still in break even while not overspending on your ads, or do you want to go for profit? Those will be two different advertising objectives and both of those are totally fine.

Steve: Okay, I was just asking from your own personal products like how you do it. Are you just trying to break even, or do you try and make a profit on the product that you personally sell?

Brian: Well, so my first goal with my advertising, I usually try to do breakeven so I can move the most number of units. But I’m also primarily using the advertising in order to really understand who my target audience is so that I can optimize my product listings for the highest organic search position in specific keyword product niches that has less competition, less resistance, yet still converts, still has been proven to convert through my PPC advertising.

So really I’m leveraging the data that I have invested in my PPC in order to benefit my organic sales. My organic sales are typically going to be four of five times the number that I’m going to sell through my advertising. So my focus really is on the organic, where results can I use the PPC data in order to improve my organic listing.

Steve: Okay.

Brian: And that’s mostly just about understanding the audience very well.

Steve: Okay, Okay. So in that case from what it kind of sounds like is since organic is such a large percentage of the sales, it kind of makes sense to keep your advertising spend on the higher side to kind of boost your organic, the organic sales. Is that kind of true?

Brian: Yeah.

Steve: Okay.

Brian: Exactly yeah, that makes sense. I mean some people will still continue to overspend on specific keywords, because they need that in order to hold a position because maybe they have a product listing that is organically positioned between competitor five and competitor seven. And if they slip at all, if they sell one less unit per day, then they are going to slip down to position eight which of course they wouldn’t want.

Steve Right, okay.

Brian: And so you kind of have to pick your battle.

Steve: Sure, no that makes sense.

Brian: As far as — there are some keywords that you usually kind of continue to overspend because you have a need in order to maintain a certain level from an organic standpoint, and the slight bump that the PPC is going to give you may make all the difference in the world in some product niches.

Steve: Okay, okay, let’s switch gears a little bit and talk about AMS sponsored ads. So first of all if you wouldn’t mind defining to the listeners what that is, how do you get access and what do these AMS Ads allow you to do.

Brian: Okay, so AMS ads are — typically you’re going to find these in three different areas. They are going to be the bottomed sponsored ads, the bottom search results, they are going to be the top banner ad that goes along the very top above all organic search results, above all sponsored ads, just below, some of them just below the search bar, you’ve got a wide banner ad that goes across top, and that’s an AMS headline search. And then on not only your own product listings, but also your competitor product listings you’ll typically see an ad that runs below the add to cart button on the right hand side.

These are all AMS ads that are part of the Amazon marketing services which is a second Amazon marketing platform, their PPC platform that supplements sponsored products. The way that you get that is through — currently for most marketplaces you have to get ungated through vendor express. There are like Japan for instance they’ve already made it so that you can go directly. You can avoid Vendor Express and get directly to AMS.

There are plans for AMS to become more accessible to more sellers. However right now you have to go through and get approved through Vendor Express in order to get ungated to the Amazon Marketing Services ads.

Steve: I just want to take a moment to tell you about a free resource that I offer on my website that you may not be aware of. If you’re interested in starting your own online store, I put together a comprehensive six day mini course on how to get started in ecommerce that you should all check out. It contains both video and text based tutorials that go over the entire process of finding products to sell all the way to getting your first sales online.

Now this course is free and can be obtained at mywifequitherjob.com/free. Just sign up right there on the front page via email, and I’ll send you the course right away. Once again that’s mywifequitherjob.com/free, now back to the show.

So here is the misconception that I had hoped you can clear up. So you don’t — just because you sign up for Vendor Express doesn’t really mean that you need to sell the Amazon at volume, right?

Brian: No, in fact one of the things that we teach is to essentially put in like a sacrificial product. This could be one of your own products, simply is just a dead product and you don’t care about as much. It could be one that you source specifically for ungating into Vendor Express, it’s more of a case of you get, you submit a product that you effectively want Amazon to take control over the whole listing.

Meaning you lose over that listing, and you are selling wholesale to Amazon, they are selling the product but really all it takes in order to get ugated to AMS is to have an initial product approved, and you fulfill the sample order that they have and sometimes that’s a dozen, sometimes that’s 30 units, and they’ll give you access to the AMS platform which ultimately is what we want. You don’t have to continue to sell to Amazon after that initial sample order is fulfilled because you’ve already been ungated.

Steve: Right, okay. So let’s talk about some of these ads. So let’s talk about the headline search ads first. First of all how do you search for these ads, and then how do they kind of perform compared to some of the other regular sponsored ads that you have access to?

Brian: Sure so typically AMS ads are going to have lower volumes simply because they tend to be more targeted, more segmented. So the way that we set up the campaigns for headline search within AMS is typically a lower bid. This is — for instance if our sponsored product keywords have an average cost per click of a dollar for instance, we might be spending 20, 30 cents on our bidding on the headline search ad within AMS.

We sometimes do, we do a lot more variety and a lot more volume as far as number of campaigns that we run, because it’s giving us more flexibility on how we structure these ads. It’s not simply just showing our product and a limited portion of a title like sponsored products does, we actually have a little more control as far as how these are presented. The images that are being used, the title that’s being used, and so we have more controls as far as being able to copyright some of the compelling messages that are being shown in these AMS ads.

With headline search, I might set up a campaign that is running a single keyword. I might have 1,000 keywords in there, and also I have a few different headline search ads running for the same product, always testing those out. AMS ads…

Steve: Can you give me an example of like a headline ad that’s worked for you really well, and how you kind of write the copy differently than what the default is for regular sponsored product ad?

Brian: Sure so, typically for our sponsored products the titles are usually, we are trying to lead with our target keyword phrase that were trying to get organically ranked for. That’s unnecessary from an AMS standpoint, because an AMS headline search ad or a banner ad, we can target a specific keyword, maybe that’s our highest volume keyword. It could be a single keyword. AMS will even tell us if it’s a high, medium, or low search volume keyword. So it gives us some benefits there that we don’t normally have.

Steve: Right.

Brian: And I might put in, Amazon is certainly going to like sponsored products, AMS is going to come back and here is a bunch of suggested keywords. What they typically do is here is a bunch of single word high volume keywords, and they might give you 15, 20 keywords, and you could run that banner ad just like that, run it with a low ad…

Steve: But developing the banner ad it’s like AdWords at that point. You get to write the copy, right?

Brian: Correct, yeah, so what you can do is on a banner ad, typically you have to put three products. You have to identify three of your products that are going to be shown as part of this banner ad. So you got the ability to modify a short title. It’s like 50 characters and so you can wordsmith that 50 characters to try to be a bit more compelling. In other words you are not just simply just saying blue widget, you are saying, this is the most popular blue widget. You can’t necessarily lie and make a claim that’s not real of course.

Steve: Sure.

Brian: But you can certainly get away with more…

Steve: Sensationalist language.

Brian: Yeah, exactly, yeah, yeah, thank you. A bit more sensational title in that 50 characters than you are going to get away within a product listing title for instance.

Steve: Right, okay. And so given that, when you think that the quick through rate will be higher for these since it’s like right smack at the top, right?

Brian: It is, yeah the click through is higher and in fact it has a higher requirement also. So for a keyword to continue to run in sponsored products it has to maintain at least a 0.07% click through rate over like let’s say a four week period of time, extended period of time.

Steve: Okay.

Brian: So it’s 0.07%. In AMS it has to be 0.7%. So it’s a lot more, it requires a lot higher click through rate otherwise Amazon will automatically, or AMS will automatically shut off that keyword and say, this one is not getting a high enough click through rate for us to keep showing.

Steve: I see.

Brian: So you do have to do some clean up periodically as far as that goes in your little place keywords maybe that that are not performing as well. You can also adjust keywords, there is some individual tools within the AMS ads that allow you to control how likely your ad is going to be showing up, you can adjust the bid. Sometimes some individual keywords, they may have a high volume, but then you are going to have a higher competition, the cost can like skyrocket pretty quickly under the right conditions.

Steve: So the AMS ad it sounds like is two, over two times the click through rate of where you would consider a good click through rate on a regular sponsored ad, it sounds like, right?

Brian: Yeah, you can say that yeah.

Steve: Okay, okay. So can we talk a little bit about the conversion rate of these, I mean since the click through rate is a lot higher, chances are you are even getting more traffic, like higher volumes of traffic, right?

Brian: Right.

Steve: And so how does — is the conversion rate just as good as the regular sponsored product ad in your experience or is it worse?

Brian: I think it’s actually, yeah, I mean I would say it’s probably — actually there is actually similarity. Typically what affects the conversion rate is once you bring — because what you are essentially showing in the banner ad, in the headline ad is you are showing, here is three different products with some short titles and some small images.

And people are clicking through thinking they are going to see a variety of products and you may show three on there and you come in to a brand page with this product page, and you are not going into a specific product detail like you would for sponsored ads. You are going into essentially a brand page that has multiple products.

Steve: Right.

Brian: Now AMS also gives us some additional options in order to be able to present more polished form added brand pages, and to how to use different templates that allows us to make a much better presentation similar to what we might see with enhanced brand content for instance or a plus content where you have much more formatted and like larger images or specific text that you can use on a brand page that is going to very heavily, as far as like how does that appeal to a shopper, does that increase conversion rate?

By default you can just dump them to essentially a search result page that has just your products or…

Steve: So it takes some two clicks to get to a product essentially, minimum right?

Brian: Yes, correct, yeah.

Steve: Okay.

Brian: Because you are basically going to a search result page or a brand landing page, and then you can go into a specific product. That is correct.

Steve: Okay. So that in itself would probably reduce the conversion a little bit I would imagine, right?

Brian: You would think, yeah, but your cost of going in, your cost of running the ad is so low in comparison to sponsored products. A lot of times your ROI is much better. You’re ACOS is very low.

Steve: Okay, okay. So this sounds like an essential tool to go on your PPC arsenal when you say like the volumes are higher, higher visibility, okay.

Brian: Correct yeah.

Steve: Okay.

Brian: Yeah, a common question that we get is why can’t I just AMS exclusively? And I would say don’t do that, because you need to continue to use the sponsored products in order to continue to understand who your audience is and the search terminology they are using because AMS is not going to tell you the search terminology.

Steve: Right, okay.

Brian: So don’t go blind to your audience simply by going to — committing to just AMS, use them in conjunction with each other.

Steve: What about the product display ads, like the ones that are underneath the add to cart, how do those perform for you?

Brian: Product display ads do not perform nearly as much. They take a lot more work. Similarly you can do a certain amount of formatting. You can target individual competitive products or audience classes during categories, and so you’ve got different options as far as how you target your ad, how you place your ad. The challenge that you usually have is if your ad is showing up below the add to cart on somebody’s product detail page, then you are essentially competing.

A shopper is already on that product detail page, so for whatever reason they’ve been convinced so far of this product, and they see your ad as kind of a distracting alternative, and unless you have a compelling offer, a more compelling than the product detail they are on, it’s not going to be as effective. It’s not going to either get click or is not going to convert. And so it does require a lot more work from a standpoint of set up as far individual targeting, it requires a lot more set up than say sponsored products does.

Steve: Okay.

Brian: But if you do it and you test a lot of different ad titles and you test a lot of different targeting methods, then it can evolve into a very effective method of advertising, but keep in mind is the more work you are willing to put into it the less competition you will have.

Steve: Okay, now that makes sense, but in terms of low hanging fruit, regular sponsored products ads plus the headline search are the primary drivers, right, for you?

Brian: Yes, I would say.

Steve: Okay.

Brian: Yeah, definitely. Now one of the things that for your audience is that a common method is that I have to have three products in order to run the headline search. You have to have three product listings, but one of the things that I might do on that is I’ll have one product that is — because once I get past Vendor Express, I can advertise all my products and still qualify for AMS. I don’t have to do just the one that I submitted to Vendor Express.

Steve: Right.

Brian: So what I might do is I might create a second and a third product listing that is, maybe my first one might be fulfillment by Amazon, or if it’s a Vendor Express product, then it’s fulfillment by Vendor Express. Then I’ll also have two fulfillment by merchant products which might be a two pack and a three pack that are both overpriced, so they aren’t likely to convert. But I can easily create a variation on my existing products in order to satisfy that second product, and third product, even though I don’t expect any conversions on the second and third. It’s a…
Steve: It’s like a loop hole.

Brian: It’s a walk around.

Steve: Yeah, right, right.

Brian: But don’t stop yourself saying, I have to wait until I have three products otherwise I can’t do this, no, no.

Steve: When you are launching a product, do you go full blown headline search ads also in addition to these sponsored products, what we were talking about earlier?

Brian: Yeah, yeah, absolutely.
Steve: Okay.
Brian: Anything but I can get more realistic when I first launch to get more brand recognition, and the more number of times that I can get in front of an audience, because I’d rather have three ad placements, an organic listing, a sponsored ad, maybe even two sponsored ads, both in line sponsored ads as well as the light rail sponsored ads, because I can get both of those as well as the headline search.

So potentially I could have four placements or four points of visibility on page one for my target keywords if I line up all those — if I have all those running. And that’s four times the chances that somebody else who just has their organic position or just has an ad running, I have four times the chances that a shopper is going to click on my ad as opposed to somebody else’s.

Steve: Right. Cool. Well Brian we’ve chatting for almost 45 minutes, I want to be respectful of your time. I’m going to be seeing you pretty soon at the Sellers Summit, but where can people get a hold of you or check out some of the product offering that you have?

Brian: Okay, so certainly my flagship training is sponsoredproductsacademy.com, the PPC analysis software, that’s the one we’ve had for two years now. It’s certainly come a long way and that is PPCscope.com.

Steve: Okay.

Brian: And then I’ve got my Amazon PPC trouble shooting community on Facebook.

Steve: Okay, why don’t you send me that link for that, and then I’ll go ahead and put that in show notes. Is your Sponsored Products Academy open all year round, or do you close and open it?

Brian: We close and open it. Yeah, I think it’s closed currently.

Steve: Okay.

Brian: Because we just had a launch recently so, yeah I need to be able to focus on the individual students.

Steve: Right, right, okay. So I’ll put a link. I mean I imagine there is a waiting list, right?

Brian: On the — yeah, so basically you can sign up…

Steve: For the course yeah.

Brian: Yes, correct.

Steve: Okay, cool. So I’ll link all that stuff up in the show notes. Brian, thanks a lot for coming to the show, really appreciate your time.

Brian: Absolutely Steve, thanks for having me.

Steve: All right, take care.

Steve: Hope you enjoyed that episode. Brian Johnson is one of the best guys in the industry when it comes to running profitable Amazon sponsored ad campaigns, and he also has a course. So go check it out when you get a chance. For more information about this episode, go to mywifequitherjob.com/episode171.

And once again I want to thank SellerLabs.com. Their tool Ignite is what I use to manage my Amazon PPC campaigns. Instead of the old tedious way of generating reports, and analyzing your ad campaigns in Excel, Ignite aggregates all that info for you in one place, and allows you to quickly visualize your data to make decision fast.

So not only does it save time, but it also makes managing your Amazon campaigns so much easier. So head on over to Sellerlabs.com/Steve and sign up for a free 30 day trial. Once again that’s SellerLabs.com/Steve.

I also want to thank Klaviyo which is my email marketing platform of choice for ecommerce merchants. You can easily put together automated flows like an abandoned cart sequence, a post purchase flow, a win back campaign, basically all these sequences that will make you money on auto pilot. So head on over to MyWifeQuitHerJob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O, once again that’s MyWifeQuitHerJob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O.

Now I talk about how I use all these tools on my blog, and if you are interested in starting your own ecommerce store head on over to MyWifeQuitHerJob.com and sign up for my free six day mini course. Just type in your email and I’ll send you the course right away. Thanks for listening.

Outro: Thanks for listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast, where we are giving the courage people need to start their own online business. For more information visit Steve’s blog at www.mywifequitherjob.com.

I Need Your Help

If you enjoyed listening to this podcast, then please support me with an iTunes review. It's easy and takes 1 minute! Just click here to head to iTunes and leave an honest rating and review of the podcast. Every review helps!
 
Share On Facebook

Ready To Get Serious About Starting An Online Business?


If you are really considering starting your own online business, then you have to check out my free mini course on How To Create A Niche Online Store In 5 Easy Steps.

In this 6 day mini course, I reveal the steps that my wife and I took to earn 100 thousand dollars in the span of just a year. Best of all, it's absolutely free!

170: How To Build A Highly Engaged Instagram Following With Sue B Zimmerman

Share On Facebook

 How To Build A Highly Engaged Instagram Following With Sue B Zimmerman

Today I’m excited to have Sue B Zimmerman on the show. Now Sue and I met through a mutual friend and I actually recently watched her speak at Ryan Deiss’ Traffic and Conversion Summit.

She is known as the Instagram Expert and travels across the world sharing her Instagram expertise. Today we are going to explore ways on how to increase your Instagram following and how to use Instagram to sell your products online.

What You’ll Learn

  • Sue’s strategy for building an Instagram audience
  • Where to start building your following
  • How Sue recommends generating content for Instagram.
  • The tools she uses to post on Instagram.
  • How she collaborates with other Instagrammers.

Other Resources And Books

Sponsors

Klaviyo.com – Klaviyo is the email marketing platform that I personally use for my ecommerce store. Created specifically for ecommerce, it is the best email marketing provider that I’ve used to date. Click here and try Klaviyo for FREE.
Klaviyo

Ignite.Sellerlabs.com – If you are selling on Amazon and running Amazon Sponsored Ads campaigns, then Ignite from Seller Labs is a must have tool. Click here and get a FREE 30 Day Trial.
Ignite Logo

ReferralCandy.com – If you’re already getting steady orders every month, adding a refer-a-friend program to your store can give you a new sales channel. And ReferralCandy is the best in the business. Click here and get a FREE $50 credit towards your account.
referral candy

Transcript

Steve: You are listening to the My Wife Quit her Job Podcast, the place where I bring on successful bootstrapped business owners and delve deeply into what strategies are working and what strategies are not with their businesses.

Now today I’m thrilled to have Sue B. Zimmerman on the show. And if you don’t know who Sue is, she is actually known as the Instagram expert, and she is going to teach us today how to start a highly engaged IG account.

But before we begin I want to give a quick shout out to Seller Labs who is a sponsor of the show. And specifically I want to talk about their brand new tool Ignite which helps sellers manage their Amazon sponsored ad campaigns. Right now I’m actually using this tool to manage my Amazon sponsored ad campaigns, and it makes things a heck of a lot more convenient.

So number one I’ve always found it a major pain to generate my PPC reports on Amazon, cut and paste the data over to an excel spreadsheet and use pivot tables before I’m able do any analysis. Now Ignite pulls all that info for you automatically and allows you to easily see what keywords are working and what are not immediately, there is no need to manually create reports or play with excel.

Second of all unless you’re a data geek, Amazon campaign data can be hard to understand, and what is cool is that Ignite makes keyword and bidding recommendations on the fly that can be applied with just a couple of clicks.

So let’s say one of my hankie keywords is bleeding money, well Ignite will alert me of that fact, and I can reduce that bid immediately. So bottom line Ignite makes managing your Amazon’s sponsored campaigns so much easier, and the fact that they provide me with alerts means that I no longer have to monitor my campaigns like a hawk.

So if there are keywords that are doing well, Ignite will tell me to add them to my exact match campaigns. If my keywords are losing money, well Ignite tells me to either remove the keyword or to reduce the bid. So head on over to sellerlabs.com/steve where you’ll find awesome tutorials on how to run Amazon PPC ads and the opportunity to try Ignite for 30 days for free. Once again that’s sellerlabs.com/steve.

Now I also want to give a shout out to Klaviyo who is also a sponsor of the show. I’m always super excited to talk about Klaviyo because they are the email marketing platform that I personally use for my ecommerce store, and I actually depend on them for over 20% of my revenues. Now you’re probably wondering why Klaviyo and not another email provider. Well Klaviyo is the only email platform out there that is specifically built for ecommerce stores, and here is why it’s so powerful.

Klaviyo can track every single customer who has shopped in your store and exactly what they bought, and that makes it extremely powerful. So let’s say I want to send an email to everyone who purchased a red handkerchief in the last week, easy. Let’s say I want to set up a special auto-responder sequence to my customers depending on what they bought, that’s piece of cake, and there is full revenue tracking on every single email that I send.

So Klaviyo is the most powerful email platform that I’ve ever used, and you can try them for free at mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O, once again that’s mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O. Now on to the show.

Intro: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. We will teach you how to create a business that suits your lifestyle, so you can spend more time with your family and focus on doing the things that you love. Here is your host, Steve Chou.

Steve: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. Today I’m excited to have Sue B. Zimmerman on the show. Now, Sue and I met through a Mutual friend and I actually recently watched her speak at Ryan Deiss’s Traffic and Conversion Summit. Now, she is known as the Instagram expert and travels across the world sharing her Instagram expertise.

She also runs two popular online courses called Ready Set Gram and Insta Academy, and she’s actually a well-known speaker that specializes in Instagram. So today what we are going to do is we are going to explore ways on how to increase your Instagram following, and how to use Instagram to sell your products online. And with that, welcome to the show Sue, how are you doing today?

Sue: Hey, it’s so great to be here, and yeah Ryan Deiss’s event just like rocked the house. That was the largest stage I have ever spoken on in my life, and I have to be honest, I was a little nervous.

Steve: So what’s funny is I was going to approach you afterwards, but then you were mobbed with like 20 people and I didn’t think I could fight my way into the middle there so.

Sue: Yeah, I think it’s because I was giving away a pen that really enables people to do Instagram stories, and because the conference is primarily men, their fingers are large, and it’s hard to do like the fine script on a phone. So everyone wanted a pen and I shoed everybody out into the hallway where there was really good, what I call #hotelfilterforgoodlighting, so we could take a ton of photos to post on Instagram. So like, I gave a little workshop in how to take the perfect selfie photo after.
Steve: What’s funny is one of those few conferences where there is always a line for like the men’s room, but there is no line for the women’s room which I always find odd.

Sue: Exactly, exactly, yeah.

Steve: So Sue, how did you get started in business and kind of what led you to specialize in Instagram?

Sue: Yeah, great question. So I’ve been an entrepreneur my whole life, I actually had my very first business when I was a teenager. And then through the years I’ve always been that person that saw opportunities and trends in primarily consumer product space. I was heavily involved with clocks and [inaudible 00:05:44], the little two dots that you put in the clocks.

And I even was on stage at QBC, with one of my businesses which was a double sided sticky tape that allowed scrap bookers to embellish their photos, because I’m the person who has always loved photos and my most prized possessions are my photographs.

And so it’s really ironic fast forward eight years after being on stage at QBC that I’m now teaching a global audience how to embellish their photos to put on Instagram, their digital platform using third party apps, and all kinds of fun tools to really enhance what I call their digital magazines.

Steve: You are thinking giblets, yeah.

Sue: And yeah, gibits [ph] to go, yeah digital magazine because like I, Steve, I believe that Instagram is essentially that, it is your digital magazine for your business, your brand your product or your service where if you craft the perfect bio, and we certainly can go over with that is a new show, awesome photos or videos not only per post, but they cohesively all go together as a whole magazine.

You can certainly attract the right followers, the right customers, the right clients and ultimately grow your business, and I really think that there is a big disconnect with you know, people understanding this. And so when I had my retail store on Cape Cod I was selling clothing, jewelry, and accessories all with a very preppy, nautical vibe.

And I quickly learnt that by posting images around the products that I sold, not just the products that I sold but the beach and the sunset and the yachts, and like the whole vibe of Cape Cod and Hide Ranges- which always got a lot of likes, I could essentially craft that perfect magazine. And eventually my business throughout that summer grew 40% from using Instagram, and before using Instagram I was using all of other social, because I taught social media off season when I did run my store.

So I’ve been versed in social media, I’m very visual; I catch trends and opportunities before they go mainstream. And I knew that Instagram was going to be a big deal because of the visual component, because of that magazine opportunity that you – and even because people always say, when they were walking in my store and they are like, “Can I post– can I take a picture of…

Steve: This is the physical store?

Sue: Yeah.

Steve: Okay, got it.

Sue: The physical store and I had an ecommerce store. Yeah, so people would walk into my store and I would always ask them after they purchase something if I could take a picture and usually they were like holding up what they bought, and they are like, ‘sure.’ And they are like, “Oh my God! I love Instagram.” And I’d be like, why do you love Instagram? And the answer over and over and over again Steve was, because it’s fun, it’s fun. And I don’t think people think of social media as fun, I think that they think of it as a time sack, and often pull down rabbit holes.

So I knew I was onto something from the success that I had at my store. And because I love teaching, empowering and helping other people make money, I knew that I had a platform to teach. And so I just started teaching, but you’ll be excited to hear that the way I got on stage and stage is all over the world is from doing podcast interviews, and the very first…

Steve: Interesting.

Sue: Yeah the very first one I did was with Michael Stelzner, the owner of Social Media Examiner. And as soon as he was done interviewing me he was like, “Damn, I need to get you on stage in Social Media Marketing World,” and I’ve been there speaking ever since.

Steve: That’s funny because that’s how I met Mike. He just had me on the podcast. The podcast literally went live like three days ago or whenever you post them, and so are you telling me that the speaker engagements should start coming in any minute now?

Sue: Oh, yeah, I mean, well here is the thing I believe. When you — I say yes to pretty much every podcast opportunity as long as it aligns with kind of where I am in my niches, and they have the market that I want to amplify and broadcast to, because I love that I get interviewed from people all over the world. From Australia, from Israel, France, Spain and I’m talking and people are, you know- I’m in their ears all over the world, and then they are opting into my email list because I have a free download that I talk about, and they are coming into my community, and that is how you grow a business.

Steve: Let me ask you this. I was curious when you were talking about growing your businesses 40%, the one on Cape Cod, were people actually going to your bio and clicking on the link, or were you getting that data from just whenever someone made a purchase you asked them, how they found you?

Sue: Exactly.

Steve: Okay.

Sue: So my store was tiny, like 10 x 12 on the inside, and then I got to merchandise on the outside and so it was a very, very intimate store in a community, like in a country club community.

Steve: Okay.

Sue: So it was kind of like friends and family and then you know visitors from the Cape. So every time someone checked out, it was mandatory for my employees to ask, how did they find us.

Steve: Got it, okay.

Sue: And often they would hold up their phone and say, “Oh my God! This picture on Instagram.” Like I have to have this anchor bracelet or I need this tunic, and by the way to the guys on the call, tunic is like a beach cover up.

Steve: Okay.

Sue: So yeah, so they would check a box and we would know where that sale was originated from.

Steve: Okay, and then in terms of your brand, Sue B. Zimmerman, where you teach these classes, like how do you generate traffic to that site? Is it primarily Instagram traffic also that leads to your courses and classes?

Sue: So that’s a great question, so the way my business model is set up is that we craft an epic blog post every week, and in that blog post not only is it written words teaching, but also a YouTube video. So I have a YouTube channel and today we hit 10,000 subscribers.

Steve: Nice.

Sue: So I’m super excited about that, and we get a lot of traffic from YouTube because of the search engine optimization from Goggle obviously.

Steve: Okay.

Sue: And when we publish that blog post Steve, we create custom links, UTM links so we can track, and we have different links for all of social. So we have a link for Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube. Those are primarily the spaces where I am most frequently broadcasting.

Steve: Okay.

Sue: And so we are able to track the success. Now we treat each blog essentially like a launch. So the blog is published, it goes to our email list first because those are the people who know, like, and trust me and are already in on the inside of my life and community, and have some connection to me. And then they are more likely to share it, comment on the blog and then after it’s gone out to our email list, that’s when I’m all in on social.

So that’s when I would post on Instagram, both my personal page @SueBZimmerman, my business page @theInstagramexpert, and occasionally on my company page which is @spzteam which is my team page, my team manages that.

Steve: Okay.

Sue: So we will amplify on Insta. I used to do a live stream on Periscope; I was an early adopter on Periscope. I have over 22,000 followers there, but things have really changed significantly over the years since being there. So now I amplify on Facebook Live, and I now have an Instagram Live strategy that I’m using to amplify even though it goes away as soon as you stop the broadcast.

Steve: Are you using that instead of Periscope now?

Sue: Yeah. It’s so funny you asked that, like as of yesterday, when I talked about a webinar that I’m doing this Thursday, I went on Periscope first, I had only 53 people watching live, and then I had a lot of replay, and then I did my second Instagram Live ever and I had over 360 people on.

Steve: Okay.

Sue: And here is the thing, they were so happy to see me, they were so engaged in like, “Oh my God! Sue is on Instagram Live, this is so great.” And I’m like, “Ask me a question, ask me anything.” And they are like, “Are you kidding me? This is amazing, I have Sue’s attention.”

So I know that Instagram Live is a good place for me to be. So now we’ve got the blog, it sits on our website. In the blog we also have some links to our free strategy guide, we have some links encouraging our audience to click to tweet, and we’ve got people leaving comments and people sharing it.

And I’m really proud of this blog because this year we were nominated as one of the top ten blogs from Social Media Examiner. So just to have that credibility, and the reason I’m saying this is not to brag but to say when you go all in and commit to doing something consistently over time, it really can pay off. And so we knew this is where we needed to create stellar content and become known as the Instagram educator. And I know my handle name is the Instagram expert, but I like to pride myself on being a really great teacher and educator.

So that is essentially what we do, and so the link on Instagram Steve, gets changed out for the various reason. One, usually the link is our Instagram strategy guide, and that’s what you see most frequently.

Steve: Okay.

Sue: That sits on our website, that sits on our Facebook page, but if we are in a launch, like I was when I did Marie Forleo B School a couple of weeks ago, and right now I’m in a launch with my business coach Lisa Larter, we have a webinar for Thursday. We switched out all those UTMs; we go all in on the launch. And right now we are driving traffic to synapse for the webinar, but before that we were driving traffic to our blog, and the article on our blog had to do with the content that people would want who would sign up for the webinar.

So it’s all about money, money mindset, like how to get a handle on your money. So the bog always matches up to the campaign that we are doing. So we can — you will love this obviously, we can drive traffic once people click on our blog, we can retarget with Facebook ads.

Steve: Sure.

Sue: And so the blog is always the seed to the next content, to the next campaign. And when I say seed it’s like we are not selling anything, we are giving great value through content that we can amplify. And then this Thursday when I do the webinar, you know right now my link is for signing up for the webinar, and then after the webinar the link will get switched out to purchasing the course or the class that we are offering from the webinar.

So it’s very, very strategic and it’s very formulaic, and we’ve had great success with launches when we do it this way, did that all make sense?

Steve: Yes. Let me ask you this, so there is a couple of things that you said there, so wherever you put together a blog post, you use the link in your Instagram and usually that link is the link to your blog post unless you are doing some sort of launch or promotion, is that accurate?

Sue: Yes, a launch or promotion and then when we are done with the launch or the promotion we go back to the strategy guide. The strategy guide, my Instagram strategy guide is always our list builder.

Steve: Okay.

Sue: So Suebzimmerman.com/guide gets anyone listening, our 17 page free Instagram guide, and that is where we build that. I know they can trust factor because we do have a nurture sequence, about seven days after you opt-in to that guide where you really get to know me more.

Steve: It sounds like that would be a better link because you are getting an email list, an email address as opposed to just a regular blog post, right? So Like what percentage do you have that link up as opposed to the content?

Sue: 75 to 80.

Steve: Okay, 75 meaning the opt-in or?

Sue: The opt-in, the opt-in is there most frequently.

Steve: Okay, got it, got it. Okay, and then once you have them you probably have an auto responder sequence that walks them through.

Sue: Yes, yes.

Steve: Okay, I’m just curious myself, like, how big is your Instagram following and like how much traffic does it actually drive?

Sue: Great question, so because I have three different accounts, there is — some of the followers probably follow me on both, so I have — I’m opening up Instagram right now. I don’t pay attention to my numbers as much other people might, but I have 46,900 on my personal account.

Steve: Okay.

Sue: So that’s a shit ton, that’s a shit ton, right? And then I’ve got on the Instagram expert which is my business account where I share Instagram tips, tools and strategies, I have almost a 1,000 more 47.7.

Steve: Okay.

Sue: And then on my team account we have almost 3,000, and here is what I want to say to the listeners. I have a ton of people following me and a lot of those followers could be 13 year olds for all I know, and aren’t necessarily my ideal followers. I really wish that people would unfollow me who aren’t there to engage, because they kill my engagement rate.

So you know, I get suggested to be a follower because in the bio on Instagram it says, I’m an Instagram marketer. So anyone searching for Instagram or marketing, I come up and they start following me. I pay attention to those who leave real authentic comments, and who actually engage in my content. To answer your question, we get about 250 opt-ins a week from Instagram.

Steve: Okay, okay.

Sue: So I care more about that number than my followers, and from that we can nurture people over time. Now this is not including any paid ads or Facebook and all the other stuff, you know.

Steve: Of course, these are just people clicking on your link in the bio and actually signing up.

Sue: Yes, yes exactly.

Steve: Okay, got it. And let’s switch gears a little bit. Let’s talk about selling physical products, because a large portion of my audience sells either on their own store or on Amazon. And so what I want to do today is let’s pretend that I’m an ecommerce store, which I am actually selling physical products, so it’s not that large of a stretch, and I’ve come to you for help, right? So what questions would you ask me, and how do you formulate a social media strategy?

So for example, my store I sell wedding handkerchiefs and wedding linens. So if I were to come to you for help, like how would you walk me through an Instagram strategy?

Sue: Well I love it that you have a very niche account; a lot of people don’t have that. So you are not just wedding, because wedding is so broad.

Steve: Right.

Sue: You got handkerchiefs and that’s so cool, like I love that. So what’s the most important thing for people to think with an Instagram strategy is who is your customer, and where do they hang out. You literary need to know where they hang out, where they vacation, where they shop, what their interests are. And I’m actually going to use one of my favorite Instagram accounts to really go deep with this stuff.

Steve: Sure, sure.

Sue: So the Drybar which is one of my favorite Instagram accounts is where you can go and get a blow out. So Alli Webb is the owner of the Drybar, I met her on [inaudible 00:21:32] Interview with her back in the day when Blab was a thing, and she not only has physical locations in the US, she also has some in Canada.

What I love about the Drybar are so many things. The main thing is that when I physically walk into the Drybar, I literally feel like I’m walking into their Instagram account. Alli knows that her customer who sits in the chair to get a blow dry has kids, likes fashion, likes fresh flowers, lots of people have dogs and they like funny quotes.

And so when you look at that Instagram account, it’s not just about a blow dry, it’s about their brand color yellow, their language that they use. Everything in their branding has to do with the bar, so all of their products are named after anything that you know, chase sack, tequila, money maker, like there are so many play on words, like a shot of this.

And so I love the branding and the language and the visuals around everything, and there is a lot of user generated content, there is a lot of celebration of the people who work for her. And so that knowing exactly what your customer or client loves will help you set your strategy up for success.

Steve: I just want to figure that out, like in a brick and mortar store, it’s a little easier but like if you are online how do you figure that out?

Sue: You’ve got to do surveys; you’ve got to survey the people who have either purchased from you in the past or inside of a Facebook group. Like ask them, I mean I would, I know from my free Facebook group, Instagram results for business and anybody can join that; there is 6,000 people in there.

I know from the pain points and the questions that they ask there what my content should be that I cover when I’m teaching, and then often you know, put into my paid course. And then I have my VIP group for my online course Ready Set Gram. So the more you communicate with and know exactly the language that they speak, and what they like, the more you can create content for them.

This is not about you and what you like, it’s about what do they love seeing and learning, and I think a lot of people on Instagram get this piece wrong. Does that all make sense to you?

Steve: It does. So the idea is to find out who your target customers are, and then create images that kind of follow through with that brand that appeals to those people. Here is a question that I always have with Instagram, like how do you measure the effectiveness of a campaign, outside of the link and bio?

Sue: Okay, I’m going to answer that in a sec, but let me just go back to one ninja tip for you before we go to the next question.

Steve: Okay, Sure.

Sue: So most businesses know who some of the brands are that not only do they buy your wedding handkerchief, but maybe they also buy — give me like the most popular designer dress, is it Valentino?

Steve: Vera Wang, Vera Wang.

Sue: Okay, so maybe they also, so you know that the people that buy your handkerchief also buy Vera Wang. So if you go to Vera Wang’s Instagram account, you can look at who their followers are, and you can start engaging in those followers. Now this takes time, this takes like creating a spreadsheet and really — when I say engaging, it’s not just like double tapping, liking, and writing a comment that says nice pic.

I’m talking about what is it that you like about what you are looking at and why, and you can get their attention. And so if you did this to five or ten accounts every day, you can get their attention and their eyeballs on you, because every time someone leaves a comment on Instagram you get a notification, and let me tell you something, everyone looks at their notifications.

Steve: Interesting, okay, so these are just followers of Vera Wang in this example, right?

Sue: Yeah, but people that follow Vera Wang are following them for a reason, and if they are following them and you are telling me that Vera Wang is one of your buckets, then that makes sense for you to be following that, or is it people that have their weddings at you know, in the Bahamas or at Turks and Caicos, or at the high end Regency, like knowing literary where your clients hangout on in Instagram, then going into those accounts and engaging with them.

Steve: Interesting, so are you looking for just the largest followers of that account?

Sue: No, I’m looking for the right followers.

Steve: The right followers, okay.

Sue: It’s never about being popular, it’s never been about the numbers for me, it’s always about the right follower.

Steve: Interesting, so what is your — how do you figure out what the right follower is?

Sue: So the right followers, if you go into Vera Wang and you’re looking into the followers and then you click onto their account and you see that they are getting married, and they are planning a wedding.

Steve: I see.

Sue: And you are like damn, they are planning a wedding, I got the perfect thing for them. Like you got to literary know what they are doing.

Steve: So you comment on them and then you tag them, and what would be an example of something you might say?

Sue: You don’t tag them, you just comment.

Steve: Okay.

Sue: And you can say, “Hey I see that you love Vera Wang and that you are having a wedding, I thought you might be interested in you know, I think you might be interested in my account.” I wouldn’t say I think you would be interested in buying this from me. I would just say you know, I think that you might be interested in my account, you know, very, very — it’s just like you are having a conversation with one person. Not all, not 600 million people on Instagram, but a real private conversation with the person that you think would be your ideal customer or client.

So I mean I could go even deeper with a comment, but it’s literally taking the time to craft a comment that makes sense based on the post that you are leaving a comment on.

Steve: Okay, that makes sense. So it’s really going deep as opposed to blasting so to speak? Like I’m going-

Sue: Oh my gosh, I cannot stand the blasters, get rid of them.

Steve: I know they are always, there is like a thumbs up or nice post or whatever, I just ignore all of those.

Sue: I block, I delete, block, and report anything that’s not legit.

Steve: Really, okay, interesting.

Sue: The more you do that, the more they’ll go away. No one messes with me anymore.

Steve: Okay, and so you get their attention and then hopefully they will go and check out your account. I’m just curious how frequently you do something like this. Is this every day?

Sue: Okay, so I don’t need to do this anymore, because of the way and my account is growing and the exposure I get from everything else that I do, but when I was starting out and I had under 1,000 followers, this was a strategy that worked extremely well.

Steve: Okay, so this is like a way to get your first 1,000 followers so to speak?

Sue: Yeah, and it’s a way to be – well is to continue to grow. So again I get 100 new followers every day on both accounts.

Steve: Okay.

Sue: And it’s because I’m often a suggested account to follower now, because I have so many followers and you know, I’m not like, oh my god, I have so many followers, but compared to most people I have a lot of followers. And so I’m suggested and people just start following me, but I look at a lot of these accounts that follow me and I’m like oh my gosh, I could never even look at that account or follow it, because there is nothing to do with what inspires me.

I only follow accounts that give me aesthetic value, who entertain me, educate me, or teach me something new. I’m not one of these people that follows just to be nice.

Steve: Okay.

Sue: I follow so that everything that I see in my newsfeed is content that I want to see, because here is the thing you need to know with the new algorithm, the more you double tap and like and follow random ass accounts just to be nice and just like they did it for me I’ll do it for them, that’s the content that’s going to show up in your newsfeed.

The more you are very discerning and selective as to who you follow and why you follow them, that content will show up in your newsfeed. And so you’ve got to be really strategic with not only what you are posting, but how you are engaging and commenting.

Steve: So in terms of people who follow you that are spammers, is it in your best interest then to block them, because if they don’t engage in your stuff, that hurts your account?

Sue: Yes, absolutely.

Steve: Okay. So let me ask you this question though, when and how often do you go through your account and prune the people who aren’t engaging?

Sue: I don’t do it anymore, because I don’t have time for it.

Steve: Okay.

Sue: But it definitely affects my engagement rate. So if someone were to say, oh, I just heard Sue B. Zimmerman on a podcast, she’s the Instagram expert and you go on and you look at my account and you are like wow! She has 47,000 followers, but you go and look at my post and you are like, okay, so she has that may followers, but she only gets like two to 300 likes per post, like what’s up with that?

Well number one, I don’t pay for likes, some people do. Number two, I don’t hire people in China or India to like my photos, some people do. Number three, I don’t use hash tag automation to get people to do things either. Everything you see on my account is 100% authentic, and so what I tell people is look at the comments that I actually do get and look at the conversation, but more importantly Steve, is I’m getting opt-ins to my list.

Steve: Okay.

Sue: And that is my success measure, and so I come out of these very differently than a lot of people on Instagram who feel like it’s all about, like, oh my God! You got to get the engagement rate where you want. Do I want more engagement? Absolutely, I would love more engagement, but you can’t force that.

Steve: Let me ask you this then, what is your view on using hash tags then?

Sue: Oh, I definitely you have to; I mean hash tags I think the magic is in the hash tags until you are like a famous celebrity or a famous account or a famous brand.

Steve: Okay.

Sue: Famous brands like people naturally follow and have notifications turned on. You don’t have to have such a strong hash tag strategy, but if you are looking to show up in certain conversations and I call them hash tag hubs, you need to be very, very, very strategic with your hash tags, and I do have a hash tag hymn book, Suebzimmerman.com/hh. It’s under $30 and it literary is the 35 top industries on Instagram, and the best hash tags to use that we researched.

Steve: I was going to ask you that question actually. So how do you choose a good hash tag? Are you looking for volume or you are looking for something niche?

Sue: You are looking for the places where the people who you are trying to attract hang out.

Steve: Okay. Are there any tools to help you figure out these hash tags?

Sue: Well, Instagram does suggested hash tags based on the ones that you use, and there are some hash tag tools out there that I don’t pay attention to, because I know how to find my best hash tags.

Steve: Okay, if you can give like one strategy for finding the hash tags that you use that would be great.

Sue: Yeah, so what you want to think about is like, maybe a broad hash tag around the space that you serve. So for me it’s Instagram for business.

Steve: Okay.

Sue: Instagram tip, Instagram strategy, Instagram speaker, Instagram webinar, social media, which is broad, but I’ll use event hash tags like #SMMW17; I’m speaking at Social Media Marketing World. Obviously I want to show up there using event hash tags like #TNCS2017 for Traffic and Conversion. I’ll use event hash tags before, during, and after an event so that I always show up in the top nine. Those are more niche, and I love event hash tags because I definitely want the people at the event to find me and connect with me.

So event hash tags, also location based hash tags. So I live in downtown Boston in a high rise, so I’ll do #Bostonbusinessowner, #DowntonBoston. I also have a house on Cape Cod, so I’ll do #Capecod or #Farlethheights where my house is, and it’s so important to do location based hash tags if you do workshops, and I’m doing workshops on the Cape and here in Boston. So businesses in the area will be like, Wow! She’s local; I need to connect with her.

So there is all kinds of strategies around your location, around your industry, around the products that you sell. So when I had my store and I sold nautical jewelry, #nauticaljewellery, #anchorenecklace, #nientackitredbaseballhat.

Steve: Do you look at the volume of those hash tags in determining which ones to use, or is it just what you think is relevant?

Sue: Both. So the ones that have a lot of people like okay, so Lily Pulitzer and Vineyard Vines, they have like preppy, like a lot of preppy hash tags in there, so you know you really can’t compete with those bigger brands and get seen in their hash tags, but you can get ideas of what would work for your business in those hash tags. So the most important thing to do Steve is to look and see what content is being curated in those hash tags, so that you don’t land in a hash tag that’s all porn or something.

Steve: Okay.

Sue: Sometimes people use random ass hash tags and they don’t even look at what content is being curated, and it’s like OMG! Do you really want your brand to be shown up in that hash tag?

Steve: Okay.

Sue: All the popular hash tags on Instagram I say stay away from. Like #Instagram you know, #likeforlike, #instafollow, #pickoftheday, #outfitofday. Like you and 600 million other people are using those.

Steve: I was going to ask you this question, how do you feel about like for like?

Sue: Nothing, No.

Steve: Okay, you don’t do any of those or share for share or okay.

Sue: Here is what I say, here is what I say Steve, and you can quote me on this. You should never ask for a follow, you should earn it by giving value.

Steve: Okay. Does that imply that you are also against paying other people for some exposure back to your page?

Sue: Yeah, I know people ask me all the time if they can pay me for a shout out, and I don’t. Everything I do is authentic. I am a collaborator and I tag naturally brands and businesses and people that I love. I am not an influencer; I mean I am an influencer. People send me free products all the time, and I do tag them in my posts, I talk about them in my Instagram stories, but I’m not looking to be making money this way.

There are influencer marketers that get paid to post on Instagram, I’m not that person. But it’s an industry and it’s definitely valid, I’m not dicing the industry, it’s just not what I do.

Steve: Okay, and so you would not pay someone to accelerate your account getting larger?

Sue: Never, because it’s not going to be with the right people for me.

Steve: Interesting, okay. Even if there was like another Instagram person out there who specializes in teaching Instagram, would it be relevant?

Sue: There is like 500 people that specialize in teaching Instagram or so they say.

Steve: Okay.

Sue: For me it’s always attracting the right person.

Steve: So let’s switch gears a little bit and talk about content, like if you can provide some tips, because that’s most of the story, right? You have to, yeah.

Sue: Yeah, yes, so yeah, so content, there is two types of content — I’m just getting a sip of water, hold on a second.

Steve: Sure.

Sue: There is two types of content; there is engagement content, and then there is traffic driving content. And on Instagram the content that gets the most attention is the engagement, is the fabulous photo or video that looks so good that it emotionally pulls you in, because you know, it’s making you laugh, it’s educating you in some way or inspiring you, and you are just like, oh my God! That’s so cool or that’s so funny, oh my God! I love that.

And so that’s the double tap, and I say don’t just double tap, like talk to Siri [ph] and say why you like it. Don’t just like do the lazy thing. If you are going to take the time to double tap, take the time to leave a comment, but then there is the promotional post, the post that you are posting to drive traffic to the thing.

So for me right now if you open up either of my accounts, you’ll see a promotional post, a traffic driving post, because I’m doing this webinar. Now these posts typically aren’t as pretty or exciting or interesting to some people to double tap, like, and comment on. However there are people that want to learn about money mindset, and then numbers that you need to pay attention to in your business, so that when I promote a webinar that I’m doing, people are interested, they are double tapping, they are liking and they are commenting.

But here is what the listeners need to know. If you do more engagement posts and less promotional posts, you’ll get the engagement, which means you’ll beat the algorithm, which means more people will see your posts when you are doing those engagement posts, because engagement is all about likes, comments and now saved post. It’s a new feature on Instagram where you can save a post by tapping on the little ribbon on the bottom right of every post, there is a little ribbon like tab that you can save a post, or you can take a screen shot of a post. And so Instagram counts that as engagement.

So the more engagement you get, the more reach you get. It’s not so much about the impressions, but it’s about the reach. And when you have a business account on Instagram which all your listeners should have, you can look at the reach and the impressions for each post on Instagram, and you can promote and boost each post on Instagram, and you can do ads right from Instagram when you have a business profile.

Steve: Do you boost your posts?

Sue: Occasionally.

Steve: Okay.

Sue: So it depends, if I’m in a campaign, yes or when doing Facebook ads. Our Instagram Ads do extremely well because we know all the different elements and Morgan on my team on the SPZ team does all of my Facebook and Instagram ads, and often gets interviewed on podcasts about Instagram ads. So if you want to have her on talking all about Instagram ads, she’s awesome.

Steve: Okay, what was I was going to ask you next? So with your account then what is your ratio of engagement versus promotional posts?

Sue: So I would say once a week I’m doing a promotional post for the strategy guide unless I’m in a campaign. I’ll do two or three a week.

Steve: Okay.

Sue: You know when I was heavily into — I’ll give Marie Forleo as the best example because it’s the biggest campaign that we do. It’s over a month long. Every third post was almost a traffic driving post, either to the training series, to the webinar or to buying B School.

Steve: Okay, and in terms of the engagment, like is there a certain percentage based on the number of followers that you shoot for?

Sue: No, I don’t shoot for anything other than real organic engagement. I really — to be honest Steve, I don’t get caught up in the numbers as much as in the comments and in the conversions.

Steve: Okay.

Sue: I just don’t, it doesn’t impact me that way, because I know I’m attracting people I’m meant to be serving.

Steve: It’s funny, it’s very interesting that we are talking because I had someone else talk about Instagram before you, and their strategy was completely different. They are all about like social proof, getting followers and then kind of driving that traffic even though the percentages wouldn’t be as high, it’s just interesting.

Sue: Yeah, I guess it’s because I’m such a seasoned, successful entrepreneur , and I know that community trumps everything, and authenticity and like I just, I don’t play the follow game, it’s so not my thing and it’s just who I am.

Steve: Can we talk about business accounts for a sec?

Sue: Yeah.

Steve: If you transition over to a business account, do you end up losing anything or is just seamless?

Sue: It’s seamless and I think you gain so much because you gain access to all the insights and the ability to assess how many followers, the gender of your followers, the demographic of your followers, what time of day do your followers engage? What day of the week do they engage? I mean talk about looking at data; you can do it right in the app under each post. You can view your insights from each post, it’s crazy, yeah.

Steve: So when you have this data, does that imply that you’re posting at a specific time also?

Sue: Yes, I know that 12 to 1PM EST is my best time to be posting, that is lunch time for me and then again typically six to eight at night, but it’s different for everybody.

Steve: Okay, and in terms of frequency, like how often do you post?

Sue: I’m finding that the less I post the more engagement I get, because I do show up at the top of the algorithm for a lot of people that follow me. So if I wait things out and don’t post daily, like I say within maybe 30 to 48 hours, I do a lot better with my reach.

Steve: I see, so you post just at most it sound like once a day.

Sue: Yeah, I mean once a day or once a day and a half, every day and a half.

Steve: Every day and a half, interesting, okay, wow! So there’s been other people I talked to that recommend posting like three or six time a day. It’s just very interesting.

Sue: Oh my God! I would unfollow them in a second. It’s too much.

Steve: So if you are looking at analytics that we were just talking about, like which specific metrics do you actually focus on in determining what sort of content that your customers like?

Sue: I’m looking — I used to spend a lot of time in Iconic Square, but now I just spend my time looking in Instagram and seeing what people — like I’m looking at the reach. I’m looking at the reach of my post, like you know; there is two numbers that you look at in your insights. It’s either; the impressions — now the impressions can be impressions from the same person more than once.

So someone logs into Instagram, they see your post, they log, they are doing their work, they go back and they see your post again because it’s still at the top of their feed, so those are the impressions, but the reach is how many people is it actually reaching. Those are the — that’s the number, like how many people is it reaching and what kind of comments and engagement are you getting.

Steve: Okay, and are there any tools that you use to like post on Instagram or manage your accounts.

Sue: Yeah, so I love Planoly, that’s my go to favorite right now, but also Hootsuite is awesome and Buffer, you can use Hootsuite or Buffer. Planoly now has, where you can plan your Instagram stories too. You can schedule your Instagram stories, which is a great new feature.

Steve: Interesting, so when you plan out one of these posts, do you still have to – I actually don’t do it this way, I do it manually, but do they just send you to a link where you actually start to manually approve it before it goes live?

Sue: So you download the app and as soon as you schedule the time there is a push notifications to your phone, it says, “Do you want to post it now?” And you say, “Post now,” and then you just double tap in the description, and then copy and paste your whole description that you write.

Steve: Got it.

Sue: It will direct to your desktop yeah.

Steve: What is your view on photo content versus video content now?

Sue: What’s my view on what? You went in and out?

Steve: Photo content versus video content.

Sue: I do both, I think videos tend to get more, I do a lot, I do animated gifts from my graphic designer. I also do, I also do every set hash tag, every 7th post I have a video tutorial that I do, so that’s a hash tag that I created, don’t go crush tagging my hash tag anybody, #every7thpost is a video tutorial that I teach. So video definitely has a huge, I think more people are interested in seeing good video, I also use the video right within the Instagram app which is the start and go video, which can really be a creative way for you to get content out there. So I do video and I like video.

Steve: Are you finding that it works better than images, or it gets more reach than the posts?

Sue: You know both do very well for me, and very well is so different for every person. I’m more concerned about the aesthetic magazine look and feel that we talked about at the beginning of the interview, and making sure that the content is always on point with who, you know, what my followers, what my ideal customer, client wants to see.

Steve: I see, so you are very concerned with when someone first opens your Instagram account, the layout and how everything comes together on that one page with thumbnails?

Sue: Yeah, I want each post to stand alone as a very, very valuable post, and I want you to be able to look at the whole feed and get a sense of who I am and what I do.

Steve: Okay, so last question here, when you are looking at someone’s account and the account is just bad, meaning there is no cohesiveness or anything, do you actually have that person go and delete like their images and start from scratch, or do you kind of just start from then on posting content that kind of matches the realm? Does that question make sense?

Sue: Yeah, I tell them to download my strategy guide. Yeah, I mean you can either transition into learning and doing it better and say this was me then, this is me now. I think people seeing how far you’ve come sometimes is actually quite exciting, or you can do what a lot of people is delete. People delete posts all the time, they don’t get engagement, or they don’t think is working.

Steve: Is that something you recommend doing, like if a post has no engagement you just delete it?

Sue: I don’t know, it all depends, I think it’s only human to keep things and show people how you’ve improved. I don’t need the social proof every day. I would rather people — I would rather be able to say to someone, I understand where you are because I’ve been there, and you know I’ve been teaching for almost five years now.

So I’ve learned a lot and I’ve tried a lot of different strategies, and Instagram is constantly updating, improving, and making this little app a positive experience for everyone. So I’m all in on Instagram and know that it is absolutely the platform that is most visually appealing to everyone who’s on social media.

Steve: Okay, we’ll Sue thanks a lot. I mean we’ve been chatting for quite a while now and I want to be respectful of your time. Where do we want to send the listeners? You mentioned a strategy guide, you want to just give a quick update again where people can find you?

Sue: Yeah, so first I want everyone to take a little challenge that I do when I do interviews now is love for you guys to come on over to @suebzimmerman if you are interested in seeing my comings and goings on my personal account, and that’s just simply understanding how to create a personal account. But more importantly my business account @theinstagramexpert and @theSPZteam. And the challenge that I like to do on this podcast is to post, to have you guys post a photo listening to this interview, taking a great photo, maybe a #deskie and using the #suebmademedoit.

Steve: Okay, yeah that will be interesting.

Sue: So when you do Sue B made me do it, you will be joined with over a 1,000 people who have taken this challenge, and you’ll be able to meet some other awesome people who have listened to me speak or do a podcast interview, and it’s a good way to connect to some awesome people. So that and then they should @mention your account as well. I don’t know what account it would be.

Steve: It’s My Wife Quit.

Sue: Oh, My Wife Quit okay, so there you go, and so that way Steve will get a notification that you @mentioned him as well, and then yeah, everyone here you should be definitely be downloading my strategy guide which is Suebzimmerman.com/guide.

Steve: Okay, that’s easy to remember.

Sue: Yeah, you got to make it easy; if it’s not easy people don’t do it.

Steve: Hey Sue, thanks a lot for coming on the show, really appreciate your tips, and I’m sure the listeners will find it very valuable.

Sue: Yes, absolutely.

Steve: All right, take care.

Sue: Bye, bye.

Steve: Hope you enjoyed that episode. I’ve actually been using some of Sue’s strategies for my own Instagram account, and my IG fan base has been steadily increasing as a result. For more information about this episode, go to MyWifeQuitHerJob.com/episode 170.

And once again I want to thank Klaviyo for sponsoring this episode. Klaviyo is my email marketing platform of choice for ecommerce merchants, and you can easily put together automated flows like an abandoned cart sequence, a post purchase flow, a win back campaign, basically all these sequences that will make you money on auto pilot. So head on over to mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O, once again that’s mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O.

I also want to thank SellerLabs.com as well. Their tool Ignite is what I use to manage my Amazon PPC campaigns. Instead of the old tedious way of generating reports and analyzing your ad campaigns in Excel, Ignite aggregates all that info for you in one place and allows you to quickly visualize your data to make decisions fast.

So not only does it save time, but it also makes managing your Amazon campaigns so much easier. So head on over to sellerlabs.com/steve and sign up for a free 30 day trial, once again that’s sellerlabs.com/steve.

And if you’re interested in starting your own ecommerce store, head on over to mywifequitherjob.com and sign up for my free six day mini course. Just type in your email, and I’ll send you the course right away, thanks for listening.

Outro: Thanks for listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast, where we are giving the courage people need to start their own online business. For more information visit Steve’s blog at www.mywifequitherjob.com.

I Need Your Help

If you enjoyed listening to this podcast, then please support me with an iTunes review. It's easy and takes 1 minute! Just click here to head to iTunes and leave an honest rating and review of the podcast. Every review helps!
 
Share On Facebook

Ready To Get Serious About Starting An Online Business?


If you are really considering starting your own online business, then you have to check out my free mini course on How To Create A Niche Online Store In 5 Easy Steps.

In this 6 day mini course, I reveal the steps that my wife and I took to earn 100 thousand dollars in the span of just a year. Best of all, it's absolutely free!

169: How To Get Your First 10000 Email Subscribers With Bryan Harris

Share On Facebook

169: How To Get Your First 10000 Email Subscribers With Bryan Harris

Today I’m excited to have Brian Harris on the show. I was introduced to Brian by our mutual friend Grant Baldwin and I actually saw a video of Bryan speak at one of Noah Kagan’s events and I was really impressed.

Anyway Bryan runs the site VideoFruit.com where he reverse engineers what the top marketers are doing online and shows you how to integrate those strategies into your business.

Specifically, Bryan is an expert at growing your email list and launching a product. So today we are going to cover how to quickly build an email list and how to use that list to maximize revenue.

What You’ll Learn

  • How Bryan got started with VideoFruit and why fruit is in the name
  • Why Bryan specializes in email marketing.
  • The best list building strategies today
  • How to get your first 10000 email subscribers in any niche
  • How to structure your autoresponders
  • How to escape the promotions tab.

Other Resources And Books

Sponsors

Klaviyo.com – Klaviyo is the email marketing platform that I personally use for my ecommerce store. Created specifically for ecommerce, it is the best email marketing provider that I’ve used to date. Click here and try Klaviyo for FREE.
Klaviyo

Ignite.Sellerlabs.com – If you are selling on Amazon and running Amazon Sponsored Ads campaigns, then Ignite from Seller Labs is a must have tool. Click here and get a FREE 30 Day Trial.
Ignite Logo

ReferralCandy.com – If you’re already getting steady orders every month, adding a refer-a-friend program to your store can give you a new sales channel. And ReferralCandy is the best in the business. Click here and get a FREE $50 credit towards your account.
referral candy

Transcript

Steve: You are listening to the My Wife Quit her Job Podcast, the place where I bring on successful bootstrapped business owners and delve deeply into what strategies are working and what strategies are not with their businesses.

Now today I’m thrilled to have Bryan Harris from Video Fruit on the show, and we’re going to talk about strategies on how to get your first 10,000 email subscribers for your online business. This is a great episode, and I know that you’ll learn a lot.

But before we begin I want to give a quick shout out to Klaviyo who is a sponsor of the show. Now I’m always excited to talk about Klaviyo because they are the email marketing platform that I personally use for my ecommerce store, and I actually depend on them for over 20% of my revenues. Now you’re probably wondering why Klaviyo and not another provider. Well, Klaviyo is the only email platform out there that is specifically built for ecommerce stores, and here’s why it’s so powerful.

Klaviyo can track every single customer who has shopped in your store and exactly what they purchased which allows you to do many things. So let’s say I want to send an email to everyone who purchased a red handkerchief in the last week, easy. Let’s say I want to set up a special autoresponder sequence to my customers depending on what they bought, piece of cake, and there is full revenue tracking on every single email too.

Klaviyo is the most powerful email platform that I’ve ever used and you can actually try them for free at mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O, once again that’s mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O.

I also want to give a shout out to my other sponsor Seller Labs, and specifically I want to talk about their brand new tool Ignite which helps sellers manage their Amazon sponsored ad campaigns. Right now I’m using this tool to manage my Amazon sponsored ads, and it makes things a heck of a lot more convenient.

So number one, I’ve always found it a major pain to generate my PPC reports on Amazon, cut and paste the data over to an excel spreadsheet and use pivot tables before I’m able do any analysis. Well Ignite pulls all that info for you automatically and allows you to easily see what keywords are working and what are not immediately, there is no need to manually create reports or play with excel.

Second of all unless you’re a data geek, Amazon campaign data can be hard to understand, and what’s cool is that Ignite makes keyword and bidding recommendations on the fly that can be applied with a couple of clicks.

So let’s say one of my hankie keywords is bleeding money, well Ignite will alert me of that fact, and I can reduce that bid immediately. So bottom line Ignite makes managing your Amazon’s sponsored ad campaigns so much easier, and the fact that they provide me with alerts means that I no longer have to monitor my campaigns like a hawk.

If there are keywords that are doing well, well Ignite tells me to add them to my exact match campaigns. If my keywords are losing money, well Ignite tells me to either remove the keyword or to reduce the bid. So head on over to Sellerlabs.com/steve where you’ll find awesome tutorials on how to run Amazon PPC ads and the opportunity to try Ignite for 30 days absolutely free. Once again that’s Sellerlabs.com/steve. Now on the show.

Intro: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. We will teach you how to create a business that suits your lifestyle, so you can spend more time with your family and focus on doing the things that you love. Here is your host, Steve Chou.

Steve: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. Today I’m excited to have Bryan Harris on the show. Now I was introduced to Bryan by our mutual friend Grant Baldman, and actually saw a video of Bryan speak at one of Noah Kagan’s events recently, and I was really impressed. Bryan runs the site videofruit.com where he reverse engineers what the top marketers are doing online, and shows you how to integrate these strategies into your business, and specifically Bryan is an expert at growing your email list and launching a product.

Now, how important is email? 90% of the sales of my blog and a good portion of my online store sales are through email. So I knew I wanted to have Bryan on the show to see how he does it. So today we are going to cover how to quickly build an email list, and how to use that list to launch a product. And with that, welcome to the show Bryan. How are you doing today, man?

Bryan: Hey, thanks for having me on Steve, I appreciate it.

Steve: So what the listeners don’t know is that Bryan and I we were chatting before I hit record button. He was telling me all these things and I feel bad because he is going to have to repeat some of these things. But one thing that, for anyone out there who is not familiar with Bryan’s story, hey Bryan, give us the quick background how you got started with Video Fruit, and what does video and fruit actually have to do with what you do.

Bryan: It is a riveting example of how names don’t matter, and the worst name possible to pick it out. No, it started April 2013. I had a job working on a conveyor engineering company and didn’t like it. Read a Tim Ferriss blog post. It seems like half the businesses I know started with a Tim Ferriss blog post. So I read a blog post and started little — started making videos on the side for people.

I would go to — this still actually works by the way if people just want to kind of get started real quick, this strategy works well. I went to like the Envato marketplace; I this it’s as I said. I think it is videohive.com, maybe is the name of the video market place. Any way you can buy these templates like after effects and whatever the different, the final card, and different templates of these explainer videos, and then just like insert your graphics and your text into them, hit export and make these really nice looking explainer videos.

So I figured that little work flow via making some for different people that I knew and ask them, I said, “Hey, I got this really cool video, you want me to make you one? They said, “Yup.” So I made one for Noah, for App Sumo, made one for Navel. I didn’t know them, I just cold pitched them.

Steve: You just made it for them for free and they accepted your offer?

Bryan: Yeah, I was like, “Hey I made this cool thing.” Actually the first one I made was for Neil Patel. I had been reading Quick Sprout and the Kissmetrics blog, and he was working there at the time, and one of the ways that Kissmetrics grew in the early days of their blog was through info-graphics. So I just went and turned one of their info, like their statistic graphical info graphics into a video, into like a video info-graphics. You go to Kissmetrics YouTube channel you can probably still see them there, and some really bad videos by me.

But I just cold pitched Neil. I was on his email list, so he sent a newsletter out the next day after I finished the video and he replied to that video and said, “Hey Neil, dude, I love your blog, your info-graphics are great. I’ll turn one of your info-graphics into a video; I notice you don’t do video a lot. I hope it helps.” And he responded back in like no time. He was like, “Man, this is awesome, can we hire you to do more of them?” And I was like, “Yeah, I’d totally will do more if you pay money.”

So we talked and via email, I still have actually never talked to him on Skype or anything to this day, but… and they wound up hiring me and giving me a $3,000 a month contract to turn their blog posts into videos, like in person type of videos. So you can go and see some of those really bad haircuts, really bad camera. If you ever worry about like equipment when shooting videos, just go and look at the videos I made for them three or four years ago now, and it will give you an example of the low barrier to entry on video.

Steve: Okay, we’ll have to link one of those up in the show for sure.

Bryan: I don’t even have the ability to go look at them, I’ll go back. They are actually shot on a C9-20 webcam which is like the $90 webcam that like every video you see online, the first person video was shot in, ended like with those tears of lighting set up in the background. Like they had that video back in the day where they scheduled to do lighting, it’s pretty rough.

Anyway, so I did that, that allowed me to quit my job. I had that $3,000 a month contract and a few other little one off things, and that started Video Fruit. So I had this little strategy of making these videos. Other people were asking me how I made them, so I created a little course on how to make them. And then after I had reached out to the handful of people that I knew online via like Facebook groups I was in and what not, and sold ten or 20 copies of this course, I had the big question in my head of all right, now how do I get random people from the internet to buy stuff from me?

And I think that’s a question, like everyone starting out has. In real life, getting people to buy from you like isn’t a complicated process, it’s still hard, but like at the end of the day if it was like selling lawn mowing services. You can walk up to people house and knock on the door, and ask them if they want to buy your lawn mowing service, right? If you are at a coffee house like you can hire a dude to hold a san on the corner, go to all the cool hipster places, and pass out fliers and some of those people will come to your place and drink coffee.

But an online business, that does not exist. There is no place to go knock on the door, or place to hang out fliers. So a [inaudible 00:08:46] or just a practical thing I was having to solve. It’s all right, I had this course, I had these services, how do I get people to find me? So that’s where the name Video Fruit came from because in the early, early days I had a course. This course still exists somewhere, I don’t even know how to get to it now, but there is this course out there somewhere that teaches you to do this video stuff, and I was selling these services.

So I started a blog as an experiment to try to figure out, all right, how do I get random people from the internet to buy stuff from me? And I would just go and watch podcasts and read blog posts, and listen to all these different strategies that people like Ramit and Gary V. and Seth Godin and Pat Fynn were teaching, and I would just try to mimic them, copy them, model them, improve them, and see if they worked for me.

So if you like go way back in the archives on the blog, like one of the first couple of blog post you will see is one on Gary Vaynerchuk, one on Pat Flynn, one under me. I’m just breaking down, me taking their strategies, trying to reverse engineer them, try them for myself to see what works. And after about a year of that the thing that I found that worked, and actually this is interesting. So like dog training and like parenting advice are very similar, well, they are similar.

Steve: You have Kids, right?

Bryan: Yeah, we have a year and a half old and one on the way. Pre-one year old, they are very similar except you can’t use a shirt collar like kennel that will get you in trouble. But a lot of the actual training stuff is very, very similar. Anyways enough, what I was getting to is in the world — like can we just pay attention to dog trainers. They all bash each other, and they all disagree with each other, dog training, and parenting advice. I can go read Happiest Baby on the Block and read — what is that other one, that’s really popular?

Steve: There is a bunch; I’ve read most of them actually back in the day, yeah.

Bryan: [Inaudible 00:10:28] is the one I was thinking of. So you read that, go look at the Facebook group for baby wise and go look at the Facebook group for Happiest Baby on The Block, and the people just like hate each other. So all that marketing wasn’t quite as venomous, but people disagree just as much. Like you had one person over here talking about, well you have to have a podcast, and somebody over here talking about, if you have a podcast you are stupid because you can’t answer your podcast, just do written content. Other guys are like; video is the greatest thing ever.

But the one thing that was interesting after a year of like studying and reverse engineering and experimenting, the one thing that everyone agreed on was that an email list is the most effective way to sell stuff to people on the internet. So I started trying that, I was like, “All right, let me try starting to build and email list, because I got this course, and I got these services.” So theoretically if I have let’s say 1,000 people on an email list, I could email the list and say, “Hey, come buy my course,” or “Hey, come buy my services,” and a few people would.

So I spent, I don’t remember timelines, I’m losing track of the exact days on this, but once I found out that, that was about, I think it was January 2014, 2015? Yeah, 2014.

Steve: That’s 3 years ago, okay

Bryan: Yeah, about three years ago. Our focus was like, all right, my goal for this year is to grow my email list. I think I had like a 150 people on my list that I — I don’t even know how they joined, it’s some random stuff I did. I wasn’t emailing regularly or anything. And then over the course of that year my goal was to get to 10,000. 10,000 seemed like an inflection point at which there would be some critical mass, and I would be able to have a full time income from this.

So that year I stopped focusing on all the other strategies and just focused on, “All right, how are people growing email lists?” And I tried tons and tons of different strategies. In between January and October I grew the list from a 100 or so people to 10,000 subscribers.

Steve: Nice, okay.

Bryan: And at the point – and Steve you have to stop me any time, I’m rumbling here so-

Steve: No, no, we are going to dig deep into some of these strategies as soon as there is a good stopping point here. Yeah, go ahead.

Bryan: So you get to October, the list is right at 10,000 subscribers and I decided, all right, I’m going to launch some product. And I don’t know, maybe I just kind of forgot about the video course. The original intent was to sell the video course and sell the services, and by this time like a year had gone by, and I was like all right now, like what are people on my list interested in? Are they interested in video? Are they interested in something else?

So I went through this validation method, just looking back at all the content I had published over the previous like it’s ten months, because this was October, from January to October. And I analyzed that content, went through a little validation process with that list, and we can talk in details on. I think it’s a pretty good process that is a conglomeration of what a lot of different people teach, and came up with this product idea that I would just make a list of all the contractors that I used.

So like people that would design stuff, or set up little membership plugins or write stuff for me or design, a lot of them. There was like a list of 20 or 30 contractors. There is going to be a list of contractors, a grouping of all my swipe files. Because over the course of that year I had like taken screen shots of a bunch of landing pages, pop ups, Facebook ads, explainer videos, they were like six or seven different categories of swipe files I had.

And the third thing was the work flows that I used to outsource those things to be built. So like, “All right Bryan, you want this sales page to be created, how do you actually communicate to the coder to get him to like take the design and make? Or how do you communicate to designer to make a design that looks like something you’d like?” So there was those three things, it was called the vault; there was contractors, workflows and swipe files.

Steve: Was this your lead magnet or was that…?

Bryan: No, it’s the product I was going-

Steve: Oh, the product, okay, got it, okay.

Bryan: So, I had this list of 10,000. I had this product, and I don’t remember why but for some reason I lost the six of the 4,000 people. I don’t know if I had a time parameter on that, like you had to be subscribed for the next time something, but the actual emails went out. Opening cart on a Monday, close cart on a Friday, I think there were five, or six emails total and made $25,000 in that first week.

Steve: Okay, so let’s break that down. So when you didn’t know what you were doing, like how did you get those first ten case subscribers? Like what were you doing?

Bryan: Yes, there was a list. So think of it in four different buckets, going from zero to 100, 100 to 1,000, and 1,000 to 10,000. Maybe fourth bucket will be over 10,000, but just ignore that for now if you are underneath. So anytime you hear a strategy, so sequencing is important. You are going to hear a lot of strategies we are going to talk about now. You are going to read podcasts or listen to podcasts, read blog posts, all these different methods, you will hear lots of different things, there is a lot of different ways you can grow an email list.

So what you have to do, what I did was bucketed them in one of those three buckets. For example, Facebook ads, that’s something you hear people talking about all the time. I just got an email a while ago from someone, he was like, “Hey, the only way I grew my email list is through Facebook ads.” If you are just starting out and you have under a 100 subscribers, and the first thing you try to do is grow your email list through Facebook ads, you are completely screwed.

That works really well, but it’s also an advanced strategy, because if you’ve never bought ads before, just writing ads is hard, targeting ads are hard. Cutting lead magnets to people who opt-in for is hard. Cutting email sequences that lead from a lead magnet to buying is hard. So many might be on a podcast and tell you about their cool funnel they had. If the first thing you try to do is go build that, you are done, like the chances of you being successful are really, really, really low. So that’s a great strategy but it doesn’t go on the zero to 100 bucket. It goes in the 1,000 buckets and sometimes the 10,000 in that bucket.

So one great strategy you can start with if you are in the zero to 100 bucket is make a list. Think about the first 100 people as like your ambassadors, like your launch team. These aren’t people you are worried about selling to, these are the people that like you and know you already, and people that can introduce you to the people that are going to buy from you in the future. So a lot of people want to start out by trying to find random people in the internet to opt-in to their list.

You need to able to do that eventually, but the best place to start is with people you already know, and then getting them to introduce you in a very natural, non-weird, car sellsy kind of way to other people that are interested in your exact topic. So-

Steve: So for you personally, like who is this group?

Bryan: Yes, so it’s open up your phone, look at people you’ve texted, look at people you’ve had phone calls with, look in Gmail, look at sent emails, look at Facebook groups you are part of, look at people you’ve twittered, people… just make a list of all the people you are in contact with in regular life. And everybody has 50 to 100 people.

Most people have over 200 people they are in regular contact with or they have talked to in the last six months to a year, and just send them a message that sounds something like this. “Hey, this is — insert your first name. Hey, this is Bryan, I’m starting a new project where I’m going to do X. So where I’m going to teach people how to start an ecommerce store like Man or I sell handkerchiefs, where I’m going to try to figure out how to get random people from the internet to buy stuff from me. Or I’m going to try to figure out how to paddle board.”

A cool approach you can take in this topic just as in a side is using a learn out loud approach. So if you are not sure about your topic, just choose something you are interested in, you can always change later. So if you are interested in learning magic tricks, “Hey, this is Bryan, I’m going to start a little weekly challenge, or I’m going to start to learn how to do magic tricks, I thought this might be something you’d be interested in, do you want in?”

That’s your text, that’s your email, that your phone call, that your whatever communication method you have. 90% of the people will say yes. Once they say yes…

Steve: Because they know you, right?

Bryan: What’s that?

Steve: Because they know you.

Bryan: They know you, yeah and this is interesting. Like think about it from your perspective Steve. Like some dude you went to high school with 20 years ago, 10 years ago, however long it’s been since you were in high school. If John that you were in in 11th grade in English with that you kind of see on Facebook every now and then, messaged you and said “Hey Steve, dude, long time no see, hey, really random thing, but I’m starting this challenge where I’m going to try to learn a new magic trick, like I thought it would be fun and I think this might be something you just like to follow, do you want in?”
Like yeah, that’s really cool, like I don’t really care about magic that much, but that sounds entertaining. At the least it sounds entertaining and maybe through watching your videos I’ll be interested in doing that someday. And maybe if you create a course or a product of some sort six months to a year from now after I watch ten of your videos, maybe I’ll even buy it, but I’ll definitely introduce my other friends who might be interested in the topic too.

Steve: Okay.

Bryan: So just start — it’s a very natural thing, it doesn’t have to be weird, it doesn’t have to be funky at all. Almost anyone can get 100 subscribers in 24 hours just by doing that.

Steve: I want to take a moment to thank ReferralCandy for being a sponsor of the show. Now in this day and age, word of mouth is a huge driver of business for most ecommerce stores, and the best way to amplify word of mouth marketing is through a referral program, and this is where ReferralCandy shines. With just a couple of clicks of the mouse, you can add a referral program to your ecommerce store and reward your customers for telling their friends about your shop. And this tactic works wonders, and in fact it is not uncommon to get a ridiculous return on investment.

So for example, Greats Footwear who is a ReferralCandy customer is currently seeing a 20X ROI, and referral word of mouth marketing is also useful for building up your social media presence as well, because everyone is talking about your company with their friends on Facebook and Twitter.

And the best part is that ReferralCandy is a set it and forget it service, requires no technical set up and they are giving My wife Quit Her Job listeners 50 bucks to try them out if you go to promo.referralcandy.com/Steve. Once again it’s promo.referralcandy.com/Steve to get a $50 credit to try out the service risk free. Now back to the show.

So for your video outreach, when you were reaching out to Noah, Navel and those guys, was that after you had already had 100?

Bryan: No, I had no email list, and so let’s divide this into two categories. You have grown an email list and that’s selling a freelance service.

Steve: Okay, got it.

Bryan: So to say, like it depends on — well, so for just talking about building an email list, start with the people you already know strategy works well. If you are trying to start with selling a freelance service, there is a whole different strategy which we are more than happy to talk about.

Steve: No, that’s okay. Let’s go down the email route first.

Bryan: Sure.

Steve: Sorry, I thought you used them to help you grow your list actually.

Bryan: No, no.

Steve: Okay.

Bryan: And we can give, if you want we can — I have a couple of blog posts I have written about the freelance route if people are like…

Steve: I’ll link those up if you want to send them to me.

Bryan: Yeah, remind me, I’ll give you the links so people can go explore that route too because that honestly, if you are looking for the quickest way to make money online after being in this for three and a half, four years now, that’s the quickest way that exists is doing the freelance service route like I went with Noah, and Navel and Neil Patel.

So we’ll link those up, let’s go back to email list, because email list is the most sustainable way to grow and to keep growing a business that doesn’t require you knocking on doors constantly. It’s a perfect blend of like, passive income and like really good income. Freelance is a good route, like this is what I did, I used freelance to get me out of my day job so that then I could focus on building a sustainable business, because unless you are one of the few people that want to start some kind of agency that you have 50 people employed and doing this agency approach, the freelance stuff you usually run on the runway on that fairly quickly. So just to give you context for both of the approaches.

Steve: Okay.

Bryan: All right, get us on track; I forget where we were there.

Steve: So you did this zero to 100 and…

Bryan: Yes zero to 100, let’s go with one more strategy there, so strategy one, invite everyone you know.

Steve: Right.

Bryan: We gave you a couple of scripts there. Second strategy that you can use is, go to any community that you are a part of. So a couple of examples of communities you can be a part of, you can be a part of — like let’s use just like online marketing because that’s what’s I’m in mainly.

Steve: Okay.

Bryan: Actually let’s not use that, issues like exercise, like if you are trying to grow an exercise, nutrition, fitness type of email list. Like you are probably in some online communities, and if you aren’t there is a lot of them that exists around this topic. Like type in, like I’m in Nashville, so I’ll type in like natural fitness group, and there is going to be 30 different Facebook groups that pop up for that.

Go join a couple of those and then spend the next week, this doesn’t have to take any more than seven days. Spend the next week and each day set aside five minutes to go engage in that group. So three things for engaging, like a couple of posts, comment on a couple of posts and make a post or two yourself, and the post you make yourself, don’t make them you asking for anything, like trying to get somebody to do something.

Phrase them as questions. Like, hey guys I found this good blog post from Jackson Bloore, it’s talking about intermittent fasting, have any of you experimented with interment of fasting before? It’s is something I’m interested in trying myself.

Like a non-promotional approach, but a questioning, asking and using the group as a resource for your approach. After a week of engaging you can go in for an ask. So the ask would look something — like the first week would be you commenting, you liking, you asking for feedback, not in a promotion type of way at all. Do that for seven days and at the end of seven days then go in for an ask, and this would be a soft ask.
.
You could say something like, “Hey guys, so I’m going to start a 30 day challenge. Currently I weigh 250 pounds and my goal is to lose 40 pounds over the next 90 days, and I have learned from you guys some different approaches, some different things I can experiment with. I would love your support and I would love your guidance as I go through this. If you’d like to follow me through this journey and give me support and give me guidance and use it to help anybody you know, just leave your email address in the comments section.” If you do that in five or ten different Facebook groups, you will add 50 to 100 subscribers to your list. It works.

Steve: Okay, yeah.

Bryan: Those are two approaches you can take if you have no connections in the industry; you have no existing assets at all. You are starting from scratch, the zero to 100 bucket. You do those two things, you have 100 subscribers within seven days is kind of the parameter we put on. Most people can have that in 24 hours just by inviting people they know already.

Steve: Okay, and then the next bucket is from 100 to 1,000 you said?

Bryan: Yeah, next bucket is 100 to 1,000.

Steve: Okay.

Bryan: So the first thing you want to do here is get some of your assets set up. So most people want to start setting up websites and setting up email services and trying to decide between ConvertKit and Drip and ActivateCampaign and all that stuff before they start their list, don’t do that.

The zero to 100 bucket requires a pen and a piece of paper and a phone and nothing else. No website, no name, no nothing. Once you get to 100, then take all those email addresses you’ve written down on a piece of paper, put it into your spreadsheet or however you have collected those. Don’t send people — caveat, in that zero to 100 bucket, don’t sent people to a landing page.

Just get their email address down on a piece of paper, remove all barriers to entry for people. So when you are texting people don’t text them your URL or sign up, but ask them what’s the best email address for you? Okay, so when you get to 100 to 1,000 bucket, what you have at that point is a list of 100 email addresses written down on a piece of paper. At that time you need to go set up some of the basic stuff. Like go set up a ConvertKit account. If the idea of spending $29 a month is like you are not going to be able to buy groceries this month, go set up a MailChimp account.

But you are going to have to give up MailChimp eventually because it sucks when you go to scale more or less. But if you have to, go use MailChimp to begin with, but know within 90 to 120 days you are probably going to have to switch. So if you can bear to spend $29, go set up a ConvertKit account, that’s a great place to start.

So go set up your email account, go set up your blog if you don’t have one already, go to bluehost.com, use the Stock WordPress theme, don’t hire a designer, don’t ever tell me you are waiting to launch your blog because you are waiting for the design to be set up. Just use a stock theme, set up your ConvertKit account, make sure in the side bar you have a little integration to ConvertKit. ConvertKit will get you everything you need to do that, and then you are ready to go.

Once you get your basic stuff set up you are ready to go. The next thing I would encourage you to do is to start blocking off 15 minutes a day in order to write.

Steve: Okay, so you don’t need content before you start gathering the addresses. The content comes after your first 100?

Bryan: Yeah, because after the first 100, think of those first 100 as your, like your ambassadors, your launch team you are going to use.

Steve: Okay.

Bryan: We’ve gone through the first seven days and we did 100 people, now we are going to spend about a week getting our assets set up. We are going to get the email service set up, we are going to get the blog set up, and then we are going to write for 15 minutes a day, 250 words. 250 words a day and press publish on that at the end of the day Friday. And what we are going to write on, we are going to ask that list of people, we are going to brainstorm out a list of 15 to 20 questions. Let’s take the topic of like magic tricks.

Steve: Okay.

Bryan: So first brainstorm out a list of questions you have on the topic, like I picked this topic because I was randomly curious. Somebody asked me to speak the other day and I don’t really doing speaking that much, well, yeah.

Steve: Okay.

Bryan: So you know what I’m going to do, I’m going to do one talk a year and at that talk should be something crazy, like I’m going to do — I can’t share that, okay, so how did I do what I’m going to do? What I’m going to do in 2018, I’m going to speak at Jeff Goins conference, that’s the only talk I’m going to do between now and then, and I’m going to do this magic trick that’s going to like blow people’s mind, at least that’s my theory right now.

So I was researching like large scale long con magic tricks. Like something that would take me 18 months to set up, right? And I started looking around, and I found like David Copperfield back in like the early 1980s made the Statue of Liberty disappear. That’s like in the Guinness Book of World Records, the biggest object ever be — disappear in a magic trick before. So like I was just researching on Reddit, researching on YouTube and different places, like what a big – like you walk through the Great Wall of China. That was very cool.

Then I was thinking, all right, how did he do it? And people have made YouTube videos of how he made these things happen. So just by giving you that example there, I’ve already listed out like three or four questions ahead, like what are some really good long con magic tricks. Like stuff that took people a decade to make happen, because they like had to set it up so far in advance. What are some of the biggest magic tricks that have ever happened? How did David Copperfield make the Statue of Liberty disappear?

If you are going to start an email list on magic tricks, those are three great blog posts to start with. Like what is a list of the 25 best magic tricks ever? Show me; break them down of what happened with them. So-

Steve: So this 15 minutes that you are talking about per day, is it to find these questions or is it to write these pillar posts that you are talking about?

Bryan: So let me make a loop on that.

Steve: Okay.

Bryan: So first step is list out all your questions. Brainstorm them from your head, and the first email you can send to that list of 100 people once you have imported them in your ConvertKit account or whatever you are using is to ask them, “Hey, thanks you so much for being a part of launch team. I appreciate you, what question do you have? Or what like curiosities do you have around magic, around doing magic tricks? Is there anything that pops up?”

So out of sending that email, first is asking me your introduction to your email, that’s going to be your first email you have to send. You are not having to write a blog post or anything, you are just asking them a question. You are going to get another five to ten questions out of that. You are going to brainstorm five to ten out of your head. You are going to ask your list, you are going to get five or ten more, and then each week I just want you to pick one of those questions and spend 15 minutes a day answering that question.

By the end of day on Friday I want you to publish a blog post, send that blog post out to your email list with your answer to that question. So let’s walk that through, what that looks like through the week. So let’s say you have your list of 20 questions. The question you pick for week number one of your blog is, how did David Copperfield make the Statue of Liberty disappear?

Okay, so the first day you are going to spend at least 15 minutes. You are going to do a little bit of research to see how he did it. You are going to find a couple of videos really quickly of how he did it. Day number two, you are going to start writing out how he did it. You are going to make some screenshots, you are going to make some diagrams, you are going to write it out, you are going to show how he set it up and spend the next Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday writing that blog post.

Maybe include some video embeds from YouTube; maybe do your own diagrams to show people how that happened. What’s really cool about this approach is if you are taking a learn out loud approach, you are actually learning about this stuff as you are going. So the long con magic trick would be a lot more likely to happen for me in 18 months if I were to start a little magic blog on the side, because I would force myself to learn it via teaching, and the best way to learn anything is to teach it.

So on Monday you pick the topic, you outline it, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday you write on it and Friday you put everything you’ve written on your blog. You go to your email service, you write a quick little summary and put a link to that blog post and send it out to your email list.

Steve: Okay.

Bryan: That’s how you start. So that’s the set up asset piece. You set up your website, you set up your email list, and you start writing for 15 minutes a day. What this does- and I recommend when you start, especially if you’ve not done this before, you start by publishing once a week. Several reasons for that; Number one: it forces you to learn quicker, it forces you to learn the business side; it forces you to learn the topic matter quicker.

Second reason is every blog post you publish is a form of product validation because 90 days from now you are going to be at 1,000 subscribers on your email list if you do the other stuff we are about to talk about.

And once you get to a 1,000 subscribers, you need to start working on your first product. But to create your first product you do not want to do what most people do and just pick a random idea and try to figure out what you think people want and build that. What you are going to do is look back at your analytics over those past 90 days, and look at the blog post and emails you have sent out and analyze them and see which topics, which categories people have been the most interested in.

So, for example, if over those 90 days you have written three blog posts breaking down magic tricks that people have done. You used three more blog posts of you creating magic tricks yourself, three other blog post where you — I don’t know, I don’t even know what magic tricks topics would be used, [inaudible 00:32:07] or something different like contraptions people have made, right?

So you have three or four different categories you’ve written in, tools, breakdowns, and magic tricks inventions, right? So at the end of your 90 days, you are going to look back and just make a little spreadsheet, which one of those categories did people comment on the most, share the most, read the most, click on the most? And-

Steve: Can we back up a little bit Bryan. So as you are writing these posts, do you have to have your blog set up to capture all these email addresses?

Bryan: Yes, so there is a few basic things and we can talk about this for two hours. But yeah, part of the asset setting apart is setting up some basic stuff on your website to collect emails as well.

Steve: Okay, got it.

Bryan: A really quick rundown of that of that is use SumoMe, set up a welcome mat, set up a pop up and make sure the theme you use on the side bar you have something to collect an email on. There is more advanced stuff you can do later, but right now just focus on those things.

That will take you an hour max, you just use Sumo me, and I think SumoMe is free still, I think they have played on some prizes, I don’t know if it’s not, but there is lots of things that would do similar things. I think Lead Pages has a similar plugin as well but yeah, you do want that asset setting up phase, you do want to set up some basic email capture.

Steve: Okay, got it. The content itself is going to start generating more addresses as its being shared and that sort of thing, right?

Bryan: Yeah, that’s not the primary method, but yes it will generate email addresses, we can talk about some direct email generation techniques here in just a second. I just hope people have full kind of view of how that is going to go from setting up those assets; the email list is being run. There are some tactics you can use for that, and then how that’s going to result in you actually having a product to sell that’s based on that list.

Steve: Okay.

Bryan: So as you are evaluating that content you’ve written over the last 90 days, you are just going to break it down by category, see the category people have engaged with the most, and then you are going to go through a validation process on a product in that category. And we can link Steve, maybe we can link up a product validation post we wrote that will give people a lot more in-depth that we can go to on that.

Steve: Absolutely, sure.

Bryan: Just know when you are writing each week, in the beginning, your 100 people are going to be seeing it, you are also going to be doing some list building strategy that is completely separate from your content as well. So your list is going to be growing, so more people will see it each week, but as people see it they are validating and reassuring and showing you what product to create, because after the end of that 90 days you have lots and lots of interest in like magic trick breakdowns you do, well your product needs to be on that not the other topic that didn’t get any interest at all.

So there is a whole methodology where you can figure out that product but that’s kind of the basic framework for it. So let’s talk about growing the list in the 100 to 1,000 category. So the content is going to help a little bit, but in the beginning it’s not going to be a massive contributing factor. There is a couple of different strategies that you can use in this phase – I’m trying to pick out, let’s see. Let’s focus on two of them.

One of them, one of the kind of easiest and funnest is to do podcast interviews. So podcast interviews is actually a really good example of a strategy that works well in one bucket, and then you kind of phase out others as you go later.

So podcast interviews if you do correctly and this podcast isn’t a good example of that. So don’t pay attention to what I’m doing here. Go look at some of the older interviews that I have done. Go look at the Mixergy interview from two to three years ago; I’m trying to think of another one, oh Lead Pages podcast, ConversionCast episode. I don’t know, it’s in the first 50 episodes; go listen to that one, but if you do, podcast interviews are really easy to get.

If you have your website set up and if you’ve published a couple of posts, podcast interviews are looking for people to interview actively. If you have one ounce of credibility, and that credibility can be built by having a website set up and having a few posts on it, and you do some basic outreach stuff, you can land a podcast interview each week.

The key to making podcast interviews grow your email list though is two things. Number one; knowing exactly what topic you are going to be talking about on that interview before you start. Okay, that’s sort of the obvious, but you will be surprised how many podcast interviews don’t even prep you for that.

Steve: I did not prep Bryan by the way or anything prior this.

Bryan: Yes, just be a little prep, just spend 30 minutes prepping for that, right? So you know the topic, that’s something you can do. Don’t rely on the host to do that for you, just work it in the emails as you talk to the host. And number two, have a downloadable that you pitch multiple times on that podcast interview, but don’t be weird about the pitching of it.
So an example if I were to prep properly for this podcast and was trying to use it as a list building strategy I would say, “Hey you know, so I’ve put together a special bundle for everyone here, you get a videofruit.com/Steve, and there is a listing of some email outreach scripts you can use to align your first podcast interview. There is some email sequences you can use when you do your first product clause, and there is also a video walking you through how to pitch the freelance service thing we talked about.

So that page as of this recording doesn’t exist, but what you can do is after the interview, go set up. Like during the interview just invent whatever the download is you want to give away and pitch the URL.

Steve: So notice that Bryan did suggest certain URLs already in this interview that I’m going to link it up.

Bryan: Yes, I’m going to have to set up the different accounts for Steve, thanks. By the time you listen to this podcast interview we will have that set up…

Steve: well played Bryan, well played.

Bryan: Not of right now, and if Steve will follow make up with me like in a month, I will show how many email subscribers you get from that just so you can see. So let met you give you an example of how this works. I did one with the ConversionCast episode – I don’t know, that’s been a couple of years ago now, and we picked up like 350,000 email subscribers in that one podcast interview.

So find other interviewers, other people that are doing podcast on your topic or tangential topics. Pitch them on an interview, and then have a downloadable that you either have prepared ahead of time or that you prepare during the interview just like I just did, and give the URL out on the interview. Second where you can go super ninja on that is to use something like lead links or have a text opt-in code.

So you can say, “Hey, if you want to get all these downloadables – and I’m not going to set this up, so don’t do this, but text Video Fruit to 50500, and you can just have all those.” And what would happen is you text that, it would send you a message back just saying, “Hey, if you want to get the downloads, just enter your email address here,” and then we’ll email you those things and you build your email list from that.

So that’s one great way to build in that 100 to 1,000 category. Podcast interviews are really easy to book, they might feel intimidating if you’ve never done them before, but they are not. You can totally start with low hanging fruit. Start with people that don’t have superpower of their podcast and learn.

Another good resource for this, Kai Davis has done a lot of teaching on like doing podcast interviews. So you can go maybe prep a little bit and read some of Kai’s stuff, and then have a downloadable for them. So that’s technique number in the 100 to 1,000 bucket. Technique number two is one that has been around forever, and it’s called guest posting.

Google — if I remember, I’ll put this in that resource link I gave you, videofruit.com/Steve. There is a certain way…

Steve: Sorry, go on, sorry, I apologize.

Bryan: No, that’s fine. There is a certain way you can guest that works really, really well and it’s called Expanded Guest Post. So just Google for time’s sake, I don’t know how long we are going here Steve, just Google expanded guest post. I’ll include in this videofruit.com/Steve link as well, and it walks you through how to do guest posts so they build your email list. Because a lot of people will spend tons and tons of time writing a guest post.

I had a coaching client a year or so ago, they spent 25 hours writing a guest post for this really popular fitness site and he picked up like 20 subscribers from it. That’s not worth your time, you can literally just go knock on people’s doors and collect email addresses quicker than that. You can randomly message people on Facebook groups and communities you are in and get email addresses quicker than that.

So be sure that you build your guest post in a really good way. So let me tie these two tactics together we’ve talked about. We’ve talked about podcast interviews and guest posting. There is a lot of other things you can do, these are two of the easiest ones to can start with. So I used a podcast interview on the ConversionCast podcast for Lead Pages a couple of years ago to pick up 350 email subscribers.

After that podcast interview, I then pitched the Lead Pages content editor and said, “Hey, I just did this podcast interview with Tim, it went rather well, we got these many comments, and we got this unsolicited feedback from it. I would like to do a follow up guest post on your blog, and just go into more depth on this topic. Would that be something you would be interested in?” They said yes. I did that, I used the expanded guest post framework that you can go read about more and picked up on it.

It was like 1,500 or so subscribers, maybe it was a 1,000. It was right at 1,000 subscribers from that one guest post. So 350ish from the podcast episode, 1,000ish from the guest post, and then about six months or a year later I followed up again. I said, “Hey guys, I have this other idea for a blog post to kind of build upon this topic even more, would you all be interested in letting me write a guest post?” And they said yes, and we picked up a little over a 1,000 subscribers again from that.

All total from just those three instances, our podcast interview and two guest posts, we picked up over 3,000 email subscribers, just from doing those two things.

Steve: I just want to take a moment to tell you about a free resource that I offer on my website that you may not be aware of. If you are interested in starting your own online store, I put together a comprehensive six day mini course on how to get started in ecommerce that you should all check out.

It contains both video and text based tutorials that go over the entire process of finding products to sell all the way to getting your first sales online. Now this course is free and can be obtained at MyWifeQuitHerJob.com/free. Just sign up right there on the front page via email and I’ll send you the course right away. Once again that’s MyWifeQuitHerJob.com/free. Now back to the show.

I’m going to estimate that you are going to get maybe five from this one, so I’d keep your expectations low.

Bryan: Yeah, but for some of these that’s what’s the good strategy in the 100 to 1,000 bucket, because at where I’m at now we are over 100,000 email subscribers. Like picking out five subscribers just isn’t worth the time, but there is other things, there is other assets we have that we can use that same time and have exponential more growth.

So I don’t like to focus on podcasts and like Steve had to follow up on me 100 times getting me to do this podcast interview, and I’m glad I did, but it’s not something we do from like a direct growth perspective right? But if you are not in that 1,000 bucket, you are scrapping and you are getting every subscriber you can.

So a podcast episode that you have to spend an hour for and prep for 30 minutes for and you pick up 30 subscribers isn’t totally worth your time. Like do ten of those and you have 300 subscribers. Just do them over and over and over again and try to leverage those podcast interviews into guest posting opportunities where you use that expanded guest post framework. So those are two things, you can just focus on those two things and get to 1,000 subscribers in 90 days if you just execute those two.

There are some other stuff that we don’t have enough time to go through every single strategy that exists, but-

Steve: Let’s skip ahead to like, if you have — to where you are now. Let’s say you have like over a 100,000 subscribers, what are some of your larger scale tactics form that point on?

Bryan: So one thing that we use to grow, one of the main things we use to grow from 10,000 to 100,000, it took us about a year and half to do that was partnerships, and partnerships we’ve tried three or four different kinds of packaging of those. One – so this is just an observation thing. I still just look at what other people do and try to model that and improve upon it. That is the main thing I do. So I’m like, all right, what did Noah do to grow AppSumo to 750,000 subscribers in like a year or two? Because that’s been crazy growth.

Or what is James Clear doing to have, I don’t know, three or 400,000 email subscribers now. So one thing AppSumo does a great job with is partnership, and you have to really look at strategies behind that strategy to see this sometime, but they’ll do a partnership with – I’m trying to think of an example off the top of my head.

Steve: Teachable?

Bryan: I don’t remember how they structure that one.

Steve: Okay.

Bryan: But let me use one outside of the context. I don’t want to say that it’s something they didn’t, but one example of doing that that we’ve done is — actually this works really well. this actually gets a little — this could be in the 100 to 1,000, definitely 1,000 to 10,000 bucket. And we still do this today because it doesn’t take much time, and it still grows the list by a couple of 100 every month, and without us really doing a whole lot.

So we’ll team up with other people to have products, tangential products to ours. So for example Jeff Goins, Jeff Goins sells a course and his main topic is like writing and building a platform for authors. So every launch he’s done, the last three or four launches, we’ve donated an entry level product of ours to him that he can use as a bonus in his launch.

So we have a course — my entry level course on list building, and anybody that’s bought his course in the last three launches has got that product for free. What that does though on our side, for them to get that product, they have to go, enter their email address, or actually no, Jeff just sends us a CSV file of all of his buyers, and we onboard all of his buyers into our course. So we will pick you know 400 or 500 buyers in a launch, and we’ll pick up 400 or 500 email subscribers.

These aren’t just email subscribers; these are people that have paid money to someone to directly vouch for us. These are like, these people buy at three times the rate, or there about of typical email subscribers. These are great, they are free, all we did was donate a product. So it’s worth, once you get over a 1,000, it’s worth creating a product just to do the strategy with, and just do one of those a month. You get 500 email subscribers a month, that’s 6,000 subscribers over the course of the year; just from giving an entry level product away, like it works really well.

Another example is doing like a partnership launch, like we would do these, let’s see, this is the summer of 15, we grew it from 12,000 subscribers to 40,000 subscribers between our launches in the spring and in the fall. And the only thing I did was I reached out to people and said, “Hey, I would like to do a webinar with you. But let’s not call it a webinar, let’s call it a workshop, and let’s not pitch anything, let’s make it complete value add. And I’ll give you the recording of the workshop later on where you can use a lead magnet to opt in on your site. You could use it as a bonus in your course, I’ll even write a guest post where we take that webinar and turn it into a written content. You can SEO for and use for email nurturing and stuff in the future.”

So I just reached out to a bunch of people and said, “Hey, here is my idea, I have never done this before, but I think it could be cool.” And I think there is probably somebody that said no, but I think everyone said yes to it. And what happens in that arrangement is, let’s say me and you did this Steve. We basically do everything for you, so all you have to do is say yes. We have one little quick call to make sure we are align on the topic, and then do analysis of your list and what not. And then a week later we give you a Google doc, it’s called the kick off doc and it has every email you send to your list, all the links, the love [ph] age. Exactly, everything is going to work.

So it’s completely painless from your side, and then you just send a couple of emails to your list and say, send your My Wife Quit Her Job list and say, “Hey, we are going to host this workshop with Bryan on this building, we have this podcast episode on this topic. We are going to have a free workshop on this topic as well. We are going to go into more depth, Bryan is going to answer your question live. In the podcast episode we did go into depth on what if you tried to reach out to everyone in your strategy? What if you tried the form strategy and you still don’t get to 100? What do you do then?”

We didn’t go into depth on other strategies, like what to do if the podcast and guest posting strategies didn’t work. We didn’t even touch what to do in the 1,000 and 10,000 mark. We didn’t touch how to have $100,000 launch. We didn’t do any of that, so in this workshop we are going to talk about all of that. So if you like the podcast episode, come register for the workshop. Like that’s a really good pitch actually, you could…

Steve: It is, I was like Bryan, are you pitching me right now because this is…

Bryan: Yeah right, so just sick, it’s like use a podcast interview to pitch someone to do a workshop. No, I’m kidding. So if Steve emailed that out to his list like a 1,000 of you would opt-in for that. And all Steve — all I did was do all the work for Steve, pitch Steve on doing it, and Steve emailed his list directly to a landing page that I am, because I’m doing all the work. So we send the follow up emails to make sure they get live. We host the webinar with some follow up emails after to make sure you get the replay, and we grow our list by 500 to 1,500 people.

So I did that 30 times in that six month time frame between our spring launch and fall launch and grew from list 12,000 so to 40,000 between launches. And you don’t even have to have a product to sell. You just have straight value add, teach live on the website — live on the webinar. The cool thing about that strategy is, unlike guest posting where you have to come up with new unique content every time, on a workshop you just do the same workshop. You don’t have to create new content. It’s just like a speech; you just give it over and over and over again.

Now if you are good you try to improve it, and make it better and what not, but that’s one strategy that’s worked well. Another thing you can bolt on the end of that is do a pitch at the end where you sell something and split the commissions with your partner.

Steve: Right, yeah that’s something that I have done in the past and that works really well too.

Bryan: Right, let’s tile these things together. Let me give you another example, so you can just see how this works, and you can go Google search all this stuff as well. So I did a podcast interview of Pat Flynn, I don’t know, a year and a half ago probably. We did the interview, I think it come out December of 15 maybe, and I may be getting my dates wrong, just Google Bryan Harris, Pat Flynn, whatever and it will pop up.

So Pat reached out to me and asked me to do a podcast interview. You could also pitch Pat; you don’t have to wait for him to reach out. You can actually pitch people. I wouldn’t start with Pat if you are just starting off. Start with people one or two ranks above you, not ten ranks above you.

But just for context of how this works, Pat asked me to do an interview. So I did a podcast interview, after the podcast interview, I did everything I could to make that the comment section of that podcast interview be the most commented on podcast interview ever. I think it got to number three. There was like 750 comments.

So I emailed my list, I jumped in and replied to a bunch of comments. I think he’s redesigned the site now, and I think all those comments, I don’t know if they show up anymore, but I was really bumped when he redesigned those, but just from a pure vanity metric stand point I was just like one of the record, I didn’t quite get it but anyway. Then I emailed Pat like a month or two later and I was like, “Hey Pat, people loved our podcast episode.” And by the way that podcast episode is on product validation, so if you want more in depth stuff on that, I’ll link that up in that videofruit.com/Steve thing as well, so you can go get that, you can listen…

Steve: One other tactic is to repeatedly say the URL with the podcast interview also.

Bryan: And this is not even my intent at all, just so you can go get it, and we’ll do a cool course for our email and ask 70 subscribers and people can see how it works. Anyway so we did the podcast interview. A few months later I emailed him and said, “Hey Pat, the podcast interview went really well. We got 700 plus comments, here is a few snapshot of people that have had good success with the stuff we talked. What if we did a no pitch webinar? So we are not selling anything, you are not buying any relationships with your list or drawing of or pulling out of the relationship bank at all. Let’s just do a workshop where we teach this building stuff in more in-depth.”

So he said yes. I sent him the kick of doc with all the emails written, the landing pages set up. Everything done for him, all he had to do was email the list twice. And we picked up, I think from that workshop we picked up around 3,500 email subscribers from it.

Steve: Nice.

Bryan: And after that I was like, “Hey Pat, what if- and like a month later I had a course launch going on, this was last spring. So hey Pat, so you have 3,500 hundred people that registered for this workshop, what if I just count all of those people as leads for you being an affiliate for this 10K sub launch. So they didn’t opt-in to buy anything, but I’m just going to say any of these 3,500 people that buy 10K subs; I’ll give you half the money for them. All I want you to do is just promote it a couple of more times as well, so email at a time or two, social media or something.

So he did and I don’t remember his numbers now, they are probably are public on his income report blog, but I think he generated around 50 to $60,000 of affiliate income that started with a podcast interview, that then turned into a workshop, that then turned him into him being an affiliate for 10K subs, right so-

Steve: Crazy man, yeah.

Bryan: You can start with just a little podcast interview and leverage that into all different types of other stuffs. So I don’t remember what the question was now, I’ve talked so long, but there are some examples of some I guess more advanced things you can do. Partnerships work well. SEO or something, follow Bryan Dean backlinko.com, he is a genius at that. He is the best minimalist blogger I think that exist.

Steve: He’s got 37 posts I think.

Bryan: Yeah, I think it’s – yeah it’s like 35, because he deletes older posts, and he – I don’t know if he shared his numbers publicly, so I don’t want to share his numbers, but they are really, really, really good. He has almost no employees, no contractors. He writes one blog post maybe every three months and just destroys it with SEO. And so on SEO; just go do what Bryan says.

Steve: He was a guest on my podcast, if you guys want to Google My Wife Quit Her Job Bryan Dean, you’ll listen to that episode.

Bryan: Cool, yeah so SEO is another one. PPC for Legion, it works really, really well. That is more advanced. Don’t start that now even if it might be attractive, that’s something that’s working really well for us. We are adding two to 300 subscribers a day to our list from that plus two to three X in our money that we spend on those people within 30 days, so that’s a great [inaudible 00:52:28] opportunity.

Those are the three main things we are focused on, and there is other stuff. Like I’m experimenting with some funky Instagram stuff right now that’s — I haven’t seen people talking about this strategy, but I might talk about it publicly if we try and get any kind of result out of it. But I’m trying — I’m just kind of experimenting with some random stuff, but for the most part our growth strategy is this. What’s working already, do that until you’ve run it all the way through until it stops working, like maximize what’s working.

So the three things that work for us are SEO, partnerships and PPC. So 80% of our efforts are focused on those on grow, the other 20% we just do random crazy stuff just to have fun and sometimes we’ll just pick up stuff that works. So maybe this Instagram stuff works for us, and actually getting leads on Instagram is as easy as getting people to buy. So that’s what we are kind of experimenting all the way to the funnel with that to see if we can make that work. It probably won’t honestly, but hopefully we’ll add a fourth main channel to our growth strategy by the end of the year.

Steve: Just curious Bryan, how much are you paying per lead when you are running your ads?

Bryan: Okay, so let me context this, because this is something that people talk about a lot and is completely misleading and doesn’t matter at all. So what matters in your business, assuming you have cash at all, assuming you have like 100 bucks or 1,000 bucks or 100,000, like whatever your cash is, what you spend doesn’t matter, what matters is how much you make off that money. So like I paid a coach six months ago $10,000 for the day, that’s a lot of money to pay.

Like it took me three weeks to decide to spend the money and I still was hesitant, and was nervous the entire time. But it isn’t about the 10,000, it’s about what that 10,000 makes me, and this is a really super basic concept that I didn’t get until recently, this is why I’m talking about it.

Maybe all of you understand this and this is stupid, if so just fast forward, but it isn’t about, like if I spend a dollar on a lead, because if the one dollar lead only produced 50 cents, I lost 50 cents. If I can buy a lead that cost me $12 and that lead produced $100, I’ll buys as many of those all day long; I don’t care if I can get a dollar lead because the $12 leads are working.

So these are the two things we track in PPC Steve. We track our CPL, cost per lead, and RPL, revenue per lead. Those are the only two numbers that matter. How much does the lead cost and how much does the lead generate, and that percentage, the profit margin between those are what we optimize for. So to answer your question specifically, we are anywhere from $2 to $4 a lead now on the funnels we are running, but that’s the average.

The ones that produce the most revenue cost more. They are usually in the $10 to $12 range. So the $2 to $4 leads, like the actual people that pay $2 to $4 — we pay $2 to $4 for don’t produce as much income as the more expensive leads. I don’t really know why that is, but there is probably some crazy analytical reason we can dig into for that.

Steve: Interesting.

Bryan: RPL, CPL or CPL, RPL, those are the two things to track, how much are you spending on a lead. Don’t optimize for that, optimize for the margin between them, and that might mean that you pay more money per lead, but you are generating a larger profit margin almost every time, for us at least that’s been the case. The more we spend on a lead, if the funnel has done well, this is assuming a lot if things in here.

This is why this is an advanced strategy — Usually the profit margin goes up, so as we increase spend per day. If we are spending ten bucks a day, and some of this doesn’t even matter. If you are spending 1000 bucks or 1,000 or 10,000 a day, scaling up is usually where you see that CPL go up and the profit margin matters.

Steve: Bryan, we’ve been chanting for quite a long time, and I want to be respectful of your time. Where can people find you if they have questions for you, and what is the URL of that downloadable again?

Bryan: Yeah, so videofruit.com/Steve is going to be the magic downloadable that we are going to set up between the time of recording and the time that this goes live. We are going to have a bunch of different links of all the different resources we mentioned, also on the show notes, I’m sure Steve will have this as well. But if you want to grab a few other things and maybe we’ll throw a few special little bonuses in there as well or a few different pieces of software that we build recently.

Steve: And when are we doing that webinar you said?

Bryan: Yeah man, let’s talk about it. We’ll do a webinar; we’ll do a web pitch webinar, and go more in depth on this. We’ll work out the details of that. Maybe that will be on that page as well.

Steve: All right, it sounds good Bryan. Hey thanks a lot for coming on the show, I really appreciate it.

Bryan: Thanks Steve. See you.

Steve: All right, take care.

Hope you enjoyed that episode. Bryan Harris is one of the best guys in the industry when it comes to building an email list and creating a high converting sales funnel. So make sure you go check out his site and sign up for his newsletter. For more information about this episode, go to MyWifeQuitHerJob.com/Episode169.

And once again I want to thank SellerLabs.com. Their tool Ignite is what I use to manage my Amazon PPC campaigns. Instead of the old tedious way of generating reports, analyzing your ad campaigns in Excel, Ignite aggregates all that info for you in one place, and allows you to quickly visualize your data to make decision quickly.

So not only does it save time, but it also makes managing your Amazon campaign so much easier. So head on over to Sellerlabs.com/Steve and sign up for a free 30 day trial. Once again that’s SellerLabs.com/Steve.

I also want to thank Klaviyo which is my email marketing platform of choice for ecommerce merchants. You can easily put together automated flows like an abandoned cart sequence, a post purchase flow, a win back campaign, basically all these sequences that will make you money on auto pilot. So head on over to MyWifeQuitHerJob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O, once again that’s MyWifeQuitHerJob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O.

Now I talk about how I use these tools on my blog, and if you are interested in starting your own ecommerce store head on over to MyWifeQuitHerJob.com and sign up for free six day mini course. Just type in your email and I’ll send you the course right away. Thanks for listening.

Outro: Thanks for listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast, where we are giving the courage people need to start their own online business. For more information visit Steve’s blog at www.mywifequitherjob.com.

I Need Your Help

If you enjoyed listening to this podcast, then please support me with an iTunes review. It's easy and takes 1 minute! Just click here to head to iTunes and leave an honest rating and review of the podcast. Every review helps!
 
Share On Facebook

Ready To Get Serious About Starting An Online Business?


If you are really considering starting your own online business, then you have to check out my free mini course on How To Create A Niche Online Store In 5 Easy Steps.

In this 6 day mini course, I reveal the steps that my wife and I took to earn 100 thousand dollars in the span of just a year. Best of all, it's absolutely free!

168: How To Make 8 Figures Selling Boxed Software Using Google Shopping With Daniel Parker

Share On Facebook

168: How To Make 8 Figures Selling Boxed Software Using Google Shopping With Daniel Parker

Today, I’m thrilled to have Daniel Parker on the show. Daniel is someone who I met at the Ecommerce Fuel Live conference in Savannah, Georgia and he actually taught me a few things that I was not doing with my Google Shopping ads that I promptly fixed as soon as I got home.

Daniel runs MyChoiceSoftware.com which is an online store that sells boxed software online. Selling off the shelf software is an incredibly competitive niche but he does extremely well making well over 8 figures last year. Enjoy the show!

What You’ll Learn

  • How Daniel got into ecommerce and why he decided to sell boxed software
  • The margins for selling software.
  • How he differentiates himself from the thousands of other stores selling the exact same software
  • How he advertises his store.
  • His main sources of traffic
  • How to optimize Google Shopping campaigns

Other Resources And Books

Sponsors

Klaviyo.com – Klaviyo is the email marketing platform that I personally use for my ecommerce store. Created specifically for ecommerce, it is the best email marketing provider that I’ve used to date. Click here and try Klaviyo for FREE.
Klaviyo

Ignite.Sellerlabs.com – If you are selling on Amazon and running Amazon Sponsored Ads campaigns, then Ignite from Seller Labs is a must have tool. Click here and get a FREE 30 Day Trial.
Ignite Logo

ReferralCandy.com – If you’re already getting steady orders every month, adding a refer-a-friend program to your store can give you a new sales channel. And ReferralCandy is the best in the business. Click here and get a FREE $50 credit towards your account.
referral candy

Transcript

Steve: You are listening to the My Wife Quit her Job Podcast, the place where I bring on successful bootstrapped business owners and delve deeply into what strategies are working and what strategies are not with their businesses.

Today I’m thrilled to have Daniel Parker on the show, and Daniel’s ecommerce store is pretty unique in that he created an eight figure ecommerce business selling boxed software like Microsoft Office, and he did it with Google Shopping, crazy, right?

But before we begin I want to give a quick shout out to Seller Labs who is a sponsor of the show, and specifically I want to talk about their brand new tool Ignite which helps sellers manage their Amazon sponsored ads. Right now I’m using this tool to manage my Amazon sponsored ad campaigns, and it makes things a heck of a lot more convenient.

So number one I’ve always found it a major pain to generate my PPC reports on Amazon, cut and paste the data over to an excel spreadsheet and use pivot tables before I’m able do any analysis. Now Ignite pulls all that info for you automatically and allows you to easily see what keywords are working and what are not immediately, there is no need to manually create reports or play with excel.

Second of all unless you’re a data geek, Amazon campaign data can be hard to understand, and what is cool is that Ignite makes keyword and bidding recommendations on the fly that can be applied with a few clicks.

So let’s say one of my hankie keywords is bleeding money, well Ignite will alert me of that fact, and I can reduce the bid immediately. So bottom line Ignite makes managing your Amazon’s sponsored ads so much easier, and the fact that they provide me with alerts means that I no longer have to monitor my campaigns like a hawk.

If there are keywords that are doing well, well Ignite tells me to add them to my exact match campaigns. If my keywords are losing money, well Ignite tells me to either remove the keyword or to reduce the bid. So head on over to sellerlabs.com/steve where you’ll find awesome tutorials on how to run Amazon PPC ads and the opportunity to try Ignite for 30 days for free. Once again that’s sellerlabs.com/steve.

Now I also want to give a shout out to Klaviyo who is also a sponsor of the show, and I’m always excited to talk about Klaviyo because they are the email marketing platform that I personally use for my ecommerce store, and I depend on them for over 20% of my revenues. Now you’re probably wondering what makes Klaviyo so special. Well Klaviyo is the only email platform out there that is specifically built for ecommerce stores, and here’s why it’s so powerful.

Klaviyo can track every single customer who has shopped in your store and exactly what they bought. So let’s say I want to send an email to everyone who purchased a red handkerchief in the past, boom. Let’s say I want to set up a special autoresponder sequence to my customers depending on what they bought, well that’s piece of cake, and there is full revenue tracking on every single email.

Klaviyo is the most powerful email platform that I’ve ever used and you can try them for free at mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O, once again that’s mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O. Now on the show.

Intro: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. We will teach you how to create a business that suits your lifestyle, so you can spend more time with your family and focus on doing the things that you love. Here is your host, Steve Chou.

Steve: Welcome to the My Wife Quit her Job podcast; today I’m thrilled to have Daniel Parker on the show. Daniel is someone who I met at the Ecommerce Fuel Live Conference in Savannah, Georgia last year, and he actually taught me a couple of things that I was not doing with my Google Shopping ads that I properly fixed as soon as I got home.

Now Daniel runs mychoicesoftware.com, which is an online store that sells software online, which is an incredibly competitive niche. But he does extremely well making well over eight figures last year, and today what I plan on doing is to pick Daniel’s brain on how he is able to compete in the cut throat space of computer software. And with that, welcome to the show Daniel, how are you doing today man?

Daniel: Hey, pretty good.

Steve: So give us a background on how you got in ecommerce and why box software of all things that you could sell?

Daniel: Yeah, so I came out of an engineering background writing enterprise part systems back in 2007, 2008 writing the backend for AutoZone, and like most people coming out of school I had a lot of student loans, so I ended up having two or three jobs. One of these other jobs was writing marketing software for a music and cancer promotion.

Well, one of the senior leaders in our software engineering company ended up leaving and going into software with his cousin who had been selling software online for a number of years. I got into that business, learned that business, learned that if you added a value added service on top like digitalizing the products for people, or getting the logistics to them faster, you could get huge swerves of people that were willing to work with a smaller boutique firm, that didn’t want to work with the CDWs and the Neweggs of the world where they dealt with large offshore teams or automated response queues, or just people that really didn’t know how the software worked, they just knew customer service.

So jumping into this we took the approach of getting really highly trained people that could speak to these people from a point of interact and explain what the software did, how it worked, how it was going to benefit them, and then gave them expert pricing around that, so I learned that business.

Fast forward a couple of years and a few other engineering jobs, I got an invitation to come work for My Choice Software with my partner now, and we basically focus on the same model. So we took something that was highly competitive with high brand awareness, that had a pretty decent size of reseller market, and we just took really intelligent people on the front to speak to these IT directors, these managed service providers, all the people that were buying for other people.

And we focused on developing those people as part of our marketing approach, our marketing and sales parts. And then through that we ended up building up quit a robust set of ad spend, where today we run about a 15% [inaudible 00:06:38] across the entire board, but we do have 40% return from our customers.

Steve: I was just about to ask you that, so what are the – so just for context for the people listening Daniel sells software like Microsoft Office for example. A lot of these tools from companies that are just well known and well branded, and so Daniel I’m just curious what the margins are like for just selling like just the pure software excluding the services?

Daniel: Yeah, so just the pure software is running right around 20, 25%.

Steve: Okay so it’s basically impossible, or it’s really difficult just to make money selling software by itself?

Daniel: Right, so you’re always trying to up-sell, you’re always trying to sell a service. You’re basically hunting for the people out there in the waters that are going to buy two or more units.

Steve: Okay, and then the way you kind of pitch yourself where your value add is the service?

Daniel: Correct, so we’re adding service on top, we’re adding knowledgeable stuff, short call cues, instant downloads. We’ve done quite a bit to speed up the delivery of these products for different customers so that they can get in their needs bun which ends up – most people these days want to be able to install an app instantly, get it right away. So we’ve done a great deal to alleviate that issue of receiving the box in the mail, installing it and then going through that entire process.

Steve: So just to be clear then like your target customer is not someone like me, it’s someone who runs a company?

Daniel: So yeah absolutely. So we do have a large consumer base, but consumer base in software has a seven year return cycle, so meaning if I sell you Office today, seven years from now you’ll probably buy Office again unless you’re buying a subscription. So we specifically hunt for company buyers that are going to repeat, buy but even more specifically we’re searching for computer repair shops, computer service centers, anyone that has — computer consultants that have a large number of clients where they are doing the buying and purchasing for those customers.

Steve: Okay, and so before this interview I actually went ahead and did a couple of searches for like Microsoft Office for example. And I noticed that in the main AdWords – I didn’t see any of your ads, but you like dominated the Google Shopping ads, and so I was hoping to talk about that a little bit, because I know that there’s just tons and tons of companies selling the same software that you are. And so how do you advertise your store, and how do you kind of convey your value add to the people?

Daniel: Well, that’s kind of a multi point question, is the question…

Steve: Let’s talk about getting customers in the door first.

Daniel: Yeah so getting customers in the door, all right so some companies focus on SEO, some companies focus on straight AdWords. We decided to focus on product listing ads because our target customer was either searching for a skew or they were searching for a full end title, or they were searching for some variation in the title.

So when we went about kind of developing our plan, we decided that we were going to chase down every possible optimization that could be done in AdWords like product splitting by title, different content in the descriptions for different ratings trying to convey all the information the customer needed in the first four seconds of being on the page, and then allowing them to make a snap decision on, is this what they were looking for, and then we use keyword shaping.

But basically our approach was always to try to separate the consumer from the business user. So everything in our AdWord strategy is the first couple of times you search you’ll see us a lot, and then once we learn more about the customer we start to narrow that focus.

Steve: Okay so let’s talk about that process because from what I remember in our conversations what you do is pretty intricate and pretty detailed, so let’s just focus on PLAs for a moment.

Daniel: Sure.

Steve: So what do your sales funnels look like and how do you run your PLA ads to weed out these people who are going to be buying often?

Daniel: Yeah, so the funnel specifically is to reduce the barrier to entry to get somebody and get them on the phone or on chat as fast as possible. So when you hit our product pages, you’re seeing chat with us now, speak with a representative of the office in the United States, just high availability imagery and content messaging to say, “Hey, we are here, we are able to negotiate on price, we are able to set this up for multiple people.”

So the end user – you’ll end up getting a portion of them that will communicate through and they’ll ask some general questions about the product, and we try to include that in the product messaging so that it’s all upfront. And what we’re trying to do is suck up the people that are business buyers, anyone who wants two or more.

So anyone who wants to two or more we pull out by the sales team once they’ve gone through and made a purchase, we solicit them directly, they’ll go into a different remarketing group, we’ll pay more for them, there’s a number of techniques that go into it.

Steve: Okay and then in terms of the number of people who actually take advantage of the live chat and that sort of thing, what percentage is that and then what is your close rate for the people that you actually do manage to get on the phone?

Daniel: So the close rate for people on the phone is quite high, I think as long as – the element of selling software is like selling a toilet seat, right? You know that you are in the market for a toilet seat, but you just don’t know what toilet seat is going to save your fixture. So essentially when you get these people on the phone rarely are they worried too much about price, they are trying to find the unit that’s right for the equipment they have.

So you’re never really having to fight much on price with the basic consumers because they’ve already determined that they want to buy it from you, they like the trust factors on the site, they have a good feeling about it. So the customer service is really getting them the in-depth information that they need, but it scales on complexity.

It’s much easier to say, “Hey yeah this is Microsoft Office we want to install on your computer,” as opposed to, “Well this is how many licenses of this $7,000 SQL Server you need for the cores in your computer with 6 VMs and all of this more complex licensing information.” So our staff for the most part except for the most junior people are trained to answer the simple, this is what will work on your computer, all the way up to, this is the licensing compliance diagram that we need to follow to make sure you’re complaint with Microsoft.

Steve: So does that imply that your Shopping campaigns, you convert well enough on like the first click, or do you do a bunch of things, like I’m trying to get into depth about how you run your Shopping campaigns. So I understand you probably have this broad funnel for keywords, and then you try to grab as many of those people as you can, but like how do you kind of extract out and target just the big buyers with your Shopping campaigns?

Daniel: Sure, so the main thing about the – so there’s two factors. First off we take a whole product approach, we get somebody in with the cheap products so that we can remarket them and re-solicit them because you’ll pay up to the full profit if not more on those preliminary hooked products like Microsoft Office to identify and target a repeat buyer.

So for us, that’s simply just look at their email, look at their website, figure out that they buy more stuff, re-solicit them with a coupon, and then have the sales team call them. On the larger products front, like when we’re selling SQL Server or we’re jumping into a new product line, we’ll specifically go out there, measure the competition, see who is not following the Shopping guidelines. We’ll target them, we’ll build up their entire product base that they’re advertising, and then we’ll block their IP and advertise on top of them and absorb those sales.

Steve: So let’s back up a little bit, the reason why I’m asking these questions is you mentioned before that software only carries a 20% premium, right?

Daniel: Right.

Steve: I mean margin, and so when you are writing these Google Shopping campaigns, you mentioned the hook items, so you’re not making any money at all for example selling Microsoft Office in that case?

Daniel: On a single license of Microsoft Office we make practically no money.

Steve: Okay, and so the key is you’re getting these people in through Google Shopping, and then you’re finding the people who are the big whales so to speak, and then you’re doing a lot of outreach to those people?

Daniel: Exactly, so an example of something that happened this week, a customer that we acquired back in November on a deal spread ended up doing $195,000 deal to do database servers in Haiti. So that one hooked product that absolutely came through our PLA network, got this guy in, got him talking to a sales person, built up that level of trust, and turned into $200,000 deal down the road.

Steve: So let me ask you this, how do you – because that first round of Google Shopping is not profitable per say and you make all of your profits kind of on the backend, how do you measure like the ROI of your campaigns?

Daniel: Sure, so we basically have a benchmark, we basically are picking the positions we want to be on certain products and then measuring those accounts across the longer line. So it doesn’t make sense to advertise heavily on something like antivirus, personal antivirus. It will go on a bargain bin; we’ll basically make sure that we follow all the SEO guidelines, we wrote our own tool to do this called Feed Doctor that optimizes the products for brand position and ranking inside Google PLAs.

We make sure all those details are as good as it can be, and then we look at what we spend on Microsoft Office in a week. So we’ll find that we can spend 15% on Microsoft Office, still turn a profit, look at the total amount collected, and we’ll find that in five sales somebody buys two or more. So if 20% of customers are buying two or more, it actually turns the rollers [ph] on the entire investment into that product channel as a positive return on ad spend.

So instead of being 25% on the line item, we’re looking at a genre of products that lead to further sales down the road, and we’re calculating that as a whole.

Steve: I just want to take a moment to tell you about a free resource that I offer on my website that you may not be aware of. If you’re interested in starting your own online store, I put together a comprehensive six day mini course on how to get started in ecommerce that you should all check out. It contains both video and text based tutorials that go over the entire process of finding products to sell all the way to getting your first sales online.

Now this course is free and can be obtained at mywifequitherjob.com/free. Just sign up right there on the front page via email and I’ll send you the course right away. Once again that’s mywifequitherjob.com/free, now back to the show.

So from what you just said, are you implying then that the two or mores you kind of assign a certain weighting factor to it when you’re measuring the effect of this on your Shopping campaign?

Daniel: Correct, so the conversions are tracked in two ways, we track the total units sold and then we also track the amount of converted clicks, and then we’re weighting those based on a ratio. And there is a factor in price point there too. If you’re too cheap or too expensive it can affect that ratio.

Steve: Okay, so I also noticed that you dominate the Google PLAs, which kind of implies to me at least that you’re spending more money than the competitors, is that accurate or how do you dominate those search rankings?

Daniel: Sure, to a degree, search rankings in Shopping ads are different than any other search rankings out there. The ranking statistics are based on Google’s effected click through rating, and they measure that against their compliance statistics. So if your description is less than let’s say 300 words or you don’t have 1,000 by 1,000 image or you don’t have the brand in title, all of these factors kind of go into how Google assigns your rank, and how they assume your click through rating.
So they basically pick the people that best matched that product search or whatever somebody is searching for and puts that up top. So do not – bidding over top somebody else, you’re just Google’s best pick for what they think people are looking for, and then you validate that with your ability to process those transactions on the backend.

So we’re showing stars, we’re doing Google transit stores, we’re doing promotions, we’re doing sales, we always make sure to show free shipping, promotional text, and as compared to our competitors, they don’t even have the review stars on their products. We aggregate reviews at probably 50 to 100 a day on products. So once you have a certain amount of reviews on products, your product will immediately stand apart in the top Google product search when you have it on the primary screen.

Now when you get into the secondary screens where people are ranking by price or ranking for the buy box there, it is a different set of statistics. In that case they’re typically saying, “All right, these products are the same thing, these guys have a better price, but they meet our bidding and compliance standard.” So there’s actually three different sets of rules, and what we found is before we fixed our data we were paying on average 3 to $5 a click, after we got all our data into compliance, really optimized everything, it was $1.50, and we were getting way more through put.

Steve: Okay so let’s go through all the elements of compliance if you would, at least the most important ones, let’s try to highlight those.

Daniel: Sure, so image size, brand, and title.

Steve: So image size you mentioned it should be a square image of at least 1,000 by 1,000?

Daniel: Well, they say 800 by 800, the minimum is 300 by 300, but they scale these images in different places. So they are going to use these images in dynamic apps, they’re going to use these images in display ads; they’re going to use these images on mobile. So they say 1,000 by 1,000 but sometimes people have 1,000 by 1,000 white cube and a little tiny product in the middle.

Ultimately the image that you pick needs to be attention grabbing, and in our case we’re kind of limited by how many changes we can make because it’s someone else’s brand. But if you have a high contrast image elements that you can convey that set you apart from other people, in a parallel they find the people with children or people in the photos tend to get a better click through rating, and just one of the things that guys at Google told us way back was rotate your product boxes by 30 to 45 degrees and you’ll get a better click through rating with a 3D image than a flat image.

So we went through the process of kind of doing those best practices and then we made sure that all the details that we could sell out were correct, that we had the best image quality, the best descriptions, the descriptions are pretty important.

Steve: Are you allowed to put promotional language in your images for Shopping?

Daniel: You’re not supposed to and you’re not supposed to put it in your actual product description as well. So they are kind of hard on that, but they’re not doing too much visual checking. They are looking at the density of words that they can read from it though it’s not as much like Facebook where Facebook has a 30% policy for text image, in Facebook you’re only supposed to use 30% text.

But PLAs for us, it’s really been making sure the descriptions are great are kind of one tactical play that we look at is we look at the display tab in Google Shopping in AdWords, and we find out that these keywords are generating clicks for these items so that we craft duplicate items with different keyword subsets in the title to closely match someone’s searches.

Steve: Okay, so let’s talk about that a little bit. You’re saying you’re figuring out which keywords people are using to search for your software and then you’re putting those in the title tags?

Daniel: Correct.

Steve: Okay, and are you putting those in the description as well – so you’re duplicating products?

Daniel: Right.

Steve: The exact same product but you’re using different verbiage?

Daniel: Right, and the way that we get around the duplicate products thing is we change the description enough so that it’s changed so that it’s not exactly the same. They’ll have some similar key points like the specifications will be the same, but the writing over top will be different. They’ll also have a different product ID, a different product skew, and occasionally they’ll have the same UPC but it’ll just be a different display of it.

Steve: Interesting, so inventory wise though it all pulls from the same inventory?

Daniel: In some cases, sometimes you have two versions of Microsoft Office home and business and they have two different skews, then you’ll provide both of those skews. But Microsoft took this approach way back, they created a product and then they created 25 different skews for that product. What we did was we took those 25 skews and we keyword shipped around what people would be looking for to get to those.

Steve: Okay, when in reality it’s the same software just packaged differently?

Daniel: Right, and the one thing that nobody seems to understand clearly about Shopping is it’s all keyword driven. The only thing that you can eliminate is negatives, but it’s looking for keywords in your title and it’s looking in the first couple of lines of your description.

Steve: So in terms of your description, does it pay to have a really long description, or is it just as you just mentioned just the first couple of sentences?

Daniel: So it still uses the Google SEO laws, so you’re still trying to get 300 words, and they basically say in not so many words on some documents that I’ve seen that you’re penalized for not having 1,000 characters or more.

Steve: 1,000 characters, okay.

Daniel: Yeah, so they understand the product descriptions and SEO page regulations are different, but they look for 1,000 to 5,000 characters in that description even though they might not display it, they might display it somewhere else later. And really specifically in SEO standard practices, you want the keywords that you’re trying to focus for on the first line, so if you add those keywords that you’re trying to focus on in the first line of your product description, you’ll see them highlighted from the Google Shopping page when you’re in the actual Google Shopping perspective.

So if you put Microsoft Office home and business, and that’s in the first line of your description, that’s going to be highlighted as well as the keywords it matches in your title.

Steve: Okay, just the other day I was looking through my PLA ads and I’ve noticed that some of my products never get any impressions and they’re very similar to the products that do get impressions, and I did follow a lot of the things that you suggested which is doing the structure markup which we’ll talk about in a little bit, and I have alternative images. What other ways besides – so we’ve talked about the image, we’ve talked about the description, what else is there?

Daniel: So you can use back in the titles, but it depends if you get the list view or the grid view. Grid view basically takes all of the candidates that came back for that search term and they put up the candidates that have the best return for them or the best projected return. So to even be considered you have to have the keyword matching in your description, in your title, and sometimes they look at any sort of product typing that you’re submitting.

So let’s say you searched for bed linens and a comforter, you probably will see all bed linens, but let’s say you have a comfortable that goes with that that you wanted to show up in the same thing, Google will look at that taxonomy and say, “Look, these are the products that get the best clicks, we’re going to just exclusively use this taxonomy.”

So later on if you want to show me this example, I can take a look and basically determine on a finite level why it’s not getting searches on that query.

Steve: Sure, I was just asking about your software though, it seems like you have all these different skews, do all of them get impressions like in your feed?

Daniel: So we actually, we scale them on the backend, so after they go through the – we kind of call the checked bucket, we throw them out there, we throw them out on super high bids and we monitor their click through, and then we sort them into a priority bidding scale where we determine they’re either great value, best value or special value, and based on what we see in their performance in click through, based on an advertising subset of one month, we basically determine how much we’re going to pay to bid on those things.

And then we monitor what keywords they’re getting clicks on, what negatives they’re working with them, but we don’t ever want to be in a position where two things are competing against each other. For example we have ten different versions of home and business and they are all different skews, but we found that during our test of home and business, one performs really well.

So we’re going to bid high on that one and then low on the other ones and then grade them across that scale, because you don’t want to end up having two of the exact same product competing against each other.

Steve: Okay, so in the beginning you’re bidding really high for like a month just to gather data from what it sounds?

Daniel: Correct.

Steve: Okay and then based on that data you pick the ones that have the highest click through rate, bid higher on those and then bid lower on the ones that don’t?

Daniel: Right and we’ll also use priority stacking, so something that has…

Steve: Let’s talk about that actually yeah.

Daniel: Yeah so the priority stack is pretty interesting, it seems they got – limited the ability to bid on keywords, you have to kind of negatively shape a keyword and look at the value of that keyword. So for example I don’t know if Skype is listening to us, but it just started showing me Microsoft Office ads.

Steve: Okay, it could be.

Daniel: Off topic there. So with the keyword priority it’s like you want to take your top performers that you want to spend the most money, and put them in the high priority campaign with the keywords that you know are going to generate sales.

Now you might have some broader keywords, and you might want to create a standard priority campaign where you have the same set of products, but you bid less for those products on the standard campaign or the standard keywords that are broad like Microsoft Office. How do you know which Microsoft Office they’re looking for? You don’t, so you are going to take some candidates for that, you’re going to set up bid schedule.

But if they go highly specific you want to bid high, if they are broad keywords you want to bid kind of mediocre, and then you have your bottom bid which is keywords that aren’t truly related, somebody searched for example not QuickBooks software, but they searched for accounting software and it generated a sale after 30 clicks or something like that for QuickBooks.

So we’ll put that in the bottom bid, we’ll eliminate accounting software from a – to high priorities where we’re going to spend a lot, we’ll throw that in the bottom bid, and if they happen to come across this for 15 or 25 cents, then we’ll take the deal, and then we frequency capped the two bottom ones.

Steve: Okay and then how often do you actually reevaluate the keywords and everything, like how often do you look at your campaigns?

Daniel: Everyday.

Steve: Everyday?

Daniel: Everyday.

Steve: Wow, okay so you’re looking at negatives every – do you use software for this or do you do it manually?

Daniel: A little bit of both, so we’ve built our own reports that kind of find where things have gone out of work or out of performance, and we use rules to turn stuff on and off. Like if something – the biggest dagger in product listing ads once you get a high budget is you’ll find something that was performing great and it was performing great, and then somebody came along with a better price of the exact same product, undercut you, you’re still getting clicks but this guy has the exact same product with a slightly better display and all of your sales drop out.

So you have to use rules to basically – rules and reporting to determine if your products on a line item level are still performing, and then that has to be matched against their price points. You need to know when your competitors are doing, so we have charged that point what the competitor pricing is, and there is quite a bit of work that has to go into just maintaining a single PLA set of campaigns with about 2,000 products. It’s a full time job for two people.

Steve: Wow, okay so that implies that your Shopping campaigns like the ads themselves are very granular, meaning like the keywords that you’re targeting are just very specific to individual products instead of like the way I kind of – for example like I do it. I target like broader keywords since we own all of our own brands.

Daniel: Yeah, so it’s specific to products but it’s also specific to what has produced a better yield on the follow up. So if they look at a set of keywords, they are now trying to trace those sales all the way back to, were these consumers, or were these business people? If they’re business people, are they going to come back and buy again from us or should we let them go. So they are then trying to pull this into two sets of campaigns, they’re trying to do a B to B campaign and a B to C campaign, and the B to C ends up feeding the B to B.

So once we find something, a set of metrics that works well for a B to B client, we import those from the B to C into the B to B set of campaigns.

Steve: Okay so what for example would be a good metric?

Daniel: For example we’ve found places where someone searches on a specific skew. When they search on those skews, we’ll have a bucket in the B to B high priority that we won’t have the negatives for that, whereas the consumer one will have the negatives, and the bidding rate in the B to B is about double what the B to C is.

Steve: I see.

Daniel: So we’ve picked out habits and keyword subsets where B to C people – a consumer would never search for a skew or GTIN of a product, a business person looking for pricing on those would.

Steve: Wow, okay.

Daniel: So when those opportunities show up, we want to guarantee that we have the most visibility possible.

Steve: Interesting, so are you also ramping – you’re doing retargeting as well, right?

Daniel: Yes.

Steve: Retargeting at least, so you are bucketing the business customers differently in terms of your remarketing as well, right?

Daniel: Somewhat yes, they get into a B to B emailing queue, we don’t have to as much trying to remarket them as we would just the general consumer, so we leave remarketing pretty flat and then we feed those to the sales guys to go after them.

Steve: So how do you keep track of all this, I’m just trying to think of how I would do it here, so you’re tracking different keywords that lead to higher sales volume like two or more is what you mentioned. How do you make that correlation?

Daniel: A lot of spreadsheets.

Steve: Okay, I was going to ask if it was manual or whether you had something on the backend that kind of…

Daniel: We actually have two very talented data science guys that we picked up and taught them marketing specifically for analyzing these correlation sets.

Steve: I want to take a moment to thank ReferralCandy for being a sponsor of the show. Now in this day and age word of mouth is a huge driver of business for most ecommerce stores, and the best way to amplify word of mouth marketing is through a referral program. This is where ReferralCandy shines, with just a couple of clicks to the mouse you could add a referral program to your ecommerce store and reward your customers for telling their friends about your shop.

And this tactic works wonders; and in fact it is not uncommon to get a ridiculous return on investment. So for example Greats Footwear who is a ReferralCandy customer is currently seeing a 20X ROI. Referral word of mouth marketing is also useful for building up your social media presence as well, because everyone is talking about your company with their friends on Facebook and Twitter.

And the best part is that ReferralCandy is a set it and forget it service, requires no technical setup and they are giving My Wife Quit Her Job listeners 50 bucks to try them out if you go to promo.referralcandy.com/steve. Once again it’s promo.referralcandy.com/steve to get a $50 credit to try out the service risk free. Now back to the show.

Okay, I wonder how many other people are doing this, I mean in your space it’s really competitive, I feel like it’s almost a must, right?

Daniel: Very few people take the approach that we do; most people invest into marketing, find out that their view is that it’s unprofitable and then they turn it off. Our view is specifically if something is unprofitable, turn it down, or relook at the opportunity to figure out if there is money coming out somewhere else. For example if you sell antivirus and then they end up buying Office and a mouse and a desktop and a monitor and all this other stuff, then antivirus is also on your most valuable PLA product.

Without understanding what’s going on in that repeat buying zone, effectively PLAs are just one time sale. So anyone who’s going into the PLA market to sell a single product, it’s dangerous because you really want to focus on the repeat buyer and what you can resell after the fact, because the cost of PLAs are going to keep going up. The cost of selling a $20 knife will probably be $20 within the next year.

Steve: Especially since Amazon is jumping in there, right?

Daniel: Well Amazon has been in there and Amazon’s behavior point was they didn’t have the data right before. So now they’re going to buy the penny buckets on there and hope that their brand and their SEO is going to take over, but that doesn’t stop you from for example if you’re a reseller like we are using our ability to do the SEO correctly on these things.

If we buy a product cheap enough and they’re selling on Amazon for cheaper, we just direct them to Amazon and keep a portion of the profit and have somebody else fulfill it.

Steve: Okay.

Daniel: So if you’re managing the spend correctly and you’re managing the people, like somebody lands on your page, you get their email, maybe you’re not the cheapest price and you can extrapolate that, send them on to Amazon, then remarket them again.

Steve: Interesting. I’m just trying to think, so on the backend can you recommend any software for like people out there who are listening to actually do some of this analysis, or do you literally need like dedicated data scientist people?

Daniel: A really simple software that’s out there Data Feed Watch, a lot of people use it; their analytics platform gives you a nice line item view of what’s working. Also looking into crafting your custom reports on what your click ratios are, what you click throughs are by product ID and taking a hard look at those to see where it’s performing, and then taking a look at what your hooked products are.

We take a lot of the data and sales and we use that pier to throw it in to Google feeds, and then we match, we do a report every week where we match that data, then we just export from AdWords into that to kind of determine what our line item cost per product is. But yeah there’s quite a bit of work, there’s companies like WisePricer that go out there and scrap the data and try to set your prices and do all these different things to try and help you win, but there is no magic bullet that does the profit report.

There is nothing that says, “Okay, here is your analytics data, here is how many people came through PLAs, here is what came back to your site.” You really have to track those opportunities, measure the UTM values when they come in, track that back to the product that caused that sale and the time frame and look at it at a very granular level, and then get used to doing that process three or four times a week to determine what your effective product sales are.

Steve: Okay, I want to leave the readers with stuff that’s immediately actionable – or the listeners I should say. In terms of the feeds – so we talked about a couple of things with the image and the description, any low hanging fruit that you would say that a lot of people are just making mistakes on with just their feed?

Daniel: Yeah, brand in title, brand in title, too many times someone says, “I don’t want to add my brand name in there because it’s not really relevant to the product.” Well throwing your brand in there will get you more organic search, it’ll get you more search in general, so always have brand in title. Like it’s just – it’s one of those things where you’ll never know when a customer will remember your brand and go back to it, and you’ve just gotten free money from it.

So Google PLA has the widest base of customer search for products, not putting the brand in title is like paying an extra quarter on every single click.

Steve: Do you put at the end or the beginning?

Daniel: Typically you put it at the beginning, but if you’ve got a long brand name you can always toss it at the end. I know some companies that are resellers where they’ll take their company name and toss it at the end just so they get that brand authority.

Steve: There is already a field in the feed for brand though, that’s not good enough?

Daniel: Correct, that’s not good enough.

Steve: Okay, any other tips than just the feed?

Daniel: Make sure the first line of your description has the keywords that you want people to search for.

Steve: Okay and we talked about structured markup, any tips there or – actually let’s talk about it, we forgot to talk about that. So why is structured markup important, first of all what is it and why is it important?

Daniel: All right, so structured markup is effectively how you’ve told Google to read your site. So in the case of products, Google is going to scrap your site and they’re going to try and gleam whatever data they can. Unfortunately it’s not a great scientific process for them, like they need to get the GTI end of your product, they need to know what the product ID was in your feed that it’s running against.

They need to be able to cleanly read the images and alternative images, they need to know what the description content was, they need to know how many reviews are on this page, who wrote those reviews, how many reviews you’re getting a day. It’s all really, really important, so structured data is how you communicate that to Google.

If somebody doesn’t have structured data, they’re not getting stars on their organic search, they’re not going to get the stars on their product listing ads, their dynamic remarketing for product listing ads is not going to work correctly. A lot of things will go much, much better on a straight up performance level if Google can read that information.

Additionally if your price changes on your product page and your pricing structure data is not set up correctly, they’ll actually pause your product in your merchant center, and so either your feed updates, or if they’ve taken the time to review and say, “Okay this is the new price.” So having that structured data there is important because they are going to read it every time they send a customer there, and if they have to make an adjustment, you’d much rather communicate that information to them.

Also things like in stock, out of stock, if a product goes out of stock on your site, and you don’t want to market it any more, then you can update that out of stock in your structured data. Google will pick that up when a click comes through, and they’ll mark it out of stock for you so that you’re not spending advertising on it.

Steve: So in terms of the structured data, does that imply that the structured data can be different from what’s actually on the page, like Google doesn’t pay attention to the page that much anymore?

Daniel: Correct, so in the case of products, you might want to have a better structured data that is great content for — in our product descriptions we have lots of pictures, we have lots of tables, we have all sorts of different content which we don’t necessarily want Google to read. So we give Google a optimized bid of description that we feed them into a JSON variable underneath the HTML that’s optimized for what we want to show to Google for when they search our index or page.

Steve: That’s interesting, I was thinking the opposite, like for the structured data I would include like a 1,500 word post or something, but to make the page look okay in the description I would just keep a small paragraph, what you’re suggesting is the opposite of that?

Daniel: Right, so you still want to have whatever the SEO standard is, but you want that to be in a clean readable format so that they just read through it, they don’t have to read line breaks, all of that other stuff, you just give them the structured data and say, “This is the information on the product, read it, go back to business.”

Steve: Okay, cool Daniel, man we’ve actually been chatting for 40 minutes about Google shopping, who would have guessed it?

Daniel: I love Google Shopping man.

Steve: No you are a master at it, it’s crazy the amount of work, I mean I know selling software is difficult, but it just seems like all the extra stuff that you’re doing on the backend is essential, and you are right, I have students in my class, where they try these things and it doesn’t work and then they give up. But they’re just looking at it from the point of like a direct sale.

Daniel: Sure, and it really has to be sculpted over the organization, you need to pick a sacrificial lamb that will get people through the door, put it out there and work hard to retain those customers.

Steve: So would this all change if you had your own branded products, I mean it wouldn’t need to be this intricate then, right?

Daniel: Correct, so if it was a branded product, we would basically state that we would pay 50% or 75% of the first product sale to get them in the door, then we would focus the entirety of our profit generation efforts on the backend.

Steve: Right, okay, so backend meaning like email and direct sales?

Daniel: Email, direct sales, up-sell, down-sell, all of those components because Shopping is getting a lot more expensive and it’s purposely difficult to manage. You need a lot of people to do it, so your effective profit rates will fluctuate wildly; it’s just not a metric that should be used to generate direct profit on its own.

Steve: Interesting, all right Daniel, thanks a lot for your time and if anyone wants to know what you’re up to, where can they find you and I know you got a bunch of businesses on your own, feel free to tell everyone what you’re working on.

Daniel: Sure, so My Choice Software is our ecommerce business. We have the Safe Harbor Group, which is or merchant service business kind of specifically targeting the ecommerce community. Then we have Business Tech Pro which is our software development group that develops apps, websites, marketing funnels, different products for different clients, and then we have Extended Shield which is our new B to B application allowing businesses to sell extended warranties for all of their product offering stuff.

So if you sell diamond rings we basically create a warranty, the tax rate on the end of your ecommerce process or in your store, and you’re able to produce that up-sell afterwards. Then I recently started a new blogging initiative called Sound Decisions where I’m taking all my headaches and frustrations with all of these different businesses and opportunities, and kind of venting them out there.

So we’ve got some interesting stuff about the upcoming changes to Shopify, we have some interesting stuff on how to develop with multiple people on there and then kind of some business driving decision articles as well. So I’m not nearly as good as you Steve, but hopefully one day I’ll be able to quit my job as well.

Steve: Hey don’t forget to mention your Shopify plug-in.

Daniel: Yeah the Shopify Plug-in is a new categories app. We took all the power of standard Magento tree categories and we brought them to Shopify. So it’s absolutely a game changer for anybody looking to migrate to Shopify, it gives you that last element of organization that you’re really truly looking for.

Steve: Yeah, if you have like nested options and that sort of thing, right?

Daniel: Yeah, you can go infinitely deep, you can have 1,000 category depth trees.

Steve: Cool Daniel, hey it was a pleasure having you on the show; I really appreciate your time man.

Daniel: Hey, thank you so much Steve.

Steve: All right, take care.

Daniel: Take care.

Steve: Hope you enjoyed that episode. Selling box software is probably one of the hardest products to sell. Daniel has actually taught me a ton about Google Shopping, and I’ve been able to take his advice and improve my ad visibility dramatically. For more information about this episode, go to mywifequitherjob.com/episode168.

And once again I want to thank Klaviyo for sponsoring this episode. Klaviyo is my email marketing platform of choice for ecommerce merchants, and you can easily put together automated flows like an abandoned cart sequence, a post purchase sequence, a win back campaign, basically all these sequences that will make you money on auto pilot. So head on over to mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O, once again that’s mywifequitherjob.com/ K-L-A-V-I-Y-O.

Now I also want to thank SellerLabs.com as well. Their tool Ignite is what I use to manage my Amazon pay per click campaigns. Instead of the old tedious way of generating reports and analyzing your ad campaigns in excel, Ignite aggregates all that info for you in one place and allows you to quickly visualize your data to make decisions fast.

So not only does it save time, but it also makes managing your Amazon campaigns so much easier. So head on over to sellerlabs.com/steve and sign up for a free 30 day trial, once again that’s sellerlabs.com/steve.

And if you’re interested in starting your own ecommerce store, head on over to mywifequitherjob.com and sign up for my free six day mini course. Just type in your email and I’ll send you the course right away, thanks for listening.

Outro: Thanks for listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast, where we are giving the courage people need to start their own online business. For more information visit Steve’s blog at www.mywifequitherjob.com.

I Need Your Help

If you enjoyed listening to this podcast, then please support me with an iTunes review. It's easy and takes 1 minute! Just click here to head to iTunes and leave an honest rating and review of the podcast. Every review helps!
 
Share On Facebook

Ready To Get Serious About Starting An Online Business?


If you are really considering starting your own online business, then you have to check out my free mini course on How To Create A Niche Online Store In 5 Easy Steps.

In this 6 day mini course, I reveal the steps that my wife and I took to earn 100 thousand dollars in the span of just a year. Best of all, it's absolutely free!

167: Key Takeaways From Sellers Summit 2017 With Toni Anderson And Steve Chou

Share On Facebook

167: Key Takeaways From Sellers Summit 2017 With Toni Anderson And Steve Chou

Today, we’re doing a special episode because I’m not interviewing anyone on the show. Instead, I brought Toni Anderson back on the podcast to do a recap of Sellers Summit 2017.

Now if you don’t know Toni, she’s my partner in crime and she’s actually been on the show 3 or 4 times already. Anyway, the Sellers Summit is a conference that we throw every year and today we’re going to talk about what worked, what didn’t and some key takeaways.

Click here to buy the virtual pass for Sellers Summit 2017

What You’ll Learn

  • Two new features of the conference that made a huge difference
  • Key takeaways from the Sellers Summit speakers
  • Why the round tables were so popular

Other Resources And Books

Sponsors

Klaviyo.com – Klaviyo is the email marketing platform that I personally use for my ecommerce store. Created specifically for ecommerce, it is the best email marketing provider that I’ve used to date. Click here and try Klaviyo for FREE.
Klaviyo

Ignite.Sellerlabs.com – If you are selling on Amazon and running Amazon Sponsored Ads campaigns, then Ignite from Seller Labs is a must have tool. Click here and get a FREE 30 Day Trial.
Ignite Logo

ReferralCandy.com – If you’re already getting steady orders every month, adding a refer-a-friend program to your store can give you a new sales channel. And ReferralCandy is the best in the business. Click here and get a FREE $50 credit towards your account.
referral candy

SellersSummit.com – The ultimate ecommerce learning conference! Unlike other events that focus on inspirational stories and high level BS, the Sellers Summit is a curriculum based conference where you will leave with practical and actionable strategies specifically for an ecommerce business. Click here and get your ticket now before it sells out.
Sellers Summit

Transcript

Steve: You are listening to the My Wife Quit her Job Podcast, the place where I bring on successful bootstrapped business owners and delve deeply into what strategies are working and what strategies are not with their businesses.

Today I’m thrilled to have Toni Anderson back on the show, and what we’re going to do is we’re going to talk about some of the behind the scenes actions from our annual ecommerce conference, the Sellers Summit 2017.

But before we begin I want to give a quick shout out to Klaviyo who is a sponsor of the show. Now I’m always excited to talk about Klaviyo because they are the email marketing platform that I personally use for my ecommerce store, and I depend on them for over 20% of my revenues, and you’re probably wondering why Klaviyo and not another provider. Well, Klaviyo is the only email platform out there that is specifically built for ecommerce stores, and here’s why it’s so powerful.

Klaviyo can track every single customer who has shopped in your store and exactly what they bought which allows you to do many things. So let’s say I want to send an email to everyone who purchased a red handkerchief in the last week, easy. Let’s say I want to set up a special autoresponder sequence to my customers depending on what they bought, piece of cake, and there is full revenue tracking on every single email.

Now Klaviyo is the most powerful email platform that I’ve ever used and you could actually try them for free at mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O, once again that’s mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O.

Now I also want to give a shout out to my other sponsor Seller Labs, and specifically I want to talk about their brand new tool Ignite which helps sellers manage their Amazon sponsored ad campaigns. Right now I’m actually using this tool to manage my Amazon PPC ad campaigns, and it makes things a heck of a lot more convenient.

So number one I’ve always found it a major pain to generate my PPC reports on Amazon, cut and paste the data over to an excel spreadsheet and use pivot tables before I’m able do any analysis. Well Ignite pulls all that info for you automatically and allows you to easily see what keywords are working and what are not immediately, there is no need to manually create reports or play with excel.

Second of all unless you’re a data geek, Amazon campaign data can be hard to understand, and what’s cool is that Ignite makes keyword and bidding recommendations on the fly that can be applied with just a couple of clicks.

So let’s say one of my hankie keywords is bleeding money, well Ignite will alert me of that fact, and I can reduce the bid immediately. So bottom line Ignite makes managing your Amazon’s sponsored ads so much easier and the fact that they provide me with alerts means that I no longer have to monitor my campaigns like a hawk.

If there are keywords that are doing well, well Ignite tells me to add them to my exact match campaigns, if my keywords are losing money, well Ignite tells me to either remove the keyword or to reduce the bid. So head on over to sellerlabs.com/steve where you’ll find awesome tutorials on how to run Amazon PPC ads and the opportunity to try Ignite for 30 days absolutely free. Once again that’s sellerlabs.com/steve. Now on the show.

Intro: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. We will teach you how to create a business that suits your lifestyle, so you can spend more time with your family and focus on doing the things that you love. Here is your host, Steve Chou.

Steve: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast, today we’re doing a special episode because I’m not interviewing anyone on the show today, and instead I brought Toni Anderson back on the podcast to kind of do a recap of Seller summit 2017. Now I you don’t know Toni, she is my partner in crime, and she’s actually been on the show three or four times already.

The Sellers Summit is actually a conference that we throw every year. Actually I probably shouldn’t say every year since this is only year two, but it is a conference that we put on to teach people about ecommerce, and today we’re going to talk about what worked, what didn’t and some key takeaways from the speakers. So how are you doing today Toni, thanks for taking the time to be back on.

Toni: Bang, thanks for having me again.

Steve: So okay it’s year two, and I don’t know about you but I was kind of worried about hitting a soft ball slope, like year one went so well that I didn’t actually think we could do better. So how did you feel going on to second year?

Toni: I’m glad you’re telling me this now and not pre-conference. I actually – I knew this year was going to be so much better and I think for two reasons and I know we’re jumping this a little bit early, but the mastermind that we did which was new that we added this year and the roundtables that we added this year. I think those two things in my mind were going to make this conference significantly almost more advanced than it was last year.

Steve: I just remember and for people who aren’t used to running conferences, I remember Toni put down and increased hotel block, and the way this works is like you’re committing to filling certain rooms in the hotel. I got really nervous I remember when you did that.

Toni: Yeah and then that makes me nervous whenever you get nervous.

Steve: When I get nervous, no you’re supposed to be the rock, remember?

Toni: Right, I try, I try.

Steve: So I actually thought that this year’s conference was significantly better this year, like we kind of took the same no fluff attitude, and put together another actionable curriculum based conference. And I actually thought that the quality of the attendees was better than last year’s, and what’s cool was that a bunch of the attendees from the previous year actually launched profitable ecommerce businesses within a year.

Toni: And I think that was really exciting to see people that we met the first year and these are people you might have known them from your course but for me they were complete strangers, to meet them in year one and then see them again in year two and hear about their success. To me that was probably one of the best things about the event and the people that were there.

Steve: Yeah, and we probably have about Dean in the past, but he basically launched a product I want to say two months after last year’s summit and then he qualified for the mastermind this year which meant that he made $250,000 in revenue within a year which is pretty cool.

Toni: And I think that’s exciting because I think people like Dean and then we had Carlos [ph] who hit a goal, Chris Nelson who wanted to be able to join the fuel forums, that was one of his goals after year one, and I think to see people take action and have those success based on either the relationships they made or the stuff that they learned at the event, to me is kind of why we do this.

Steve: Yeah, the only thing for me is I felt like it was a lot more work this year, maybe it’s because I ended up speaking four times, so I never felt like I could relax, like I always had this anticipation of having to get on stage, but I had a blast, I had a blast.

Toni: You should stop signing yourself up for sessions I feel.

Steve: Maybe we should have you do more sessions; I think that’s the kick, because people did like your talk a lot according to the surveys, so maybe you should do even more.

Toni: But I’m glad.

Steve: So one thing that I kept getting complimented on was actually the networking aspects of the conference. I actually didn’t feel like we did anything differently than last year, like we catered in lunch, we had cocktail parties every night, but for some reason everyone said the networking was even better, what are your thoughts on that?

Toni: It’s funny because I agree with you, that was the one thing that we didn’t change at all because I think you and I both know the power of networking and know that some of the – the reason why you attend the conference because you can buy the virtual pass, and you can get all the information in a recording that everyone that attends is getting. But the real value in attending the event is the networking and being able to sit face to face with speakers, with other attendees, people that are more successful, people that are just same level.

I think that’s the thing, the value that you get from actually making the commitment to attend an event, and so I thought it was funny that people thought the networking was so much better because we kept it exactly the same.

Steve: Actually one thing – this is candy [ph] right now, one thing we did do differently was we invited the speakers from last year to come again without even having them talk, and so they were just hanging around and answering questions for everybody. Maybe that was the difference, I don’t know.

Toni: And I think that’s a great point and I didn’t think about that at all, but I think definitely and we love our speakers, like we want all of them to come back every year even if they don’t have something new to share just to be part of the event.

I think another thing that we did this year that made it easier for people to network is in our private Facebook group we had people starting doing live, Facebook lives or even not if you didn’t live video you could just post a video that you had prerecorded, and I think there were people that showed up at the event who felt like they knew each other even though they actually hadn’t met, but because they had done a video, just everyone seemed more relatable right off the bat.

Steve: Yeah I think last year FB live wasn’t that prevalent, right?

Toni: Yeah, in fact I think it was maybe just launching.

Steve: Yeah, okay maybe that was it, yeah we all did videos, which was great and the attendees started doing videos too. So I actually felt like I knew some of these people even before the event even started which is pretty cool.

Toni: And I think even though you see people’s picture on Facebook or on their webpage, seeing them talk and interacting with them even on a short Facebook Live is really – it makes a difference in then meeting them in person, because you feel like you already know them even if it’s just a little bit.

Steve: Mm-hmm and I think the other attendees felt that too, and I remember people started kind of getting together and saying, hey you want to grab dinner even people like well before the event even started.

Toni: Yeah and that was something we did different this year too was we created those dinner spreadsheets so people could sign up to do dinner groups and sometimes they were topic based like advanced Amazon sellers who were wanting to transition to your own website, and sometimes it was just people that wanted to meet and hangout and just talk general ecommerce. And I think that was helpful too because it allowed them to organize pre-event as opposed to five o’clock, everyone is tired from the day and everyone is trying to figure out, know one has each other’s number or contact information and it’s a little crazy.

Steve: Yeah, I know that was pretty key because I remember last year one of the feedback that we got was it was kind of intimidating to go to a conference where you don’t know everyone, and so by allowing people to kind of connect beforehand, that actually added greatly to the networking I guess at the event. Maybe that’s what did it, I don’t know.

Toni: Yeah and thanks to Susie, who coordinated a lot of that for us. She was one of our attendees who was local, and she did a really great job in really getting those groups together.

Steve: Yeah she coordinated all the dinners if I recall, right?

Toni: Yeah.

Steve: So before we get into the kind of like the key takeaways, let’s start by talking a little bit about what we did differently this year. So first of we kind of kicked off the conference by running a special mastermind session, so basically we sold a special pass where we screened attendees to make sure that they made at least $250,000 in revenue.

Then we locked ourselves in a room, catered in food and we spent the entire day helping each other with our businesses, like everyone took turns in the hot seat, told the group about one strategy that was working very well for their businesses, and then one problem that they’ve been struggling with, and then everyone in the entire group helped them solve that problem.

What was really awesome for me was how open and how comfortable everyone was and how willing they were to reveal their problems and their triumphs and even reveal their products on Amazon, like typically people tend to be a lot more secretive about their Amazon products. I actually ended up learning a lot myself, and by the end I actually felt really close to the mastermind attendees. What was your experience Toni?

Toni: I totally agree, basically the exact — because I know we were in separate rooms but I was – and I’m not as ecommerce advanced as some of the people even in that room, but I loved that they were so willing to share strategies because I think a lot of times in some of these Facebook groups that we are in, people will share just enough but not the full strategy because they don’t want to give things away that could hurt their sales, and I felt like that was not the case in the mastermind groups at all.

People were so honest and really, really willing to say, hey you should try this or you should do this because it’s working for me and here is why.

Steve: Yeah, and I think we didn’t have any competitors in the mastermind groups, so we did really a good job of screening those people out so that people didn’t really feel like anyone else in the room was directly competing with them, which allowed everyone to kind of reveal their niche and all their strategies, which in a lot of cases are applicable no matter what you sell.

Toni: Definitely, and that was what was fun and I think it was also fun to see people help other people make the connections maybe with a tool or a person that could help them grow their business, and that happened a lot in our room just sharing even the resources.

Steve: And there were some pretty high powered companies in there making seven even eight figures in revenue which is pretty cool too.

Toni: Yeah.

Steve: One other thing we did for the masterminds, we actually invited some of the speakers to help moderate and just lend their opinion to kind of jumpstart stuff, to kind of facilitate, and so I think we had Mike Jackness, we had Dana, we had me, you, we had Jeff Cohen and Rawse [ph]. And so it was great, everyone lent really strong opinions, a lot of people came in actually doing really well and they just needed some direction on where to focus their efforts, and I think collectively we were able to steer people in the right direction on where to focus their efforts next.

So let’s talk about the next major change, the roundtables. Now, this was actually Toni’s idea, so I’ll let her describe it, and I just remember being very skeptical at first.

Toni: I think that’s an understatement for sure. One of the things that I think really helps people is that when you go to a session and you are in a group with 50 to 100 people in a session and the speaker has time for Q&A at the end and it’s usually not a lot of time, maybe five to seven minutes, there is a lot of people that either they just aren’t comfortable asking the question, they don’t want to ask a dumb question or they don’t want to – I think we’ve all been in a room where the person asks these super specific only applicable to their exact business question and everyone else in the room is eye rolling and slumping back in their seat.

So the roundtable allows for attendees to sit in a very small group, eight to nine people, with a speaker or an expert and talk and ask those really specific questions. They’ll ask the questions that they maybe were intimidated to ask in the session and get a lot more in-depth of an answer, because we all know that when you have five minutes for Q&A at the end of the session, the speaker is trying to get to three or four people just to be courteous and to be able to move throughout the group.

I think roundtables allowed people to stay with the speaker for an hour and really talk in-depth about whatever topic they spoke on at the conference. From the feedback we’ve received, people really enjoy getting that, it’s almost like one-on-one, it’s not exactly one-on-one but I think people loved being able to sit there, ask a question, then ask the follow up and then have someone else in the table either give more information like being able to help or even then piggy back on that question and ask another question. It really allows for a great discussion for a pretty extended period of time on a specific topic.

Steve: I remember in my table I think there was only like ten people, was that the case for most of the tables?

Toni: Everybody had ten including the speaker, so nine was the max of the attendees.

Steve: Okay, I just remember like we talked about – so my topic what I talked about was getting past Amazon and then getting sales in your own online store, and I remember we started out my roundtable kind of talking about some of the strategies that you can do on your own so as to get customers, then we started getting kind of philosophical and like why are we doing all this stuff, how much money is enough, and it actually turned into a really interesting discussion that was really thought provoking for me and the rest of the people on my table, I don’t know, what was your table like?

Toni: That’s funny because mine was the exact opposite. So I did a roundtable on Pinterest, and we basically opened up people’s Pinterest accounts, went into their ad manager, adjusted things, found ways to tweak, add copy or just go into their accounts and actually working on it right and in there, which I think is the benefit of that small group, because obviously you can’t do that in a classroom setting of 50 or 100 people, but you can easily do that when you have a table of six or seven.

What was nice is Carol [inaudible 00:15:53] was in my group and she is very, very savvy on Pinterest and so she was actually able to help people at the table as well, so it kind of turned into this Pinterest mastermind really all sharing ideas and things that were working and tweaking and giving advice on how to make things better. So ours was very practical, everyone had their computer open, we were all logged in to the Pinterest dashboard, and we were making changes at the table.

Steve: Dude that’s cool, that’s really cool. One thing that I actually liked was all the speakers – because I kind of went around to the tables afterwards and kind of talked to the other speakers, and they all found it really rewarding themselves, and the fact that they were just present and they went to all the events, they stayed for the roundtables, I think that just had a tremendous impact on the attendees as well.

Toni: I think so too, and one of the fun things about the roundtable and obviously we did this towards the end of the event but we still had one more networking event after that is that I think it gave people that – and I’m an extrovert, I think you are an extrovert, it’s not hard for us to approach people that we don’t know, but I think it is hard in a big setting like a conference to just walk up to a Scott Walker or Greg Mercer if you’ve been following them for a long time and you’re almost a fan, right?

But when you sit at the small table with them for an hour and you really feel like you get to know them, then later on when you’re at the networking event that night they are a friend, you’re not a fan anymore. So it changes the dynamic of the relationship and I think it gives people more confidence even to continue those networking and masterminding throughout the rest of the event.

Steve: I just want to take a moment to tell you about a free resource that I offer on my website that you may not be aware of. If you’re interested in starting your own online store, I put together a comprehensive six day mini course on how to get started in ecommerce that you should all check out. It contains both video and text based tutorials that go over the entire process of finding products to sell all the way to getting your first sales online.

Now this course is free and can be obtained at mywifequitherjob.com/free. Just sign up right there on the front page via email and I’ll send you the course right away. Once again that’s mywifequitherjob.com/free, now back to the show.

And compounding on that point, a lot of us kind of stayed out really late at night, and I remember I was hanging out with Mercer and Jackness with a bunch of the attendees and Mercer, he’s kind of like a low key guy, but you get him like past midnight and he’s hilarious. It was really good hanging out with everyone and the attendees and we all became really good friends just from hanging out late at night.

Toni: I have to take your word on that one.

Steve: I’ve got video in case Greg ever messes with me, I got a couple of things that I can use against him.

Toni: And I think that’s what makes our speakers amazing and I think they’re amazing even without this, but you and I both have been to events, actually have been together where the speaker comes on the stage, gives a great talk, you and I are both supper impressed and then the speaker is MIA for the rest of the event. That just is not the case with our speakers, I mean they are available and around, you’re eating lunch with them, you’re networking with them, they are going to all the other sessions, like they are sitting there in the sessions but they are not speaking.

I think that’s really valuable because, one it makes them so much more relatable to the attendees but then two that shows everybody that they are still learning too, they’re still wanting to grow their business, none of our speakers has arrived. And I think they are very good at letting people know, hey I’m only speaking because I’m an expert in this specific topic, but I still need to learn all these other things.

Steve: Yeah, I think I’m going to take some credit here. I think it’s because all of us are just friends and a lot of us go to the summit just to kind of hang out, and so it’s not like we just want to speak and then leave, we actually want to hang out with each other, and the attendees are really cool too. It’s kind of just a given atmosphere, it just happened naturally, it’s not like it was planned but it just happened.

Toni: Well and I think – and we won’t say any names but you talked to some pretty big speakers who wanted to speak at our event that we basically turned down because they wanted to fly in and out.

Steve: That’s correct, actually that’s one of the first questions I always ask, like are you just going to give the speech and take off, or are you going to stick around and hang out? It’s almost like a requirement to stick around and hang out.

Toni: But there is still so much more, I mean obviously the sessions were very valuable but the amount of value that the attendees get from the extra is – you just can’t really even put like a value on that to me.

Steve: Yeah, absolutely. All right, so we switch gears a little bit and talk about some takeaways?

Toni: Sure.

Steve: Yeah, so I’ll start and there’s one statistic actually that Greg talked about in one of his talks, I just want to talk about a little bit. In one of his slides he said that the people who start on ecommerce and keep at it for a long time always do better, and he quoted this statistic which was pretty cool to me, “For people selling less than 18 months, 50% of them made between $157 and $2,500 a month, but for the people selling more than 18 months, 50% were making between $1,000 and $12,000 a month,” which just goes to show that this is not a get rich quick scheme, you’ve got to really think about it in terms of the long haul, and if you stick with it, the revenues will only grow over time.

Toni: That’s true, I wasn’t in his session, but that’s a great takeaway.

Steve: Actually I wasn’t in but I actually watched all the videos after the fact. So here’s how we did it, so Toni and I obviously we couldn’t be in any of the same sessions because we had to moderate each of the rooms with the speakers. So we run two tracks, and so Toni was in charge of one and I was in charge of the other, so between the two of us we saw all the talks, how come you didn’t see Greg’s, where were you?

Toni: I was watching my kid’s graduation right outside the room via Facebook Live.

Steve: Oh I didn’t realize that, okay.

Toni: So I stepped out, so I missed — I saw the very beginning and I saw the very end, but I missed the mid of it because I was outside on Facebook Live watching my kids graduate, but not winning parent of the year for that, but anyway thank goodness for Facebook, right?

Steve: See yeah Toni always takes one for the team, and she always lets me know it when she takes one for the team.

Toni: Yeah, you didn’t even know that till right now.

Steve: I didn’t know and I always sacrifice my birthday. For some reason this is second straight year where I’ve been celebrating my birthday in a hotel at the Sellers Summit.

Toni: Yeah but you won’t let us eat your cake, so come on.

Steve: Yes, yes I don’t like attention for birthdays these days.

Toni: I know. One of the takeaways I had and this was from Dana Jaunzemis who is I think I want to be her best friend, I don’t think she feels the same way about me, but I’m pretty sure that that’s how I feel about her, and I don’t think she does anything publicly as far as she doesn’t have a course or a podcast or anything like that, but if you ever have an opportunity to hear her speak and interact with her, I highly recommend it. She is brilliant.

I’m not sure where I – I don’t know if this happened in just a conversation, networking or within her session, but she talked about the tasks that we do on a regular basis on our business, and she said she categorized all her tasks to daily, weekly and monthly, and she basically built her business so that anything that had to be done daily or weekly was something that she never touched and she wasn’t involved in it at all.

The only task that she was involved in were the monthly tasks, and I feel like for those of us who have been doing this for a couple of years and our business has been growing but now we’re sort of at that next level, I’m realizing that in order to move to the next point in my business I have to pull myself out of the daily and weekly tasks, because that’s where I’m focused as opposed to focusing on the big picture items that will actually bring in more money. For some reason the way that she said it, it was one of those light bulb where I thought, oh this is what I’m doing wrong right now, this is why I’m feeling very overwhelmed with some of the things that I have to get done.

So that’s on my list to start implementing this summer is to work on eliminating myself from those daily and weekly tasks.

Steve: Actually her entire talk was kind of eye opening, just how she kind of focused on the things that were generating the most revenue and kind of put all those other things off to the side. It’s…

Toni: Most profit, most profit.

Steve: Most profit, that’s correct yes.

Toni: Yeah, I also want to build my little profit metrics too, that’s on my list as well.

Steve: Yeah and — actually switching gears, I watched Manuel Becvar’s talk last night, he talked about product sourcing and I kind of liked his no nonsense approach to it.

Toni: Yes.

Steve: And there is this one story that he told during his talk where he got into some disagreement with his vendor, they sold them some stuff with defects and I think – and you can correct me if I’m wrong but I think he went to the Canton Fair, found this vendor, sat in his booth and would not leave until the vendor was willing to give him a refund or some sort of concession. And everyone that came into the booth, he went, hey, don’t work with this guy, he’ll screw you over, and then within like a couple of minutes the vendor kind of caved, and gave him what he wanted, that was a pretty cool story.

Toni: Yeah, you could see the room too getting very excited when he was telling that story, because everybody wants to be that guy that will do that but nobody is really brave enough. And Manuel if you know him, he’s very soft spoken, he’s very quiet, and to think of him like sitting there and doing that was pretty cool.

Steve: Yeah I know and not only that, it was just really interesting to see his approach to the whole sourcing process. It’s very structured, like when my wife and I do things it’s kind of all based on like the relationship, we don’t have like a whole bunch of these contracts and it was just really interesting to see all these formal documents that Manuel had with this vendor as well.

Toni: I loved his talk and one takeaway I had from his talk, and it’s funny because I feel like every talk I took something away, but sometimes the takeaways were really small but I think will affect my business in a big way. But one of the things he said was he gives a lifetime guarantee on all these products that he sells, and he said, I see these people on there doing 90 day guarantee, or whatever, a year or six months. He’s like lifetime, the wording matters and most people are never going to come back to you in five years and ask for the guarantee, they are just not.

He said but to just say lifetime over some other period of time with an end to it makes a difference when people make the purchase.

Steve: Yeah actually that – I think L.L. Bean has that same guarantee, right?

Toni: Yeah I think [inaudible 00:26:12] might do something similar too, but I know L.L. Bean is lifetime.

Steve: Yeah totally. Interesting I actually did not pick that up from his talk.

Toni: Yeah that was the moment – because we don’t do a lifetime guarantee and we make a big deal that we have a guarantee and I thought this is silly, because if someone emails me in a year I’m still refunding them or replacing it, I’m not going to hold them to whatever we say we are doing anyway.

Steve: Actually that’s true, so in that respect you may as well just offer the lifetime. I didn’t think of that actually.

Toni: Yeah, that was one of those moments where I was like, uh that’s a good idea and I need to do it right now and I can because it’s easy to implement.

Steve: I’m just trying to think of wedding handkerchiefs like they get a divorce, are they going to return the handkerchief to me, I guess I would take it back.

Toni: Would you re-embroider someone else’s name?

Steve: Yeah hopefully they’ll get married again and then in that case we’ll offer them a coupon.

Toni: That’s right.

Steve: Two for one.

Toni: That’s right.

Steve: All right so let’s see. The next talk that I watched, and I’m pretty sure you weren’t in Brian Johnson’s talk, right, you were in the other one?

Toni: I wasn’t yeah.

Steve: Brian Johnson is known for just doing Amazon PPC and teaching it, he teaches a course. I loved how he defines specific guidelines on how to refine your campaigns, and the thing with Brian, he runs a whole bunch of different people’s campaigns, and so he actually had metrics defined to see how well you were doing like in terms of click through rate, what your conversion rate should be and that was kind of eye opening for me because it gives you some metrics with which you can gauge your own campaigns, so I thought that was really cool.

Toni: That’s on my list to watch this week because I’m not a great Amazon PPC person, so I’m excited to watch his.

Steve: So what was going on at the same time as Brian’s, I can’t even remember, was that Brandy’s maybe?

Toni: I do not remember, hold on I can look at my – I can probably look at the calendar.

Steve: No that’s okay.

Toni: It was Greg Mercer, he was doing that.

Steve: Oh it was Greg’s okay. You were at graduation, that’s probably why.

Toni: So one of the talks that I will probably watch six times on video was Bill D’Alessandro’s. He did a talk on automation and he automates I feel like everything in his business, and his talk made me realize that there was a lot of things that we have people involved in that don’t necessarily need to be involved in it, and that there are tools that we can use that make the job actually much more productive – it’s much more productive to get it done with the tool as opposed to a person, and then you still have that person for when you get to a certain point but there is a lot of things that you can automate in your business.

The amount that he does is like ridiculous levels of automation, but I could see even in his talk how I can just make three or four small changes in automating some things that we do using some pretty inexpensive tools.

Steve: Yeah, actually Bill and I kind of have the same philosophy and he’s just taken it to the next level, like I’m pro like a computer and try to get the computer to do as much as possible and not rely on humans, and he just took it to a different level. It’s really obvious like in his house, I don’t know if you ever talked about this with Bill, but in his house he has every single device and appliance automated with his Amazon echo.

So he can walk in the room and say, turn on the TV, or play this music or whatever and he has all these devices hooked up to it, and so as a result he spends most of his time like gardening his vegetable garden with his girlfriend.

Toni: In his talk there was so much information in his talk that I feel like even if you watched it a couple of times you would get something new out of it because there’s just — it’s a lot to digest but definitely opened my eyes to some things that I’m not doing in my business, and I think most people that I talked to aren’t doing as well.

Steve: Yeah totally, and then Bill’s business is kind of on a different scale, he’s got like six or seven child companies as part of his umbrella company. He really has to automate a lot with the stuff that he has, and he’s just done a really good job with it.

Toni: Speaking of children, another takeaway I had was that a lot of people have their children work with them Steve.

Steve: I unfortunately only have two workers and they are not of age yet, but actually I was surprised, so the running joke here is I always make fun of Toni because she employs her kids to do everything and then she pays them with like [inaudible 00:30:27] and food, and I was making fun of her and then all of a sudden like these other mums – it’s always mums, these other mums came and started raising their hand and posting pictures of them working with their kids too. There’s got to be some log into that, I don’t know.

Toni: Here’s what I thought was cool; I’ll joke in the side on that was that it was fun to see the amount of people who did have it, like Dean’s son is working with him and his son is an adult and not getting paid in sloppies [ph], but it was cool to see the amount of people that did have their kids working with them and then their kids had gone on to spin off and start businesses.

One of the girls Julie who was in the mastermind, she has a ton of kids but she has her younger kids are still working with her but then her oldest daughter has this six figure business span off from what her mum was doing. So I think that was really neat to see the people that had started this several years ago and now their kids are doing it too and their kids are actually pretty successful.

Steve: I mean that’s great story Toni, but like when they are young, like just seeing the photos, they don’t look happy, they’re just like I guess I want to eat dinner tonight so I’ll pack these necklaces.

All right so one of my favorite talks was Rachel Miller’s, and she talked about how to create a viral Facebook fan page and I was just shocked, I mean she’s created multiple one million plus fan pages, and it’s been amazing like she can take these Facebook fan pages and drive traffic to products and make a killing. I’ve actually since enrolled in her class and it’s just eye opening how she does it, you were at her talk, were you?

Toni: I wasn’t and I wanted to be but you wanted to be there too.

Steve: Oh no, okay usually I let you choose whatever talk that you want to go to.

Toni: All right I’m not sure about that, but no I was actually in Bernie’s talk, and he gave a really great presentation on how to create these customer feedback loops, and one of the things that I thought was interesting is he has a tool called Efficient Era which you and I both use, and I realized in his talk that I was not using it to its fullest capability at all. What I really got from it is that when you get this data no matter what tools you use, what are you then doing with the data to upgrade your business?

I think that’s where a lot of people get hang up is that they invest in tools, there are tons of them that you can use to develop your business, and then they don’t actually analyze the data that they’re getting from those tools and necessarily make changes. So I thought that he did a good job of giving people ideas about when you’re getting this data about your products or about your returns or about your customers, then what do you do to improve on that or improve on your products and things like that to grow your business.

Steve: Yeah, you know I’ve actually taken a different stance on just stats over the years, like I try not to emphasize too much on the stats unless I’m going to actually do something about it, because traditionally in the past since I’m an engineer I’m like a big stats freak, but then I just – my wife actually started this, she’s like do you ever look at those stats and what have they done for us? And I don’t really have a good answer most of the times.

Speaking of which Mike Jackness, he did a great job, he always makes fun of me in his talks and we had called a truce prior to it, but despite the truce he actually made fun of me again, so he’s got to pay back, he’s got to get some payback for that. But it was really interesting for him to talk about how he’s grown his ColorIt business to a multi seven figure business in such a short period of time using giveaways.

My key take away from that is if we can create a rabid audience by giving away your product, like you’re giving them something away for free, they appreciate your company that much more, and they become rabid fans and they are much more likely to buy from you in the future. So I remember he was collecting email addresses and getting shares at some ridiculously low – like he was paying pennies on the dollar for email addresses which is pretty amazing.

Toni: Yeah, and it was interesting because he and Scott Voelker, I think Scott went first and then Mike spoke right after him and it’s like their sessions piggy backed off each other and we didn’t really know that that was going to be the case. But Scott talked about how to launch products in a non review world now that Amazon has made the changes and you don’t have incentivized reviews any more.

He had some really great strategies for basically using contests and giveaways to launch a product – not giveaways but contests to launch a product and how he had set up these landing pages and the whole – it was neat because he actually walked people through his case study that he had done. I cannot even remember the product that he was launching, maybe he didn’t even say it, I’m not sure, but he walked people through how exactly he went about building the buzz and everything around the product to then naturally get those reviews as opposed to the old way.

Steve: I want to take a moment to thank ReferralCandy for being a sponsor of the show. Now in this day and age word of mouth is a huge driver of business for most ecommerce stores, and the best way to amplify word of mouth marketing is through a referral program. This is where ReferralCandy shines, with just a couple of clicks to the mouse you could add a referral program to your ecommerce store and reward your customers for telling their friends about your shop.

And this tactic works wonders; and in fact it is not uncommon to get a ridiculous return on investment. So for example Greats Footwear who is a ReferralCandy customer is currently seeing a 20X ROI. Referral word of mouth marketing is also useful for building up your social media presence as well, because everyone is talking about your company with their friends on Facebook and Twitter.

And the best part is that ReferralCandy is a set it and forget it service, requires no technical setup and they are giving My Wife Quit Her Job listeners 50 bucks to try them out if you go to promo.referralcandy.com/steve. Once again it’s promo.referralcandy.com/steve to get a $50 credit to try out the service risk free. Now back to the show.

I think that the key difference between both of their strategies was Mike was giving away his own products and I think Scott was giving away products that were related to what he wants to sell, and both strategies ended up working pretty well.

Toni: Yes, Scott was giving away tennis shoes I think, but I know he was…

Steve: I think they were Jordan’s, right, or something like that yeah.

Toni: Well, they weren’t Lebron’s, right?

Steve: They weren’t yeah, yeah; no one wants those any more.

Toni: No [inaudible 00:36:51].

Steve: Let’s see who we are missing here like…

Toni: But you went to Steve’s with Instagram and Facebook ads.

Steve: Oh yeah, so this was like a more advanced talk, so in order to get stuff out of it you actually had to understand all the fundamentals of Facebook, and what was key with his – so Steve – so the reason why I had him speak was he actually helped me with my Facebook ads.

The guy knows a lot, and he’s worked with a lot of large companies, and really the key these days for making profitable Facebook ads is video, and kind of how to structure campaigns in such a way that you can bring people back over and over and over again until they are ready to buy. So it was a pretty eye opening talk for me. I know a lot of people in the audience it was a more advanced talk, but very valuable if you even dabbled with remotely with Facebook ads.

Toni: Well, and then we had a video marketing company with Gen Video there and I know you did a case study with them over Christmas time and I know I think you presented, I wasn’t in that talk but you presented it with Jason.

Steve: Yeah Jason did most of the presenting, I just came on at the very end to kind of present my data, and these days like influencer marketing is huge. I remember if you guys listened to the podcast, I had Emmanuel Eleyae on, and he actually based his entire seven figure business on influencer marketing, so I was itching to try it, hooked up with Jason from Gen.Video, run my own influencer campaign and it was a success.

I’ve already kind of documented a little bit on the blog, but we also gave a 401 talk at the conference about it which was pretty cool.

Toni: And if I remember correctly the videos that you had were made for you with the influencer, can you now use these videos in your Facebook marketing?

Steve: Yeah, so what is cool about Gen Video is one, you can actually have these videos posted underneath your Amazon listings, and also you have the rights to the videos, so you can actually take clips of it and then use them in your Facebook ads, you can actually post the videos directly in your site like outside of YouTube, and that’s one of the big value ads of using a service like Gen.Video.

Toni: Yeah that’s on my list too, I was in a mastermind this past weekend and almost all we talked about was video on Facebook.

Steve: Yeah, and it kind of ties in to Steve Weiss’s talk, video, video, video. I mean that’s like the future of Facebook; they’re really emphasizing Facebook Lives and other video formats.

Toni: One of my favorite speakers always is Jeff Cohen from Seller Labs and his talk – it’s tough when you’ve got that 4:00PM time slot because everyone’s brain is exploding, but he’s always so informative and he’s a great speaker, and he just talked about evaluating your listings to figure out if you’re not selling like where that problem lies, whether it’s in your copy, whether it’s in your PPC, now where is the problem, is it your images, and he really walked people through step by step on how to evaluate your listings when items aren’t selling well.

Steve: Let’s see who we’re missing here, Brad Moss, I don’t think you watched that one because you wanted to watch the other ones so I let you.

Toni: Of course.

Steve: But amazing talk, so Brad is a former Amazonian in charge of Seller Central and what was interesting about his talk was he has this perspective from the inside, he was running Seller Central, he knows what Amazon wants, and so in his talk he actually kind of broke down the necessary action items that you should take based on your output statistics of like the data that Amazon is giving you.

I know that’s kind of like a cryptic description but it was really amazing because he has this inside knowledge of Amazon, he knows how things work and based on how your products are doing in certain metrics that he was measuring, he was able to tell you what you should do next with your listings and how to improve them.

Toni: It was interesting to meet him and talk to him, and he did talk a little bit about this on the panel discussion at the end just how the mind of Amazon works, and I think everybody wants to really understand Amazon and why things happen the way they do, and he did bring a lot of really valuable insight.

Steve: Yeah absolutely, and well we should talk about Cynthia a little. I stayed for Cynthia Stine’s talk and it’s always really interesting because she’s on the cutting edge of people’s accounts getting suspended. One takeaway and if you guys takeaway anything from this, like she was telling me that Amazon is really cracking down on certain things because there’s lots of mass fraud going on right now. So do not change the bank account that is associated with your Amazon account right now, because it will almost result in instant suspension right now.

Toni: Wow, that’s a great…

Steve: Crazy right?

Toni: Yeah, I feel like Amazon is really security wise really beefed a lot of things up lately just in general.

Steve: Yeah, and there is more to it than that, I mean she was just talking about what’s going on in the landscape, all the kind of evil things that sellers are doing right now and basically how to keep your account in good order so that you don’t get suspended, and what to do if you do get suspended as well.

Toni: Oh that’s one of the things that I love about our speakers in general is they are all up there sharing tips and strategies that are all Amazon approved. So people aren’t getting up there and telling you things that are going to get your account suspended which I appreciate.

Steve: Yeah and here’s what I like too, everyone there is actively selling, it’s not like they are talking about stuff there was like an year ago, everyone is actively selling and they are all up-to-date on the latest happenings.

Toni: Well, and then you did a Q&A with Jared Stark from Law Trades, which I know people love getting free legal advice when they can.

Steve: Yeah, so it was different because it was perfect timing because Amazon had just rolled out their new brand registry, and so we fielded lots of different questions on trademarks, what it covers, how much it costs and basically a whole bunch of these legal issues also where people were accusing other sellers of trademark infringement, patent infringement and what to do in these certain cases. So I actually learned a lot and it was free instead of having to pay someone like $300 an hour.

Toni: That’s right, a free legal advice and you can’t turn that down.

Steve: And of course we had Pam who talked about how to get products over to your warehouse from overseas, how to ship your products directly to Amazon’s warehouse for people who weren’t doing that already, always eye opening stuff.

Toni: And what I love about Pam is that you can always find her during the event, so if you have any questions about logistics she is almost always available to answer those whether it be in a session or just walking around the event.

Steve: And she’s always so willing to help, and what I really like about her company is that she really will hold your hand through that entire process. So if you’re brand new and you’re kind of scared about importing, Pam will definitely make you feel comfortable about it.

Toni: For sure and I didn’t get to see your talk.

Steve: Oh yeah, what did I talk about? So I talked about breaking the shackles away from Amazon and moving to your own online store, and I guess if there is one key take-away from my shop is that a lot of people start driving traffic to a website without having the necessary infrastructure in place because you have to have ways to get people back to your store over and over again to get them to buy repeatedly, and there’s other different things that you can do just to make sure – a lot of different things that Amazon does that you need to do as well in order for your own store to be successful.

All right Toni I think that covers most of the talks right, am I missing anyone here?

Toni: I think we got them.

Steve: I think we got everyone, yeah so once again I know tickets for the Sellers Summit sold out really quickly; I think we sold out this year at the end of February because once again we limited ticket sales, and I think we had a pretty long wait list again, right?

Toni: Yeah we did.

Steve: And so this year once again what we’re going to try to do is we’re going try to bring the conference to you guys. So if you didn’t get a chance to actually attend the conference we‘re selling virtual passes but we’re also doing a live Q&A webinar. So first of all, all the video sessions are available for purchase, you get them in HD, you also get an MP3 version and all the slides, but we’re holding a live Q&A webinar with a bunch of the speakers on June 26th.

So right now we have myself, we have Mike Jackness, we have Jeff Cohen, we have Scott Voelker and we have Greg Mercer, and what we’re going to do is we’re going to solicit questions from everyone who either attended the conference or purchased a virtual pass, and we’re just going to go ahead and answer all those questions live on the webinar, and in addition we’re also going to be fielding questions live during the webinar and hopefully will answer all the questions that you might have on some of the sessions that were given at the Sellers Summit.

Toni: We did this last year and it was really fun to be able to just — for our attendees and people that bought the virtual passes to be able to interact with them and get their questions answered by people that are really working on it right then and there.

Steve: And this live Q&A webinar will be recorded as well and added to the repository for the virtual pass. So even if you end up missing the live session you will be able to watch it on video, and if you submit your questions we will be sure to get to them and your answer will be recorded on the video in case you can’t make it live.

And finally the last question that I’m hoping to answer here is – I actually don’t even know the answer to this, you probably know the answer to this Toni, where and when is it going to be next year?

Toni: We haven’t decided yet, we’re working on it.

Steve: You always say we, but I actually have very little say, you kind of tell me where it’s going to be and when it’s going to be at.

Toni: I’m working on it.

Steve: You’re working on it, okay. So are we looking at like July to make the announcement or?

Toni: We’re looking at July, well, definitely the timing of the event will still be probably a little bit earlier in May next year, I know people had some conflicts with high school and college graduation, so we’re trying to push it up a couple of weeks, and plus Steve for some reason doesn’t like to have his birthday with me, he’d rather have it with his friends back home, but we’re going to try to push it up a couple of weeks, and we’re just doing some final hotel scouting and we should be probably in the next couple of weeks putting the ticket up on sale.

Steve: Really okay.

Toni: So get that page right Steve.

Steve: I know one person in particular who was complaining loudly about the whole graduation thing, but she was a [inaudible 00:47:00] fan, so we didn’t really listen to her very much.

Toni: We don’t cater to [inaudible 00:47:03] fans, sorry.

Steve: So what was really cool and this is kind of how I want to close it, what’s really cool is Toni and I we kind of run this conference together and our reward for the last couple of years has been to go to the NBA finals, so this year we hit games one and two and both brought victories I might add.

Toni: Very fun.

Steve: Yeah very fun, it was particularly rewarding to see us win it all, so go warriors.

Toni: That’s right.

Steve: Okay, anything else Toni that you want to add, any other key take-aways?

Toni: Just really a big thank you to our speakers and our attendees and our sponsors who really make the event what it is, I think it’s their – and that’s why I just like the word synergy, I really do think that them all working together really makes this event really special and something different than the other events that are out there.

Steve: And special thanks to Liz who did most of the work, right Toni if I understand?

Toni: Absolutely [inaudible 00:47:55].

Steve: Zack and Todd who handled a lot of our AV, and once again what’s funny about the Sellers summit, it’s like a family business. Toni brings in her entire family to help with the conference. I ended up paying them real cash though, was that supposed to be the case?

Toni: It’s hard when they grow up, when your brother hits over 40, he somehow wants the paycheck, right?

Steve: Yeah, what about your nephew though, Toni’s nephew did our video for us?

Toni: Yeah, and I will say about the video because we’ve had a lot of questions about this and I know some people are still on the fence, is that the video is not just the slides with someone talking, you actually have a video of the speakers and the slides are then merged in together. So the slides will get big when they’re talking about something real specific on the slide and then you go back to seeing the speaker which to me I love.

I love being able to watch the speaker actually talk and interact, and then see the slides when I need to, but sometimes it’s hard for me to watch recordings when it’s just slides and audio because if they’re off the slides you tend to sort of day dream, right?

Steve: Mm-hmm, absolutely. Yeah actually that’s one of the big value adds like we didn’t really skimp on the video quality or anything like that, we didn’t just like take the raw footage and slap it on there, Toni’s nephew actually took the painstaking effort to edit everything and super impose the slides on top of the videos to kind of reproduce the live experiences as much as possible.

Toni: And he listened to all the talks, so I fully expect him to be launching a business in the next year, right?

Steve: See that’s the thing; see I think we should be paying him in slow piece, because he probably got more out of the talk than the money that it was worth, right?

Toni: For sure.

Steve: Yeah, anyways if any of you guys have any questions about the summit or the virtual pass, feel free to email me directly or Toni, that’s toni@sellerssummit.com or steve@sellersummit.com, and we’re here to answer your questions. All right Toni thanks a lot for coming back on the show, and yeah here is to the NBA finals next year once again.

Toni: All right go warriors.

Steve: Hope you enjoyed that episode. Both Toni and I are thrilled with how the Sellers Summit went this past year, and all the session videos are actually currently up for sale at sellersummit.com/virtualpass, and if you sign up by June 26th we’re actually doing a live Q&A webinar with four of the speakers at the summit to answer all of your questions. Once again that’s sellerssummit.com/virtualpass. Now for more information about this episode, go to mywifequitherjob.com/episode167.

And once again I want to thank Seller Labs. Their tool Ignite is what I use to manage my Amazon PPC campaigns. Instead of the old tedious way of generating reports and analyzing your ad campaigns in excel, Ignite aggregates all that info for you in one place and allows you to quickly visualize your data to make decisions fast.

Not only does it save time, but it also makes managing your Amazon campaigns so much easier. So head on over to sellerlabs.com/steve and sign up for a free 30 day trial, once again that’s sellerlabs.com/steve.

I also want to thank Klaviyo which is my email marketing platform of choice for ecommerce merchants. You can easily put together automated flows like an abandoned cart sequence, a post purchase flow, a win back campaign, basically all these sequences that will make you money on auto pilot. So head on over to mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O, once again that’s mywifequitherjob.com/ K-L-A-V-I-Y-O.

Now I talk about how I use these tools on my blog and if you’re interested in starting your own ecommerce store, head on over to mywifequitherjob.com and sign up for my free six day mini course. Just type in your email and I’ll send you the course right away via email, thanks for listening.

Outro: Thanks for listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast, where we are giving the courage people need to start their own online business. For more information visit Steve’s blog at www.mywifequitherjob.com.

I Need Your Help

If you enjoyed listening to this podcast, then please support me with an iTunes review. It's easy and takes 1 minute! Just click here to head to iTunes and leave an honest rating and review of the podcast. Every review helps!
 
Share On Facebook

Ready To Get Serious About Starting An Online Business?


If you are really considering starting your own online business, then you have to check out my free mini course on How To Create A Niche Online Store In 5 Easy Steps.

In this 6 day mini course, I reveal the steps that my wife and I took to earn 100 thousand dollars in the span of just a year. Best of all, it's absolutely free!

166: How To Thrive As An Artist In This Day And Age With Jeff Goins

Share On Facebook

166: How To Thrive As An Artist In This Day And Age With Jeff Goins

In this episode, I have Jeff Goins on the show. Jeff is someone who I met a Fincon years ago where he gave an awesome keynote speech. He’s the author of 4 books including a national bestseller called The Art of Work: A Proven Path to Discovering What You Were Meant to Do. He also runs a course called Tribe Writers where he teaches others how to get your writing noticed.

Anyway the reason why I decided to bring him on the show is because I wanted to interview a creative professional who makes a killing with his craft. And as part of running my blog, I often get readers who complain about how they can’t make money with what they enjoy.

Well Jeff is an incredible writer who built an audience of 100,000 people in 18 months. He’s pursuing his passion and making an awesome living while he’s at it. Enjoy the interview

What You’ll Learn

  • How Jeff turned writing into a full time living.
  • Jeff’s primary revenue sources.
  • How he sells his books
  • How many books he’s sold
  • How to make money writing
  • How to find out what people want to read before starting.

Other Resources And Books

Sponsors

Klaviyo.com – Klaviyo is the email marketing platform that I personally use for my ecommerce store. Created specifically for ecommerce, it is the best email marketing provider that I’ve used to date. Click here and try Klaviyo for FREE.
Klaviyo

Ignite.Sellerlabs.com – If you are selling on Amazon and running Amazon Sponsored Ads campaigns, then Ignite from Seller Labs is a must have tool. Click here and get a FREE 30 Day Trial.
Ignite Logo

ReferralCandy.com – If you’re already getting steady orders every month, adding a refer-a-friend program to your store can give you a new sales channel. And ReferralCandy is the best in the business. Click here and get a FREE $50 credit towards your account.
referral candy

SellersSummit.com – The ultimate ecommerce learning conference! Unlike other events that focus on inspirational stories and high level BS, the Sellers Summit is a curriculum based conference where you will leave with practical and actionable strategies specifically for an ecommerce business. Click here and get your ticket now before it sells out.
Sellers Summit

Transcript

Steve: You are listening to the My Wife Quit her Job Podcast, the place where I bring on successful bootstrapped business owners and delve deeply into what strategies are working and what strategies are not with their businesses.

Today I’m thrilled to have Jeff Goins on the show, and Jeff is actually one of the most successful writers I know, and today we’re going to discuss how to make a living in the creative arts.

But before we begin I want to give a quick shout out to Seller Labs who is a sponsor of the show, and specifically I want to talk about their brand new tool Ignite which helps sellers manage their Amazon sponsored ads. Right now I’m actually using this tool to manage my Amazon sponsored ad campaigns, and it makes things a heck of a lot more convenient.

So number one I’ve always found it a major pain to generate my PPC reports on Amazon, cut and paste the data over to an excel spreadsheet and use pivot tables before I’m able do any analysis. But Ignite pulls all that info for you automatically and allows you to easily see what keywords are working and what are not immediately, there is no need to manually create reports or play with excel.

Second of all unless you’re a data geek, Amazon campaign data can be hard to understand, and what is cool is that Ignite makes keyword and bidding recommendations on the fly that can be applied with just a couple of clicks.

So let’s say one of my hankie keywords is bleeding money, well Ignite will alert me of that fact, and I can reduce that bid immediately. So bottom line Ignite makes managing your Amazon sponsored ad campaigns so much easier and the fact that they provide me with alerts means that I no longer have to monitor my campaigns like a hawk.

If there are keywords that are doing well, Ignite tells me to add them to my exact match campaigns. If my keywords are losing money, well Ignite tells me to either remove the keyword or to reduce the bid. So head on over to sellerlabs.com/steve where you’ll find awesome tutorials on how to run Amazon PPC ads and the opportunity to try Ignite for 30 days for free. Once again that’s sellerlabs.com/steve.

Now I also want to give a shout out to Klaviyo who is a sponsor of the show. Now I’m super excited to talk about Klaviyo because they are the email marketing platform that I personally use for my ecommerce store, and I depend on Klaviyo for over 20% of my revenues. Now you’re probably wondering why Klaviyo and not another provider. Well Klaviyo is the only email platform out there that is specifically built for ecommerce stores, and here’s why it’s so powerful.

Klaviyo can track every single customer who has shopped in your store and exactly what they bought, this is extremely powerful. So let’s say I want to send an email to everyone who purchased a red handkerchief in the last week, easy. Let’s say I want to set up a special autoresponder sequence to my customers depending on what they bought, that’s piece of cake, and there is full revenue tracking on every single email I send.

Now Klaviyo is the most powerful email platform I’ve ever used and you can try them for free at mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O, once again that’s mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O. Now on the show.

Intro: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. We will teach you how to create a business that suits your lifestyle, so you can spend more time with your family and focus on doing the things that you love. Here is your host, Steve Chou.

Steve: Welcome to the My Wife Quit her Job podcast; in this episode I’m going to be talking to Jeff Goins. Now Jeff is someone who I met at FinCon years ago where he gave an awesome keynote speech. He’s the author of four books including a national bestseller called The Art of Work; he also runs a course called Tribe Writers where he teaches others how to get their writing noticed.

Now the reason why I decided to bring him on the show is because I wanted to interview a creative professional who makes a killing with his craft, and as part of writing my blog I often get readers who kind of complain to me about how they can’t make money with what they enjoy. Now Jeff is an incredible writer who built an audience of 100K people in just 18 months, he’s pursuing his passion and he’s making an awesome living while he’s at it. And with that welcome to the show Jeff, how are you doing today man?

Jeff: I’m doing great Steve, thanks for having me.

Steve: Yeah give us a quick background story for those people in the audience who don’t know who you are, tell us about your business and whether being a writer was actually your plan from the start.

Jeff: Well if you haven’t heard of me you’re like most people, so no big deal, I hate when people are like, oh you probably heard of me. It’s a big world and it’s okay if you never heard of me.

Steve: Jeff is really modest by the way, he’s big time but he always self-duplicating is the right word.

Jeff: It’s a big internet, there’s a lot of people out there. Yeah so I’ve always been a creative, I love that word, I used to draw Garfield comics in grade school, I started playing guitar in high school, we started a band called Decaf because we had three guitars and no drums. So if you got decaffeinated music it’ll probably sound like that it’ll be percussionless.

Steve: That’s how you got your wife if I recall, right?

Jeff: Well no, we met in college and I met my wife because she didn’t know how to cook meat and she was throwing a party and she asked me to be the grill master, and it just kind of hit it off from there.

Steve: Okay, for some reason I remember you playing the guitar or something like that but anyway sorry; go on, I didn’t mean to interrupt.

Jeff: Yeah well so I took her on a date two weeks before I was leaving to go on to Luther band for a year, this is after college and I wrote a song and I said, hey do you want to date? And she’s like you’re leaving and you want a girlfriend, and she’s like fine whatever. And we wrote letters to each other for a year while I was travelling all over the country and this is in 2005, 2006. The band had one cell phone that we all shared, so really we communicated with each other for an entire year through hand written letters, very like 1945 style, old school courtship.

Steve: So were you a professional writer at this point?

Jeff: No, so I was sort of first forwarding ahead. So I always thought I would be a rock start though, I always thought I’d play – I thought, man my dream is to play music for a living, and then I did that after college, I was a Spanish patron and so as you can see I’ve got a lot of relevant skills that are building on each other. I was reading your credentials by the way Steve and I was like, oh like this is what is like a real successful person looks like.

Steve: Whatever man.

Jeff: I went to a small liberal arts college in Illinois, I went there because the tuition was cheap and we didn’t make much money and so I could go there for scholarships and grants for free, and I went to college and the first time I’d seen my college was freshman orientation. I never visited the college because it was the only one I could afford to go to and it ended up being a great education.

So I didn’t really know what I wanted to be, I was pretty good at Spanish at the time, and so I wanted to go to Spain, I wanted to travel and so I guess I made my mind and Spanish was something in my Spanish register. If you go to Spain all your classes will count as Spanish credits and you can basically major pretty easily. So that’s what I did and I had actually two majors, religion, and Spanish just because I was interested…

Steve: All very practical majors, how about that.

Jeff: Like things building up on each other, and in my spare time I had a job as writing tutor just to make some money. I always liked writing, I didn’t want to study English though because as you know, being in college you write a lot regardless of whether or not you’re an English major, and so I was always taking a writing class or two every semester because it was just something that was interesting to me.

I was always good at English, I won all those school spelling bees and stuff like that, but it was just this that thing I did, I never considered it as a vocational path and I think I certainly didn’t think of myself as a writer, and the answer is no, it was always just something that I did. I remember watching a Ted Talk once with Elizabeth Gilbert and she said, “Writing is my home, not in the sense that it’s like a place that I am from, but she says home is the thing that you always return to.”

I love that definition and for me writing was this thing that was always an escape for me. So when I was in middle school like a lot of middle schools I loved comic books, so I would create my own comic books and I would write these stories and I would draw these super heroes that looked a lot like the X man. I would do it on three ring call it route, no book paper, three in a spiral ring, no book paper and then I would bind these books together with twisty ties from the bread bag in our kitchen and that was — my first book was a comic book.

And then when I played music, my favorite part of playing music was writing songs, writing original songs, and then in college I was studying Spanish and I didn’t have a computer in college, and so I’d go to the computer lab late at night and when I was really, really stressed during finals like two, three o’clock in the morning I’d go to the computer lab and I’d open up a web browser and write an email to myself and send it to myself because that we didn’t have DropBox and that’s how we’d save things in the cloud so to speak.

I would write little stories, I’d write little essays, I’d write little articles, and it was just this thing that I did to relieve stress. Then after college I toured with this band, I had this girl on the hook that I dated for two weeks before I left for a year, we wrote letters, and my favorite part of touring with the band going all over the country playing all kinds of venues, really living this life that I thought this is my dream, it actually ended up being – it was fun but it ended up being kind of underwhelming.

Anybody who has ever toured with a band will tell you that like playing music on stage is a tiny fraction of how you spend your time and most of it is driving, sitting in a van. And I realized it wasn’t as glamorous as I thought it was, and my favorite part of that even on tour was I was responsible for keeping the team blog, and once a week I would write an update to our friends and family and what little fans we had and say, here is what we did this week, and that was my favorite part.

Steve: So how did that lead to money, sorry Jeff I want to get to like the money?

Jeff: Slowly and painfully, so I mean I forgot about all that stuff and so seven years after that I was working for a non-profit and much like your story Steve, my wife got pregnant by me fortunately and I was like I got to pay for this. And I made about $30,000 a year at the time and my wife made about a similar amount and we were living fine on that, but she like your wife wanted to stay home and be a mum for a while and we could not afford for her to do that, and so I became very motivated to find a way to make money, period.

Around that time I was sort of frustrated with my job, again I can really relate to your story, you go through these motions, you get up, you say hi to your spouse, eat breakfast, go to work, come back. I didn’t hate my job, some people really hate their jobs, and I think that that’s a blessing, like I think it’s a good thing when you hate your job because you know something has to change.

I didn’t hate my job, I was comfortable in it and I think that’s the most dangerous place for a person to be is comfortable because then you can just kind of drift through life and never really make the kind of changes that are going to lead to the kind of life that you ought to be living. So I was comfortable and getting ready to become parents made me a little uncomfortable and I realized I’ve got to figure this out.

I also realized what I was doing was not what I wanted to be doing for the next ten years. I was approaching 30 and I was going, gosh if I keep doing this every year I get a little raise, my boss gives me a little bit more money, a little bit more responsibilities, I’m not going to get fired and I could do this for the next ten years, no problem. What I foresaw was a mid life crisis, I saw myself turning 40 and going, what have I done with my life? Nothing bad necessarily, but not what I felt like I was meant to do.

So I started reading books and going to seminars and conferences and I tried to – I felt like I had an itch that I couldn’t scratch and I remember reading in a book that somebody said, the way that you find your dream is not by looking forward but by looking backward, and that the act of dreaming is not an act of discovery but of recovery. I just started to do this thing [inaudible 00:13:29] an author calls listening to your life.

He says, “Before we can tell our lives what we want to do with it, we need to listen to our lives telling us who we are.” I kind of went back through the chronology that I just shared with you and I realized that the thread, I’ve done so many different kind of weird things, travel, music, art, I was an actor at one point, in college I was involved in theater. All these different creative things and the thing kind of tying it all together was writing, that was the thing that I kept returning to, and I thought maybe I’m supposed o be a writer. So I started this blog, I started to take off, I spent about a year…

Steve: Is this Goins Writer, sorry.

Jeff: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Steve: Okay, got it okay.

Jeff: And then around that time we got pregnant and tried to figure out a way to take this blog that was really an outlet for me and turn it into a source of income. It took a year to kind of build the audience and then the second year as we were getting ready to have our son I turned it into a six figure business, went from making zero dollars to $150,000 in about six months after [inaudible 00:14:42].

Steve: That’s amazing, okay so can you give the audience an idea of how you’re doing today in terms of like books sold and how many books you have out, that sort of thing.

Jeff: Sure, so my business model is I write books, I’ve written five books, so far the last book today it’s sold about 50,000 copies, a little bit more than that now. That came out in 2015 and that was the best-selling book out of all of them, but the book that started it sold about 10,000 copies, the next book sold about 20,000, so all together we’re probably – I don’t know pushing 75, 80 maybe.

Steve: Nice, one question I had for you was how does one make money writing in the first place? So I was actually offered a book deal by Wiley once and the offer and payment was like nothing, and then I would have to sell a ton of books to make any loyalties at all. So at least to me it didn’t seem like writing with a publisher was the right route to take.

Jeff: Right, yeah that’s a bad deal. So my business model is twofold, one I write books and I make enough money off of book advances and loyalties for me and for my family just doing that. The second business model has been for several years I teach people how to succeed as a writer, teach them how do what I do primarily through online courses, and all together that’s about a million dollar business every year.

So how does one make money writing? I think the safe answer is you make money writing the way that really you run most businesses which is through multiple streams of income, and so I think the dichotomy here is you can get any money writing or you can make millions of dollars if you’re an outlier. The truth is I know a lot of working writers who are making $50 to $200,000 a year and you don’t know their names and that’s okay.

But I think if you want to be an author there’s sort of two options and I have done both. One is to self publish my first book, sold 10,000 copies in the first year and this is how I got started was I wrote a book, I self published it just as an eBook on Kindle and I made $16,000 in six weeks and I was like, oh my God, I can do this. Remember at the time I was making $30,000 a year and so this was huge and this happened like days before our son was born.

So during those sleepless nights I just kept hassling and finding other ways to sell this book and kind of built on this and ended up getting into online courses and that sort of thing, and then a book publisher offered me a deal and the first book deal was low, it’s $5,000. The next one was $15,000, one after that was $50,000, the one after that was $150,000.

But it was a revenue stream and while that money was coming in I would go and tackle another one, and like I said through that, through some affiliate stuff, by the end of the first year we were at 150 grand.

Steve: I just want to take a moment to tell you about a free resource that I offer on my website that you may not be aware of. If you’re interested in starting your own online store, I put together a comprehensive six day mini course on how to get started in ecommerce that you should all check out. It contains both video and text based tutorials that go over the entire process of finding products to sell all the way to getting your first sales online.

Now this course is free and can be obtained at mywifequitherjob.com/free. Just sign up right there on the front page via email and I’ll send you the course right away. Once again that’s mywifequitherjob.com/free, now back to the show.

Let’s talk about just going back to the beginning when you launched that first eBook, did you already have an audience through the blog?

Jeff: Yeah, so the first six months I went from zero to 72 email subscribers.

Steve: 72,000 or?

Jeff: 72.

Steve: Seven two okay.

Jeff: Seven two. I share this because I had a friend who started a blog and by day six he had 6,000 people a day visiting his blog, I mean it just kind of went viral and he’s like that’s how I knew I was supposed to be doing this. I started my blog and six people really…

Steve: I know that feeling by the way.

Jeff: You know what I’m saying, like you see somebody hit a home run and you go, why should I even do this, and it’s not like you’re not succeeding, it’s just comparatively speaking it feels like you’re failing. So it took me six months to get 72 email subscribers not like the sexy internet entrepreneurial story you’ve had. And then I was like I guess I need an eBook or something and I put that together and reached out to some people, asked them to share it, and then I went from 72 to 1,000 subscribers.

I feel like once you get to that point that’s when things start to become real. 1,000 people is a lot of people, I don’t have 1000 friends, I may have 100 or 200 friends, but to have 1,000 people want to listen to you, that’s a big deal. That was at month six, by the end of month 12 and I was blogging every day, this was 2011, and I was doing it just to practice and get better, and get this out there.

There wasn’t necessarily a goal to make money at that time; this was this itch that I was trying to scratch but then we got pregnant and then I heard these stories, I remember reading Darren Rowse’s blog and other blogs and going, oh like this is the thing that people do. So I started trying to figure that out, by the end of the year I had 10,000 email subscribers and I was making no money. I went to a conference, a public speaking conference; I was like maybe I can speak for a living.

I was just trying to find ways to make money and I was coming up empty. And then at that conference, I met a woman named Kerry Walkers who especially at the time was coaching a lot of online entrepreneurs and business owners. And I said, hey I am – she was a big deal and we had lunch at this conference and I said, how do I monetize my blog? She said, how many email subscribers do you have? I said 10,000, she goes, oh you’ve got a six figure business there.

I said, no I’ve two figure business, I think I made like 12 off of this last year from Amazon credit or something, I don’t know. And she goes, here’s what you’re going to do, and she told me what to do, and it was very simple, do a survey with your email list, ask them what they want, ask them how they want it, and ask them what they’re willing to pay. I did that and they said, we want an eBook, we want to learn about how you built your blog and we’ll pay you $5 for it.

And so afraid to charge anything, I said, okay here’s two eBooks for two for $2.99 and I launched that in January of 2012 and I made $1,500 in a weekend and that was incredible to me, that was a paycheck and I made it in two days. And I was like I will do this every month but that product wasn’t that great, it was a PDF, it was what we now call a minimum viable product. I threw it together, it took me a few weeks, I based it on the keynote presentation of a talk I did at one of my sisters who was in college at the time at a journalism class about why you need a blog.

And so I turned it into an eBook and I sold it, made a few thousand dollars off of it. I wasn’t proud of it, took it down and turned it to a full length book that I released in May and that’s the one I made that $16,000 in six weeks and one I made about $50,000 off of that product that year, that was a self published book. Then I got a traditional book deal, then later that year launched an online course, made about $70,000 off of that.

These things kind of kept building on each other, like I’m not good with numbers, I’m not good with money, I don’t manage our bank accounts and I have always been the slacker in our marriage and the dreamer, and the person who says, hey I’m going to do this and my wife kind of rolls her eyes. And I told her, I said, I’m going to make it – I think this was in January, I said, I’m going to make it so you don’t have to work when we have our child.

Our son Aden was born in May and my wife had – because she had a cesarean, he was four and a half weeks premature, she got I think three months off and she was kind of down to that last few days before her leave was done and she had to tell her boss whether or not she was coming back to work or not. All the while $50,000 was just sitting in a pay bill account and one day I checked it.

Steve: That was awesome.

Jeff: I sat down with her and I go, oh hey – and she knew stuff was happening, but I was just like, oh I made 500 bucks today, she’s like, wow that’s cool. We didn’t know how much it was adding up and I opened up the laptop and I showed it to her and I said, hey you don’t have to work anymore, there’s your salary and then it just…

Steve: So Jeff let’s start from the beginning because this is where a lot of people have problems, so how did you get your first 1000 subscribers?

Jeff: So I…

Steve: What is it you write about, how did you choose what to write about?

Jeff: I was a marketing director at non-profit and I like what Derrick Silva [ph] says about this, what’s obvious to you is amazing to others. I started my blog and it was driven by I think ego. I saw people like Michael Hyatt and Seth Godin tantalizing the world with their ideas and I thought, I’ve got ideas, people should listen to me, I want to be a writer, how do I do this?

And I realized that deep down inside I was a writer, I needed to be writing, and I didn’t know what to write about. So you go back and this is still on goinswriter.com, you go back and you listen to those early blog posts and I’m totally copying Seth Godin and Michael Hyatt and Steven Pressfield and all my heroes trying to find my voice and failing.

Then one day I saw the marketing director for this non-profit and I’m reading a session which I had done every Monday morning for about six months at this point on writing, on copy writing and how to write more effectively, on why nobody cares if you’re good, they care about how you can persuade an audience and how you can be very clear in your message.

I realized what if I just took that, put that on my blog, I mean I spend hours comparing this presentation than I did in front of a team of a dozen writers and marketers in our organization, I’m just teaching them how to do their jobs better, I’ll just put that on my blog, take those notes and turn it into a blog post. I did that and keep in mind I’ve got like just a handful people that are visiting my blog everyday at this point.

That’s when I started seeing my first few comments, and any time I wrote about writing versus leadership, or marketing or something that I didn’t really have any business talking about at that point, people responded. To me it was really interesting because I thought, this is obvious, everybody knows this, everybody knows you can go read Copyblogger and learn about copy writing, or go to ProBlogger and learn about blogging.

I realized for whatever reason that this audience that I was starting to reach didn’t know that and I was – the way in which I was sharing it as a writer, as somebody who has a bit of appearance in that sense it was connecting with people, and so that’s how I decided to start writing about writing.

Steve: How did you get those first like handful people to find you, like how did you market your blog in the very beginning?

Jeff: I did it through relationships, so I’m fortunate to live in a city like Nashville which is not like New York or San Francisco or even Atlanta, but it is a growing community of creatives. I remember sitting on my couch one day following these people on social media and going, what do these people have that I don’t have? These bloggers and influencers, and the online entrepreneurship community in Nashville was just beginning, but I saw this happening, I was following people on Twitter, so what do they have that I don’t have?

I realized they all know each other, like in real life like they’re really friends, and so this person tweeting this thing and linking to so and so’s blog post and sharing this thing on Facebook, they have real relationships. And it was sort of [inaudible 00:27:33], I was like; oh like this doesn’t just happen on the internet, offline relationship leads to online connection. So I started asking these people on to coffee.

One of them ended up being Michael Hyatt, he very generously said yes and we had coffee and I just made a follow up with him, I stayed in touch with him. I did this with about a dozen people, people that were peers and also people that were major influencers. Some of them said yes, some of them said no, and I just kept working on my blog, and then one day I “launched my blog,” I redesigned it. I got a friend design an actual header for me versus it just saying Goins, Writer.

I launched it once I figured out what this was about and I emailed all those people and I said, hey I’m launching my blog, I’d love for you to share it, and a lot of those people tweeted about it and shared it. This was months into the blog actually existing, and that was how I got probably the first surge of traffic, that was the day when everybody tweeted about it and shared about it when I got like 600 people to come to the blog, and I was, hey this is awesome.

Looking back I didn’t have an email list or anything and I was like 600 people came to my blog and the next day it was back to six.

Steve: Right.

Jeff: I realized I’ve got to find a way to keep these people here, and that’s when I started thinking about things like building an email list.

Steve: So in your class do you actually advice that people go to a bunch of conferences and meet people, like is that part of the curriculum?

Jeff: I teach a few courses, the main one is called Tribe Writers which is a course about how to become a professional writer. I think networking is part of the job and I think it’s always been part of the job. I read this Hemingway biography years ago about the 1920s expert community living in Paris of which Hemingway and James, Joyce and [inaudible 00:29:32] and all these soon to be famous authors were a part.

Part of what made these people the famous authors they are today is the community that they were part of, that they all connected with each other, affirming and sharing their work with the world when nobody else cared about who they were. So I do think relationship is important. Do I think you have to spend thousands of dollars going to conferences a year? Not necessarily, but you have to spend a little bit of time connecting with somebody on Skype, on Twitter, in person ideally at some point.

So I do think getting in front of people and building some kind of relationship with them is really, really important but the most important part of that Steve that most people neglect is the follow up. So you and I are talking here not because we met at FinCon four years ago, but because we’ve maintained a relationship and we’re not like best friends, but we’ve stayed in touch, I’ve paid attention to the stuff that you are doing.

I think once you meet somebody in person you have a face of voice, they become a real person, and when they email you or you see them in your social media stream, you pause, and you think, oh like this is a real person, I’m going to pay more attention to what they are doing. So I think yeah real life interaction with real life human beings is part of the job.

Steve: This is kind of awkward Jeff because I thought we were best friends, but that’s beside the point…

Jeff: This is our DTR.

Steve: So I know you teach a class about this and let’s assume that the writing part is done and you’ve kind of found your voice, once you’ve found your writing and this is my personal opinion that blogging, starting a blog today is a lot harder because there’s a lot more other mediums that are just trying to grab everyone’s attention. So what are some of the principles that you preach outside of just the writing part?

Jeff: So one of the things I advocate for is a lot of people talk about niching down and find your niche, and I actually disagree with that, this a little bit counterintuitive to sort of traditional internet marketing business advice. It may sound semantic but I think it’s more significant than that. If you look at the world’s most powerful communicators, if you look at some of the biggest bloggers today, they are not niched down.

Seth Godin writes on a variety of topics for lots of different demographics, Michael Hyatt does the same, and what I think powerful effective communication does is it connects with a worldview. So what I teach our students to do is — the first step in the process is whether or not you think like you are a good writer or you’ve found your voice, you still have to clarify your message, and the way that you do that is by identifying a major worldview that your content connects with, and great communicators…

Steve: Give me an example with your own content for example.

Jeff: I’ll give you an example with your content Steve, like you might say you are sort of in the small niche helping would be internet entrepreneurs launch their own little niche businesses or start an online store as you guys did. But I know your story and underneath that story is this worldview, which is we shouldn’t have to come home everyday exhausted doing things we don’t love without the energy to actually enjoy all this work that we’re doing, and so we should be able to enjoy our work and spend majority of our time doing things that we love like spending time with our kids. That’s a worldview.

Steve: That sounds just like your worldview, amazing okay.

Jeff: Yeah, it’s a worldview and everybody might go, oh yeah that’s true I agree with that, but what you believe is not what you say, it’s what you do, and lots of people don’t live that way. Tim Ferriss has a worldview; his worldview is you should minimize the amount of time that you’re working so you can maximize the time you do the things that you enjoy. That worldview really says work is bad. Some people love work, I actually love work; I don’t think work is bad.

So the point is not whether you have a good or bad worldview, you need to have a clear worldview, and I think that a worldview statement is best summarized in this sort of framework. Every ______ can or should _____.

Steve: I was just going to say I agree with that because I was following some blogs that do a lot of teaching and they do it very well, but the blog itself does not have a personality, and so that’s why I kind of stopped going back, whereas some of the other blogs that have a personality to it and like someone who is the face of the blog, I tend to visit more because I’m curious about them in addition to the content.

Jeff: Yeah, here is the thing you can win over an audience with a topic niching down. I’m not saying it’s a bad way to build an online presence, but typically for a lot of the content creators, a lot of the writers building these audiences it gets boring, because say you knit cat sweaters and you love cat sweaters and you’ve got this cat sweater knitting community, and you start a cat sweater knitting blog and you love, love, love it and then your cat dies and the last thing you want to hear about is cat sweaters and now you’re stuck with a million knitters who want to listen to you, and you’re done with it, you’re stuck, or you’ve got to start from scratch.

But look at somebody like Seth Godin; I think he’s a great example of this. Seth’s worldview is the system is broken but we can fix it. He started out kind of in a niche, he started out in the marketing niche talking about things like promotion, marketing, building companies, sold the company to Yahoo, and then he started writing about business.

But you go to Seth’s blog today and he writes about politics, he writes about his frustrations with the TSA, he writes about [inaudible 00:35:55], he writes about anything and everything and his diehard fans of which I am a part of that tribe read it all, because it doesn’t ever feel off topic, because what Seth is doing so well is there is a theme, there is a worldview woven throughout everything that he’s writing. So he just looks at something and goes, this is broken and this is broken and that is broken, and he just wants you to think differently.

But if Seth had had an early win which he did almost two decades ago with the marketing thing and just kept talking about marketing over and over and over again, he would have never been able to do that. And so I think effective communication, building a tribe today that you’re going to take somewhere, like as the market changes, as the world changes, it needs to have a worldview.

It doesn’t mean you can’t talk about a specific topic, I talk about writing, but my worldview is every creative person can succeed. You mentioned this at the beginning of the show; can you be a successful creative? I absolutely believe that this is the core frustration professionally speaking that I have which is that I know so many talented people musicians, artists, writers who go, well I can never do that because they just have this limiting believe that nobody cares about art because of that creative work.

It’s just not true, I know so many people, you probably know a lot of people who are very, very creative, who are also smart at business and making a good living for themselves and their families. So that worldview, something that I can take to other areas of interest and I do, I haven’t written five books about writing. I have one book about writing and then I wrote four other books about different areas of life that interest me.

That’s because I’m writing with a worldview so that as my interests change, as the world changes my writing can change with me and my audience will follow that process.

Steve: I think I agree with you on the worldview part in the long run, but I almost feel like when you’re just starting out it helps to be the best at a very narrow topic, would you agree with that?

Jeff: I think so; I think it’s a good way to begin a conversation. If I walk up to you – again I think the best way to think about blogging and all this online stuff is like think about real life and how do people really work. If I walk up to you, not a party and I don’t know you and I say, hey it’s nice to meet you and you tell me 27 minutes of your life story and why you believe the things you believe in, what your values are, that’s bit much.

What you’re probably going to do if you’re smart and everybody is good at this meeting in person, if you wanted to develop some kind of friendship or a relationship with me so that we actually can be best friends Steve, you’re going to say, hey where are you from, what do you like, and you’re going to try and find some common area of interest, and over time you’re going to build on that and as we build trust with each other we’ll share more private parts of what we think, what we believe with one another.

But I do think – so with blogging yeah it’s good to pick an idea, some sort of topic to sort of focus on, but do that with the understanding that over time this topic could lead to this topic and that topic. I think another great example of this is like Chris Guillebeau. He did kind of niche down early on, he was the travel guy, but he was the whole time, he’s writing with a worldview and what is that worldview? It’s that just because other people do it doesn’t mean you have to live that way, the whole idea of living an unconventional life.

So it’s unconventional to try to go to every country in the world and he did it, it’s unconventional to start an online business especially when he did it. So he started creating this portfolio, this body of work that’s all connected with this worldview. So I don’t think you can start a topic, stay super focused on it, that’s all you talk about without thinking about where is this leading and am I weaving the worldview through this right now.

I mentioned Tim Ferriss, he did the same thing. Tim Ferriss’s worldview is I mentioned work, that’s kind of the message of the 4-Hour Work Week. His deeper message is truly about like life hacking, that you can put in the minimum amount of effort and get the maximum results if you do it right. You can do that with work four hours a week, you can do that with health, the 4-Hour hour Body, you can do that with learning any skill, the 4-Hour Chef and on and on.

So I think powerful communicators whether they’re doing this on purpose or not, what makes their messages so interesting and makes their tribes so committed to them is a worldview.

Steve: I want to take a moment to thank ReferralCandy for being a sponsor of the show. Now in this day and age word of mouth is a huge driver of business for most ecommerce stores, and the best way to amplify word of mouth marketing is through a referral program. This is where ReferralCandy shines, with just a couple of clicks to the mouse you could add a referral program to your ecommerce store and reward your customers for telling their friends about your shop.

And this tactic works wonders; and in fact it is not uncommon to get a ridiculous return on investment. So for example Greats Footwear who is a ReferralCandy customer is currently seeing a 20X ROI. Referral word of mouth marketing is also useful for building up your social media presence as well, because everyone is talking about your company with their friends on Facebook and Twitter.

And the best part is that ReferralCandy is a set it and forget it service, requires no technical setup and they are giving My Wife Quit Her Job listeners 50 bucks to try them out if you go to promo.referralcandy.com/steve. Once again it’s promo.referralcandy.com/steve to get a $50 credit to try out the service risk free. Now back to the show.

So let me ask you this, so up until this point we’ve just been talking about content, content, content, do you feel like that is the majority of the battle?

Jeff: What is, finding a worldview, creating content?

Steve: Finding a worldview and creating great content.

Jeff: If for a writer just period.

Steve: For a writer who is trying to do this for a living.

Jeff: I think most writers want to write and they don’t know why or what they want to write about or who they want to write for and I think that’s okay. I didn’t know, but you cannot stay stuck there and be successful, so is it the majority of the battle? Yeah, I mean probably, I mean as much as I would say it’s great to know the right people and have some sort of business strategy or smart model, really, really great content, really great messages have a way of selling themselves.

A lot of times we’re trying to take mediocre messages and find some gimmick to help them spread really far when in fact we should just be focusing on making better stuff.

Steve: I can agree with that to a certain point. There was this guy, I don’t know if you read Mark Manson?

Jeff: I don’t know.

Steve: He’s a personal development blogger and I read one post of his and I was instantly hooked just by his content alone, but in my opinion he’s just exceptional, whereas the majority of people’s writings that I read, it does not hook me that way. So I guess if you’re exceptional then that’s good enough, but if you’re just above average so to speak, it seems like the other factors that you mention like the context, the networking and the business sense carries a much larger role.

Jeff: Yeah, I mean I think that it’s always problematic to say if I just do this one thing it’ll work, if I’m just a great writer it’ll work, if I’m just a great entrepreneur it’ll work. I’ve been running a business now for the past four almost five years and like this year I actually learned how to do finance right. Now I actually know every single day how much money we actually made, not what the shopping cart told me, not what the PNL told me a month, or a quarter, a year later.

And that was the thing I was like; I’ll just let somebody else figure it out. Most of the stuff, it’s going to take a branding of a few skills. I think to be a writer today you’ve got to be one part a great writer, one part a fairly savvy marketer and one part sensible business person. I love this idea of the portfolio life which was an idea coined by a business philosopher named Charles Handy.

In 1989 he basically projected that in the future we would all have multiple jobs; he predicted what we now call the gig economy. He said in the future you’re not going to have one job; you’re going to have like five different kinds of jobs at any given point. You are going to have at least five if not closer to ten careers. He advocated having like portfolio marriages every ten years, you just divorce.

Steve: I didn’t know about that part, okay.

Jeff: I was like oh okay interesting. Yeah, the idea is you are not one thing, and this idea of mastery, it’s really cool but most of us have more than one interest, and I think the future of mastery is really being able to take a few skills and combine them in your own unique portfolio. In fact Robert Greene author of a book called Mastery said the future belongs to people who can take multiple skills and combine them in interesting ways.

Steve: That’s interesting, I actually just quit my job of 17 years last year as an engineer and that was a really hard decision, but I can kind of relate now. I had a whole bunch of stuff going on and it was just time.

Jeff: Yeah, no I totally get that.

Steve: Let me ask you this question, how deliberate are you in some of the metrics, like do you look at keyword research for your posts or anything along those lines or is it just pure writing?

Jeff: Neither of those extremes. When I first started, keep in mind I was a marketing director so I had a working knowledge of search engine optimization, I understood that if I wrote pretty good stuff, had smart headlines, that if I was writing about kiddy sweaters, having the word kiddy sweater in the title of the blog post was not a bad idea, and then getting people to link to it was a good idea as well.

When I started I really was just practicing in public, it was my form of accountability. I’m going to put this on the blog every day because if I don’t I’m hiding and I just wanted to get better as a writer. As the audience grew, as my business matured I started measuring more things, I became an entrepreneur because I became a dad and I was like, okay I’ve got to build a business, I’ve got to figure this out.

I did start looking at metrics and getting into some of that stuff because if I didn’t I wasn’t going to be able to support my family, and so went from hobby to profession. I really liked it, but I’ve never been super metrics oriented, so now as our team has grown, I’ve delegated a lot of that stuff and not deferred it. Like I used to hire people and go, hey do all the stuff I don’t want to do and I realized that’s irresponsible leadership.

These days I delegate most of the stuff I don’t want to do and I do focus on the writing and then the team, I’ve got a team of about four people now and they report to me, here is how this blog posted, I’m like okay great, I’ll write more about that. I still create all the content but in terms of revenue, page views, growth on the Facebook page, those kinds of things I just don’t gig out on that.

It’s something that I did for a season because when you’re starting something you kind of have to do everything initially unless you just got a bunch of cash lying around that you can use as startup capital. But I think that’s a good thing, and so these days I get reports that I sometimes look at and mostly stay focused on the few skills that I feel like I do best.

Steve: Let me ask you this Jeff just to kind of conclude this interview since we’ve been talking for quite a while, someone comes to you and they are a writer let’s just say, what path or what advice would you give them just to kind of get their first 1,000 subscribers so to speak, would you recommend they start out with a blog, an eBook or what would you recommend?

Jeff: So you mentioned blogging earlier and one of the things that I have been hearing over the past year, year and a half is this question, is it too late to start? Yes it’s true that there are hundreds of millions of blogs out in the world now and that there’s lots of voices and people have picked up on the fact that you can build an audience online and replace your income and have an online business and do all this amazing stuff.

So it is noisier, it is more cluttered, I think that’s true. At the same time every year, I mean I teach thousands of writers, people who are just beginning and I see many of them, I don’t even want to call it a reap, they make the transition from this is an idea, the average writer makes less than a dollar a month to making thousands of dollars a month and turning this into a nice little side gig and for some people even a full time career.

So I really do believe now is still the best time to be a writer, and I do not think blogging is dying, maybe blogging as it existed say when you started Steve in 2007, obviously lots of things have changed. 2006, 2007 if you had a blog period you were remarkable, like people were like what’s a blog? But the internet is not going away, websites are not going away, a blog is just a website where you put content on there, and it’s good to own your presence on the internet and it’s good to have a place where you can send people, where you can communicate with them via email.

Email marketing trends, all the ones that I read are still going up to the right, so all these declines that we think are happening by and large are not, a lot of these are myths. So what is the thing that you should do? I think first of all start blogging, most writers are not doing this and all that means is get a website and get an email list. I don’t care if you actually “blog” but write something new once a week and send it to your subscribers, and then give them something for free for paying attention to you.

I think the first step is just an eBook just because even today many people will go, oh free book, I will download that and read that. You could get into webinars and all these other things which are great but there are barriers to entry for those things, there is a learning curve for those things.

Get a website, get an email list and write 1,000 word article that is good enough, that has enough interesting information, enough inspiration or entertainment value, whatever it is that you offer the world and then turn it into a PDF that people can get when they sign up for your email list, and you will be on your way to getting a tribe. Then from there I’d start writing for other outlets, other websites, I know somebody who recently built his blog to 100,000 email subscribers in about a year using Medium, just writing posts on Medium.

Steve: Interesting.

Jeff: Yeah but I mean that’s kind of getting ahead of…

Steve: This is the outliers.

Jeff: Yeah, well I think it’s a great strategy but he’s guest posting and I saw that guest posting is a great strategy. A lot of times you hear people say, oh this thing is over, go do this and maybe that’s true for like the bleeding edge, but blogging is still working really well. My numbers all of them are still going up every year, my students, thousands of them, their numbers are still going up, I’m not seeing this decline of blogging or email marketing.

Things are always changing and fluctuating and you should pay attention to that, but if you want to be a writer, get a website, get an email list and then take your best idea and in 1,000 words turn it into a downloadable PDF that people can start reading when they sign up for your email list and then just get attention to that, and I think guest posting is a free way to bring traffic to your website.

Steve: Cool Jeff, one last thing just as kind of set expectations, how long do you this takes to actually gather 1,000 or 5,000 email subscribers when you’re first starting out, like how long should you be doing this before you might tell yourself, hey this isn’t working?

Jeff: You know a lot of people want to promise quick results here, and like I said it took me six months because I didn’t know what I was doing. I know this was years ago.

Steve: Six months is fast in my opinion.

Jeff: Yeah sure, I’m coaching a group of people right now, it’s basically a mastermind group taking a dozen people through this process to go from essentially zero to an online business or publish a book or whatever their goal is, but going from like making nothing off of their writing to making something. We have one person in the group who went from 50 email subscribers in the past nine months to 260 and she’s proud of that, and she’s on her way.

I have somebody else who went from a few hundred to like 12,000. Yeah, so I think results do vary as you know, I mean there’s no like perfect formula if you do it this way it will always work this way. I will say that my friend Bryan Harris who is a ninja at this stuff has consistently demonstrated that you can do it in about 90 days; you can get to 1,000 email subscribers. I think that’s great, that feels fairly aggressive to me but I’ve seen it happen, I know that it’s possible.

So how long should it take to get 1,000 email subscribers, I don’t know, I’d say three to six months, at 12 months if you’re still struggling it may be worth evaluating what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong. When should you quit? Well, I heard this thing from Shawn [ph] West, I don’t know if you know him, he goes by Shawn West; his name is Shawn became shawnwest.com [ph].

He said any time you try to do something, give it two years before you expect to see any results, before you quit and move on to something else, and I kind of love that counterintuitive advice in our world of quick and dirty fast hacks to easy riches, what if you just took a long time.

When I heard that I really resonated with that, because when I started my blog I actually had an old blog that I had been writing on for four years and it had got to – I got 250 email subscribers over the course of our years and I was stuck, it just wouldn’t go beyond that and it is because I wasn’t doing this stuff that I mentioned, I wasn’t writing with a worldview, I wasn’t guest posting, I wasn’t networking with other people in the space.

So when is started goinswriter.com I told myself I’m going to write in that every day and I’m going to give it two years to try to get at least 250 subscribers before I quit, because if I get 250 subscribers in two years what took me four years to do it previously I’m getting double the results, that felt good to me. Then when I heard Shawn say that give something two years before you quit, I liked that, but you’ve got to believe in this and this has to be important to you.

So how long should it take? I don’t know, I’ve seen it take three to six months, sometimes longer. How long should it be before you quit? I think it should take a while, and if it’s easy to quit then maybe it wasn’t worth doing in the first place.

Steve: Yeah it’s funny, the advice that I give everyone is — for me personally I always are willing to commit three to five years on any project that I start actually.

Jeff: Yeah I love that, that is so counter control by the way, I mean how many people do you know that are like, I’m trying this thing out, we’ll see how it goes and you’re like, well how long have you been doing this? Well I’ve spent about four and a half years, so we’ll see. Nobody does that, they don’t even do that, people don’t do that with jobs. How is your new job? I think it’s okay, but I might give it another five years. People don’t do that, I love that Steve, I mean I think…

Steve: Oh you’re talking to a guy who was in the same company for 17 years or so.

Jeff: Oh yeah, I think we live in a commitment phobic world today especially when you’re talking about people who are our age or younger. I think that just some things take time and I think success in just about anything definitely takes time, and if it doesn’t take time enough then it doesn’t last.

Steve: Cool Jeff, hey thanks a lot for your time, we’ve been chatting for longer than I was expecting, but the conversation was good and now we’re best friends, right?

Jeff: Totally.

Steve: So where can people find you if they want to learn more about you?

Jeff: Well thanks Steve, it’s my pleasure certainly to be such a [inaudible 00:58:03]. You can go to my blog goinswriter.com. If you want to learn more about building an online audience you can sign up for my email newsletter, and so get a free eBook about how I did that thing you mentioned at the beginning, how do you 100,000 email subscribers in the first 18 months, and you can get that for free at my website at goinswriter.com, G-O-I-N-Swriter.com.

Steve: Cool, well Jeff thanks a lot for coming on the show, really appreciated.

Jeff: It’s my pleasure.

Steve: All right take care.

Jeff: Thanks.

Steve: Hope you enjoyed that episode, and I hope that Jeff’s story has shown you that you can make it as an artist if you perfect your craft, and incidentally he just released a book called Real Artists Don’t Starve that you should all check out on Amazon right now. For more information about this episode, go to mywifequitherjob.com/episode166.

And once again I want to thank Klaviyo for sponsoring this episode. Klaviyo is my email marketing platform of choice for ecommerce merchants, and you can easily put together automated flows like an abandoned cart sequence, a post purchase flow, a win back campaign, basically all these sequences that will make you money on auto pilot. So head on over to mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O, once again that’s mywifequitherjob.com/ K-L-A-V-I-Y-O.

I also want to thank SellerLabs.com as well. Their tool Ignite is what I use to manage my Amazon PPC campaigns. Instead of the old tedious way of generating reports and analyzing your ad campaigns in excel, Ignite aggregates all that info for you in one place and allows you to quickly visualize your data to make decisions fast.

So not only does it save time, but it also makes managing your Amazon campaigns so much easier. So head on over to sellerlabs.com/steve and sign up for a free 30 day trial, once again that’s sellerlabs.com/steve.

And if you’re interested in starting your own ecommerce store, head on over to mywifequitherjob.com and sign up for my free six day mini course. Just type in your email and I’ll send you the course right away, thanks for listening.

Outro: Thanks for listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast, where we are giving the courage people need to start their own online business. For more information visit Steve’s blog at www.mywifequitherjob.com.

I Need Your Help

If you enjoyed listening to this podcast, then please support me with an iTunes review. It's easy and takes 1 minute! Just click here to head to iTunes and leave an honest rating and review of the podcast. Every review helps!
 
Share On Facebook

Ready To Get Serious About Starting An Online Business?


If you are really considering starting your own online business, then you have to check out my free mini course on How To Create A Niche Online Store In 5 Easy Steps.

In this 6 day mini course, I reveal the steps that my wife and I took to earn 100 thousand dollars in the span of just a year. Best of all, it's absolutely free!

165: How To Create A Sales And Email Funnel For Your Store With Austin Brawner

Share On Facebook

How To Create A Sales And Email Funnel For Your Store With Austin Brawner

Today, I’m thrilled to have Austin Brawner back on the show. I met Austin at the Ecommerce Fuel conference 3 years ago and we’ve kept in touch since. In fact, I had Austin on back in episode 65 a long time ago.

Austin runs the Ecommerce Influence Podcast and also helps ecommerce companies grow with his site Brand Growth Experts. He’s also the CMO of an ecommerce company called Boom Boom Energy.

Austin is a popular speaker on marketing for ecommerce and helped scale a company from 0 – 11 million in 2.5 years with email marketing.
Anyway, Austin has a unique perspective because he works with companies so deeply to improve their business and today we’re going to pick his brain.

What You’ll Learn

  • The thought process behind the sales funnels he created for Boom Boom Energy
  • The exact email campaigns that he implemented with Boom Boom
  • How to run a free plus shipping offer campaign
  • How to price your upsells and downsells

Other Resources And Books

Sponsors

Klaviyo.com – Klaviyo is the email marketing platform that I personally use for my ecommerce store. Created specifically for ecommerce, it is the best email marketing provider that I’ve used to date. Click here and try Klaviyo for FREE.
Klaviyo

Ignite.Sellerlabs.com – If you are selling on Amazon and running Amazon Sponsored Ads campaigns, then Ignite from Seller Labs is a must have tool. Click here and get a FREE 30 Day Trial.
Ignite Logo

ReferralCandy.com – If you’re already getting steady orders every month, adding a refer-a-friend program to your store can give you a new sales channel. And ReferralCandy is the best in the business. Click here and get a FREE $50 credit towards your account.
referral candy

SellersSummit.com – The ultimate ecommerce learning conference! Unlike other events that focus on inspirational stories and high level BS, the Sellers Summit is a curriculum based conference where you will leave with practical and actionable strategies specifically for an ecommerce business. Click here and get your ticket now before it sells out.
Sellers Summit

Transcript

Steve: You are listening to the My Wife Quit her Job Podcast, the place where I bring on successful bootstrapped business owners and delve deeply into what strategies are working and what strategies are not with their businesses.

Today I’m thrilled to have Austin Brawner back on the show, and he was a guest way back in episode 65. Recently Austin took over as CMO of a company called Boom Boom, and today’s podcast will analyze Austin’s exact thought processes as he restructures the sales funnels of his company, it’s going to be awesome.

But before we begin I want to give a quick shout out to Klaviyo who is a sponsor of the show. Now I’m always excited to talk about Klaviyo because they are the email marketing platform that I personally use for my ecommerce store, and I depend on Klaviyo for over 20% of my revenues. Now you’re probably wondering why Klaviyo and not a different provider. Well Klaviyo is the only email platform out there that is specifically built for ecommerce stores, and here’s why it’s so powerful.

Klaviyo can track every single customer who has shopped in your store and exactly what they purchased which allows you to do many things. So let’s say I want to send an email to everyone who purchased a red handkerchief in the last week, boom. Let’s say I want to set up a special autoresponder sequence to my customers depending on what they purchased, that’s a piece of cake, and there is full revenue tracking on every single email.

Now Klaviyo is the most powerful email platform that I’ve ever used and you can try them for free at mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O, once again that’s mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O.

I also want to give a shout out to my other sponsor Seller Labs, and specifically I want to talk about their brand new tool Ignite which helps sellers manage their Amazon sponsored ads. Right now I’m using this tool to manage my Amazon sponsored ad campaigns, and it makes things a heck of a lot more convenient.

So number one I’ve always found it a major pain to generate my PPC reports on Amazon, cut and paste the data over to an excel spreadsheet and then use pivot tables before I’m able do any analysis. Well Ignite pulls all that info for you automatically and allows you to easily see what keywords are working and what are not immediately, there is no need to manually create reports or play with excel.

Second of all unless you’re a data geek, Amazon campaign data can be hard to understand, and what’s cool is that Ignite makes keyword and bidding recommendations on the fly that can be applied with just a couple of clicks.

So let’s say one of my hankie keywords is bleeding money, well Ignite will alert me of that fact, and I can reduce the bid immediately. So bottom line Ignite makes managing Amazon’s sponsored ads so much easier and the fact that they provide me with alerts means that I no longer have to monitor my campaigns like a hawk.

If there are keywords that are doing well, Ignite tells me to add them to my exact match campaigns, if my keywords are losing money, well Ignite tells me to either remove the keyword or to reduce the bid. So head on over to sellerlabs.com/steve where you’ll actually find awesome tutorials on how to run Amazon PPC ads and the opportunity to try Ignite for 30 days for free. Once again that’s sellerlabs.com/steve. Now on the show.

Intro: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. We will teach you how to create a business that suits your lifestyle, so you can spend more time with your family and focus on doing the things that you love. Here is your host, Steve Chou.

Steve: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast, today I’m thrilled to have Austin Brawner back on the show. Now I met Austin at the Ecommerce Fuel conference I want to say about three years ago and we’ve kept in touch in touch ever since, and in fact I had Austin on the podcast back in episode 65 a long time ago.

Now Austin runs the Ecommerce Influence Podcast and also helps ecommerce companies grow with his site Brand Growth Experts. He is also the CMO of an ecommerce company called Boom Boom Energy. Prior to getting married last year – congrats by the way Austin, Austin was a popular speaker on marketing for ecommerce and helps scale a company from zero to 11 million dollars in 2.5 years with email marketing.

Anyway Austin has a unique perspective because he works with companies so deeply to improve them and today we’re going to pick his brain. And with that welcome to the show Austin, how are you doing today man?

Austin: Hey good Steve, thanks for having me back, I’m excited to be here and to talk again about ecommerce.

Steve: By the way I didn’t mean to imply that like all your speaking went downhill after marriage, I’m sure you know that.

Austin: It’s like he got married, he’s done.

Steve: Now he’s in Thailand, he’s just living on the beach. Yeah so for the listeners who don’t know or remember you, give us a quick background how you got in ecommerce and actually how you ended up being the CMO of Boom Boom Energy.

Austin: Sure, so it has been a while I think since we chatted last time. I first got involved in ecommerce I guess it’s about four years ago or something like that. I was really interested — I was working in this company in Los Angeles, it was a startup, a healthy vending start up, and I watched how we basically grew the business from when I got there, we were doing like maybe 200 grand in sales to 11 million dollars in about two and a half years and we did it through email marketing and really building these automated sequences around our sales team to grow the business with an influx of email leads.

I saw this and we built these really sophisticated email sequences targeting people based on their behavior, and I had a bunch of friends who were in ecommerce and I saw that what we were doing was not being done in ecommerce. So I first started working with a couple of different companies, brought over some of these email sequences that I was using, rebuilt them for ecommerce.

I had a lot of success driving sales, really kind of fell in love with ecommerce here and best marketing, started the Ecommerce Influence Podcast where I interview experts and business owners who have grown ecommerce businesses typically from like a million dollars to ten million dollars plus, and have been involved with this growing ecommerce businesses for the last four years.

I took over as the CMO of Boom Boom Energy about two months ago and have been kind of rebuilding what they’re doing and building it into more of like a structured tracking data jam company.

Steve: Okay since we’re going to be talking about Boom Boom Energy today just give us like a quick five sentence overview of what the company sells.

Austin: We sell the world’s best energizing nasal inhaler. What that means is that it’s a small inhaler that you basically breath and it’s all natural essential oils, so invigorates, energizes you, you don’t actually smell [ph] anything, you’re breathing in a scent that kind of clears your head, enhances your breathing, provides you a kind of a blast of intense reflection, we say it’s like gum for your nose.

Steve: By the way Austin is going to be sending me some of these and I’ll report back on it, I was a little skeptical…

Austin: Steve said it was sketchy, so I said I’m coming to convert him which is basically that’s a big issue that we actually have with the product because it’s a product where people kind of need to be able to experience it. The first time you like breath in the scent you understand immediately why it’s important and why people like it. We convert fans really, really well at conferences or now we’re working on getting that messaging online.

Steve: Does that mean that you guys are doing a lot of free giveaways of your product?

Austin: Exactly, we actually are, we’re working right now on a free plus shipping offer.

Steve: Okay yeah, let’s talk about that real quick.

Austin: So that’s something that we’ve been experimenting with over the last I guess let’s see the last month really is when we realized that we had to get this product in people’s hands. And so we started on Facebook and we had a lot of success with kind of like a rap video, we talk about Boom Boom that became relatively viral, meaning a lot of people are sharing it, it’s got like 1.7 million views at this point.

Steve: Wow, okay. What does a rap video have to do with Boom Boom Energy?

Austin: It tells the story about Boom Boom like what it is. It shows people using it; it shows people getting energized and kind of explains the product. We realized it’s a top of the funnel thing, like people have to have a little bit of an understanding what the product is. So we got that video, we tried a couple of things and we started promoting it, people started sharing it and we got all these views for it.

Steve: So is this like a high production quality video?

Austin: Yeah it is, it is. It’s in the same kind of – we looked at some of the videos that have done very well on Facebook in the past, dollarship club was one of them, beard – what’s the guy’s name, the beard guy?

Steve: Steve Brand, oh beard guy yeah right.

Austin: I can’t remember the name like beard club or something like that, and we looked at those and we created one that was similar, obviously we’re like it’s still a bootstrapped startup so a much smaller production value, but still it’s giving us really good results.

Steve: How much were you paying per click?

Austin: Paying per click per view?

Steve: Oh yeah actually per view and then I assume a portion of those people actually click through, right?

Austin: Yeah a portion of them click through but our focus has been to try to get people to watch the whole video. Looking at numbers in the last month, we’re getting like 0.002 cent views and then we’re able to get people to really be able to view 95% of the video for about 3 cents.

Steve: Okay, wow that’s really good and so then you’re retargeting these people, right?

Austin: Yeah then we’re retargeting these people, so and when I say that we’re able to get them for 3 cents we basically were – if I take the amount of money that this video is generating and I look through the amount of money it’s generating it’s attractive enough. We spent and looked at the number of people that were viewing 95% of the videos; we’re paying basically 3 cents for people to view the video which is really good.

Steve: So let me ask you this, the video probably doesn’t generate sales on its own, does it?

Austin: It doesn’t, not really, it does some but not that many, the focus for us is to open the top of the funnel. So we want to get as many people viewing this video and then we take a look at the people that have viewed the full video or 75% or 95% of the video and then retarget people based off of that. It drives people to our site as well.

So we have basically these campaigns, these free plus shipping campaigns that we’re running to people who have viewed a large like 95% of the video and that converts really well, we get basically like between four and five dollar CPAs on this free plus shipping offer.

Steve: Can we talk about the offer itself, so what are you giving away and how much are you charging for shipping?

Austin: So we charge – we give away a triple pack of these Boom Boom inhalers, they are typically 16.95 on our website plus shipping of 4.95. We give away the free plus shipping offer…

Steve: So they’re paying 4.95 and you’re paying around $3 or $4 to acquire the customer?

Austin: They pay 6.95.

Steve: 6.95?

Austin: 6.95 for shipping, we pay between $4 and $5 to acquire the customer on some of our best campaigns, so we’re basically like — at this point we found that we can basically set these things up where we’re just paying – and also that the product costs us 6.95.

So we’re basically losing like $4 to $5 to acquire a customer but that has been at this point kind of like our goal is to figure out how we could get to a point where we could acquire a customer for between like $4 and $6 because where we’re starting to work on is the backend with the up-sells, because that’s where we’ve realized if we have opportunity for the product like it’s good for us to go out and give away a bunch of products and we go do that at festivals where we’re happily giving away inhalers to people and we just want to be able to do it online.

So we basically this is the way of $4 to $5 loss and then right now we’re kind of dialing in our up-sells. Again we’ve been doing this for two months, so we’re still at kind of like the testing stage right now, but the products that we’re using; we’re actually using Ezra’s Zipify pages. So I drive people from a Facebook retargeting ad to a Zipify sales page and that kind of talks about the product, they learn about it, then they click add to cart.

It takes them to the product page where we have a free plus shipping offer where I basically take in the product and set it up using shipping weights so that the free version they just add to cart and it’s zero dollars, they’re going to pay 6.95 in the US. Then on the back end we’re using one click up-sell Ezra.

Steve: Ezra also aha.

Austin: Ezra as well and we’ve been dialing a couple of offers up-selling. We’ve been testing basically up-selling people in with 30 pack which is a much larger, it’s like an $80 purchase and then also testing a festival pack which is a bunch of [inaudible 00:14:03] lanyards and hats and like a larger group of these products and having some success with that right now. It’s still early in the testing stage for this.

Steve: Okay can I ask you a quick question before you go on, like how did you determine that you want to pay $4 to $6 to acquire a customer?

Austin: Good question, so we looked at the potential up-sells that we had as a business and we broke down an up-sell tree and said, well if we can get between like a 7 and 10% take rate on an up-sell at $80, we’ll be able to – and maybe like a 2% or 1% take rate on a down sell, we should be able to have an acceptable CPA of around $6, and when I say acceptable CPA meaning that we’re going to be able to buy traffic, buy customers at 100% break if our up-sell is taken at that rate and the down sells taken with that rate.

So we looked at it and like well if we could hit this level the CPA we can dial in up-sells and our down sells we should be able to buy traffic at completely break even.

Steve: Okay and then you know that once you have the customer since this is kind of like a consumable product, right?

Austin: It is, it’s typically like use for 30 days, and so we know that there is a lot of people that will come back and make a second purchase. Like for us right now there is a big distribution side of the business and like it’s partly online to try to exposure people to the product online, but for us like getting critical mass and helping in that, it’s kind of like a red bull or like fiber energy [ph] where people look at fiber energy.

It’s hard for us to think back what fiber energy looked at when it first came out, but there is almost a critical mass where enough people know what it’s all about that they’ll buy it from like a [inaudible 00:16:04] counter top, that’s our goal. So getting these new people to try it, convert it over into fans and customers. So if we can buy traffic at break even and then we know that once people are fans of it they’re going to come back and they’ll purchase from us over and over again.

Steve: I see so the idea is just to get it break even and then you can scale it until it has the mind share and then people will just start buying this stuff on their own?

Austin: Yeah people start buying this stuff on their own, people will come back and buy triple pack, a lot of the times people will buy them either for festivals, during December time or they’ll buy them for working and they liked having Boom Boom around. So that’s our goal with the free plus shipping offer. It’s been kind of a little bit of a long route to getting there because showing up when I first started working with them I came in I was like, okay well let’s go step by step and look at the different factors.

You asked about how we figured out the acceptable CPA level for us?

Steve: Mm-hmm.

Austin: When I first started working with them Google analytics wasn’t even set up.

Steve: No way, okay.

Austin: So it was not tracking correctly, there was a lot of like how do you go through and do Google analytics audit, it was actually a good shout out to I think Shopify put together this pretty detailed nice little thing. If you are in a position where your Google analytics, you’re not sure if they are tracking correctly, there is a Shopify tutorial that will walk you through exactly what you need to do, so I set that up…

Steve: How did you know it wasn’t tracking properly?

Austin: It wasn’t tracking.

Steve: Oh it wasn’t tracking, okay never mind okay.

Austin: It wasn’t tracking; there was something wrong with the cart that was installed. So I started going through, did an audit, from there set up online goals that have been enhancing ecommerce tracking and started dialing in. That was the first step to making sure that we understood a lot more about the business, set up something called campus which is kind of interesting, not totally sold on yet but do you use campus by the way?

Steve: No I don’t, you wanted to talk about it real quick or no?

Austin: It’s like – yeah I’ll talk about it because it’s kind of interesting, it’s like an ecommerce dashboard where they help you calculate CPAs from different channels, you can put in your marketing spend for different channels and then it will calculate using Google analytics what your CPA for each channel is which can be helpful.

It takes some time to get set up and it’s not a perfect solution, but if you’re struggling with something like that I’d recommend setting up campus.

Steve: Are you talking about like your CPA across all of your Facebook campaigns because you have your top funnel and then you have your free plus shipping offer, are you talking about calculating the CPA as a whole?

Austin: As a whole yeah, yeah, yeah, so like you can put your email spend and then it’ll track all your purchase that come in through email and give you a CPA of your email channel.

Steve: Okay yeah I was going to ask you that question next actually because you have all these Facebook ad campaigns and you also have a backend email and it’s sometimes hard to calculate your CPA, I mean with all that stuff going on?

Austin: Yeah it is, it is difficult, I think like – and that’s some of the stuff we’re going through as we’re transitioning and trying to move towards a more I can mention like data driven business. It’s how to calculate — our goal – it’s definitely not perfect, there are some sort of like our goal is to drive people through Facebook, capture emails and make sales.

We also have a lot of people that come through with okay we capture their email through our free plus shipping like exit overlay and then they’ll got through the email sequence and purchase from there. So it’s definitely like a branded version.

Steve: Like my version, we’re doing a free plus shipping offer right now too and we actually collect the email on the add to cart. So they go to landing page and you have to have an email address and then the action button is actually add to cart and then actually adds them to the cart, and then I had this whole funnel for that and then I have the up-sell and the down sell. I’m curious what your – so your up-sell is you’re selling a 30 pack?

Austin: Selling a 30 pack yeah.

Steve: Is that after they’ve entered in their information for check out or is it before?

Austin: So with one click up-sell it’s completely afterwards.

Steve: Afterwards okay.

Austin: They’ve completed the transaction, they press purchase, and then a page pops up. All they do is they press purchase and it charges their card again, they don’t want to put any more information in and that is one nice thing about the one click up-sell is they just press the button and it’s charged separately through Strike like purchasing together in Shopify and pairs it for the customer.

That’s one of the big things; I was looking a lot on all these different free plus shipping opportunities like those. If you look at ClickFunnels – what are you using for your free plus shipping?

Steve: I just code everything myself, I have my home grown cart, so I have freedom to do whatever actually. Right now I‘ve chosen to just do the up-sell immediately after they’ve added to the cart, I’ll show them something that’s very similar to what they bought and offer them like an insane discount of like between 30 and 40%.

Austin: Okay yeah exactly so you’ve got it afterwards. If you’re not coding yourself there is a couple of different options out there for you if you want to create an up-sell. There is ClickFunnels, there is CartHook, there is one click up-sell, and looking at the different options the reason why I like one click up-sell is that it does pair the carts.

If you’re using ClickFunnels you’re not going to have combined customer records, it’s going to be done with the ClickFunnel’s cart, and it’s kind of messy. So that’s why one click up-sell works for us, it’s like even though it’s checking out with Stripe and we’re paying a little bit on each one of those things, it pairs in the Shopify back end and so we’ve got the actual information of the customer.

Steve: Yeah it makes sense otherwise you’re trying to combine two different carts, right?

Austin: Yeah it’s annoying exactly.

Steve: Yeah okay, what does your down sell look like?

Austin: So the down sell is our festival pack, so our down sell is 50% off a $59 pack that gives people a hat, a lanyard and a couple more boom booms, and again like right now we’re just purely like a point where we’re just driving people through this thing and like it’s too early to tell if it’s even going to be successful.

I think what’s important for people who are listening is the thought process behind it and if you want to experiment with something like this in the end, we just realized like our goals are a little bit different than maybe some other businesses. We just try to get as people into try it as possible and figure out a way to make something super appealing so we can acquire these customers and that’s working. Acquiring the customer is working whether or not we’re going to be able to dial it in to make it so that it’s at break even, that’s still to be determined at this point.

Steve: Sure, sure, how did you determine the price of your up-sell, like what criteria did you use?

Austin: Well we try to give [crosstalk 00:23:47].

Steve: It’s pretty expensive, right?

Austin: Yeah the up-sell?

Steve: Yeah.

Austin: Yeah so I actually looked at it from – I was talking to Richard from the Funnel Engine who’s been doing some of this type of stuff and we kind of were chatting about different price points, and basically $70 was kind of a range like $70 in profit was kind of arrange in what we thought we would be able to hit if 10% of the people were going to take this thing. I came up with this I’m doing reaching out to other people who were already in free shipping offers and seeing what their up-sell take was.

So I was like, okay if we can get it dialed in at like between 7 and 10%, then the only way it’s going to be able work on Facebook is if we can have a price point at this point because it can be quite expensive to acquire customers.

Steve: Yeah okay, so it’s just mathematically driven based on a few assumptions of your conversion rate and how much it’s costing you essentially?

Austin: Exactly and it’s not – that’s like the keyword like you can’t – I feel like if it’s not going to work for us, it’s not going to work, it’s more an experiment that if it does work out we have a goal to get, if it doesn’t then we’re going to trust the video.

Steve: I want to take a moment to thank ReferralCandy for being a sponsor of the show. Now in this day and age word of mouth is a huge driver of business for most ecommerce stores, and the best way to amplify word of mouth marketing is through a referral program. This is where ReferralCandy shines, with just a couple of clicks to the mouse you could add a referral program to your ecommerce store and reward your customers for telling their friends about your shop.

And this tactic works wonders; and in fact it is not uncommon to get a ridiculous return on investment. So for example Greats Footwear who is a ReferralCandy customer is currently seeing a 20X ROI. Referral word of mouth marketing is also useful for building up your social media presence as well, because everyone is talking about your company with their friends on Facebook and Twitter.

And the best part is that ReferralCandy is a set it and forget it service, requires no technical setup and they are giving My Wife Quit Her Job listeners 50 bucks to try them out if you go to promo.referralcandy.com/steve. Once again it’s promo.referralcandy.com/steve to get a $50 credit to try out the service risk free. Now back to the show.

Okay so you got that going, what other changes have you made since you joined?

Austin: So I’ve been focusing on email marketing because when I work with businesses almost 100% of the time they are under optimized on email and they’re not driving enough sales really on the life cycle of the customer. So I’ve been going in and setting up funnels like follow up funnels for people who come through the free plus shipping offer when they sign up. They then will receive emails following up and reminding them about making this purchase.

Steve: How big is that funnel actually, the free plus shipping funnel like how many emails is it and what does the general flow look like?

Austin: So the general flow is six emails I believe, and the flow is reminding people initially about the free plus shipping offer because they sign up but they don’t take it, then my only goal is to get them to take that offer. So initially the first email is just driving them to the offer page.

The second email is communicating what the product is all about and that’s a big issue for us because people think about snipping something and it’s a big thing when I convey to people, it’s like if you’ve ever smelled menthol you understand, you probably have an idea what the product is like, but it’s communicating this all natural, sharing the brand story, the social proof, so the following email is social proof related.

So we’re going to be sharing with people reviews, other people that have been using the product again to establish credibility, following up with the free plus shipping offer after that and then changing over to like a 10, 20% off offer that escalates from 10 to 20% off in the following two emails. So I call it bio dice sequence and I talked about this a lot on my podcast on different webinars that I’ve been hosting.

This works with pretty much any business. People come in, you give them whatever – they sign up through an email pop up; you initially give them their offer right away, so whatever you use, whether it is free shipping 10% off, whatever. You give that offer to them immediately, then you start hitting people with your brand story, with reviews to your product. You figure out when they’re most likely to purchase, so if they don’t purchase right away like in how many days are they typically going to purchase.

If that’s two days then you don’t give away any discounts until two days. After that then you start targeting people with a discount letter, something that incentivizes the people who’ve passed the threshold when they are typically in the purchase. You incentivize them and help them make a decision and try to grease the wheels to make them become a customer, help them become a customer.

Steve: And what do you do with these subs if they don’t end up buying after the entire sequence is over?

Austin: They’re just tossed into the newsletter sequence and then they’ll receive a campaign from us once a week.

Steve: Okay.

Austin: But that doesn’t happen until they pass through the sequence.

Steve: Right.

Austin: And then if they churn like I’m always – I clean the list as well, it will be like three to six months just for people who don’t open up emails.

Steve: I’m just curious; do you get a lot of people complaining about the shipping cost?

Austin: Help with free plus shipping?

Steve: Yeah.

Austin: We do get some but it’s a pretty like solid free plus shipping offer like typically they look at it from 16.95 plus 4.95, it’s over $20 and they’re 6.95, so the value is there and a lot of people will ask us for free products just on Facebook, I’m sure you get the same thing.

Steve: Yeah, yeah.

Austin: People will be like, oh give us your product.

Steve: I was just curious if you had the same experience we were but yeah, yeah.

Austin: We do get people but it’s like I don’t know it’s like you’re not going to get – we can’t give it away really for free.

Steve: Okay because I might be wanting your testimonials on your second email or whatever, Steve Chou of My Wife Quit Her Job.

Austin: Exactly Steve Chou thought it was sketchy, now he uses it ten times a day.

Steve: Okay so we got that bio die campaign, what other areas of the life cycle do you kind of track?

Austin: So from there the next step in what I look for, for Boom Boom and also for any other companies and I have worked with a ton of large ecommerce companies and we always focused next on what to do after someone makes a purchase. So you’re going to have a post purchase sequence. How I typically target a post purchase sequence is in best actions for people, what would you like your customers to do?

If you would like them to write a review, if you would like them to post a picture on Instagram, if you would like them to refer a friend, whatever type of best actions you want to put in to your post purchase sequence. Also like you want to thank them for making your purchase, whatever you want to do, you put that in your post purchase sequence over a period of maybe like 14 days depending on your product again like it’s all dependent on what – if you’re selling refrigerators it’s going to be quite a bit different than selling energizing nasal inhalers that are consumables.

Then I look at and try to figure out when people typically make a repeat purchase, and depending on your products it is going to be different. So if for your products it’s 45 days or 42 days, then what I like to do is let people go to that point, so the average person is going to make a purchase, let them get to that point and then start – because you want them to be able to make as many full price purchases as possible.

At that point you’re going to focus on incentivizing them to make their next purchase, so that’s where the discount letter could come in where you’re going to be hitting people up with offers and trying to incentivize them to make that second purchase because that’s where your profit is going to come from. I think a lot of times people underestimate [inaudible 00:33:02] and the effect that [inaudible 00:33:04] have on their business.

One of it is I was talking about email marketing is because it’s very toll limited. If you’re going to be reacquiring a customer off of Facebook, maybe they purchased from you already and you pay $15 or something to acquire them for the first time.

If you’re going and you’re reacquiring them on Facebook for another $15, your profit margin is very slim on that customer. If you’re able to get them and reacquire them through email, your profit margin is very, very high on that person because you’re just paying a fixed cost, you’re paying Klaviyo or whatever or MailChimp, you’re paying a fixed cost and it’s much better for you. That’s the focus is to try to reacquire them with incentives when they pass that level of repurchase.

Steve: During this win back campaign are you running concurrent ads on like Facebook and Google display to get them back as well?

Austin: Yes, so one of the nice things about Klaviyo and what they’ve done recently in the last like six months is they started up so you create the customer audiences based on segments that you create within Klaviyo. So Klaviyo if you have customers who come in, it’ll track all their behavior on your website, so if somebody makes a purchase, you can then create a segment of people who have made one purchase and have not purchased again let’s say if the sequence is going in 45 days.

So at that point when people make a purchase and don’t repurchase in 45 days they’ll be added to a little segment of people and you could sync that to Facebook. So you could have that created customer audience and then when people are added into that customer audience they will then be targeted with whatever ad that you’re running if you want to retarget them using that audience. So you can have emails going out, at the same time stack that with retargeting ads on Facebook using the Klaviyo and Facebook integration.

Steve: Cool.

Austin: That also works if you’re going to be passing people through like at 45 days you may have a customer audience at a certain amount and then 60 days it may switch to a different offer, and you can set it so that the audience automatically adjusts and they’ll be now triggered on a different email.

Steve: Klaviyo is going to be sponsor of this podcast I think by the time this episode comes out.

Austin: Oh nice.

Steve: Yeah this is really powerful and all these audiences are dynamic meaning Klaviyo syncs all the different audiences in real time, so they’re always up-to-date which is pretty cool.

Austin: It’s really cool; I mean it’s a game changer, so they came out.

Steve: Okay so we got the win backs, anything else?

Austin: The other campaign that I focus on is a VIP campaign. This one when you’re looking at the people who really drive your business, most businesses are going to be at some variable of like the 80/20 rule where 20% of the customers are going to drive 80% of the sales. I’ve looked at maybe 60 different ecommerce companies; I would say ecommerce in general it’s more like 20% driving between 65 and like 70, 75% is typically what I see.

That means there is a very small limited group of customers who are driving a vast majority of sales and are ultra responsive to your marketing. So what I do is I focus down on about the top 10, 5 to 10% of the customers and I set up a campaign I call it the ‘ask and receive campaign.’ So I’ll set it up in Klaviyo where I look at my customers and say, when people hit $200 in revenue and have purchased three times they are automatically added to my top 5% because that’s where they qualified.

So I set up a segment in there and the moment people hit that it’ll start triggering a campaign that follows up with them and usually about 15 to 20 days later it says, talks about why they’re valuable, how I appreciate them being with us and I’ll give them some sort of a discount on the next purchase. That goes like crazy; I actually got one campaign that’s running with a 97% open rate on this email.

Steve: It’s ridiculous, okay.

Austin: Because it’s targeted to ultra highly responsive people who have all the VIPs. So that drives them, they take this coupon; they make another purchase that’s very successful.

Steve: Let me ask you this question, when those people have purchased like could you have gone away with knocking them a coupon and they probably would have purchased anyways?

Austin: It’s possible, we can give them like not give away a coupon, give that a try, you could just follow up with an email with these people and thank them, they may purchase again. Typically what I do is I’ll send them like a thank you, also like one of the things with this company that I was talking about its 97% open rates, we don’t really discount at all. So it’s like it’s the only thing that we give them and it’s more framed as like a thank you for being a great customer for all these years and so that’s the framing of it.

We also follow up with a survey that comes out — that goes to them basically 10, 15 days later that asks them for their feedback. It’s like a 25 question survey, it takes about five to ten minutes to fill out for these people, but our goal is to get the information from these top customers. We want to know when they found us, what they’re looking for; it’s like a unique insight into our well of customers.

Steve: Interesting okay.

Austin: About 25% of people filled that out for us and it also drive some sales as well.

Steve: So do you then change the copy on your landing page according to the survey answers?

Austin: So we actually – it determines a lot, it determines like what products we bring out, a lot of the questions are related to products. So we found out that this particular company that I was working with — we try to figure out what products to bring out next and like 80% of our VIP customers said the thing that they were most excited about was more t-shirt designs which kind wasn’t on the radar.

So that immediately switched to be in kind of top of the list which is everyone wants more t-shirt designs, and these are the people that are spending a vast majority of the – driving the vast majority of our sales, let’s give them more t-shirt designs.

Steve: Okay this is what the previous company you consulted with, right?

Austin: Yes this is not with Boom Boom.

Steve: Okay interesting, and so you do that primarily for information gathering not necessarily to extract maximum profit it sounds like?

Austin: Yeah this one is mostly for information gathering, it’s like trying to have a conversation with your best customers, they’ll give you email and information, see if you want to follow up and talk to them. The same thing happen like you’ll notice with Bonobos, Bonobos if you go to any guide shop, any guide shop they’re filled with suits.

If go to Bonobos.com, one of the things they’re showing everywhere is suits. The reason is because they did some customer research and found out that their well of customers, the people who were spending the vast majority of their – driving the vast majority of their sales were buying suits.

So even though it’s a small percentage of their actual purchases, it’s the vast majority of their revenue. So they realized that from having conversations with their customers, learning what they’re purchasing and they redesigned their landing pages, redesigned their guide shops to focus on the high ticket items the suits that were driving the vast majority of their profit.

Steve: So let me ask you this, when you’re creating look alike audiences for your customers, do you do the look alikes for the wells [ph] or do you do look alikes for your general customers, like how do you generate your look alikes?

Austin: It’s a good question; I mean it’s tough because we have — typically the wells serve a small percentage in each…

Steve: Of course.

Austin: A big chunk for look alikes. In an ideal world yeah you take your look alikes from your best customer, you take your best customers, and you make look alikes based off of them. So let’s put it this way like if you could go – you figure out what your, the minimum number of the higher percentage customers you have that you could turn into a look alike campaign, export that and make that a look alike campaign. So don’t use the entire audience, use the better part of the audience if that makes sense.

Steve: Yeah so for our store we’re using like repeat customers since most people just buy once for the wedding and then don’t come back unless they get divorced which hopefully doesn’t happen. But there are a subset of people who are actually higher in age that come back for more, so that’s kind of why I asked the question just to see how you guys are doing it.

Austin: Yeah it’s definitely focusing on those the better customers.

Steve: Okay and then are you doing all of this stuff for Boom Boom right now as well?

Austin: So I’m doing this for Boom Boom right now, there is one of like looking at coming into a kind of a fresh business where the opportunity is. It was focusing on top of the funnel with Facebook and then also on the back end with retention campaigns, these ask and receive campaigns, post purchase, the bio dice, so building all those on Klaviyo has been kind of my first step.

I’ve been doing like this consulting for the last couple of years, I had even a marketing agency working with some of the largest ecommerce brands out there. So I’ve been taking that and bringing it to Boom Boom and then I’m also working with – Drew Sanocki and I are also working on kind of a two day intensive where we build all the stuff out for different brands.

Steve: Let’s give Drew a quick plug here nerdmarketing.com if you guys want to check it out. So Austin that’s great, I mean we’ve been chatting for quite a while now and you gave a lot of great nuggets, and thank you so much for giving an insight to actually how you approach like a brand new company and kind of dissect the different strategies and what to tackle first.

Austin: Yeah it’s been no problem in that it’s definitely a learning experience for everyone. I feel like when you come in you’re trying to find opportunities, you’re going to start with the foundation the basic analytics and then get those to set and kind of testing different things and see if you can find one that scales.

Steve: Maybe we’ll have to do a little bit of follow-up to see how your campaigns are doing maybe like six months later and see where things are as well.

Austin: Yeah that would be great, we’d love to.

Steve: Cool, well in the meantime Austin tell the listeners where they can find you online if they have any questions.

Austin: Yeah so the best place to find me would be to go to brandgrowthexperts.com, that’s where Drew Sanocki and I my business partner have our website, we talk a little bit about how to send smart and more profitable emails, and we’re actually hosting an event in March after Traffic and Conversion Summit March 13th to 14th where we’re going to be helping about 15 different businesses, brand owners build out these campaigns. So if you’re interested go to brandgrowthexperts.com and you can learn some more about that and what that looks like.

Steve: Cool, well hey Austin thanks a lot for coming on the show man, really appreciated.

Austin: Hey Steve, thanks a lot, I really appreciate your checking with me every time and yeah I’ll talk to you soon then.

Steve: All right, take care man.

Steve: Hope you enjoyed that episode. What I love about Austin is that he knows what he’s doing and he has this track record of working with companies and blowing up their sales. For more information about this episode, go to mywifequitherjob.com/episode165.

And once again I want to thank Seller Labs. Their tool Ignite is what I use to manage my Amazon PPC campaigns. Instead of the old tedious way of generating reports and analyzing your ad campaigns in excel, Ignite aggregates all that info for you in one place and allows you to quickly visualize your data to make decisions fast.

Not only does it save time, but it also makes managing your Amazon campaigns so much easier too. So head on over to sellerlabs.com/steve and sign up for a free 30 day trial, once again that’s sellerlabs.com/steve.

I also want to thank Klaviyo which is my email marketing platform of choice for ecommerce merchants. You can easily put together automated flows like an abandoned cart sequence, a post purchase flow and a win back campaign, and basically all of these sequences that will make you money on auto pilot. So head on over to mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O, once again that’s mywifequitherjob.com/ K-L-A-V-I-Y-O.

Now I talk about how I use these tools on my blog and if you’re interested in starting your own ecommerce store, head on over to mywifequitherjob.com and sign up for my free six day mini course. Just type in your email and I’ll send you the course right away via email, thanks for listening.

Outro: Thanks for listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast, where we are giving the courage people need to start their own online business. For more information visit Steve’s blog at www.mywifequitherjob.com.

I Need Your Help

If you enjoyed listening to this podcast, then please support me with an iTunes review. It's easy and takes 1 minute! Just click here to head to iTunes and leave an honest rating and review of the podcast. Every review helps!
 
Share On Facebook

Ready To Get Serious About Starting An Online Business?


If you are really considering starting your own online business, then you have to check out my free mini course on How To Create A Niche Online Store In 5 Easy Steps.

In this 6 day mini course, I reveal the steps that my wife and I took to earn 100 thousand dollars in the span of just a year. Best of all, it's absolutely free!

164: How To Use Instagram To Create A 7 Figure Ecommerce Business In Under A Year

Share On Facebook

How To Use Instagram To Create A 7 Figure Ecommerce Business In Under A Year

Today I’m happy to have Bishoi Khella on the show. Bishoi and his partner Ibrahim started MyTruwood.com which is an affordable and stylish wooden watch company. Now what’s cool about their company is that they managed to generate 1 million dollar in sales in their first year using only Instagram as their marketing channel.

And as you all know, Instagram is a great way to market your ecommerce store if you know what you are doing. Clearly Ibrahim and Bishoi know what they are doing and today, we’re going to find out their strategies and tactics.

What You’ll Learn

  • How they discovered their niche
  • How they manufacture their watches.
  • How he found his vendors
  • The price differential between the US vs China
  • How long it took to get his first product to market
  • How much he invested to get started.
  • Why he picked Instagram and not another platform.
  • How to leverage Instagram for sales

Other Resources And Books

Sponsors

Klaviyo.com – Klaviyo is the email marketing platform that I personally use for my ecommerce store. Created specifically for ecommerce, it is the best email marketing provider that I’ve used to date. Click here and try Klaviyo for FREE.
Klaviyo

Ignite.Sellerlabs.com – If you are selling on Amazon and running Amazon Sponsored Ads campaigns, then Ignite from Seller Labs is a must have tool. Click here and get a FREE 30 Day Trial.
Ignite Logo

ReferralCandy.com – If you’re already getting steady orders every month, adding a refer-a-friend program to your store can give you a new sales channel. And ReferralCandy is the best in the business. Click here and get a FREE $50 credit towards your account.
referral candy

SellersSummit.com – The ultimate ecommerce learning conference! Unlike other events that focus on inspirational stories and high level BS, the Sellers Summit is a curriculum based conference where you will leave with practical and actionable strategies specifically for an ecommerce business. Click here and get your ticket now before it sells out.
Sellers Summit

Transcript

Steve: You are listening to the My Wife Quit her Job Podcast, the place where I bring on successful bootstrapped business owners and delve deeply into what strategies are working and what strategies are not with their businesses.

Today I’m thrilled to have Bishoi Khella on the show, and what’s unique about Bishoi is that he used Instagram to turn his wooden watch company mytruwood.com into a seven figure business in under a year, and today we’re going to talk about exactly how he did it.

Now before we begin I want to give a quick shout out to Seller Labs who is a sponsor of the show, and specifically I want to talk about their brand new tool Ignite which helps sellers manage their Amazon sponsored ads. Right now I’m using this tool to manage my Amazon sponsored ad campaigns, and it makes things a heck of a lot more convenient.

So number one I’ve always found it a major pain to generate my PPC reports on Amazon, cut and paste the data over to an excel spreadsheet and use pivot tables before I’m able do any analysis. Now Ignite pulls all that info for you automatically and allows you to easily see what keywords are working and what are not immediately, so there is no need to manually create reports or play with excel.

Second of all unless you’re a data geek, Amazon campaign data can be hard to understand, and what’s cool is that Ignite makes keyword and bidding recommendations on the fly that can be applied with a couple of clicks.

So let’s say one of my hankie keywords is bleeding money, well Ignite will alert me of that fact, and I can reduce the bid immediately. So bottom line Ignite makes managing your Amazon sponsored ads much, much easier and the fact that they provide me with alerts means that I no longer have to monitor my campaigns like a hawk.

If there are keywords that are doing well, Ignite tells me to add them to my exact match campaigns, if my keywords are losing money, well Ignite tells me to either remove the keyword or to reduce the bid. So head on over to sellerlabs.com/steve where you’ll find some awesome tutorials on PPC and the opportunity to try Ignite for 30 days for free. Once again that’s sellerlabs.com/steve.

I also want to give a shout out to Klaviyo who is also a sponsor of the show. Now I’m always super excited to talk about Klaviyo because they are the email marketing platform that I personally use for my ecommerce store, and I depend on Klaviyo for over 20% of my revenues. Now you’re probably wondering why Klaviyo and not another provider. Well Klaviyo is the only email platform out there that is specifically built for ecommerce stores, and here’s why it’s so powerful.

Klaviyo can track every single customer who has shopped in your store and exactly what they bought. So let’s say I want to send an email to everyone who purchased a red handkerchief in the last week, well that’s easy. Let’s say I want to set up a special autoresponder sequence to my customers depending on what they purchased, piece of cake, and there is full revenue tracking on every single email.

Now Klaviyo is the most powerful email platform that I’ve ever used and you can try them for free at mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O, once again that’s mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O. And if you’re interested in starting your own ecommerce store go to mywifequitherjob.com and sign up for my free six day mini course. Just head on over to the front page, enter your email and I’ll send you the mini course right away via email. Now on the show.

Intro: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. We will teach you how to create a business that suits your lifestyle, so you can spend more time with your family and focus on doing the things that you love. Here is your host, Steve Chou.

Steve: Welcome to the My Wife Quit her Job podcast; today I’m happy to have Bishoi Khella on the show. Now normally I actually don’t interview anyone on the show that I haven’t actually met personally, but they put together a great pitch that just happened to coincide with material that I was looking for.

Now it’s a two person company, Ibrahim and Bishoi, they started mytruwood.com which is a company that sells affordable and stylish wooden watches. Now what’s cool about their company is that they managed to generate almost a million dollars in sales in their first year using only Instagram as their primary marketing channel.

As you all know Instagram is a great way to market your ecommerce store if you know what you’re doing, and clearly Ibrahim and Bishoi know what they’re doing and today we’re going to find out their strategies and their tactics and kind of break it down for you. And with that welcome to the show Bishoi, how are you doing today man?

Bishoi: Great Steve, thanks for having me man, appreciated.

Steve: Yeah so Bishoi why wooden watches and how did you get into the ecommerce?

Bishoi: So me and my partner Ibrahim we started our company in our last semester in university, and we just saw tried and we just thought we should try something, we might as well try it in our last semester and if it doesn’t work out we just end up going on jobs that we had lined up. So we started it and it ended up taking off and we didn’t take our full time offers and we just continued working on this ever since.

So the reason why we started wooden watches is because we’ve been looking at products to sell, we’ve always had like some entrepreneurial mindset, we’ve always been looking at products that we could sell and try to make some money off of it, but it transitioned into so much more than that like we’re so deeply rooted in this company and our mission and we just ended up coming across a few watches and a few sunglasses that were made out of wood.

We were like wow, these are beautiful and we wanted to buy them ourselves but as students we have a debt and we have student loans and stuff like that, and so we couldn’t justify paying like $300 to $400 for a nice wooden watch. So we were like, hey let’s try to make it ourselves, maybe make one or two for ourselves and see how it goes, and then we were able to get our costs pretty low. So we were like, hey let’s actually start this as a business because we were trying to do ecommerce anyway, so then it transitioned into something like that.

Steve: Where did you find these wooden watches?

Bishoi: Just on the internet, so as I was like goggling I think you know you see a ton of ads as you’re like scrapping the internet and we just saw another company, I’m not going to mention who they are but…

Steve: Sure of course.

Bishoi: We saw another company and then we were taken back, we were like, wow this is so beautiful but we click on the link and we see that like it’s like literally 300 bucks and we were like we can’t afford a watch that much, we were trying to search for the company with like something that’s more affordable for the masses and more of like an everyday watch, and that’s why we set out to create Truwood.

Steve: Okay and did you have like a process of researching your niche, or is this just something that you came across because you wanted one of these and so you decide to sell them?

Bishoi: Well it started like that, it started because we wanted it and we kind of assumed that a lot of people were in the same boat as well as that it’s such a unique product, not many people have even seen one before, and so you kind of want it, but at the same time you can’t justify spending X amount of dollars on such a new product that you don’t even really know about, like you don’t know how it’s going to look or something like that, because it’s so new, you don’t see this often.

So we wanted to set out to create something that’s affordable for everyone, and we kind of take our vibe of our company a lot differently than our competitors, so they more market it like a premium luxury product while we try to be like that friendly show company. We put smiley faces on our emails, we connect with our customers like that, and we try to stay away from like the professional – that type of company.

Steve: Okay, I guess what I was trying to get out was like was it like a quantitative analysis like did you judge the market size or were you just really interested in the product and you kind of knew that there was demand for it?

Bishoi: Well we definitely, it’s a mixture of both. So we did know that the product had demand based on our competitors and at that time we saw that they were getting some fairly good traction, people were like, wow I’ve never seen something like that. So in terms of that, but then we did a ton of research like to figure out who we can market this to and how we can get it out at different angle then what’s currently out there in the market, because we believe that to be able to come in and compete in an industry you have to either be significantly different, your product has to be significantly different, or you can market it to a different type of niche or a different type of person than what’s currently out there in the market.

We couldn’t find anything that was for the low end – not really, I wouldn’t say our products are necessarily cheap, cheap in terms of cost but they’re definitely one of the cheaper options out there, and we didn’t want to sacrifice on quality either. So we set out to make a really good watch for an affordable price and maybe take a hit on the margins, but at the end of the day it helps us with planting more trees in the end because more people are going to be drawn to it.

Steve: Yeah let’s talk about that a little bit because you’re positioned kind of uniquely, so first of all you are not going for the high end, right?

Bishoi: No right now we focus on the low end market, not even low end just the average medium size and medium consumer, but we’re definitely transitioning into having some higher end models just so we can capture a wide range of the market, but right now we’re primarily focused on the affordability of our product.

Steve: And then you also plant, is it ten trees I can’t remember for every sale?

Bishoi: Yeah it’s ten trees for every order definitely.

Steve: Can you talk about like how that has affected your sales or do you have any correlation?

Bishoi: Yeah definitely, so planting the trees was something we were very adamant about and we want to do that for sure because our products are made of wood, and so we’re taking away from the environment in that aspect, but we wanted to give back like ten times more than we were taking or hundreds of times more than what we were taking.

So like one watch can probably – one tree can probably make thousands of watches, and so we plant ten trees for every watch or every order, and so we give back thousands of times in return just because we don’t want to be taking from the environment.

Our whole goal here was to create a sustainable business and also it does resonate well with our customers, but our focus here was our product first and then having a social aspect associated with the business is definitely a bonus, and is something that people can get behind easier. But I’d say that the primary focus for us was creating a great product and then having a social aspect actually just adds to the benefit of the whole purchasing process.

Steve: How have you leverage that social process, like do you have like a fan page that kind of emphasizes trees and protecting them?

Bishoi: No we actually don’t have like a specific separate page for that, we try to push the story through our website and through our Instagram page, and through any marketing channel we do we always push the fact that we plant ten trees. But our focus here is that we want our customers to love the product itself and fall in love with the actual product, and then the mission behind our company just adds value to the whole experience rather than being a company that, hey we plant trees but we also give you a wooden watch.

So our focus was more we sell watches but we also plant ten trees at the same time, rather than it being a focus on the trees and then you also get a watch, because anyone can go out there and plant ten trees for much cheaper than they would for buying a watch, and so our primary focus has to be on the products.

Steve: No of course yeah and it’s actually for the people who are listening out there, it’s always great to have some sort of story behind your product and the fact that you plant trees kind of lends a nice back story for your company.

Bishoi: Yeah definitely, we think so too.

Steve: So where do you get your watches manufactured, is it in the US, Asia?

Bishoi: Yeah our watches are made in Asia right now.

Steve: Okay and how did you find your vendors, because you mentioned before there is not a lot of people doing this right now?

Bishoi: Yeah so we started on Alibaba, I’m sure a lot of people who are in the ecommerce world would know about this. So Alibaba is a great company that connects suppliers with people who are looking to supply something or is looking to manufacture something. So we just started searching and we did endless searches on Alibaba for someone who would make a wooden watch for us, and we started hitting up not even wooden watch manufacturers but regular watch manufacturers.

Some people would say they couldn’t do it, so we did do quite a bit of search to find a good one and we went through a ton of prototypes with a ton of different manufacturing companies until we found the one company that we were really happy to be working with, and we’re confident in the quality of the products that they make for us.

Steve: So when it comes to designing a wooden watch, none of you guys have a design background, do you?

Bishoi: No we don’t.

Steve: Okay, so how do you convey – I imagine you have to have a factory that works with wood, right?

Bishoi: Yeah definitely of course.

Steve: Okay and then did they already have things that they had already made for other customers at the time, or were you putting out literally a new product from a new manufacturer?

Bishoi: No it was – they have made wooden watches before, so it was easy in that sense that we don’t have to create like a whole new machine or some process that would be able to make the wooden watch, so they already had the process in place, we just had to design the watches.

The great thing about our current manufacturer and the ones we worked with, a lot of these guys actually help you with making the designs so they have their own engineering team, their own design team and you could really put your ideas in words and send them kind of like pictures of other watches and be like I like this part of it but I don’t like that, or I want to add this to it and put it all in words and even try to send them drawings or maybe kind of a mark up on the computer and they’re able to draw it out.

Then once you sign off on the design they end up sending you cut drawings and then you approve those cut drawings and you’re good to go.

Steve: Okay so it’s not like you put together the cut drawings, you found watch styles that you like, picked and matched different pictures that you liked and then had them create the mark ups for you?

Bishoi: Yeah definitely and also in words too like just explaining, so we like this color, and they also have a ton of like what do you call it, just designs of exactly what they have, so like they have maybe a booklet of 5,000 arms like hands for the watch, they have a booklet of 5,000 crowns of the watches they have and then we kind of put together, we went through everything and put together in that sense and also based on other designs we’ve seen in the past.

Steve: In order for them to do work for you, did you have to purchase a lot for your first purchase?

Bishoi: You usually negotiate the terms prior to you ordering a sample just because let’s say you order samples then they just tell you that it’s 500 bucks for a watch and then that’s not the price point you wanted to be at. So we negotiated the terms prior to ordering samples and then once everything is good to go in terms of how low you wanted the cost to be we’d get the samples, but we’ve never had to actually pay out any money for the mass order until we approved the samples.

So you can imagine the samples are pretty expensive compared to the bulk order because they don’t know if they have you in lock yet, you know what I mean?

Steve: Sure, how much did you pay for the samples and how many units was your first order?

Bishoi: It depends on what sample we got, I’d say anywhere from 80 to 150 bucks per watch, yeah it’s somewhere around there, and our first order I think was for maybe 300 watches, something like that.

Steve: Oh okay, so not that high, and then meanwhile they were putting together custom watches for you?

Bishoi: Yeah completely custom, they are completely our designs yeah.

Steve: So let me ask you this, how did you convey to them that you were like a serious player, because I would imagine they get requests like these and it requires significant resources on their part?

Bishoi: Yeah definitely so a lot of these companies they do have minimum order quantities. We got lucky in the one that he kind of is always behind us and he actually believes in our ability to take this where we needed to take it, and so he actually made an exception for us in being able to get the minimum order quantity down to 300 units. Then ever since then our orders have been way larger than that like we just ordered probably over 10,000 watches back in November.

Steve: And when you had to make those orders like do you have to focus on one style or could you mix and match different styles?

Bishoi: Yeah so that’s the thing too is they don’t like to – I can’t tell them I want five watches of 50 different styles, so that’s another thing like we had to really negotiate and tell them, hey don’t worry, just trust us, we’re not looking for just a onetime manufacturer, we want someone that we can partner with and we can build our company with them.

So we were able to sell them on us and then they were able to just let us do lower minimum order quantities on different styles.

Steve: So that first 300 order, was that a single style then?

Bishoi: No that was six styles actually.

Steve: Oh six styles, okay so then you ordered 50 of each?

Bishoi: Yeah that was the lowest, I don’t think you can even – I’m pretty sure that’s unheard of in terms of getting something manufactured, but we did pay a premium for that. Obviously they wouldn’t have done it if they were losing money on it and we did definitely pay a premium compared to what we’re paying right now for our watches.

Steve: Can we talk about the margins for that first order?

Bishoi: They were pretty low; I think it was, gross was probably 50%.

Steve: Really okay and then what are they now on the bulk mark?

Bishoi: They are 70 gross.

Steve: Okay and you had to order like 10,000 in order to get that, get those margins?

Bishoi: Oh yeah definitely.

Steve: Okay and how long did it take you to get your first product to market then?

Bishoi: So what we did was we ordered a ton of samples from different manufacturers and so we got the first – we thought we were going to do it in like a tiered system where we try one manufacturer then see the samples, if we like them we’d go with them, if not we’d go on to the next one. But what we found was that was taking way too long before we could get to market because now we have — the lead time for our watches are two months, so every time we have to wait and start a new guy, that’s a two month waiting period.

So we ended up buying a ton from different manufacturers, comparing them all and then…

Steve: What’s the turn, are we talking about like 10, 20?

Bishoi: Oh year around like eight let’s say.

Steve: Eight okay.

Bishoi: Until we found the one that we are really happy with. The first one we got for example, it was a wooden watch and so it is made out of wood and you touch it and it would give you like splinters and we were like, okay this manufacturer is a right off, yeah that was crazy and we were actually set out to make the thinnest wooden watch in the market.

We tried to do that at least and so that was our goal, and the first manufacturer gives us this like bulky watch that we would not – like it was completely opposite of our vision for the company, and so we had to really like just be like, hey we’re not going to worry about how much we spend on prototypes because at the end of the day once we get it working that money will be insignificant compared to the upside of having a great product.

So we just ended up going all at the same time trying to hit up a ton of manufacturers all at the same time and not worry about, hey let’s not spend an extra couple of a hundred bucks on another manufacturer.

Steve: How much did you invest to get started including that first turn to get an order?

Bishoi: The big part of our success actually was in Canada where we are based out off, there is a grant with the Ontario government, it’s called the starter company program, and what they do is they offer grant money, free money for startups for young entrepreneurs.

So that was huge for us because I went through the program with Ibrahim and we sat down – they actually teach you a ton of stuff, we were business students, so there was a ton of overlap but in the end of the day you get to pitch to a panel of judges…

Steve: Oh cool.

Bishoi: And if they like your idea they give you the grant money, and that really helped us because we were students, we at this point were students and we had a ton of student debt to pay off and rent and food and were not living at home. So we did need the money to start it off with the grant and that really helped us a lot.

Steve: How much was the grant?

Bishoi: It was 5,000.

Steve: Okay, nice, okay so you started for five grand, awesome. So you mentioned that your main sales channel was Instagram, so first of all why did you choose Instagram and not another platform in the beginning?

Bishoi: So Instagram is great just because you could see the picture, you have full occupation of the person’s screen and so for that split second as they are scrolling you kind of have their full undivided attention on that one area, and so that was a big reason. We also have a couple of friends that have also been in the ecommerce businesses and they’ve seen success through Instagram, so it was kind of an easier lead for us to try it out and that’s why we chose Instagram over the other ones.

Also in terms of competition, Facebook is probably one of the bigger advertising platforms out there and there’s just – if you’re trying to compete in the US and Canadian markets there’s so many companies competing for that same space, and so starting out we don’t really have too much money in order to test a lot of stuff which is the type of strategy you have to play with Facebook.

You have to do a lot of testing in order to hit the cost per click that you’re looking for. So we decided to go with Instagram just because it was a good way to start because we didn’t have too much money to invest in testing on it, yeah.

Steve: Okay and just to be clear this is like organic Instagram traffic, right?

Bishoi: Yeah exactly, I’m not talking about paid through Facebook yeah.

Steve: So let’s say you have this Instagram account with zero followers, can you walk me through how you started it up?

Bishoi: Yeah so we have an Instagram page with zero followers and we just started hitting up company — large pages that have a good following in our niche and we just started to hit them up and we tell them, hey do you mind posting a picture of our watch for us for X amount of dollars? We just kept growing our roster that way.

Steve: How many pictures did you have in your account before you started reaching out?

Bishoi: Probably ten, we tried to fill up the page, so like if you are on our main Instagram page like right at the home page of our page, you’d see like the full page of pictures.

Steve: So when you were hitting these Instagramers up, what follower accounts were you looking for, how much does it cost to have them post a picture of yours?

Bishoi: It varies significantly depending on the size of the account and how engaged their follower base is. So we started off with literally the smaller accounts because we couldn’t afford to pay a million follower accounts.

Steve: So how big is a small account in your ads?

Bishoi: Like 50K.

Steve: 50K okay.

Bishoi: Yeah 50K.

Steve: And when you’re measuring engagement what are you looking for?

Bishoi: We are looking at comments, we’re looking at likes and we’re looking at as a percentage of their follower base, and if the comments are real or fake we’d also look at that because a lot of these influencers are part of groups and the groups try to help each other by commenting on the other person’s photo. So that ends up improving the score of the photo and so for us we counted that as fake even though they are real people, they are real followers but we try to go for those real, real accounts at the beginning just so we could have a good return on our money in order to reinvest it.

Steve: What’s a good percentage?

Bishoi: In terms of engagement?

Steve: Yeah comments versus followers.

Bishoi: We try to go for anything over 2% depending on the actual account. So if the account has a million followers you’re typically going to get a lower engagement in terms of percentages because it’s harder to engage a higher percentage of a million people.

Steve: Do likes matter for you or is it just comments?

Bishoi: Likes definitely matter, like if we have a 50K page with 300 likes that’s kind of a red flag to us that, hey this guy is probably not, he doesn’t have real followers.

Steve: What were the percentages of likes look like, like you mentioned 2% for comments, what about for likes?

Bishoi: No I was talking about 2% in total for engagement.

Steve: Oh engagement, okay comments and likes.

Bishoi: Yeah exactly.

Steve: Okay got it, so that 50K person like how much would you pay, let’s say they followed your criteria?

Bishoi: Anywhere from 50 bucks – no actually I’d say anywhere from 30 to 50 bucks for a 50K account.

Steve: Okay so that very first Instagram account that you hit up and they posted a picture, did you get any sales from it?

Bishoi: Yeah we actually did, we got a few sales and we were super stoked and then we ended up continuing with them for a couple more weeks and so we kind of outgrew that size and then continued to the higher follower accounts, and we kept kind of trying to scale up that way in terms of being able to afford more larger accounts yeah.

Steve: So it was profitable immediately?

Bishoi: In terms of marketing side yeah definitely, right away we were able to generate a return.

Steve: Okay, that’s basically one sale right if you’re paying 30 to 50 bucks.

Bishoi: Yeah definitely that’s like one or two sales and we’re good to go.

Steve: Okay and then in terms of finding these people like do you have a specific strategy for it?

Bishoi: Nothing really specific, our strategy has been just to find accounts that are niche and then vet them based on how good the account is.

Steve: Is it just based on hashtags or like how do you find these accounts?

Bishoi: We just search it on Instagram really; we just search whatever like whatever we were trying to target. So if we’re trying to target something that’s for couples, we try to search for couple pages and stuff like that, just hashtags or even in the search bar you just type like anything and it even shows people right away, so yeah.

Steve: Okay can you give me an example of like one of your successful accounts in the watch space or…

Bishoi: Like an actual account?

Steve: Yeah or just something, you don’t have to give the actual name but like give me an idea of an account that actually buys watches that you’ve used.

Bishoi: Oh in terms of a niche, right is how you’re talking?

Steve: Yeah, yes.

Bishoi: Oh yeah definitely, we do a lot of advertising on nature pages because our whole premise is we plant ten trees and so that also engages with those followers highly as well.

Steve: Interesting so those nature followers they are not necessarily looking to buy watches, right?

Bishoi: No, definitely not. They might be and a lot of the times they do want to buy watches too because like the watches are pretty unique and a lot of people like to give them as gifts, so it does help in that sense.

Steve: Okay and so can you just kind of run down like your top three, say nature pages, what else?

Bishoi: Nature pages, probably – I’m trying to think which one would be a second, I’d say probably like animal pages.

Steve: Animal pages okay.

Bishoi: Yeah, so like our goal for us really was just so we could be able to handle large target for a one time with one single post, and so by hitting up any of these pages you’re likely to have someone that’s going to be able to buy your watch. So just having the size of the page being so large you’re definitely going to get a lot of people that are interested in your type of product.

Steve: Okay how do you – animals, that sounds really random, was that just an experimental thing or did you start out going, hey I want to target animal pages?

Bishoi: Yeah it definitely was, it definitely was experimental.

Steve: Okay and in terms of approaching them, one, how do you find their contact info and how do you approach them and what do you write?

Bishoi: We find their contact info on their page, a lot of these people who have a ton of followers they know that their account is good for advertisement and so they have their address on Instagram, or a lot of times you could just DM them, but a lot of times they don’t answer just because of the size of their account, they get a ton of people reaching out to them every day.

Steve: Okay and so you try to – they probably leave an email address or something like that?

Bishoi: Yeah a lot of the times they do, they leave an email address in their bio and you could just hit them up that way.

Steve: And so what would you write to them as an initial contact?

Bishoi: It’s really hey — actually let me try to pull it up if I can.

Steve: Sure.

Bishoi: It’s just basically introducing ourselves and introducing our company and we feel like our product would be great on their page and their followers would probably likely engage with our photo, and we also try to leverage other accounts that we use. So we like check out our post on so and so’s page and see our engagement compared to other ads that they run, and we were able to leverage it like that.

Steve: Okay and in terms of talking prices do you ask them for that upfront?

Bishoi: Yeah straight up we ask right away on probably one of the first messages, we’re like, hey do you mind sending us your pricing for your page and then they send it back and we try and negotiate if we don’t feel like it’s a fair price, but most of the times these guys are pretty aware of what they should be charging for their accounts, so you could end up paying anywhere from like 300, 400 and 500 dollars just for a shout out and I’m not even talking celebrity, I’m talking about like just regular pages.

Steve: So what’s a good ROI for you in order to keep going with an influencer?

Bishoi: For marketing we were aiming to have under 15% just because our margins are so low compared to other watch companies because that was our overall goal, so we really have to be cognizant of how much we’re paying for it.

Steve: So we’re talking like a 6X return on ad spend then?

Bishoi: Yeah around 6X yeah.

Steve: Okay interesting and was that just a number that – like how did you come up with that number?

Bishoi: So we kind of had like a goal for net profit because we don’t even pay ourselves really much right now, and so without having a goal for net profit we kind of worked up that way.

Steve: So let’s say you find someone who is like a 4X ROI, do you just stop working with them?

Bishoi: No, no we don’t try to generate a return on every single account; we try to have it generated on overall return on our portfolio if you would say.

Steve: Okay so that’s like kind of what I was asking then, so if you find someone – like what are your factors for continuing on with them and when do you just outright stop, like what’s the low threshold and the high threshold?

Bishoi: So a lot of the times you could gauge the success of account not even by the sales but by the amount of visits you get right after you post, so let’s say I have a post with them at 3PM and then I’m constantly monitoring the traffic to our website and if we see some sort of a spike, then we know that the account is pretty real and pretty good because really their only job is to drive traffic, it’s our job to make the sale, and so we can’t really judge the quality of the account based on the amount of sales we get, we kind of try to judge it by the amount of traffic we get to a certain extent.

If the traffic is from a country that isn’t likely to purchase, then obviously it’s not as valuable as the traffic from the US or traffic from Canada who are more likely to do purchases online, you know what I mean?

Steve: Yeah, how long does the link stay in their bio?

Bishoi: A lot of these guys don’t do links in bio; we try to push them to our Instagram page which is how we kind of grew our follower base pretty high as well. Just by pushing them through our page and so that gives us the opportunity to get a follow from them and be able to sell later on and provide content as well.

A reason why our Instagram page if you look at it has such great engagement compared to others is because we decided that we’re not just going to be pushing products down our customers’ throats all day long, we’re going to be providing great content that they like to engage with and also push our products. We actually push the great content more than we push our products just because providing value has been key for our success.

Steve: So let’s talk about that, let’s talk about the content that’s actually on your page, like what are some of the photos that you like to post?

Bishoi: We were a nature based company in terms of our social initiative and so number one right off the bat is nature scenic areas like in different areas of the world. Number two would be…

Steve: How do you get those photos?

Bishoi: We actually get them off other pages and they’re kind of happy for us to use their photos because that ends up driving traffic to their pages, because we always put like photo credit so and so. So it ends up driving traffic to the person who posted the photo and it provides great content for our follower base, so it’s kind of a win-win.

Steve: So there’s not a watch in that photo then?

Bishoi: Sorry in the specific photo that we post?

Steve: No I mean you mentioned like you have photos from all over the world, like do they contain watches or they are just nature photos?

Bishoi: Oh no they’re just purely flat nature photos, just regular…

Steve: Okay.

Bishoi: Yeah exactly.

Steve: Got it, got it, but then you do have photos obviously with your product in, right?

Bishoi: Yeah of course, so we try to do like a two to one ratio where for every photo of nature or engaging content that isn’t related to our product, we do one of our own product photos.

Steve: When you say engaging content, are you talking about like your photo linking to a post or literally just the photo?

Bishoi: I’m talking about literally just the photo, like content that people like and engage with in terms of – like so if I were to post a ton of product photos on all my page, our account would not be as valuable in terms of how greatly people are engaging with there just because people tend to engage with product shots rather less than they do with like nature, nice looking pictures, you know what I mean?

Steve: Can you talk about like your highest performing Instagram post and what you wrote in the comment section?

Bishoi: Yeah so probably our highest performing photo has definitely been a nature photo, I’m trying to think which one but I don’t have one right off the top of my head, but usually it’s related to the photo and just like whatever comment we could come up with that’s related to the actual picture.

Steve: Okay so it’s much more about the photo and very little about the comment, like you don’t spend that much time on the comment?

Bishoi: Oh yeah no definitely finding great photos has been our key – definitely been the key for us.

Steve: Okay and so just by paying influencers your account just gradually builds up, so what percentage would you say – okay and you’re guiding people to your account, so they actually have to click twice just to make it to your site, right?

Bishoi: Yeah so usually the thing with Instagram is that they don’t let you put links in the actual comment of a photo but they let you put it in your bio on your page, so they‘re going to have to click twice anyways because if they want to get to the influencer’s bio they’d have to click on the influencer’s profile. So our idea was like we might as well push them through our page, maybe a get a follow out of it and then also drive traffic to our Instagram page as well as the website.

So either way they’re going to be clicking twice and so we’d rather have them click twice through our page rather than through somewhere else.

Steve: So would you say then that almost all your sales are mobile sales?

Bishoi: A lot of them are, a good percentage of them. I think what happens is though and I think that’s true for a lot of ecommerce businesses is the initial view is on mobile and then they come back later on desktop and make the purchase. So there is still kind of a healthy split but I think the initial like viewing of our company is on mobile.

Steve: Okay so you’re paying influencers and you’re putting together good content on your page, what are other factors that you’ve used to build up your account?

Bishoi: On Instagram?

Steve: Yeah.

Bishoi: Those are definitely the two main things, great content and if you know shout outs through bigger pages that gives you more publicity to your page. I think those are the two main things and I don’t think that there may be anything else really other than those two big factors.

Steve: Okay because I noticed on your account that you don’t follow anyone either, so you don’t like follow random companies with hopes that they will follow you back?

Bishoi: No we tried out too, I mean you see a lot of companies doing that, we just try to follow like the one account we follow is our partner in helping us plant these trees and that’s really what we do right now.

Steve: Okay so let’s go back and talk about finding the advertiser spot, like how did you come across the animals one which sounds really random to me?

Bishoi: A lot of these guys actually hit you up; they are looking to make money as well so they’re trying to reach out to people, all day we get probably ten emails a day of influencer accounts trying to ask us…

Steve: Interesting, how did you get on that list because we hardly get hit up for anything on Instagram?

Bishoi: Really, we actually didn’t sign up for any list, we didn’t do anything; it’s just like actual individual accounts that are trying to generate money I guess. I guess how we get noticed is by running shout outs on other pages and then these smaller pages are people who are reaching out to us see our ad on another page and then they are like, oh he must be running ads, let me try to email him, you know what I mean?

Steve: I see, let me ask you this, is there a special way that you search for specific instagrammers that are selling advertising?

Bishoi: There are platforms out there, we haven’t used them ourselves, but I know there is a platform called Shoutcart and there is a ton of other platforms similar to that, [inaudible 00:38:33] I think is another one. So these are influencers who want to have a platform to sell their advertising space on and that’s completely like regulated too, so you pay the company and the company pays the influencer. Those are the people that actually are actively try to seek out business through publishing their page on a website.

Steve: But in your case you are just doing it organically essentially, right?

Bishoi: We’re doing it ourselves just because we like to develop a long term relationship with all our influencers like we have chats with them, it’s not like a strictly business relationship just because that also allows us to get good rates on the pages and it allows us to have like if we wanted to post one another company had a post we’d get precedence.

So it’s definitely value in developing that personal relationship with each and every one of these accounts that you work with because the backbone of your business is kind of based on them being there for you especially it’s like if that’s your main focus starting out. So we try to do it ourselves, also you’d be negotiating better rates just because if you have a third party middle man they are definitely going to be wanting to take a cut as well, and so you just by cutting them you make some extra money or save some extra money.

Steve: Okay and so when you’re reaching out to these influencers then, so you actually hop on Skype and you negotiate with these guys?

Bishoi: No we talk to them just through chat.

Steve: Just through chat?

Bishoi: Just through chat yeah.

Steve: And in terms of analytics you kind of work out when they’re going to post it and then you just look at your analytics for that specific time to see what happens?

Bishoi: Yeah exactly and another thing we do is coupon codes specific to the page just so we can see how well they carry us, but we found out that around 50% of customers don’t even use the coupon code, so we just scale it up that way just so we can get kind of an accurate estimate of how many sales they get, so like if someone got one coupon, they likely have got two sales actually.

Steve: I see so coupon codes is primarily how you track each source?

Bishoi: Yeah exactly definitely.

Steve: Okay and like – because I would imagine you have multiple campaigns going on in any given day, right?

Bishoi: Yeah definitely, we probably run a few, definitely a few ads every day.

Steve: So let’s say something works with an influencer, like how soon do you schedule out another one?

Bishoi: That was a big thing starting out, when we first started we didn’t have a big roster of accounts, so we kind of had to run them every day or every other day, and a lot of the times these pages don’t even like to do that and they flat out reject that offer just because if they’re pushing the same product every day it reduces the quality of their account and they lose a ton of followers every time they post an ad.

So the tradeoff has to be there in terms of how much you’re willing to pay them versus how low their followers are going to go based on the ad.

Steve: So what would you say is like the average frequency that you do in between campaigns for a given influencer?

Bishoi: Right now we do three, four, anywhere from three to five days actually.

Steve: Oh okay.

Bishoi: Yeah we try to give a healthy space just because also you got to keep in mind that these followers have already seen the post like a couple of days ago and pushing them every day, we try to — by spacing it out by like three or five days you end up getting new people to the page as well because these pages grow a lot faster than your typical page, so any of these pages could grow by, within five days it could grow by thousands of followers. So you end up showing it to more new people that way as well.

Steve: And in terms of – I’m trying to think, in terms of finding the average like could you provide some guidelines on like how you do it, not necessarily like what you see in the average but in terms of just doing the research on what pages could be potentially beneficial to your company.

Bishoi: Yeah so it’s tough to say like exactly what I was trying to explain earlier is that we run an ad on a dog page or like an animal page and we’ve seen success from that, so it’s tough to say which is going to get you the success. But I’d say that when you’re first starting out take two things that you think are in your target market and in your niche and then when you have little extra money to try new things out on, try pages that have great engagement that might not even be related to what you’re selling.

Steve: What is your hit rate then?

Bishoi: In terms of?

Steve: In terms of like paying for an Instagram ad and getting a positive ROI, like what portion of your budget is for experimentation versus ones that you actually know generate cash?

Bishoi: At this point we’re not really experimenting in terms of like just trying out accounts that we might already know we’re not really sure of, right now we have a pretty good roster of great accounts that we work with, and so we only take on board new great accounts like our hit rate is pretty good now just because we’ve had so much experience with other accounts over the last year, and so yeah we try to only bring people on board that are actually going to do well for us, so there is less experimentation now rather than when we first started.

Steve: But how do you know someone is going to do well for you?

Bishoi: It’s just how big their account is and how great their engagement is and how much they’re charging, because like I said these influencers are pretty attuned to how great their followers are or how great their engagement is, so for example I think it’s easier to explain with an example. So let’s say like a two million follower account reaches out to you and goes, hey would you like to buy promotions for us $25 a post.

So that means right off the bat I wouldn’t even look at that account just because no two million follower account would be charging only $25 a post unless it was a fake account. So just by the amount of money that they’re charging for their account and they know the value of it, that also is a good significant determinant of how good the account is.

Steve: I guess what I’m trying to ask is like do you get demographic information because I know like for our customers, there is actually a pocket of customers that are over the age of 55, like do you actually look at demographics and everything?

Bishoi: So a lot of times when we hit off these influencers, now a lot of these influencer pages actually change their profiles to business profiles, and so they do have demographics on Instagram where you could ask them for screen shots of the age, the time their followers are mostly engaged. There is a lot of analytics on Instagram now and so that also does help in our decision making process. It tells you the age, the geographic location, and also the times that the posts do much better than others.

Steve: Okay to kind of just sum up what you’ve been saying is you start out small with influencers that are very closely tied to your niche, I guess in your case would you target like people under watches or?

Bishoi: We try to do watches and also nature because those are the two main aspects of our business specifically, and so it’s easier to find a nature page than it is to do a watch page for us, and so that’s kind of why we were hitting the nature pages hard. There is not many watch pages out there and if there are a lot of their engagement isn’t as great because you know most people would love to like a photo of a nature beautiful scenic area rather than like a watch sitting on a table, you know what I mean?

Steve: Of course, of course, okay and in terms of rates can you just kind of give some general guidelines on how much things cost for so many followers?

Bishoi: Yeah so anyone under I’d say 200,000 followers is going to charge you anywhere from $50 to $100. Once we get to the million follower mark you’re paying anywhere from $300 to $500 per post.

Steve: Okay and then 2% guideline in terms of engagement which includes likes and comments?

Bishoi: Yeah, I mean you’re going to get accounts that have way higher than that, but sometimes you’ll even get accounts with lower than that. That’s just based on the size of the account, so if the account has a lot more followers you got to be more lenient in terms of how high you need the engagement rate to be. So when we’re dealing with like million follower accounts we try to aim for anything over 1% is great.

Steve: Okay and then have you ever tried anything larger than that?

Bishoi: More than a million followers?

Steve: Yeah.

Bishoi: When you’re talking about over like a couple of million you’re talking about celebrities and that’s a whole another ball game in terms of how much they charge. So a celebrity who has a couple of million followers would charge you probably a couple of thousand versus what a page with the same amount of followers would charge you.

Steve: One thing I forgot to ask you was the creative that you have them share, is it a unique photo just for them?

Bishoi: No, so we have a great photographer on board and we have a bunch of photos that we think are our best photos and so we send them out to all of them and there is not a unique photo that they’ve taken. A lot of influencers do that actually, they get you to – especially the photographer influencers, they’ll get you to send them a product and they take the photo themselves and they post it on their page and it’s a unique photo to their page and no one has ever seen before, a lot of them do that.

I’d say the only negative aspect to that is you can’t really control how prominent the product is in the photo, so in the influencer’s best interest the product is hidden in the background, in your best interest the product is out in your face just so that people can actually see the product. So there is kind of a mismatch there, so that’s why we try to send them our photos just so we can control the quality of the photo.

Steve: Okay and in terms of your photos then, are they photos that you have posted on your own account or are these unique photos?

Bishoi: They are a mixture of both, so sometimes we get a brand new photo that we’re really hey this is nice, let’s wait before we post it on our page, let’s try it on ads and see.

Steve: Okay but do you ever do a photo that’s already on your account?

Bishoi: Yeah all the time.

Steve: The highest performing one okay.

Bishoi: All the time.

Steve: Okay and do you just choose your highest performing picture than at that point?

Bishoi: Yeah definitely it’s so much easier to choose a photo based on your profile just because you can go through your page and see how well it did on your page and if it did well on yours it’ll probably do well on others as well.

Steve: Okay and Instagram ranks photos based on engagement, and so with the influencers – let’s see what am I getting at here, with the influencers is it really obvious that something that they post is going to get a lot of engagement based on prior engagement?

Bishoi: Yes because that…

Steve: You’re seeing what I’m getting at?

Bishoi: I get exactly where you’re getting at, yeah that’s been a big switch for us, and that’s why we’re kind of trying to explore other marketing mediums just because Instagram now is becoming really tough to do well on versus probably a year back when we first started. So a big change that they did was posts are no longer chronological, they are based on the time, and so when I go, if you had posted first and then someone else had posted second, you’d see your post first then someone else second.

Now the algorithm has changed in terms of what you see on Instagram, it’s based on how you engage with that person’s account. So if I start liking your photos much more often than I like John’s photos, then I’m going to be shown your stuff a lot more than John’s and I might not even see John’s, you know what I mean?

Steve: Right, yeah.

Bishoi: So that’s been tough for us in terms of Instagram just because now obviously a promotional post on a shout out is not going to do anywhere near as well as what the page actually posts, so if it’s a nature account they post nature photos, you’re almost never going to get a good performing ad photo equivalent to a good performing nature photo.

Steve: Right.

Bishoi: So that really hurts in terms of just the reach, just the audience because they don’t show the ad to as many people as they used to because it’s not chronological anymore and they also determine the score of the photo within like ten minutes in their algorithm. So it’s easy actually for Instagram to tell what an ad photo is versus a regular photo on the person’s page just by in the first ten minutes you see how high the engagement is going versus the other posts on my page, and then they could easily tell right off the bat that this photo is kind of a bad photo, let’s not publish it, let’s not show it to as many people.

Steve: So how does that affect you going forward and like your advice for the people listening?

Bishoi: It’s great to start off with Instagram just because you could get a wide reach and start growing your page and getting more social proof to your page, but right now our marketing spend has almost doubled within the last like couple of months just because of this new algorithm and that’s why we’re heavily focused on diversifying our marketing.

Steve: Cool man. Hey Bishoi I really appreciate your thoughts on Instagram, if anyone is interested in your watches or wants to get a hold of you where can they find you?

Bishoi: Yeah so we have a website, it’s called www.mytruwood.com, just shoot us an email and we’ll definitely hit you back up within like 24 hours at the very most.

Steve: Yeah and just to be clear it’s spelt T-R-U.

Bishoi: Oh yeah definitely thanks for that, it is a little weird doing the spelling just because we couldn’t get the domain, but yeah it’s good.

Steve: Yeah I’ll link it up in the show notes but just in case like if you want to check it out and his account it would just obviously link to that, it’s very well done. Hey Bishoi thanks a lot for coming on the show man, I really appreciate it.

Bishoi: Awesome man, thank you Steve.

Steve: All right take care.

Bishoi: Take care as well.

Steve: Hope you enjoyed that episode. Now Bishoi’s success with Instagram just goes to show you that there are a bunch of different ways to market an ecommerce business and you start to find out what’s working and then focus on it. For more information about this episode, go to mywifequitherjob.com/episode164.

And once again I want to thank Klaviyo for sponsoring this episode. Klaviyo is my email marketing platform of choice for ecommerce merchants, and you can easily put together automated flows like an abandoned cart sequence, a post purchase sequence, a win back campaign, and basically all of these email sequences that will make you money on auto pilot. So head on over to mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O, once again that’s mywifequitherjob.com/ K-L-A-V-I-Y-O.

I also want to thank SellerLabs.com as well. Their tool Ignite is what I use to manage my Amazon PPC campaigns. Instead of the old tedious way of generating reports and analyzing your ad campaigns in excel, Ignite aggregates all that info for you in one place and allows you to quickly visualize your data to make decisions fast.

So not only does it save time, but it also makes managing your Amazon campaigns so much easier too. So head on over to sellerlabs.com/steve and sign up for a free 30 day trial, once again that’s sellerlabs.com/steve.

And if you’re interested in starting your own ecommerce store, head on over to mywifequitherjob.com and sign up for my free six day mini course. Just type in your email and I’ll send you the course right away via email, thanks for listening.

Outro: Thanks for listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast, where we are giving the courage people need to start their own online business. For more information visit Steve’s blog at www.mywifequitherjob.com.

I Need Your Help

If you enjoyed listening to this podcast, then please support me with an iTunes review. It's easy and takes 1 minute! Just click here to head to iTunes and leave an honest rating and review of the podcast. Every review helps!
 
Share On Facebook

Ready To Get Serious About Starting An Online Business?


If you are really considering starting your own online business, then you have to check out my free mini course on How To Create A Niche Online Store In 5 Easy Steps.

In this 6 day mini course, I reveal the steps that my wife and I took to earn 100 thousand dollars in the span of just a year. Best of all, it's absolutely free!

163: How To Successfully Sell Products In Saturated Niches With Grant Yuan

Share On Facebook

163:  How To Successfully Sell Products In Saturated Niches With Grant Yuan

Today, I’m thrilled to have Grant Yuan on the show. Grant runs the EcomCrew podcast along with Mike Jackness who I had back in episode 119.

Anyway, Grant runs a bunch of different businesses which include a cutting board store at CuttingBoard.com and a few brick and mortar stores like Cinnabon.

But the reason I wanted to have him on the podcast is to show how you can take something simple and saturated like cutting boards and turn it into a thriving ecommerce business.

What You’ll Learn

  • Grant’s strategy for SEO
  • Why your domain is still important
  • How Grant advertises cutting boards online
  • Grant’s greatest source of sales
  • How Grant makes PPC ad campaigns profitable.

Other Resources And Books

Sponsors

Klaviyo.com – Klaviyo is the email marketing platform that I personally use for my ecommerce store. Created specifically for ecommerce, it is the best email marketing provider that I’ve used to date. Click here and try Klaviyo for FREE.
Klaviyo

Ignite.Sellerlabs.com – If you are selling on Amazon and running Amazon Sponsored Ads campaigns, then Ignite from Seller Labs is a must have tool. Click here and get a FREE 30 Day Trial.
Ignite Logo

ReferralCandy.com – If you’re already getting steady orders every month, adding a refer-a-friend program to your store can give you a new sales channel. And ReferralCandy is the best in the business. Click here and get a FREE $50 credit towards your account.
referral candy

SellersSummit.com – The ultimate ecommerce learning conference! Unlike other events that focus on inspirational stories and high level BS, the Sellers Summit is a curriculum based conference where you will leave with practical and actionable strategies specifically for an ecommerce business. Click here and get your ticket now before it sells out.
Sellers Summit

Transcript

Steve: You are listening to the My Wife Quit her Job Podcast, the place where I bring on successful bootstrapped business owners and delve deeply into what strategies are working and what strategies are not with their businesses.

Today I’m thrilled to have Grant Yuan on the show, and Grant runs the ecommerce store cuttingboard.com where he sells cutting boards, and he’s actually going to teach us how to be successful selling saturated products online.

Now before we begin I want to give a quick shout out to Klaviyo who is a sponsor of the show. Now I’m super excited to talk about Klaviyo because they are the email marketing platform that I personally use for my ecommerce store, and I actually depend on Klaviyo for over 20% of my revenues. Now you’re probably wondering why Klaviyo and not another provider. Well Klaviyo is the only email platform out there that is specifically built for ecommerce stores, and here’s why it’s so powerful.

Klaviyo can track every single customer who has shopped in your store and exactly what they bought which allows you to do many things. So let’s say I want to send an email to everyone who purchased a red handkerchief in the last week, easy. Let’s say I want to set up a special autoresponder sequence to my customers depending on what they purchased, piece of cake, and there is full revenue tracking on every single email that I send.

Now Klaviyo is the most powerful email platform that I’ve ever used and you can try them for free at mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O, once again that’s mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O.
I also want to give a shout out to my other sponsor Seller Labs, and specifically I want to talk about their brand new tool Ignite which helps sellers manage their Amazon sponsored ads. Right now I’m actually using this tool to manage my Amazon sponsored ad campaigns, and it makes things a heck of a lot more convenient.

So number one I’ve always found it a major pain to generate my PPC reports on Amazon, cut and paste the data over to an excel spreadsheet and use pivot tables before I’m able do any analysis. But Ignite pulls all that info for you automatically and allows you to easily see what keywords are working and what are not immediately, there is no need to manually create reports or play with excel.

Second of all unless you’re a data geek, Amazon campaign data can be hard to understand, and what’s cool is that Ignite makes keyword and bidding recommendations on the fly that can be applied with just a couple of clicks.

So let’s say one of my hankie keywords is bleeding money, Ignite will alert me of that fact, and I can reduce that bid immediately. So bottom line Ignite makes managing your Amazon sponsored ads so much easier and the fact that they provide me with alerts means that I no longer have to monitor my campaigns like a hawk.

If there are keywords that are doing well, Ignite tells me to add them to my exact match campaigns, if my keywords are losing money, Ignite tells me to either remove the keyword or to reduce the bid. So head on over to sellerlabs.com/steve where you’ll find awesome tutorials on how to run Amazon PPC ads and the opportunity to try Ignite for 30 days for free. Once again that’s sellerlabs.com/steve. Now on the show.

Intro: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. We will teach you how to create a business that suits your lifestyle, so you can spend more time with your family and focus on doing the things that you love. Here is your host, Steve Chou.

Steve: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast, today I’m thrilled to have Grant Yuan on the show. Now if you don’t know who Grant is, he runs the Ecom Crew podcast along with Mike Jackness who I had back in episode 119. Now if you’re a listener of the Ecom Crew podcast, you probably haven’t heard from Grant in a while because well he’s been busy working on his businesses.
Mike has been hamming it up and monopolizing the microphone and going off on color. In fact word on the street is that Grant is the brains behind everything and is the better half of the relationship. My plan is actually arrest this guy away from Ecom Crew to join My Wife Quit her Job.

Anyway Grant runs a bunch of different businesses which include a cutting board store at cuttingboard.com and a brick and mortar store like Cinnabon, but the reason I want to have him on the show today is to show how you can take something simple and somewhat saturated like cutting boards and turn it into a thriving ecommerce business. And with that welcome to the show Grant, how are you doing today?

Grant: Hey Steve, I’m doing great, thank you for having me on the show and thank you for the kind words beforehand, and I mean my goal is closing one another, but it’s very beneficial when we have a third party to help break the dispute. Obviously I am – there’s going to be the better half, I don’t know what to say about that, so now that I’m here now that you’ve said it it’s got to be true, right?

Steve: Of course, yeah I mean it’s always fun to [inaudible 00:04:54] Mike, I mean he’s just so easy.

Grant: Yeah, he just has to like maybe pour out a coloring bag in like his frustrations after he hears this podcast about it.

Steve: So give us the quick background, your background and how you got into ecommerce and maybe touch upon what it’s like working with Mike at the end who knows.

Grant: Yeah so Mike and I we’ve had a very long learning background obviously and of course we’re actually friends not friendenemies sometimes we pretend we are, but we were doing quite a bit of affiliate marketing back in the day, and at one point we realized even though the business was doing really good that we needed to have a lot more value than we were bringing. It really dawned on us after we had a seen a lot of what was happening in the Google side of things that we needed to pull it.

I know that’s almost overused word these days but the reality is the affiliate business is more or less going the way of the turtle [ph] bird, there are things that will stay around but we decided that rather than waiting to see what was going to happen we needed to offer something of value. So rather than just recommending or doing a business where we drive traffic and then unload it to somebody else, we had to take that traffic and then build upon that.

So we decided that ecommerce was going to be what we were going to do since we know how to build traffic and for better or for worse we got into selling fitness equipment as the very first thing which is death by sales and cuts in some ways, but it’s also it was a huge learning experience at the same time.

Steve: So why cutting boards?

Grant: That’s an interesting question as well. I would say it was more an opportunity than anything, and a lot of what Mike and I do is when we go and find ideas, I wouldn’t say we’re so smart as to find a wonderful niche and then go attack it, I think that would be giving us a little bit too much credit. We find domains that are available and we find an idea that we believe that we can capitalize on.

So we take a few things, the cost per acquisition, the competitive niche of the industry and then we kind of factor those two and figure out based on search volume and a bunch of other things whether or not we should go for it and then we just go after it. So it’s a clamor of opportunity really more than anything.

Steve: So you chose to sell cutting boards because of the domain or – what was the primary rationale for going to cutting boards of all things?

Grant: Yeah the domain was available, I know it sounds completely ridiculous, but that’s what it was and it wasn’t exactly available, it was owned by a restaurant owner in North Carolina that sold barbeque and I figured that he probably wasn’t going to put the domain to good use as well as I was. I wouldn’t say that he got a bad deal out of it, he definitely got a fair amount of money, but I’m pretty sure I’ve added a whole lot more value to that domain during the me time.

Beforehand though how much did I know about cutting boards? I would say not too much and now I know a whole lot more, but I do have a fair amount of passion for it. I think it’s a really interesting market, I do a lot of cooking, so it wasn’t that bad for me to jump into, I like what I do and that matters a lot.

Steve: Okay, so in terms of how much you paid for the domain, is it like four figures, five figures, like what are we talking about here?

Grant: It was like low five figures.

Steve: Low figure figures, okay wow. So do you recommend that people do that today, like if there is a good domain, like build a business around that? What I’m trying to ask you is how important is the domain in terms of ranking; I would imagine you got these domains for ranking purposes, right?

Grant: Yeah, Mike and I we get a lot of keyword domains and you can probably find 100 opinions if you ask 100 people in the industry. Our opinion is that keyword domains do matter and if you can find one and if you can build on it, it makes life a lot easier and that really kind of explains our MO.

I would say that there is a lot of people that do just fine without it, I mean you’re look at somebody like Man Crates, I don’t think anybody was ever switching for a Man Crate before that came out or a Modcloth or any number of brandable companies out there. It just so happens that we come from an SEO background and we know how to attack that angle the best.
If you come from a generic marketing background, then Facebook and your other ads could do just as well, but it really depends on your core strength I suppose. If you think that SEO is the way to go then keyword domains are great, if you belief that marketing and branding is the best way to go, then I don’t think it would matter.

Steve: So how much of a difference would it make between getting like cuttingboard.com versus like cuttingboardhq.com or something along those lines?

Grant: Or like mikeswood.com or something like that?

Steve: Well something with cutting board in it but maybe with like a small third word, you know what I’m saying?

Grant: Got it, it’s a pretty big drop off, and based on what we’ve known from previous experience in the industry if you were to put like a numeric scale to it, if you had the keyword domain such as cuttingboard.com, I would assign like a weight of ten, and if you had cuttingboardfactory.com, I’d probably assign anything other than the poorer version down to like a six or a five at best.

Steve: Interesting.

Grant: Once you get into the three word, or anything like that you start losing off on a lot of the main branding ability and also the keyword strength. What I mean by that is for example long tail keywords, for example let’s just say you’re selling bike parts and you could have bikeparts.com, but then you might have twinbikeparts.com, you might have stevesbikeparts.com, the long tail just becomes infinitely bigger once you get to a three factor out there.

So when you have the two factor, just two words of bike parts, then you have a whole lot more broad encompassing search visibility, but it also requires that you do a whole lot more optimization. So a lot of it is requiring that even though you have this great domain, you need to know how to utilize it properly. So yeah even a guy with a million dollars is a great domain it’s not going to do anything unless he knows how to work it properly.

Steve: So in terms of the domain, is this all from your experience buying domains in terms of like your rating factors?

Grant: We’ve had a very long history of doing domains back in the affiliate days, that’s where I really got my experience. I started off in 2003 and I actually had even an academic background in search in some ways and…

Steve: Interesting, okay.

Grant: Yeah I graduated from a program called informatics which meant that I studied data, and at the time people were like you study what, I’m like I study data, and they are like well that
sounds really boring. I’m like it kind of is, but nowadays people are like, oh yeah data cool, big data. So back in the day how do you find data, well you organize it, then you index it and then you put a search engine on top of it.

So I kind of understood what the search engines were looking for especially back then was the computational abilities that was then. There is only so many things that you can do to really be able to filter out and do like in other rankings and everything that Google did, so a lot of the methodology that we used started off from a very engineering focused standpoint where we kind of reversed engineered like why would an engineer do it this way or do it that way.

Most people tend to go by the old lady says that a horse rides throughout the sky and drags like a big ball of fire behind it, and so the old lady says this and that’s kind of how most people do SEO. They go on forums and they read everything, but I really do think that if you have an engineering type of mind and especially software development mind and think about things rationally and try to understand systems and databases, now it’s going to be a whole more complicated but you kind of try to piece it together from almost like the molecular level up until the engine has failed, then you can really truly understand what is going into the search engine optimization.

So that’s like a long way of saying that being there from the very beginning from the early days of SEO, I think I’ve had the benefit of seeing how the theory and application of SEO has developed throughout the entire time to what it is now. This is equivalent of growing up learning how to work on something simple like a 1970s mustang, then now you’ve got like a Tesla.
If you start with a Tesla you’re going to be completely overwhelmed because it is electronic and nobody knows what the hell is going on underneath.

Steve: Okay we’ll get into that in a little bit, but first I want to talk a little bit about the business itself, so first of all are these cutting boards drop shipped or do you store inventory or do you have your own brands or all three?

Grant: We do a little bit of each, I would say that we warehouse most of it, and from our experience in the drop shipping side Mike and I both felt pretty burned in the fitness industry. When you can’t keep a promise to your customer, it makes life very, very difficult and if anything in the ecommerce face, and I’m sure you know this all too given your customer base as well, they don’t react well when you don’t deliver on promises especially for high value items.

If you have a low value item I think that your error ranking get a lot higher, but that said ecommerce is pretty brutal, people make a lot of noise when things go wrong and it gets published prominently, and so you don’t have a lot of room to screw up. So drop shipping I try to avoid it when I can because of those kind of problems, so I tend to inventory.

Steve: Okay and then cutting boards are heavy and so does that imply you have a warehouse like a big warehouse?

Grant: Yup I’ve got multiple warehouses. I use a warehouse in the East Coast and then I serve a warehouse myself and then I use Amazon for different items, but I try not to rely on Amazon for most anything that’s important, which is kind of the opposite of most other people and maybe even Mike.

Steve: Yeah actually Mike has gone all Amazon for fulfillment even, but I’m curious what your rationale is for having both the 3PL and your own warehouse?

Grant: A lot of it is due to the weight factor and the other part is due to the customer experience factor. When your items weigh as much as mine do which is an average of 15 to 20 pounds a piece, then…

Steve: Okay.

Grant: Yeah shipping like zone 7, zone 8 all the way from Seattle and so anybody paying attention UPS and FedEx when they break apart their parcel, shipping they base it on zones and anything local to you is probably a two to three zone, and then for me I’m based in Seattle. So Texas and the mid west would be zone four or five, and then the East Coast and the North East would be a zone seven, eight.

Yeah it got very expensive, when I started off I would ship a package to Texas and it would pass me about $25 to New York or Maine and may end up costing me almost $28, $29. That was with a discount through a consolidator, and without a consolidator I probably would have paid $35 to New York and when you consider my product itself my cost fully, you’re getting to you’re not going to make money margins over at that point. So it was more of I had to get this done rather than I wanted to.

Steve: Why not a 3PL in both places?

Grant: That’s a good question. One of the things that prevents me from getting a 3PL for the west coast is we have a little bit of customization that we do on our products, and that ends up mattering quite a bit for us. That’s kind of the direction that we’re looking to go, so the other issue too is that starting off the business, I’m really, really big on understanding your product more than anything.

The lessons that we learned from shipping ourselves, we applied it to our 3PL, so we reduced our return rate, we reduced our breakage rate, we reduced our dimensional – I mean everything like that. The other thing too is that now after having done it for three years I’ve just renegotiated my small parcel rates, and we’ve got some amazing, amazing deals and a lot of that is just because I understand all the ins and outs of shipping now.

Steve: What are some things that you learned that you actually applied to the 3PL; can you give me an example?

Grant: Yeah absolutely, so just the way that our boxes are being packed and everything, we went through about five different configurations on how we pack our cutting boards. When we first did it we just did a paper and wood and pretty much they would just get beat up especially on a long haul, they just got dropped a lot and who knows what, but they just weren’t being protected.

Then we tried bumble wrapping and then we had other issues, too much time to get it done. Then we finally figured out these custom form quarters that we put in there would work out, and there was quite a few other things that we just kind of realized going in that we had to explain to our 3PL how to do from the get go. Otherwise if they simply did it their own default way which is almost the way Amazon does it, you have a small item thrown in a big box and it gets slumped all over the place, and then you have a lot of damage.

Steve: Okay, I see, it makes sense. Let me ask you this though and this is something I’ve just been thinking about, what’s special about your cutting boards versus me going to like a Bed Bath & Beyond and picking a cutting board, why would I want to pay $40 in shipping or $25 in shipping?

Grant: One thing is that we do have free shipping over 75, I know that’s a pretty high limit compared to what a lot of other people are, and your question is really on point though. If you’re buying something under $50 you most likely are not going to be buying from us, and I don’t really cater to that kind of audience as well because of exactly what you said, you can buy a bamboo or plastic cutting board anywhere, and honestly I don’t really want to compete for two to three dollars, it’s not a good market to be.

So we compete at the higher end, our average order is going to be in the $100 range. The boards that we sell, you can’t really get them at Bed Bath & Beyond. You can probably them at Williams Sonoma or Sur La table or another high end type of place, but in that way our product is pretty niche unless you’re a business and you’re buying just a big volume of cutting boards, and we were pretty competitive on that side.

Steve: Okay, so you basically cater to people who are really in on that cooking I guess so to speak?

Grant: We cater to…

Steve: Or chefs.

Grant: Yeah definitely that crowd, and it’s kind of a interesting mix, we don’t really have a true finger on our audience which is really bothering to me and Mike always keeps telling me, oh man I don’t understand how you’re not on Facebook anymore.

My explanation is that it’s actually really hard, our demographic is all over the place and even a look alike doesn’t always perform that well, and it’s old people, it’s young people, a lot of people buy them as presents, and cooks who like cooking anything from the CEO to a triathlon runner to the guy playing video games to Ali that’s doing [inaudible 00:22:22], it’s really hard to say.

Steve: So you’re not running Facebook ads because of this?

Grant: When we do run them, it gets pretty cost prohibitive at some point unless say a certain time of the year like the holidays. So we run them pretty strategically, but if we run them all the time my feeling is that because it a commodity type item and because the price point is so high, it doesn’t quite make it into the impulse buy type of Facebook kind of golden goose territory that you really need your Facebook ads to be in.

Steve: Okay can we talk about like the commodity part a little bit, you said you sell other people’s products and you have your own line. What is the split in terms of your sales for that?

Grant: Before when we started we were obviously not making our own just because of the risk factor involved, but I would say we went from being 100% of reselling other people’s products and now we’re closer to 50% resale and then the other 50% is our own product. That’s after gross margins like when you start off at 50% cost of goods and then you’ve got another 30% shipping and then add in the 3% merchant fees and everything like that, you kind of wonder what am I doing here? Is this a business or am I running a charity where I hope to get food donated to me?

So we really had to again do something based on necessity of the business more than anything to start getting our own product in. So sourcing was a really, really important part of the business.

Steve: Okay so that was always part of the game plan, right?

Grant: I would love to say that I had a massive game plan in the beginning. The thing that I essentially knew and I’ll be pretty honest about this, we knew that there was a good amount of traffic going there in terms of search terms, and I knew that I would do probably pretty well ranking, but after that I was going to let the customer dictate what I was going to do.

So in the very beginning I just put up a smart [ph] board of everything on to the site to see what stuck, and then once I know what was doing well, then I started trying to source that product.
So in a way it’s kind of reverse engineering and yet I can’t talk, it’s kind of reverse engineering what the customer wants and then going from there.

Steve: I want to take a moment to thank ReferralCandy for being a sponsor of the show. Now in this day and age word of mouth is a huge driver of business for most ecommerce stores, and the best way to amplify word of mouth marketing is through a referral program. This is where ReferralCandy shines, with just a couple of clicks to the mouse you could add a referral program to your ecommerce store and reward your customers for telling their friends about your shop.

And this tactic works wonders; and in fact it is not uncommon to get a ridiculous return on investment. So for example Greats Footwear who is a ReferralCandy customer is currently seeing a 20X ROI. Referral word of mouth marketing is also useful for building up your social media presence as well, because everyone is talking about your company with their friends on Facebook and Twitter.
And the best part is that ReferralCandy is a set it and forget it service, requires no technical setup and they are giving My Wife Quit Her Job listeners 50 bucks to try them out if you go to promo.referralcandy.com/steve. Once again it’s promo.referralcandy.com/steve to get a $50 credit to try out the service risk free. Now back to the show.

Okay so I noticed just today I just typed in cutting board and you are the number one spot for cutting board, so a couple of questions, is SEO your primary source of traffic or do you have other sources – what are your top three sources of traffic and sales?

Grant: Organic traffic is definitely going to be there and then we do PPC ads for sure and…

Steve: AdWords?

Grant: Yup we do AdWords.

Steve: Shopping?

Grant: Yup, and the other source of traffic is just going to be I’d say email marketing.

Steve: Okay, let’s talk about SEO because we kind of started this conversation out that way, how the heck do you get the number one spot for cutting board and how much does the domain have to do with that?

Grant: The domain is going to help a lot, the domain to me is what I call a force multiplier, and based on the amount of work that you put in with the keyword domain it magnifies the amount of work that you get done. What kind of number I can put on there, I’m not really sure but I would say your job gets about 50% easier with a keyword domain, and again that’s just my opinion, I know a lot of people are going to not believe in that, but ranking number one I guess I probably have a little bit…

Steve: Yeah you got proof.

Grant: More way behind what I say, but I don’t want this to be Grant says buy keyword domains so everyone goes to buy keywords domain, it doesn’t quite work as easy as that. I already forgot the other part of your question, I apologize.

Steve: Okay so ranking today still depends a lot on links, so I imagine you achieve that along with your domain by building links, right?

Grant: Links are definitely really good and I don’t think I would ever be in the camp that links are not relevant and a lot of that still comes down to the fact that if we do the engine comparison we’re still running on combustion engines and Google still runs on link as paid link. Anybody that says otherwise simply does not have a fundamental understanding of the technology and pockets like implementation of how Google works.

The page rank algorithm has been there forever, it’s been modified heavily over the years that it’s been around but at the base of everything it comes down to linking. Now anybody that takes that at face value and just goes out and buys a bunch of links is going to get completely monkey hammered because of the granularity that you have to do when you apply that type of strategy.
So links do matter and content of course matters, but I think what people really make a mistake on is that they go for volume versus quality, and I think that’s really been our fundamental approach during all of our time doing SEO.

Steve: So what is your strategy for link building, like can you just kind of walk me through how you get links?

Grant: For one thing I don’t automate anything which puts me probably in the 1% and I think most of – I see people out there automate, a lot of them use other — I would say maybe 30 to 40 – I mean it’s hard to say for sure, but if I had to guess probably at least half of the SEO people out there are using techniques such as just black hat, or they don’t know they are black hat and they’re just going to get them banned.

Steve: Just to be clear, you’re not black hat at all, right or grey hat even, are you like pure white hat?

Grant: I wouldn’t say that I am completely white hat because I go after links and I believe that’s what it takes, but do I spam people for links, like no. Do I go and buy links off people kind of way, no, but do I go after links, I mean I do. So to me links are the thing at the end of the day that really helps you out, so [inaudible 00:30:49] kind of believes that the minute you start going for the link itself as opposed to doing it for the common good of mankind, then that makes me an evil person and so…

Steve: Yeah [inaudible 00:30:58] stepped down too.

Grant: Yeah exactly and he’s kind of has a vested interest in protecting Google and not making his life harder, but all the black hat guys out there play by a whole set of rules and they obviously go for links and they go after a lot of like social media linking.

Steve: Yeah it’s actually amazing like this whole world of buying links was kind of exposed to me relatively recently, within the last couple of years where you can buy links on really high class publications, it’s crazy.

Grant: Oh yeah.

Steve: But you’re not doing that, so let’s talk about like what you do.

Grant: So what I do and this is why I actually think I’m fairly successful at SEO for this whole time is that I’ve always approached it as a humane problem as a opposed to a technology problem, and that’s going to sound really bizarre, but it’s almost like the idea of how many people know their neighbors these days, for example do you know your neighbor Steve?

Steve: I do mainly because I want them to be on the lookout for me like when we go on vacation and stuff.

Grant: Okay, got it. How many of the people down the street do you know?

Steve: Not as many, we know our immediate neighbors the best.

Grant: Okay and I think this is a common answer for just about everybody. I would say most people probably don’t even know their neighbors these days, and to me that’s kind of the difference of SEO by automation versus SEO by manual nature which is that getting to know your neighbor is difficult because you’ve got to go out there, you kind of have to expose yourself and you’ve got to really literally go door to door, knock, say hello, make friends, put effort essentially.

I would say my SEO strategy is really not amazingly strategic, it’s simply that I put effort into actually trying to meet people and do what it takes to just…

Steve: Are you talking about in person or just outreach like email and Skype and that sort of thing?

Grant: Both, I mean I’ve been known to call up people just to introduce myself and obviously if you call up somebody with the whole idea of getting a link, then that’s really scummy in my opinion, that’s like cold calling to do sales, and that’s where I think a lot of SEO guys fail because they don’t have any other objective in life other than to do sales. I think that if you actually have the objective of building a long term relationship or helping somebody out, then I think that is a huge amount of benefit to you both.

Now is that easy, I really don’t think so but…

Steve: Let’s talk about like one of your strongest links that you have built, and talk about how you approached even starting that relationship in the first place.

Grant: Okay yeah sure I would be glad to. This actually goes back to one of my older websites; I actually had a website that was doing food reviews back when Citysearch used to be popular if you remember that website.

Steve: Yeah I do.

Grant: This was before Yelp started up and in the Seattle area I was actually beating Yelp and Citysearch pretty well for quite some time until I actually got a Google penalty which is hiring in all sorts of ways. I know there goes all my…

Steve: Credibility, it’s all gone yeah.

Grant: Yeah exactly. I got penalized, this guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about. To cut the long story short is I actually belief and I still even to this day I’m not totally sure why I got penalized because I was completely white hat on that side, but I actually believe I got penalized because I rose up too fast in the amount of quality links I was getting. So I beat some kind of predetermined velocity profile and I just hit it out of the [inaudible 00:35:15] my pack and they just said no, it can’t be real, and then they just like bully [ph] me.

So part of that, when I was doing that I had a website that catered to just telling people where to go get food, and so naturally I got links from food bloggers and everything like that, but what I really wanted to do was get links from high level authorities like the Seattle city government website, the other major institutions in the area, there is a few like big hospitals and a lot of people flying to Seattle for great medical care, we’ve got very, very good health care over here and doctors.

So when you are in the area you want to find a place for food. Nowadays you can go to Yelp of course but back then you really had to look. So to me hospitals were like a great source of links and you might say, well how on earth do you get a hospital to link to you? My whole approach was just to start calling up people.

Steve: You called people at the hospital?

Grant: More or less, I mean essentially I built like a brochure like a catalog of places to eat and everything like that and put it in a nice little brochure and I called them up I was like, hey I know that you guys offer services to families that are around in the area and you know a lot of them move for a night and they need to place stay, I’ve got a few restaurants over here and they offered coupons specifically for you guys.

I put this brochure together and I’d be happy to put this over here, I’m not getting paid for anything but our whole organization, all we do is we recommend restaurants, that’s all we do and we have a website and you can see it, so would you be interested? I would say 80% of the people said yes, I mean they didn’t say yes immediately, there was a lot of well we got to go check in with their people, and I would say out of that 80% none of them got back to me and then I followed up again.

I never followed up within like two days or anything, I took my time just kind of slowly but surely in this kind of stuff and then eventually I made my way in a whole bunch of ways like that.

Steve: How did that work for cutting board though, like you’re actually selling something on the site, right?

Grant: With cutting board, my link development was quite a bit different, I mean I can’t go into a hospital and say, hey you know…

Steve: Sure yeah exactly.

Grant: I think your cancer patients, a cutting board over here, but the idea is fairly similar. I do things like try to get my name out there for various like do good things. So if I find that there is a program that’s in need of cutting boards or whatever, it’s like a match, we’re going to show up and be like, hey pretty guys need cutting boards and I’ll offer them like a nice package or something like that.

Steve: Like a cooking event or something?

Grant: Yeah or help sponsor for example there is like culinary schools out there and a lot of them do job training programs, so I might give them like a scholarship or something and say, hey here’s something for you guys. If you want to link to me that’ll be great, if not just – if you go send me a picture of something that shows the word summer. Here’s where I differ from a lot of people, I’m willing to put it out there and not get a return, and a lot of people are absolutely completely opposed to that, and they’ll say something like, well I tell you what I’ll give you $50 and you put a link back to me.

To me that just sounds like garbage, I don’t believe in that. I think that’s very low class and I think that’s tasteless, that’s kind of like when I was asking about do you know your neighbors, do you go to your neighbor without knowing him and say, hey I’m leaving for a week to Hawaii, can you watch my house, feed the cats and pet my dogs?
You go to your neighbors and I did this with my neighbors, it sounds like really, really cheesy but I went to a local pastry shop, I got like the nicest cake that I could find. I went to go meet my neighbors, like hey I’m Grant, I’m new to the neighborhood whatever.

Steve: We did that same thing with fruit, we use fruit, but yeah we did the same thing.

Grant: Exactly, so I did that with like my closest like six neighbors. I said hi to all of them, give them a big cake or whatever and now I can like talk to them. The same thing, there is this like a domain for example that I’ve been working on for cheese, it’s probably been three years at this point and every probably four to five months I just contact this guy and I say, hey how is the going blah, blah, blah and he’s trying to sell this domain for like a million dollars or so, and he might be able to get it, I think it’s unrealistic elevation but I just keep in contact with him.

In the event that maybe he decides he wants to sell it one day, but I don’t go up to him and say, hey you’re going to sell, you’re going to sell, you’re going to sell. Obviously if he wants to sell for a price that I want to pay that makes him happy, then I’m happy to transact but otherwise I actually tell him, my advice goes against my own benefit and I’ll say something like, hey this guy got pretty big into the industry, I’d probably approach him to see if he can get you a million. The guy is like really, I’m like yeah, if you get it, good for you, if not I’m still here.

Steve: So your strategy is just like a really long term, it’s more like human engineering so to speak, it’s like a long term strategy, you do good things, and then good things will happen almost?

Grant: Yeah, that’s why I say my – I almost like hate to call it a strategy.

Steve: That’s boring Grant, sorry I know.

Grant: I know it’s called be a good human being and treat other people well, and understand that when you treat a lot of people well, a lot of people are going to treat you well back, but there’s going to be those that do like to be treated well and not treat you well back us too. I think that’s what the SEO world to me it’s like just a complete access pool of human cells because by nature of SEO you’re trying to take, take, take, take and you don’t give.
It’s hard to find somebody that’s willing to give and be okay with the give and the take, so my strategy is not complicated, it just involves like altruism, and no expectations and good things happen.

Steve: I will tell you this, my blog probably didn’t take off until I started going to conferences where I was just meeting a bunch of people making lots of friends in person, and after that started happening we just started kind of helping each other, and that was like a big turning point for both of my ecommerce businesses. So I guess, I mean it kind of is in line with everything that you just said, by becoming friends with other webmasters or business owners you can help each other and be mutually successful.

Grant: Yup exactly, and I apply that to everything, I mean you mentioned Cinnabon. I know almost all of the Cinnabon guys up and down the corridor in Washington, Oregon, I’ve been to conferences. Every time I go there I try to talk to as many guys as I possibly can, and I’m not doing things like, hey how much revenue are you making, what’s your net profit, how much is your rent like, all this kind of stuff; I’m just here to get to know people, do all those kind of stuff. So I guess in a way I’m kind of like the true Chinese business man.

Steve: That’s true.

Grant: We go and get drunk, we eat a bunch of food, and then somehow another like business mix in like a year later and nobody has mentioned anything about pricing, it just kind of shows up at your doorstep.

Steve: Can we talk a little bit about your AdWords real quick. I know you are – for the stuff that isn’t your own I imagine your margins are less and there is probably other people selling that same product. So how do you manage to get Shopping and AdWords profitable for those ads?

Grant: That’s a very good question; the reality is that I think depending on your industry you might not even be able to run AdWords profitably. Cutting board is commodity and there is a lot of people that sell it and unfortunately you’re going to have guys like Amazon, Macy’s, Bed Bath & Beyond and other people that are competing with me on the same product. Now they’re going to have better buying power, they’re going to have better logistics, they’re going to have better everything.

So at the end of the day if they have a higher long time value for their customer, then they can pay a higher acquisition cost, and they also have a much deeper data set on with their buying, so they have a lot more trends that can work for them. In that case what I’ve always found is that if you try to bid for number one or number two spot, you’ll usually get your face ripped off if you’re not careful.

That’s because you’ll get the most amount of clicks, usually the conversion rate isn’t always as good, so you’re willing to pay a premium to get those people, and unless you’ve got like extremely high margin product, you can’t really afford to be playing that tennis game of attrition with your competitor. So the way that I do it is I – it’s almost like the guerilla warfare of PPC, I mean I kind of go in there and like attack when I can, so I do a lot of day partying, I do a lot of hour partying, I go and I select states based on my shipping rate.

If I’m in the North West and I’m shipping to Oregon, California, that’s really good for me and my 3PL, I can attack all those states around there really easily. Texas is a very hard state for me to ship to profitably, there is a number of other states that tend to have people that are in the bunnies and they tend to have like destination surcharges and everything like that like remote delivery, Wyoming would be one like North Dakota.

They are not very populated but it’s one of those like if I’m not bidding 100% to cover California then why am I even bothering to bid Wyoming and other places like that. So it’s a very selective targeting, and when I do it too day partying is also pretty important because depending on your niche, most people generally do buy on a Monday and Tuesday morning and Friday people tend to turn into tire kickers and everything like that, weekends are generally pretty good, but it really depends on your industry too, and so our partying too.

I think the number one mistake people make, they leave their ads running 24 hours, but anybody shopping to buy anything at two o’clock in the morning generally is a tire kicker, and you get lot of those tire kickers that click on just about every ad possible. So people that are bored have nothing better to do at 2:00 AM that are just shopping around, and so you get a lot of people just milking up your PPC cost over there.

So yeah there is very few ways that you can go and attack the big boys because they probably – you just hope that they’re using an agency that groups everything into like one monthly percentage because there is executive up there saying what’s our ROI and somebody just says, oh 3% and he goes, okay.

But that guy is not going to ask what’s our ROI on three o’clock on a Monday, and if they are 50% there, then you can probably go and make a nice little 35% right behind them, but if they are negative 10 on a Friday at 2:00 AM, then you don’t even bother showing up for that Friday, you just let them take it on the chin and then you find another day.
So it’s really just like letting the big guy go down in front of you and you just kind of trail behind, so that’s kind of what I do.

Steve: Okay so basically you run them and then you find out when the most optimal places, times and that sort of thing and then you just pick your battles?

Grant: Yup exactly.

Steve: Okay. I also, we’ve been chatting for quite a while and I did want to touch on this a little bit, why brick and mortar like Cinnabon versus another ecommerce store, what are the pros and cons of each?

Grant: That’s a good question too. I’ve got to say honestly there’s a lot of times I’ve wondered to myself especially when I’m at the Cinnabon store making a roll over there like I wonder…

Steve: Oh you actually go and work there yourself?

Grant: Oh yeah absolutely, I’m probably going to make a lot of enemies by saying this, but I don’t believe in the four hour work week, I think Tim Ferriss is a good guy, but I do think that this idea that we can just outsource all of our labor to a VR – well not a VR but…

Steve: VAs.

Grant: Yeah remote workers and everything and just live a life of managing people, I think it’s more of a fantasy and a dream that we can aspire to, but the reality is that most of us will never be able to work that kind of situation. I say that because brick and mortar is – let’s say it’s been the business model that has been with us forever, physical stuff has been far more prevalent than online and not to say that brick and mortar is better by any means, I mean look at like Macy’s is closing 100 stores and The Limited all closing out.

Retail is having a reckoning and that’s for sure and malls are definitely going to have a reckoning too. In the Seattle area our malls are generally A malls, malls are rated on A, B and C, and most of America is getting malls in the C rating which means that they are on the way to becoming extinct, but in demographics and metro cities they have been doing well, most are doing still very well.

So you look at the Cinnabon which is a very basic operation and it’s a franchise and we make cinnamon rolls and we make people happy, that’s kind of our model, we wow people and it’s a good product, I enjoy making cinnamons and I enjoy selling them and people that come to our store are happy and at the end of the day we close up. At nine o’clock work is done and everybody goes home, then we start over at seven o’clock the next morning.

Ecommerce kind of runs all the time, so the idea that — a brick and mortar is to me much more scalable on a passive kind of income type of objective if you are a people person, because you can hire people that will have your interests and you interact with them and you hire managers. Ecommerce scales rapidly, ecommerce can do a lot of things really good. The trouble with ecommerce though is that you’re competing against the best, the brightest, the smartest, the most overworked people in the world which are hungry young men essentially [inaudible 00:51:29] women.

I mean there is a lot of women entrepreneurs out there so I don’t want to discredit them, but everybody knows that there is like advantages in ecommerce, so you have a lot of smart people coming in to the space and try to attack everything. You also have a lot of guys with a lot of big pockets such as [more mark hims] [ph] on everybody trying to go after a lot of market share. You compare that with Cinnabon which is more of an effort based kind of business and there is certainly nothing that’s going to get very creative, it’s a very standard business that has very set rules that have been applied at the franchise level, but my competition is simply the weather.

Steve: That’s true.

Grant: My long term existential competition is Amazon to take wells and moles [ph] but if my moles are in a metropolitan area that has a high paying demographic and they keep coming to the mall, then I don’t really have an existential risk. Every year I know that my rents are going to be going up by 2% on a steady basis, I know that I’m going to get traffic.
Ecommerce I don’t know what’s going to happen in three years, is Amazon going to destroy everybody, are they going to eat my cake, am I going to get penalized by Google because I said something stupid on this podcast because Steve is so popular. Some of the others are like, oh well Grant is doing some black hat stuff and that’s kind of the crux of it which is that the viability of both models, there is something very, very different about it.

So for me I wouldn’t go so far as saying that one is better from the other, but I would say that it is a good divestment or a good diversity edge. If one thing happens to me on one side, then it’s not going to happen on the other, and for as well as I’m doing on the cutting board side our Cinnabon stores we have multiple, they do more in revenue than I do on cutting board and it’s like that’s a much more simpler business and the margins are acceptable.

They are not like ecommerce margins but they are definitely livable. If I had to do it I could probably run a Cinnabon store for the rest of my life and live my life in comfort, so it’s not a bad thing.

Steve: Okay, interesting, cool. Yeah I think you’re the first person we’ve had on who does both ecommerce and brick and mortar, so it’s pretty interesting to hear. But Grant I’ve had you on for a long time, I really appreciate your time, if anyone wants to find you where can they find you?

Grant: They can find me at EcomCrew.com, and you can find myself and Mike over there, and just look for the good looking guy and…

Steve: The good looking Asian dude.

Grant: Yeah, yeah, and then there’s this other guy named Mike, so that’s my [inaudible 00:54:26] Mike out there, he’s my partner on Ecom Crew and we give each other grief all the time, but Mike’s a good guy. We talk business and we pretty much talk about everything that we do. So we try to be an open book and definitely enjoy being on your show too Steve. I hear nothing but good things from you about Mike, so I’m very happy to be able to have the opportunity to be on your show.

Steve: Cool yeah likewise. I mean I chat with Mike pretty regularly and I just visited him in SD and to see that you guys don’t live closer or you guys could hang out a little bit more but yeah I’ve got nothing but good things about you as well and thank you for coming on the show.

Grant: Yeah I appreciate it.

Steve: All right, take care.

Grant: You too.

Steve: Hope you enjoyed that episode. What I love about Grant is that he’s highly analytical and he knows his stuff. Go check out the Ecom Crew podcast as well. For more information about this episode, go to mywifequitherjob.com/episode163.

And once again I want to thank Seller Labs. Their tool Ignite is what I use to manage my Amazon PPC campaigns. Instead of the old tedious way of generating reports and analyzing your ad campaigns in excel, Ignite aggregates all the info for you in one place and allows you to quickly visualize your data to make decisions fast.
Not only does it save time, but it also makes managing your Amazon campaigns so much easier. So head on over to sellerlabs.com/steve and sign up for a free 30 day trial, once again that’s sellerlabs.com/steve.

I also want to thank Klaviyo which is my email marketing platform of choice for ecommerce merchants. You can easily put together automated flows like an abandoned cart sequence, a post purchase flow, a win back campaign, basically all of these sequences that will make you money on auto pilot. So head on over to mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O, once again that’s mywifequitherjob.com/ K-L-A-V-I-Y-O.

Now I talk about how I use these tools on my blog and if you’re interested in starting your own ecommerce store, head on over to mywifequitherjob.com and sign up for my free six day mini course. Just type in your email and I’ll send you the course right away via email, thanks for listening.

Outro: Thanks for listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast, where we are giving the courage people need to start their own online business. For more information visit Steve’s blog at www.mywifequitherjob.com.

I Need Your Help

If you enjoyed listening to this podcast, then please support me with an iTunes review. It's easy and takes 1 minute! Just click here to head to iTunes and leave an honest rating and review of the podcast. Every review helps!
 
Share On Facebook

Ready To Get Serious About Starting An Online Business?


If you are really considering starting your own online business, then you have to check out my free mini course on How To Create A Niche Online Store In 5 Easy Steps.

In this 6 day mini course, I reveal the steps that my wife and I took to earn 100 thousand dollars in the span of just a year. Best of all, it's absolutely free!

162: How To Leverage Influencer Marketing To Grow Your Brand With Jessica Thorpe Of Gen.Video

Share On Facebook

How To Leverage Influencer Marketing To Grow Your Brand With Jessica Thorpe Of Gen.Video

Today I am thrilled to have Jessica Thorpe on the show. Jessica is the President of Gen.Video which is a site that matches businesses to influencers especially in the video space.

Now if you’ve been selling anything online, you know that influencer marketing is huge. One of my prior guests Emmanuel Eleyae in episode 57 used You Tube influencers to generate 65K in 4 months and is now making 7 figures.

Anyway, Jessica’s company Gen.video is at the forefront of influencer marketing and we’re going to pick her brain today about the best ways to leverage influencers to promote your business.

What You’ll Learn

  • Why Jessica decided to start Gen.video
  • Which product niches work best for influencer marketing
  • What’s the process for finding an influencer
  • What’s a good click through rate for videos on You Tube
  • What makes for a successful campaign
  • How to measure results of an influencer campaign
  • How a content creator can make money with influencer marketing.

Other Resources And Books

Sponsors

Klaviyo.com – Klaviyo is the email marketing platform that I personally use for my ecommerce store. Created specifically for ecommerce, it is the best email marketing provider that I’ve used to date. Click here and try Klaviyo for FREE.
Klaviyo

Ignite.Sellerlabs.com – If you are selling on Amazon and running Amazon Sponsored Ads campaigns, then Ignite from Seller Labs is a must have tool. Click here and get a FREE 30 Day Trial.
Ignite Logo

ReferralCandy.com – If you’re already getting steady orders every month, adding a refer-a-friend program to your store can give you a new sales channel. And ReferralCandy is the best in the business. Click here and get a FREE $50 credit towards your account.
referral candy

SellersSummit.com – The ultimate ecommerce learning conference! Unlike other events that focus on inspirational stories and high level BS, the Sellers Summit is a curriculum based conference where you will leave with practical and actionable strategies specifically for an ecommerce business. Click here and get your ticket now before it sells out.
Sellers Summit

Transcript

Steve: You are listening to the My Wife Quit her Job Podcast, the place where I bring on successful bootstrapped business owners and delve deeply into what strategies are working and what strategies are not with their businesses.

Today I’m thrilled to have Jessica Thorpe on the show, and Jessica is the president of Gen.video which is a company that specializes in influencer marketing and ecommerce video. Today we are going to explore how to leverage influencers online to promote your products and ecommerce brands.

Now before we begin I want to give a quick shout out to Seller Labs who is a sponsor of the show, and specifically I want to talk about their brand new tool Ignite which helps sellers manage their Amazon sponsored ads. Now right now I’m actually using this tool to manage my Amazon sponsored ad campaigns, and it makes things a heck of a lot more convenient.

So number one I’ve always found it a major pain to generate my PPC reports on Amazon, cut and paste the data over to an excel spreadsheet and use pivot tables before I’m able do any analysis. Now Ignite pulls all that info for you automatically and allows you to easily see what keywords are working and what are not immediately, no need to manually create reports or play with excel.

Second of all unless you’re a data geek, Amazon campaign data can be hard to understand, and what’s cool is that Ignite makes keyword and bidding recommendations on the fly that can be applied with just a couple of clicks.

So let’s say one of my hankie keywords is bleeding money, well Ignite will alert me of that fact and I can reduce the bid immediately. So bottom line Ignite makes managing your Amazon sponsored ads so much easier and the fact that they provide me with alerts means that I no longer have to monitor my campaigns like a hawk.

So if there are keywords that are doing well, Ignite will tell me to add them to my exact match campaigns, and if my keywords are losing money, Ignite tells me to either remove the keyword or to reduce the bid. So head on over to sellerlabs.com/steve where you’ll find awesome tutorials on how to run Amazon PPC ads and the opportunity to try Ignite for 30 days for free. Once again that’s sellerlabs.com/steve.

Now I also want to give a quick shout out to Klaviyo who is also a sponsor of the show. Now I’m super excited to talk about Klaviyo because they are the email marketing platform that I personally use for my ecommerce store, and I depend on Klaviyo for over 20% of my revenues. Now you’re probably wondering why Klaviyo and not a different provider. Well Klaviyo is the only email platform out there that is specifically built for ecommerce stores, and here’s why it’s so powerful.

Klaviyo can track every single customer who has shopped in your store and exactly what they bought which makes it extremely powerful. So let’s say I want to send an email to everyone who purchased a red handkerchief in the last week, easy. Let’s say I want to set up a special autoresponder sequence to my customers depending on what they purchased, that’s a piece of cake, and there is full revenue tracking on every single email.

Now Klaviyo is the most powerful email platform that I’ve ever used and you could try them for free at mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O, once again that’s mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O. Now on the show.

Intro: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. We will teach you how to create a business that suits your lifestyle, so you can spend more time with your family and focus on doing the things that you love. Here is your host, Steve Chou.
Steve: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast, today I’m thrilled to have Jessica Thorpe on the show. Now Jessica is the president of Gen.video, which is a site that matches businesses to influencers especially in the video space.

Now if you’ve been selling anything online you know that influencer marketing is huge, and if you listen to my podcast one of my prior guests Emanuel Eleyae in episode 57 used You Tube influencers to generate over 65K in four months and his company is actually now making seven figures based on influencer marketing.

Anyways Jessica’s company Gen.video is actually at the forefront of influencer marketing and we are going to pick her brain today about the best ways to leverage influencers to promote your business. And with that welcome to the show, how is the going Jessica?

Jessica: Hi Steve thanks so much for having me, things are going great.

Steve: So Jessica give us a quick background story and tell us why you created Gen.video in the first place.

Jessica: So about two years ago myself and my co-founder Bill Hildebolt saw a need in the marketplace to bring together influencer marketing in ecommerce. Prior to starting Gen Video we had worked together for a number of years in the video space and working with user generated content, and so we were excited to find an opportunity to bridge the gap between influencer and ecommerce.

Steve: So at the time were you guys running any sort of ecommerce businesses yourselves or were you guys influencers yourselves?

Jessica: No, interestingly enough he came from a banking — investment banking background and I came from the media side so I was very familiar with video production and the media landscape. So we saw an opportunity to help brands through the story telling and in the visual nature of video as a medium to help bringing their products and brands to live through video, and then of course as the importance of a rich media experience became important on the ecommerce side, really saw some synergies between those two and again set out to develop a product and a platform that could really unlock that opportunity for brands and sellers of all sizes.

Steve: Interesting, I was just a little curious like when you’re starting a company that manages influencers as well as businesses, this is like a chicken and egg problem in the beginning, so who did you guys go after first, was it the influencers or the businesses, how did you get it done all to come together?

Jessica: Yeah it’s a good question and it’s very much a chicken and an egg situation and it’s still is to some extent in terms of making sure that the network isn’t so large and vast that there is not enough opportunities for them to partner and engage with brands on one side, or if that isn’t necessary to making sure that you’re building enough features and tools and services to allow them to get more value out of things they’re already doing on the social media side.

But then also as brands can come in and across all categories we’re not category Gnostic and so someone who sells a beauty product can come in and two minutes later someone that sells a pet product can come in. It’s making sure that that network of content creatives is always there. So we’ve actually built the team in such a way that we’re constantly focused on both sides of those business opportunities.

But it is something that all social platforms, certainly market places don’t have built technologies to enable the match making if you will, it’s something that everyone I think is trying to balance as best as they can. The last thing you want is to have too many content creators not fully engaged, because when there is something for them they might have checked out or tuned out a little bit if you’re not constantly bringing value to them.

Steve: Sure, actually let’s take a step back, what is Gen Video, why are you guys different, because there are other competing platforms out there, so what do you guys specialize in?

Jessica: We really specialize on bridging the gap between influencer and ecommerce, and so that means something different for the content creators then the brands. So on the content creative side of things we very much appreciate the fact that it’s probably really scary to have all your eggs in the YouTube basket. So we think about other feature sets and monetization opportunities for them that go beyond the walls of YouTube or and in other social platforms.

So we build some technology that helps them automate the creation of affiliate links, and so what we found was not a lot of YouTubers, it certainly wasn’t just getting suddenly necessarily understand the Amazon associate program, and even if they do want, using it actively because it was pretty time consuming, so built some functionality to help ease the ability for influencers to augment, and have them make money off of YouTube.

So the affiliate revenues one we also have made it easy for them to license pre-existing videos, and so a brand can come to the platform and if they see an influencer already made a product video from one of the products that they sell, with a couple of clicks of the button that influencer can make that existing content available, and so again thinking about how to give them other ways to monetize their content.

Then on the brand side what does that mean? Similarly we don’t think that there’s only value to be had publishing a video to YouTube. So when I think about the influencer marketing landscape or the dozens if not hundreds of platforms that say that they can play matchmaker between influencer and brand, a lot of times that’s being looked at from more of a top funnel awareness rich perspective. It’s true YouTube is a fantastic platform, Instagram is a fantastic platform to reach your target audience and get in front of them.

Influencers are a trusted source for product information but why have that video be trapped on YouTube where after a couple of months 80, 90% of the viewership has happened and the value starts to slowly decline over time, when that’s an amazing video, it’s on brand, it’s talking about the product features and benefits.

So what we did is said why don’t we build something that really allows a seller to get more value out of that content and use it on your website, use it in other marketing, use it in advertising and most importantly we focus on the ecommerce angle is getting that video on product pages of retailers where you’re selling products.

Amazon being one of the primary, Wal-Mart a close second and then dozens of others are available, but it’s again unlocking the potential of that social content and bring into the ecommerce environment where it can impact more people than just the audience of that influencer, then also the ability to drive traffic from the social platforms into Amazon to bring more consideration to the product pages. So it’s really finding those opportunities for brands to get more value out of influencer to drive sales.

Steve: So let me just kind of summarize what you just said, so what you’re telling me then is that I can have an influencer record a video that goes on YouTube as well as Amazon as well as Wal-Mart as well as other places like the same exact video is indicated across all those platforms?

Jessica: That’s exactly right.

Steve: Okay, and so traditionally then I guess the usual model is that I would just pay a YouTuber and it would just live on YouTube, but now you’re actually getting more value out of that same piece of content, is that right?
Jessica: Yes, it’s through the way that we’re collecting the content and again for brands that are maybe aren’t looking to post the content on YouTube and it’s really more of ecommerce play, I want to optimize my product page, and I know that having a how to video would really help drive conversion, what we do is we ask all of the influencers for their content only and then someone who may own a part can speak to whatever their product needs are, but you don’t want that video published on YouTube, there is an opportunity to do that as well. So it really allows the seller to cater their campaign based on their needs and only their needs.

Steve: So I could have someone just do a sales video for me essentially is what you’re saying?

Jessica: Yes.

Steve: Okay, all right so let’s make this super practical, like let’s say I am a brand, I’m a brand new business and I want to do influencer marketing. So let’s say I approached you directly Jessica, first of all a couple of questions here, influencer marketing, is there like a certain product or product category that kind of works best for this or can I actually just take any mundane item like a garlic press and make sales through influencer marketing, like what type of products work best for this?

Jessica: You know we could ask that question all the time and I believe this answer to be true but it always seems a little self serving when you first say it. I think any product that could have a story told through a video, through a person, there is a place for influencer marketing. So the example that you gave I was thinking, I’m like oh I wonder what he’s going to say to try to stop me.

A garlic press, I mean there are so many influencers that make amazing recipe content on YouTube, and so you look to the influencers to find that creative connection between your brand and the product so that it can resonate with their audience first and foremost, and then what our platform does is then make that available to anyone who is shopping.

So chances are if you’re buying a garlic press you need garlic for something, for what, a recipe, and so there are very natural applications or ways in which influencers can integrate your product into a piece of content. So it really requires a little sharing of information and understanding the product, but that’s what they’re good at, they a master at their craft making video content and bringing a product to life and in their own words and in their own needs.

So you get kind of a two for one in the sense where you’re getting their review of the product, you’re seeing a product demonstration so you’re getting a little bit of a how to, and what we’re hearing from shoppers online is it is the next best thing to touching and feeling a product in store.

So the more you can remove whatever the barriers are which would prevent someone from buying that specific product online versus feeling the need to go into a store, video really can close that gap a bit because through the words of actual online shoppers, we’re hearing them say just that, it’s great for product comparison but it’s also the next best thing to touching and feeling of product before making that purchase.

Steve: Okay so let’s kind of expand upon that a little bit. I’ve been thinking about this too because we actually used your platform to do an influencer campaign and I was thinking about a lot of these things when I was deciding like what type of campaign to do. What kind of videos tells what the best, like straight off testimonials, kind of like mentions, kind of mixed in with the content so to speak like branded in with some other piece of content, or like just seeing the item in action and then just casually mentioning it, what’s worked the best for the people using your platform?

Jessica: Yeah also we have brands of all sizes using the platform and so I’ll give kind of middle of the road answer, but you painted the right picture in terms of the spectrum of content. So if the primary need is product education and working to help convert people to buy certainly product reviews, unboxing tutorials, how tos, those are all things that are pretty endemic to the shopping experience.

So if you’re watching a video on a page on Amazon, a product detail page, you’re probably looking for more specific information. Either you’re just about to buy or you’re just looking for some final information to validate, yes it is going to solve the problem that I have, those are the types of videos that work well. That being said because you’re tapping into experts in your category and folks that have social presences, you can actually get more value by letting them think about how to creatively integrate your product into their video.

So I’ll use beauty, beauty is actually a really good category, so video and it’s popular on YouTube. Get ready with me videos are very popular, they drive a lot of viewership and they’re the perfect backdrop to integrate a brand and product into it. But those videos are ten, 12 minutes long, I mean she’s doing her hair, her makeup, her clothes, you name it, she’s talking about it in that video.

Getting the influencer to integrate your product into the first minute or two minutes of the video of a 14 minute video is a great way to get in front of her audience and get them to click on the link in her description to drive traffic to your product page, but you probably don’t want or don’t need that 14 minute video on Amazon. I will say that we see like well over 50% completion rate for most of the videos that get syndicated to the related video strip.

So it’s not to say that the shopper doesn’t get value out of it, but for some of our clients we actually even cut out that one minute clip and only put that up on the product pages. So again I think that’s the beauty of working with influencers, they are very accepting of your needs and can find the right way to integrate your product, and that maybe a single two minute video like just as a product review and works on her channel and works on the product pages but maybe not.

Our platform and our services allow you to get the festive both worlds and just requires you to know what you’re looking to get out of it up front and then they’re very eager and happy to collaborate with you, and we make it really easy through our messaging system to have those one on one dialogues with the influencer which helps you enjoy the – you get what you want the first time around.

Steve: Okay so let’s walk through a campaign actually which will probably make it easier. So let’s say I go on the platform, what’s my process, like what will my criteria be for selection?

Jessica: Yeah so depending on your what your product…

Steve: Let’s go with the garlic press example for example.

Jessica: Perfect, okay so you decide the platform and then we’ve got a pretty intuitive, well we call that campaign what’s there, again it’s a five step process where you first would let us know what your distribution needs are. So we’ve got the ability to work with influencers across a number of social platforms not just YouTube, so YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, basically any platform that’s been focused on a video experience and has an API we’re working with.

So you can say I want to work with someone who’s both on YouTube and Instagram because I really want to make sure that I can tap into that foodie culture that’s on Instagram, but I really need YouTube because I want someone to be good at creating video content and I want that video to live on Amazon as well. So you check off YouTube, Instagram, and Amazon. If you also sell on Wal-Mart, we’ve got a level of service that includes both Amazon and Wal-Mart distribution.

So you check off what social platforms you want the video or piece of content published to and then you check off Amazon or Amazon or Wal-Mart depending on where you sell, and then from there we start to ask you to fill out some pretty basic information around who your target customer is, age, gender, area of interest. So for this I would say you most likely are picking maybe male and female in a pretty broad age range, but you might type in the word recipe or foodie.

By giving us those types of tags, it filters down the set of influencers that we have in our network, so we can recommend to you people that are already creating this type of content and have an audience that is totally receptive to videos where a garlic press may be integrated in to it.

Steve: Are these, the things that I’m typing in, is that a human looking at that, or are you matching people based on like an algorithm?

Jessica: It’s all data driven by the information in the platform and so because we have everyone connect their YouTube channels, we’re pulling in all their channel audience information, we know their date of birth, we know if they have kids.

Steve: I see okay.

Jessica: They put their types in, so it’s a matching system based on the data in our platform, and then we do then turn it over to you to manually look at each channel and decide who you would want to work with. So after you provide the targeting information which basically says who this product is right for and what type of person you would want making the video, we move in and ask you for some budget parameters or channel size…

Steve: Yeah what are some good guidelines there? So let’s say I put in like I want food or people who create videos about food at that point, so how do I narrow down – like these are all questions I would have if I was doing influencer campaign, how do I narrow people down, what’s some good criteria and how much is it going to cost me based on their audience size, what are things to look for?

Jessica: So what I tell is first and foremost if you’re not looking to get the video published in their social channel you can order a video for as low as $500 and that’s kind of the minimum where we feel the production quality of the influencer is sufficient and high enough quality to stand up to sitting on your product page. It’s one thing to work with influencers on YouTube but another thing to bring that content on to your product page and you spend so much time optimizing that is so much closer to the point of purchase.

So it starts at 500 but then it really scales up infinitely based on the size of the channel, and so I think about a garlic press and again let’s say you want to target a mum blogger who likes to cook and is actively talking about creating meals for her family. You could probably work with an influencer who has 200,000, 300,000 subscribers on YouTube and maybe a relatively similar audience on Instagram and work with them for $4000, $5000.

Steve: Is this for one video then?

Jessica: This is for one video except the thing there is when you start to work with the larger channels, you’re really tapping into their audience, and you would think about it almost the same way you would decide if you’re going to spend some money on Facebook ads or other more traditional advertising. And so it’s not just the cost of the content, it’s the content plus her big an audience.

Steve: Sure of course.

Jessica: And so that video on average could get a round 100,000 plays and I’m just using kind of big general numbers here, but what we see is that any program when you’re working with the right influencer that matches your product in a very organic natural way, we can see click through rates of the link in the description that goes to your product detail page in the 4, 5, 6% range.

Steve: Interesting.

Jessica: We’ve seen some programs that go to 10%, and so you could easily drive a couple thousand people to your product detail page to learn more about your product and hopefully buy. The great thing about the programs are that content will also live on the product page, so you’re not just getting the value from the YouTube publishing and topic but now any other visitor to that page from other marketing you’re viewing, if there is organic search from Amazon, that video sits there too, so you have the second opportunity maybe to help convert people by them watching those videos.

Steve: So I know like I never click on the links below the YouTube videos especially if I’m watching something on mobile, do people really go to the product page by clicking like a large percentage, like 5% sounds like a lot to me.

Jessica: Well so it is a lot especially if you think about it relative to what a typical click through rate is in an immediate campaign. Some good Digital Lab campaigns, a 1% click through rate is super high, sometimes with video or [inaudible 00:24:12] you’re looking at 0.9% click through rate. So it is certainly high relative to other media spending, and then even from a YouTube click through rate perspective I think you’re typically seeing on average maybe around a 3 or 4%.

But again everything that we’re looking at is optimizing around the shopping experience, and so unless someone is using the platform and looking just for rich something just purely entertainment based, we’re always going to recommend and our platform is going to suggest people that do a better job bringing together the social and ecommerce. So we look at people and understand what their click through rate and conversion rates are, and are using that to just get smarter and smarter about our recommendations to you.

So that’s why we’re for sometimes seeing higher click through rates, and the thing is they may not buy immediately after clicking that link, but they’ve watched that piece of content and now you’ve got your brand in their consideration set, and so getting them to come back is where there are other interesting opportunities as a seller to bring them back to the site. A 5% click through rate is actually really high relative to other marketing tactics.

Steve: I want to take a moment to thank ReferralCandy for being a sponsor of the show. Now in this day and age word of mouth is a huge driver of business for most ecommerce stores, and the best way to amplify word of mouth marketing is through a referral program. This is where ReferralCandy shines, with just a couple of clicks to the mouse you could add a referral program to your ecommerce store and reward your customers for telling their friends about your shop.

And this tactic works wonders; and in fact it is not uncommon to get a ridiculous return on investment. So for example Greats Footwear who is a ReferralCandy customer is currently seeing a 20X ROI. Referral word of mouth marketing is also useful for building up your social media presence as well, because everyone is talking about your company with their friends on Facebook and Twitter.

And the best part is that ReferralCandy is a set it and forget it service, requires no technical setup and they are giving My Wife Quit Her Job listeners 50 bucks to try them out if you go to promo.referralcandy.com/steve. Once again it’s promo.referralcandy.com/steve to get a $50 credit to try out the service risk free. Now back to the show.

Let me ask you this, so you mentioned subscriber base and then you actually mentioned video views, is that a better way to judge the influencer, like I suppose the number of subscribers they have but I actually consider it based on the actual views they get per video, like what are you paying for here exactly? Are you paying for subscribers, are you paying for views on the scale?

Jessica: Well so what I would say is as you are going through the process and once you fill out all this information and the campaign is live and you’ve got influencers applying, you certainly want to look at the relative views per subscribers, and so we provide some average view data and the user profiles and you want to start to think about it from a cost per view perspective.

There is some hard costs for them in making the video but really if a channel is not driving at least 10% of their subscribers and viewership, so their 100,000 subscriber channel, you’d like to see 10,000 views come out of that. There are some channels like in consumer electronics, there is this guy in particular that I’ve seen counter come through, he’s got close to 400,000 subscribers. Easily his videos get 150,000 to 200,000 views and so he’s really good at engaging his subscriber base.

But as the channels go up, if the engagement rates go down you don’t want to pay a ton of money just because they have a million subscribers. You really want to make sure a good amount of them are actively engaging with their content and watching it or you’re not getting what you paid for.

Steve: So what’s a good guideline for the amount of money that I would want to pay based on the number of views that the videos actually get, like how much would I want to pay per view?

Jessica: Every category is different and it’s kind of like supply and demand. Some categories that are pretty niche in nature, the influencers can charge a little bit more because there is fewer of them, but I like to make sure that the influencers that we’re suggesting brands are working with see 10% in terms of viewership to their subscriber base.

Then relatively speaking an average cost per view it really ranges by vertical and also by size of influencer and so with 30 cent, 25 cent cost per view is good, and then that can go down quite significantly with scale as you work with larger influencers. Then obviously that is capped out or dictated to some extent based on the size of the brand and their marketing budgets in any month, but that’s a good target I think for people looking to get started.

Steve: One of my other concerns like if I were to use a platform is like I pay someone to do a video for me, what if I’m unsatisfied with the video, how are disputes resolved in case they do a job that is like not optimal, and I can’t really end up using their video or they just don’t do a good job on their YouTube channel?

Jessica: That is something that we take really seriously and we always work to make the seller happy, and so if that means finding another creator or stepping in if for some reason the creator goes quiet for a little bit of time, we try to build up enough tools to really make it self-service and the influencers have the ability to collaborate pretty closely with the brands.

But from time to time some things happen, like gets in the way or maybe there was just some miscommunication or just general not satisfied with the content. It’s our job to make sure that the seller has a good experience, and so we get to really work to resolve any of those disputes I mean worth case scenario, refunding any money that would have been put down.

But our priority is to ensure that they get the video they were looking for and so if that means starting over we do that, or we’re engaging a new content creator that meets all of their needs and one that we know because we’ve worked with them directly before are some of the things that we’ve done.

It doesn’t really happen that often and again you know the really interesting thing is influencers, some of them have quit their jobs and this is their job and so as the space evolves and matures you start to see on the other hand that the camera they are looking at it as a business as well, and as that continues to take place there is I think less and less concern –

I mean it will always be there, but the reality of having that kind of that experience should be pretty low if you’ve done your job kind of pre vetting things ahead of time and setting it up for success up front.

Steve: Okay, no that makes sense, yeah if these people are treating it like a business; they’ll probably want to please the brand as well. Okay so here is another concern that I always have with this type of marketing like how do you measure the results?

Jessica: There is two things here, so there is the social component, the distribution there, and so from that perspective it’s understanding what the expectation was in terms of viewership. We share play data engagements rates, and so engagement rates meaning likes, comments and shares, and so that’s another metric for brands to look at in terms of did this piece of content resonate with their audience, and so place and engagement rates are two metrics that we share about.

Then the third from the social side of things that kind of starts to bridge that gap into what does it mean from ROI standpoint is the click through rate, and so we share back in the platform the number of visitors that that video drove to your product page on Amazon. So that probably one of the equation is…

Steve: Is that just for Amazon or that works for your own site as well, do you guys collect data on clicks to the site also?

Jessica: Yes and so there are two options when you’re setting up your campaign, you either can attach the ASIN that you want the traffic driven to, and then that will go to the Amazon product page, or you can put your own custom landing page URL and we track those clicks. And so if you have a direct to consumer website and you would prefer the traffic to go there versus on Amazon, you would provide that URL that would get included in the description and our systems tracks that and it would get reported back on your site.

So there is viewership, there’s the traffic and then the third component and this is the one where right now requires a little help from the seller is really looking at that pre post analysis, and so we’re really good at getting the content up on Amazon and right now the retailers are really good about providing play data and viewership data, so percent watched and the typical metrics that you would associate with video.

However, you would be able to see, you as the seller will be able to look at conversion rates and sales pre video and post video, and what we’re seeing is across a number of different categories on average up to a 30% increase in conversion rates for shoppers that were watching the video and even seeing upwards of 15% increase in spend levels with just the presence of video there. But currently that specific information around your sales or conversion rate growth would be something you would see on your site within whatever analytics [inaudible 00:34:18] you’re looking at the seller central.

Steve: So it sounds like the way I would measure this is I would take like a baseline and then the day the video goes live I would analyze that data and just compare it against the control so to speak, right?

Jessica: Exactly we do a lot of pre post analysis so even for videos that maybe were live for an extended amount of time, some year over year, for a 30 day or for a quarter or something like that but exactly. You guys know best what other promotional activity is going on, and so it allows you to kind of isolate those things and really look at the data, but yes exactly is what were your sales like prior and what were your sales like after enriching the page with a piece of video.

Steve: So it’s important I guess then to not run any of these overlapping so to speak?

Jessica: It certainly makes a lot easier for you to isolate what thing is working, but of course with some of the larger brands and sellers that we work with this is one tactic of many, this is still common side with promotions and so certainly from merchandising events like Mother’s Day is going on right now, Father’s day is right around the corner.

I’d certainly say that ensuring content is up and live before you invest in other traffic driving activities is something I’d recommend because again if you think you manage it from a is it working standpoint, it does make it a little harder to isolate what, but I have seen enough data to know that placing a video does drive up those conversion rates, sales, basket size and just certainly if you’re spending all the dollars to drive more traffic, you’d want to make sure that you have the most optimized page possible.

Steve: What are some video metrics that are good guidelines to follow like how do I know what good engagement really means in your experience?

Jessica: Percent watched is a metric that gets looked at a lot from a peer video perspective, and so if you compare that to whether a traditional 30 seconds pod [ph] is like there is either two things, it’s time watched, and so getting someone to watch for at least 30 seconds or a minute or completion rate per second watch. So what we’re seeing is on Amazon we’re seeing people watching video for on average a minute if not more and from average completion rate standpoint for videos that are under two minute let’s say watching close to 70, 80% of the video.

So I think there is this misconception in the ecommerce environment the video is going to be really short, they’ve got other things they really want to do, but the reality is especially when it’s coming from an influencer, if it’s helpful information and if it’s either answering their questions or providing information on the features and benefits of the product, they’ll tune in and they’ll stay engaged, and it’s because it’s saving them time in the long run like they’ll be more satisfied, they don’t have to shuttle around so much.

So it’s not always about really showing really quick pieces of content, I think it’s about being smart with the information and who’s bringing it to them. Going back to the original question it’s definitely percent watched is one.

Steve: I guess what I’m trying to ask is like I produced the video with you guys, how do I know it’s actually good, like what percentage of people that watch 75% would be like a good metric to judge whether that video was a good one or not?
Jessica: So I think it’s the three things that I intended, the percent watched and if people are watching for more than half of the video, it’s a good indicator to me…

Steve: What percentage would be a good percentage, if like 80% of the people watch 75% of the video?

Jessica: I see, well yeah I think the way that we report the data and sorry I’m probably not answering this correctly, it’s the average completion rate. So we’re saying of the people that watched it they’re watching for more than 50% of it, and so I think the reality is there are very few people that drop off right away. So if you look at it from like a trend line perspective the majority of the people are watching for at least 50% of the video, and then there is a much smaller percentage that are watching for less.

So the benchmark for me and for us is typically around 50% completion rate but I’d say…

Steve: Really?

Jessica: Close to over 80% of them are staying too not that much because once they – there are two things that are happening. The audience of that influencer tunes in to them; they get emails when they publish their videos and so they are wanting to hear what she has to say. Then the other people that get there from search whether from Google or going straight to YouTube searching for – they were looking for a garlic press or they were looking for a recipe and so you’re getting these people that are kind of already leaning in.

So if you pick the right person you know that they are good at what they’re doing and they are great at producing content, you’re not just blasting out a piece of media to this like look alike audience. It’s a tapped in engaged audience, and so therefore you’re seeing a high engagement off of that.

Steve: Let me ask you this question, do the influencers – like can you have them insert your brand or keywords into the video title, is that something that’s typically done?

Jessica: When you’re setting up your campaign, you can provide keywords and you can ask them to include them both in the title and descriptions, so this can help optimize all that video being discovered in search. So that’s absolutely something that you can do and when we’re talking directly to brands, we often suggest a healthy mix of both branded and non branded key terms and then leaving it up to the influencer, because the one thing I‘d say if you try to be too prescriptive on what the video title is, it may not resonate as well.

So you can give them the keywords and then they will find good ways to integrate that both in the title and description, again so that can help optimize for search.

Steve: So Jessica on the tracking side again, like when I ran my own personal campaign using Gen Video, actually very few people I found clicked on the link and most of the sales that I got were actually through type and traffic. So would you say that the before and after method is like the best way to track your campaigns and is there actually a better way to do it?

Jessica: Definitely tracking pre and post video publishing is the preferred path in terms of being able to really monitor the impact of the video content, and so there are two different things. There is the traffic coming from the site and as we talked about a little earlier depending on the size of the influencer’s channel that you’re working with, you’re seeing roughly 3 to 5% click through rate on average. Some campaigns depending on the verticals can be upwards of like 10% in terms of a click through rate.

So if you’re working with smaller influencers, and really testing things out with a smaller budget, the traffic in and of itself isn’t really where you will look in terms of understanding the ROI and the value. What I would recommend is looking at the analytics that you have either on your website if you chose to drive the traffic directly to your brand site or through the data that is provided to you from Amazon and look at what your sales were relatively – I take 30 days or so before the video was published and 30 days after.

If there is a bit seasonality with your product, the other thing that you could do is look at that same time period from the year before. Really what you want to do is understand after placing that video on your product pages on Amazon, were you seeing higher conversion rates than prior, and then the traffic is kind of a secondary component to that. Again that really becomes a little harder to do though unless you’re looking at influencers that are driving more substantial traffic to the site.

Steve: Okay, well let’s switch gears a little bit and talk about this from the perspective of a content creator. So I’m a content creator, I run a blog, so what kind of advantages does your platform provide like how can a content provider make money and what’s the cut that you actually take?

Jessica: So for creators we like to invest in features on the platform that help them monetize all of the content that they’re creating. So some influencers are publishing videos on a weekly basis, sometimes multiple times a week, but not all of those are part of brand sponsorships, and so what we want to do is ensure that there are other ways for them to monetize that content.

So there are three things that we’re doing, we’ve created the tool that made it really easy to create, and place affiliate links from the Amazon associates program directly into the descriptions of videos that are managed through the Gen Video platform. That allows affiliate revenue to be made for any of the viewers of that video that clicks on one of their links and then goes on and shops within that session on Amazon.

So Gen Video doesn’t take a cut of any of that affiliate revenue. We pass through all of that back to the content creator, and for us it’s really how do we create a tool set that enables influencers to leverage us to manage all of their content, not just the brand sponsorship. For us really the value is the ability to understand the dynamics of the traffic coming from social, what shoppers are buying after watching a video and the data that we can then share back with the brands that are leveraging the platform.

So any content creator that would be leveraging the affiliate link service that we provide will earn 100% of the revenue they would have made on their own with just a little ease of use in the creation and placement of those links. Then beyond that we offer creatives the ability to license any pre existing content that they have, and so a good kind for instance would be I know technology influencers spend a lot of time covering the latest iPhone or the Samsung 8 that just came out.

But there are all these peripheries that come around; there is some chargers, cases, things like that. Those are products that get – there are lots of them out there and they receive a lot of coverage in terms of top five cases for under $50, or those types of editorial content. So for a brand that may not have the budget or desire to create something from scratch but found a video on YouTube from an influencer already, as long as that influencer is within our network you can go in and license that content.

So it’s another way for the content creators to get this flat one time video license pre-existing content that they created without any sort of sponsorship behind it, and then of course we make available to them all of the opportunities for sellers and brands like what you did to apply and be considered for a more direct relationship with the brand.

Steve: I’ve always been curious about this, so if I found a YouTube video of someone making a testimonial of my product, I can’t just put that YouTube video on my site?

Jessica: You can embed the video using the YouTube player on your brand’s website, however in order for that video to live on let’s say on Amazon or Wal-Mart page you actually would need the physical asset to then upload it directly into one of the retailers platform.

Steve: I see okay.

Jessica: And so the relationship we have on the creator’s side, we have them upload the content through Gen Video and then publish it to YouTube which allows us to have the asset for other ecommerce distribution as well.

Steve: Okay that makes sense, so it seems to me like one of the things I’d like to buy your service, the main value add in my mind was the ability to put the video underneath the Amazon product, because this is something that you can’t really do on your own, like you need to have some sort of in with Amazon in order to put the video underneath the product?

Jessica: Yeah there is definitely different parts vendor central and vendors are able to get content up in the image block and that’s a service that we provide to some of our larger clients, but the related video shots right now, it’s pretty difficult to get a piece of content in. We invite our programming partner to Amazon video shots which is what is enabling us to put some of this content through.

So we built our platform kind of on top of the Amazon APIs to make it really easy for you to either source your content from influencers and then get them into related shots or take existing content that you may have, let us know what ASINs those videos are for and then get those videos placed on your product pages. But yeah right now it’s not as easy as I think anyone would like it to be which is why we are happy to have built a platform that we think serves two needs, the sourcing of the content and then getting it out there in front of shoppers.

Steve: What has been some of the ROI benefits just kind of editorially from some of your clients regarding those related short videos on Amazon products; do you have any data on that?

Jessica: Yeah it’s a little difficult to share specific data from any of the campaigns that we’ve run, but I will say that all categories are different and when we look at things kind of more broadly in the past, we’ve seen upwards of 30% increase in conversion rate with just the presence of video, and so that’s thinking about a page that had zero videos within that related video strip or anywhere on the product page and then enhancing those pages with videos, and other metrics that we typically see go up when shoppers are watching video is basket size, purchase intent and then of course the conversion rate.

So I’ve seen some categories go upwards in the 50% increase in conversion rate for shoppers that are watching a video, but on average we’re seeing in that 25 to 30% range, and again really looking at that pre post activity and then search for more of the sophisticated brands that maybe sell directly on their site. You can look at hard sales numbers, but that’s a little top for us on the platform to really understand because it’s looking at your own data that we’re not privy to.

Steve: Okay and so these numbers that you quote are just based on like straight before and after so it might not be an exact science, but there is definitely a strong correlation towards those numbers?

Jessica: That’s right and we’re always excited to dig into the data with our clients, and so whether the data that’s available in the Amazon portals or your own analytics, Google analytics, things like that. We are happy to help with the analytics behind it and again we understand that it’s not necessarily the easiest to isolate in any of these ecommerce platforms right now, the presence of video, the number of place the video had.

So certainly for now until we all get a little bit more sophisticated about things as shoppers seek out more video content and video content finds its way into the ecommerce ecosystem a bit more, you definitely need to look at a couple of different data sources, and so we’re always open to partnering with customers to help them understand things and be able to make smart choices and having the best for them.

Steve: Okay, oh hey Jessica we’ve been chatting for quite a while and I want to be respectful of your time, where can people find more about your company and how can they get a hold of you?

Jessica: You can learn more about our company at Gen.video, that site provides a lot of the information on the influencer network and the ecommerce syndication, and then I’d be happy to talk to anyone, and so you can email directly to me at Jessica@gen.video as well.

Steve: All right, well thanks a lot for coming on the show Jessica, I really appreciate it.

Jessica: Yeah thanks Steve, it was great, take care.

Steve: Hope you enjoyed that episode. In light of Amazon’s ban of incentivized reviews, influencer marketing is actually a great way to get real eye balls on your products, and I’ll actually be publishing my experiences with the Gen.video platform on my blog very soon. For more information about this episode, go to mywifequitherjob.com/episode162.
And once again I want to thank Klaviyo.com for sponsoring this episode. Klaviyo is my email marketing platform of choice for ecommerce merchants, and you can easily put together automated flows like an abandoned cart sequence, a post purchase flow, a win back campaign, basically all of these sequences that will make you money on auto pilot. So head on over to mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O, once again that’s mywifequitherjob.com/ K-L-A-V-I-Y-O.

I also want to thank Seller Labs as well. Their tool Ignite is what I use to manage my Amazon PPC campaigns. Instead of the old tedious way of generating reports and analyzing your ad campaigns in excel, Ignite aggregates all that info for you in one place and allows you to quickly visualize your data to make decisions fast.

Not only does it save time, but it also makes managing your Amazon campaigns so much easier. So head on over to sellerlabs.com/steve and sign up for a free 30 day trial, once again that’s sellerlabs.com/steve.

And if you’re interested in starting your own ecommerce store, head on over to mywifequitherjob.com and sign up for my free six day mini course. Just type in your email and I’ll send you the course right away via email, thanks for listening.

Outro: Thanks for listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast, where we are giving the courage people need to start their own online business. For more information visit Steve’s blog at www.mywifequitherjob.com.

I Need Your Help

If you enjoyed listening to this podcast, then please support me with an iTunes review. It's easy and takes 1 minute! Just click here to head to iTunes and leave an honest rating and review of the podcast. Every review helps!
 
Share On Facebook

Ready To Get Serious About Starting An Online Business?


If you are really considering starting your own online business, then you have to check out my free mini course on How To Create A Niche Online Store In 5 Easy Steps.

In this 6 day mini course, I reveal the steps that my wife and I took to earn 100 thousand dollars in the span of just a year. Best of all, it's absolutely free!

161: How To Ditch Your Average Job And Start An Epic Business With Daniel Dipiazza

Share On Facebook

How To Ditch Your Average Job And Start An Epic Business With Daniel Dipiazza

Today I thrilled to have my buddy Daniel DiPiazza back on the show. Now if you don’t remember Daniel, I had him on my podcast back on episode 103 where he talked about how he got 130K Instagram subscribers in 6 months.

He’s the owner of Rich20Something.com where he teaches young people how to start their own freelance businesses. But a lot has happened since we last spoke.

For one thing, he acquired Under30CEO.com which is another huge entrepreneurship site. And he has published his very own book entitled Ditch your average job, start an epic business and score the life you want.

Today we’re going to talk about the best way to make money as quickly as possible. Enjoy!

What You’ll Learn

  • How to make money when you have very little money to invest.
  • The best advice for getting freelance gigs
  • Why Daniel decided to write a book
  • What the heck is the marsupial method?

Other Resources And Books

Sponsors

Klaviyo.com – Klaviyo is the email marketing platform that I personally use for my ecommerce store. Created specifically for ecommerce, it is the best email marketing provider that I’ve used to date. Click here and try Klaviyo for FREE.
Klaviyo

Ignite.Sellerlabs.com – If you are selling on Amazon and running Amazon Sponsored Ads campaigns, then Ignite from Seller Labs is a must have tool. Click here and get a FREE 30 Day Trial.
Ignite Logo

ReferralCandy.com – If you’re already getting steady orders every month, adding a refer-a-friend program to your store can give you a new sales channel. And ReferralCandy is the best in the business. Click here and get a FREE $50 credit towards your account.
referral candy

SellersSummit.com – The ultimate ecommerce learning conference! Unlike other events that focus on inspirational stories and high level BS, the Sellers Summit is a curriculum based conference where you will leave with practical and actionable strategies specifically for an ecommerce business. Click here and get your ticket now before it sells out.
Sellers Summit

Transcript

Steve: You are listening to the My Wife Quit her Job Podcast, the place where I bring on successful bootstrapped business owners and delve deeply into what strategies are working and what strategies are not with their businesses. Today I’m thrilled to have Daniel DiPiazza back on the show, and last time I had Daniel on to talk about how he grew his Instagram account to 100K followers, but today we’re going to discuss easy ways to make money when you don’t have a lot of money to invest in a business.

Now before we begin I want to give a quick shout out to Klaviyo who is a sponsor of the show. Now I’m always super excited to talk about Klaviyo because they are the email marketing platform that I personally use for my ecommerce store, and I actually depend on Klaviyo for over 20% of my revenues. Now you’re probably wondering why Klaviyo and not another provider. Well Klaviyo is the only email platform out there that is specifically built for ecommerce stores, and here’s why it’s so powerful.

Klaviyo can track every single customer who has shopped in your store and exactly what they bought which makes it extremely powerful. So let’s say I want to send an email to everyone who purchased a red handkerchief in my store, easy. Let’s say I want to set up a special autoresponder sequence to my customers depending on what they purchased, piece of cake, and there is full revenue tracking on every single email.

Now Klaviyo is the most powerful email platform that I’ve ever used and you could try them for free at mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O, once again that’s mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O.

I also want to give a shout out to my other sponsor Seller Labs, and specifically I want to talk about their brand new tool Ignite which helps sellers manage their Amazon sponsored ads. Now right now I’m actually using this tool to manage my own Amazon sponsored ad campaigns, and it makes things a heck of a lot more convenient.

So first of all I’ve always found it a major pain to generate my PPC reports on Amazon, cut and paste the data over to an excel spreadsheet and use pivot tables before I would do any analysis at all. But Ignite pulls out all that info for you automatically and allows you to easily see what keywords are working and what are not immediately, no need to manually create reports or play with excel.
Second of all unless you’re a data geek, Amazon campaign data can be kind of hard to understand, and what’s cool is that Ignite makes keyword and bidding recommendations on the fly that can be applied with a couple of clicks.

So let’s say one of my hankie keywords is bringing money, Ignite will tell me that and I can reduce the bid immediately. So bottom line Ignite makes managing your Amazon sponsored campaigns so much easier and the fact that they provide me with alerts means that I no longer have to monitor my campaigns like a hawk.

If there are keywords that are doing well, Ignite tells me to add them to my exact match campaigns. If my keywords are losing money, well Ignite tells me to either remove the keyword or reduce the bid. So head on over to sellerlabs.com/steve where you’ll find some awesome tutorials on how to run Amazon PPC ads and the opportunity to try Ignite for 30 days free. Once again that’s sellerlabs.com/steve, now on the show.

Intro: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. We will teach you how to create a business that suits your lifestyle, so you can spend more time with your family and focus on doing the things that you love. Here is your host, Steve Chou.

Steve: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast, today I have my buddy Daniel DiPiazza back on the show. Now if you don’t remember Daniel, I actually had him on the podcast way back in episode 103 where we talked about how he got 130,000 Instagram subscribers in six months. He is the owner of rich20something.com where he teaches young people how to start their own freelance businesses, but a lot has actually happened since we last spoke.

For one thing he acquired under30CEO.com which is another huge entrepreneurship site, and he has published his very own book entitled Ditch Your Average Job, Start an Epic Business and Score the Life You Want. Anyways I often get asked what the best way to make money is if you have no money to invest whatsoever.

People come to me and they say hey Steve I want to start a business, I don’t have any money, what should I do, and I often reply to them that starting a business isn’t necessarily the best idea if you have no money, and instead I point those people to freelancing. So today what we’re going to do is we’re going to talk about the best way to make money as quickly as possible which just happens to be Daniel’s specialty. And with that welcome to the show Daniel, how is the going man?

Daniel: It’s going great, you have a great radio voice too, I didn’t realize how much I liked it until I heard my name with your voice without like a back headed now statistic self compliment, that was the word.

Steve: It’s like a humble brag I guess.

Daniel: Sure, I didn’t realize how much I liked it till you talked about me. But thank you, thank you again for having me back, I really appreciate it. And look that’s interesting that you asked that question because I was doing a webinar a couple of days ago and we were going over different ways to set up websites, and I was going over one of these software programs called ClickFunnels.

If anyone doesn’t know ClickFunnels is just a landing page software, it’s a program where you can make different pages so people can find your website and start off your email list. I was telling my audience, I was like look, it’s $97 a month and some people on the webinah were like, oh my God now you said a dollar a month, I can’t do that. Well if you can’t do $97 a month you’re not going to start a business, I’m not trying to be mean but you should…

Steve: No totally.

Daniel: That’s not a moral judgment, it’s just like the facts, but there is something to be said for starting free or cheap, and I think a lot of people would benefit by figuring this out, but I want to pause you a question and we’ll sort around. My question to you would be when you started My Wife Quit Her Job, was there a pain point that you were trying to solve?

Steve: So when I started the blog I already had a successful ecommerce business, and the main pain point that I was trying to solve was everyone was just asking me questions about it and I thought it would just be interesting to document everything. What ended up happening that was funny was none of the people who were my friends read it at all, and I just started getting random people reading it.

Daniel: It always happens like that, no one in my family or my friends has actually read my book yet, it’s only been like random people, but that’s a good, that’s a really good point that you’ve made and the thing that I always tell people when they’re looking to start a business especially when they don’t have a lot of money to start off.

I’ve found is a good thing honestly that they don’t have a lot in the beginning is that you need to identify a problem other people are having before you start thinking about how much money you should be spending or where you should be allocating your time, because often what happens if you don’t start with a pain point or if you don’t focus on solving a problem first that you invest money in things that seem like a good idea but you’re really just copying someone else.

An example might be people see that Snapchat just IPOed for – got off from out of billions dollar and they say, oh well that’s obviously a good business idea, let me try to replicate that, and obviously it’s not going to work. That happens a lot with all these different business models, and so what I tell people to do is I say, look before you go starting a business, stop thinking about you and think more about other people because you’re going to be serving those people.

The first place you can look are places like forums and forums that people are talking about things that are going on with them. One of the places I like to look is Quora, do you go on Quora?

Steve: I have an account there but I just kind of look, I never answer any questions actually.

Daniel: That’s okay, I mean I’m a looker too, but the lookers are good because we can get a good like a 40,000 foot view of what’s going on with other people. So for instance let’s say that you’re into that you’re good at fitness or you’re good at childcare or you’re really good at painting or drawing or you have some other skills.

One thing that you might want to do is you might want to go on a forum like Quora or go on a Facebook group or look to where other people are talking about the types of things that you’re good at and see what problems people are having. One you identify the problems people are having, then you can engineer a service around that, and you can start testing and see if people will pay for it.

Steve: Interesting, I know you have a lot of students in your class, can you just pick like one example that we can kind of go through in depth?

Daniel: Yeah okay so let’s think of an example. Do you want to go through like one of my examples; do you want to go through a student’s example?

Steve: Let’s go through one of your student’s examples, I think that would be interesting.

Daniel: Okay so a student example. Let’s take for instance one of my students, her name is Ali Garcia okay. So Ali is a personal trainer, but she wasn’t really sure how to get work outside of her – she works I think it’s out of the YMCA or [inaudible 00:09:10]. She wasn’t sure how to get clients outside of her existing job and she knew that she wanted to start something on the side, but she didn’t know how to expand and how to use her skills to start a business rather than work inside someone else’s business.

So the first thing that she did was she started looking online to see what — if there was a specific problem she could solve outside of general fitness because being a personal trainer while it’s admirable isn’t something that I would say specific enough to warrant having a business that stands out. So the first thing she did was she looked for a certain group that she could serve with those skills.

So in her case what she did was after doing some research, looking out Quora, looking out – she looked on places like CafeMom, places on mom blog, looking at Facebook groups. She found that a lot of times moms have trouble after they have a kid getting back into shape and getting back to their pre baby weight, or just maybe if it’s not pre baby weight, just a weight they feel comfortable with, they feel good with.

So what she started doing, she started making YouTube videos specifically for moms on how to get back in pre baby shape, and she just started making free content and the good thing about this is that she wasn’t selling anything, she wasn’t pitching anybody, she wasn’t trying to do anything special at first. Honestly a lot of her fitness advice wasn’t something that only moms could benefit from. There aren’t a lot of exercises that are just for moms, these are just basic exercises to tone you up and to keep you in shape.

Bu the way that she positioned herself was say, hey look I’m Ali and I’m here to help busy moms get their body back, and because that was her headline, because that was the way that she described herself and actually people gravitated towards her. She didn’t even do anything special, she had ran ads. So she started doing these YouTube videos and the big thing was she was consistent, she was doing like two or three a week.

Steve: Just curious, what is the production quality of these videos, like was she just filming them on her phone?

Daniel: I think she started off on her phone, but I’d recommend that you get – I’d say a mid grade like what’s called prosumer [ph], it’s like not professional but like a high rank consumer camera after you’ve had some experience with how you want to shoot and what you want to do. So after about three or four months she decided to upgrade herself and she got a nice camera.

Steve: I’m just curious because I get questions like this a lot where people just get stuck in a handle where like they want to do video but then there is the added in part; there is the equipment, so how did she get over those problems?

Daniel: I think that those are like perceived problems because what happens is we look at other YouTube videos that – let’s be honest YouTube now is terribly in cordial, a lot of it is really good.

Steve: Yeah it is yeah.

Daniel: The editing is like never quality, the video itself people are shooting in 10 ABP, I mean we’re shooting our podcast now in 4K. You don’t need to shoot in 4K though, and so what you do is you start with what you have, because at the end of the day a search engine like YouTube is for finding content, and the content that’s ranked in a search engine like YouTube is ranked by the quality of people watching it and the quality of that material not of how it looks.

People care about the information, a lot of the best videos that are viral out there right now aren’t the best looking ones, we’ve seen this over and over again. So she started shooting these videos, she grew a small following and she grew a small niche personal training practice around training moms online by giving them like meal plans and workout plans. And now she has like 40 to 50 students at a time and all paying like $100 a month and she’s able to basically make a side business and then turn it to a fulltime business just by putting out content that attracted the right type of people, not even trying to go big time.

Steve: That’s interesting, so how did she transition from YouTube, like was she just getting YouTube subscribers or did she point those people back to her site, like what were the steps?

Daniel: A couple of things, one there’s lots of different ways you can encourage people to interact with you further, so if you really want to go the basic time tested route it’s always going to be email list at least for now, maybe that’s going to change in the next couple of years. I already see a change and I think what’s happening now is just there are more channels. I think that what people were afraid of is that there will be fewer channels, but now it’s just that there are more channels and a lot of them work.

With her she just set up basic a ClickFunnels to her target, and she’s like, hey this is Ali, I do weekly videos but if you want more information I have a newsletter which is just – a lot of times they were just reposts of her videos with some writing, a newsletter I send out every week and you can go to my email list, and there’s more we can talk about like the simple ways to set that up if you want, but it’s very simple to set that up.

So it’s just a matter of finding little pockets of people who want specific information based on what people are saying in the real world in the while and then just giving them that stuff.

Steve: Yeah so you’re saying that at the end of her video there’s just a call to action to a ClickFunnels page where she gathered emails and then just slowly amassed email subscribers that way?

Daniel: Yeah and you can put that link in your description box. I wish there was like a more complicated thing that I could say that would maybe make a light bulb go and people are like that’s the secret, I didn’t know that but now I get it. Well that’s really it though.

Steve: What about people who can’t afford the $97 a month?

Daniel: First of all the ClickFunnels page isn’t for the software, that’s not even essential, they have a lot of free software out there, but here’s the thing you have to either going to invest time or money. ClickFunnels is a time saver because it has all the stocks set up looking pretty nice so that you can just pay and plug and play and it is $97 a month, and that $97 is really representative of the fact that you don’t need to spend time making them look nice.

Now if you want to do for free there’s a bunch of free things you can do with software like WordPress and there are free ways to collect emails with softwares like MailChimp, all that could be done for free but it’s going to cost time, it’s either time or money. Now if you don’t want to put time or money into your business, then you don’t want to do business.

Steve: Right okay. Let’s talk a little bit more about the research because that’s where people seem to get stuck. So you mentioned Quora, do you just look deep into your own skill set and then just kind of type in stuff on Quora randomly or like what’s your strategy?

Daniel: Well I don’t know, I think one of the things that helped me to identify pain points over the years is I’m just interested in psychology. I like – in a way I kind of take a sick pleasure in hearing people complain, not because I like their pain but because I like to see what makes people mad, and so that’s allowed me to keep my radar on.

When people are angry about something, usually a strong negative emotion is a sign of interested in a solution. So if you look at moms who are so frustrated, and so – I’m just using as an example here – but so frustrated and at their body that they will see if anything has changed and you think, oh there is a solution I can introduce there.

But just like often you don’t even know where to start researching, there are a couple of things you can think about in terms of like how to get ideas going. So the first is what skills you’ve been doing at your job already, so for instance you’re a software engineer correct?

Steve: I was a hardware engineer.

Daniel: Hardware engineer okay hardware engineer. Now there are certainly ways that you can freelance that and you could with consult that, you did not want to do that because your wife quit her job and now you quit your job. But you could certainly find work doing that because you win all that attainable skills, and a lot of people have attainable skills that they’re doing at their job and there is a way to cut the middle man.

An example of this is was when I used to teach as a teen SAT test prep and I was making $18 an hour to do that, and I saw that the agency that I was working for was making $100, it was pretty clear to me that I didn’t really need them but they needed me because I had the skill set, so if I could figure out how to market myself, then I could take the full 100.

Steve: Okay that makes sense.

Daniel: Yeah because they were targeting marketing campaign. The other example of my mom used to do like pre divorce, like pre litigation for people who wanted to get divorced but didn’t want to go to court, these ones like end the thing easily. And I thought to myself and she never ended up doing this, but I thought to myself they are billing these clients like $100 or more dollars an hour, hundreds of dollars sometimes for you to this work and you’re taking a certain amount of dollars per hour away from that.

What would happen if you just set up like a very simple boutique like end it in a weekend service where you could just do all the stuff yourself, because you’re doing all the work but the attorney is billed so much for this?

So I like to think about – that’s the first place, I think about my current job what I’m doing at work, and if there is a middle man that I can cut out, and then it’ll be up to you to figure out how to market that but if you’re listening to this you’re smart because you’re smart so you can figure it out, that’s the first thing.

The second thing is what are people always asking you for? So I call my brother in law, I mean she’s basically my wife we’ll get married soon, but my brother in law – I get a mock at it, I’m young, she’s stronger than me so give me a second okay. My brother in law has this gigantic track and every weekend people are like, Caleb can you help me move my couch, can you help me move me stuff and after a while he’s like yeah I can help you but it’s $60 an hour, that’s his business, because people keep asking him for that.

So I think there is this tendency and if you listening right now the audience right now you’re thinking, oh I can’t think of anything.
I think there is this tendency to think, yeah everyone else has something but I don’t have something, and I think you need to start being a little more aware of what’s going on in the environment around you.

Steve: Let’s talk about your SAT prep thing, that is backed by an organization and you’re just one person, so how did you funnel – did you funnel existing customers away from that service to yourself?

Daniel: [inaudible 00:19:26] oh no, well here is the thing, the interesting thing about those types of organizations; I was working for Kaplan I mean you’ve gone through all the schools if you know about Kaplan. If anyone has taken a Kaplan course before you know that the instructors there are the main points of contact, and that’s one benefit of working at a job like that is that essentially the teachers, the instructors are the representative of the brand.

So actually case in point that’s a good thing of personal training too and other really client focused jobs, usually the trainer, the consultant, the teacher, the person is the face, and so if you do decide to leave a lot of people will go with you, and I certainly did have some students who left and came with me. But what I really found was that the goldmine for me there was finding other people who already had my existing clients and partnering up with them and I call that the marsupial method.

Steve: Okay let’s talk about this marsupial method.

Daniel: Yeah so marsupial, okay so can you name any marsupials?

Steve: Kangaroo right?

Daniel: Yeah that’s the easy one, can you name any more?

Steve: Koala, aren’t those marsupials?

Daniel: Yeah I think so they have a pouch, possums have a pouch, wallabies have a pouch, and I’m going to get into what the method is, but you know some of these pouches are sideways and sometimes the baby falls out.

Steve: I did not know that.

Daniel: Because like the Koala pouch is vertical but I think the possum pouch is like [inaudible 00:20:59] is weird, it’s crazy. But anyway I call it marsupial method because what happened with marsupial baby is the pouch is like this extra womb that it grows up in and it shields it from the elements of being on top and do the same. What I thought of myself as when I was growing in my entrepreneur agency was a little baby.

I thought who can I take, who can I find that will take me into their little pouch under their wing – now I make some animal metaphors – and who can help me grow without me being exposed to the elements. So what I thought was all right who do I already know who has the people that I want to serve but isn’t providing them with the service that I provide? And so I did a little bit of research, again Google is your friend.

I was in Atlanta at the time, I typed in SAT – I typed in a pre college counselor Atlanta because I wanted to see if there are people who were already working with my students, and that’s one question you want to ask yourself, who is already working with my ideal client but isn’t providing the service.

So I found these pre college counselors, and what I learned was they essentially help you prepare these essays, they help you package yourself. If you want to go to Harvard, Stanford, Yale, these places they’ll package you because you have to have a great package, but they don’t teach you the pre-college, you have to go to Kaplan or Princeton Review for that.

So what I did was I came to these people and said, look I have this Kaplan pedigree, you know if I teach for Kaplan I have to be embedded some good at what I do, but what I’ll do for you is I’ll come into your business and you could essentially white label me, or you could essentially take me under your wing and I’ll perform the service for your clients and then I’ll give you 10% of the money that I make.

The benefit is you get to add an additional service on to your business without adding any additional manpower or actual work and you get paid and I immediately get some clients. So I went from having zero clients to approaching my first consultant, his name was Mark, a great guy and he threw me ten clients in the first week and I had a business overnight.

Steve: That’s interesting, and you were young I would imagine, a teenager?

Daniel: No I was like early twenties.

Steve: Early twenties and so you just went up to an organization and said, hey give me your clients – I mean not give me your clients…

Daniel: Give me your clients now.

Steve: Let’s work together. How did you establish trust, like why would they count on you, was it just the Kaplan name that allowed you to get it?

Daniel: I think Kaplan is a big part of it and because they know if I worked for Kaplan that I had to be 90% tried and tested. I knew I was good at it and that I had already been trained which is helpful, but I think there definitely is an element of trust there, and to be fair I think that Mark who I worked with in the beginning was overly trusting, and it worked out because I’m a pretty guy and
[inaudible 00:24:03] guy so it worked out.

But what I recommend to build the trust going forward – and this isn’t just for test prep; this applies to any business relationship. What I would say is look, I’m going to work with a couple of your clients for free and if I do a great job, when I do a great job then we can talk about like what our percentages will be, what it’s going to be and what the deal is moving forward. But make it as low or no risk for them as possible.

Steve: I see that’s good advice. So in the case of your student then did she pursue that route or did she just go straight to YouTube?

Daniel: She went straight to YouTube but you know kids these days, they want to go straight to the end, but I think it could have worked too. So like help me brainstorm, what are some organizations that might be able to pair up with?

Steve: There is a ton of these mothers groups.

Daniel: A ton of them man.

Steve: Yeah.

Daniel: There is a ton of these and there are also a lot of groups that serve her demographic but don’t train the moms.

Steve: Yeah absolutely.

Daniel: And so it’s no brainer.

Steve: Yeah she totally could have gone that route as well, I guess it’s more legwork which is maybe why she just went straight to the YouTube route, right?

Daniel: Yeah and I think also there’s more to it, there’s no wrong way either, it’s just that with the YouTube route now she’s training people online and I think it opens her up to make courses if she wants to do that which is always a good thing. When I was doing the SAT stuff, that was kind of a little bit before – well I could have gotten online courses but I didn’t really understand that route too much, so it seemed more natural for me to teach people in person.

Steve: I want to take a moment to thank ReferralCandy for being a sponsor of the show. Now in this day and age word of mouth is a huge driver of business for most ecommerce stores, and the best way to amplify word of mouth marketing is through a referral program. This is where ReferralCandy shines, with just a couple of clicks of the mouse you could add a referral program to your ecommerce store and reward your customers for telling their friends about your shop.

And this tactic works wonders; and in fact it is not uncommon to get a ridiculous return on investment. So for example Greats Footwear, who is a ReferralCandy customer is currently seeing a 20X ROI. Referral word of mouth marketing is also useful for building up your social media presence as well, because everyone is talking about your company with their friends on Facebook and Twitter.

And the best part is that ReferralCandy is a set it and forget it service, requires no technical setup and they are giving My Wife Quit Her Job listeners 50 bucks to try them out if you go to promo.referralcandy.com/steve. Once again it’s promo.referralcandy.com/steve to get a $50 credit to try out the service risk free. Now back to the show.

Okay well actually let’s since you brought that up let’s talk about the transition, so you’re freelancing, you’re making some money on the side, when is the right time to transition and what’s the process?

Daniel: To leave your job?

Steve: Not to leave your job but to transition from your freelance stuff, like for example your SAT prep stuff that still required your time, right?

Daniel: Yeah, yeah, yeah that’s true, that’s very true. Look here is the thing and I was talking about this earlier, there is a difference between freelancing and entrepreneurship, and I didn’t want to believe this. One of my favorite authors and thinkers Seth Godin said this a few years ago and I was so mad at him, it’s like no Seth you don’t understand I am an entrepreneur. He said the difference between freelance and entrepreneurship is that a freelancer trades their time for dollars and an entrepreneur creates systems to get the same results.

I don’t know whether I understood at the time like I do have systems, look I have like excel or whatever. But what I’ve come to realize now is that there is a definite difference between providing a service whether it’s hourly or whether it’s project based or whether there is a certain duration, and then hiring people and designing essentially an ecosystem so that a product is produced and you get paid as a result of that product.

For me the transition came really when I had done several of these freelance businesses and people kept asking me about the freelance business to the point where I became better because they weren’t asking about like how did you start teaching SAT, they were more asking, how did you get people to hire you, and that’s a different question than how do you get SAT clients, right?

Steve: Yeah for sure.

Daniel: So there I started thinking about maybe there is a product here, and then that’s when I had to move from freelancing to building products and doing entrepreneurship.

Steve: But did you stop the freelancing like cold turkey or did you develop the product, sell it first, and then stop the freelancing?

Daniel: That’s actually it’s a good story. I was developing the products on the side like I started doing the freelancing on the side and then I did some job, and then I was starting to develop the products on the side before I did the freelancing. So I always kind of had one foot on one log and the next log and the next log and it got to the point with the products where I had a successful launch, the first launch we did was pretty successful, and then I had too many new customers with the product to even allow me the time to take care of the freelance clients.

So I had to fire some clients, I had to be like look it’s great — and I did it in a nice way to tip it off, I didn’t completely cut them off the same day, but I was like look I’m just not going to be able to do this anymore, and then I had to make the transition. But then once I moved on to entrepreneurship it was completely all heads on deck.

Steve: And then that led to – did rich20something come first or did the product come first and then you created rich20something around that?

Daniel: Rich20something was man it was – you’re going to laugh at me when I say this, but I’ll be 29 in about a month, I’ll be 29 in eight weeks actually, and I only now just realize that this is my career. Within the past six months that I realized, oh man I made a career for myself in this space, I’m like dude this is like the thing that I do, people know me for this.

I only now realize that because rich20 turned up as a blog and it wasn’t even intend to be much more than – this is before MediaMe existed. I wanted something that I could just publish my own personal thoughts and reflect on them later kind of like you were talking about how you want to just track what you were doing, and I started doing that.

I’m like this is pretty fun, and then I started to get more attention, and I think it only got attention because I had a few, not even viral but like pretty well received articles on this bigger site called under30CEO which I eventually ended up buying.
Steve: That’s hilarious, so you got some traffic from under30CEO to get you started?

Daniel: Yeah and then I bought it, it’s very like liking a circle of life stuff. So I got some traffic from under30CEO, started building people, they asked for it. I don’t know who said this but I did hear an interesting quote the other day and they said, “You shouldn’t start a business unless people ask you for it.” I’m not 100% sure if that’s true all the time, but I do know that was the case with me, people kept asking me for it.

So rich20 was there from the beginning, it’s been around since 2012, but it really wasn’t a business until 2015, and that’s when I started taking it more seriously and then only now recently 2017, it’s early 2017 as I recall this I’m like, oh man I have like a major book now in stores, this is my career, that’s pretty cool.

Steve: Wait so did the site come first or the course come first, which is what I was trying to get at?

Daniel: The site came first.

Steve: The site came first, okay and so you launched the course – you already had an audience then?

Daniel: Yeah but it wasn’t that big though, it wasn’t big.

Steve: Okay and when you were doing your SAT prep, was rich20something around?

Daniel: Mm-hmm yeah it was.

Steve: It was okay, so it seems like the whole time you had your hands in different pots, you had the content to build an audience and you were earning freelance income and you were kind of preparing yourself to transition it seemed?

Daniel: Yeah although I’m not 100% sure that was – I think retroactively retrospectively we always look back and we piece the things together to make sense, like we were talking before the call and we were talking about anti fragile [inaudible 00:32:38] celebrities just pick up, and one of the things he talks about is like retrospective piecing together of the events to make them seem logical.

Steve: Sure, even though that wasn’t your intention, right?

Daniel: Right but of course all piece together in a nicely well sequence planned out, but that totally wasn’t the intention you know.

Steve: Okay and so that course that you were talking about, are you still selling it today?

Daniel: Yes for Freelance Domination, you go to freelancedomination.com.

Steve: Oh okay, so is that your primary bread and butter today then?

Daniel: Well we have a few different flagship courses. We have one Freelance Domination which is essentially the step by step hands on approach to how these freelance businesses started for me and how to grow and how to do yourself, so there is that. In the middle a few different other products, one of them is not one of our flagships called Startup From the Bottom, which teaches people how to use content to drive eyeballs and to create a business around things that you care about.

So whereas freelancing is more about providing service, start from the bottom teaches you how to create content whether it is a podcast or a blog or a YouTube channel that drives traffic to products and that’s what we do.

Steve: Let’s talk about that for a minute because a common complaint that I get is that all these platforms are saturated now, blogging, YouTube, podcasting. What is your response to that and how do you get your students to kind of stand out with their platforms?

Daniel: I mean that is correct, it is saturated. I was watching a webinar last night with someone who was giving some stats on how the info product space is growing and how that’s a good thing because it shows that there is so much demand in the world, market share is going up and such and such building to our industry and all that’s true, but there are a few things to remember. There is such a thing as market share in this industry, and I do think that there are in some cases really saturated markets it’s going to be hard to stand out.

But I will tell you this, the reason why it’s hard to stand out is because people start these blogs, these podcasts, these YouTube channels, and they get up to like I think the stat on podcast is 98 from August; I’ll go back to episode six. What we’re seeing is we’re seeing all of this content but not a lot of follow through or consistency, and so there is this illusion of there is over saturation.

But once you get past the scrum at the bottom, really even past the first year or 18 months of creating content consistently, the air kind of thins out, it is kind of leaving the atmosphere, it’s kind of like you’re in a ray and you leave all the smog and at the top – yeah that’s true, it’s clean up there. So the key to standing out really is consistency, I always say this over and over again consistency is clarity and you need a clear message.

Look at a guy like Tony Robbins man, how many people are doing motivational speaking, a lot of them, but he’s been doing this for 30 years, so you can’t get any clearer than that. No you don’t need to wait 30 years to be successful with this, but you have to be consistent enough with the content you’re putting out and consistently are getting better and over time you will rise to the top, it’s just that most people get discouraged.

Steve: Actually that’s my philosophy; I don’t actually start anything content related unless I’m willing to do it for five years.

Daniel: That’s really, that’s boss man because that’s about the amount of effort it’s going to take and seriously rich20 has only been around for about five years now, and well now we have a book coming up, now we have this, now we have that and that’s kind of what it takes and I’m glad that it takes that long, it’s supposed to be hard.

If everyone was able to do this in six months, then it would be a waste of everyone’s time because there would be a lot more inexperienced people leading the pack, and so we need people who will pass some battle scars on.

Steve: So how do you train these people to be that patient though?

Daniel: I think that the patience is something that is like it’s self evident. The thing about the time is it’s going to pass either way, patience is a skill that you develop, but honestly the reality is like it’s a good thing that they’re going to be people around you who can’t stand the wait. You have to develop your patience by falling in love with the craft, and that’s why it’s really good to pick something that you enjoy.

So there are sometimes where it’s smart to go into a market that seems like it’s hot, but if you’re not going to be able to go that five years, you’re not going to enjoy getting good at it enough to want to do it. I was reading another Facebook thread from a friend and I actually think it was Ryan Holiday and he’s like, look you shouldn’t start a podcast unless you’re going to have an interesting different angle or you’re willing to do it for a long time. Are you friends with Jordan from Art of Charm?

Steve: Yeah, we just had lunch the other day actually.

Daniel: Yeah he’s a great dude and Art of Charm has been around for ten years, ten years on a podcast, okay.

Steve: Which is even before it was popular at all actually.

Daniel: Totally and they’ve already pivoted once, they were a pick up podcast which was like a whole different type of podcast. So you’ve got to be willing to go through, there is no secret thing, it’s just this long term consistency, but he loves podcasting because he gets to talk to all these interesting people, he gets to talk to Larry King, he just had Mike Rowe on there.

Yes there are the Tim Ferriss’s of the world who go on there and get a 100 million downloads a year and a half, but Tim Ferriss also had a decade of work buying the books, so we already planned these ten years in. So that’s just what it is and so I would say five years, and if you can really figure out ten years you’re definitely going to make it, you’re 100% going to make it if you last ten years. If you can go five or ten years and you don’t make it, you’ve not been doing anything.

Steve: So that means that the people who take your class you kind of encourage them to start these blogs or content properties with stuff that they’re passionate about?

Daniel: Totally and look the thing is too here are some caveats to that, just because you start to see more success at five and ten years doesn’t mean that you can’t also be successful with that business earlier than that. Rich20 was profitable – well we started – our first product launch was 2014, it was September 2014 and we were profitable from day one and at that point we had only been in existence for like two years and change.

So obviously you can – that’s not a hard and best rule, but if you set your standard up that you’re not going to be disappointed where after two and half years you don’t see the results you want.

Steve: Sure, sure now that makes sense. You’re also Daniel?

Daniel: Yeah but you’re also Steve, we’re just people.

Steve: Okay so I’m curious like how that – because we hadn’t talked for over a year I would say on the podcast, how did the under30CEO acquisition – what was the strategy behind that, were you just trying to instantly tap into a larger audience?

Daniel: Steve I called them up and I said, what’s your number, give me a number, how much are you going to sell it for, and I said I’ll wire over the money. No, you know what Matt and Gerald have become really good friends and they have a new company now called under30experiences now really focused on travelling around the world now.

They take people on these incredible adventures where they go all over the world in different countries and they curate these experiences, and they just didn’t want to do the content game anymore and it just so happened that I love the content game and it was a good fit.

My goal with that was just to broaden my audience instantly with an audience that was a perfect fit, and I knew it was a perfect fit because it was the audience that accepted me.

Steve: Did you inherit his stuff as well or?

Daniel: No, no, no, they only had maybe like three or four people running the site but we inherited the property.

Steve: Okay got it, and the email list and social media and everything?

Daniel: The email list and the social media yeah.

Steve: All right, let’s switch gears a little bit because I do want to talk about your book. It has quite a long title I might add.

Daniel: Well there is actually a story behind that. So the title is Rich20something, the subtitle is ditch your boring day job, build another business, create the life that you love or create the best life forever. The crazy thing and you’ll see this when I send you the book and you could see that on Amazon, you go to rich20something.com, search book, you can see it, the interesting thing about that cover and this is something to keep in mind when you are seen out there and publish your first book in big culture which I know people love.

When you do that you are at the — I would say the mercy of a lot of different people’s opinions as to how you want things to look and feel, and so I actually do – I like the cover now. The idea was we wanted to create an image that looked similar to an Instagram photo because that’s one of the social media platforms I’m strong and we talked about this last time on another podcast that we did.

Steve: Right aha.

Daniel: And so we want to go for that effect and this is like the result, this cover that we have now was a result of a lot of different people’s input, and so I kind of like it now because it represents a lot of people coming together, coming up with what they thought would be cool and then kind of a result of that. And so it’s like this really big funky chunky letters which I haven’t seen before in a cover, and it wasn’t what I had originally envisioned in my head, but now that I look at, it doesn’t look like any other book out there and I think that that’s cool.

Steve: Let me ask you this and I’ve always been curious about people who write books the traditional way. So why a book and why go with a traditional publisher?

Daniel: Because I wanted to be fancy obviously, well no look can I just say point blank that I just right out of the gate that part of it is an ego thing. Part of it is an ego thing because I’ve always wanted to see my book in stores, and I had this dream since I was a kid that I would walk into Barnes & Noble and see my book on the little center table even though Barnes & Noble is becoming increasingly out of lead apparently and [inaudible 00:43:08] is already dead.

I had this dream and it was a big part of my culture growing up, my American culture, it was a big part of my life when I’m at the bookstore. So having a traditional publisher is the only way right now that you get into bookstores, so if I wasn’t going to be in bookstores for me it wasn’t an option.

But then there are also practical benefits of that and the first thing is that one you get much wider immediate distribution with a traditional publisher than you do with a self published book because they have all those mechanisms in place to send your book all over the world. So if you have an audience, when you team up with a good publisher it can multiply that effect which is really good, plus…

Steve: Are you implying like international distribution?

Daniel: Yeah international distribution which is really good and then it also allows you to get into places easier like for instance getting on national press, people take traditional publishers more seriously. We publish with Penguin Random House which is like pretty much the biggest publisher in the world, so we’re going to have access to different opportunities for press, and I’m recording my book with audible.com right now which is kind of a cool thing and it’s a big deal for me.

All those things are like credibility enhancers because whether you see us fortunately or unfortunately the best authors are still publishing traditionally, so that’s the route we want to go, and also to be honest there is a book events and bought and they gave me a good advance on that. So for me it was a kind of a no brainer and I know that there are opportunities to make more money long term by self publishing, but I thought of this first run I wanted to go traditional.

Steve: Interesting, I understand someone just got on Ebony.

Daniel: Take that entire back the whole thing, so you guys can’t see me, but I look Potolican but I’m actually black and Italian, and one of my things growing up was like, man I don’t know where I fit in, I definitely don’t feel black enough, like why can’t I grab the whim, and then a couple of days ago I got profiled in Ebony Magazine which is like the main magazine for black people which is really – it’s an interesting pretty thing, but I thought it was cool but this is another example, not a thing that I couldn’t have done it, self published, but my publisher set that up, so this is not a good example.

Steve: Okay, hey Daniel we need to wrap up here because I’ve been talking to you for quite a long time. For those people I would say who are struggling right now, they don’t have enough money for like ClickFunnels or whatever, what is – if you could just sum up everything we talked about today in like a short paragraph, how would you want these people to proceed?

Daniel: Okay so the first thing is identify the pain point that you want to solve by doing your research and then if you don’t have a lot of money and you want to get started, then you’re going to need to set aside at least a few hours a week to figure out a few of the logistical components for doing this business side.

What this is going to mean is that is that you’re going to have to spend some time, put aside some time for research, put aside some time to figure out how to set up a basic website and go from there. But the most important thing that I want you to remember is that done is better than perfect at this point, and you don’t have to have – I mean look our website is while we’re getting it redone NOB ready for the new book launch, but even our website right now with us being successful is not very impressive.

You don’t have to have the best looking videos, the best sounding podcast, the best looking website in order to get your start, and just know that people care about what it is you have to say and how you deliver it can continually improve over time as I’m sure you felt with your podcast as I know I felt with my writing and all that kind of stuff. So get started now and fall in love with the craft and over time as you get better with your craft, your delivery will also become better.

Steve: Great job Daniel, hey where can people find you online and where can they grab your book?

Daniel: If you go to rich20something.com/book you can grab my book, and if you’re so inclined as to follow me all writings around the web you can just type in a little @ symbol rich20something, I don’t know what I’m going to do in about a year and a half, but that’s another podcast.

Steve: I just want to give Daniel a quick plug here because I actually used to watch him on Periscope, I watch him on Facebook live. The dude is amazing like impromptu speaking. I feel like I could just point a camera on you and you could just talk for like an hour and not run out of stuff to say, I find that talent very amazing actually.

Daniel: You know what the secret is?

Steve: What is the secret?

Daniel: It’s having a great interviewer seriously, seriously.

Steve: Oh look at that, look at that, the praise is coming back in both. All right Daniel, thanks a lot for coming on the show man, really appreciate your time.

Daniel: Much appreciated Steve, thank you.

Steve: Hope you enjoyed that episode. Daniel was one of my favorite entrepreneurs who is both a great writer and a great speaker as well, so go check out his book right now and the link is in the show notes. For more information about this episode, go to mywifequitherjob.com/episode161.

And once again I want to thank Sellerlabs.com for sponsoring this episode. Their tool Ignite is what I use to manage my Amazon PPC campaigns. Instead of the old tedious way of generating reports and analyzing your ad campaigns in excel, Ignite aggregates all that info for you in one place and allows you to quickly visualize your data to make decisions fast.

Not only does it save time, but it also makes managing your Amazon campaigns so much easier. So head on over to sellerlabs.com/steve and sign up for a free 30 day trial, once again that’s sellerlabs.com/steve.

I also want to thank Klaviyo.com for sponsoring this episode. Klaviyo is my email marketing platform of choice for ecommerce merchants, and you can easily put together automated flows like an abandoned cart sequence, a post purchase flow, a win back campaign, basically all of these sequences that will make you money on auto pilot. So head on over to mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O and sign up, once again that’s mywifequitherjob.com/ K-L-A-V-I-Y-O to sign up for free.

And if you’re interested in starting your own ecommerce store, head on over to mywifequitherjob.com and sign up for my free six day mini course. Just type in your email and I’ll send you the course right away via email, thanks for listening.
Outro: Thanks for listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast, where we are giving the courage people need to start their own online business. For more information visit Steve’s blog at www.mywifequitherjob.com.

I Need Your Help

If you enjoyed listening to this podcast, then please support me with an iTunes review. It's easy and takes 1 minute! Just click here to head to iTunes and leave an honest rating and review of the podcast. Every review helps!
 
Share On Facebook

Ready To Get Serious About Starting An Online Business?


If you are really considering starting your own online business, then you have to check out my free mini course on How To Create A Niche Online Store In 5 Easy Steps.

In this 6 day mini course, I reveal the steps that my wife and I took to earn 100 thousand dollars in the span of just a year. Best of all, it's absolutely free!

160: A Deep Dive Into Running Amazon Sponsored Ads With Jeff Cohen And Brandon Checketts

Share On Facebook

A Deep Dive Into Running Amazon Sponsored Ads With Jeff Cohen And Brandon Checketts

Today I’m thrilled to have both Jeff Cohen and Brandon Checketts on the show. Now Jeff has already been on the podcast in episode 120 where we talked about reviews and how to get ranked in Amazon.

But today we are blessed to have Brandon Checketts on the show as well. Brandon is actually the founder of Seller Labs and was the original programmer and developer of Feedback Genius and Ignite.

What I like about Jeff and Brandon is that they are always on the ball when it comes to Amazon and I wanted them on the show to talk about the product launch process especially in regards to Amazon sponsored ads. Enjoy the interview!

What You’ll Learn

  • How the Amazon landscape has changed since last year
  • The best way to run Amazon Sponsored product ads
  • What is a reverse ASIN lookup and how does that help
  • How to find high converting keywords immediately
  • How to run a product launch today.

Other Resources And Books

Sponsors

Ignite.Sellerlabs.com – If you are selling on Amazon and running Amazon Sponsored Ads campaigns, then Ignite from Seller Labs is a must have tool. Click here and get a FREE 30 Day Trial.
Ignite Logo

ReferralCandy.com – If you’re already getting steady orders every month, adding a refer-a-friend program to your store can give you a new sales channel. And ReferralCandy is the best in the business. Click here and get a FREE $50 credit towards your account.
referral candy

SellersSummit.com – The ultimate ecommerce learning conference! Unlike other events that focus on inspirational stories and high level BS, the Sellers Summit is a curriculum based conference where you will leave with practical and actionable strategies specifically for an ecommerce business. Click here and get your ticket now before it sells out.
Sellers Summit

Transcript

Steve: You are listening to the My Wife Quit her Job Podcast, the place where I bring on successful bootstrapped business owners and delve deeply into what strategies are working and what strategies are not with their businesses.
Today I’m thrilled to have both Jeff Cohen and Brandon Checketts from Seller Labs on the show, and between the two of these guys they have tremendous experience when it comes to selling on Amazon and they work with so many different companies to formulate their strategies. In today’s episode we delve super deep into how to run profitable Amazon sponsored ads the right way.
Now before we begin I want to give a quick shout out to Seller Labs who is a sponsor of the show, and specifically I want to talk about their brand new tool Ignite which helps sellers, you guessed it manage their Amazon sponsored ads. Now I’m excited to talk about Ignite because I’ve been using this tool to manage my own Amazon sponsored ad campaigns, and it makes things a heck of a lot more convenient.

Number one, I’ve always found it a major pain to generate my PPC reports on Amazon, cut and paste the data over to an excel spreadsheet and use pivot tables before I’m able to do any analysis. Well Ignite allows you to aggregate and visualize your data quickly right within the tool to see what keywords are working and what are not immediately, no need to manually create reports or play with excel.

Second of all unless you’re a data geek, Amazon campaign data can be hard to interpret, and what’s cool is that Ignite makes keyword and bidding recommendations on the fly that can be applied with a couple of clicks.

So let’s say one of my hankie keywords is bringing money, Ignite will alert me of that fact, and I can reduce the bid immediately. So bottom line Ignite makes managing your Amazon sponsored campaigns so much easier and the fact that they provide me with alerts means that I no longer have to monitor my campaigns like a hawk.
If there are keywords that are doing well, Ignite tells me to add them to my exact match campaigns. If my keywords are losing money Ignite tells me to either remove the keyword or to reduce the bid. So head on over to sellerlabs.com/steve where you’ll find awesome tutorials on how to run Amazon PPC ads and the opportunity to try Ignite for 30 days for free. Once again that’s sellerlabs.com/steve, now on the show.

Intro: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. We will teach you how to create a business that suits your lifestyle, so you can spend more time with your family and focus on doing the things that you love. Here is your host, Steve Chou.

Steve: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast, today I’m thrilled to have both Jeff Cohen and Brandon Checketts on the show. Now Jeff has already been on the podcast back in episode 120 where we talked about reviews and how to get ranked on Amazon, but today we are blessed to have Brandon Checketts on the show as well.
Now Brandon is actually the founder of Seller Labs and was the original programmer and developer for Feedback Genius and Ignite. Anyways things have changed dramatically since that first interview that I did with Jeff a while ago, for one thing incentivized reviews are no longer allowed which has forced a lot of people to understand how to launch a product without shortcuts and how to use Amazon sponsored product ads.

Anyways what I like about Jeff and Brandon is that they’re always on the bar when it comes to Amazon, they are the brands over at Seller Labs, and chances are if you’re selling on Amazon you’re probably using one of their awesome tools already. So for example right now I’m using Feedback Genius, and recently I’ve actually been using Scope to peer into what keywords competing products are ranking for, and I’ll probably write a blog post about that soon to report my results.

Anyways I wanted Jeff and Brandon on the show today to talk about the launch process, an up-to-date launch process especially in regards to Amazon sponsored ads. And with that welcome to the show Jeff and Brandon, how are you guys doing today?
Brandon: Great, thanks for having us on.

Jeff: Thanks Steve, thanks for having me back.

Steve: Yeah so Jeff and Brandon why don’t we start off with what has changed relatively recently and how that has affected the launch process?

Jeff: Yeah Steve, so we all know kind of what happened in October and basically for those that are not aware Amazon in October came out and said that if you’re giving products away in exchange for a review it’s now a violation of terms of service, and a lot of sellers were using this technique to get their initial sales and to drive sales to their products and to get reviews for their products.

So it leaves this problem in the world where sellers have to have reviews to get sales but they need sales to get reviews. And so today Amazon sellers have to look for new ways to kind of launch their products.

Steve: Yeah and so how has things changed, I don’t know if you remember our first interview but getting these incentivized reviews was actually a big part of that, and so how has this strategy kind of evolved over time

Jeff: So the way that I kind of describe it is there is black hat tactics, there is grey hat tactics and then there is white hat tactics, and for people that aren’t familiar black hat tactics are those that are going to get you immediately suspended. I typically don’t talk about black hat tactics, but there is a couple that I want to share because I think a lot of sellers are not completely aware of this.

If you’re a seller on Amazon you’re probably getting approached either on Skype or on Facebook or even through your seller central account being asked if you want somebody to rank you for SEO. Typically these people are coming from India and they’re making these big bold claims that they’ll rank you on page one. Most all of their tactics are black hat and are going to get you in trouble, and anything that you do with them is going to be very temporary in what’s done.

To really build a business that’s sustainable over a long period of time you need to look to build tactics in your business that are going to help your business grow and not get your business in trouble. And so I really try to caution people that these might sound very incentivizing and they might sound very attractive the first time you see them, but they’re not worth the effort or the gain that you get from them because Amazon is cracking down on them really hard.

So that kind of leaves us with this big question I like to ask, it’s WWJD, so what would Jeff do? When it all comes down to it we need to have a new way of thinking about our products and about our launch. And so I really break this down into four categories.
I break this down into reviews, sessions, conversions and ranking, and so we can kind of walk through all of this and talk about how all of this kind of builds into the launching of a product. Ultimately Steve it all starts with getting your product ranked and optimizing for that rank.

Steve: Okay, so let’s walk through the process.

Jeff: Great so to make it really simple poor listings equal poor search, and as an Amazon seller you have to look at your listing and understand what your listing is telling the Amazon algorithm. So the Amazon algorithm is a bird that’s going to look at all of the information that you give and it’s going try and match things up and it’s going to – I like to use the example of an apple slicer so I’ll stick with that one.

If I tell Amazon that my product in the title is an apple slicer and somebody searches for apple slicer, Amazon can connect my product with the buyer’s search desires, but if I call my product a fruit corer and somebody searches for an apple slicer then Amazon can’t necessarily connect what the buyer is looking for and my product. So you really have to start with optimizing for search and to keep it really simple poor listings get you poor search and good listings get you good search.

Steve: Okay and specifically what you’re talking about right now are the backend keywords and the title right now not necessarily the quality of the listing, right?

Jeff: Correct, so I like to say that we deal with quality of listing when we get to conversion, so in short if you don’t tell Amazon what your product does, it’ll never rank for that term. So this is kind of what you were alluding to when you were opening that if your product is new on Amazon you can actually use your competitor’s data to determine what keywords you actually need
to use in your listing. So how about I walk you through kind of a really simple example of that.

Steve: Yeah let’s do it.

Jeff: Okay so what I would do if I was listing a new product on Amazon is I would find my competitor and I would pull them up and I would use what’s called a reverse ASIN tool, and so you could use the tool by Scope or there is other tools that are out there, and what these tools are going to do is they are going to tell you what keywords that ASIN is ranking for. And what’s important about that is that the way Amazon’s algorithm works is that if a product is ranking really high for a keyword that means that that keyword is driving sales for that product.

So I want to use that information to help build my listing, so I can take the most important keywords from my competitor’s listings and I can use those keywords to build out my title, my bullet points, my descriptions and my backend keywords. This is feeding the Amazon algorithm all of the important information that’s necessary about my product and I’m no longer guessing what actually my product is going to – I’m not actually guessing how a user is going to describe my product, I’m using actual search terms that are driving conversion.

Steve: Okay yeah that’s really powerful. I think traditionally the way people were doing this is they were using Amazon auto campaigns to kind of mine keywords that they wouldn’t think of. I guess this is where you can kind of jump straight to see what the other competitors are using and just start using those keywords directly and kind of bypass that automated step, is that right?

Jeff: Yeah so the use of sponsored product ad auto campaigns was definitely the way that you would get competitive information in the past, but now you’re actually able to get that information before you start selling, so by being able to use that information before you start selling you can kind of bypass that whole process.
So what I recommend is that when your product sets are coming over or you’re getting ready to list them you’re waiting for Amazon to add them to the warehouse inventory that’s when you want to build your listing for rank, and that’s when you want to use your competitor keywords to build your listing because those are the most rich keywords that you can use at the beginning of your launch cycle.

Steve: Okay and once you have those keywords and assuming that you’ve created your listing correctly what is the next step, like we don’t have incentivized reviews anymore, so do we just let it organically go, or what is your advice there?

Jeff: So the next step is really to follow exactly what you said which is that you can use a tool that Amazon has called Amazon sponsored product ads to start driving traffic to your listing. There is kind of this misconception that you have to have reviews to get sales, but that’s not necessarily true. So I launched a product after October and I wanted to launch the product strictly with sponsored product ads to demonstrate that you could do this.

What I was able to do is I was able to get my first five or ten sales. Now I will be totally honest with you I actually lost money on those products because I wasn’t trying to have a profitable click to conversion ratio with my sponsored product ads, I was just trying to use Amazon’s traffic to drive sales for my products. I then followed up with my follow up sequence and was able to convert a couple of those to reviews.

Steve: Okay so your ACOS was so high that you weren’t profitable?

Jeff: Oh I think it was like 200%.

Steve: Okay, so is that necessary today like when you have no reviews obviously the sponsored ads aren’t going to be as effective, right? So are you suggesting that we should just run sponsored ads with zero reviews just to get those initial five or ten reviews on our product?

Jeff: It’s not the only way for you to launch a product but it’s definitely a way that you can launch your product, and I don’t think that you have to do a 200% ACOS to start driving sales, I think you’ll start driving sales. I don’t think people who look at sponsored products ads and click on the ad are as concerned about reviews as normal shoppers are, and so I think with zero reviews or even just one or two reviews your sponsored product ads start to work.

Steve: Okay so one thing I’ve actually started noticing is that ever since October when they banned incentivized reviews my sponsored product ad costs started increasing, I guess because people started flocking to it, right? And so in my mind at least for me I feel like we have to make more efforts in optimizing these campaigns now because everyone is flocking to these tools, are you guys seeing the same thing?

Jeff: Yeah and I think that’s why we recommend kind of a different way to run a sponsored product ad campaign, so I’m going to kind of walk you through the old way of doing it and then I’ll let Brandon kind of jump in and talk about the new way of doing it and why it’s more effective.

Steve: Okay yeah that sounds good.

Jeff: So the old way of running a campaign was that you would do what Amazon calls an auto campaign. An auto campaign is basically connecting an ASIN to a sponsored product campaign and Amazon just starts to figure out all the different keywords that a product might or might not rank for. And so if we’re using my apple slicer using an auto targeted campaign, Amazon might show my ad for a fruit cutter, they might show it for a kitchen gadget; they might show it for a pineapple slicer.

So Amazon is going to try to throw as big of a net in your auto campaign as possible. The old technique was really that you would run this campaign for seven to ten days, you would then get all of this data back, the impression data, and what’s called search term data which is the actual search term that a seller is looking for, and then you would take that data and you would use that to make your manual campaigns.

In some cases seven to ten days wasn’t enough, you needed up to 21 days to start getting enough data before you could start optimizing your campaigns. So we’ve kind of developed a different methodology that allows you to start on day one and start to run campaigns that matter, so I’ll let Brandon kind of explain that.

Steve: Actually before we jump to that just I had just a quick question about auto campaigns. We know that Amazon like the conversion rate really matters, so do these auto campaigns – sometimes they throw really random keywords, at least that’s what I’ve noticed looking though the spreadsheets. Does that actually hurt the listing by allowing Amazon to run these automated campaigns outside of just wasting money on these keywords?

Brandon: I guess the thing I’ll say rather is just try to find definitive data on whether a wrong conversion rate helps you or hurts you, but there’s definitely a higher conversion rate is definitely going to help you not just on your campaigns but on your products in general.

Steve: I guess what I’m trying to ask is by focusing on those keywords that you know are going to convert, does that help you more than just – does running auto campaigns kind of hurt you because you’re now driving traffic for these keywords that could be irrelevant?

Brandon: It’s definitely going to be more of a waste of money than doing some of those more targeted and like I said it’s hard to find definitive evidence one way or another if like your automated campaigns are using poorly targeted keywords actually hurts your campaign. It’s definitely a waste of money because you’re advertising and people are clicking on things that are not relevant and they are not likely to buy your products, and there is anecdotal evidence there’s people who would say more definitively that it does hurt your campaign or kind in the ball pack like it’s still is a little hard to tell.

Steve: Okay.

Brandon: But I see people definitely saying like yeah they definitely hurt your campaign, and I think there is cases to be made for that.

Steve: Okay so in that case let’s talk about the new methodology that you guys have.

Brandon: Yeah so the thing that we recommend doing now is to – Jeff mentioned earlier these tools are like reverse ASIN tool. Essentially what they do is that they allow you put in an ASIN of either your product or a competitor’s products, and it’ll tell you all the keywords or the user search terms that that product ranks for. So using a tool like that against all [inaudible 00:17:18] one called Scope and there’s other ones out there, but they really tell you like what keywords or what user search terms people are looking for.
If something ranks really well for one of those keywords those are generally will be pretty effective terms for you to use in your advertising, and so you can really just narrow really quickly on what really works.

Steve: Can we talk a little bit about how such a tool would work, like how do you know what people are searching for, for all the different products on there? You guys have a tool, right, so how does it work?

Brandon: Yeah it’s actually really complicated technical challenge because we have to perform searches on like 80 something million keywords, and then go through and find out the results for those and then save all the results then go look backwards in the database, look up a product and see which keywords it ranked for.

Steve: Okay, okay so you guys actually…

Brandon: It’s really technical.

Steve: You guys just actually type in keywords and then make note of what’s ranking for what and then just keep all that in a database, right?

Brandon: Yeah that’s not too hard, if you say like that it doesn’t sound very complicated but try to do that at scale across 80 million keywords it’s a challenging work.

Steve: Oh yeah I was just trying to simplify it for the listeners, if we get too technical then – yeah, okay.

Brandon: It’s not very hard to do, you can arbitrarily you would do it but the problem is like we don’t know where those keywords are ahead of time, so we have to kind of go through all of them.

Jeff: Yeah so a seller – Steve a seller could actually do this manually on their own, they could go to Amazon and type in the keyword and look at what results are coming up, but what we’re able to do is actually by looking at so many keywords we’re able to tell you what keywords are actually being used that you would never think of. So you might not ever think of calling your apple slicer a fruit corer and that’s kind of the advantage that you can get by looking at the data in a whole.

So most sellers are probably used to tracking keywords in their keyword position, that’s a tactic that’s been used by sellers for a very long period of time, but that’s only tracking keywords that you know you want to track. What we’re able to do through our methodology is actually track 80 million plus keywords, and so we’re tracking keywords that you’ve never thought of and actually able to suggest keywords to you that you should be including in your campaigns or in your listings that are actually driving sales for your competitors.

Steve: Okay so once – like assuming that all these tools work really well and I have a set of keywords, then would I just bypass that automated step all together, then the auto campaign?

Brandon: Yeah we’ve seen a lot of people just bypass that all together. In general we recommend you can still run an automatic targeted campaign because they tend to do gather a little bit of data but I would use that as the primary source of things. It’s really easy just to start with those focused keywords that we already know are ranking and they perform a lot better than automatic targeted campaign does.

We see a lot of sellers that do, if you go that automatic targeted route like it can take you 7 to 30 days in some cases to gather some relevant data and costs hundreds of dollars in the meantime just spending money experimenting with keywords. So we really short cut on both time and money by using modern tools.

Steve: So let’s go a little bit more specific now, so let’s say I had these keywords, do you suggest doing phrase match, exact match, like how would you set up your campaign from the start assuming this is like a brand new product?

Jeff: Yes so what I would suggest is that you jump in and you start with a broad match. So you want to use Amazon’s – let me explain broad phrase and exact for people that don’t understand, that’s probably a good place to start. So Amazon has three what we call manual match types, broad, phrase and exact and broad is if you consider broad like on the far left it’s going to be the
most open of all the categories.

And so if I’m using the word apple slicer it’s going to use words like apple cutter, red cutter for slicing apple, slicer for cutting apple, it’s going to look at terms with my keyword before, middle and after. Phrase is going to keep my term apple slicer together, and exact is only going to look at that actual term. It might add a misspelling or a plural or something like that.

So what you want to do is use your competitor’s keywords and one of the tricks that we’ve kind of identified is that you want to make sure the keywords do not overlap, and that’s kind of a big thing that we’ve been sharing with our customers. So when you look at what I call overlapping keywords, if you have an apple cutter and you have an apple slicer, those are not overlapping keywords, but you wouldn’t also want to include the word apple cutter slicer because that’s an overlapping keyword and it’s going to steal impressions.

So you want to take these keywords and you want to put them all in to the broad match type and now you want to start running your campaigns and letting Amazon tell you from there what additional search terms you’re missing and which ones should move to phrase and exact. So you are essentially bypassing the whole first step that you were doing before.

Steve: It’s more like a structured automated campaign so to speak, meaning you’re starting with the baseline?

Jeff: That’s a really good way to explain it and I think what Brandon was trying to explain earlier is that we don’t suggest that you stop doing auto targeting campaigns, but you want to get your broad match campaign really going first and then you want to look at your auto targeted campaign maybe a little bit more down the road to find some additional keywords, because you’re going to keep the bid on that really small at that time.

Steve: Okay and then when you mentioned non overlapping keywords what did it mean by stealing impressions, does that imply that you’re competing against yourself?

Jeff: I’ll let Brandon kind of give a technical explanation to that.

Brandon: Yeah one of the things we see people do is with the advent of these reverse ASIN tools, one of the tactics we saw people using initially was I might have found 400 keywords that my products ranks for, or my competitor’s product ranks for and they just take all those to the sponsored product campaign and then they start running ads on them. But what ends up happening is a lot of these keywords will be specified, only end up getting one or two or five or ten clicks, and so your budget gets spread out among so many keywords that it’s hard to figure out which ones are working and which ones are irrelevant just because there’s not enough density of clicks on any one of them.

Steve: Okay I see.

Brandon: So what we’re trying to do and tell people to use like the non overlapping keywords, what we’re really trying to do is like figure out the more broad keywords that you can get more data and more impressions and more clicks around, so that you can make better data decisions on those things. So instead of saying like I had five clicks on that and one sale, you might roughly think that’s a 20% conversion rate, but mathematically it’s a little bit hard to say that because five clicks is just not enough data to really figure out your conversion rate as on a large scale.

So if you can densify those around broader keywords and you can get keywords that have 15 or 20 or 50 clicks around them, you can make a lot better data driven decisions at that level.

Steve: Does that imply then that the phrases that you should be entering in to Amazon should be like relatively short ones like two or three words at most?

Brandon: That’s probably the case in most things, it depends on the size of your niche, and I like our use case of the word apple slicer in this case because this is part of what comes back to a little bit of art to this. If we want to go very broad we could just say apple but then the human intelligence will tell us apple is going to be a very poor performing keyword because there are so many searches for apple, they are probably intending to buy an apple branded phone or iPad or something.

So you have to figure out how to use your human intelligence along with the data in this case to figure out like apple slicer is probably a good search term, it’s going to have enough velocity without being too niche, but if I start specifying apple slicer red, that’s going to probably drive down – it’s going to make it a lot more specific and get a lot fewer impressions and clicks on that.

Steve: Just to clarify for the listeners, so apple slicer if we bid on that on a broad match whatever Amazon will come up with would contain apple and slicer but in any order in the entire phrase?

Brandon: Yeah that’s correct, that’s kind of the definition of a broad match is that it will take the words you specify in any order along with any other words in there as well.

Jeff: Steve to add, for those that are visual learners we’ll give you a piece that you can attach in to your show notes that’ll give people a kind of a visual representation of auto versus broad versus phrase versus exact, so they can kind of see how all of these kind of work in with one another.

Steve: Okay yeah I’m just trying to clarify all these terms for the listeners just in case they don’t have a strong grasp, but yeah that would be an excellent resource that I’ll attach for sure.

Jeff: Yeah and Steve I think this is where it really comes down to understanding sponsored product ads is really understanding that it’s both an art and a science. Steve was joking before we started hitting the record button and he might throw some of this back end, but Brandon and I play off of each other, because Brandon is much more of the science kind of guy, so he’s looking for the hard science behind something to make a decision.

The whole idea of overlapping keywords is that if you don’t have enough data you can’t make a decision, but there is also a real art to a lot of this which is that everybody has to kind of decide how much data they need to make a decision, because to get statistically correct you need a lot of data, and so a lot of the methodologies that are taught aren’t necessarily based on statistical correctness, they are just based on a little bit of gut and a little bit of science.

So as a seller is learning to master sponsored product ads they really have to realize that this is not a part of Amazon or a part of selling that you can set and forget, so when you’re doing your follow up email reviews, you come in and you set that whole process up and you move on and you deal with something else. Sponsored product ads do require the seller to understand their own product, understand the numbers and to keep checking on them on a somewhat regular basis, so it’s not something that needs daily attention, but it is something that needs to be looked at on a regular basis.

Steve: I think it can be interesting since you guys are kind of yening yang, then we can use the apple slicer example. It would be interesting to see how both you guys approaches would be different for the apple slicer, and where you guys would differ in terms of the gut versus the data. So how would you guys proceed, so which keywords would you bid first on apple slicer, and then what would be like your process for refining the campaign?

Jeff: We’ve probably been working together for too long on the term apple slicer that will be, but I’ll go first and then let Brandon kind of correct me. So I did exactly what Brandon said, the first time I ran a campaign I went and I did a reverse ASIN, look up for ten of my competitors, I did a duplication of all of the lists, I put all the keywords into a broad match campaign and I let them run looking for the data to kind of give me the answer.

I had a lot of overlapping keywords that were stealing impressions from one another and to be quite honest with you I had a frustration point where I basically took the whole campaign and I threw it away because the data wasn’t making any sense to me, and I just didn’t feel like I had the time and the energy to continue to do it. So the idea of the overlapping keywords makes a lot of sense and as I cleaned up my campaign with the removal of overlapping keywords, I was able to get more data.

But it still provides a big hole in my mind because the data is not conclusive, and so I’m willing to take action on things that have a lot less clicks, I’ll take action on something that has between five and ten clicks and choose to move it to a broad or an exact match. I think that’s probably the biggest area where Brandon and I differ.

Steve: I want to take a moment to thank ReferralCandy for being a sponsor of the show. Now in this day and age word of mouth is a huge driver of business for most ecommerce stores, and the best way to amplify word of mouth marketing is through a referral program. This is where ReferralCandy shines, with just a couple of clicks of the mouse you could add a referral program to your ecommerce store and reward your customers for telling their friends about your shop.

And this tactic works wonders; and in fact it is not uncommon to get a ridiculous return on investment. So for example Greats Footwear, who is a ReferralCandy customer, is currently seeing a 20X ROI. Referral word of mouth marketing is also useful for building up your social media presence as well, because everyone is talking about your company with their friends on Facebook and Twitter.

And the best part is that ReferralCandy is a set it and forget it service, requires no technical setup and they are giving My Wife Quit Her Job listeners 50 bucks to try them out if you go to promo.referralcandy.com/steve. Once again it’s promo.referralcandy.com/steve to get a $50 credit to try out the service risk free. Now back to the show.
I’m just curious like if you could out spend your problem, like if you put more budget on a daily basis, could you bid on more overlapping keywords and still get the data that you need, or does it not work that way?

Brandon: Yeah there is some point to that, you definitely could but you also can’t create impressions on Amazon like there is only so many people searching for things, so just because you spend – you have a higher bid or a higher budget doesn’t mean that you can create 1000 people searching for something in a day, you are limited by actual search line.

Steve: So to kind of redefine these overlapping impressions what it’s basically doing is it is diluting your data set across a bunch of similar keywords so that it is harder to collate the data, right?

Brandon: Yeah so if you go back to – and just examples like a really good case for when I was looking at his campaign he had done all like 200 keywords or something in there and a lot of them would have two clicks three clicks and maybe you have three clicks and one sale, maybe we’d have three clicks and zero sales. Statistically I look at that and I can’t really tell statistically the difference between the two.

And Jeff was more of like I’ll take a look at it, and three clicks and with zero sales might mean I’m going to turn that one off and set it as a negative keyword. When you spread yourself out like among all those keywords you’re kind of forced to either make those decisions early or wait a really long time and spend a bunch of money along the way.

Steve: So there is no upper limit on the number of keywords you would suggest when starting out, just make sure that they aren’t overlapping, right?

Jeff: I think we’ve evolved in our recommendations and I think that when you’re really getting started try to target between 50 – so campaign organization, we’ve defined three areas of success for sponsored ads. Campaign organization is number one, we can talk a little bit about that because we haven’t really mentioned that, keyword selection is number two and then optimization is number three.

So when you’re doing your initial broad match campaign maybe you shoot for like 50 to 100 keywords. I don’t know that today I would go for 200 or 300 or even 1000 keywords because more is not better. Amazon still treats those broad match terms and finds the actual search terms. So there is a difference, there is a keyword which is the term that I’m telling Amazon that I want and there is a search term, that’s the term that the buyer is actually using to find the product.

If I find the right 50 or so keywords and I put them in the broad match I’m still going to get hundreds and hundreds of search terms based on those keywords, and so I would rather let Amazon really define the search term without having the overlap than trying to define all of those myself so that I can get to the optimization faster because that’s where you start to save yourself money.

Steve: Okay so that being said let’s say we do have statistically significant data, what is the next step?

Brandon: I guess we will again set sort of an optimized phase of that, so you got a campaign set up, you got a number of keywords, you’re collecting data. Once you got some good data on there then – I mean the optimization steps…

Steve: Actually let’s define good data, actually let’s define statistical significance first, how do you know when a keyword is good that you want to actually do something about it?

Brandon: This could sound to maybe a mathematical question, there’s a mathematical maybe definition, there’s more of a practical definition. So I think we like to see around 50 to 100 clicks to get started to get you a relevant number of clicks. If you can see 100 clicks and zero sales I would say you would be pretty confident that’s a poor performing keyword, but if you can see 50 clicks with few sales you can have a little bit more confidence than if you had fewer numbers of clicks.

So the more clicks you have on stuff the better confidence you can have in conversion rates and that’s your ACOS and all those other metrics.

Steve: So your data is or your statistical significance metrics are based on clicks and not necessarily conversions, is that correct?

Brandon: Yeah the number of clicks after somebody clicked on something they either convert or not, so if you have say I’ll just use 100 clicks is a nice round number, 100 clicks and ten sales off of that you got a pretty good idea your conversion rate is going to be around 10%, it might be a plus or minus a little bit around there, but it’s probably going to be on that 10% rage.

Jeff: So are you looking at ACOS at this point or are you looking at conversion rate?

Brandon: I would typically make most decisions around ACOS, the nice thing about ACOS is it kind of bundles into there the actual cost for click as well, so some keywords might perform really poorly, but they also might be really, really inexpensive. So the ACOS is kind of a nice metric because it kind of takes into account both your conversion rate and the cost per click.

Jeff: Okay can I stop you guys for a second?

Steve: Yes.

Jeff: You guys are geeking out a little bit, so ACOS is the advertising cost of sale because I don’t think we defined that.

Steve: Yes that’s a good job Jeff, keep us in line man.

Jeff: Yeah and this is kind of where we were talking about Brandon and I ying ying yeng. So one of the challenges is that ACOS is not really defined inside of Amazon, and inside sponsored product ads. It’s not done at the search term level that allows the seller to make quality decisions, am I right Brandon?

Brandon: I think the search term report actually reports ACOS and so that’s data, I don’t know that Amazon kind of defines it in a couple of places. We can get a little specific definition you want to go there but in general it’s just kind of an overall performance of the keyword and you think about [inaudible 00:36:31] like it’s a well rounded one because it takes into account conversion rates and cost per click. It’s a good sort of in metric to look at.

Jeff: Yeah I think what I was trying to say sorry was that it’s a number that you can get to within the report but you have to download those reports; you have to build pivot tables off of those reports to be able to take action off of that data. It’s a little bit challenging in the current interface of sponsored product ads to use ACOS as a metric.
This is also where I differ from Brandon because Brandon is very scientific and he says 50 to 100 clicks and I look at heaven I say I’ve been running my campaign for four months on one of my new products and I still don’t have 50 clicks on some of my search terms. So I’m willing to take action on things with a lot less clicks, I’m willing to take action on things with five to ten clicks and start making decisions because I might not get to a statistical relevance with some of my number. That’s where the art of this comes in and it’s not just a straight science.

Steve: Interesting so you’ll make decisions off of five or ten clicks assuming there is a conversion in there, right?

Jeff: Correct, so if I have ten clicks with no conversions I might lower my bid. If I have ten clicks with one conversion I might move it to a phrase match, if I have ten clicks with three conversions I might move it straight to an exact match. So I’m willing to take less data and make action on it because I can still redefine what I do in those other categories, I’m just trying to kind of pull out broad when I can make a decision.

So if I have ten clicks with no actions I might look at the number of impressions, I might look at the keyword and decide if I need to make it negative or just lower the bid. So that’s really where the art of this comes in because there are so many different things you can do to start optimizing a campaign. You can create negative keywords, you can lower bids, you can increase bids, you can move things from broad to phrase, phrase to exact, those are all the different things that you can start to do when you start looking at campaign optimization.

Steve: So a couple of things I just want to summarize based on what you just said Jeff. I actually have a post that shows you how to extract the reports manually from Amazon, it is quite a tedious process and it does involve excel, but ACOS is the number that I tend to look at. But in terms of what you were just talking about Jeff like making these decisions like let’s say you do find a keyword that is working for you, you mentioned a bunch of things, but what would be your next step, and how would you determine what that next step will be once you find that keyword that works?

Jeff: So if I find a keyword that works and it’s kind of working, then I’m going to move it to a phrase match and I’m going to try to find other phrases that that keyword is on, and when it’s in the phrase match I’m going to bid more. So I’m not going to necessarily remove the keyword, I’m moving the search term, not the keyword, I’m moving the search term from broad to phrase and I could potentially negative that keyword in the broad. But if my phrase match has a higher bid then that will kind of take over the idea of stealing impressions.

So a typical campaign organization is going to have your highest bid with exact and then phrase and then broad. Sometimes you can get cheaper clicks in either phrase or an exact match, and if you start to get cheaper clicks then you want to negative the keyword in broad or negative the search term in broad so that your phrase match is getting the click not your broad match.

Steve: It’s interesting that you say that you don’t negative it right away and you just rely on the higher bid, is that something that you always do?

Jeff: I don’t always – this is where the science — the art comes in. I don’t always do it; some of it is a little bit of a gut and a little bit of a decision. So to be honest we use a system now that has built in some intelligence and can make some recommendations to us so that we don’t have to use the pivot tables, but back in the day of kind of using the excel spreadsheets and the pivot tables, I would probably take a little bit more of a hard line and when I move something from broad to phrase I would negative it in broad just to kind of clear it out and keep my data clean.

Steve: Okay just to summarize this for the listeners, the reason Jeff would put the phrase or the exact match keywords as negatives in the broad campaign is so that you don’t end up bidding on both the broad campaign and the phrase or exact match campaign.

Jeff: Or bid against yourself.

Steve: Or bid against yourself yeah exactly. Brandon I’m curious what your perspective is on this.

Brandon: From my perspective as a software developer I’d say it’s much easier to always do something than just remember what you did and what you didn’t do, so I don’t see any harm in setting it as a negative keyword. So I would suggest every time you move something from broad to phrase you might as well set the phrase as a negative match on the broad campaign, there is no harm and it kind of shows that you do what you intend.

Steve: And when you’re deciding like what to bid, what are some guidelines, like say you found this working keyword like how much do you up the bid?

Brandon: So the bid is just a mathematical decision, besides most people have like some target ACOS for all they’re trying to hit, whether that is 30% or 100% depends on your products, but if you’ve got a goal of 30% and you know the conversion rate is whatever maybe 15%, you can do some math and figure out exactly what the appropriate bid is.

Steve: And like the follow up question to that is you just mentioned a 30% ACOS, let’s just assume that most people on Amazon have a 66% margin, which basically means that 30% ACOS is almost break even right, what is your philosophy on that, do you try to just break even in hopes that Amazon will just bring you more organic sales, or do you actually try to make a significant profit on your Amazon sponsored ads?

Brandon: Well it’s different concepts for different phases of your products, different things, so I would say there’s definitely some sort of halo effect that goes on, it’s pretty well understood I guess if you use sponsored products to drive sales that you will rank better organically and thus sell more organically as well. So that’s a very common strategy is just to at least break even on your sponsored product sales and understand that you’re going to rank better somehow organically for the halo effects. That’s a really common thing we see.

Jeff: What Brandon is saying there is if you’re launching your product that’s where you might want to consider your ACOS even being 100% and being okay, that’s the same as kind of the old incentivized review, you’re giving your product away for free. If you have a mature product and you’re just trying to grow your sales, then you might be looking at whatever profit margin you want from that and if you’re trying to maintain your rank or even increase your rank, then that’s where you might want to go more to that break even. So it kind of depends on what your goals are within your business.

Steve: Okay, we’ve talked a lot about – we’ve gone to a lot of specifics in terms of running the campaign, I’m just curious how often you guys monitor your broad campaigns to pick out these keywords?

Jeff: No more than…

Brandon: Most people do it probably once a week or every other week is kind of a good case or what were you going to say there Jeff?

Jeff: I was going to say no more than once a week, I think that one thing that sellers do is try to over optimize their campaign, and they want to look at it daily and you really have to let the data tell you what the answer is.

Steve: I’m kind of the opposite to be honest with you guys like I don’t look at it very often at all, I peak at it just to make sure the ACOS isn’t out of control, because I find that it is kind of tedious to kind of monitor all the different keywords because of all these different steps. Is that what you guys are finding as well?

Brandon: If you go down to that route of downloading reports and putting it on pivot tables I can see that that will be super tedious to do over and over again.

Steve: I’m just curious I mean you guys talk to a lot of sellers, is that what people do right now?

Jeff: I think a lot of sellers start sponsored product ads, they run it for some period of time, they were probably running an auto targeted campaign, they lost total track of what to do when trying to download their reports. They looked at it from a very, very high level, they determined that it was either profitable or not profitable and they turned it off.
I think there is a next set of people who were learning how the data works and went into some optimization and then there are a small group of people who have learned how to terribly kill it if you will.

Steve: Okay, I’m going to attempt to kind of summarize our entire 40 minute discussion up to this point, and you guys can just poke holes in case I’m saying something wrong. But it sounds like the first step is to use a tool like Scope and do a reverse ASIN, find out what keywords are ranking for some of the best selling products, and then include those search terms in a broad campaign to start out with.

Make sure you’re not using overlapping keywords and then gather some data and depending on whether you’re Jeff or Brandon you can use your gut or go straight on statistical significance, find out the keywords that are converting and then start refining them into phrase or exact match campaigns, increase the bid on those so you dominate those keywords, meanwhile putting those in negatives for your broad campaigns, rinse and repeat.

Jeff: Yes, but I’ll give three things on that. One is that don’t optimize too early, so make sure you get your initial data, don’t over collect and don’t over optimize, and I think that you have to let that data kind of collect and sit and get to some type of level to make a decision. So if you make a decision on a keyword today, you have to basically restart your timer if you will and let more data collect before you make the next decision. You can’t come in tomorrow and change that same keyword or search term.

Steve: Okay and one thing I didn’t touch upon was the increase in bid, what was the methodology there, like let’s say you’ve found a good keyword, like how much would you up your bid for example in the apple slicer case?

Brandon: So I think up it by around 20%, if something is performing really well, 10 to 20% is a nice way to make proper bid. If you raise it by 10 or 20% and it’s still performing well you can keep raising a little bit. At some point it doesn’t make sense to increase, if your bid increases way beyond what your cost for click is you’re probably already behind and increasing your bid more beyond that doesn’t do you much good.

Steve: How often do you check, so at some point like your ACOS might be out of control too, so how long do you wait before checking?

Brandon: At the beginning weekly or biweekly patterns is pretty useful and works well for a lot of people, so checking it once every week or every other week. It’s pretty good to check into – obviously if you’re spending tens of thousands of dollars a month on your campaigns you might want to check into it more frequently, but if you’re spending $100 a month you don’t have to do it as often. So it depends on your business model and your risk tolerance level there, but the more you spend on the product the more often you want to check on it I suppose.

Steve: Okay as I mentioned before like one of the reasons why I don’t monitor that often is because it’s tedious. So I want to give you guys the opportunity, I mean I really thank you guys for coming on the show today, but I did want to give you guys an opportunity to talk about your latest tool that kind of automates the process. So go ahead and describe how it helps and how it simplifies this entire process.

Brandon: So I guess I’ll start off from the sciency side, so from a sciency data driven guy I find it really intriguing to go through and like learn about all this stuff and then make algorithms to help the computer implement it. So that’s essentially what our tool does, it takes most of the best practices that we learn from talking with people, from talking with our sellers, talking with customers who bought it, it takes all those for the best practices I think including all those steps we just talked about earlier in this show, and it kind of makes it so you can organize your campaign center in like the best way and automates and makes suggestions around all these same things that just talked about.

Steve: So by suggestions, that implies that I don’t even have to look at the data for the keyword like it will just tell me what keyword is doing well then I can click a button and move that to an exact or phrase match campaign?

Brandon: Yeah Jeff tell him the specifics, we’ve got the data geek version or the Jeff version or the Brandon version.

Steve: For this question by the way I have not used this tool yet, I plan on using it, I’ll probably report my results on the blog but – sorry Jeff I didn’t mean to interrupt, go for it.

Jeff: No you’re okay, so I think that the way that Ignite works, so the Seller Labs tool is called Ignite, and if you look at it from just a straight Amazon seller experience we connect to either an existing campaign or you can create a new campaign. We attach that campaign to your product, we give you suggestions of keywords, so we can actually help you make the keyword suggestions, we do the duplication for you, and we start running your campaign.

It’s all integrated directly in with Amazon sponsored product ads, so there is no more need to kind of look at something on an excel spreadsheet and then go back in to managing your campaigns. Then all of our managed campaigns, the Ignite managed campaigns have suggestions built in to them. So as the data becomes statistically accurate and you actually have a control over what we call the confidence of our recommendation, we make suggestions to either add a bid, decrease the bid, move something from broad to phrase, broad to exact, add negative keywords, archive a keyword because it’s not performing.

So we look at all of these things and we really optimize your campaign based on the ACOS that you define for your campaigns. So you come in and when you set up the campaign you tell us I’m shooting for a 20% or a 40% ACOS, and then all the suggestions that we make are based on the ACOS that you’ve told us that you’re targeting.

So what sellers really like about our tool is that you don’t have to download search term reports anymore and do all the pivot tables, we actually have all the detailed search term reports in our tool, and if you’re kind of the more data geeky guy you can dive into that data and take action right from those reports inside our tool.

Steve: Okay, I mean one thing that I find extremely tedious about PPC is you’re running these broad campaigns and there is going to be phrases that you want in your negatives and it’s really tedious to go through and add those negatives. Does your tool actually add those negatives or ask me where I just click the button and just throw those into the negatives in the campaign?

Brandon: Yes, so we’d actually paused down those search term reports automatically and you can browse through them and there is a call, there’s an actions button over the left hand side that you can choose to set up those negative keywords just right there.

Steve: Okay yeah that would be profoundly useful for someone who does this. Guys thanks a lot for your time. If anyone wants to find you guys or check out your tools, where can they find you.

Brandon: The best way to do it is just go to sellerlabs.com is our website; we’ve got a bunch of these resources around sponsored products at sellerlabs.com/ppc, it’s got a page on, it’s got some blog posts, some of our videos we’ve done about it and links to some resources about it including a link to sign up for a trial of Ignite.

Steve: Yeah for everyone listening out there I’ve actually used scope and I find that Scope is a tool that allows you to do the reverse ASIN look up on the keywords, and I actually look forward to try Ignite and report on my results.

Jeff: Yeah we would love for you to give it a try and be able to report on what you’re currently doing versus using the tool. Anyone can go to sellerlabs.com/ppc, have a whole host of resources there to learn more, we covered a lot of terminology so if you’re kind of new and you got lost, there is a lot of terminology definitions on that page. We also get into some of the methodology and we break these down into some of the individual components.

I think ultimately this probably wasn’t the most exciting podcast for people to listen to, but sponsored product ads are clearly something that all sellers on the Amazon platform need to understand, and they are becoming more and more important to how you overall run your business and for your overall product success.
If you’re not running product ads and it’s not part of your current vision, then you’re really missing out on a significant potential revenue source in the Amazon platform because they do dedicate a lot of space to the sponsored ads on the mobile side, the application side as well as the desktop side for Amazon.

Steve: Yeah, hey Jeff I’m going to have to disagree with you there, I think the listeners the reason they listen to the podcast is to get like really in-depth and nitty-gritty on the stuff, and I think we did a pretty good job of that today.

Jeff: Yeah I think we did. Sometimes Brandon and I have to – we hang up from these things and we say well did we go too far, did we not explain enough things. So yeah give us feedback, let us know if we didn’t go deep enough and you want us to go deeper, share that and we’ll keep an eye on the blog notes and comments there as well.

Steve: And for sure like I always do these case studies, so I’ll be definitely doing a case study on this just to kind of report on my results at some point, but yeah thanks a lot both to you for coming on the show. I learned a lot and I’m sure the listeners will get a lot of value out of this.

Jeff: Hey Steve, how about I give away a six months free trial of Ignite for people that have listened all the way through to the end and now know about it.

Steve: Yeah that sounds good, when this goes out I will create a contest in fact and that would be great man, that sounds like a great giveaway.

Jeff: Okay so you can kind of decide how to pick the winner and we can have them post or something and pick a winner and we’d be happy to do that.

Steve: Yeah that will sound great. Thanks guys.

Hope you enjoyed that episode. As you can probably tell Jeff and Brandon really know their stuff and we kind of geeeked out on Amazon ads, and if you also couldn’t tell this episode was recorded a while back and I’ve since been using their tool Ignite to manage my campaigns. For more information about this episode, go to mywifequitherjob.com/episode160.

And once again I want to thank Sellerlabs.com for sponsoring this episode. Their tool Ignite is what I use to manage my Amazon PPC campaigns. Instead of the old tedious way of generating reports and analyzing your ad campaigns in excel, Ignite aggregates all that info for you in one place and allows you to quickly visualize your data to make decisions fast.

Not only does it save time, but it also makes managing your Amazon campaigns so much easier too. So head on over to sellerlabs.com/steve and sign up for a free 30 day trial, once again that’s sellerlabs.com/steve.

And if you’re interested in starting your own ecommerce store, head on over to mywifequitherjob.com and sign up for my free six day mini course. Just type in your email and I’ll send you the course right away via email, thanks for listening.

Outro: Thanks for listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast, where we are giving the courage people need to start their own online business. For more information visit Steve’s blog at www.mywifequitherjob.com.

I Need Your Help

If you enjoyed listening to this podcast, then please support me with an iTunes review. It's easy and takes 1 minute! Just click here to head to iTunes and leave an honest rating and review of the podcast. Every review helps!
 
Share On Facebook

Ready To Get Serious About Starting An Online Business?


If you are really considering starting your own online business, then you have to check out my free mini course on How To Create A Niche Online Store In 5 Easy Steps.

In this 6 day mini course, I reveal the steps that my wife and I took to earn 100 thousand dollars in the span of just a year. Best of all, it's absolutely free!

159: Larry Kim On How To Run Profitable Google Adwords Campaigns

Share On Facebook

Larry Kim On How To Run Profitable Google Adwords Campaigns

Larry is the founder and CTO of Wordstream and Mobile Monkey which is a service that develops online marketing software and helps companies optimize their PPC ad campaigns.

He is considered one of the most influential PPC experts in the world and he’s a frequent blogger for Search Engine Land, MOZ, Search Engine Journal and other top business publications.

In this episode, you will learn about how he started Wordstream and how to run profitable PPC campaigns the right way.

What You’ll Learn

  • How Larry came up with the idea to start Wordstream
  • How to run a brand new PPC campaign for an ecommerce store
  • How Larry leverages content to run profitable ads.
  • The common mistakes that people make with Google Adwords
  • How to raise your quality score
  • How leverage RLSA

Other Resources And Books

Sponsors

Ignite.Sellerlabs.com – If you ar