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220: Why I’m Giving Away $50,000

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220: What Is The 5 Minute Pitch?  Meet The Judges For My New Show

Scott Voelker of The Amazing Seller, Greg Mercer Of Jungle Scout, Mike Jackness of EcomCrew and I are launching a brand new show called The 5 Minute Pitch. What is the 5 Minute Pitch?

It’s a Shark Tank like show where we’ll be giving away 50,000 dollars to one lucky business. 32 companies will be selected to pitch Greg, Scott, Mike and I and the winner will be selected on a live show with all of us.

It’s going to be an awesome show and we’re going to start filming in the fall.

If you are interested in submitting your business, head on over to 5MinutePitch.com.

Click Here To Sign Up For The Chance To Win $50,000

What You’ll Learn

  • How to become a contestant on 5MinutePitch
  • The judges criteria for picking the winner
  • How to become a sponsor of the show
  • The details of how the contest is going to work

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

Privy.com – Privy is my tool of choice when it comes to gathering email subscribers for my ecommerce store. They offer easy to use email capture, exit intent, and website targeting tools that turn more visitors into email subscribers and buyers. With both free and paid versions, Privy fits into any budget. Click here and get 15% OFF towards your account.
Privy

Pickfu.com – Pickfu is a service that I use to get instant feedback on my Amazon listings. By running a quick poll on your images, titles and bullet points, you can quickly optimize your Amazon listings for maximum conversions. Click here and get 50% OFF towards your first poll.

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’re listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast, the place where I bring on successful bootstrapped business owners and dig deep into what strategies they use to grow their businesses. And today I’ve got Scott Volker of the Amazing Seller, Greg Mercer of Jungle Scout, and Mike Jackness of EcomCrew to talk about a brand new show that we are all launching together this fall. It’s called the 5 Minute Pitch, and it’s a Shark Tank like show where we’ll be giving away $50,000 to one lucky business. And in today’s podcast episode, we’re going to talk about the criteria for the companies that we will be selecting along with more details about the show.

But before we begin, I want to give a quick shout out to Privy who is a sponsor of the show. Privy is the tool that I use to build my email list for both my blog and my online store. Now, what does Privy do? Well, Privy is an email list growth platform and they manage all of my email capture forms. And I use Privy hand in hand with my email marketing provider. Right now I’m using Privy to display a cool wheel of fortune pop-up. Basically a user gives their email for a chance to win valuable prizes in our store. And customers love the gamification aspect of this, and when I implemented this form email sign ups increased by 131%.

Now bottom line, Privy allows me to turn visitors into email subscribers, which I then feed to my email provider to close the sale. So head on over to Privy.com/Steve, and try it for free. And if you decide you need some of the more advanced features, use coupon code MWQHJ For 15% off. Once again that’s P-R-I-V-Y.com/Steve.

I also want to give a quick shout out to Klaviyo who is also a sponsor of the show. And I’m always blessed to have Klaviyo as a sponsor because they are my email marketing platform that I personally use for my e-commerce store, and I depend on them for over 30% of my revenues. 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. 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. 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 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 Mike Jackness, Greg Mercer, and Scotty V on the show. These three guys are my partners in crime for a brand new show that we’re starting called the 5 Minute Pitch. Now what is the 5 Minute Pitch all about? It is basically a Shark Tank like show. We will be giving away $50,000 to one lucky business. 32 companies will be selected to pitch all of us, and the winner will be selected on a live show with all of us. Anyways, in case you guys don’t know who Greg Mercer, Scott Voelker, and Mike Jackness are, we’re going to take some time today to kind of get to know the judges a little bit, their backgrounds, and how the contest works. So what up fellows?

All: Hey, hello.

Steve: So what’s interesting about the 5 Minute Pitch is that all three of us, or all four of us, I should say, have completely different personalities and backgrounds. And so Greg, why don’t you talk about how the content is going to work and how the application process looks like?

Greg: Application is open right now at 5MinutePitch.com, and it’s open to all bootstrapped online businesses. So if you’re selling physical products, or info products, or have a software company or a membership site or anything else online, and you are bootstrapped, then this competition you are eligible for. So you’re going to go online, you’re going to apply for it. We’re going to choose 32 contestants which will be narrowed down to eight. Four of those people will then fly out to pitch to us live and one winner will be chosen for the $50,000 prize.

Steve: Cool. And in terms of the criteria for the people who are applying, well, that’s Scott here, what are some of the criteria that you’re looking for in some of the brands that are going to be applying?

Scott: Yeah, I mean, my biggest thing is the people, right? The people behind the brand, what the mission is behind the brand. It doesn’t have to be like it has to be this fantastic like mission but it’s got to have some purpose, right? I want some purpose behind a brand that we’re going to be working with. And I think just, I want them to have some type of direction already. I want them to have some type of definitely forward motion, right?

Like we want some movement, since we’re here we can turn some dials and flip some switches to make their business even better. But I want them to, number one have a story of some kind, or the reason why they decided to do this. And then from there, I also want them to have some type of plan of what they would do with that $50,000 to help them really get that extra boost.

Steve: And what would you say is like the most important factor and what you’re looking for Scott in deciding on a winner, or who advances to the next round?

Scott: That’s a tough one. I mean, I think the one thing like I said, is I want them to have some momentum. But also I want them to have like I can see that if they did have that 50,000, or even just 50,000 and a little bit of mentorship, which we’re also going to be giving, if I’ve seen that that’s all that they really needed, that’s what I’d be looking for. Because I mean, in all honesty, we’re looking to be able to go back to these people six months or a year and say, how did it help you, and they’re like, wow, three extra, 5X to my business. And now I’ve got this business that’s grown because of being on the show and then that little bit of help, and also that extra money. So I guess that would be it.

Steve: What about you, Mike?

Mike: Yeah, I mean, Scott stole my thunder, those are definitely things we’re looking for. I’m looking at some of the other people that we looked at from the previous iteration of this, when we did this with Greg. The things that I thought that were — that really shine were personality, but it’s already covered. I mean, I think that people that resonate well with the audience that’s going to be listening to this, people that are highly motivated, that put everything on the line.

My favorite story from that was a guy that just received the six figure, a real estate commission and put all that into his product, just like all in and it was just like, he didn’t just like order a 500 sample size order, he ordered like a full container of his product. And he was just like, now I got to figure out how to sell those. Having some type of side story like that was really cool. One of the other people that got really deep in it was a couple that the guy was a military, ex military and military family had been moving around and stuff. And they had thought of this idea during that time. So having that is really cool.

As Scott was saying, having something that you could really use our help with this. I mean, not having a company that’s already super well established. We’re not looking to invest $50,000 in the company, and own five or 10% of it, or whatever it might be. This is a gift or a grant, whatever way, which way you want to look at it. And we’re looking to help someone where this is going to make a monumental difference in their business and their lives. So those are the types of things that I would be looking for.

Greg: Speaking of different personalities Steve, I’m looking for some numbers in this business. These guys are looking for the personalities behind it, and the story behind it and stuff. I want to know some numbers about your business, how you’re acquiring customers, what’s the cost per acquisition? And what are the unit economics per sales, how scalable is this, how big is the market? Those are some of the things that are going to be looking for when I’m choosing who to move on to the next round.

Mike: Yeah, it’s actually a really great point. Because I remember one of the businesses that really turned me off, one of the things that turned me off when we did this before was someone that wasn’t going to disclose some stuff. So I think you got to be ultimately like pretty transparent when you’re coming in and doing something like this.

Steve: So if you guys were to kind of rank based on your own personalities, the product, the team and the numbers, how would you rank those three in determining which business goes to the next round?

Scott: Well I think…

Mike: Go ahead, I was going to say, I’ll go first. But I’ll let you go first.

Scott: Go ahead. Go ahead. I don’t want to steal anything from you. Because I’ve got some things that you might like go, oh Scott, you stole it from me?

Mike: I only got, I said I’m to answer one of three things here. This is a simple question, but I do think ultimately, the product is probably the most important thing. I mean, as much as people are cool, it is a business. And I think that if you have something that’s really unique, and it can become a seven or eight figure business, I think the product is probably the thing that I would pick over the other stuff.

Scott: And I was going to say product.

Mike: So I wasn’t stealing your thing.

Scott: But I have something to add to that. I don’t think it’s just a product, I think its products. I think it’s figuring out other angles that you’re going to because sometimes you find that ceiling on that product, that you’re only going to be able to go so far. So if we can have other products in the product suite, or actually a plan of other ones that they want to add, but they can’t fund them for whatever reason, that actually is really important. Because now we can say, well, yeah, if they got two more skews in their lineup, their audience is going to want that.

So yes, you have to have a good product. If it’s not a good product, like we’re not going to be like, oh, yeah, like, sure your numbers are okay. But it’s not going to work because we know that it’s a trendy thing, right? It’s a fidget spinner that’s going to go away. So it’s not just the numbers, it’s actually the product, the market trend. I think so we’re looking at those things. But like Greg said, we are going to be looking at the numbers because the numbers help us decide if there’s something that can be done here or if you take the money and you apply it that you will see growth. But yeah, I do think product is a big one.

Mike: Probably the best example of how product is really important, no matter how you look at a handkerchief, you still can’t make Steve Chou cool.

Greg: I’ll have to go out and say that all you guys are wrong.

Scott: Oh, Greg just said we are wrong.

Greg: Product is the least important out of these three.

Steve: I have to agree with Greg.

Greg: The numbers are the most important, then the team, then the product. I don’t care what your product is. You can have some weird membership site or some I don’t know, like weirdo physical product. I don’t care about any of that. If you’re acquiring customers for inexpensively, they have good margins, you’re making good money on all this, the market is big enough, I don’t care what your product is. And then the team is the second most important to me, because the team are the people who are able to make this work, they are the ones that are able to acquire the customers; they are the ones that are able to sell the product. So if that product were to go where they are more likely to be able to do it again. So I say Steve, numbers, team, and number three, product.

Steve: Mm-hmm. For me, I always like to say that the first part — Okay, we didn’t go down the structure, right? The reason it’s called 5 Minute pitch is because we’re going to have 32 people and we’re going to limit their pitches to five minutes. And we’re going to do a hard cut off, and we’re all going to have buzzers and we basically buzz people into the next round. So for me, I would say the product is probably the most important in getting past the first round. But then once you get past that first round, I think it’s all about the people.

And here is why. I think even if you have a product or the numbers aren’t that great, or they should be good, but even if they aren’t the best, I think ultimately, if you have the right people, they should be able to pivot around that problem, solve all their problems in advance. So you want people at least the way I’m going to be judging it is how flexible they are, how open minded they are to try new strategies and that sort of thing to grow their business, even though they might not have the strongest product at the present time.

Scott: All right, well, wait a minute here. Wait a minute here. So, okay I’m going to challenge that Greg. So, I’m selling a fidget spinner. I’m doing awesome by the way. And that’s all I am. I’m just selling it to that audience, right? Who is the audience? I have no idea. It could be these kids spinning this thing. And yeah, I’ve got a great a great crew that can find other potential products. But I’m always chasing that product. So I don’t see the clear path. So that to me, for me personally, again, everybody’s different, that’s a little bit riskier.

I’d rather say you’re going in the bass fishing market. And in that bass fishing market, I know that now and 10 years from now, I’m going to be serving that market with these different products versus saying, like, I got to figure out that next Hatchimal thing, right? So I’m not looking at the trend necessarily, like that would for me personally, I wouldn’t want to invest in that. So, I would be challenging you that on the panel, my friend.

Steve: Just to be clear, we are not investing in any of the companies who pitch, the $50,000 prize is a gift,

Scott: That’s true. Sorry about that. Did I say, invest?

Steve: I wanted to make that clear.

Scott: Okay, but if I personally was, I meant that, I meant that if I personally was taking my money and throwing it in a business that I’d be looking at those things. But anyway, go ahead Greg.

Greg: What’s important to me is that a team has been able to find a niche or a product or whatever else and it has been able to make it successful. So for me personally, Steve talked about earlier, different personalities on the board, I don’t really care what your product is, or if I see that this is a long term niche that I think is going to be highly profitable or viable for long term. What’s more important to me is just that you’re making it work now and you’re the team that has assembled this and make it work. And just as a reminder everyone, we’re not just talking about physical products businesses here, info products, software companies, membership sites, any type of online businesses are eligible to pitch to us during the 5 Minute Pitch and we encourage you to do so.

Steve: Cool. Mike you’ve been silent here which is unusual.

Scott: He doesn’t want to get involved.

Mike: It’s your show man I’m…

Steve: I just want to take a moment to thank Pickfu for being a sponsor of the show. If you currently sell on Amazon like I do, then you know how crucial the quality of your Amazon listing is to the success of your e-commerce business. So for example, I’ve run experiments on my Amazon listings, well simply replacing the main image with a different photo resulted in a 2x increase in conversions. But how do you choose the best and highest converting photos for your listings? How do you know that you’re using the most profitable images for your products? And how do you know that your bullet points are convincing. This is where Pickfu comes in.

Pickfu allows you to solicit real human feedback about your Amazon listings in 10 minutes or less. And you can target the exact demographic of your end customer. So for example, let’s say you sell napkins and you have two main product images that you want to test. You would simply go to Pickfu, list the images, target female Amazon Prime members over the age of 35 and hit go. Within 10 minutes you’ll get feedback of which image people are more likely to buy along with specific feedback on why they made their decision.

In fact, I’ve used Pickfu to almost double the conversion rate on several of my Amazon listings by testing my images, bullet points, and product titles. And what I like about Pickfu is that you get results quickly unlike traditional split testing, and you can use this to test book covers, landing pages, basically anything. Not only that, but it’s super cheap to run a poll and right now you can get 50% off your first poll by going to Pickfu.com/Steve, once again, that’s P-I-C-K-F-U.com/Steve. Now back to the show.

Scott: So can I add one more thing?

Steve: Go for it yeah.

Scott: So, my thing is here too, and again, I think we’re all looking at this not just as collectively, we’re looking at it as if Greg was going in business with someone, what he look for and what would he feel comfortable in? Me personally, if I had someone that had a strong presence in a market, that’s really the first thing that I would look for, if I could choose. So, if someone already had a following, someone already had a list, I know I can sell them pretty much anything. It’s like you’re an influencer now in that space. So, if I’m in bass fishing, and I’m known for bass fishing, I know I can pretty much sell anything to anyone about bass fishing.

So and I honestly think that I could personally help someone at that level. Not saying that that’s the only requirement, but I’m just looking at in that direction versus of, okay, I have a team that can go out there and build this thing. So then I know that they’ll replicate it in another market. Makes sense?

Steve: So, the product doesn’t matter as much to you so much as the platform.

Scott: Yeah, yeah, I guess if they’re already doing physical products, and they’re really good at it, then yeah, what Greg is saying is 100% true, right? They can adapt that to another market for sure. But I’m looking at it as like a runway for the future for this business, right. So if they’re specialized in a certain market, because that’s what they’ve been known for and they’ve spent all that time and everything into that, that shows me that they’re going to be able to just keep going down that path. Versus them pivoting and saying, okay, now I got the money I’ve already figured out over here. Now, I’m going to figure it out over here into crochet or crocheting or whatever, right. So that’s what I’m saying. That’s the difference for me.

Mike: I think the thing that’s cool about like having this group and doing this is that we all look at things a little bit differently. And this is what made all the cool debates at the end. So I’m looking forward to getting the pitches and us debating at that stage of what makes a business worthy to move on to the next round at that point, or ultimately win. And a part of this, we’re also going to open it up to the audience. So, I think when it gets from down the eight people, we agree, we’re going to do a round of audience participation to get down to that final four so we have a little bit of everything.

So, I think that the business that ultimately wins is going to be really well rounded is what it comes down to. They’re going to have more than one competitive advantage than kind of like, they’re not going to just have a great product, but probably a great team and also have good numbers.

Greg: And a huge benefit of entering this competition, even if you’re not the one to win is you are going to get feedback from the judges along the way. It’s like, hey you know what, you weren’t selected to go on the next round, but if I was you, I would change this or that and keep doing this thing and focus more on that. So everyone gets a certain level of mentorship from the judges, even if you’re not selected to be the winner.

Mike: Yeah, you also get exposure for your business. I mean, I bought a couple of the products from the Go Pitch Win stuff. I mean, they were we’re cool things. And not only — one of the products I bought just to like help them out. I was like, they’re cool. So I want to buy one. And one of them was something that I wanted myself. So you get exposure, I mean, all of us have really large audiences. And you’re going to get exposure as a business to a bunch of people as well.

Greg: Actually the message I heard when I interviewed them for the winning episode, they said that their sales have been through the roof ever since the Go Pitch Win episode went live. Also another huge advantage of pitching.

Steve: Yeah nice. And just a couple of notes on the application process, you will be required to submit a video. And what I encourage you guys to do is just be very natural in the video, tell your story, expose your personality, just like let it loose and act yourself. Because the applications that we will tend to accept will be those that have the most personality in addition to the product and the numbers and that sort of thing. And Greg just mentioned that he had a previous show called Go Pitch Win where the winner got a whole lot of new business. Well, that actually works for the sponsors as well.

All four of us, we have large audiences. So, if you’re a company out there, or you want to sponsor this show, feel free to reach out to me or Mike at Steve@mywifequitherjob.com, because we’re going to be putting a lot of episodes out, and these are going to go to all of our four combined audiences for a lot of reach. Anything else you guys want to add? Greg, about the application process, what you guys are looking for, how to actually get chosen to be even to take part in the actual contest?

Greg: Just to let you know we are recording this, this fall, starts fall of 2018. And once we’ve reached the 32 contestants for the first round, we’re going to be shutting down the application process. So, I’d encourage you guys to apply sooner rather than later, applications are currently open. Like I said, once we’ve received 32 that we really like, we’re going to shut that down.

Scott: And I would just also say, if you just want to follow along, like I think Mike had mentioned, or you did Steve, you can just sign up there as well and then you’ll be notified. And this will be audio form, but it’s also going to be highly production value, also for YouTube, and any other platforms that we post the video itself. And so again, applicants, you’re going to get exposure and also sponsors, you’re going to get exposure. And I think that’s also something just to touch on really quickly, Steve, maybe you can just add not anyone can be a sponsor, right?

Steve: That’s correct.

Scott: They’re only going to have to be or they’re going to have to basically be approved by us. But they also have to be ones that we believe in, or that we’ve used or other people that we know have used.

Steve: Absolutely, yeah, for the sponsors, just like normal for all of us, we’re going to be very selective about the sponsors that we choose in addition to the candidates. And one thing I will say is that we’re investing our own money into this, the $50,000 Prize. We’re hiring the camera crew, a professional crew essentially to film this and produce the podcast as well as the YouTube channel. And so it’s going to be a lot of fun.

It’s actually an excuse for me to actually get out of my house and get together with these guys in person, and actually to get to know and meet all the candidates out there. One of the reasons why I run my conference Sellers Summit, is so I can ask physically go out there and meet other people, mainly because when I first got started, it was a lonely process, guys, anything else you want to add?

Mike: I just want to say I’m looking forward to it. We did this with the old Go Pitch Win thing; it was a lot of fun. I already know we’re going to have fun and looking forward to doing it.

Scott: Yeah, I just think that people that are listening to this episode, and that will be watching or listening in the future, you’re going to learn something too even if you aren’t at this level yet. If you’re just starting or if you’re in the beginning stages, you’re going to learn from listening to these conversations, and also just how other people started their business and how their idea became. And like I think that’s an important part because people all think that they have to know that all the numbers are perfect before they pull the trigger. And I think that you’re going to probably be surprised at how these people started their business but also got the idea to really go into business for themselves.

Steve: And I will say, I’m speaking for myself here, but my filter is going to be off on this show. So, I’m going to like speak my mind, I think you guys will too. We got all four of us…

Scott: Time in [inaudible 00:22:01].

Steve: We have an interesting dynamic going on where…

Mike: I’m just curious why the filter on because I’m not sure I’ve ever seen that part of Steve. Like what am I missing here?

Steve: So if you guys want to apply, go to 5MinutePitch.com. It’s the number 5 and then M-I-N-U-T-E-P-I-T-C-H.com. And hopefully, from listening to this episode, you get an idea of all our personalities and how we kind of evaluate things. We all have an equal vote, so depending on how you put your presentation; you might want to try to cater to all of us in our criteria for selecting the companies.

Mike: One of the things we didn’t really talk about yet, talking about equal vote, you might be wondering about that since that was brought up, there’s four of us and how do we break a tiebreaker? And that’s actually, we have some guest evaluators where everyone can judge us I guess was what I was looking for coming on. We don’t know exactly who they’re going to be and we’ve already reached out to a whole bunch of them and we have commitments, but we don’t the full field now we’re down yet. But there’s some pretty cool guest judges that are going to be in here to help us break the tie, and I think that’s going to be another cool dynamic because that each week as we’re running these, there will be a different guest judge as well.

Scott: Good point.

Steve: Yeah, absolutely. And we’re not going to – are we going to announce those judges, the guest judges ahead of time? Probably not right?

Mike: I don’t know, we’ll see. We’ll see.

Scott: I think we got to figure that part out. So stay tuned.

Steve: Stay tuned.

Greg: Dah, dah, dah.

Steve: All right, so just to close, if you guys are interested in applying or just following along and getting news about the show when it comes out, go to 5MinutePitch.com. And if you are a sponsor who might be potentially interested in sponsoring this show, send me an email at Steve@mywifequitherjob.com, and I’ll send you a sponsorship packet. Hope you guys enjoyed this episode. Once again I am super excited about the brand new show that Greg, Scott, Mike, and I are releasing in the fall. And if you’re interested in pitching your company to us with the potential to win $50,000, head over to 5MinutePitch.com, that’s the number 5-M-I-N-U-T-E-P-I-T-C-H.com. For more information about this episode, go to mywifequitherjob.com/episode220.

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 Privy for sponsoring this episode. Privy is the email capture provider that I personally use to turn visitors into email subscribers. They offer email capture, exit intent, and site targeting tools to make it super simple as well. And I like Privy because it’s so powerful and you can basically trigger custom pop ups for any primer that is closely tied to your e-commerce store. If you want to give it a try, it is free. So head on over to Privy.com/Steve, once again that’s P-R-I-V-Y.com/Steve.

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, 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.

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219: Practical Applications For Facebook Messenger Chat Bots With Ben Beck

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219: Practical Applications For Facebook Messenger Chat Bots With Ben Beck

Today I’m thrilled to have Ben Beck on the show. Ben is someone who I met randomly during lunch at Social Media Marketing World. I sat down at a table and Ben started talking about chatbots which is something that I’m really into right now.

Anyway Ben is an entrepreneur, marketing consultant and author of the weekly monthly column on the Clear Voice blog and today, we are going to talk about the practical applications of Facebook Messenger chatbots

What You’ll Learn

  • Practical applications of Facebook chat bots for large ecommerce companies
  • Practical applications for brick and mortar stores
  • Practical applications for digital marketing firms
  • The best tools for Facebook Messenger marketing

Other Resources And Books

Sponsors

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Transcript

You’re 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 in business. And today I’ve Ben Beck with me on the show, and Ben is someone who I met at Social Media Marketing World and he’s a marketing consultant that specializes in chat bots. Ever since I decided to go all out on Facebook Messenger, I wanted to have Ben on to talk about the many different applications for chat bots that he’s been seeing from a wide range of industries.

But before we begin, I want to give a quick shout out to Klaviyo who is a sponsor of the show. Always excited to talk about Klaviyo because they are the email marketing platform that I use for my ecommerce store, and I depend on them for over 30% of my revenues. Now Klaviyo is the only email platform out there that is specifically built for ecommerce stores, and here is why it is 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 out 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 sent.

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 Privy who is also a sponsor of the show. And Privy is the tool that I use to build my email list for both my blog and my online store. Now there are a bunch of companies out there that will manage your email capture forms but I like Privy because they specialize in e-commerce. And right now I’m using Privy to display a cool wheel of fortune pop-up.

Basically a user gives their email for a chance to win valuable prices in our store and customers love the gamification aspect of this. And when I implemented this form email signups increased by 131%. Bottom line, Privy allows me to turn visitors into email subscribers, which I then feed to my email provider to close the sale. So head on over to Privy.com/Steve and try it for free. And if you decide you need some of the more advanced features, use coupon code MWQHJ for 15% off. Once again, that’s P-R-I-V-Y.com/Steve. Now onto 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 Ben Beck on the show. Now Ben is actually someone who I met completely randomly at lunch at Social Media Marketing World. I basically sat down at a table and Ben just started talking about chat bots which happened to be something that I’m really into right now. I discovered that he was a speaker and then decided to have him on the podcast. Now Ben is an entrepreneur, a marketing consultant and the author of the weekly monthly column on the Clear Voice blog.

And today what we’re going to do is we’re going to talk about applications of chat bots in businesses of all kinds. And with that, welcome to show Ben, how you doing today man?

Ben: I’m doing so great, thank you Steve for having me on the show. I feel like it’s an honor because I listened to your podcast that you got a few weeks ago, where you’re talking about the technology that you used to run your business and it was fascinating. I’ve always loved marketing technology, and to hear how someone like yourself has used it to build a publishing business, it was just fascinating. So thank you for having me on your show.

Steve: Yeah, man. I’m just so happy that I went to Social Media Marketing World. I just met so many people just kind of randomly in the hallways too and you just happen to be one of those people.

Ben: Yeah.

Steve: So we did chat a lot about bots that day, but I actually don’t really know your entire background. Like how did you get into this field in the first place?

Ben: Yeah, so my undergrad degree was Business Information Systems and so the more technical side of business. And then I started my career actually as a web developer, so doing PHP code, building a website. That was before WordPress was big, so it was a custom built CMS that we had. And that technical side, I really enjoyed it but the company that I was at had a need for someone to apply that in the marketing sense. And so I started to apply it in marketing. And it’s blossomed from there where for three or four years after leaving that company I was working on marketing automation really heavily.

And then marketing automation the last year and a half, two years has really blossomed into chat bots. And so while I’ve been working for companies, I’ve also been doing a lot of side consulting and it’s given me experience with all these different marketing automation tools. And now getting into the chat bot space I’ve played with all of the big chat bot builders. Yeah, I love it. It’s just so cool to get to try new things and be learning and helping clients grow as I also grow in my own experience.

Steve: So just to be clear, like when you’re talking about chat bots, are you referring to messenger or are you referring to like text messaging and some of the other chat applications as well.

Ben: So I have only launched on Facebook Messenger, even though I’ve done some consulting for a client. They launched a text messaging campaign, and their whole business is around getting reviews, mostly for auto dealers. But they are a big review aggregator and they’re using chat bots instead of text messaging to do that, and they are growing hand over fist. They’re here and Utah with me, and this company is they are exploding in their growth because of their leveraging chat bots.

Steve: It’s interesting you mentioned like you’ve used all these different tools. What are some of your favorite tools just to kind of start it off right off the bat?

Ben: So my top four faves are ManyChat, that’s if anyone who’s done research on chat bots who’ve been around there, ManyChat is getting the most press right now. So ManyChat is the big one. Another one is Chatfuel. I like Chatfuel just because its ease of use is really good if I have a client who wants to build their own bot and they just want me to kind of teach them how to do it. A lot of times I push them to Chatfuel. And then the two other ones — so one used to be called API.AI, it recently well within the last several months was rebranded as Dialogueflow, and that’s Google’s product. They acquired API.AI and they’ve got a very robust tool.

Their tool is robust because you can build your chat bot once and release it in multiple places. And one of the really cool places you can you can release your chat box, so you can build the logic for a chat bot that would work on Facebook Messenger. And then you can take that same logic and roll over to an Alexa skill and actually lets you export the Alexa skill that you can then put on that you can then import over to Amazon’s developer tools. So, really cool stuff that I had I geek out on Dialogueflow, even though it is it is hard to use, you kind of need to be a developer.

Steve: It’s a Google product. So naturally, you probably need to know how to code right bit, right? You know, I actually jumped ahead a bit about myself — I jumped ahead a little bit in terms of chat bots. Let’s talk about what it is first, just in case there’s people listening out there that have no idea what is. And then I want to talk about some of the practical applications that you’re seeing some of the companies that you’ve worked with, and how they’re using these bots right now.

Ben: Great. So yeah, taking a step back to even I tell people I work on chat bots and their eyes kind of glaze over and they say, oh, really? Okay. Well, what’s that? Most of your listeners have probably used Facebook messenger to communicate with their loved ones, and a chat bot is when you interact with a business. And this can be from their Facebook page, there’s that blue button that hovers over the right sidebar on a Facebook page and you can click it. You just send a message.

If you send a message to a business and they reply instantly, then they’re likely using a chat bot. And it’s just an automated conversation that they’ve pre programmed to do certain tasks. I’ve got a business here in Utah that has a family fun center, and their chat bots are really simple. It’s only for frequently asked questions and for if people have questions about promos or hours, or directions to the location or the pricing per different activities at the family fun center. The chat bot can handle those different elements. So chat bots are…

Steve: What do they do if someone asked a question that isn’t part of the database?

Ben: Yeah, if they ask a question that isn’t part of the database and that happens frequently, the automated response says, I’m sorry, I don’t understand that but would you like to talk to a human. And there is a button they click, and they click that button and it actually places a phone call from their phone.

Steve: Ah, interesting. How is that implemented to place the phone call? Is it just built into these tools?

Ben: Yeah, all of the — I think all of the tools, the four tools out there, the ones I had started discussing, so Dialogueflow, Flow XO, ManyChat and Chatfuel, all of them have that natively built in where it’s just an option. You say, hey, here’s the button. If they click it, dial this phone number.

Steve: Awesome, awesome. So, the idea here I guess is the chat bot replaces or tries to handle the most frequently asked questions for business so that it reduces their support load in a way.

Ben: Exactly, it reduces their support load and it gives them some interesting insight. So, this company, they use Google Analytics and they watch Google Analytics pretty closely to see which pages are being visited, which search queries when they can see that are leading people to their website. And they watch all that data relatively closely to try to determine, hey, where do we need to improve our business? And the chat bot opens that up for them because now people that might have been reticent to reach out because they don’t want to wait forever for someone to chat bot chat back, or they don’t want have to call in and talk to somebody, now they’re getting people that are reaching out to them through an automated means and they’re getting that feedback.

They’re seeing what kind of questions people are asking, and they’re using that to actually develop content for their website. If someone asks a question to the chat box that they don’t understand, and they’re seeing that coming up multiple times, then they’ll go in and they’ll program that into the chat bot.

Steve: Interesting, so does that imply then that you need someone human to just kind of man this thing?

Ben: You do. There is a — I have a golf company Teesnap. They provide software as a service for golf companies to help manage the courses. They’re really innovative. Just last week, I helped them launch a birthday club chat bot. And the birthday club is it’s a really simple bot simply asking for birth date and then it helps fulfill the birthday club promise in the chat box. So on their birthday month, people get an offer to go out and get a free round of golf.

And it’s a completely automated process, but there’s still a human interaction there. The marketing director for Teesnap, super responsive, he jumps into ManyChat every single day and he just watches the conversations. And you can within ManyChat actually interact right there in a live chat module with the people that are trying to converse with your bot. So you can have those conversations right there inside ManyChat as well.

Steve: Interesting. Okay. And then what are some of your other companies specifically in like the e-commerce space, I don’t know if you have any clients selling physical products, or even like brick and mortar stores, what are some ways that some of these businesses are actually getting new clients as opposed to just doing customer support with the bot?

Ben: Yeah, so one of my clients, they’re in Provo, Utah. They are in a high end strip mall, they’re brick and mortar, but they also do online Blickenstaff’s. It’s a toy store. They are quite excited about Toys R Us going under just because it’s going to lead to extra business for them. And they’re a really innovative store where they — it’s more about an experience. Trying to compete with Amazon, you have to compete on price, but you also need to make it a really neat experience.

And so, one of the things that they are doing to improve that experience is you have your mother audience, the moms that get the invitation for a birthday party for their children. And if it’s anything like my wife or myself, we put that invitation on the fridge. We RSVP and say yeah, we will send our child, and then a day or two before you realize, oh no, we need to get a gift. At that point it’s too late to order on Amazon unless you do one day shipping or maybe if you live in a big city, you can get…

Steve: Get same day.

Ben: Yeah, that’s available on same day. But what my wife and I usually do is we’ll just run to a local store, and pick up a toy, and then it’s kind of a chintzy toy. It’s not really creative. There’s not as many options, but this toy store, what they’re doing to compete is we’re building a chat bot right now. And it’s not completely baked out because they’re being really strict on what products they put into the bot. But it is a bot where the mother can say, I’ve — it kind of demographically profiles the child. So it asks for the gender, it asks for the age and asks for interests. And then it returns some ideas for products.

And the mother can click buy right then right there inside the chat bot, and it will pull up, it’ll do a little slide up in the bottom of Facebook Messenger where they punch in their credit card info. And as soon as they place the order, it actually takes the order and drops it into a Google spreadsheet that the store is using and we could put it into their point of sale, but they chose to use a Google spreadsheet because that’s kind of a communication means they’re using inside their store already. It adds a line to Google spreadsheets and it turns on a Philips Hue light bulb right there by their front desk so that they know there’s an order they need to go check on. And they go and check the order, they fulfill it and the mom comes by within 15 minutes and has a pre wrapped gift ready to go.

Steve: Interesting. Okay so both Chatfuel — Chatfuel has this option to take payment directly through messenger and I think that’s coming to ManyChat pretty soon I believe, right?

Ben: Yeah Chatfuel has, and ManyChat when you and I were talking Steve at Social Media Marketing World, I mentioned that they didn’t have it yet. They released it like two days before the conference, so I was actually wrong when we were talking. ManyChat does have it now.

Steve: Okay cool.

Ben: It’s still in beta, it’s only in some accounts, I don’t think all accounts have it yet. But it’s a little bit more limited than Chatfuel too. Chatfuel uses the native Facebook credit card processing. So if someone has ever purchased anything through Facebook Messenger, their credit card details are stored there, and that’s using the native engine that Facebook provides. ManyChat uses Stripe or PayPal and so it’s not native. The people I believe have to enter their credit card every single time they purchase something if you use ManyChat’s.

Steve: I see. So for this toy store, how are they actually getting people to engage with the chat though?

Ben: So they’re advertising heavily. The nice thing as you know with Facebook advertising is you can draw a fence around your store because they are trying to capture brick and mortar here. They’ve drawn a 10 fence around their store and then choose the demographic that they think likely have children, and then they’re advertising in that way.

Steve: Interesting. Can you give us an idea of what these ads look like?

Ben: Yeah, so the ads have birthday type image and the calls to action are all around have a birthday party coming up, use our app.

Steve: Okay.

Ben: They are getting a lot of clicks where people click it and it takes them straight into the chat bot.

Steve: I see, where then they enter in their parameters, and then they get gift recommendations.

Ben: Exactly. Yep.

Steve: So it’s actually providing a useful service like even just for researching a toy, period.

Ben: It is. And it’s something that they haven’t started to promote it in this way. But the thought is, if it goes well with brick and mortar, they’ll expand this, and they’ll use it for online ordering. And then you don’t get the immediacy that you — the benefit that you do from the brick and mortar, but they can ship stuff out from their online inventory to people that have used their gift idea outside of the Utah area.

Steve: Interesting, interesting. And so once they get a customer this way, they have a messenger subscriber, what are they doing with these subscribers like outside of these ads?

Ben: Nothing yet, and it’s a matter of, we just haven’t built it. The plan is though; you can broadcast messages out to the people or your subscribers. Once someone has engaged with your bot, you can send them broadcasts. The Facebook rules say that you can only send a salesy or a heavily marketing promotional type message within 24 hours that someone has engaged with you, but if it’s a value added offer, and you’re not really being salesy, then you can send those out as frequently as you want.

And so the thought will be, hey, let’s send birthday guides, or let’s send toy guides, or let’s just send us an announcement about a new toy that they have in the store and it’s got a video of someone using that toy. You’re not selling it, you’re simply showcasing a tool or a toy, and then if someone wants to, they could go on and buy it from there.

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So I can imagine that implementing some of these chat bots can be kind of spammy. So what are some rules of thumb that you kind of use when implementing these chat bots so that they’re done tastefully without annoying a potential customer?

Ben: Absolutely. It’s a great question. So it’s still a wild wild west where like within ManyChat. If someone replies with stop, it will unsubscribe them from the bot and they won’t receive broadcasts from you anymore. But the way that Facebook has gone about it is that stop parameter, the unsubscribe isn’t handled on Facebook side, it’s actually handled inside of ManyChat. So, if someone wants to, they can go in and they can open up the program with that unsubscribe handling and they can just delete it and then it doesn’t work anymore. And then Facebook’s privacy/ spam policy is kind of kind of broken.

So, in that regards, there is a lot of room for spamming. And that’s why I always tell marketers, hey, be above board with this. We don’t want this to become like email, where you’re getting tons of messages all day. It needs to be something that’s truly above board. Just a couple of key points I always tell clients, always specify that it’s a chat bot. You might want to try to make it seem like it’s a human and you’re just ultra responsive and you have really good customer service, but unless you have millions of dollars to spend on developing artificial intelligence and natural language processing around your chat bot, it’s going to fall short and you’re going to have egg on your face. So, always specify that it is a chat bot.

Steve: Like in the first line you mean, like this is our automated bot.

Ben: Yep. And I actually I’ll have them do it a couple times. So, you have your greeting text that when someone first like clicks the little blue button on Facebook Messenger, or if they search for your bot inside a Facebook Messenger, or if they, I guess those are the two scenarios, if they see — if their first interaction is through one of those scenarios, there’s some greeting text that shows up and you’re supposed to state the purpose of the bot. I always specify there that it is a chat bot. And the second thing that I specify is what the purpose of the chat bot is. So, for this golf company, we specify very clearly that it is a bot for the birthday club.

Steve: Do you use the word bot?

Ben: A lot of times I do. I like to give the button a name. For example, a real estate bot that I built out as an example that I showcased at Social Media Marketing World and now I’ve actually got some clients that I’m implementing it for, I named it Roger, Roger the real estate bot. But I do say bot just to make sure people are — it’s very clear what…

Steve: Interesting okay. I’ve actually had some issues with that on my store as well. Like I start out saying that you can ask a question, check up on an order, basically our frequently asked questions, and then I guess there must be some misunderstanding because sometimes people just start typing like these really long involved questions. And that’s when I tell them that it’s a bot. Like, we don’t understand this question. Would you like to talk to a human. Yeah, I never thought about just stating that right from the start. Does that change the behavior of their questions though?

Ben: It would and you might actually benefit the way that you’re doing where you’re getting a longer comment on Messenger, they think they’re talking to a human. You’re gathering extra intelligence that you could use for business process optimization. But I still like the idea of making it clear up front that it’s a bot just because I know you’re setting expectations up front which to me it seems like it’s always a good thing to do.

Steve: Okay. And so you always offer the ability to unsubscribe. Do you do that for every single broadcast, every single message or is it just something you just say once right from the start and then that’s it?

Ben: Yeah, I just say at once from the start. I don’t know that I would want to say it with every single broadcast even though what I have done for some of my clients where they’re more sensitive and they really want to make sure that they’re above board and not getting in trouble for spam is they program in other things too. So, the two keywords that ManyChat and Chatfuel on most of these platforms use out of the box is stop or unsubscribe. And so we program in other things like anymore, I mean, just little phrases that might come up if someone doesn’t want that conversation anymore, they program those in as well.

Steve: What are some ways that people who are maybe selling digital products or have their own blogs or content marketing services, how are you seeing them use these chat bots/

Ben: Yeah, so one of the best examples out there and I recommend all of your listeners to go and look at his course. Andrew Warner if you search him, he has I think he calls it the Bot Academy.

Steve: Isn’t that more for teaching people how to become a services business related to chat bots?

Ben: it is, it is, but it’s a really good example even if you just — you don’t need to pay for his course and sign up for it, but go in and sign up, just interact with his bot, and then you will get messaged like crazy. I think his bot is perhaps a little bit too pervasive along the lines of annoying, but you’ll see some ways that he’s delivering content. He’s got videos, he’s pushing out, he has little PDF guides that people can download that he’s pushing out, he’s got lots of content, and he’s not even requiring that you give him your email, he asks for it.

But you don’t have to give him your email because he knows he can still communicate through the bot to you and he can drip this content. He sets it up, it’s all automated, and he’s seeing really, really good success rates with it where I would be surprised if he’s not making a few million a year off of his course with how pervasive he is in the marketing.

Steve: Yeah, I’ll have to link that up in the show notes. I remember the question I wanted to ask you now. What is Facebook doing right now to just kind of enforce these non sponsored broadcasts? Have you seen people get banned? What are the thresholds involved? Like, what are people doing? Like I’ve gotten actually promotional messages in my chat and I’m like, hey, how did people get away with this. What have you seen in terms of people getting banned or punished for this?

Ben: So Facebook, I have not heard of any stories of them banning or punishing anyone yet. So, in that regard, I think it’s still so new that you don’t have a lot of bad players in the space. Facebook is quite good at the 24 one rule. I know with ManyChat at least. So, it’s called 24 plus 124, we already mentioned, you can send a promotional message within 24 hours of interacting with the person. And then the plus one just means that you have a onetime exception to that.

So if you have 3,000 people in your database, and let’s say 1,000 of them, you have tagged as being a really strong prospect for purchasing your course or your information product, you can you can tell ManyChat, I want to message all of these people, these 1,000 people that I’ve identified. And even if I haven’t interacted with them in last 24 hours, I want to use that plus one. And so ManyChat and Facebook through their terms and agreements, they allow you to send one promotional message to that audience.

But ManyChat tracks it if you’ve used that plus one for those thousand people, they’re not going to be reachable anymore for promotional messages. It’s an honor system right now where ManyChat, you just check a box to say if it’s promotional or not. It’s that simple. And so because it’s the honor method, people could abuse it and I think we’re going to see Facebook is going to have to police that once the problem starts. I just think there’s not a big problem with it right now since it’s still so new.

Steve: I see, I see but from the perspective of the end user, all these different message types, they’re all the same right, they’re just something you get in your messenger inbox?

Ben: They are, they’re all the same from the perspective of the consumer even though there’s some really smart things you can do in ManyChat and I believe Chatfield has this too. You can say, hey, when I push a notification, you can do a couple things. You can make the phone make the little ding or the vibration every single time a message is sent, so like if you’re setting up a promotional string and it is has three different messages in that promotional string, their phone will ding three different times. Or you can say, I only want it to ding once for the first message, or you can say I don’t want to make any audible or vibration, I just want to show up in their notification tray.

Or you can say I don’t even want it to show up in the notification tray, only show it when they log into Facebook Messenger, and then show it as the bold black text on unread message. So, you can choose the different ways that you are notifying your consumers and use that very responsibly. If you have something that’s not urgent, then don’t ping your customers every single time you send a message. So, just be systematic and thoughtful, and intentional in the way you do it.

Steve: It just seems counterintuitive because you want them to see the message, right? And so it seems like most people will just check off all those things whenever they send something.

Ben: Yeah. But then you’re also creating noise. Like if your audience — it’s kind of like an email. I mean, if you keep spamming people with unrelated emails or irrelevant emails to them, they’re going to stop listening to your brand. So, it’s in your best interest as a business owner to just be careful and only bring that notification if you need an immediate action. Otherwise, it might be okay if it just shows up in their notification tray with no audible notice.

Steve: What do you do with your clients for broadcasts?

Ben: If it’s something that’s timely, I will recommend that they do a single audible notification. Otherwise, if it’s not something timely, I’ll ask them to just have it just show up in the notification bar. I’ve had some clients before try out having no notification to have it just be in Facebook Messenger when they open the app, engagement rates are all still about the same. And it’s between 80 and 90% open rates on all these messages, despite the way that you notify them.

Steve: I see. Okay, that’s what I was getting at. But it’s just a timing thing, like whether they open immediately or they get to it later, right?

Ben: Exactly.

Steve: Okay. And I did want to — you mentioned four tools in the beginning. I kind of want to revisit that. What do you recommend? Like you mentioned ManyChat and you mentioned Chatfuel, and you mentioned API.AI, that was the tool?

Ben: Yeah, now called Dialogueflow.

Steve: Dialogueflow. So, when would you use each, under which circumstances?

Ben: So, Dialogueflow, if you have some real budget, let’s say that you work for Keller Williams, the big real estate brokerage and you’re working for corporate and they have 50,000, $100,000 whatever it is to develop a chat bot, I would recommend you look at something like Dialogueflow, because Dialogueflow has more functionality. With ManyChat and Chatfuel, they’re both point and click interfaces.

But because they’re point and click, you can’t use any of the real native API that’s available to you on Facebook Messenger, whereas Dialogueflow you can. You’re actually doing coding. They have some point and click elements, but to really get your chat bot working, you’re going to have to have some development skills. And because of that you get more power and more functionality and you get the natural language processing.

The ability for someone to, let’s say Keller William’s example, let’s say someone sends a text message for a house and they put in the wrong address but it’s close, Dialogueflow could catch that and return the right product, the right home listing based on a slightly incorrect address. And they use natural language processing to do that. They’re the only one other than Microsoft has what they call Microsoft, they call it Bot Framework. They do the same thing. But Microsoft’s is not nearly as well integrated. I wouldn’t go with that one.

Steve: So, when you say natural language processing, you’re implying a bot that’s actually intelligent, where you can actually make it appear as closely to human as possible compared to some of the other tools?

Ben: Yeah, exactly. And so far Dialogueflow is the only one that’s doing that really well.

Steve: Is it free then or?

Ben: It is, it’s free. Knowing Google, they’re likely not going to ever charge for it simply because it’s giving their platform, their Google Assistant or their home products, the voice products; it’s giving that an extra platform and a way to get out there. They’re putting a lot of money into them.

Steve: Okay so basically don’t use it unless you have technical skills or you have a developer, or you need something super advanced with your bot, right?

Ben: Exactly, yep.

Steve: Okay so, then Chatfuel and ManyChat, what are the differences there?

Ben: The big difference is Chatfuel I would say is easier for really simple bots in large part because you login and they have a drop down tray at the top with templates, and you can simply select the template. It’s not a huge library of templates yet, but they do have some good starter templates and you select one and then you can go over and view how the template works and you can customize it. So, Chatfuel is easier for first time users.

Steve: What do you consider a really simple bot?

Steve: A really simple bot would be one that simply provides hours and directions for our brick and mortar location.

Steve: Okay go it. And what would be a more complicated bot that you might want to use ManyChat for?

Ben: ManyChat as if you get any kind of calculation in or like for example the Blickenstaff’s bot is built on ManyChat because you can use routing that’s a little more advanced. You can do it with Chatfuel too, but how Chatfuel works is it’s all a linear conversation like you will open up a message and you’ll edit a message. And then you’ll say, if they click this button, go over here to this message. And if they click this button, then go to this message instead. And you need to then click over and edit that message. And it’s really hard to keep it straight in your head with Chatfuel.

Steve: I see okay.

Ben: When you get multiple threads, but ManyChat is very visual. It’s got like a dialogue; it’s got a canvas with the different messages on it. And then you click and drag arrows from one message to the next. And so when you get more complex, ManyChat becomes easier.

Steve: I just wanted to take a moment to tell you about a brand new service that I personally just launched that will help you grow your email list for free. First off, my new business is called GoBrandWin.com. And it’s a service that helps e-commerce sellers build their email list through group giveaways. And here’s how it works. If you own your own e-commerce brand, and you have a following, what you do is you contribute a gift card toward your products valued at $200 or more. Now Go Brand Win will assemble gift cards from other participating brands with a similar customer demographic into one massive sweepstakes giveaway.

Now, all participating brands will then send our co branded giveaway email to their entire customer base driving them to a special landing page on GoBrandWin.com where we will acquire email addresses and Facebook pixel data. We will also send the giveaway entry forms to related influencers in our blogger database. And between my co founder and I, we have access to almost 1,000 bloggers in our database. Now, consumers who enter the giveaway will enter their email addresses, we will send them special offers from your company and select a grand prize winner. And after the sweepstakes are over, you will receive the full list of entrants and instantly grow your audience.

Bottom line, the concept is very simple. We all help each other promote each other’s businesses, get free promotion from bloggers, and share the spoils, which in this case, are the email addresses. If you are interested in growing your email list, then head on over to GoBrandWin.com, that’s G-O-B-R-A-N-D-W-I-N.com. It’s 100% free, so sign up now. Now back to the show.

I see. So it sounds like it’s a user interface thing when it comes to developing the chat. It sounds like they have similar functionality. Just one has a better UI in terms of developing a more complicated chat flow.

Ben: Yeah, functionality I would say they’re both on par with each other. They watch each other really closely in the development cycle. But yeah, it comes to the user interface.

Steve: Okay. And so when you’re making a choice like for your clients since you’re doing the work like what does it come down to?

Ben: Yeah I would say about 50% of the time I’m putting them on ManyChat. A lot of that is I can build the tool and then I can do a 15 minute screen record and send them a video showing them how they can edit it, and I’ll do that whole screen share from within the canvas view or I can just show them here this node goes over to this conversational node, that’s really easy. So 50% of the time it’s ManyChat, the other 50% of the time is split between the other three products just depending on complexity of the product.

Steve: And you have any clients using the Google product Dialogueflow?

Ben: I don’t, I’ve only played with that one. I have some development experience but only enough to be dangerous.

Steve: Okay and what were the other — you said three other tools, what are the other two?

Ben: One is Flow XO, and for anyone who attended the Social Media Marketing World Conference, if you went to their support page, they have frequently asked questions but they also had a link to the chat bot, and you could engage with the chat bot through that link. And it was all of their frequently asked questions that have been programmed into a chat bot. And the reason we use Flow XO is because even though Flow XO doesn’t have natural language processing, it does have a better system for catching a wide variety of queries.

So, if someone let’s say if someone uses the word meal in their question, in ManyChat you would just show them the menu or show them, maybe you just show them the dining times or the location of the dining. But it’s kind of hard to differentiate between which of those responses you should show. And in Flow XO you’ve got some really sophisticated logic where you can say, if they use the word meal and they use the word gluten, then you know they’re asking about gluten free options and so return this message. Or you can say, if they use the word meal and they don’t use this word, then return this message.

Steve: I see.

Ben: So like it’s better at handling keywords.

Steve: Interesting, so but what are its limitations outside of that?

Ben: The user interface is pretty clunky; it’s just not nearly as good as Chatfuel or ManyChat. And then functionality, it has some more sophisticated integrations. It was built as an integration platform originally, so it’s got some really good integrations, but if you’re trying to get a lot of new audience into your chat bot, ManyChat and Chatfuel will have some things called growth tools. And these would be like a little slide in that lives on your WordPress site and it slides in from the side, and it’s got a call to action, they can click the button and it will take them straight into your chat bot. ManyChat I think has around 15 of those different kinds of growth tools and Flow XO only has three or four.

Steve: One thing I’ve been curious about is once you have subs on one of these platforms, can you move subs around to different platforms like email or no?

Ben: Not easily. You’re asking about the — when you say subs, you’re talking about the programming language, like the actual logic that you’ve built around that?

Steve: No, that’s what I mean. Like, let’s say I have 1,000 subscribers on ManyChat and I want to move over to Chatfuel later, like move those subs over, is that possible?

Ben: It’s not, the subscribers live inside the individual platform database, and they don’t make them movable.

Steve: Interesting. So, once you’ve chose — so it’s important to kind of choose the right platform from the start it seems.

Ben: Yeah. Otherwise, what you would have to do and you could do this, you can actually have a Chatfuel bot living at the same time as a ManyChat bot, and they both live on your same Facebook Messenger account. The problem is they’re going to be stepping on each other’s toes. But if you did need to move from one product to the other, what you could do is you could ask a question inside of ManyChat and then deactivate all of the other logic inside of ManyChat, and then when they respond to your question then them responding if you have Chatfuel turned on, you get Chatfuel then respond to their response. And at that point they’re opted into your Chatfuel bot. So that’s a way that you could move them. It’s not ideal, though because you’re going to…

Steve: Yeah, you’ll probably lose some people yeah.

Ben: Exactly. Yep.

Steve: Interesting. So this is different than email in that respect for sure.

Ben: It is.

Steve: And was there a last tool that you didn’t mention, there’s two more, there’s Flow XO, and there’s one other?

Ben: No Flow XO, there’s hundreds. Well, I’d say there’s probably 100 chat bot builders out there right now, but those four are the big ones.

Steve: Okay. And then early on in the interview you mentioned some company that was using text messaging bots. Do you do that for your customers, and is there like a program that does that as well?

Ben: So that was they actually built — I consulted on them just from an ideation phase. They took it and they built it out themselves. They connected directly through Twilio for their text messaging, and they’ve got their own code in the back end that’s running that whole chat bot.

Steve: I see. I see. It seems like that would be right for abuse, right, because there’s no control whatsoever. There’s no one controlling a text message, right?

Ben: Yeah, text messages are a little bit more intimate too than a Facebook Messenger stream, so I think yeah, you have to be really careful to not abuse that.

Steve: Interesting, but there’s also no one to punish you either, right?

Ben: There’s not. In the case that if you were using Twilio for your text messaging, they do have unsubscribe parameters built in where it’s the stop unsubscribe thing, and if you had a really high ratio of individuals responding with stop or unsubscribe, Twilio does black your account. They’ll black label you, because Twilio does need to be careful about their own servers that are sending the text messages and whatnot.

Steve: Sure, sure, sure. It seems like text messaging is very similar to email like once someone has your number they can text you, whereas Facebook at least it’s gated right, where you have to opt in and there’s no way to message them with some sort of number or ID?

Ben: That’s right and yeah and that’s some people, some of my clients have been hesitant to launch on Facebook Messenger because you’re really building your whole audience on someone else’s proprietary platform. And what happens when Facebook Messenger decides that, hey, we’re going to change our 24 plus one rule to 12 plus one, or hey you can’t outbound message them at all anymore unless you pay us the advertising, subtract the advertising dollars for that. I don’t see Facebook doing that, that would really kill the platform but as we all saw a few about a month ago, they changed what business posts show up in the Facebook stream, and it is affecting advertisers.

Steve: Do you have any insights or predictions on what you think is going to happen in the next couple of years with the messenger platform?

Ben: Mark Zuckerberg was end of 2017 in a quarterly earnings call. He indicated that it is one of their primary focuses, Facebook Messenger chat bots. And his quote was something along lines of we haven’t monetized it yet, but we will. And so, I could see Facebook continuing to put a lot of money into it. They already are, their developer stack if you want to tie straight into it is changing on a monthly basis where they’re introducing new functionality. So, they’re putting a lot of resources into their messenger chat bots.

And I think they will for another three or four years. I think it’s going to be a really hot place for Facebook for their focus, and they’re going to start to monetize it, that they already have. You can buy advertisements that will show up in Facebook Messenger now, and you’ll see more of that over the coming years.

Steve: So given that Facebook has been reducing the reach of all these pages and everything, would you be worried at this point about putting all your dollars into a platform that you don’t control? Like, what are your views on that?

Ben: My thoughts are you don’t control the platform, but it’s the biggest out there by far right now. I’ve got one client that’s having me build a bot on WhatsApp for them. And it’s a really difficult system. There’s no good bot builders out there. You have to build straight on the code. So I’m hiring a developer to help with it and it’s just a gnarly process. So, with Facebook, your barrier to entry is so low and they’re still so few companies doing it.

I wouldn’t allow that hesitancy to keep you out. What I would recommend though is collect the email addresses of your subscribers. I try to do that for all of my clients and that way, if Facebook Messenger does hurt your audience in some way, at least you have the email address. And maybe you could invite them to a new platform, or just start communicating with them through email if all hell breaks loose.

Steve: Okay. But in terms of priority, you always go for the messenger subscriber first followed by email, right?

Ben: Yes absolutely.

Steve: Ben we’ve been chatting for quite a while now, I want to be respectful of your time. Where can people find more about you and your services and where you blog?

Ben: So, I blog on Clear Voice most active. I have a weekly blog there where I talk about Martech. I talked about chat bots too. But in general, I talk about marketing technology, and how businesses can leverage that for their own use, so, I would recommend you follow that blog. If you want to reach out to me though, you can go to Martech.live. There’s a contact form there, or you can drop me a message on Twitter. My Twitter handle is @MartechBen, and I’m very active on Twitter at least in responding where I will respond to you. And I’m more than happy to help anyone in your audience with questions they have about chat bots.

Steve: Cool. And then are you for hire as well for implementation?

Ben: I am. Right now things are really busy, where if I can’t take on your project right away, I have other contractors that I can help put you in touch with, or I can point you in the right direction. But if you have something innovative or unique or new that you’re working on, or you think hasn’t been done, I’d like to talk to you because that’s really — those are the projects I like to work on and I’m prioritizing those projects right now.

Steve: Cool. Well Ben, thanks a lot for coming on the show. Really appreciate you.

Ben: Absolutely. Thank you, Steve for having me on the show.

Steve: All right, take care.

Ben: You too.

Steve: Hope you enjoyed that episode. I think in the last four months or so I’ve spoken to at least five different Facebook Messenger experts, and I’ve gone all out on Facebook Messenger for myself. And at some point, I’ll probably talk about my own implementations on the show. For more information about this episode, go to mywifequitherjob.com/episode217.

And once again, I want to thank Privy.com for sponsoring this episode. Privy is the email capture provider that I personally use to turn visitors into email subscribers. They offer email capture, exit intent, and site targeting tools to make it super simple as well. And I like Privy because it’s so powerful and you can basically trigger custom pop-ups for any parameter that is closely tied to your e-commerce store. If you want to give it a try, it is free. So, head on over to Privy.com/Steve, once again, that’s P-R-I-V-Y.com/Steve.

I also want to thank Klaviyo which is my email marketing platform of choice for e-commerce 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 autopilot. 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 e-commerce 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’re giving the courage people need to start their own online business. For more information, visit Steve’s blog at www.Mywifequitherjob.com.

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218: Mid Year Report: How My Online Store Performed In The First Half Of 2018

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218: The 2018 Mid Year Report For My Ecommerce Store

My wife just closed the mid year books so today I’m going to breakdown the numbers for the first half of 2018 for BumblebeeLinens.com.

I’m going to talk about our how online store performed in the first half of 2018 and why 2018 has been one of the toughest years for us so far.

I’ll also go over what’s been working well for us and how we’ve managed to maintain growth despite the adversity. It’s going to be a short but sweet episode. Enjoy!

What You’ll Learn

  • How a simple mistake has made it an extremely challenging year
  • The pros/cons of using an open source cart vs a fully hosted one
  • What’s worked so far this year and what has not
  • The one marketing platform that has been a home run

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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.
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Privy.com – Privy is my tool of choice when it comes to gathering email subscribers for my ecommerce store. They offer easy to use email capture, exit intent, and website targeting tools that turn more visitors into email subscribers and buyers. With both free and paid versions, Privy fits into any budget. Click here and get 15% OFF towards your account.
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Pickfu.com – Pickfu is a service that I use to get instant feedback on my Amazon listings. By running a quick poll on your images, titles and bullet points, you can quickly optimize your Amazon listings for maximum conversions. Click here and get 50% OFF towards your first poll.

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.
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Transcript

Steve: You’re listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast, the place where bring on successful bootstrapped business owners and dig deep into what strategies they use to grow their businesses. Now today, it’s just me on the podcast. And I’m going to talk about how our online store Bumblebee Linens performed in the first half of 2018, and why 2018 has been one of the toughest years for us so far. I’ll go over what’s been working well for us, and how we’ve managed to maintain growth despite the adversity, it’s going to be a short but sweet episode.

But before we begin, I want to give a quick shout out to Privy who is a sponsor of the show. Privy is the tool that I use to build my email list for both my blog and my online store. Now, what does Privy do? Well, Privy is an email list growth platform and they manage all of my email capture forms. And in fact I use Privy hand in hand with my email marketing provider.

There are a bunch of companies out there that will manage your email capture forms, but I like Privy because they specialize in e-commerce. Right now I’m using Privy to display a cool wheel of fortune pop-up. Basically a user gives their email for a chance to win valuable prizes in our store. And customers love the gamification aspect of this, and when I implemented this form email sign ups increased by 131%.

So, bottom line, Privy allows me to turn visitors into email subscribers, which I then feed to my email provider to close the sale. So, head on over to Privy.com/Steve, and try it for free. And if you decide you need some of the more advanced features, use coupon code MWQHJ For 15% off. Once again that’s P-R-I-V-Y.com/Steve.

I also want to give a shout out to Klaviyo who is also a sponsor of the show. Always blessed to have Klaviyo as a sponsor because they are my main email marketing platform that I personally use for my e-commerce store, and I depend on them for over 30% of my revenues. 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. 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. 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 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. My wife just closed the midyear books. So, today what I’m going to do is I’m going to break down the numbers this past year for my e-commerce store BumblebeeLinens.com from the period of January 1st to July 1st of 2018. Now so far in 2018, it’s been a crazy challenging year. And in fact, I would say that it’s been one of the hardest years in recent memory, but not because of demand. Demand for Bumblebee Linens and our products has been great. But the reason why it’s been challenging is because we’ve hit some major snafus in the first part of the year that have greatly hindered our growth.

In any case, let’s just kind of start with the numbers first, and then I’ll go into more detail. So, so far, for the first half of the year, year over year profit and revenue is up only 3%. Traffic is up 6%, margins are relatively flat. All in all, it’s safe to say that things were mostly flat from the prior year. And to be quite honest with you, I was really ecstatic that we were even up at all given what happened in the first two quarters of the year. Now, why would I just be happy just to have a flat business that hasn’t grown from the prior year? Well, mainly, it’s because for the first half a year, we were out of inventory for most of our best selling products, out of inventory. I mean, you can’t make sales without inventory, right.

So, here’s what happened. First off, whenever we place an order for linens from our vendors, there’s actually a good three to four month lead time. Now that lead time might seem pretty long to you, but it’s something that we have to deal with because a lot of our stuff is handmade. There are literally women in rural China who are hand making our products. And what our vendor does is he actually drives around to all these little rural communities, goes to these houses for these ladies who make our products, pick them up, and then ship them to us. And so as a result for that, it takes forever to get it made and it takes forever to get some of our products.

And for the first half of the year, we were actually expecting a major shipment to arrive in the beginning of the year. And as usual, we paid for an inspection, which incidentally, even if you’ve been working with a vendor for a very long time, you should always get inspection no matter what. And what happened was, this time when we got the inspection, the samples that we got back from the inspection had a slight tinge of blue instead of pure white. Now for our store Bumblebee Linens, in case you guys aren’t familiar, we primarily sell white products. And the samples that were getting back had a slight off white aspect to it that was a tinge of blue.

And normally it wouldn’t be a big deal if it was slightly blue. Like if you looked at this thing by itself, it actually looked pure white. But the problem is we often sell our products and we cross sell our products if they match with other ones. And this particular white which had a tinge of blue didn’t match the other linens that we sell, and this would have been a huge problem. So for example, we’ll sell dinner napkins of a certain color, and oftentimes that same vendor will buy cocktail napkins to match those dinner napkins. And if the colors don’t match, that’s simply not going to work. And as a result, we couldn’t really accept that order.

Now, here’s the thing about all this. We’ve actually used this vendor for over five years, I would say even longer than that, maybe six or seven years and they’ve been rock solid, same quality product every time, same color product every single time. But this one time, for some reason in the first half of 2018, the linen color was completely off. And even though we caught the problem before this whole big shipment was shipped, they actually informed us that they could not dye the fabric to the usual white color without degrading the fabric. And as a result, they had to start all over which essentially meant another four months that we had to wait for product.

We actually ended up not having to pay for the shipment because they could sell that exact same inventory to someone else. But heck, we were expecting this order to come in January, and now we had to wait another four months. And what’s even worse is this started a huge cascade. Our number two and number three vendors, they all of a sudden started shipping us product with the exact same blue color tinge in the fabric. So, it wasn’t just our best vendor. It was our number two and number three vendors as well, and this couldn’t just be a coincidence. And so we asked, what was up with this? We asked all three vendors what was going on, why is there this tinge of blue in our white linens that we’ve been buying from you guys for years.

And it turns out that a lot of Chinese linen manufacturers decided to switch over to this color, because customers in Europe and Japan prefer a more bluish white. And as a result, all the factories started following suit and dyeing their white fabric this way. So, bottom line, we basically went through the first half of the year without a whole lot of inventory. And as a result, our Amazon listings were sold out, we didn’t have a whole lot of product to blind our event planners, and it ended up just being one huge mess. Hopefully, some of our event planners didn’t find other vendors to supply their linens for them in the meantime. And hopefully we’ll be able to get their business back once we get our inventory situation sorted out.

Anyways, as of right now, the recording of this podcast, we just received a partial shipment last week, but the rest isn’t going to come until the beginning of August. And hopefully we can make up for this shortcoming during the holiday season. The second major low light is also something that was completely unfortunate that occurred, but it had to do with technical dent. Now, it’s been a very long time since I upgraded Bumblebee Linens, the software and the server. And what happened was sometime in January, something auto updated on my server, which caused our website to start behaving erratically.

And normally, I have auto updates turned off on my server. But I must have missed something because something auto updated in January, which ended up breaking a few things. And so what ended up happening was that on random orders — so we sell personalized items where people can actually write a message of their choice on our linens. And on random orders, every now and then the personalization would get completely lost. So let’s say someone ordered 10 hankies with personal messages, every now and then all the messages for all the hankies would be completely lost in our database. And as a result, when this happened, we’d have to reach out to the customer and ask them for their personalization all over again.

And it was a huge pain in the butt. And my wife was telling me that this was happening multiple times per week. And as a result, during this duration, I ended up dialing down the ads so we wouldn’t sell as many of these personalized items. And pretty much I dropped everything that I was working on to try to fix this issue when it started happening. And it turns out that the problem had to do with our database software version changing automatically. So I spent a lot of time trying to fix this stuff. And while I was under the hood already, I decided to upgrade everything to the latest and greatest, which actually involved a pretty major code rewrite of our software.

Remember, I’m on an open source platform where I control the code. And just to give you guys an example, we had to migrate the code from PHP 5.3 all the way to the lacing grace, which is PHP seven, and PHP 5.3, which is what we were on was no longer supported. And going from that one language version to the next language version, they decided to remove certain functions in the language and I had to do the conversion with my code. And that was a major pain in the butt to say the least. I also ended up upgrading the operating system on my server to the latest and greatest Linux because my old version was getting deprecated as well. I also ended up upgrading my SQL database to the latest. I updated a bunch of plug-ins.

All in all, the process was a major pain in the butt and it took me about four days of uninterrupted work. And by uninterrupted for me that means I basically locked myself in a room for eight hours a day only leaving for food and bathroom breaks until this whole migration was done. It was an extended project. I actually, I’m kind of sadistic, I actually kind of enjoyed the upgrade, but it was a pain in the butt mainly because I didn’t know what I was doing. And I basically had to browse a bunch of forums and facts in order to just kind of get through the migration. I learned a hell of a lot, and I actually don’t regret doing the upgrade. I rather enjoyed it.

But it was a little bit stressful because we were running the store at the same time, and things were broken in the process. Anyways, this whole snafu with the migration, it actually prompted me to write a blog post on the merits of going with an open source platform, versus a fully hosted solution like Shopify, or BigCommerce, where they basically do all the upgrades and the work for you. Anyways, here’s what I had to say in that article. After all, upgrading my shopping cart to the latest and greatest was pretty hellish. Not only did I have to make the appropriate fixes, but I actually had to test them as well after I made the changes.

So, when it comes to choosing between an open source cart and a fully hosted cart, if any of the stuff that I just kind of described terrifies you, you should probably just go with a fully hosted platform like Shopify, or BigCommerce, and just be done with it. But here’s the thing, I haven’t actually had to do a major update of my shopping cart or my server in almost 10 years, I would say. And I’ve probably saved nearly six figures of money versus a fully hosted platform, if you take into account transaction fees, plug-ins, and all the extra expenses of going with a fully hosted platform.

The other thing I also want to say is that under normal circumstances, upgrading a free open source shopping cart should pretty much usually be seamless. And my situation with my cart was kind of unique in that my shopping cart pretty much stopped getting supported several years ago. There haven’t been that many updates and I’ve pretty much been on my own in maintaining my own shopping cart for quite some time now. Now, on the other hand, if you choose a well supported open source shopping cart, this will not happen to you. And I’ll just give you a quick example of this.

I use one WordPress on my blog. And I’ve used them for the last nine years, and I haven’t had to do much work at all in maintaining the core. And why is this? The main reason is because WordPress, even though it’s free and open source, it is well maintained, and extremely seamless to upgrade. Oftentimes upgrading WordPress just involves pushing a button. And because there’s a lot of third party developer support, even if you do run into some hiccups, you can usually find someone who can help you with your problem and your upgrade.

That wasn’t the case with my current shopping cart, because it’s not really supported well anymore. There aren’t a whole lot of people on it anymore, and they’re not a whole lot of people developing software supporting anymore. And so that’s why I’ve had to do this maintenance on my own. And I do want to actually emphasize, like if you guys are trying to decide between using the open source shopping cart really versus a fully hosted one, the exact same thing can actually happen to you with a fully hosted platform as well.

So for example, if Shopify or BigCommerce would ever run out of money, or become less popular, you could be stuck on a dead end platform as well, even though you’re paying them to maintain it for you. And in fact, this has already happened with a bunch of fully hosted carts, which I don’t really want to mention by name. But let’s just say that I used to be an affiliate for one of these platforms. But I stopped promoting them because they basically let their cart go to crap.

Anyways, the moral of the story here is that you want to go with a cart that has the features that you need, and the one that’s the most popular and well supported by third party developers. And of course, it’s impossible to predict the future. At the time, when I chose my shopping cart, it was actually the most popular one, and it was the one that a whole bunch of people were using. But over the years, what happens is competitors pop up, and there’s a new, most popular shopping cart over the year.

So it’s impossible to predict the future. But I would say that if you had the technical chops, and you want full control over your software, go open source. Otherwise stick with a fully was a platform like Shopify, or BigCommerce. Now, looking back, I actually don’t regret my decision at all. And the hope at least is that I won’t have to perform major surgery on my shopping cart or my server for at least another decade based on my track record.

Steve: I just want to take a moment to thank Pickfu for being a sponsor of the show. If you currently sell on Amazon like I do, then you know how crucial the quality of your Amazon listing is to the success of your e-commerce business. So for example, I’ve run experiments on my Amazon listings, well simply replacing the main image with a different photo resulted in a 2x increase in conversions. But how do you choose the best and highest converting photos for your listings? How do you know that you’re using the most profitable images for your products? And how do you know that your bullet points are convincing. This is where Pickfu comes in.

Pickfu allows you to solicit real human feedback about your Amazon listings in 10 minutes or less. And you can target the exact demographic of your end customer. So for example, let’s say you sell napkins and you have two main product images that you want to test. You would simply go to Pickfu, list the images, target female Amazon Prime members over the age of 35 and hit go. Within 10 minutes you’ll get feedback of which image people are more likely to buy along with specific feedback on why they made their decision.

In fact, I’ve used Pickfu to almost double the conversion rate on several of my Amazon listings by testing my images, bullet points, and product titles. And what I like about Pickfu is that you get results quickly unlike traditional split testing, and you can use this to test book covers, landing pages, basically anything. Not only that, but it’s super cheap to run a poll and right now you can get 50% off your first poll by going to Pickfu.com/Steve, once again, that’s P-I-C-K-F-U.com/Steve. Now back to the show.

Now the final thing, the final bad thing I should say that hit us is that we had two employees out of four leave our company this year. Two out of four, that’s 50%. And we’re not used to having turnover at Bumblebee Linens. These employees have been with us for a very long time. One employee was with us for five years and the other was here with us for two. And quite frankly, we treat our employees very well. And by well, just to give an example, we actually have given two cars away to our employees just kind of as thank yous.

And the upshot is they left for other better opportunities, or because they had other circumstances where they couldn’t work for us any longer. And we were really sad to see them leave. And we, over the years, we train them up, and so they actually knew our business inside and out. Anyways, because of these departures, I’ve had to actually personally go in and pack linens as well while recruiting new employees. And as a result of this during this period, I had to actually purposely dial down our ads, just so that we wouldn’t get overwhelmed with orders that we couldn’t fulfill. Remember, we run our own warehouse, and we do our own fulfillment, primarily because we sell personalized products.

And the entire hiring process has been extremely tough. And I don’t want to go off on a rant here, but I will say a couple of things. Hiring is tough. As part of our application process, we have everyone who applies, find our website, and then send us an email with a special subject line kind of as a test. And you would not believe how many people simply can’t follow directions, and it’s really frustrating. And the other thing that’s been hard about hiring for kind of warehouse related employees is that overall I think the talent pool has been greatly diminished by services like Uber, Lift, DoorDash, and other on demand delivery services.

Having a nine to five warehouse job just doesn’t seem as attractive when you can drive for Uber and Lift and work basically whenever you feel like it. So, this whole on demand sort of employment has made nine to five warehouse jobs a little bit less than attractive, at least in the Bay Area. In any case, I’ll keep you guys posted on the entire hiring process. We are not done recruiting just yet.

All right enough with the bad stuff. As you can probably tell, with all the bad luck in the first part of the year, we were actually lucky to have any growth at all. So, how do we manage to eke out growth without any inventory? Now, if you recall a prior episode that I did on the podcast with my wife, my wife and I actually purposely limit our growth so that we don’t let our business rule our lives. After all, we started our business to spend more time with the kiddos. And as a result, we have a couple of levers that we can pull to increase growth when necessary. But our goal is to not get stressed out about our business.

So we don’t want to grow too fast. And we’ve been controlling growth over the years. So for example, to account for the lack of inventory of certain linen products, we simply upped the ad spend for the products that we did have. And as a result, some of our shortcomings were offset by other the products that we don’t normally push as hard with Facebook ads. The other thing that we started doing is we started sending out more email campaigns to kind of offset the losses as well promoting the products that we actually did have in stock.

And here is one thing that I will say about email. Most people don’t send enough of it. And it works every single time. Every time we send out an email, we make money. Now, most people that I talk to rarely email their list because they’re afraid of burning out their list or pissing off their customers. And for those people who do this, they’re leaving money on the table. Your subscribers are surprisingly resilient, and you should be able to email them more than you think. And if you’re only sending emails once per month, or every other week, I’d say the minimum frequency should be once per week. And then when you decide to run a sale, you really need to up the sends.

So in our case, for any given sale, we usually email our folks six times or more to talk about the promotion and every single email makes money and our spam rate is 0%. It’s under like 0.01%. Anyway, email frequency is just another way that we control sales. So when we need some sales, we’ll send out some more emails, when we want to control sales, we send out less emails. But outside of dialing up and down the ads and sending more emails, the one major win for the first half of the year has been Facebook Messenger marketing. Right now our Facebook Messenger open rates are 6X greater than that of email. And the click through rates are over 10X better than email.

And I wrote a post about my Messenger exploits a while back, which I’ll link to in the show notes if you guys want to check it out. But my numbers are actually continuing to improve. And I would say at this point that Facebook Messenger is the future of marketing. As email gets more and more saturated, Facebook Messenger marketing has been a breath of fresh air, and not a whole lot of people are using it right now. So this is the right time to get in. And in fact, I’ve moved a lot of my Facebook ads and strategies over to Messenger, and I might do another podcast episode just to talk about it.

But overall, the combination of increased email sends, increased Facebook ad spend, and Facebook Messenger marketing have allowed us to eke some sort of growth for the first half of the year, despite missing some of our best selling products, despite all the server snafus, and despite the fact that a couple of our employees left. And as of right now, we should have inventory soon in the beginning of August, and hope to make up for the poor first half of the year, and putting the pedal down for the second half of the year. Anyway, I hope you guys enjoyed this episode.

I just want to give you all a quick update on Bumblebee Linens. And one thing I actually did want to end this episode with, our key lessons that I learned for the first half of the year. So, lesson number one, even if you’ve worked with a vendor for many, many years with a rock solid track record, do not take product quality for granted. Things can change at anytime; always get an inspection no matter what.

So, one major mistake that we made is that we opted to only get an inspection at the end of the production run. And this entire inventory fiasco could have been prevented much earlier on had we done an inspection at the start of production, which is actually something that we do for brand new vendors. But because we never had any problems with this vendor for five plus years, we decided to skip the start of production inspection and we paid the price.

Lesson number two, choose your shopping cart wisely, and keep backups of everything. Back in 2007 when we first got started, there was no Shopify and there was no BigCommerce and open source shopping carts were all the rage. And I think at the time the best fully hosted solution was Yahoo Merchant Solutions, and there were a whole bunch of people that went on Yahoo. And well, guess what, today they are a non factor. And I still know a couple of people who are still on Yahoo Merchant Solutions, because it’s so painful to switch.

Now, when it comes to carts, there are no guarantees at all. And arguably, I think you’re actually in a worse situation if a fully hosted shopping cart decides to go out of business or stop maintaining their cart than it is to have your own open source cart go unsupported. But nonetheless, when in doubt, go with the shopping cart that has the most third party developer support and the one that is the most popular, because that way you always have someone that you can call for help or pay for help whenever you have problems with your tech.

Now, my situation with my shopping cart is definitely not ideal for most of you out there listening. But I actually love having full control over my source code, which allows me to program in whatever feature I want. And who knows, I may migrate to another open source shopping cart someday, but for now, I bought myself at least another five years I would say with the last upgrade that I just performed.

Lesson number three, treat your employees like family. One thing that I forgot to mention is that even though our employees left, they gave us plenty of notice. And in fact, they even volunteered to try to stay as long as possible to help ease the transition to our new employees. And one thing that I’ve just learned is that if you treat your employees right, they will take care of you as well. Anyway, that’s it for today. For more information about this episode, go to mywifequitherjob.com/episode218.

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 Privy for sponsoring this episode. Privy is the email capture provider that I personally use to turn visitors into email subscribers. They offer email capture, exit intent, and site targeting tools to make it super simple as well. And I like them because they’re so powerful and you can basically trigger custom pop ups for any primer that is tied to your e-commerce store. If you want to give it a try, it is free. So head on over to Privy.com/Steve, once again that’s P-R-I-V-Y.com/Steve.

And 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, 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.

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217: The Future Of Ecommerce With Scott Voelker, Greg Mercer, Mike Jackness And Steve Chou

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217: The Future Of Ecommerce With Scott Voelker, Greg Mercer, Mike Jackness, Steve Chou And Toni Anderson

In this episode, Scott Voelker of The Amazing Seller, Greg Mercer of Jungle Scout, Mike Jackness of EcomCrew and I get together to discuss the future of ecommerce.

I’m also happy to announce that the 4 of us have decided to launch a brand new show together called The 5 Minute Pitch. Basically, it’s a Shark Tank like show where we’ll be giving away $50,000 dollars to 1 lucky business.

Click Here To Sign Up For The Chance To Win $50,000

What You’ll Learn

  • Should you start your own store or sell on Amazon first?
  • How to compete with Chinese sellers
  • How to deal with the Trump tariffs
  • How to find a product to sell
  • How to launch a product
  • Common mistakes in ecommerce

Other Resources And Books

  • 5 Minute Pitch – Sign your business up for the chance to win $50,000

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

Privy.com – Privy is my tool of choice when it comes to gathering email subscribers for my ecommerce store. They offer easy to use email capture, exit intent, and website targeting tools that turn more visitors into email subscribers and buyers. With both free and paid versions, Privy fits into any budget. Click here and get 15% OFF towards your account.
Privy

Pickfu.com – Pickfu is a service that I use to get instant feedback on my Amazon listings. By running a quick poll on your images, titles and bullet points, you can quickly optimize your Amazon listings for maximum conversions. Click here and get 50% OFF towards your first poll.

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’re listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast, the place where I bring on successful bootstrapped business owners and dig deep into what strategies they use to grow their businesses. Now, today, I have an extra special episode for you. Instead of the usual where I interview a single guest, I decided to bring my good friend Scott Voelker of the Amazing Seller, Greg Mercer of Jungle Scout, Mike Jackness of EcomCrew, and my partner Toni Anderson on the show.

Now, this podcast was actually a live Q&A session that we held last week where all of us answered questions about the future of e-commerce. So for example, we discuss how to deal with the Chinese competition. We talk about the tariffs, and how they will affect sourcing costs, we talk about finding products to sell; basically we cover a lot of ground here in one action packed hour. Now what’s also cool about this episode is that I’m happy to announce that Greg, Scott, Mike, and I are launching a brand new show together called the 5 Minute Pitch.

Basically, it’s going to be a Shark Tank like show where we’re giving away $50,000 to one lucky entrepreneur. 32 companies will be selected to pitch Greg, Scott, Mike, and I, and the winner will be selected on a live show with all of us. It’s going to be an awesome show and we’re going to start filming in September. If you’re interested in submitting your business, head on over to 5minutepitch.com, that’s the number 5-M-I-N-U-T-E-P-I-T-C-H.COM, now on to the show.

Intro: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast where we’ll 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’s your host Steve Chou.

Toni: Hey everybody, it’s Toni Anderson from Sellers Summit and I’m excited today to be with some of my absolutely favorite e-commerce people and faces you probably recognize if you’ve been to any of our Sellers Summits. In fact I think everybody who’s on today is a three times Sellers Summit alumni, right guys?

All: Yeah.

Toni: Yeah. So joining us today to discuss some of your favorite e-commerce topics that you’ve submitted, we have, let me go left to right. So I think Greg is first with his fancy elevator background which…

Greg: Thank you for having me on.

Toni: So yeah Greg, CEO of Jungle Scout. I think you’re probably known him best from that. He’s doing a lot of things; he’s got a new podcast out too. Next we have Steve Chu who you guys are probably pretty familiar with, I won’t even bother with more of an introduction, but he’s a big deal. And then we have Scott Voelker who — I know.

Steve: I don’t have an elevator that goes to my private floor however.

Toni: Exactly. Scott Voelker from the Amazing Seller and everybody is really familiar with Scott, our three times speaker at Sellers Summit. And then Mike Jackness, mentor, seller extraordinaire from the EcomCrew Podcast, and probably more famously of ColorIt I think, I don’t know which is bigger now, but they’re probably equal. So these guys are here today to answer some of your questions and talk about e-commerce. Hey, guys.

Scott: What’s up Toni?

Greg: Hello, excited to be here?

Toni: Yeah. So we’re going to just kick off right away with some questions. That’s the best way you think?

Steve: Yeah, let’s do it.

Toni: All right. Okay. First question and this is for anybody who wants to answer. It says, with the dominance of Chinese sellers at Amazon for someone just starting out, would you recommend starting on Amazon, or avoiding it completely and just going with your own website?

Steve: I wonder what Greg is going to say here.

Greg: [inaudible 00:03:25] through that first question. So yeah, I’ll go ahead and take this one to start. There’s going to be mixed opinions with the different speakers here. Me personally, I’m under the belief — I think I’m the minority here that like to me everything about Amazon is just so much easier, regardless of how many of the Chinese suppliers are trying to go direct there. And when you really factor into the time that you spend on doing everything, whether driving traffic to your site, building your own e-commerce sites, whatever else that that time and effort and brainpower is best spent on Amazon. But let’s hear some of the other guys’ opinions because I know you have conflicting views.

Scott: I think for me personally, like I would say, and I’m still like advising like people launch on Amazon. But I think it also — you have that additional channel that’s being built alongside. I think like Greg said, I mean, the traffic’s there, everything is built, like, all you really need to do is kind of like set up your listing, and optimize and all that stuff. But in the same token, if that’s all you do, and you don’t give yourself the outside channels, or the assets to drive traffic, and even push the algorithm, or just take your traffic and direct it wherever you want, I think it’s risky.

And I think then you could have a product that’s doing well with 1,000 units and then all of a sudden, a Chinese seller comes in, hijacks whatever, and all of a sudden, you’re fighting that and you might be on to your next product, I would rather have the ability to be able to take that traffic and direct it to where I want. So that’s where I’m kind of leaning. And that’s where I’m advising other people to do. But I think for launching, we’re always launching on Amazon, like, first. That’s kind of how we’re doing it.

Mike: Yeah, so for me, I mean I agree with all these guys. I mean, I think that until you have a business that’s large enough to start diversifying that you should just be on Amazon 100%. I mean, for me, it’s a million or 2 million, whatever that number is. I mean, Amazon is where 50 something percent of all e-commerce searches start. So it has a tremendous amount of built in traffic. And if you’re a solopreneur like just getting started, like trying to do all the other things to manage a business that is required when you have your own store, I think it is overwhelming.

But you also still need outside traffic sources I think to — if you look at what’s the future of Amazon, I think outside traffic sources, your own list and ways to dictate where that traffic’s going whether it’s to Amazon or not, is going to be really important. And I think the other thing that’s important when it comes to the Chinese sellers thing specifically, is not to develop like exact me too products. If you work more on a brand then a look and feel and improve upon products and make them your own, add functionality or do something different so it’s not like the exact same product that 10 other people have up there, I think, is how to win in the future on Amazon over the next couple of years.

Steve: So I actually agree with Scott and Mike and to a certain extent Greg. I don’t have that much to add, except for the fact that the way I’ve been advising people these days, is to start out on an Amazon for sure. It’s an easy way to get quick wins, get sales. And then once you know that you’re going to stick with that product line or that brand, then start your own website and start building up a list, start building up assets, because it’s really hard to establish a brand on Amazon that’s memorable.

To this day my mom still thinks that when she shops on Amazon, she’s buying from Amazon. She doesn’t even notice the brand star per se. And again, it depends on your product. You need to be able to differentiate your product in order to succeed these days. Don’t tell me too products, like Mike said.

Toni: All right. Well, staying on the Amazon thread and this is a real beginner question and I think you guys probably have some good advice for this. But if you want to get started on Amazon, do you recommend a course or video that people should be using as a resource? Steve you got anything?

Steve: Actually, we all have our courses [overlapping 00:07:27]. We all have stuff now. Greg’s stuff is free I want to say. So like, you don’t want to pay any money. Actually, we all have free stuff. Actually, we all have free stuff. Just go on all the websites, I’ll go ahead and link all that stuff up in the membership site. And you can just go and take all of our free stuff and then decide for yourself. I think that’s the best way to do it.

Toni: I think too, if you have a virtual pass which you do if you’re watching this, there’s a lot of sessions from this year’s summit that will help you get started on Amazon as well.

Steve: Yeah, we all have different styles too and that’ll really come through as soon as you start looking at some of the free stuff. And so you just want to gel with the person’s philosophy that most resonates with you.

Toni: Yeah, but everybody’s got a ton of free stuff. So, definitely grab that stuff first, and see who you connect with the best I think would be my — since you didn’t ask me, I’ll say that. Okay, let’s see what else? Okay, so this is one a little bit off Amazon. What is the best way to get traffic to your brand, Facebook, Instagram? Would you start with paid advertising? What are your recommendations?

Mike: So it’s probably going to be market dependent. So I think that the younger the crowd probably more leans towards Instagram and orders leaning towards Facebook. Women seem to lean towards Pinterest or Instagram more heavily as well, versus men, just from what we see. We run three different brands. So like, for instance, Tactical and ColorIt do really well with Facebook and WildBaby does better with Instagram.

I think that starting with paid traffic is probably the way to go because if I guess the alternative that you’re asking about would be organic traffic or SEO which takes 18 months to really ramp up. So, if you need quick wins, faster revenue in the door, faster fetcher your motto or your goal before right now then I would work on getting good at pay traffic, because you can get basically instant wins with that once you get over the learning curve.

Steve: A common question I get asked is why don’t you just start with Google or Facebook? So, first of, I just want to say that when you’re starting out, you should probably just choose one and become really good at that one channel instead of just trying a whole bunch of different things and failing at everything. That’s just a common thing that I tend to see, they try something once, it doesn’t work, then they give up. So, you want to choose one of the other. Google and Facebook are the largest players and it just really depends.

So, if people are out there searching for the thing that you want to sell, then Google will tend to work well. But if people aren’t actively searching for what you had to sell, then Facebook will tend to work better. And Google in my experience that we run Google ads and Facebook ads, and our Google ads are actually very profitable. But it really depends; Google tends to be a lot more expensive. And the way you want to start out with Google is you want to probably just start out with retargeting and just trying to get people that have already been to your site. And if you have to choose the different Google flavors to start with, I would start with Google Shopping.

And the main reason for that is you have an image, and you have the price. And so when someone clicks on the ad, there is a much higher probability of them actually having the intent to buy a product, and of course there’s Facebook ads. I think Facebook ads; the interface is a whole lot easier. And again, if you’re just trying to get leads or if you’re just trying to get some traffic to your site, then Facebook ads tends to work really well. And as Mike said, it really depends on your demographic.

For our demographic which tends to be older people, a lot of older people are on Facebook, including myself, and my mom and sister, those platforms tend to work well. Google I found is just really expensive and you have to spend a lot of money to kind of train Google to understand where your conversions are coming from, and only then will your prices start to come down.

Scott: And the only thing I want to add to that is it’s one thing to grab traffic from the paid side of things. But I think the really important part is, and I think Mike talked about that a little bit is like, understanding who it is you’re targeting, and trying to get really focused on that. And if you do have your own web property, to instantly put a pixel on that page, so you can start to build that custom audience as soon as possible. That’s with Facebook that is because we can get traffic pretty much on any platform. But if we have the right traffic, that can be a big difference between converting and not converting.

And then also knowing where to send them, whether it’s your own website, or if you’re going to do a coupon, let’s say, for an Amazon thing I would always intercept that with an email address in exchange for the coupon code. So I have that opportunity later to be able to target them and they also raised their hand. So, that’s the only thing I wanted to add, just make sure that you understand who you’re targeting.

Steve: I also want to add that you don’t want to be driving traffic to your site unless you have a way to retain them. So these days, it takes up to like eight touch points before someone is going to buy. And so you have to have things in place to bring people back to your site, either through email, through messenger, through pixel and retargeting ads, you have to have all that stuff in place, so that you’re maximizing the traffic you are paying to get to your site.

Mike: One other thing I want to mention about Facebook ads I forgot to mention earlier, Facebook ads are very dependent on the type, but I already mentioned the type of demographic, but also the type of product. So, Facebook ads work way better if you have an audience that’s aligned with your product. So as a for instance, there’s an interest group on Facebook of people who like coloring.

So it’s very easy for us to target people for that. We have the Tactical brand. It’s very easy to target people who like camping, or hunting or fishing. The example I always give for IceWraps is it’s hard to target someone who has aches and pains because that’s not an interest on Facebook. So, it’s also very product dependent. And some things just do not and will not work well on Facebook because of that.

Steve: Someone just asked in the live chat. I thought I just answer this real quick. Do you have any advice for tricks on configuring an email campaign to minimize the chances of those emails going to the dreaded promotions tab? In our experience, even pure text emails end up being flagged as marketing emails? Yeah, the way you get out of the promotions tab, so there’s one way that when someone signs up, you can actually give them a tutorial on how to drag that email out of promotions tab into the inbox so that you’re regarded as a safe sender. And then at that point, all of your email should go to their inbox.

If they don’t do that, well, then you actually have to send out good emails that people actually open. And over time, Google or Gmail will learn to not put that email in the promotions tab, because you’re actually engaging with the person they’re emailing. Any of you guys have anything to add about that?

Scott: Yeah, the only thing I want to add to that, I’m not sure if it’s 100% across the board. But what I’ve found, it seems to work is number one; we need them to open the email, right. And in order to get that first email open, we need it to end up not in their promotions tab. So, what we’ve played around with is not having anything promotional or anything that could flag it as spam. So the title could be like, thanks, or something very generic. And then inside of the email copy, again, no links, just maybe, hey, if you have any questions, let us know, reply, keeping it really lean. And then that will allow you to possibly get in the inbox. And then if they do open it and touch it, it also signals that they want to receive that email. Now, again, I’m not sure if that’s going to work across the board. But we’ve seen, we found that to work really well.

Steve: Actually, one thing that does work across the board is you say something in the first line, hit reply to this message and say, hey, and asking a question.

Scott: Yeah, that one works well, yeah, or just like, what do you think about this email, or what’s your favorite type or something else, and they respond to those, it helps train Gmail. But I would say, there’s also there’s no golden ticket for this, like, Google is very smart. I’m sure they’re using machine learning algorithms for this. Over time, they’re constantly changing it and everything else. I mean, if you’re sending emails that are very promotional in nature, it’s going to be like a constant battle that oval overtime and Google is usually probably going to win.

Mike: We use a program called GlockApps, G-L-O-C-K-A-P-P-S.com, and it allows you to send your emails to a bunch of seed addresses. And it’ll tell you if they’re going into the promotions tab, or the primary tub. And we’ve had really good luck basically doing that, and then refining the email over two or three, or sometimes 10 edits depending on what we’re doing. And it’s some of the things these guys have already mentioned, some of the wording and stuff is a lot of it, the number of links, if you have an image that needs to be compressed and be smaller, things of that nature.

And we’ve had really good luck getting emails from promotions to in the inbox by doing that, and that increases our open rates typically on those campaigns by like 50%. So instead of having a 20% open rate, we’ll see 30% open rates on ones that are in the inbox versus promotion.

Toni: All right. Well, speaking of tools, the next question that we have is how much software should I have in my business? It feels like I have too much, one for sales tax, one for inventory, accounting, it adds up to decent monthly expense, what do you guys recommend? Maybe keep using the software and focus on the 80/20 of my business?

Mike: The only tool that I have that I pay for is Jungle Scout.

Steve: I agree.

Greg: Catch you.

Mike: That’s the only one you need.

Greg: Everyone is always, and of course I’m open to software solutions so it’s rare to hear this from me. But like, everyone is always looking for like software platform, it has to be like magic bullets. Like what piece of software do I need? It’s like, well, like, what pain points do you have in your business? Are you having a really hard time managing your inventory? And so then that’s probably money well spent. So, I would say more so be thinking about like what kind of ROI are you getting from these and like what pain points do you really have, and then look for software to solve this particular one.

Mike: It’s hard to get by in this business without a whole bunch of different tools. And I think the person is probably coming from the same level of frustration that I have. I look at that line item on our PNL every month and it continues to get bigger and bigger because you’re right, you need now especially with this tax rolling that just came down, you need something like a tax jar of relearning, you need something like an inventory management software and a shipping software and accounting software and an email platform.

And next thing you know, you’re spending mid four figures or even getting to high five or four figures in just SaaS applications. And yeah, definitely eats into your bottom line. But there as Greg said, I mean, we look at the ROI of those. I mean, the ones that we continue to keep are ones that add some benefit to our business that more than pays for the cost of the subscription.

Steve: I think it’s just much harder to do this when you’re first starting out, right? You’re not making that much money, and then you having huge bills. And so…

Scott: I wouldn’t get them though at that point then, right? It’s like, I think you have to add as you need, right? If you want to free up — if you find yourself at the end of the tax season wondering, why you’re spending a week or two weeks trying to figure out where you are, and you don’t know where you are in your business, then you need an accounting solution, right? But I mean, probably should have that beforehand.

But like, yeah, there’s a lot of the bells and whistles out there I think are the ones that are like tools that are like, you’re going to find the ultimate like silver bullet like, no, like those I don’t think we do have to have, maybe you get it for a month, and then maybe you cancel it. But for the most part, you need the basic ones to run your business, but when you need them. I don’t think just because you have a business doesn’t mean you need to have an inventory solution when you don’t have a lot of product, right?

Steve: Yeah, I mean, I recommend starting out with the starter plan of the web app. And then as your business grows, then grow up, sign up for the professional Jungle Scout web app. Right, Greg? It does take a nice trajectory of growth as your business grows.

Greg: Yeah.

Toni: Steve, I know you don’t like to pay for anything.

Steve: Yes, I don’t. I’ll just take like one minute talking about my philosophy.

Toni: Yeah talk about your philosophy because I think it’s a little bit different than most people.

Steve: It is. So what I tell everyone to avoid is like paying for like stupid apps that don’t do very much that carry a monthly fee. There’s a bunch of these on Shopify, for example. I’ll just give you an example of something I just did last week. So there’s this program called Funnel, which is basically a countdown timer that you can create scarcity in whatever you’re trying to sell. And they wanted $80 a month for that.

And it took me two days to replicate that, and I just sat down and wrote that and then I saved $80 a month essentially. Now, and not all of you guys are probably developers, but a lot of these stupid things you can probably just hire someone to do and then you won’t have that cost forever. I don’t advise this for everyone, and thanks for bringing that up Toni.

Greg: I guess that’s one of the tricky things though like to me hearing that like, man, if I just spent two whole days to do something, it’s like man, I’d rather just spend the 80 bucks a month to solve that problem to save myself two days.

Steve: But I actually also enjoy doing that stuff too.

Scott: Let me ask you this Steve, do you like to go out to dinner or do you like to cook at home?

Steve: I prefer going out to eat.

Scott: And you’re willing to spend that money?

Steve: I am.

Scott: Even though you can go…

Steve: Well it depends…

Scott: I would have thought you would say, honey, we’re staying in tonight [overlapping 00:20:52].

Steve: …bill is ridiculous actually; we go out practically every single meal.

Mike: I mean, well, he’s told me probability is he prefers to go out because he doesn’t like Jen’s cooking. But…

Steve: No, I would never say that. I would never say that. We did have this, just like 30 seconds, we didn’t have this like Chinese chef that we used to hire to cook meals for us. So we had to go out, but her for food was just so terrible to the point like I used to dread coming home to eat. And then one time I actually got Chinese takeout and I ate it in front of her by accident. I wasn’t even thinking she was there cooking and I was even take out like Panda Express. So anyways, next question Toni.

Toni: A little Steve therapy session. Okay, here’s one for people who have a B2B business. It says what is the best thing I can do to drive traffic from my website, which is a B2B business, in your experience, does Facebook work well for this? And this, I think piggybacks a little bit on what Mike was saying earlier about you have to know your audience. So, if you have a B2B product, what’s the best solution for driving people to the website?

Mike: I can talk about the Facebook part specifically first. I mean, you can target things like job titles. So, depending on again, the type of product you have, you can target the procurement manager titles or things like that. It’s very tricky, though and it’s tough. And it really depends. It’s very, very product specific. We have some B2B component to our IceWraps business. And we’ve tinkered with this without a whole ton of luck. What has worked better is just as Steve was saying earlier, Google ads seemed to work better for these things. When people are actively looking for that product, you want to be in front of them.

So whatever, again that’s product specific. But if it’s something like custom gel ice packs, as a for instance, one of the things that we do that does really well for our B2B business, we just, we want to be ranking front and center when they’re searching for that, at that moment when they have that pain points. Facebook ad is still tougher, because they’re not looking forward at that moment. And for businesses, that type of marketing is much more difficult to kind of get over that hump than it is for an individual looking to buy something that’s more spontaneous. So again, it’s product specific. But businesses don’t typically spontaneously go out and buy a whole bunch of widgets.

Steve: I think an indirect way of doing it is to sell to the consumer and see who buys a lot of whatever you’re selling. And then reach out to those people or stock them, find out if they work for a larger Corporation, and then reach out to them and give them special coupon codes and special treatment. Like I went over this in my breakout session at the summit, but this is basically how we get B2B customers. As Mike was alluding to, on Facebook, we did try once a campaign because there’s, you can target like event planners and whatnot on Facebook. And we were trying to do that and our ad was basically giving out free samples of our napkins for these events.

And we ran it for a little bit and we had limited success, although I think we did get one or two customers. But as long as you just get like one or two of those guys who buy consistent from you, that can make your entire campaign worth it. But we weren’t getting that many bites because it’s hit or miss. They just happen — they have to be actively looking for whatever that product that you’re supplying is. And so that’s going to be hit or miss.

Toni: Anybody else got something to add? Scott’s nodding furiously, so I don’t know.

Scott: I was agreeing with him. I think all that’s a great idea, do it. But I think whenever you’re going to a B2B, it’s like you have to find either that purchasing person, right, or the person that’s supplying. If you’re selling like k cups for the office, it’s like you have to be able to target the person that’s making the purchases. And this is a little bit harder, but like Steve was saying, if you find even one or two, that can be well worth it, because it’s just kind of it’s like recurring revenue, you know? Yeah, I agree. I think that it’s all good stuff.

Steve: But one thing we used to do when we were really scrappy is we used to just cold call wedding planners and event planners and offer discounts. I think that will work better than Facebook ads, because you’re going through the — I don’t want to say Yellow Pages because that dates me, but you go out there and you find companies who might be interested in your stuff, and you just establish a conversation.

Mike: Hey, Scott, how have you been able to sell garlic presses to restaurants?

Scott: It’s been a challenge. But we’ve reached out to some of the top chefs in the market.

Toni: Waiting for your Gordon Ramsay partnership.

Scott: Yes, yes.

Toni: All right. Okay. So this is another one. I think this is basically if you already have, if you’re already selling, what is your mindset for trying new things or launching tests for new ideas? What parameters do you set for yourself regarding budget, test period, anything?

Steve: Is this for ads or for products?

Toni: Let us limit it to introduce new products.

Steve: New products.

Scott: Okay. But so it’s you’re talking about in the same brand though? We’re not talking about jumping to a different project.

Toni: Well, they weren’t specific.

Scott: Because that’s immediately what I started thinking about because as entrepreneurs we’re like, oh, wait a minute, there’s something we can do over there. If it’s in the brand itself, that’s different. And we can talk about that. But if it’s projects, like let’s start a new venture over here, I’d be careful on that.

Mike: If it’s within the same brand, like one of the best feelings in the world when you get to a certain point within your brand is to just be able to like send out an email and pull your current customers, and ask them what they want. It was like a wonderful, like year to 18 months for ColorIt and new products. We kind of got to a certain point, we had a core group of people, we sent out a poll, like what do you want the next book title to be, or next product? And we polled people with some multiple choice stuff, and also right in. And yeah, we didn’t have to come up with any ideas for a very long time after that. So that was a really good way.

Scott: Like, let me ask you, like so on that survey and stuff that you did, how many people do you do you think that you sent that to or that you didn’t send it to, how many responses? I think people would be interested to know that because some people think, well, I got it this massive list and this massive amount of people coming in and giving me this stuff. Like, where could — or when could someone start to do that?

Mike: We didn’t, we weren’t smart enough to figure out to do it until I think further than that we needed to. I think that if you got at least 1,000 people that have purchased from you, I think it’s probably a good barometer for that actual purchasers. I think it is probably a point where you can send it out and get not false positives, right. Because like, you can end up with like some variance issues where like if you’ve only had 100 customers, three people wanting something can really throw that off. But yeah, when you kind of get, I think a point where you have 1,000 or 2,000 people that have purchased from you.

We already had like over 10,000 customers by the time that we sent this poll out. And the thing that was interesting about it, we do a thing called ColorIt Live every week. And we’ve been doing now for a couple years. And we had a couple of people in the ColorIt Live every week asking for a ColorIt by number book. And this was actually when we decided to do the poll. And I was like, okay, well, we’re going to go out and do this ColorIt by numbers book. And in that smaller subsection of just a couple of hundred people a week that will come to ColorIt Live, it seemed like this was something that was like going to be really, really in high demand.

And then we did the poll, and it was literally the least ranked one. So like if you can get a larger group of people together. And that basically stopped us from doing a disaster because it would have been a much tougher project than our typical stuff. And those same couple of people still ask all the time, when are you coming out with a ColorIt by number book? We know that there just isn’t going to be any demand there for that. And the books that we did release because they were the one that, we ended up releasing first from that was the mythical and fantasy book that we do. And it’s still by far and away our best seller to date, because we polled our customers and we knew exactly what they were looking for.

Greg: Oh, I had something to that, since the question wasn’t too specific I’ll just talk real quick about kind of like my philosophy about too many projects as an entrepreneur. I think Scott started to allude on this a little bit about like always kind of chasing the next shiny object, and I’m super guilty of this. But like when I look back, kind of like throughout my career, I’d say like as an entrepreneurial, most of the biggest mistakes or little same mistakes that I’ve made is like trying to do too many like different things instead of like really doubling down on like what’s working.

It’s like when you find those one or like two marketing channels that work really well for you, don’t feel like you also need to be going out and doing Snapchat ads and this and that, the other thing. It’s really easy to do when you hear these things or you hear someone else is having successes, usually doubling down on what’s working for you is the better solution as opposed to always trying to do more and more and more and more.

Steve: A real question, a quick question on the live chat. Do you guys use brand ambassadors in your brands and how do you structure that? What are the requirements and benefits for a brand ambassador? Scott that’s you, right, or?

Mike: So marketing or are you talking about like an actual like…

Steve: Like over space in the company, I guess? Yeah.

Mike: Okay.

I wanted to take a minute to talk about a brand new show that Scott Volker of the Amazing Seller, Greg Mercer of Jungle Scout, Mike Jackness of the EcomCrew, and I are launching in the fall of 2018. It’s called the 5 Minute Pitch, and it’s a Shark Tank like show where we’ll be giving away $50,000 to one lucky business. 32 companies will be selected to pitch Greg, Scott, Mike, and I, and the winner will be selected on a live show with all of us. It’s going to be an awesome show and we’re going to start filming in September. If you are interested in submitting your business, head on over to 5minutepitch.com, that’s the number 5-M-I-N-U-T-E-P-I-T-C-H.com. Now back to the show.

Scott: Yeah, for the brand that we’re working with now, we do have a face. The question I get a lot of times, what if you don’t have a face? What do you do with that? I say, then you can find someone that could be the face. And I do think there’s a lot to it as far as giving you an advantage. Plus, that person is now kind of representing your brand and also people start to buy into that person. Obviously, it has to be a likable person, or it has to be someone like we were just talking before we even got on here about being animated, being excited, like those things play into that.

If he just came on here and go, hi welcome. I’m going to share with you how to press garlic today, like you need that. But I think it’s important if you can have it. I don’t think it’s a deal breaker if you can’t. And I think if you’re struggling with finding that ambassador, that someone that could be the face, then I say go out there and find someone that enjoys doing what — in your market, doing what it could be to help your market or like in ColorIt like color, right? Like finding someone that is that person and then offering either to pay them weekly to do an hour or two, or possibly even have them come in on the company with a small portion of the company depending. I think it’s a huge thing if you can find one.

Greg: I agree with Scott a lot on that, like people like purchasing from like other humans and people really enjoy like a little bit like behind the scenes like what’s going on in the company or who they’re purchasing from, or those types of things. They like want a much stronger connection, you’re kind of like building a tribe that’s like a fan of this. For example, like Mike Jackness, I don’t think I’ve seen like him all over the ColorIt stuff. But I have seen videos of like this other female personality. I don’t know if that’s a full time employee or what.

But I think like anyone could do this pretty much across any different type of company or product, but just giving like a little bit more like an inside look at what’s going on behind the co– on inside the company or kind of like who they’re buying from. It’s like they’re buying from a human instead of just this company object.

Steve: I think we can attribute the success of ColorIt to the fact that Mike is not the brand ambassador.

Scott: It’s true.

Mike: Actually I accept that’s true

Toni: Okay. While we’re speaking about personalities, we have a question for Scott. Steve and I actually got a little laugh out of this question earlier. Scott, you’re a pretty quiet and reserved in person, but your personality packs a punch during the recordings and videos, how do you make sure you’re engaging to listen to? I don’t, I don’t think you’re quiet and reserved in public.

Steve: I don’t either man.

Toni: We have to like mute your microphone in there.

Scott: Yeah, that’s a little odd but okay. Yeah, I’m not really sure. I think whenever the video is on I guess I get excited about what I’m talking about. And generally, in this case, it’s business. But I could be talking about I don’t know, if I’m into dirt bike riding, like I’m going to be excited about that. I think people have told me before like I could get excited about anything if I’m — and get people excited about it. But in person, I don’t know, I think I’m a little bit more laid back because — not laid back but I think because I want to listen to those people versus me just being like listen to me.

So when you’re there, it’s like a two way conversation versus here it’s kind of like you’re kind of filling in the voice. Now we have people on the panel here. So it’s a little bit easier. If you’re doing a one off podcast by yourself, you really got to keep it moving. And I don’t know, for me it’s hard to slow down. But if you have people that kind of interject the stuff it’s better. But I think also in person I like to try to listen to where they’re coming from. But yeah, I think, I don’t know, I do pushups and stuff before I get on and everything. I don’t, I don’t really. Hopefully that answered that question. Next question.

Toni: All right, all right. Okay speaking of podcasts, and I guess this is a question for everybody since you all have podcasts. What is your podcast system workflow?

Scott: Oh, I love one, go Steve.

Steve: Mine is really simple. I basically…

Scott: Pay for anything.

Steve: I don’t pay for anything, except for Libsyn. I use Libsyn to host my podcast. I use my podcast to meet people. So I’ll basically just reach out, I use a tool called Meetme.so which I am paying for by the way [inaudible 00:34:50]. And I basically just schedule people, I record it, and then I dump it in my Dropbox and I have an editor who edits everything and then puts it up on my site. And that’s, it’s pretty much good to go. I don’t know, you guys flow is probably similar, right?

Mike: That’s very similar, like for me when I started it, I knew that if it became a burden that I just won’t stick with it, like I had to make it as simple as possible. So, when I record a solo podcast, I just use, I think it’s the built in app QuickTime, or I think it’s QuickTime. Oh, yeah, QuickTime. And then I use Call Recorder if I’m recording somebody over Skype. And I just drop that on Dropbox and Abby, who takes care of it for us now, she’s a full time employee for us, but it’s a Filipino employee who makes like 700 bucks a month.

And so she’s doing everything for EcomCrew. But also one of things that she does is produce the podcast. So she’s putting on the bumpers and the commercial spots, and the intro and autro and like edits, and does all that. And it’s super easy for me. Like, typically, if it’s a 30 minute podcast, I’m spending 35 minutes of total time to do it.

Scott: Yeah, and I’ll just say mine in the beginning I was everything. I was doing you know, I was recording, editing, even trying to put show notes together, no transcripts, but then I started to see that it was becoming a burden. And also, I was saying like, okay, well, the podcast wasn’t making any money in the beginning. So once I started to make a little bit of money from the podcast, I reinvested that back into hiring someone to do show notes professionally at it, and then also do transcripts. And so now my workflow really, I guess my biggest thing is preparing it. I don’t prepare like long, but I like to prepare three or four episodes so I can knock the three or four episodes out.

Generally, Tuesday and Wednesdays are my planning and recording days. And then I’ll just record in GarageBand, I use GarageBand, and then from there export, and then I will take that file and drag it up into Dropbox. And then they know what to do with it from there. And they even post it on the blog and all that stuff. And now that I’ve added YouTube into it, I’ve got a whole another flow for that, which is becoming a little bit of a challenge but I’m figuring it out. But that’s pretty much the podcast is really planning, recording, and then uploading it. Once it’s set up, it’s kind of like Mike was saying, it’s just like you record and then you just add it to your Dropbox.

Mike: If you’re asking the question, you’re probably thinking of starting a podcast yourself. So, just one piece of advice with that is that probably for the first year or a year and a half, you’re going to be talking to yourself and your mom. It takes a long time to kind of get a following and traction and almost just like blogs, like almost everyone gives up within the first year because they don’t realize like how much work and dedication it does take to do it week in and week out. Or like Scott does like three or four days a week now or whatever, it’s not a small time commitment.

And typically, people just fizzle out, or you’re excited about it to start with, and then you just don’t see the results as Scott was saying. You don’t make any money from doing it to start with. So, don’t even bother getting started unless you really know that you’re going to continue with it.

Scott: Let me just add… Oh, sorry, Steve go ahead.

Steve: I was going to say, my mom still doesn’t listen to my podcast.

Scott: I just want to add one more thing and then Greg you chime in. It’s like I’m realizing that there’s people in the e-commerce space that could start a podcast. And to me, you could stand out because there’s not as many people doing podcasts as there is people doing YouTube. Now, YouTube is good, because it’s visual and if you have stuff to demonstrate, I think it’s great. And I think eventually, you can do both. But a podcast if you have something, I know Death Wish Coffee has their own podcast. Now, it’s not about drinking coffee. It’s basically an entertainment show. But it’s also they’re now sponsoring the show in a sense, right.

So, if you have a way to connect with your audience and you enjoy doing it, and show up at least once a week. Now, think about that once a week. I think everyone can do once a week, 52 weeks, I mean, 52 episodes. And even if you’re only getting 300 listens, or 500 listens, it’s still people that are connected to you. And I haven’t found anything as close as connecting with my podcast listeners even YouTube, because people actually listen longer, and they get to know, like, and trust you to me faster. And you can’t really fake that.

So anyway, I just want to kind of throw it out there. If you have an e-commerce brand and you’re thinking about it, like I say, do it and you can commit to once a week. I think it’s a great thing. And I think it’s underutilized right now.

Greg: The as far as workflow, it probably sounds kind of like a broken record there because I have someone else schedule it, I just shove to record, it gets dropped into a Google Drive folder, someone else edits it and posts it so not a lot of work Kind of like on my end. To kind of tag on to what Scott is saying though, I’ve had a little bit different results with like podcasts versus YouTube. The one really nice thing about YouTube is or the biggest downside to podcasting in my opinion is like the discoverability in the search functionality to it.

So, once you like really putting your time, like all these guys had, you’re in those top hundred spots, then all of a sudden you do get discovered, just like from people browsing iTunes, or whatever else or like recommendations, but there’s no good search engine inside, I’d like to find podcasts like there is YouTube, or there’s nothing close to as good as what YouTube is. So I’d actually, if you were just starting out in my opinion, I’d probably actually be more interested in starting a YouTube channel targeting keywords that I know people are searching for to start to build up that audience a little bit faster. But yeah, just a little bit of a different opinion there, probably no right or wrong answer.

Steve: I think YouTube is like yeah, like you said, it’s a great way to get people to come on, but they’re not like the most loyal, whereas your podcast listeners are going to be very loyal. It’s like part of the game.

Scott: When you subscribe to a podcast like I’m usually listening to like all those new episodes where that’s not really true on YouTube. I’m more so like I guess I’m not subscribed to that many YouTube channels, right? I’m searching for something, I find it, then I’ll watch it. And I think with YouTube also, your attention span is a lot less, right. So you’re on there, you might have a 15 minute video and someone watches two minutes. Now, which you might want to do is plan it to where you can do a YouTube and then turn that into a podcast and then you can get two things out of one recording. So that’s another option. And really not a lot more work.

I mean, it’s just two different channels, as long as you can basically set that up to where you’re not like saying visual things that won’t make sense if you’re listening. So you got to kind of be careful there. But yeah, I agree. I agree, Greg. I mean, yeah, YouTube is a great platform. And I think there’s still room there, it will take time. But I think if you can then get people to listen, I think on a podcast, they’re going to listen longer, which then would get them, the people that are listening are going to be I think more connected if you have a story or if you have a brand that can utilize that. Not all brands will be able to utilize that.

Steve: I think we’ve beaten this one to death, Toni what’s the next question?

Toni: So the next question comes from the chat and it’s about oversize products. I’m not familiar with oversize products, so I’m hoping I’m explaining this correctly. It says it’s from — we have no luck trying to have Amazon not split our oversize product container. I wonder if it is because our oversize is not really oversize enough. For example, the product size is 20 inches by 20 inches by three inches.

Greg: I don’t think that really has anything to do with it. Typically, like there’s oversize warehouses, there’s some that I think are mixed and some that only do standard size. Amazon is typically going to want to split up these containers usually into three different distribution centers. Some things you can do to kind of hack it, usually if your ship wrong, like the best ship from zip code is one like in Southern California and then hopefully you get the Menlo Park distribution center. Sometimes that works.

I know some people do like say that they really have 1,000 units, they’ll tell Amazon they’re sending in 3,000 units that gets split into three shipments and they only fill one of them. But I do know like over time that Amazon usually send you like warning email saying that you’re going to get in trouble if you continue to do that. So that is against the rules. But I do know some people do that. But fact of matter is that Amazon wants you to send in to multiple distribution centers.

Mike: So we do that trick Greg that you just mentioned. We split up, I know it’s a little bit gray hat, obviously. But what we do is actually send in those other shipments eventually. So, like we do send them to the other two centers. We don’t delete the shipments. There is no like time frame on it.

Greg: Uh that’s a good thought.

Mike: Yeah. So like where I’ve heard people getting in trouble is like they only ship into one and they create another shipment and only ship into one and create another shipment, and eventually Amazon will warn you for that or give you trouble. We’ve never had that problem because we’ve never done that. But what we do again is we will do 3,000 units, it will produce three containers worth of stuff for three different centers. Shipment one will go on to Ontario, then when we’re restocking the next time we’ll send it in the Arizona or wherever it wants it to go. And then Florida or wherever, whatever it is, we stagger that out in advance.

Greg: That’s a good hack, I like that.

Toni: All right. Okay. Sticking with Amazon, Brand Registry 2.0, what’s your take on avoiding inauthentic product claims, products that are not counterfeit but may have not come from an Amazon approved source? If I’m doing wholesale or arbitrage, I have no way to know beforehand what Amazon’s approved sources are.

Mike: They just came out with this new program that they just introduced in the last two weeks called transparency that we’re going to think about getting into. But basically, you need to serialize every single product before sending into Amazon, they give you like these codes to put them on the package. And that guarantees that you’re the only seller that can sell it on Amazon.

Scott: I didn’t know that, that’s cool.

Mike: It just came out with I think it’s in beta and it was an invite only thing I think right now, but you can…

Greg: And that’s through Amazon.

Mike: Yeah.

Greg: And is that Brand Registry only?

Mike: Yep, yep.

Greg: Okay, so you got to have Brand Registry 2.0 which requires a trademark, which could require eight to 12 months.

Mike: Correct.

Scott: So that’s why it is important to get that trademark as soon as you can.

Greg: But with the question that the person was doing like retail arbitrage and then sending stuff in, they’re getting in trouble for it?

Toni: It sounds like that was probably the direction of their question was a wholesale or arbitrage?

Mike: Hmm, I misunderstood. I thought that they were — it was their own private label brand that they were also wholesaling and then the stuff was ending up on Amazon.

Toni: That was a good tip though Mike. I don’t think anybody knew that.

Greg: That was good.

Scott: But I mean, as far as that goes, I don’t know if there’s too much that you can do about that. I mean…

Greg: Don’t buy a lot.

Steve: I would change your business model long term, like yeah, if it’s making you money right now, like pay the bills for sure, but be thinking about another way to make a living long term with Amazon.

Scott: I think that’s always risky whenever, I mean retail arbitrage is great for beginners to get started, and stuff a lot of times. But again, you don’t want to be buying 1,000 units of something with RA, especially because that can happen. I’ve seen it happen to people all the time. They’re selling something that’s selling well, and all of a sudden they get told that they can’t sell that certain item anymore and they’re stuck with whatever how many units, they got to go sell them on eBay or whatever. So just be careful.

Greg: For the record, Amazon does not like the name Brand Registry 2.0. They emailed us a few weeks ago and asked us to change our blog title. It’s not called Brand Registry 2.0. It’s just called Brand Registry.

Mike: Ha, ha it’s not new coke. It just coke.

Greg: All right.

Steve: By the way we might shut Jungle Scout down if you don’t comply.

Greg: Beautiful.

Toni: All right, what plans if any, are you making to address tariffs and possible trade wars between the USA and other countries, for example, establishing a financial store presence in overseas markets, changing up your shipping methods, slowly raising prices, solidifying your position with more brand loyalty, emphasis on trademarks and patents.

Mike: I mean I’ll take this one first.

Greg: USA, Jackness is pretty in tune with all these things.

Mike: Yeah, I mean, this has actually been like a long term — I haven’t ever like talked about this. But this is a long term strategy of ours. When Trump I think when he first got elected, it was like when he was president elect, basically, he had come out with saying that they were going to work on the windows border adjustment tax, and that really scared the crap out of me. And the border adjustment tax basically is a tariff on anything coming into the US from anywhere, and you can offset that by things that are made in the US. So, that’s when we actually went out and bought survivalfood.com.

And we’re in the process right now, of like finally having that come to fruition. We waited to get the thing ranking towards the top of Google. So it ranks between the first and third position now for survival food, and we’re going to start making our own food in the US. So, our strategy has been to have things that are made in the US that can offset these types of things. Now, the way that it has played out, unfortunately, for that particular plan is that the way that it’s playing out now is not a border adjustment tax, but just basically cherry picking for whatever reason things that the administration or whoever sets these rules like has a thing of their way around for.

I can’t quite figure out the pattern here, but it’s been steel products, or electronics or whatever. And it’s constantly like a different thing, which is that’s the scary thing for business, it’s hard to plan. But for us, I think the balance is going to be having some things that are made in the US. So those products for us, again, are going to be the food, the freeze dried survival food stuff that we’re going to make like a really big run out, I’m really excited about. And the other thing that we’re working on for WildBaby is some shampoo and body wash and stuff that’s also made in the US inorganic, high quality stuff that you wouldn’t want to make overseas anyway.

So, just hedging our bets as we get bigger. I mean, and I want to preface all this, that we’re heading towards 10 million this year. And we, I think, have a reason to diversify it. I would not go and do all this stuff if you’re still a smaller company, and things are working well for you if you are sub 1 million or 2 million, I don’t think it’s necessary. But for us, that’s been the way that we’ve been heading the last year or so. And it’s starting to kind of come together now.

Scott: I would just say like Mike said, at the tail end there, if you’re like not at that level, like I don’t know if I would lie awake at night thinking about it. I’d just go out there and build my business. And if it happens, it happens. And I’ll deal with it when I deal with it. But I think it’s a great strategy to be able to do that because you have to offset it. But again, if you start worrying about that stuff, you’ll never move, you’ll just stay stuck.

So yeah, and the reality with a lot of that is it’s most likely going to affect your competitors just as much as it affects you, right. So, like there are probably be some short term weirdness as far as pricing goes, but long term, that price is probably just going to get passed on to the consumers because it’s like most people don’t really have the room in their margins to take that hit. So I’m always Scott.

Mike: The long term there is at least 12 to 18 months, because there’s a period of inventory that’s already in the country. And the thing that’s the scariest part of all that is a bunch of sellers that don’t realize the implications on their actual products. So, there’s a lot of things that are selling on Amazon at a loss, people don’t realize it, they don’t understand all the fees and other things that kind of go into it or they saw other people doing things at a certain price and they brought things and didn’t quite understand the dynamics. This already happens.

So yeah, the short term pain I think would be tough. But again, no, I wouldn’t lay awake at night. These are things that are out of your control. And for me, it’s just like I’m pretty nimble in business and have dealt with a lot of other adversities that are way bigger than someone passing a tariff on one of our products. So I don’t know.

Toni: So what I’m hearing you say is Trump hates colored pencils?

Mike: He does. I don’t know if it was Trump. That was actually there before him.

Steve: Oh, colored pencils are already taxed?

Mike: Those are already under anti dumping tax.

Toni: Because they would.

Mike: Yeah.

Toni: Okay. So, back to a beginner question, what things would you steer away most from launching a product you found with good demand? So, you found a product that has good demand, but what would steer you away from that product, too many competitors, hard to differentiate, etc.

Greg: So yes, both of those, those are the two things I would steer me away the most. Like, if there’s 50 people all selling the exact same product, it’s very hard to differentiate it and sell it. So no matter, yeah, I mean, those are the two biggest things. I mean, I’d be thinking like, whenever I sell a product, especially now, it’s always, what can I put in my listing that can really show the user why they should buy this instead of any other item out there?

So, if I’m selling this glass mason jar, it’s because it’s now in the size people are looking for, the thicker glass or the I don’t know, it comes with the handles or something else. So yes, even if it has good demand, you want to make sure that you can differentiate yourself from the competitors and there’s not just 100 people all selling the same thing.

Scott: And the only thing I want to add to that is, and I think something to be careful of, is even though you do what Greg said, and you get that head start, there still will be people coming in on the back end that will eventually be probably try to knock you off. And that’s where you have to be willing to keep pushing that product heavily to keep it being ranked, to keep yourself above.

So this way here, you’re not going to be just competing again with — because I’ve seen it happen. It’s happened to us. You come in, you’re the one, you’ve made adjustments, and then all of a sudden, you’ve got five other ones, you ran out of inventory, and you’ve got five other new ones by the time you come back in. So what’s going to help you there is having your own assets to be able to then spike sales again when you need to but then also being able to have had all of that history of the sales before they entered the market. So that way there it keeps you ahead of the curve.

So that’s all I would add to that. I think it’s always — there’s always going to be a risk there. But having yourself to where you’re not just the same product at day one, I think is key. That’s just my two cents.

Steve: I think just I teach a class. So just from experience, people always tend to look for like the easy way out. And I tend to have like the opposite philosophy. Like the more work you’re willing to do to launch a product, the more barriers to entry that you’re going to have. So don’t always just gravitate towards the easiest thing that you can do.

Mike: Mm-hmm. I think that’s really important, actually.

Toni: Yeah, so I know we have a hard stop coming up in six minutes. So I think to wrap it up, let — if we could go through each one of you guys. And if you could share one thing that you know, today that you wish you would have known earlier that helps your business, sorry to put you on the spot.

Scott: Wow, that is…

Greg: One thing.

Toni: You got 30 seconds.

Steve: You didn’t warn me about this one Toni.

Toni: Well, I know, I know. Sorry.

Scott: Oh, man.

Steve: Well, I think what I just said will be by cheating.

Toni: That’s cheating but okay.

Steve: I mean, I really believe in it. Everyone’s just always looking for that easy way out magic bullet. But the stuff that is a pain in the butt tends to be the stuff that stands the test of time, at least in my experience. Everything that I do, whether it be the podcast, or blogging, or even like the personalization for our linens, like that’s all pain in the butt, but that’s like our key differentiator for our store.

Greg: I guess what I’ll say here, if I had more time, I would be able to give you a better one. But I’m going to go with what I’m feeling right now. And that is staying consistent and not jumping off of the path that you’re traveling because you see another shiny object, or you think that there’s an easier way or it’s not working. There’s been projects that I’ve worked on that I just haven’t given them enough tension. And if I would have, I’m not sure, I mean, it probably would have changed where I am today.

But in the same breath, I always look back and go, I wonder if I would have just stuck with that a little bit longer where that would have been today and whatever. It’s like, whenever we create a business or something, we always we’re creating something to see where it can end up. And there’s some things that I’ve done in the past that I can think of, that’s like, man, I wonder where I’d be if I would have just stuck with that a little bit longer.

So I think just sticking with something a little bit longer, even though the results might not be there today, as far as monetization, but really just sticking with something and giving it your full attention for a period of time.

Mike: So for me, I would say that it would be I wish that I kind of got the branding and list building stuff figured out sooner. We are in the middle of a product launch right now, we’re launching a new product for ColorIt and we have like that like coveted like new number one bestseller, a little orange badge on there like instantly, like first day. It’s so easy to launch products for us now because of that.

And I really wish that we kind of figured that out sooner, man I went through this period of six to 12 months of just like looking for any product I could find that would sell on Amazon and just getting it up there and not working on improvements and making it better and having everything to be like under one cohesive brand. And working on building a list and the community that we can — that stuff like Steve is saying, it’s like it’s hard work.

And like a lot of days, it doesn’t feel like it’s — we’re just spinning our wheels and it’s not worth the effort of doing all that until days like this week where we’re in the middle of a product launch. And we start dripping out content to these people about this new product. And it just immediately like flies to the top. And like I said, I wish that we kind of figured that out sooner because we have a bigger list right now and be able to go after even bigger and more competitive products.

Scott: My one tip is going to be that — we spoke a little bit about this earlier. But I’m a firm believer that people like to connect with other people to purchase goods from and not just companies. So, having a company that has more of a personality of knowing who’s behind the company, what’s going on behind the scenes. Those are the types of companies that are — those are the types of products that people really like to purchase from. So, I wish I had figured that out earlier on.

Toni: All right. Well, that’s great feedback, guys and great advice. So, we will have, we have Greg Mercer, Scott Voelker, Mike Jackness and Steve Chou, we will have in the show notes, or I don’t know is this going out on in an email Steve, show notes is like podcasty thing.

Steve: Yeah.

Toni: They all have amazing free resources on their websites and their podcasts. In fact, one of the main catalysts for me starting selling not only was meeting Steve, but was a podcast that Scott had done in another different e-commerce podcast. So, you can get so much free stuff from these guys and they also have some paid courses as well. So, thank you guys for doing this. It was fun, as usual. And I look forward to hopefully seeing all of you guys next year in Miami.

Scott: Hey, Toni one thing, what’s your one thing? What’s your one?

Greg: Yeah, you’ve been firing at us.

Scott: Yeah, we got two minutes.

Toni: Two minutes. My one thing, actually the one thing that I think I — except that I learned early, but I’m glad that I did was to connect with other sellers, some of the best…

Steve: Meeting each other in Canton, I know it’s the best thing.

Toni: Meeting Steve, it was actually meeting Mike Jackness at the Sellers Summit, no, but meeting other sellers and watching what they do so that you can learn from them. Because I feel like I’ve learned so much from other sellers in the community. And I’ve been able to — I mean, they sell different products, but I’ve been able to take the things that they’ve done and make it work for my own brand.

And I think that’s really important is if I think a lot of entrepreneurs tend to isolate themselves, and just like head down and work, and I think getting out there and connecting with other people, you learn a ton and you’re able to impact other people too.

Scott: Love it.

Mike: You should do that at Sellers Summit.

Toni: Or another econ, you have to come – but even like connecting with people via the podcast or commenting on people’s Facebook pages and things like that. You don’t have to meet people in person necessarily right away. There’s lots of opportunities there.

Greg: Thanks for having us on, it’s been fun.

Scott: Yeah it’s been awesome. Thanks for having us.

Toni: Thanks, guys.

Steve: Good stuff.

Steve: I hope you all enjoyed that Q&A session. I wish we could have all chatted for longer than an hour but it was actually pretty difficult getting up of all of us together and at the same time. For more information about this episode, go to mywifequitherjob.com/episode217.

And once again I am super excited about the new show that Greg, Scott, Mike, and I are releasing in the fall. If you are interested in pitching your company to us with the potential to win $50,000, head on over to 5minutepitch.com, that’s the number 5-M-I-N-U-T-E-P-I-T-C-H.com. Thanks for listening.

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.

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216: Google Display Network – How To Run Profitable Ads With Ilana Wechsler

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216: Google Display Network - How To Run Profitable Ads With Ilana Wechsler

Today I’m thrilled to have Ilana Wechsler on the show. Ilana is someone who I met randomly at the Traffic and Conversions Summit in San Diego.

She founded Green Arrow Digital where she runs pay per click marketing for other businesses. In fact, her bread and butter is the Google Display Network which is the only ad network that I have never been able to make profitable.

So today we’re going to learn how to run profitable Google Display Network ads.

What You’ll Learn

  • Ilana’s background and what led her to create Green Arrow Digital
  • How the Google Display Network compares with Facebook ads
  • The most common mistakes people make with the Google Display Network
  • Important guidelines for running successful ads

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.
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Privy.com – Privy is my tool of choice when it comes to gathering email subscribers for my ecommerce store. They offer easy to use email capture, exit intent, and website targeting tools that turn more visitors into email subscribers and buyers. With both free and paid versions, Privy fits into any budget. Click here and get 15% OFF towards your account.
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Pickfu.com – Pickfu is a service that I use to get instant feedback on my Amazon listings. By running a quick poll on your images, titles and bullet points, you can quickly optimize your Amazon listings for maximum conversions. Click here and get 50% OFF towards your first poll.

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.
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Transcript

You’re 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 in business. Today I have Ilana Wechsler with me on the show. And Ilana is an expert at running ads for the Google Display Network and actually have a long history with the Google Display Network or GDN for short. I have never ever been able to get those ads profitable except for retargeting ads. So Ilana is going to teach us how to do it the right way.

But before we begin, I want to give a quick shout out to Klaviyo who is a sponsor of the show. 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 30% of my revenues. Klaviyo is the only email platform out there that is specifically built for ecommerce stores, and here is why it is 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 out an email to everyone who purchased a red handkerchief in the last week, boom. 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.

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 Privy who is also a sponsor of the show. And Privy is the tool that I use to build my email list for both my blog and my online store. Now Privy is an email list growth platform and they manage all of my email capture forms. And in fact I use Privy hand in hand with my email marketing provider.

Now, there are a bunch of companies out there that will manage your email capture forms, but I like Privy because they specialize in e-commerce. Right now I’m using Privy to display a cool wheel of fortune pop-up. Basically a user gives their email for a chance to win valuable prices in our store and customers love the gamification aspect of this. And when I implemented this form email signups increased by 131%. Bottom line, Privy allows me to turn visitors into email subscribers, which I then feed to my email provider to close the sale. So head on over to Privy.com/Steve and try it for free. And if you decide you need some of the more advanced features, use coupon code MWQHJ for 15% off. Once again, that’s P-R-I-V-Y.com/Steve. Now onto 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 Ilana Wechsler on the show. Now Ilana is someone who I met at the Traffic and Conversion Summit in San Diego, and it’s actually super random how we met. We were both hanging out at the wicked reports booth and getting a tour of the tool. And during that tour I noticed that Ilana was very knowledgeable and knew what she was talking about. She was asking really intelligent questions. So we started chatting, exchanged info, and here we are today.

And Ilana runs Green Arrow digital, where she runs Pay Per Click marketing for other businesses. And in fact, her bread and butter is Google AdWords, especially the Google Display Network. So today, what we’re going to do is we’re going to pick her brain. And with that, welcome to show Ilana, how are you doing today?

Ilana: I’m well, thank you so much for having me on the show.

Steve: It’s been a long time since we’ve spoken, so what’s funny about this is Ilana had me on her podcasts, like just last week. And so…

Ilana: Four days ago.

Steve: Yeah four days ago, yeah. So what is your background and what led you to create Green Arrow Digital?

Ilana: Yeah, interesting question. I guess I’m not like your traditional kind of story of entrepreneurship. My background is, I used to be a data analyst actually. And I used to work in corporate like funds management. And I guess I’m not the classic story in that I hated my job and I always wanted to work for myself, far from it actually. I loved my work and was in it for 10 years, and got to work with really smart people and do really fun and interesting work. But as a female, I decided that I wanted to have a family.

So when I went on maternity leave for my first child, basically, I came to the realization that family and corporate are like oil and water and they don’t mix. So I made the decision. And it wasn’t an easy decision, obviously, to choose family over my career. And that sort of sparked my journey. But it’s been, I didn’t first sort of launch into Green Arrow straightaway, actually, I had lots of failed attempts, lots of different things on the internet. I tried affiliate marketing, and that didn’t work.

And so what I used to do was build AdSense websites and that worked really well for a while and I had a whole content team and a whole bunch of websites until, of course, the SEO game caught up with me. And it all came crashing down overnight. And then I thought, all right, it’s time to get serious. So I flipped the Google equation, as you could say, and started to do Google ads, because I really knew keyword research very, very well through my SEO efforts. And then yes, that was all on a more than five years ago that I made that switch. So it’s been I guess, a 19 year journey, because now my oldest child is nine. So yeah.

Steve: We’re on the same trajectory, actually, because my kid is 10. And we both quit for the same reasons, spend more time with family.

Ilana: Yeah, interesting. Yeah. So, I guess if I think back, like, my data analyst skills kind of have really come into play, which I never would have predicted. But it’s funny how life works.

Steve: So Ilana, I run all my own Facebook ads, my own Google Shopping ads, my own Google AdWords ads, my own Bing Ads, but my Achilles heel has always been the Google Display Network. I have never ever been able to make it profitable except for dynamic retargeting ads. And so I kind of wanted to have you on the show for selfish reasons today. And I know we kind of talked about this when you were interviewing me.

And I think it’s pretty rare to have a PPC expert on the podcast, who lives and breathes the Google Display Network. Like most of the people that I encounter, they talk about Facebook ads, and that sort of thing. So I thought it’d be actually interesting to see today on the podcast, how you would run a Google Display Network campaign. And I want to use my store as the example. But we can talk in more general terms as well. But first question, I guess is, do you believe that most businesses can profit from the Google Display Network? And are there just certain that aren’t cut out for it?

Ilana: Yeah, interesting question. I think, yeah, I would say it’s probably not for everyone. It probably wouldn’t be for your local general store, for example, I wouldn’t suggest them. But I’ve struggled to find a niche or niche in American terminology that it wouldn’t really work for. The success with the Display Network really hinges on what offer you’re showing. And I think that’s kind of the biggest piece of the puzzle that people struggle to get right is, what is your offer? I kind of like to use it compared to Facebook. If you’ve got an offer on Facebook, because it’s the same kind of marketing, right?

It’s interruption marketing, someone’s reading an article on the New York Times, for example, and suddenly there’s a banner sort of in line with their article, it’s got to capture their attention. And it’s got to be compelling enough. Same as Facebook, right? Obviously, you get much less text and all that kind of stuff. And we can get into all that the nitty-gritty a bit later, but the same style of marketing. So it’s got to be the right offer, and therefore the success on whatever niche or industry you’re in really hinges on what you’re showing people.

Steve: So what is the main difference would you say between the display network and Facebook ads, because I know the display network, and I don’t think a lot of people realize this, but it’s a lot bigger than the Facebook network, right?

Ilana: The GDN or the Google Display Network is huge. And I think I mean, got to think Google’s actually ever come out and said exactly how many websites but it’s over 2 million websites. So if you think of it, New York Times, or if for Australian listeners, it’s the Sydney Morning Herald. They’re basically banners or text ads on other people’s websites. So on a publisher, and I kind of I’m a bit of a big picture kind of person.

If you think of it like two broad categories, you can show people ads based on the kind of the content on people’s website, be it specific news articles on the New York Times or a blog talking about yoga, I don’t know if there’s infinite examples, or there’s a whole another part of the GDN which is based on the person was called behavioral targeting. So that’s similar to Facebook in that respect. It’s based on the who, who you are showing the ad to, as opposed to the what of what content you’re showing people.

Steve: So why are people primarily focusing on Facebook ads? Like why aren’t more people talking about GDN at least in my circles?

Ilana: Well, if you think about it, Facebook have so much data on people, it’s because they have what’s called first party data based on what people actually input in their profile. So largely, the interest targeting is undoubtedly better on Facebook, I’m definitely not going to argue with you there. It’s some people like certain pages, and they telling Facebook a whole bunch of information about themselves, as opposed to Google who is kind of guessing. But Google draw a lot of their data about an individual based on whether they’re using Chrome browser, whether they’ve got an Android phone, whether they’re logged into Gmail, etc.

So, I think that’s why they launched forever ago, Google Plus is an attempt to buy that first party data or get that first party data from individuals rather than just guessing. So Facebook is great because you can really narrow down with a level of granularity that you can’t on the individual. But also, Facebook have a share button, which is so powerful. Plus you get huge amounts of ad copy above your image or video ad. So I think that’s why Facebook is all the rage, but it doesn’t mean that you should discount the GDN because as a business owner, myself, and for all the business owners out there, you know, I personally wouldn’t put all my eggs in the Facebook basket, especially with all the latest information that’s come out now.

And it’s good to diversify and create what I like to think of like a holistic ad campaign. So have my ads on multiple ad platforms to protect yourself. If for whatever reason, Facebook, might get, your ad account might get shut down, or for the multi different touch points that people use these days.

Steve: Would you say that you can use the same creatives that you’re using on Facebook on GDN?

Ilana: Yeah, I would say that, absolutely. And I would definitely test that. But I will also test lots of different creative on the GDA.

Steve: Sure, of course, I mean a lot. I’ve lost my fair share of money on the Google Display Network. So if you were me kind of starting fresh for my own store, what would be some of the first things that you would start? What are some of the like the low hanging fruit things that will give me some profits right away so I don’t get discouraged?

Ilana: Okay, well, I’d like to think of it as remarketing being really the lowest hanging fruit. I mean, somebody has just come to your website, hopefully you can track the people based on whether they did purchase or didn’t purchase. So getting those people back is often the lowest hanging fruit that you could use. So that would be the first place to start. So implement a remarketing campaign, excluding the people who have already purchased because you don’t want to show those people an ad, and showing ads to those people.

When your remarketing campaign is running for a little while, the beauty with AdWords is they give you a whole lot of information. They tell you where your banners, we’re showing like what actual specific URLs displaying those banners and therefore you can get a sense of once someone does leave your website, where else have they’ve gone? What other websites are they going to that they perhaps reading a blog article on or etc. So you can paint a bit of a picture about your past visitors.

Steve: Okay, and so am I looking for specific sites or am I looking for specific posts at that point?

Ilana: I would just be looking for specific websites. So we did for a client, they got a whole bunch of organic traffic and we were running search ads for them on Google and then time to scale the campaign. So obviously we implemented — first thing we did was we implemented a remarketing campaign, and when that remarketing campaign was running for a little while we analyze the placements where those banners were and that’s what I’m talking about the specific URLs. And then we could see some obvious placement.

So this particular client was in sort of the home improvement industry, and we could see that they were looking at various online magazines and publications about home décor, and it made sense, of course, right that they’re looking to renovate their home, they looking for styling and all that kind of stuff. So we can then use those insights from our remarketing campaigns say, hey, Google. Yes, our banners are showing on these home decor websites. How about let’s just have a placement on that website for all their traffic, not just the remarketing traffic.

Steve: Okay. And then, so yes, it does. So you find these sites where your customers are visiting. And then what type of ad do you show those people?

Ilana: So the first thing I like to do is so you get a whole bunch of different ad units sizes that you can run. And so let’s say I’m a publisher, I might only want to run a specific ad unit size, let’s say 300 by 250, also known as a medium sized rectangle. So often that’s like the most common banner sized…

Steve: Because there’s like a whole bunch, there’s like nine different — there might be even more, I don’t know.

Ilana: Nine yeah. So I know when you’re starting out, I don’t actually recommend you do all those because it’s going to cost you a fortune in graphic design, etc. So often what we do is we roll out one ad unit size first, 300 by 250, which is the most common but we will test like 10 or 12 different designs and offers, very different designs. I’m not talking about one’s got a green button, one’s got a red button, like wildly different designs and use that one ad unit size to test creative. And then when we get the winning creative or the top two creative, then we roll out that in the different ad unit sizes.

Steve: Can we talk a little bit about the offer, and what the creative look like for that one example that you brought up with the home improvement store?

Ilana: Sure. Yeah. So I like to think of really the GDN being what’s called like a top of funnel offer. So, think of, I mean a good starting point would be what’s an offer that’s working on Facebook? So that’s a question for you. What’s an offer that’s for you, for your Ecom business that’s working on Facebook?

Steve: Yeah, we’re doing a free plus shipping offer where you get a handkerchief for free as long as you pay for shipping.

Ilana: I lost you.

Steve: Oh, yeah so right now I’m doing a free plus shipping offer.

Ilana: Okay, sorry, I lost you there for a second. So yeah, you’re running a free plus shipping offer. Is that right?

Steve: That’s correct yes.

Ilana: Perfect. I would totally do that on the GDN. If you think — put yourself in the mind of your target customer. I know you’re in the sort of the linen, the wedding industry.

Steve: Sure.

Ilana: Somebody might be reading a blog about getting their makeup done for their wedding day. And they might see a banner there for the [inaudible 00:16:39]. That’s right. I’ve got to get these napkins created, and here’s a free plus shipping offer. Absolutely, you should test that term.

Steve: Let me ask you this, would you say that like Facebook, would you recommend a video ad, or do text ads work just as well?

Ilana: I would definitely test a text ad, a bit of a tongue twister. I would definitely test that. Most people forget that you can run text ads on the GDN and that’s a common kind of little gotcha that people forget. But I would also test just a standard image ad. So the 300 by 250, not like Facebook, where you have a 20% text rule on the image. You can have as much text as you want. You just need to have your business name or logo on there so they kind of — it looks like you’re a proper business really.

Steve: So it’s interesting. So you test both. But can you just kind of discuss like the pros and cons of image versus just like a regular text ad?

Ilana: Well, they’re different. So as a publisher, you can control what kind of ads you’re willing to have on your site. So you’re catering for the people who don’t want banners on their site. They only want text ads versus people who only want banners and no text ads, etc. So it just almost like two different placements. So if you were to browse any kind of website that allows Google ads on their website, you’ll see the different ad unit sizes that that website owner has allowed. Does that make sense?

Steve: Yeah, it does yeah.

Ilana: By having those multiple options, you’re catering for the different allowable placements that people have permitted Google to put an ad on there. So let’s say I own a blog about winning makeup for example, I’m not going to let Google put any ad on there. Let’s say I only want one of those both the 300 by 250, I don’t want one of those leader board ones, so that’s the only banner size that will be allowed to show on my website based on what me as a publisher have chosen.

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I see. And then certain sites will only allow text ads and not image ads I would imagine that.

Ilana: Correct, that’s right. Yeah.

Steve: Okay. So you’re doing both just to kind of account for both. And you need some sort of offer it sounds like a lot like Facebook.

Ilana: Yeah. So I wouldn’t kind of go — I’m a bit of a direct response person, I wouldn’t go for the generic branding purely because I’m a data driven person. So I would definitely do some kind of offer so that you can get people to make a response. Otherwise, they’re going to see your banner and most likely not do anything. Not that it will cost you anything, because most people pay for ads for an impression on Facebook, on Google, you only pay for click. So you will get a ton of free branding. But really, it’s all about getting results, right. So I want people to actually take action.

Steve: Can you give me some examples of offers for your clients that have worked pretty well?

Ilana: Yes, so yeah, we had with this Home Improvement client, we had a free guide sort of related to that industry.

Steve: Like a PDF?

Ilana: Yes, exactly, just a PDF. For a different client we had, they were running a free video course. So, we showed banners regarding the what did the free video course problem solve. And that’s like a PLF kind of style video course that they were running. And actually, what we did do was, so this was the video course that ended after four days of email. So we then created actually a remarketing campaign in Google and the final offer was a $1 trial for three days for a membership. We then stripped out the people who had actually registered for the video course, delayed the campaign by four days, and then showed them a banner for the $1 trial for three days.

Steve: I see. And when it comes to running these ads, can you give me any sort of guidelines on like what a good click through rate is, and that sort of thing, some of the metrics.

Ilana: So you will get a really low click through rate on the GDN. It’s not like the Google Search Network, where you can typically get five to 10% click through rate on often more purely for the fact that there is no intent there. But that’s okay because you don’t pay for an impression; you only pay for a click. So you will get — I mean, I’m usually pretty happy with a 1% click through rate on the GDN. But I don’t really look at click through rate personally, I look at conversion rate. Of the clicks I’m paying for, how many of them are turning into leads? That’s the metric that I run the GDN by.

So looking at my overall cost per lead, what am I paying for a lead on search versus what am I paying for a lead on display, and then hopefully drill [ph] they’re cheaper because they generally will be because search is so expensive, the GDN is significantly cheaper. And then once we do get an appropriate cost per lead, hopefully, we can then drill down more into the campaigns and build out the GDN more to get more of those leads, because I like to think of… yeah sorry.

Steve: I was going to say, does the GDN work just like regular AdWords where like your higher click through rate kind of factors into how cheaper clicks are, and like your quality score?

Ilana: Yeah so it does kind of behave a little bit differently. But it really depends on how you kind of structure your campaign. So I would say to people, there’s a little common gotcha that people have is that the default setting within Google is when you create a campaign, you might do search network with display select, so that’s combining the Search Network with the display network. If you are running a GDN campaign, you want your display campaigns to be display network only, because then you will be able to analyze that network on its own. Does that make sense?

Steve: Yeah.

Ilana: And you create it very, very granularly. So I mentioned before that you can target certain websites that are displaying certain content. So, in your niche, you might want to be on as I said, the wedding makeup blog, or any kind of websites that mentioned weddings and wedding dresses, and all that kind of stuff because that’s the kind of person you’re after is somebody who is getting married, right? Or you could target based on the who, so based on behavioral. So Google know a bunch of information about where we’re going, websites we’re going to, so they have a whole bunch of behavioral targeting.

One of them which is one of my favorite actually is called in market. And this is based on really short term behavior, what websites have I been going to in the last two weeks, for example. They’ll know if I’m going on the wedding makeup blog, etc, etc, because I’m using Chrome, for example. So one of the in market categories before recording this podcast, I knew you would kind of ask me a question around this would be somebody who is in the market for bridal wear, that kind of person who is looking at wedding dresses would be your target customer. So you can target those people who are in the market for bridal wear.

Steve: I see. So there’s literally an option where I could say this person is in the market for bridal stuff.

Ilana: Exactly. There is a specific in market category for that one.

Steve: Is that only — is Google only tracking people who are using Chrome for this?

Ilana: Chrome, Gmail, Android phone users.

Steve: But not like someone on Safari, for example, it won’t track those people, right?

Ilana: They might get you from — it sounds really bad, they might be able to track you a different way if you’re logged into Gmail in Safari.

Steve: Okay, so this sounds really powerful. So you can actually target people who are actually in the market to buy something in general even?

Ilana: Exactly. That’s right. And it’s based on very short term behavior. So for my home improvement client, we were targeting people — one of them was people who are in the market for Roofing Services, another in market category was for people in the home improvement area. So there were specific in — there’s over 500 of these in market categories, which is really based on that short term behavior versus what’s called affinity audience, which is really based on who you are as a person long term.

So, for example, my affinity category would be I mean, like cooking. So I might not necessarily have looked at some recipe websites in the last one or two weeks, but over time, and my long term behavior has been that I do look at cooking recipe websites, etc. That’s probably my least favorite one, I’ve tested that a lot personally for my clients, it hasn’t worked so well. I find that the best results that I get for my clients has been this in market one.

Steve: So this in market, it sounds really powerful. It sounds more powerful than Facebook, right? Because Facebook doesn’t have any search data to show intent, right?

Ilana: Exactly. And actually, for best results I get, we’re going to get a little bit technical here, so forgive me, but we will layer, so will overlap the in market let’s say bridal wear targeting with keywords or with a topic. So it’s like, forgive my math reference here, it is like a Venn diagram overlapping those two circles on top of each other to really steer Google in the direction I want them to go.

Steve: Okay, and so all right, so in my case, I’d be targeting like wedding blogs, for example, and then I would layer on search intent to purchase bridal wear, how much would I bid? Like, if I’m just starting out like, what’s a good bid, how do I know what to bid, and how do I kind of monitor the campaign?

Ilana: Yeah, so this is an interesting topic you bring up because a huge push by Google now has been towards automatic bidding or smart bidding they call it, where it uses all their artificial intelligence and machine learning to take care of the bidding for you. And I’m personally just testing this now for my clients. And I would say it’s not for everyone. But that’s the direction that Google is heading, where they completely take the bidding. They take control over the building in terms of using context of the person versus what’s called manual bidding where you’d set it yourself.

But let’s say, starting out, you definitely would do manual bidding. I would set your bid to be a dollar and see if you get impressions. If you’re getting no impressions, then you need to raise a little bit, but I’m sure building a dollar to start with would more than sufficient to get you some traction. Once you start getting leads coming in, you might find you can drop the bid a little bit, and you just play along with it there.

Steve: So along with that automated bidding, I’m actually using that right now for my shopping campaigns and it’s working really well. I think you need a minimum number of conversions per week in order for it to actually work though.

Ilana: Yes. So I find, I guess a non kind of e-commerce because you going for a top of funnel offer, right? Where it’s the free plus shipping or something, you do need a minimum of 50 leads per month, but I believe for shopping, it’s 100 sales a month. Is that right? Something like that.

Steve: I don’t know what the minimum is, I know meet it. And it’s actually been working pretty well.

Ilana: It’s 50 yes. So we’ve selected — I’m actually running experiments. I don’t know if that’s the way you did it, where we’ll split the campaign budget, so I can test it without rolling out a full-fledged campaign.

Steve: I see.

Ilana: This is probably a bit advanced.

Steve: So with this offer, and if I’m bidding a buck, I know I’m not necessarily paying a buck, but that seems like a lot. I guess. Okay, so let’s say I’m bidding a buck and I’m getting some traffic, how do you decide whether it’s working well, or not, if you don’t have a whole lot of conversion data, like, do you just let it run for like a week?

Ilana: I would think after a week you will see some traction if you were to get some traction. So, there’s a few optimizations that you can do. So, the first thing I would optimize would be the different creative and the offer. Really you want to be sure that your offer is — I guess you want to be sure that your lack of traction is not from a bad offer, it’s from maybe it’s a targeting issue. So that’s kind of the biggest thing that’s going to really hinder the success of your campaign. Also, we’ve got a whole bunch of what’s called negative placements that we have standard that we load into every campaign.

Over the years, we’ve built a placement list that we say to Google, hey, Google, do not show our ads on this kind of website, because we’ve noticed that they get a lot of impressions and clicks, but very low conversions. And so we load those in from the outset so that we’ve kind of…

Steve: Do you want to talk about what some of those are?

Ilana: Oh, I mean, like, it’s a lot of these like, weird websites like these dot infos, dot XYZ, just kind of really bad placements, because if you think about it, on the flip side of the AdWords is the people who earn income from these ads, right? So the AdSense, so people build these content websites with the sole purpose of generating AdSense and they’re pretty crappy websites. And actually, they’re not humans really going there. It’s these bots and bots click on the ads and all this.

So there’s a lot of let’s say there is some degree of click fraud, which Google are pretty good at preventing, but we just add the extra layer of defense in there to prevent those placements happening at all. And if you want, like I can make that resource available to your listeners if you want.

Steve: If you go with the method that you kind of advised me where you run retargeting first and figure out what sites that people are going on first, you’ll never run into this problem, right?

Ilana: No you shouldn’t, no because it’s retargeting, exactly yeah. So going back to the retargeting, also what you could do in addition to running a retargeting campaign is you can actually go into your Google Analytics account in the audience section and see what some of those in market and affinity categories that you can use. So basically, analytics is telling you, hey, based on everyone who’s come to your website, these are the categories that they fall into, based on the visitors or people who have actually purchased. So you can use those, I mean, you probably, I don’t know if you’ve noticed it in your Google Analytics, those categories. Those are the exact categories that you can use on the GDN.

Steve: I see. I actually have not visited GDN in a while, but okay, I get it. And okay, so let me ask you this. So my average order size is on the order of $60 or so, would you say there’s some sort of minimum threshold to get this working? Like I know your home improvements, I bet the average order size is a lot higher, right? I’m just trying to get an idea of the cost compared to like running a Facebook campaign?

Ilana: Well, it really depends on the targeting you do. And the thing is, you don’t have to have a huge GDN campaign. You might find, you just want to run a couple of placements and a couple of in market targeting and that’s it, you might find that’s all you want to do. You don’t have to scale it out hugely. And yeah, you might be like you’re in a pretty specialized industry, that maybe there isn’t a lot of GDN placements, that would be really, really good for you. Obviously, you would see how they’re performing at a campaign level to work out, is my cost per lead here too high? If it is, I’m just going to turn that specific part of the campaign off.

And this is kind of where account setup and structure is very important to set it up in a very granular way so that you are armed with that level of insight to go, this specific in market like the bridal wear is not working. Let’s just turn that off. But the other one is working very well.

Steve: I remember when we had talked when you interviewed me that there were certain sites for example like, I could place my handkerchiefs on like eBay in a wedding handkerchief search.

Ilana: So that’s what we did for an e-commerce client. They were selling something — I obviously can’t reveal the industry, but they was selling something that was quite obscure, and those particular items were for sale on eBay as well as we’ve got a website here in Australia called Gumtree. I’m not sure if you have it over in the States, it’s pretty big. It gets a lot of traffic. And how we discovered it was we looked in the remarketing placement.

So people would go to their website but then they were also going to eBay and Gumtree. So they were like, hang on a minute, of course, right. So we created a display GDN campaign targeting the placement of eBay. But we overlaid the key word of the product so that we were only there for when they were looking at the listings on eBay. So rather than being on all of eBay, that’s not really relevant. We want to be in the listings where people are searching for that product on eBay.

Steve: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. And I do want you to comment on doing keyword versus direct placement versus the other type of — the interest based.

Ilana: Behavioral.

Steve: The behavioral yes. How do you merge all of them? Like, when is a good time to use keyword? Like my AdWords campaigns are running really well. Does that mean I should try going for a keyword type of targeting?

Ilana: I would go for a quite a general type keyword. Like you wouldn’t type in a keyword that’s very product like specific, like probably going to ruin it, but whatever is the linen and the serial number.

Steve: I was thinking weddings. Would that be like a keyword that I might?

Ilana: Yes, exactly, or handkerchiefs, something like that. But I would go broad; I would go top of funnel keyword. And I wouldn’t really do just that, I would layer with let’s say, a topic of weddings. So I kind of like to do those two, the Venn diagram, the two circles together to kind of give Google a bit more guidance of what I want. So yes, I want the keyword of weddings. And I want to on the top of that layer in a topic. Maybe I want the keyword of weddings with the market category of bridal wear, etc, and mix and match that way. It’s kind of like coordinates on the globe.

Steve: Yeah, and this is actually when I ran into problems. I remember when I was using — this is kind of why I’m asking this. Like when I used keyword — and back in the day when I did this, like those other affinity audiences actually didn’t exist at the time. And when I did it, and I did keyword targeting, that’s when I ran to a lot of problems like they were showing my ads on like apps, all these crappy websites, like the ones you were talking about. And it was just out of control. It was like playing whack a mole.
Ilana: That’s right. So this is why you’ve really got to rank Google in. So you mentioned apps. That’s really good because what you can do is, so I don’t really like showing ads on apps. There’s a lot of inadvertent clicks and I know it from my own kids, they’re on the iPad playing on these apps and they’re clicking on ads all the time. And they’re like, no, I don’t want it. So there’s a lot of wasted ad spend that comes with being on apps. So you can actually add in a negative placement called AdSenseformobileapps.com that will prevent all your ads from showing up on any apps.

Steve:I guess too, I’m trying to — what I’m trying to get from you right now is like a logical progression. So you mentioned start with retargeting. You figure out where your ads are being shown and then target those sites first and layer in a fit any audiences.

Ilana: So I would separate them into different campaigns. So yes, start with remarketing, that’s working leave that alone that’s its own campaign. Work out what placements are working really well based on your remarketing campaign, and that’s a second GDN campaign, it’s called the direct placements campaign. And you’re just running alternate camps, so you create a different ad group placement, and you see how each of those URLs go on their own to get all their traffic.

Steve: So one of those isn’t working that well, do you actually try to dig a little deeper and figure out what pages are converting?

Ilana: Not really no. If it’s not working, I would just turn it off or try a different offer or a different creative.

Steve: Okay, the reason why I’m asking that question is like, back when I did this, there was like, I remember I found this one page, there was only one page that was converting and perhaps I was just going to granular. But I remember everything else was not working that well, except for that.

Ilana: Really, interesting. I personally don’t go to that level because I guess a lot of the…

Steve: It’s too much work.

Ilana: It’s too much work and it’s too granular, whereas somebody might browse around a little bit and I prefer to capture the whole URL. I mean, it’s different. Like, I wouldn’t do New York Times as a placement; I would overlay New York Times with some kind of keyword like category, etc. Even if you’re going for a pretty obscure blog or the online magazine kind of thing for particular client, I just go for that whole URL.

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I see. So, for even your direct placements, you are overlaying keywords as well as affinity audiences and behavioral?

Ilana: Sometimes.

Steve: Oh sometimes.

Ilana: If that URL, if it’s a really big domain.

Steve: Okay.

Ilana: Yeah, like the New York Times I would definitely overlay or eBay, I would overlay.

Steve: Okay, and so the direct placements, retargeting that’s low hanging fruit, and if you want to scale beyond that, is that where you start going more general with interest — not sorry, with keyword and behavioral?

Ilana: Yes, yes, that’s where you can really scale out your campaign. So I would start in one region first. Once you get a good targeting metric, then you can roll out for different regions because there’s no reason why it wouldn’t work in other locations.

Steve: If I know my customers are in a certain state primarily, would you recommend further like only showing to people in those geographical regions as well?

Ilana: It ultimately comes down to what are you paying for that lead in that region? So you might want to separate it by regions because you might find that different states you pay too high, you pay too much for the lead and then you can pretty easily turn it off. So you might want to set it up that way to start with if the cost per lead, if you’re really monitoring your cost per lead. So generally, we separate things out by country and then we can dig further deeper into certain regions. But with our clients it doesn’t really kind of get to that level.

But I mean you know your business so well, if you find that certain states work really well then yeah, I would say just start there, see what the cost per lead is there. Once it’s under your magic threshold of whatever you’re willing to pay for that lead, then that can just run all the time. This is the beauty of the GDN I find is it’s not like Facebook where often your Facebook ad that’s working really well and then for no apparent reason it just dies, nobody knows why, it just suddenly go south for no explanation. Whereas the GDN it’s very reliable, it’s very consistent traffic.

Steve: That was my next question actually. Like how often would you rotate ads, or do you even need to rotate ads do you find with the GDN?

Ilana: It depends on the audience size. So, I think that’s another kind of mistake people make especially for remarketing is they’re just loading basically one form of creative and that person, that poor individual only for you don’t have a very big remarketing list is just seeing that same banner over and over again, which you don’t want to do because people will just get annoyed and they’ll just get upset with it. So, I would definitely rotate creative.

But if you’re dealing with a really large audience, much like Facebook, we’re dealing with a large audience on Facebook, there’s no need to kind of rotate your creative as often as if you’re dealing with a remarketing audience, for example, the audiences are much smaller. But Google will tell you the approximate size of your audience.

Steve: You know, one thing that kind of blew my mind the last time when we spoke was the fact that you can use GDN to make your regular Google AdWords ads and your shopping ads perform a lot better with RLSA. So if you wouldn’t mind just kind of defining what that is and talking about how you run those campaigns in conjunction, that’d be great for the audience.

Ilana: Yeah, sure. So RLSA stands for Remarketing Lists for Search Ads. So most people know remarketing is these banners that we’re talking about on other people’s websites. You go to let’s say I go to your Bumblebee Linen website, I leave being the bad visitor that I am and I don’t purchase and then suddenly I see your banners on other people’s websites, what you can do, a nice compliment to a remarketing campaign is Google will know the fact that I’ve been to your website, but then if then I type in napkins, something very general, I can say, hey Google, this person was on my remarketing list, they’ve typed in like a real top of funnel keyword, show that person an ad.

Steve: I was going to ask, so traditionally GDN ads are cheaper per click, right? And so you can kind of build a remarketing list with GDN and then convert the sale with search ads.

Ilana: Exactly. And that’s often what we would do. So we’ve got Facebook campaign running, we’re running maybe we’re promoting content on Facebook, maybe we’re promoting — I don’t do this a lot but some people do promote content on the GDN, build a remarketing list. And then when that person is searching for something, then we’re willing to pay for that search because search is expensive. I mean, it works very well because there’s intent, you’re sliding your business card under the nose of someone at the very instant that they’re looking forward. It’s an amazing advertising opportunity. But you pay for that privilege.

So how about you only pay for the people who are on your remarketing list, and then you’re moving them along the funnel. And then you can bid from a keyword point of view on very broad type keywords, because they’ve clicked, they don’t want to be read, you know they’re interested in your content or your product, but they’ve just typed in something very general that you wouldn’t otherwise be done.

Steve: Can we talk about why you wouldn’t run ads for content, like I do that a lot on Facebook, like I’ll run Facebook ads in the content and then I’ll retarget those people to get a lead like an email address from.

Ilana: I mean I’m not against it on the GDN; I just don’t really do it for my clients. But if you think about it, you don’t actually have a lot of room on your ad to really talk about what the content is about. But yeah, I mean as a concept, absolutely I would, we just generally go after a top of funnel kind of direct response kind of offer.

Steve: Would you say that an image ad is a lot more expensive than a text ad, then in general?

Ilana: No, no, no, they would cost the same.

Steve: Okay. It seems like with an image ad, you could convey a lot of information about the piece of content, right, because you have more, or as much room at least as a Facebook ad.

Ilana: Well, I mean, technically with the Facebook ad, we do a lot of long copy ads above the image.

Steve: Yes. Okay, I see the difference.

Ilana: That’s more what I’m talking about.

Steve: Okay, that makes sense.

Ilana: The actual copy on the image. I mean, if you’re testing a banner size of the seven to eight by 19, which is a very common banner size, that’s what the leader board or actually the actual.

Steve: Skyscraper.

Ilana: Yeah, one of those. You could probably get quite a bit of copy on there. And in the — yeah, I would I mean, if you find that that the content is working really well on Facebook, then yeah, absolutely test it on the GDN. And you can say you only want to be 20 cents for it and see if you get any traction that way.

Steve: Would you say that in general, the GDN is cheaper per click than Facebook?

Ilana: Yes. 100%. Yes. And there’s heaps you can do as well. I mean, another [inaudible 00:48:58] I guess a ninja tip I would do is with this strategy of promoting content or building a remarketing list, what I also like to do is create a remarketing list in Google Analytics. So rather than just getting everyone on my remarketing list and bidding on them, I will create an audience in Google Analytics, filter out the people who spent less than five seconds on my website, the people who may have inadvertently clicked on my ad or bounced really straight away and then use that as my remarketing audience.

So hey, Google, yes, some person has come to my website. But I want the people who spent more than five seconds or 10 seconds, or even 30 seconds. And those are the people I want to remarket to. Or maybe you bid a little bit more for those people because they’ve been more engaging with your content.

Steve: That’s interesting you say to build these in analytics. Can you not build these in the AdWords audience interface?

Ilana: No, you need to build them within analytics, and you can do any kind of audience, so any kind of Google Analytics audience and push it through into AdWords. So you might say, hey analytics, I want to create an audience of people who based on your — if you’re doing UTM links in Facebook, everyone who’s come from Facebook, the medium of Facebook whether source is CPC or you want to mix it up and create an audience of those people to show those people a specific banner that you’re offering on Facebook. So that continuity aspect.

Steve: I see. I’ve been doing it all wrong this entire time, or I didn’t have access to these features actually back in the day. I guess I kind of gave up too easily.

Ilana: Yeah, I wouldn’t give up because this is really, it’s a massive area of opportunity, and it’s really where you can grow and scale your lanes beyond search, because what happens with search is this is a classic conversation we have with clients. We start small with search, it does well. I say yes, we want to increase budget, it’s working very well and we increase to a point where we’re buying all the profitable search traffic there is. And then they say, we want to spend more. I’m like well, I can’t make more people search for things if they’re not, so we need to come up with a different strategy. So the GDN is like that next level or next layer that you can really grow and scale.

Steve: Have you ever had any success running a GDN ad just like straight to a product, or is it always some sort of offer where you’re trying to get a lead primarily?

Ilana: I wouldn’t do a remarketing campaign absolutely on…

Steve: Besides remarketing, sorry, besides remarketing.

Ilana: Oh besides remarketing? Personally, I wouldn’t — I haven’t had success with that. But it might be worth trying to — on the right placement, it might work well. Actually, that’s not true. I did it with eBay. That worked really well.

Steve: Oh yes okay. And you were pointing just to a product on that one.

Ilana: Exactly. Yeah. Because I knew they’ve searched for it. They’re on eBay. They’re on that category page for that product. And we linked straight to that product in the banner.

Steve: Okay. Yeah. So that’s really powerful that you can build the audiences in analytics because you have access to every parameter on your entire site in analytics, right?

Ilana: That’s right. So a common misconception is people think they can only do it like let’s say do remarketing based on their AdWords traffic. That’s not true. It’s based on all your website traffic. So yeah, within your analytics based on everyone who’s come to your website, filter out the people who have bounced or left straightaway, because they’re not worth spending money on in my opinion. It sounds really harsh, but it’s…

Steve: No, it makes sense, yeah, totally makes sense.

Ilana: Yeah. So, filter out the people who spent less than 10 seconds and then only show those people a remarketing ad.

Steve: It’s funny like all these options, it seems to mimic Facebook. It just had to dig a little deeper to know about them, it seems.

Ilana: Yeah, absolutely. And Google is getting much better at their targeting, I would say there’s some been a huge amount of R&D that they’ve put in with a lot of their interest targeting. And Facebook has always been superior on this front even with their lookalike audiences, if we’re talking Facebook speak. Google has got their equivalent of what’s called similar audiences which are getting better. So yeah, you can create a similar audience based on your remarketing list or etc.

Steve: Do you use those the similar audiences? Have you had much luck with those?

Ilana: I have tested them for some clients; it’s worked for some but not for others. So I think it’s getting there. It’s a question of how much data they’ve got on their particular the size of the remarketing lists. You might have a business or for your listeners, they might have a business that has a really large YouTube channel for example. You can remarket the people who have engaged or watched a video on your YouTube channel on the GDN, and you can integrate all your assets into the GDN.

Steve: I see. Yeah, that sounds like it’d be really powerful. I can’t wait to try all this stuff after we talked.

Ilana: Awesome.

Steve: So Ilana thanks a lot of thanks a lot for coming on the show. I learned a lot. It’s been so long since I’ve given up on GDN. But it sounds like with the scale it’s a lot bigger than Facebook and it just seems like everyone should be giving it a try. Everyone’s just been all about Facebook as of late, but GDN is just so much larger. And I feel like there’s a lot more potential there as well.

Ilana: There’s a huge amount of potential, but I think importantly, it’s important to diversify where you get your leads from because yes, I’m a huge advocate for Facebook. I spend a fortune on there for my clients and it’s a great advertising platform, but you need what’s that quote that the biggest risk in your business is the number one. You don’t want one resource of your leads being Facebook, you want to diversify.

Steve: True.

Ilana: And the GDN is a great compliment to it as to complete the holisticness of all the different touch points for your client.

Steve: One last question, you’re starting out, Facebook or Google or GDN for business?

Ilana: It’s a hard one. It really depends on the industry. I think really what Facebook does have which Google doesn’t have is that share button which works so well on Facebook. But Facebook is getting more and more expensive, let’s be honest. So it depends on your industry I’d say, that’s a tough one to answer.

Steve: Where can people find you online if they want to get ahold of you or know more about your services?

Ilana: Yeah, sure. So my main website is GreenArrowDigital.com where we do this stuff for clients but we also have a whole training program on the GDN and a whole bunch of Google stuff as well as Facebook and analytics on the training page on our website. So yeah, you just go to GreenArrowDigital.com, or you can listen to my podcast and yours truly talking.

Steve: Where is your podcast and what is it called?

Ilana: Talking Web Marketing.

Steve: Talking Web Marketing. Okay, and are those tutorials free on your site?

Ilana: I do have a whole free video course actually on remarketing on my website. That is available for anyone, if they want.

Steve: Excellent. And do you take clients, because you’re based in Australia, do you take clients outside of Australia as well?

Ilana: Yes, absolutely. Most of my clients are out of Australia.

Steve: Excellent. Okay, I will post all that in the show notes. Ilana, thanks a lot for coming the show, once again I really appreciate it.

Ilana: It’s my pleasure. Thanks for having me on.

Steve: All right. Take care.

Hope you enjoyed that episode. I don’t know about you, but I’m really anxious to go back and give the Google Display Network another shot. After all it does have the largest reach of any ad platform around. For more information about this episode, go to mywifequitherjob.com/episode216.

And once again, I want to thank Privy.com for sponsoring this episode. Privy is the email capture provider that I personally use to turn visitors into email subscribers. They offer email capture, exit intent, and site targeting tools to make it super simple as well. And I like Privy because it’s so powerful and you can basically trigger custom pop-ups for any parameter that is closely tied to your e-commerce store. If you want to give it a try, it is free. So, head on over to Privy.com/Steve, once again, that’s P-R-I-V-Y.com/Steve.

I also want to thank Klaviyo which is my email marketing platform of choice for e-commerce 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 autopilot. 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 e-commerce 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’re giving the courage people need to start their own online business. For more information, visit Steve’s blog at www.Mywifequitherjob.com.

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215: The Future Of Facebook Messenger Marketing With ManyChat Founder Mikael Yang

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215: The Future Of Facebook Messenger Marketing With ManyChat Founder Mikael Yang

Mikael Yang is someone who I was introduced to by Nathan Barry and we met at Andrew Warner’s whiskey party at Social Media Marketing World.

He is the founder of ManyChat, the leading Facebook messenger chat software on the market and it’s actually the chat software that I’m currently using for my store and blog.

Today, we’re going to pick Mikael’s brain about some of the current and future applications of Facebook chat as well as why he decided to start his business.

What You’ll Learn

  • Why Mikael started ManyChat
  • Why you should be using Facebook Messenger marketing
  • How to avoid getting flagged as spam
  • What’s better, an email subscriber or a messenger subscriber and how to get both
  • How long until messenger gets saturated
  • The best way to grow your messenger subscribers

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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.
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Privy.com – Privy is my tool of choice when it comes to gathering email subscribers for my ecommerce store. They offer easy to use email capture, exit intent, and website targeting tools that turn more visitors into email subscribers and buyers. With both free and paid versions, Privy fits into any budget. Click here and get 15% OFF towards your account.
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Pickfu.com – Pickfu is a service that I use to get instant feedback on my Amazon listings. By running a quick poll on your images, titles and bullet points, you can quickly optimize your Amazon listings for maximum conversions. Click here and get 50% OFF towards your first poll.

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.
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Transcript

You’re listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast, the place where I bring on successful bootstrapped business owners and dig deep into what strategies they use to grow their businesses. Today on this podcast episode, I have Mikael Yang, the founder of ManyChat on the show. And as many of you know, Facebook Messenger marketing is something that I’ve been using for both my blog and my online store with great success. Anyway, today we’re going to be talking about the future of Facebook Messenger marketing.

But before we begin, I want to give a quick shout out to Privy who is a sponsor of the show. Privy is the tool that I use to build my email list for both my blog and my online store. Now, there are a bunch of companies out there that will manage your email capture forms, but I like Privy because they specialize in e-commerce. And right now I’m using Privy to display a cool wheel of fortune pop-up. Basically a user gives their email for a chance to win valuable prizes in our store. And customers love the gamification aspect of this, and when I implemented this form email sign ups increased by 131%.

Bottom line, Privy allows me to turn visitors into email subscribers, which I then feed to my email provider to close the sale. So head on over to Privy.com/Steve, and try it for free. And if you decide you need some of the more advanced features, use coupon code MWQHJ For 15% off. Once again that’s P-R-I-V-Y.com/Steve.

I also want to give a quick shout out to Klaviyo who is also a sponsor of the show. Always blessed to have Klaviyo as a sponsor because they are the email marketing platform that I personally use for my e-commerce store, and I depend on them for over 30% of my revenues. Now 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. 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. 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 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 Mikael Yang on the show. Now Mikael is someone who I was introduced to by Nathan Berry. But we actually didn’t get a chance to meet until we saw each other at Andrew Warner’s whiskey party at Social Media Marketing World. Anyways, Mikael is the founder of ManyChat, the leading Facebook Messenger chat software on the market. And it’s actually the chat software that I’m currently using for my store and my blog. And I’ve been getting a killer ROI from that has blown my email marketing numbers out of the water.

And today what we’re going to do, is we’re going to pick Mikael’s brain about some of the current and future applications of Facebook chat as well as why he decided to start his business. And with that, welcome to show Mikael. How are you doing today, man?

Mikael: I’m doing great. Thanks for having me Steve.

Steve: Yeah, Mikael, so when you are at Social Media Marketing World, you were like the celebrity with like a mob of people following you around. But for the benefit of my listeners, what is ManyChat, and why did you actually start this company?

Mikael: So ManyChat is a Messenger marketing platform. It helps businesses do marketing, sales and support through Facebook Messenger. And basically, the reason to do that is Facebook Messenger has over 1.3 billion people using it monthly, and it’s the most engaging channel right now on the market. And that’s actually the answer to the second question. That’s why we started the company because we saw an opportunity to deliver a lot of value to businesses by helping them leverage this new channel of communication with their customers.

We started in 2015 with a different Messenger, it was Telegram Messenger. I don’t know if your listeners know about this Messenger. But it’s kind of like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Fiber, but just popular in different countries. And it’s one of the more like advanced in terms of technology Messengers, one of the most secure Messengers out there. And they were one of the first Western Messengers to open up their API. And basically what that means is that Messengers are typically owned by their companies that developed them. And they are closed gardens, which means that developers cannot build on top of them.

And Telegram opened up their API so that developers like ourselves could build platforms on top of them. And we’ve built one of the biggest bot platforms and Messenger marketing platforms on top of it. And a year later, Facebook Messenger opened up, and Facebook Messenger in terms of its reach is just much bigger. It has many more people using it. It has many more businesses using it. So for us, it was a no brainer to develop, to take what we’ve learned from Telegram and to take it to Facebook Messenger. And that’s how we’ve launched ManyChat just a month after Facebook has opened up their API.

Steve: Were you using chat to market your own stuff before you got into this, or did you just decide to go with it because you knew that chat was going to be the next big thing?

Mikael: Yeah, that’s great question. So we’ve been doing projects since I was 19, so for over eight years. And one of the projects that we did was a Messenger that was the whole theme of it was entertainment, you could message to friends [inaudible 00:06:22]. And we saw that compared to applications that didn’t use the messaging technology, ours had five, six times more retention, because there was this loop of sending a message, getting your friends into the app again, receiving a reply, getting into the app again, etc. So we experienced firsthand the power of how messaging is super engaging.

So when Telegram opened up, we saw 65 million people that were using Telegram at that time, every month that were, the only thing that they were doing was just messaging each other and there was no business application to use Telegram. So we like my first thought was, why not use this channel to broadcast messages the same way that you would do an email campaign, but through Messenger and get a list, a Messenger list inside and start doing broadcasts. And that’s exactly — I tried to do it myself using the APIs.

I have a technical background, and after a few hours of struggling with Postgres databases, setting up an instance on Hiroko [ph], etc, I just thought like, this is way too much work to do just a simple broadcast. So I called up my technical co founder Anthony, who is just a wizard of technology. And I said, like, we got to do this platform. And in just about a few days, we had a working MVP, where you could connect your bots to the app and get subscribers into broadcast.

Steve: Cool. So Mikael, this topic of Messenger marketing is still relatively new. And I know that there’s a lot of skeptics out there, because we use Messenger to communicate with our friends and our family. And so the question is, and the question that I’ve been getting is why should people use Messenger bots for marketing? Isn’t that going to piss people off? Isn’t it kind of intrusive and spammy?

Mikael: Hmm, that’s a great question. So Messenger is much more engaging than email. And that is because it is delivered to the inbox that you check like multiple times every day. And some businesses have this hesitation, like is it okay to be in that space where you talk only to your friends? And the answer is yes, because it’s the same way that every marketing channel starts. Usually, it’s a platform that is used only to communicate with a community or friends or family, there’s this use case where people use it for the most like basic social needs. And then that platform gets opened up for businesses.

And the difference between Messenger and other platforms is that the customer stays always in control and I’m going to touch on that later. Because the next question is, like okay, businesses can use this, but how do we make so that the platform does not become spammy?

Steve: Like email, for example, right? Like, I get tons of spam every day.

Mikael: That’s true. Like, basically, I stopped using email. The only reason my system still checks email is because some of our service providers, there is no way to connect with them on Messenger. So this is the only like use case for email that is left like our whole company. We have over 30 people and we don’t use email internally, like zero emails to share it inside the company. We only use slack Messenger, Asana and like all the tools around email. And that was a big chord when that happened. We were like, well, this is where the world is heading.

So, answering your question, it does feel like for some people, it could feel like, am I intruding, but like our data shows that customers are more than willing to subscribe to brands and businesses on Messenger and receive notifications from them and interact with them? The open rates, the typical open rates for broadcast on Messenger is 80, 90% and the CTRs are anywhere from 10, 20% to like, 30, 40, 50%. I had one girl come up to me and say, Messenger CTRs are going down, like they’re no longer where they used to be. And I’m like, well, really like what’s happening? Tell me more about it, because I want to learn what’s people’s experiences with the platform. And she is like, I used to get 76% and now I only get 48. I’m like, that’s not a reason for complaining.

Steve: I’m getting about 36 to 45% CTR, and my open rates are 80 to 90. Yeah, I mean, it’s crazy. And compare that to email…

Mikael: What is your email CTR?

Steve: Yeah, my email is anywhere between two and five I would say at most, yeah.

Mikael: So it’s 10X of your email CTR?

Steve: Yeah.

Mikael: Got it. Yeah, that’s what a lot of people are reporting, 10X of email.

Steve: So let me ask you this, though. Do you think that it’s going to become saturated? Because it’s such a more personal medium, do you think it’ll get saturated quicker than email? Like, what do you see going forward?

Mikael: So definitely, marketing channels are getting saturated and it’s just the nature. More people know about them, more people start using them, there’s only a limited amount of attention that people spend on the platforms. So definitely Messenger will become saturated. It’s nowhere near that point right now, I think there’s another 1, 2, 3 years where the brands will just start on boarding. Right now, it’s only the — there is a book called Crossing the Chasm. And so right now it’s only the innovators and the early adopters, it’s still like going only into the early majority stage.

And I do think that it’s going to become more saturated. But look at email, like it took email to get to this point 20 years. And if you look at the numbers, email marketing as an industry is growing, like it’s not declining at this point. I think it will in the next few years but right now, it’s still growing. And the difference between email and Messenger is that email is an open protocol. It’s an open platform, nobody controls email. And Messenger is controlled by let’s say, Facebook, WhatsApp is also control by Facebook; other Messengers are controlled by other companies.

Their number one goal is to make sure that the messaging experience is valuable to the end user. If that suffers, then like nothing will — like they don’t have another aim other than making sure that their Messenger is used by maximum amount of people, maximum amount of time, and with maximum frequency. So if they see that this is starting to degrade user experience, they’re going to put systems in place that will make sure that the end user is happy and receives valuable information from businesses, because there is a fine line between like being spammy and being helpful for the customer.

Steve: I guess the key difference here is that anyone can send me email, but no one can just message me out of the blue, right? I guess that’s the one key difference.

Mikael: Exactly. If somebody has your email, and they’ve got it through you opting in or from them buying a database or like stealing a list, they can message you. That’s basically your email is a key to your inbox. For Messenger, you have to opt in consciously, and no business can message you, can initiate a conversation unless you start a conversation with them. That’s one of the key differences. That’s true.

Steve: So given that Facebook is in control here, and I know you’re probably biased, but if I’m a company, what would I prioritize, getting an email or a Messenger subscriber, because Facebook might change things going forward, right? They might start charging, they might limit the scope, whereas email is something that we’re in control of. So how would you prioritize the two?

Mikael: So I think that that question comes up a lot when we are talking to businesses. And typically what we say to them is that you don’t have to choose between email and Messenger. It’s not something that like one thing, if you use one thing, you cannot use the other. I think you should start getting and like gathering your Messenger list and you should not dump your email strategy, get your emails, and get your Messenger list. And actually, if you get a Messenger list like we have a lot of people who are using their Messenger list to get people’s emails.

Just a few weeks ago, Facebook Messenger introduced an update that allows people to share their email with the bot with just one tap. So you could ask something like, you could run ads to your Messenger bots, get the lead on Messenger, and then say something like, by the way, we have this eBook, if you want it, like do you want it? And if the person answers yes, you say okay, what’s the best email I can send it to? And they tap like share email and you get the email and ManyChat integrates seamlessly with MailChimp, Active Campaign, any email service provider that is connected through Zapier. So you can actually get the Messenger subscriber and turn that Messenger subscriber into an email subscriber. So now you have two points of contact with the same person, which makes your connection even stronger.

Steve: Interesting. So what are some of the best ways that you’ve seen some of your clients get both chat subscribers as well as email subscribers.

Mikael: So this was one of the ways that people do this. Basically, it’s all about when you ask the person to share a point of contact with you. And Messenger like starting conversation in Messenger is one way to do that, people sharing an email is not a way — people sharing a mobile phone number is the third way. There are different channels which you can unlock, basically, when you are connecting with your subscriber. And typically the architecture of this process is pretty much the same. You ask them for the point of contact in return for some value that you’re giving them.

So it’s typically a strategy that some people call a lead magnet, like you have to have something of value and say like, hey, if you want this thing, this eBook, this video, this something, a consultation, an appraisal or something, leave us your Messenger, we’ll contact you and or will deliver it to you, etc. So the same way that you would get an email subscriber, you would use the same strategies to get a Messenger subscriber and vice versa.

Steve: I just want to take a moment to thank Pickfu for being a sponsor of the show. If you currently sell on Amazon like I do, then you know how crucial the quality of your Amazon listing is to the success of your e-commerce business. So for example, I’ve run experiments on my Amazon listings, well simply replacing the main image with a different photo resulted in a 2x increase in conversions. But how do you choose the best and highest converting photos for your listings? How do you know that you’re using the most profitable images for your products? And how do you know that your bullet points are convincing. This is where Pickfu comes in.

Pickfu allows you to solicit real human feedback about your Amazon listings in 10 minutes or less. And you can target the exact demographic of your end customer. So for example, let’s say you sell napkins and you have two main product images that you want to test. You would simply go to Pickfu, list the images, target female Amazon Prime members over the age of 35 and hit go. Within 10 minutes you’ll get feedback of which image people are more likely to buy along with specific feedback on why they made their decision.

In fact, I’ve used Pickfu to almost double the conversion rate on several of my Amazon listings by testing my images, bullet points, and product titles. And what I like about Pickfu is that you get results quickly unlike traditional split testing, and you can use this to test book covers, landing pages, basically anything. Not only that, but it’s super cheap to run a poll and right now you can get 50% off your first poll by going to Pickfu.com/Steve, once again, that’s P-I-C-K-F-U.com/Steve. Now back to the show.

So specifically what I was referring to as you know in ManyChat, you offer all these different growth tools like different ways to get email addresses. And I was just curious which one is the best performing one that most marketers are using today.

Mikael: We do have a lot of growth tools. But basically for your listeners who might not be familiar with ManyChat interface, growth tools are a set of tools that lets you convert any traffic into Messenger subscribers. And that can be a website traffic, that could be a Facebook ad, that can be your social media followers, and we provide like certain tools to convert those people into Messenger subscribers. I think one of the best things right now that is working really good for businesses is actually if you have a Facebook page and doing the comments to Messenger growth tool. Basically, it allows you to convert anyone who comments on a Facebook post to a Messenger subscriber by sending them an auto message as a response to that comment.

And we’ve seen a lot of people getting amazing results, getting hundreds or even thousands of subscribers using that one growth tool. And specifically, it is really powerful paired with a Facebook Live. If you have a following, if you have people watching your Facebook Lives, or if you can make your Facebook Live appear in front of a lot of people, then connecting a comment growth tool to Facebook Live will basically try to turn everyone who comments on the Facebook Live and people who are commenting on the Facebook Live like a lot. It’s one of the best ways to get comments. And it will start an interaction with them on Messenger and if they’re interested, they will respond. And that’s how you get subscribers.

Steve: So let me ask you this. I know Facebook has been cracking down on using language that attracts comments, right? So if you’re not doing a Facebook Live, for example, you can’t just go on and say, hey, comment yes, to get this lead magnet, because Facebook will probably reduce the reach of that post, right? And so how are people doing it without Lives?

Mikael: So the thing that you’re referring to is the engagement baits that Facebook started to crack down on, and I’ve asked this question to our partnership manager and I’m still waiting for a response from them is that does that actually count towards sending lead magnets and like providing any kind of value through Messenger. Because basically engagement baiting, what Facebook was trying to crack on is they were trying to reduce the number of posts that gets fake engagement, that get engagement that is not supposed to be there like voting on the picture or something else. And the commenting, the reason for commenting is not because you want to increase the reach of the post which is a great side effect. But for a lot of people that’s not the actual reason to do that.

Commenting is just a really natural way to opt in into the bot because when you comment, the bot sends your reply, you reply back like there’s a lot of conversion steps that are dismissed when you do the comments to Messenger growth tool. And so we are waiting for a reply from them. Right now it’s a gray area. And the way to answering your question I would use a Facebook video. I’ve seen a lot of people using a video to actually ask a question and get replies, and respond to those replies accordingly.

Also asking an open ended question like nobody, like it’s concert engagement bait to like just say comment to something. But if you just ask a question there, like a yes or no question or something without specifically telling people like to do something in return for something, if this is considered by Facebook to be a natural part of the social interaction, then everything is good. So these are two ways I would suggest, using a video or asking an open ended question.

Steve: So does that imply then that you should have like ManyChat try to get a subscriber off of any comment, not necessarily using a specific keyword?

Mikael: If it’s an open ended question that’s not an open question, if it’s a yes or no question, then you can actually do automations based on yes and nos. And you can actually do the automation based on without a keyword because if the person has engaged with that post, it opens up the possibility of the page replying to them. Because basically when you think about this, when a person comments on a page’s post, they started an interaction with this business, they are interested, and they have something to say in reply to what the business has said. So there is a conversation that is going on right now in the comments with the person and the business.

So there are ways to like if you don’t use keywords functionality. So basically, again, for people who are not familiar with ManyChat, basically, you can reply either to comments that have certain keywords mentioning in the comments or you can reply to all of the comments. And what Steve is referring to is maybe replying to all the comments. I think that’s a viable strategy. It’s not as targeted as replying to certain keywords. But I do think it’s like you should always think about the customer.

And there is like the golden rule of marketing, market to others as you would want to be marketed to yourself. So imagine yourself in the shoes of your customer and think like, when I wrote this comment, would I expect a message from the business? How would I feel if I got it? Would it feel intrusive or would it feel natural? And if the answer is natural and relevant, then by all means, do it.

Steve: So Mikael, because a large part of my audience, they sell physical products online, what are some of the applications that you’ve seen for e-commerce stores selling physical products with chat bots?

Mikael: Yeah, e-commerce like we’ve seen people just making — this is going to — I don’t want this sound like that everyone can get the same results but e-commerce has been big on Messenger marketing. And so I’ve seen results where just a person was selling t-shirts and just made a few. I think he made over $5,000 in sales in just 24 hours of starting it. And so it was really — I think it was a great result for a person who is a single person operation and just starting out.

Steve: How did he acquire subscribers?

Mikael: I think he run ads like he shared with me the end results. And there is like so many stories that right now it’s like even hard to go into the details of every story. But if I remember correctly, he run ads to his bots and there’s this thing called the Jason ads. Basically Facebook a year ago, Facebook introduced ads that show up in the news feeds. And when you click on them, it starts a conversation with the business. So this basically, they are called click to Messenger ads. So basically, you can create an ad on Facebook that promotes your bots. And instead of going to a landing page, the person goes to the Messenger, straight to Messenger, and the bot starts the interaction.

The reason to do that is if you think about a landing page, the only like purpose of a landing page is either to get you to an instant sale or to get you a lead so that the person leaves their contact information. Facebook Messenger when you run that ad gets you and instantly because when the person starts a conversation on Messenger, you get their first name, last name, their profile picture, gender, time zone, like a lot of information. But most importantly, you get the connection, the ability to reengage with them on Facebook Messenger.

So he run the ads and then just fold up, you have 24 hours. After the person starts an interaction with you on Messenger, you have 24 hours of free reengagement where you can send any promotional materials, any discounts, anything. After 24 hours, you have to stick to subscription messaging permissions. And so we can go deeper into that. But basically, what that means is that you cannot do promotions or sales after 24 hours of the last user interaction. So the user has to interact with your bot and then you can market to them and do sales pitches. So yeah, I think that’s what was…

Steve: Yeah so just to reinforce your point, that’s how I’ve been building my list. So I’m running an ad right now. I’m doing a free plus shipping giveaway where I’m giving away a free handkerchief on our store. When they click on the ad, it opens up a Messenger bot, and then I give them basically a coupon to get this free handkerchief in the Messenger. And then on the landing page, I actually try to get an email. So, if all goes well, I get an email subscriber, I get a chat subscriber, and I get a sale as well. And that’s worked really well so far.

Mikael: Are you already getting the email subscriber on the landing page?

Steve: I’m getting on the landing page because the landing page I give a lot more information about exactly what the product is. I provide pictures about exactly what they’re getting. I would have tried to get it in the chat window, but they don’t have enough information to want to give me the email I felt.

Mikael: Got it. If you think about like, I would just experiment because there is this, if you try to just use user input with an email type, they will be able to share the email with one tap. And it’s just such a natural thing to do because if you think about your Messenger experience, how many times have you talked to somebody and somebody said to you like, okay, I’ll send you a calendar invite, what’s your email? Or I’ll send this over to you, what’s your email? Your use — before even businesses have entered the messaging space, you were already sending your email to your friends through Messenger for one reason or the other. So I would just try it out and see like, what happens. If you provide enough context to them, and enough conversational value what you’re going to give them for this, I think that they are going to share the email with you even before they’re going to visit the landing page.

Steve: Interesting. Yeah, definitely should give that a try. One thing I’ve noticed about Facebook, like the lead ads and whatnot, is that the default email subscriber isn’t necessarily their main email. So for example, like for Facebook, I’m using a way old email address because I signed up for Facebook way back in 2008, or whenever I signed up. So have you found that as well?

Mikael: That’s true, a lot of people have mentioned this. And we’re just — it’s the functionality that was rolled out by Facebook just a few weeks ago. So we’re still gathering the data. But basically, what happens there is that a person sees the email that they’re sharing, and then they feel that this email is old and like not the one that they want to be providing, there’s an option to just enter it through a sense, just…

Steve: The next field.

Mikael: Just the text field. So we will see how that plays out. I think for a lot of people, that increase conversions, like even though some people have older emails connected to their Facebook accounts, it’s just the simplicity of tapping the pre filled email like increases the conversion much more than the number of people who have their older emails attached to the platform. And those who do want to share the correct email with you, they can just type in their current email address, which was the only case before they rolled out the sharing of the email with one tap?

Steve: Okay, yeah, it’s definitely worth experimenting with. On my landing page like, there’s a bunch of sense of urgency, like I have a countdown timer, I have a detailed description. So yeah, it’s probably worth experimenting to see which one works better. Mikael, I also want to touch upon spam. Like, what are some of the rules regarding sending these broadcasts, because I know you can’t just fire off coupons and just start spamming people with offers, right, what are the rules of that?

Mikael: Exactly as we’ve mentioned before in this interview, Facebook, the number one thing for Facebook is the end users experience. So they’re really strict about what you can and cannot send on Messenger. I’ve already mentioned that you have a 24 hour window after the last user interaction. So not just the first one, but every time they use your opens, your bots and presses a button inside of it, the 24 hour window starts where you can send anything, promotional messages, coupons, etc. But after 24 hours after the last user interaction, you cannot send anything promotional; you can only send things that are non promotional.

And please do go to Facebook policies. They’re short, they’re succinct, anyone will understand that they’re written in plain language and just see what’s okay, what’s not, okay. Basically, after 24 hours, you cannot just directly sell anything to your customers. The only things that you can send is content, news, product updates, like things that are not like nothing or pay, here’s a 20% sale or something. That thing will get you like banned. So please be mindful of that and check the Facebook Messenger policies before doing anything.

Steve: So what are some clever ways that you’ve seen people do broadcast to get them to have an interaction, so you can send them a promotion?

Mikael: So I would say anything engaging like anything that would get your customers to engage would be a good idea, because engaging content means that you have captured their interests enough so that the person actually lifted their finger and tapped on a button without just swiping back to their friends’ messages. So I think one of the best ways that we’ve seen people do this is by asking questions, and by asking questions stuff like pay, we’ve got a new podcast, do you want to listen to it now, or maybe later. And people that maybe wouldn’t click on now, a lot of them start to click on maybe later, which sets up a let’s say a 30 or an hour timer, and then reminds them, hey, you wanted to listen to this podcast an hour later.

Or same thing with a blog posts or maybe doing surveys about what people think about this or that issue? Of course, it should be relevant to your audience. You’re talking to your audience. So it should be relevant to the things that your brand and your business is involved in. And so yeah, asking questions is one of the best things in Messenger.

Steve: Is it okay to say something like, hey, we’re having a special promotion, would you like to hear about it? Yes, no, unsubscribe.

Mikael: No, I think that would be crossing the line. Everything should be checked. There is a Messenger community that is the official Facebook Messenger community, and I would encourage ask any questions there. But basically, asking people if they would be interested in the promotion is already, I would say, in my opinion, I would say it’s promotional. The correct answer here is even Facebook says that right now different teams have different opinions and said it depends on like which reviewer that message will fall. So I would stay away from anything that could get you in trouble until the rules settle down. So until Facebook itself decides what is okay and what is not okay, and like gets past this ambiguity, I would stay in the safe and try to not send anything that would be considered promotional.

Steve: I just wanted to take a moment to tell you about a brand new service that I personally just launched that will help you grow your email list for free. First off, my new business is called GoBrandWin.com. And it’s a service that helps e-commerce sellers build their email list through group giveaways. And here’s how it works. If you own your own e-commerce brand, and you have a following what you do is you contribute a gift card toward your products valued at $200 or more. Now Go Brand Win will assemble gift cards from other participating brands with a similar customer demographic into one massive sweepstakes giveaway.

Now, all participating brands will then send our co branded giveaway email to their entire customer base driving them to a special landing page on GoBrandWin.com where we will acquire email addresses and Facebook pixel data. We will also send the giveaway entry forms to related influencers in our blogger database. And between my co founder and I, we have access to almost 1,000 bloggers in our database. Now, consumers who enter the giveaway will enter their email addresses, we will send them special offers from your company and select a grand prize winner. And after the sweepstakes are over, you will receive the full list of entrants and instantly grow your audience.

Bottom line, the concept is very simple. We all help each other promote each other’s businesses, get free promotion from bloggers, and share the spoils, which in this case, are the email addresses. If you are interested in growing your email list, then head on over to GoBrandWin.com, that’s G-O-B-R-A-N-D-W-I-N.com. It’s 100% free, so sign up now. Now back to the show.

What about I’ve got like new products that just arrived in the store? Would you like to see them?

Mikael: That might be considered as a product update. So there is a way to — there is certain tags inside the Facebook Messenger. And one of them is product update. Usually it is more towards the bot itself. So like the bot getting new functionality, but like it depends on how you think about this, like maybe new products inside the bot is like now you can buy, now you can do something inside the bot that you weren’t able to do before that. But I don’t want to – I’m not a Facebook reviewer.

Steve: Yeah, it sounds like it’s the Wild West right now. Right?

Mikael: Exactly. The point here is not to like, hey, can we do this, can we do that. I’ve seen people who are doing promotional messages, like for half a year and they then get blocked or banned, or restricted in any way. And I’ve seen people who were doing something like that could be considered by that was like kind of in the gray area, and they got the restricted. So basically, it all depends. Even Facebook’s own internal policies change. So they see how people are using the platform. They see how end users respond to that usage. And based on that they make the rules and they have guidelines internally and they change those guidelines and they are not sharing those guidelines publicly.

Steve: I see.

Mikael: So the answer here is that nobody actually knows what is like the current state and what is okay, and what is not okay because even Facebook changes this stuff. And so the answer is, it is wild, wild west, be careful, read Messenger policies, and just have a head of your own and don’t get in trouble by sending like — because I’ve seen people who are sending like they knew about the 24 hour message window. And they were sending like just directly sales pitches like hey, 20% off only in the next hour or something. And like, they got restricted, and like we couldn’t do anything about this. And they reached out to us and said, like, hey, we’ve got this thing. And we were like, yeah, you were violating Facebook Messenger policies. You cannot do that. That’s what you get for that.

So yeah, I would, I would say like I would stick to questions, I would stick to quizzes, I would stick to surveys. And Facebook is going to introduce a way like, there’s a definitely going to be a way for businesses to send promotional messages to their customers to reengage them using the platform. Basically, that’s how Facebook makes money. So you should expect that. And before Facebook releases a solution like that, just grow your list. Don’t be like, don’t try to optimize everything.

This channel is not something that is like this new shiny thing that is going to go away like in a few months. And if you don’t get value right now, you’re never going to get it. Go try it, and start growing your list and start learning how it works, because this is going to be the channel that is going to dominate all the other channels in the next 3, 5, 7 years. This is a long term game, you’re starting to build your Messenger list, this is going to be the main channel of communication of your customers in the next three to seven years. So it’s not a question of trying to extract as much value right now. So just be careful, grow your list, learn how it works, provide as much value as possible, and then see what happens next because like, a lot of these rules are going to set up exactly this year.

Steve: I see. So basically, what you’re saying is Facebook’s kind of vague on the guidelines right now. So just err on the side of caution so you don’t get banned.

Mikael: Exactly.

Steve: So no content basically yeah.

Mikael: Yeah, send no content and when the person engages, then you have the 24 hour window. And Facebook is doing this for a reason. They don’t know themselves, like they are a technology company. And they have to strike this balance between giving businesses tools to markets and to grow and also giving customers the user experience that they will value and that will be good for them. And it’s a very delicate balance. And they themselves don’t know where that balance is. So the reason that they’re big about this is because now they can see how different interactions resolved in like different user experiences. And they can say, okay, this is what we’re going after. And then they’re going to put a stick in the ground and say, this is what is allowed and this is what is not allowed.

Steve: Okay. I would also say that you should always give the user the option to unsubscribe with every broadcast, right? Is that just general good practice?

Steve: That is a very good practice because that decreases the number of blocks that’s your page receives. And if your page receives a lot of blocks, then you’re going to get flagged for review and then you’re going to get, then you might get in trouble if you were sending something out. That was like in the gray area of the Messenger policies. So I would encourage everyone to make it super easy for your customers to unsubscribe. Right now it’s already easy, like, they can just swipe inside Messenger and delete the conversation with your bot, but not a lot of like, some people just don’t do it. They just read the messages and like, basically tolerate that you’re in their inbox.

So please do send an unsubscribe option the same way that you would you do that inside email, there should be a link to unsubscribe from your broadcasts and from your bot but leaving the option to do live chat, etc. So ask your every message, every broadcast, I would say something, if you ever wanted to unsubscribe from these messages, just type stop and just like STOP all caps or something, or provide them a button to do that just like unsubscribe or manage subscriptions, yeah.

Steve: Okay. Hey, Mikael, we’ve been chatting for quite a while. I want to be respectful of your time. Where can people learn more about your company and where can they get ahold of you if they have any questions?

Mikael: So the company is M-A-N-Y-C-H-A-T, ManyChat.com. And you can go to ManyChat.com and connect your Facebook page with one click and start getting your first subscribers and doing your first broadcasts, and then maybe even graduate to doing more sophisticated marketing automation. We do have a free course that we put out just a week ago, and it’s over 10 hours of content. And it’s like people were charging for this like hundreds and thousands of dollars. And we are putting this content out for free just so that millions of businesses can learn how to do Messenger marketing and how to connect with their customers. So it is beneficial to the customer and to the business and is not violating any policies of Facebook Messenger.

So if there is something that I would encourage everyone to do is just check it out. The platform is free to use like there’s a freemium, it’s a freemium model so there is a free plan that will allow you to do everything that you want, get subscribers, do broadcasts. And as soon as you experience the results, as soon as you experience the open rates and the CTRs, you will get hooked like this is just going to be super engaging and you will want more of those results. But that’s for you to experience.

Steve: Yeah I just want to add that you can do a lot of this stuff for free on the free plan on ManyChat. And the pro plan is actually pretty inexpensive, like I’m not affiliate with ManyChat in anyway, but compared to email marketing right now I think ManyChat just to be able to gather subscribers and send to them is really inexpensive now, and it’s like a no brainer to try right now.

Mikael: Oh thank you, thank you Steve.

Steve: All right Mikael. Thanks a lot for coming on the show. I really appreciate your time.

Mikael: Great talking to you man.

Steve: All right take care.

Hope you enjoyed that episode. Mikael actually lives right by my house, so we had a chance to grab coffee and hang out. He’s a super nice guy and he really knows his stuff. For more information about this episode, go to mywifequitherjob.com/episode215.

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 Privy for sponsoring this episode. Privy is the email capture provider that I personally use to turn visitors into email subscribers. They offer email capture, exit intent, and site targeting tools to make it super simple as well. And I like Privy because it’s so powerful and you can basically trigger custom pop ups for any primer that is closely tied to your e-commerce store. If you want to give it a try, it is free. So head on over to Privy.com/Steve, once again that’s P-R-I-V-Y.com/Steve.

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, 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.

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214: The Right Way To Run Facebook Ads For Physical Products With Andrew Foxwell

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214: How To Run Facebook Ads To Sell Physical Products In 2018 With Andrew Foxwell

Today I’m happy to have Andrew Foxwell on the show. Andrew is someone I met through Austin Brawner who I had back in episode 165. Both Andrew and Austin run Brand Growth Experts which is a company that runs live workshops to help grow your business.

Andrew is also the cohost of the Ecommerce Influence podcast of which I was a guest on long ago and he and his wife Gracie have helped over 250 businesses manage over 10 million in Facebook ad spend.

In short, Andrew is a Facebook and Instagram ads expert and we’re going to pick his brain today.

What You’ll Learn

  • The difference between running Facebook ads for digital vs physical products
  • The minimum average order value to make Facebook ads work
  • How to build social proof for your ads quickly
  • How to structure your top, middle and bottom of funnel ads
  • All about broad match product ads
  • How to narrow down the right audience

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.
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Privy.com – Privy is my tool of choice when it comes to gathering email subscribers for my ecommerce store. They offer easy to use email capture, exit intent, and website targeting tools that turn more visitors into email subscribers and buyers. With both free and paid versions, Privy fits into any budget. Click here and get 15% OFF towards your account.
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Pickfu.com – Pickfu is a service that I use to get instant feedback on my Amazon listings. By running a quick poll on your images, titles and bullet points, you can quickly optimize your Amazon listings for maximum conversions. Click here and get 50% OFF towards your first poll.

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.
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Transcript

You’re 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 in business. And today I have Andrew Foxwell with me on the show. Andrew is the founder of Foxwell Digital, and he’s also the co host of the Ecommerce Influence Podcast. And Andrew is an expert on Facebook and Instagram ads specifically for selling physical products online. And in my opinion, this is one of the better Facebook episodes that I’ve heard.

But before we begin, I want to give a quick shout out to Klaviyo who is a sponsor of the show. 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 30% of my revenues. Now, Klaviyo is the only email platform out there that is specifically built for ecommerce stores, and here is why it is 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 out 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 sent.

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 Privy who is also a sponsor of the show. Privy is the tool that I use to build my email list for both my blog and my online store. Now there are a bunch of companies out there that will manage your email capture forms, but I like Privy because they specialize in e-commerce.

Right now I’m using Privy to display a cool wheel of fortune pop-up. Basically a user gives their email for a chance to win valuable prices in our store and customers love the gamification aspect of this. And when I implemented this form email signups increased by 131%. Bottom line, Privy allows me to turn visitors into email subscribers, which I then feed to my email provider to close the sale. So head on over to Privy.com/Steve and try it for free. And if you decide you need some of the more advanced features, use coupon code MWQHJ for 15% off. Once again, that’s P-R-I-V-Y.com/Steve. Now onto 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 Andrew Foxwell on the show. Now Andrew is someone I met through Austin Brawner, who I had back in Episode 165 and both of them run brand growth experts, which is a company that runs live workshops to help grow your business. Andrew is also the co host of the Ecommerce Influence Podcast of which I was a guest on long ago. And he and his wife Gracie have helped over 250 businesses manage over 10 million in Facebook ad spend. In short, Andrew is a Facebook and Instagram ads expert and we’re going to pick his brain today. And with that, welcome to show Andrew, how you doing today man?

Andrew: I’m doing good. Thanks. Thanks. I’m glad to be here and glad to be chatting with all of you. It’s an honor to be on the podcast. So I’m doing well.
Steve: It is an honor to have you. And for the benefit of the listeners, who don’t know who you are, give us a quick background story. Tell us how you got started with Facebook ads.
Andrew: Absolutely. Yeah, I got started with Facebook ads. Actually, I’ve been doing it since it was invented. So I’ve been doing it since 2008. I was working for a member of Congress and was helping do social media. Facebook pages were invented in January of 2009. And from there I helped members of Congress launch Facebook ads and Facebook pages and helped them to get on social media. And then I went to 3Q Digital and became the director of social there doing mostly direct response Ecom buying. I had a team of seven that I worked with at 3Q, and I went out on my own with my wife after that.

So Gracie and I’ve been running Foxwell Digital now for a little over four years. And we help e-commerce business owners and people running Facebook advertising to grow their businesses and to do it the right way. So we talk about ourselves as social media advisors is a big part of what we do.

Steve: So you specialize in e-commerce stores selling physical products, right?

Andrew: That’s correct.

Steve: That’s great because most of the Facebook consultants I find out there, they mainly focus on digital products. So it’s a great challenge to talk to someone who focuses on e-commerce.

Andrew: Yeah, and I think a lot of those people that are in that industry, that are in that niche part of the industry, it is a similar, but separate discipline, right? So there are pieces to it where you’re using lookalike audiences, you’re using those tenets of what a good Facebook campaign looks like. But there are strategies and there are sort of margin conversations that you have to have that are a lot different for direct response product selling on Facebook.

Steve: Oh, yeah, totally. I mean, I sell digital products. And I can be kind of Lucy goosey with my budget on Facebook, because my product is 1,500 bucks and I’ve got a lot of leeway. Whereas with my e-commerce store, there’s not a lot of margin there and I have to do a lot better job of managing my ads. So I want to focus today obviously on how to run Facebook ads, specifically physical products, especially ones that carry kind of lower margins. First of all, would you say that there’s a certain average order size that you need to have in order to just make Facebook ads work in general?

Andrew: I mean, it’s very difficult in 2018 Facebook and Instagram advertising, we’ll talk about them together. It’s hard to make a product that is sort of that sub $50 category work well at scale. Not saying it can’t happen. You look at somebody like Pura Vida Bracelets or Blenders Eyewear right there, AOVs are lower. And it’s because our product has a much bigger mass market appeal. You know, bracelets, everybody likes that, sunglasses; everybody is going to need a pair of shades. So in those cases, it can work. But I think if you’re looking in that $50 category, it’s going to be difficult.

Now, I’ve seen people that have had a [inaudible 00:05:57] an average order value of 25, and they need to get people to purchase. What you have to do is basically start to look at bringing people in for emails, which is going to be a much more reasonable expectation to bring people in, and overtime convince them. So it’s not that it can’t work. It’s just that the model of taking them from buying or from never knowing of you to buying in a short period of time and only spending, let’s say, your CPA margin and the $25 AOV is $15 or 10, right? It’s good. You have to really condense that and make that shorter. So that’s what I would say.

Steve: And would you say that all products are good for Facebook ads? Like does your product need to solve a specific problem in order for Facebook ads to work well?

Andrew: Not necessarily. I think that if your pitch is a good one and the way that you’re coming at it is interesting and his novel and is something that people would be interested and potentially aware of, then I think you can be okay. There’s 100,000 different watch companies online, right? Let’s just take that example of that market. Okay, so you look at, there’s everything from movement who those guys have seen great success, right. And then there’s if you sort of go up from there, there’s a brand called Linjer [ph], they are much even more expensive, then there’s things all the way down to Flex Watches.

And this is an interesting company. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of them. My friend David Herman at Social Outlier, he’s the one that runs a lot of the Flex stuff. And it’s interesting because for them, it’s a pitch that you can make, because they’re saying, look, here’s what we do, these watches are tied to causes. So it’s something that people immediately are attached to, versus something where it’s not just a watch, there’s a more meaning to that.

So I think if you have something like that, where it’s a story, you look at a company like Rareform, they take old billboards and turn them into bags. That’s an interesting story, right? There’s a lot of other bag companies, but what’s the genesis of it? What are you doing either before, how is the product created? Is there a story there? And then at the end, is there something that, or is there something happens after, so you buy a product, and then something gets donated because of that.

So I think if you have that pitch, and you have the hook in the way that you’re talking about it in a different way, absolutely. It can work on Facebook, even if it’s a product that there’s a lot of…

Steve: Okay, I mean, just basically make sure you have a strong value proposition before you start running ads, essentially.

Andrew: Yeah, and I would say not just one, so like making sure that there’s multiple. There was a company I worked with that was a wind purifier, handheld wind purifier. Well, okay, that is a great product but how do you pitch that? How do you talk about that? What are the multiple ways that you can pitch that because the first one that you think is the greatest part about it is probably not going to be the one that the audience responds to. So making sure that you have multiple ways that you’re willing to talk about it, and setting the expectation too of saying, okay, I’m willing to try this for six months of trying different pitches, and hooks and value props.

Steve: So let’s pick one of those examples that you just said and just kind of run through a complete example of how you would use Facebook ads to kind of build up an audience and sell that imaginary physical product. So where do you begin?

Andrew: So I think the first place that you would start in looking at what you’re trying to sell is, number one, what can I do in terms of the creative pitch that I am making with multiple types of content? So the first one is, what can I do with visuals in terms of photos that are going to make this product something that’s going to stand out? The first one is, let’s think about static imagery. So what are ways that you can set this product against a background that is going to cause it to have high contrast? So that’s the first question.

The second question is, what can I do in these images to add movement? So maybe I’m setting it against a high contrast background or something, it’s going to cause it to stand out. And then what can I do in the product, in the imagery that is turning it into a gift or even a video file that’s going to add movement to that, that’s going to cause people to stop in their Instagram or Facebook newsfeed and look at that?

Steve: Would you say that video is pretty much the standard now when you run Facebook ads, at least top of funnel ads?

Andrew: Actually video for a long time for top of funnel and direct response for products actually has never really been something that’s worked. It’s something that people because of the info market talk about a lot for being a video prospecting tool. And we can talk about that. But in many cases, video actually doesn’t work that well for driving physical sales. Now, there’s many exceptions to this rule, right? So there’s a lot of places where people have said, hey, I’ve used this video for a long time, it describes what we do, and people love it, then fantastic. But in a lot of cases, if you said to me, hey, I want to get up and get profitable and I want to get running on Facebook using the methods that you have Andrew in the first 30 days, I would not suggest video.

Steve: Interesting, okay.

Andrew: Video is something that is really middle to lower funnel because you’re trying to further a brand proposition. But I think in-house, it is a thing to experiment with. So adding that movement, as we talked about is an interesting one that you can do. And the third one I would try too is trying video. Maybe for your brand, it’s something that works, maybe it’s something that the story there does work, and you’re not necessarily looking for a return on that particular creative right away. But you’re using that as a way under video view audiences. So people watch 10 seconds of a video or 30 seconds of a video and that’s a way that you’re remarketing to people. So under like what’s called engagement, customer audiences, which many of you may be familiar with.

So those are the first things that I would set up as a test and kind of looking at this surveying the creative landscape. Now, a lot of times the second and third options for e-commerce business owners that are like Andrew, that’s great. I’m glad to do that. But I have like this video that we created about my brand story. We don’t have the money to create another brand video now. And so what do you suggest that we do? I think, going back to what Rick said, right on previous episode for you is talking about, Rick Mulready was talking about what can we do using iPhone. What can you do that’s going to be sort of something that looks more native, that generally does work better?

But in a lot of cases, I think those are the tests that I would run. Now, if you were to go more specific on prospecting and saying, okay, setting up day one, what are we doing? The first things I would ask for are at least three to five 1,000 by 1,000 images. All right, so basically square images that we can use in photo posts or that we can use in carousel ads. And then the second one would be a collection of three to five, 1,200 hundred by 628 link post images. So those two drivers are the most common — or those two ad units, excuse me, are the most common drivers for prospecting traffic to a website? And those are the ones that are the most proven in overtime that really get people to a site.

Steve: So for your top of funnel ads, do you always offer — give some sort of offer to entice people to click on it for the top of funnel?

Andrew: If you can, it’s always a good idea. So what are the things that you can offer? Is it is it 15% off, is it 10% off? I think that is something that is going to get people to check it out if it’s coupled with a creative that they find visually interesting and appealing. And that deal obviously, can become more sweet as you go down the funnel. Some people don’t want to do that. So I have a client of mine that is they sell mostly handmade, all organic baby clothing, okay, so kind of a very specific niche thing.

And for them, what they do on the top of the funnel is they actually just talk about and use language about slowing down and making sure that you’re caring for your child, there’s no discount offer on the front end of it at all. Because what we’re trying to do is find that very specific type of person that’s going to connect with the messaging first to go and say, oh, that’s interesting. What is this? Right, it looks more of something that you’d see like from a friend, that they would share or something, right. It feels more native in that way.

So I think that’s kind of — there’s different routes. If I were to set it up say Andrew, what’s the successful route, it would be trying a 15% off offer on the top of funnel if you can, even if it doesn’t get redeemed as much to try to bring people in, you give them an incentive.

Steve: Would it be better to send a coupon to a product page or would you suggest sending them to some sort of landing page where you can really describe your unique value proposition or both?

Andrew: I’ve done both. And it depends, again, on what the product is, right? If something requires more explanation, then sending them to a place where there’s more explanation that’s going to have more context is going to be a great idea. I think the first one, though, I mean, in most cases, if you’re saying, okay, this is a watch or a pair of sunglasses, that doesn’t need a lot of explanation. So for me, then it’s driving them to a best seller’s page in most cases, where how quickly can we get someone to this site that’s going to check out what we’ve got, and start to browse the products from there.

Steve: Okay. And in a previous podcast that I heard you on, you mentioned producing your ad with social proof, possibly by running ads to cheaper countries before putting the ad out to the US, or wherever you happen to be. Is that still something that you do?

Andrew: Yes, and so this is a strategy. Yeah, it’s called social proofing that people use in the industry and it’s an interesting one, specifically in relation to photo post. So if you have a product that you’re trying to basically get people to — you’re trying to take over a large percentage of the mobile news feed, a photo post, which is that 1,000 by 1,000 imagery with a copy in the description and then a Bitly link at the and or a shortened link at the end is going to be a productive one for you. That social proofing and some people do it to other countries. It’s something that I’ve tested, but you get a lot of low quality on it.

What happens now with social proofing in this concept is you basically take an ad, you run it for page post engagement to a selection of the audiences. This is the way that I do it in the United States, a very wide audience. So if my core market is 20 to 40 year old women, I’m going to run it to 20 to 40 year old women, exclude my fans, and all my website visitors and basically anybody that’s ever been in touch with me, and I’m going to run it with no other targeting. Sometimes you can layer in, okay, if it’s a mom product, I’ll layer a mom demographic or something. But your idea is to basically build social proof and let Facebook find people that are likely to engage under that objective with that particular ad.

And what happens is that helps to increase relevance score. So the zero to 10 score of quality that Facebook gives you on the ad level, and it says, okay, this is an ad that’s engaging, you can then take that post ID, and you use it within a conversion campaign. And really what it does more than anything, Steve, is it really takes your copy, it takes that ad, and it turns it into a place where people are looking for validation. If you think about the times you’ve looked at Facebook or Instagram ads in the last six months, many of us look at the comments, right? You’re like, I’m interested, like it’s kind of an interesting product, and you’ll click and look at the comments.

So it’s something that it helps to turn your ad into its own landing page. That’s really the power in my opinion of the social proofing. Because if you start to use that ad, and then you get people that have bought, that have seen it, that are commenting on it, saying, hey, I checked, I got mine, I’ll let you know, that’s really where the power of this starts to come in with social proofing. Because it validates the product before the person even gets to your landing page in many cases, which is a good thing.

Steve: So how long do you run this social proofing ad before you start writing the real ad?

Andrew: It’s generally around 48 to 72 hours that we’ll run it depending on how much social proof we’re getting. So in many cases, if you’re running, what I’m looking for initially, is I’m just looking for all right, what can I do to just get some likes and shares on this, just some social engagement that’s going to give it a little bit of a leg up. That’s really the first thing that I’ll do, and then we’ll kind of switch it over. And then sometimes what you can do too is, okay, let’s say an ad, or let’s say, one or two ads are doing well on that prospecting traffic is you can take that same ad that’s running and doing well. And you can launch that to middle of the funnel, for example.

So let’s say if an ad is doing well, they can keep seeing it. So let’s say they’ve engaged with a post in your 14 day engage your audience, they’ve engaged with it previously on Facebook, you launch it to them again, and maybe it’s even a different one. And you’re continuing to build social proof on it from people that are a little bit farther down the funnel. So you’re looking to kind of use those posts as, again, a validation that you have. And all of this will of course, be in combination with using dynamic product ads and remarketing.

Steve: Sure, we’ll make it down to the bottom of the funnel. So with those engagement ads, what are some guidelines on whether it’s working well, or not? Like how do you determine whether it’s working well?

Andrew: I mean, for me, in terms of the engagement, I’m just looking in terms of is it getting engagement, and is the click through rate like north of 2%, like are there people that are looking at it, clicking through on it, and is the relevant score like north of eight as well? So seven or eight, that’s looking pretty good, right? People find this kind of interesting, that’s a good thing. So that’s kind of the quality that I’d be looking for. And then, of course, once we pull it in, and giving it that 48 to 72 hours of testing on a conversion campaign, is this something that people are going to click on and buy?

So I’ve had plenty of times where I’ve had a social proved post that’s gone into Facebook in a conversion campaign and I’m running it and it’ll have a really high relevance score, but it won’t convert. So it’s getting a lot of great traffic, but it’s not necessarily converting, and then you can make that determination, right? If I’m okay because my ROI is so great on remarketing, if I’m okay, recovering my costs on my prospecting traffic, then absolutely, that’s a bet that you can make.

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Okay. And then how do you pick an audience for that top of funnel? I heard in a separate interview that people are just targeting huge audiences now, huge, broad audiences. And some people are even just not even targeting at all, like targeting the entire country. What’s the rationale for that?

Andrew: Yeah, so I think this is an interesting shift that we’ve definitely seen in the last, let’s say, three to four months, which is Facebook gives us so many options on targeting, right. I mean, it’s just enormous the amount of things that you can do. And in many cases, what we do is Facebook advertisers, the traditional method was that we were going to use that targeting to our advantage and we’re going to make it as specific as possible. What’s happened with the maturity of the Facebook ad auction and the algorithm itself is that the amount of data that they have within that is now so good and so rich, that basically launching advertisement to that grouping is something that to any grouping is they’re going to know that those are the people they’re likely to convert.

So launching it to a wide audience is basically you saying to Facebook, hey Facebook, you know better than I do, find me people that are likely to convert, and especially if you have what I call a seasoned pixel. So if you’ve spent north of 10 to 20,000 dollars through Facebook ads, Facebook understands what the difference is between somebody that, let’s say, adds to cart, use content or converts. So they’re going to be able to properly understand, okay, we’re going to women 18 to 40 in the United States, we want to find people who are likely to convert, they look like these people, which is thus making that pool larger and the converting is helpful.

So prospecting traffic can be set up in a whole number of ways. And what you’re trying to do, I mean, generally, what you’re looking at for successes is you’re looking at using lookalike audiences in many cases of not just purchasers, but looking at your lifetime value purchasers, your best lifetime value purchasers, you’re looking at people that have taken multiple actions. So for you, if you’ve seen that, let’s say, the engage your audience, as we talked about before, is a valuable one to you, I have a client that basically when people engage with them on Instagram, that is a fairly good signal that they’re probably going to buy. So creating a lookalike audience of those people that have engaged with them for 1% is a really helpful thing.

So I think, traditionally, if you were to look right now at a huge account, or even a mild sized, midsized Facebook ads account, let’s say spending in that 20 to $50,000 a month range, and then you look at those that are spending 200k a month plus, you’ll see a pattern in prospecting of generally a 1% look alike of those top AOV customers, and then generally some other 1% look alike that is kind of built from some other set of audience. So that engage your audience is one maybe it’s a two time page views last 60 days, something like that, let’s say the add to cart is a strong signal for you. So something like that.

And sometimes these are separated, sometimes they’re grouped together. Then you look and see a three to 5% lookalike range, sometimes people will have there for scale, and then they’ll have a wide audience. So they’ll have a wide audience that they’re running, generally no targeting. That’s very common now letting Facebook decide. And then you’ll have many times a broad match dynamic product ad, which is another one, which is a prospecting traffic that’s under product catalog sales.

But it lets Facebook again decide based on what they know previously about those that have interacted with your product catalog and shows it to them, shows them dynamic creative on basically, okay, these are the products that have sold well to these types of people before. So those are kind of the components, I would say that you’ll see commonly with the prospecting traffic in a lot of those accounts.

Steve: So if you don’t have a season pixel, though, you wouldn’t recommend going broad with no targeting, I would imagine, right?

Andrew: No exactly. So if you don’t have it, if you don’t have a season pixel, let’s say you’re getting into — I work a lot with companies that are spending in that 5000 a month, 10,000 a month, they’re kind of getting going. And what you’ve got to have then is, you’ve got to have generally look alikes as well. Of course, you’ve got to have — if you have had a lot of people come through purchaser funnel, then you can do a look like of that, maybe an email look alike, maybe you’re grouping those together. And then you got to have a section of interest based look alikes that usually are built off of audience insights in a lot of cases.

So, you’re building off of really not like really big interest, but more specific interests on other brands. And then you have another one usually of behaviors. So it’ll be based on credit card behavior, of people that look like X or buy X, or donate to this type of nonprofit or whatever, right. So I think you want to try experimenting with as much as you possibly can. And where you find scale in some of those as well as you’re growing is, instead of grouping the interest targets together, you can separate them out and make sure that, okay, look, fans of Tim Ferriss are more likely to buy this product than people that follow Amy Porterfield or whatever the example is.

So instead of grouping them, you can find scale by testing those things on interest, because you just don’t have enough data yet, which is totally fine, right? I mean, you have to basically you have all this other targeting is available to you with the ultimate goal of bringing it into something that is that proprietary lookalike audience that only you have the data available to use.

Steve: So what are your goals with your top of funnel campaigns?

Andrew: So my goal and a lot of people I’ve had discussions I would say about this with people and for many e-commerce business owners, it’s hard to do. But for me in the first what I’m looking for in prospecting is can I basically break even in the first 30 days, okay? So can I recover my costs, because you have to think about what you’re trying to do, right? You’re trying to take people from never hearing of you to buying within a 30 day period, which in some case is easier than others. But in other cases, if you don’t have a product that sets itself apart necessarily, then that’s something to be aware of that is going to take maybe a little bit longer.

So I was talking to a client of mine, they sell t-shirts that are awesome t-shirts, they are very witty, and they have a lot of funny things on them and people really love them. And for them the way that they worked in their cogs, they needed to make at least one and a half ROS over a 30 day period. Okay, fine, then that’s the metric, right? That’s what you want to build. But that’s generally what I’m looking for. Because then what that means is I’m not only recovering my costs in the prospecting, but my remarketing then has to be productive at a 3X or whatever.

I’m able to look at a combined ROS of let’s say, two and a half or two. I mean, it depends on where your metrics are. But generally speaking, that’s what I’m looking for to say, okay, that is successful for me. And a lot of other people would say, and then they have said to me, Andrew, I think that’s ridiculous. Like, it should be much more productive than that. And, okay, right. If you have a higher AOV product, that’s going to be easier. Let’s say you spend $200, but your AOV is $200, you get one sale, you’re in much better shape. So that’s kind of the way that I think about it from a prospecting standpoint.

Steve: What’s your experience been with the broad match dynamic ads? I’m running them right now and I’m getting like a two to one ROS, but I’m just letting Facebook do all the work. Is that something that you’ve been doing a lot with your customers?

Andrew: Absolutely, broad match ads are fantastic. They’re a great tool for free to use. And again, letting Facebook decide. They generally what you have to do though, is be really patient with broad match ads. It’s very common that they will take 30 to 45 days to see a return. So you have to just sort of let it be. There was a person that came to the intensive that Austin I did in Austin and he launched it when he heard about me talking about this on another podcast in January, or excuse me in December. And he came in January, and he had let it run for 30 days. And he said, the first two weeks it was crap, nothing happened. He said it was like three sales. And he said, then by the time he came in late January, excuse me, early February, that it was like two and a half, 3X.

So you have to be — it takes into consideration a lot of latency. So you have to be just sort of cautious of that. But that’s generally, that’s a great tool for prospecting. And I think ultimately, what Facebook is trying to do here is trying to give us options to have us not overcomplicate things as well. Right? So lookalike audiences are always going to be something you’re layering and then the way that you’re using middle to lower funnel stuff is always going to be a little bit more complicated of a way that you’re going about it. But generally speaking, that broad match and the wider audiences are both fantastic ideas to try.

Steve: So speaking of letting it run, how long do you let ads run before you make any determination?

Andrew: Yeah, I mean, I completely agree with sort of other industry knowledge in this. I generally look at a 48 to 72 hour period, I mean, before I’m saying, okay, that’s interesting, that’s not going to do anything for me. If I’ll see that, let’s say the cost per click is incredibly low on something, and the relevant score is high, I may let that run longer, even if it hasn’t had a sale just because I’m curious of the reaction that would come off of that. But that’s generally the rule that I have.

Steve: Okay, and then what conversion objective do you choose the Add To Cart purchase?

Andrew: It depends on the product itself. So in many — if let’s say you’re looking at a product that has a higher average order value that would be let’s say, north of $100, you’re going to see more success doing generally something like an Add To Cart instead of a purchase. And that’s because getting people to purchase and the amount of people that are going to purchase $100 product on something immediately is smaller than those that are probably going to add to cart or even page view.

What you’re trying to do is get as close as you can to those that 50 conversions a week under the initial learning phase that Facebook has at the ad set level. And so you have to think about, okay, look, if I get one purchase over a seven day period, or two, or three on a prospecting audience, that’s not giving Facebook the strongest signals. And so it’s really about the signals you’re giving to them. And you want to, if you can stabilize, and let’s say change that pixel optimization to add to cart, which is going to be bring that into a more stable period, and it’s going to get you closer to 50, which would hopefully then sort of stabilize that performance on that ad set if it’s doing well.

Steve: Okay. And what does your middle of the funnel look like?

Andrew: Middle of the funnel is really interesting. It looks very different for a lot of different people. In many cases, what I’m trying to do in middle of the funnel is taking, I’m trying to talk to people using page post engagement objective, using sometimes a lead ad objective for email signup, using even conversion campaigns, website click campaigns. I’m using a lot of different stuff to launch to people that are in that middle of the funnel of engage your audience. They have watched a video, they’ve done something, they’re generally many times in a fan base. That’s something I consider middle of the funnel to some degree, let’s say fan, but hasn’t been back to the website in a certain period of time, or 180 day visit, or minus 30 day period.

So what I’m trying to do is within Facebook, everybody has it sits within a different objective pool. So let’s say there’s people that are really big engagers, they engage with stuff. Let’s say, there’s people that watch videos, there’s people that click to the website, there’s people that convert. So I’m trying to basically find out where my audience responds and what they will do. I have a middle of the funnel ad running now that I update every two days for one of my clients. And that middle of funnel ad is their Instagram content, basically, that I just repurpose as an ad every two days to people that are in a 21 day top 25% website custom audience.

So they’ve been to the website, they’ve spent time there, but they haven’t purchased or added to cart. So I’m trying to launch a page post. I launch a page post engagement at them to get them to comment, to get them to consider because that’s going to hit a larger segment of that audience generally speaking.

Steve: What does that look like? Is there an offer associated with it?

Andrew: No, it’s just a branding piece, pretty much. I mean, it talks about things that are back in stock, but it’s not generally getting any sort of discount. And people will do that in different places. Sometimes people will say, okay, look in that middle of funnel, I do want to put a discount in it, I want it to be a pretty decent one, because I really want to try to bring them back. And that’s something that has worked, then great. If you see that in your email flow, let’s say you have Klaviyo setup and you see that a BOGO offered as well to a 14 day or 30 day audience or something, then try that in Facebook, I’ll bring them back in.

Sometimes it really depends on what the person is trying to do of driving them back in. Sometimes by not pitching, you can be better off by not discounting heavier. And that’s something that I’ve had to really swallow as a marketer to try some of the branded content that they have just to see, and to try to build that story, especially if it’s a higher average order value product. Now, if it’s a $40 product or something, then I think discounting in the middle of the funnel is a completely reasonable thing to do. But if you’re trying to really tell a story and turn them into eventually a purchaser and then an advocate, I think branding in the middle of funnel can be something that can be helpful for driving them back in.

Steve: So it sounds like your middle of the funnel isn’t really designed to be profitable?

Andrew: No, it actually many times it usually is. I mean, many times, it’s at least a one and a half to two X in a lot of cases because again, depends. But that’s really something that I’ve seen work because I’m hitting people with all different objectives. Sometimes a video ad won’t work, let’s say a brand story in the middle of funnel, they’ve come, they’re brand new visitor, they’re not on the email list or something. And let’s say the video ad I’m spending $5 a day on but it’s going to some of my best audiences, that may get one sale a week, but that one sale is enough to cover two weeks of spending on it.

So it is definitely intended to recover costs. But it’s also intended to tell that larger part of the story. And that’s something again; I’ve had to adjust my methods on. My old method was this simplistic sort of 1% lookalike offer on the top link post ad or photo post ad, driving them in and then just having a dynamic product ad over a 60 day period, that something they viewed or added to cart. I think more than anything, what I’m trying to do now is help people and help clients understand that that model is okay and it can work, but it’s not something that’s going to be sustainable.

So how do you build out sort of some more content, that storytelling that feels more organic that’s going to help them over time be like okay, I really like these people instead of just saying like, oh, let’s get to the discount immediately. And it requires more patience frankly, which is tougher because it’s sometimes can take a little bit longer to prove but generally is more sustainable.

Steve: And then your bottom of the funnel is just DPA?

Andrew: Yeah, so bottom of the funnel is usually a mixture of dynamic product ads within certain window. So many times I’ll have a 90 day, a 30 day, a seven day, and a one day. People do this very differently. There’s different levels of offers within those dynamic product ads. Let’s say sometimes it’s a collections add in a 30 day and it’s a singular image within a one day because they probably looked at a specific product, and it’s a carousel on a seven day something like that. And then always doing a 30 day remarketing if you can just website custom audience launching new creative at them to make sure the frequencies aren’t above three and kind of freshening those up and running those as complementary to one another.

In many cases we’ll also have some sort of a Yotpo or review DPA running which does well as another level of validation. And then of course in the really bottom is loyalty. So building, sending new product ads to custom previous customers is something that I really love to do because it kind of helps to them say, oh, that’s really neat or giving them some sort of special offer, something to those previous purchasers. That loyalty audience is one that I would say in nine out of 10 consulting sessions that I’ll do I don’t see setup because it doesn’t — you’re like I don’t want to bother. But you can set it up to be very careful around how your messaging.

Steve: These are people that is not for me already, but you want to buy them but they haven’t purchased in a while, right?

Andrew: Yeah, they haven’t purchased in a while, right? So you’re excluding let’s say the last 30 day on that and you’re wanting to just tell them about what’s going on, right? You want them to become an advocate. I think it’s akin to what you talked about in your previous episodes even of calling people and saying how is the going, right? I have one client that launches previous purchase, actually its previous leads in this case. They have a messenger ad campaign going and it doesn’t even go into ManyChat flow or anything and actually just drives them in, it’s day parted so it’s only live from nine to three their local time. And it’s a day parted ad that runs to previous purchasers asking them how is the going? Like, what can we do for you, is there anything that you would like to chat about?

Steve: They have someone physically man the chat, you mean?

Andrew: Yeah, they have somebody physically manning the chat. So again, I don’t think a lot of people are going to do that. But it’s akin to what you’re talking about, right, of getting feedback from people and turning them into advocates. I mean, we had a situation with a major client of ours a year ago. They launched a similar ad campaign in Messenger asking people about which products they should launch. And it was a survey that they took actually again, not in ManyChat or anything which we certainly could do now really easily. But it asked them what they thought, and they got 5,000 people that gave them their thoughts on new products. I mean, it was just ridiculous.

So, that’s one of those things where I think loyalty — we have to remember that these are people, right? You have to remember that if you get 1,000 impressions that’s 1,000 people you’re showing it to, and so take care of the those customers. And generally, that can be a really nice long tail effort that’s going to help to really build things and build a nice organic base too for your people that are coming back.

Steve: I just wanted to take a moment to tell you about a brand new service that I personally just launched that will help you grow your email list for free. First off, my new business is called GoBrandWin.com. And it’s a service that helps e-commerce sellers build their email list through group giveaways. And here’s how it works. If you own your own e-commerce brand, and you have a following what you do is you contribute a gift card toward your products valued at $200 or more. Now Go Brand Win will assemble gift cards from other participating brands with a similar customer demographic into one massive sweepstakes giveaway.

Now, all participating brands will then send our co branded giveaway email to their entire customer base driving them to a special landing page on GoBrandWin.com where we will acquire email addresses and Facebook pixel data. We will also send the giveaway entry forms to related influencers in our blogger database. And between my co founder and I, we have access to almost 1,000 bloggers in our database. Now, consumers who enter the giveaway will enter their email addresses, we will send them special offers from your company and select a grand prize winner. And after the sweepstakes are over, you will receive the full list of entrants and instantly grow your audience.

Bottom line, the concept is very simple. We all help each other promote each other’s businesses, get free promotion from bloggers, and share the spoils, which in this case, are the email addresses. If you are interested in growing your email list, then head on over to GoBrandWin.com. That’s G-O-B-R-A-N-D-W-I-N.com. It’s 100% free, so sign up now. Now back to the show.

It’s just hard to measure that though, you know what I mean? For me, personally, I like to see the sale obviously. So it’s hard for me to take into account the loyalty factor in the numbers.

Andrew: Yeah, and loyalty factor generally for us, we’re always tracking it with the pixel. So that ad set, I mean, if you’re launching product release ads or something, we’re always — I very regularly will see a two or 3X on that very commonly. There’s one company that I’m privy to, just looked at their ad account last week, they spent a quarter of a million almost over seven days. And one of the things that they have running is they have the exact same ads that are running to prospecting that they have running to the loyalty audience that are new styles.

And what has ended up happening is people are taking screenshot, or taking photos of themselves and putting them in the comments because they asked for it in the ad. If you bought this product before, check it out. And it’s absurd. It’s like it goes back to the idea of turning that into that landing page. So that’s where I think experimenting on that is something that could be powerful. You could have it be super laborious, it has a ton of steps where you have to sit there, and man the chat, or you can just try it saying, hey, by the way, we’ve got these new products, check it out. And you could launch that using daily unique reach base that they only see it once a day and just see what happens, right?

Steve: What does your 30 day dynamic product ads look like 30 and 60, and 90 day?

Andrew: That again, totally depends. In many cases, I like to use collections ads in those because in a 90 day period, it’s like you’re trying to get them to a catalog, right? So you’re trying to like get them to sort of like, browse again. And so that’s what we’re looking for. In the 30 day generally speaking, it’s I would say a split between kind of the carousel and the collections ad, it depends. Many times it’ll be a carousel, though, in that case.

Steve: Do you offer discounts at that point?

Andrew: Yeah, yeah, definitely. So that’s where most of the discounting is coming in, is hey, here’s the deal, right? Come in, and check this out. Here’s a discount, 20% off. Usually, it’s more, I mean; you have to think about how good of an offer is this? It’s like, sometimes people say, well, I want to do 10% on the low funnel. Okay, that’s fine. But like, would that make you buy? It’s like, you have to – and they’ll say, well, I don’t have the margins for it. Okay, then maybe we should talk about building that into the margins, because just the sheer fact that your products are cool is great. But it’s not going to probably be something that’s incredibly scalable over time.

Steve: Right okay. And then how do you work in Messenger ads into all this? Like for your top of funnel do you try to get a Messenger subscriber or do you ever run Messenger ads?

Andrew: Yeah, Messenger ads live in an interesting place. And mostly where we’re using Messenger ads in this case is for doing things that are more B2B. So, asking them, hey, are you — taking let’s say, a 30 day remarket or a 30 day top 25% website custom audience and launching Messenger ads at them and saying, are you interested in talking more about this? If so, comment, get started, right? And comment, let’s talk or whatever. And then you’re bringing them into a flow or you’re qualifying them and asking them questions, and then adding them to different kind of broadcast pools from there.

So that’s really where I’ve been using it more often. We haven’t used the messenger flows as much in e-commerce. The people that — I sort of, I wait a while on new stuff to be honest with you to see what other people are doing and to prove it out. I think where I’ve seen the best success with it is using it in a contest thing format. So if you have a customer or potential customer that is somebody that would be interested in a contest, then using Messenger ads can be a really interesting way, comment here to enter in this contest, and that’s one way to do it. But I’ve used it in B2B mostly. And then I’ve used it in loyalty ecom for asking questions and things like that. But we haven’t used it as much in the driving sales.

I think, what Messenger ads that — I’ve spoken to Mollie Pittman about this many times, who’s sort of the woman…

Steve: She’s coming on next week, actually.

Andrew: Yeah, she’s amazing, right. She’s sort of the woman of note in the Messenger ad industry. And I think she has a lot of interesting ideas in terms of — and better that have worked, how you bring leads in, right. So in the lead cost, there is really low open rates are incredibly high. And there is ways that you can use it in Ecom, but I think they are less common right now. The thing that I worry about with Messenger ads to be honest with you and I’ll probably take heat for this, but I worry that they turn into what video ads have become to some degree in the industry where they talk about it and there’s sort of this whole body of discussion in the industry about how video ads are everything, you got to do them all the time.

And they don’t work in direct response product Ecom as well. They may work in lead generation, but then I’ll look at something like there’s a CrossFit brand that I know and work with, and they launched a deep discount on a particular product that they had. And it brought them into saying, hey, are you interested in this product, it’s normally $40, it’s $10, click here to subscribe and buy this product. And that they’re seeing a two and a half return on ad spend on that on prospecting right now. And they’re also getting people subscribing into their daily inspirational message flow.

So that’s where I think that’s an interesting way that it can be used, but in the times that we have tested it at scale, it’s not something that’s been 100% part of the recipe yet. So I think there’s more to note about that. And hopefully Molly can give some good inspiration as well next week.

Steve: Why would you say that? Why do you think that video ads don’t work as well as the image ads for the prospecting phase?

Andrew: I think it’s because a lot of people, I mean, you’re just not going to get people to watch a certain percentage of the ad to make it worth it on video, right. I think video generally speaking, think about how quickly you go, I mean, you go through newsfeed. Like for me, if I’m looking at for 30 seconds like I might look at like 30 posts, like, you’re going through it very quickly. If it’s a company I don’t know, then I think it’s much more difficult. Now, there’s exceptions to this. Let’s say takes like a Brooklyn or something, where they’re doing animated GIF and or like a boomerang video. Okay, well, that’s an interesting way to take over the newsfeed, to add movement, and to then have a video ad that is building that video view audience.

So I think that there are opportunities with higher AOV products that it can work in that regard. But for many cases, it just doesn’t drive the traffic. That’s really where I mean, I have tested this so many times. And you can look at that — I can show examples. I mean, I could take screenshots of things where video has been tried in accounts of major scale and it just doesn’t work as well. But video can, I looked at an account yesterday, they had Instagram story ad running, they’ve four Instagram story ads running that I thought were awesome. They looked really good. And all of their prospecting over a 14 day period on the Instagram story ads, CPAs were through the roof, it wasn’t working. But in the add to cart, that was working well, right.

So the farther people go down, they are, like oh, yeah, that’s awesome. I was going to buy that anyway. So I think that’s where it can become powerful. But it just doesn’t generally drive the traffic. And this is a big difference between the info market in this because in info market, it’s something that you get people to watch part of it, it’s inspirational video, and you’re like, oh, yeah, that’s awesome. I definitely want to be a part of that moving forward. So that’s generally why I it’s harder. I’m not saying it doesn’t work. But I believe that there are more challenges that will present themselves. So just be careful where you use it and prospecting is generally my rule.

Steve: Interesting. Yeah, I mean, it just seems like video offers more options for retargeting because you can target based on how much they’ve watched, like, more options than if you just did a regular link ad.

Andrew: Yeah. And again, great point. It does, there are options that are there and it does give you a lot of flexibility. It’s just that for those of you that are thinking about trying it, or have tried it, it’s something just to be aware of, it may work for you. This is something that I have — I look at literally probably at least 30 accounts a week. And so this is something that I have just seen more often than not, it’s something I wanted to throw out there to be careful of.

Steve: Cool. Well, Andrew, believe it or not, we’ve been chatting for almost 45 minutes now. And I want to be respectful of your time. Where can people find you if they want to learn more about what you do or what you’re working on with Austin and that sort of thing?

Andrew: Yeah, definitely. So you can check out the Ecommerce Influence Podcast, which is one place and then you can check out our Foxwelldigital.com, which is the business that my wife and I run together with our fluffy golden doodle dog.

Steve: Typically what type of clients do you take on at Foxwell Digital?

Andrew: Well, we’re doing a lot of different things. Sometimes we play matchmaker between companies that are looking for an agency and agencies. So that’s a little bit of work that we do, we also do coaching for people. So we’ll come in and look at things and we’ll do everything from we come to your company, and we sit there for a day with you going over things and actually fly out to we’ll do coaching over a certain period of time over zoom and things of that nature. We do take on some management but it’s very, very specific mostly because we purposefully are a very small shop.

So we don’t take on a lot of management at this point because the people we have are good and we want to really grow in the coaching area versus the management side because that’s just what we do. So yeah, so that’s where you can check it out. But that’s generally what it looks like. But if you’re interested in chatting, send me a note. I’d love to chat with you. And if you have different experiences or you disagree or agree with what I’m saying, I’m always interested to hear because the thing I love about this industry is honestly I’m always learning every day. I get proven wrong and sometimes I’ll get proven right, and so I feel like it’s never ending. And for me that’s always really interesting because there’s always something that you can be trying.

Steve: Well Andrew, thanks a lot for coming on the show. Really appreciate your time.

Andrew: Yeah, absolutely.

Steve: All right. Take care.

Hope you enjoyed that episode. What I find interesting about listening to Facebook experts is that everyone has different experiences and strategies which just goes to show that you have to take it all in, experiment yourself and figure out what works best for you. For more information about this episode, go to mywifequitherjob.com/episode214.

And once again, I want to thank Privy.com for sponsoring this episode. Privy is the email capture provider that I personally use to turn visitors into email subscribers. They offer email capture, exit intent, and site targeting tools to make it super simple as well. And I like Privy because it’s so powerful and you can basically trigger custom pop-ups for any parameter that is closely tied to your e-commerce store. If you want to give it a try, it is free. So, head on over to Privy.com/Steve, once again, that’s P-R-I-V-Y.com/Steve.

I also want to thank Klaviyo which is my email marketing platform of choice for e-commerce 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 autopilot. 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 e-commerce 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’re giving the courage people need to start their own online business. For more information, visit Steve’s blog at www.Mywifequitherjob.com.

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213: A Tour Of My New Business Venture GoBrandWin With Toni Anderson

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A Tour Of My New Business Venture GoBrandWin With Toni Anderson

As all of you know, I quit my full time job as an engineering director 2 years ago. And with 40 extra hours per week of free time on my hands, I’ve been searching for a long time for another project to pursue that would keep me happy.

In this episode, I’m going to formally announce my new business with my partner Toni Anderson!

Go Brand Win

Click Here To Add Your Brand To Our Next Sweepstakes

What You’ll Learn

  • Why giveaways are a great way to grow your email list
  • How our new service works
  • Why it’s free:)

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

Privy.com – Privy is my tool of choice when it comes to gathering email subscribers for my ecommerce store. They offer easy to use email capture, exit intent, and website targeting tools that turn more visitors into email subscribers and buyers. With both free and paid versions, Privy fits into any budget. Click here and get 15% OFF towards your account.
Privy

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

You’re listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job podcast, the place where I bring on successful bootstrapped business owners and dig deep into what strategies they use to grow their businesses. And today on this podcast episode, I’m actually announcing a brand new project that I’ve been working on that is finally ready for public consumption. It’s a business idea that will help you build your email list and your social following for your e-commerce store. And it’s actually a free service that leverages collaboration and influencer marketing. That’s right, it is completely free.

But before we begin with the details, I want to give a quick shout out to Privy who is a sponsor of the show. Privy is the tool that I use to build my email list for both my blog and my online store. Now, there are a bunch of companies that will manage your email capture forms, but I like Privy because they specialize in e-commerce stores. And right now I’m using Privy to display a cool wheel of fortune pop-up. Basically a user gives their email for a chance to win valuable prizes in our store. And customers love the gamification aspect of this, and when I implemented this form email sign ups increased by 131%.

Now bottom line, Privy allows me to turn visitors into email subscribers, which I then feed to my email provider to close the sale. So head on over to Privy.com/Steve, and try it for free. And if you decide you need some of the more advanced features, use coupon code MWQHJ For 15% off. Once again that’s P-R-I-V-Y.com/Steve.

I also want to give a quick shout out to Klaviyo who is also a sponsor of the show. Always blessed to have Klaviyo as a sponsor because they are the email marketing platform that I personally use for my e-commerce store, and I depend on them for over 30% of my revenues. Now 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. 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. 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 we’re doing another special episode that’s going to be different from the norm. Now as all of you know, I quit my full time job as an engineering director two years ago, and with 40 extra hours per week of free time on my hands I’ve been searching for a long time for another project to pursue that would keep me happy. And man in the past couple years I’ve gone through a bunch of different business ideas that never panned out.

I had two software business ideas that really never made it past the validation phase. I had an influencer marketing business idea that kind of never made it past the testing phase either. Now, I guess the good thing about all these ideas is that I didn’t end up wasting any time and money on these projects, because I basically called it quits before a large amount of time and money was spent. Anyways, there are a few things actually, that I discovered about myself during this phase in my life and trying these businesses, that never panned out.

And when I quit my technical job in 2016, I remember I immediately wanted to replace that job with a technical hardware based startup company. After all, I had been an engineer for 17 years; I wasn’t ready to give up the technical part of my brain. And so I kind of desperately went in search of a software SaaS based business that I could pursue. But I remember while I was starting working on prototypes for these software projects, I kind of quickly realized that the amount of upfront investment and more importantly the time commitment to get a SaaS based business off of its feet was pretty significant.

And in order to commit to a large software project, I’d have to devote many more hours per week than even my day job, I would say. And in the end, I remembered why I started my businesses in the first place to spend more time with friends and family. Also, the other thing that I learned was that it didn’t really matter what type of business that I decided to pursue, whether it be software or hardware or something else, but more that I enjoyed who I was working with because life is too short to not be working with people that you like.

Today I’m going to be talking about a project that I’ve been developing silently in the background with my business partner, Toni Anderson. Toni is also my partner for the Sellers Summit, which is my annual e-commerce conference and we worked really well together. I mean, at least from my perspective, I really have no idea how she feels about it, but it just felt right to start another business with her.

So what is this mystery business? Let’s start by saying hi to Toni first, Toni, how you doing today?

Toni: I’m doing great. Thanks for having me on again.

Steve: So I mentioned at least from my perspective, I think we work well. I assume you feel the same way?

Toni: I do. I think we have a good balance in personalities and also just the way we work. I think it really complements each other.

Steve: So our new business is called Gobrandwin.com, and Toni do you want to kind of do some of the onus about explaining it?

Toni: Sure. And can I give a little background on why I want to be a part of this because it’s something that to me is very important for my own e-commerce business?

Steve: Yeah, go for it.

Toni: So one of the things that and I think like a lot of you, I’ve been a part of Steve’s course. I’ve been in e-commerce world for several years now. And one of the hardest things that I have found is building my customers off Amazon and getting them to buy from my own store. And while I love Amazon, and I love the revenue and the amount of traffic that I get, I realized that those are Amazon customers and not my own.

And so for me trying to find a way to get inexpensive customers to the site has been a huge challenge. And one of the ways that I feel like has been very successful is through email marketing, but how do I get those people on my email list? And that problem that I have and I think most e-commerce people have has been something that we feel like Go Brand Win can really help with.

And so to explain what we’re doing, Go Brand Win allows e-commerce sellers to partner with each other to host massive giveaways. Now I think most of us have probably run giveaways on our websites that have been $100, $200 and you get some entries but you’re basically marketing to your own audience. Well, what this does is allow us to collaborate with other sellers in basically parallel vertical. So not competitors but people who maybe you sell shoes and another person sells scarves, so your customers are fashion focused.

It allows you to partner with those people and market to everybody’s audience and gain customers that way by hosting a massive giveaway in the likes of $1000, $2000, $3,000 but everyone is only contributing a couple hundred dollars in gift cards. And so that’s what Go Brand Win is going to do. We’re going to facilitate these giveaways for e-commerce sellers to help you build your email list, grow your audience, and gain new customers.

Steve: Yeah, along those same lines, I actually recently published an article about how Chinese sellers are really taking over Amazon. And they have a lot of inherent advantages, especially on price. And in this day and age, in order to be successful in e-commerce, you really need to have a strong brand. And the only way to have a strong brand is to have a way to bring customers and visitors back to your site over and over and over again in order to gain mindshare for your business. So you need to build an email list, you need to create a following.

And that’s one of my motivations, at least for building Go Brand Win.com to help brands develop their email lists with group giveaways. And it’s a win-win situation. Everybody wins, everyone gets a list, and everyone gets in your customer base.

Toni: And one of the challenges that I’ve had in the past is one, I’m only able to market to people who already know about me, or I’m using Facebook ads, which can be super expensive over time, especially if you’re not able to target the right demographic right away.

Steve: Yeah, absolutely. And I’ve actually done this in the past on a smaller scale. I’ve partnered with other wedding companies where we would send out information about our own companies to each other’s lists. And so far, as far as I know, there haven’t been anyone who’s done this facilitation at scale. So here’s how it works. Let’s go into some of the details. If you want to participate, you contribute at least one gift card towards your products valued at $200 or more, and this is the prize for the sweepstakes, Go Brand Win will assemble gift cards from other participating brands with a similar customer base to be combined in one massive sweepstakes giveaway.

Now, all the participating brands will send our co branded sweepstakes email to their list of followers and drive them to a sweepstakes landing page hosted on Go Brand Win.com. Now, all these entry forms will also be sent to related influencers in our blogger database. And right now we have almost 1,000 bloggers in various niches in our network and Toni has a huge Rolodex of bloggers as well. Now, consumers enter their email addresses in order to enter the giveaway. We send them special offers from your company, and then we select a grand prize winner. And after the sweepstakes are over, you will receive the full list of entrants and instantly grow your audience and your email list. Everyone wins.

Now the requirements to enter is you must have your own branded shopping website, you must be willing to contribute a gift card of at least $200, and you must have an existing email list or social media audience.

Toni: So I’ve done varieties of this over the past couple of years to build my email list on my shop. And I will say that I’ve had some massive successes and I’ve had some huge failures. And one of the things that I’ve learned from doing this is that the follow up sequence and the emails that I’m sending to these people after they enter is very, very important. Because one, you want to weed out the people that there are definitely going to be people that are just entering giveaways and they’re really not interested in your product. So you want to weed those people out fairly quickly.

But then the people that are interested and the people that are potential customers, you want to work with them through your emails to get them eventually to buy from you. So in the past, I found that the better my email sequence is and the more authentic I am in my communication, and the more purposeful I am in what I do with these people, the more success that I have. And the last project that I did like this totally on my own, I ended up with about a 17% conversion rate for sales on these customers after about a six month period. So I feel that’s successful because it didn’t cost me anything to actually run this giveaway minus the gift card, the value of my cost of goods.

Steve: Yeah, so I’ve actually run several giveaways myself, and I’ve compared notes with several colleagues. So one of my colleagues, Mike Jackness, he actually runs giveaways all the time. And he’s been getting incredible results. In one of his last giveaways, he got 6,000 email subs, paying only 14 cents per sub. And his overall cost of customer acquisition was only $3 and 47 cents, which is pretty crazy. I’ve run giveaways myself, not quite with the same results as Mike, but many of the contestants have become repeat customers on my list as well.

And I also had a student in my class Abby who took part in a group giveaway relatively recently, and she received over 6,000 names, and of those 61 people purchased for a total return of over $3,000. And one thing that we’re going to do is we’re going to try to make this contest really viral. We’re going to use a tool called ViralSweep and here’s how it works. Once you enter in a contest, you’ll be given additional options to promote the contest by sharing on Facebook, by pinning on Pinterest, by sharing on Facebook Messenger in return for additional entries into the contest. And the fact that everyone has an incentive to share will generally make the contest go a lot more viral.

So now if you haven’t run a giveaway or a contest in the past, if you’re just kind of brand new to the concept, you probably have a couple of concerns. So, one of the main concerns that most people have about giveaways and contests, are concerns about low quality email subscribers. One thing that we’re going to do is we’re going to have an autoresponder sequence in place. Once someone enters in, that will introduce you to all the brands and the sweepstakes along with some smaller gift card offers. And what that’s going to do, it’s going to introduce people to your brand along the way so that when they get emails from you, once we deliver the email subscriptions over to you, they’re not going to be surprised at receiving emails from your brand.

Toni: In addition to that, we’re going to provide all of our e-commerce sellers with basically a cheat sheet that helps you learn tips and tricks that we’ve learned over the years of doing this to obtaining those customers, keeping them on your list, taking them from cold to warm leads. So we’re going to give you resources so that you can do a better job of keeping those customers and encouraging them to make a purchase.

Steve: And bottom line this service is free. So if you think about it this way, a $200 gift card probably cost you maybe $50. And if you get a few thousand email subs out of it, that’s like 2.5 cents per email, which is ridiculously cheap.

Toni: Okay, so if it’s free, what’s in it for us, Steve?

Steve: So one thing for us, I run a blog. I also run a training class and I run a conference with Toni, and I want this as a value add for the students in my class and for those who attend the conference. I will also use these lists to promote my own e-commerce brand. I’ve run Bumblebee Linens for over a decade now. And I know these emails will be good for my store as well. And for me, at least, once we have critical mass, we may choose to monetize this list for larger brands. But for the foreseeable future, all these giveaways will be Free. What’s in it for you, Toni?

Toni: I think like you, Steve. I also want to grow my own business. To me being introduced to other sellers in my same vertical where I can partner with them is very helpful. I’ve seen the power of this in my own shop; I went from a website that basically had no customers to a website that’s profitable basically by running these similar giveaways on my own. So the ability to do this with other people, I’ve seen the power of I’ve seen how it works. And I love the fact that it’s basically free, there’s very little risk. So that for me is really important. It also obviously helps us with Sellers Summit and the other e-commerce projects that we work on.

Steve: I mean, we’re trying to make this a no brainer. And one of the other concerns that we think you guys might have is, what if I’m matched with other brands that have tiny email lists, like what’s in it for me? And what Toni and I are going to do is we’re going to spend a lot of time matching companies of the same size and reach together. And in addition, we’re going to also make sure that all the companies participating in a given sweepstakes all have a similar customer base.

Toni: I think if you’ve attended Sellers Summit and you’ve been in part of our mastermind groups, you see that pairing up the right people is very important to us. And we’re going to put the same level of effort into this project as we have pairing up people in Sellers Summit and other projects we’ve done.

Steve: And to be quite frank, I think we’re pretty good at it. Just based on running the conference, and the masterminds for the past couple of years, we have a pretty good handle on which customer base, and which brands will kind of go together. So the site is called GoBrandWin.com. And I just want to emphasize that everything is free for advertisers, go on the site, go on the advertise tab and go ahead and fill out the application. And if you have any questions at all, feel free to contact either me, or Toni at Toni@Gobrandwin.com or Steve@Gobrandwin.com. And that’s G-O-B-R-A-N-D-W-I-N.com.

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 Privy for sponsoring this episode. Privy is the email capture provider that I personally use to turn visitors into email subscribers. They offer email capture, exit intent, and site targeting tools to make it super simple as well. And I like Privy because it’s so powerful and you can basically trigger custom pop ups for any primer that is closely tied to your e-commerce store. If you want to give it a try, it is free. So head on over to Privy.com/Steve, once again that’s P-R-I-V-Y.com/Steve.

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, 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.

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212: Key Takeaways From Sellers Summit 2018 With Steve Chou & Toni Anderson

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Key Takeaways From Sellers Summit 2018 With Steve Chou & Toni Anderson

In this episode, I brought Toni Anderson back on the podcast to do a recap of Sellers Summit 2018.

The Sellers Summit is a conference that Toni and I throw every year. This is our 3rd straight year and it’s all about bringing ecommerce entrepreneurs together and learning new strategies on how to sell physical products online.

Today, we’re going to do a recap on what worked, what didn’t and some key takeaways from the sessions.

Right virtual passes for Sellers Summit 2018 are available for sale until July 1, 2018.

And as an added bonus, I also invited Scott Voelker from The Amazing Seller, Mike Jackness from EcomCrew and Greg Mercer of Jungle Scout to join me in a private Q&A webinar for virtual pass holders on June 28, 2018 at 10AM PST.

Click Here To Buy The Virtual Pass For Sellers Summit 2018

What You’ll Learn

  • The one change this past year that made a huge difference
  • Key takeaways from the Sellers Summit speakers

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

Privy.com – Privy is my tool of choice when it comes to gathering email subscribers for my ecommerce store. They offer easy to use email capture, exit intent, and website targeting tools that turn more visitors into email subscribers and buyers. With both free and paid versions, Privy fits into any budget. Click here and get 15% OFF towards your account.
Privy

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

You’re 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 in business. Today I brought my partner Toni Anderson back on the show to help me give a recap of this past year’s Sellers Summit, which is a conference that I give every single year. We’re going to talk about what worked, what didn’t, and talk about some of the key highlights and takeaways of some of the ecommerce sessions.

But before we begin, I want to give a quick shout out to Klaviyo who is a sponsor of the show. 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 30% of my revenues. Now, Klaviyo is the only email platform out there that is specifically built for ecommerce stores, and here is why it is 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 out 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 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 Privy who is also a sponsor of the show. Privy is the tool that I use to build my email list for both my blog and my online store. Now Privy is an email list growth platform and they manage all of my email capture forms, and I use Privy hand in hand with my email marketing provider.

Right now for example, I’m using Privy to display a cool wheel of fortune pop-up. Basically a user gives their email for a chance to win valuable prices in our store and customers love the gamification aspect of this. And when I implemented this form email signups increased by 131%. Bottom line, Privy allows me to turn visitors into email subscribers, which I then feed to my email provider to close the sale. So head on over to Privy.com/Steve and try it for free. And if you decide you need some of the more advanced features, use coupon code MWQHJ for 15% off. Once again, that’s P-R-I-V-Y.com/Steve. Now onto 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. Instead I brought Toni Anderson back on the podcast. And what we’re going to do today is we’re going to do a recap of Sellers Summit 2018. And if you don’t know Toni, she is my partner in crime for the event. And this is actually appearance number five or six I think for her on the show. So if you guys have been listening for any period of time you’re probably already familiar with who she is.

Anyway, the Sellers Summit is a conference that we throw every single year. This is our third straight year and it’s all about bringing ecommerce entrepreneurs together and learning new strategies on how to sell physical products online. And today we’re going to talk about what worked, what didn’t, and some key takeaways from the event. So how are you doing today, Toni? Thanks for taking the time to come back on.

Toni: Awesome. Thanks for having me. It’s always a fun thing to do.

Steve: So it’s year three. Last year I remember telling you that I was worried about hitting a sophomore slump, but this year actually turned out great. And just when I didn’t think it could get any better, I actually felt that this past year was the best one yet. How did you feel going to this year?

Toni: I thought it was great too. And I think the main reason for that is the people.

Steve: How so, how were the people different this year in your opinion?

Toni: Well I don’t think they were different. I think they were the same, which is what made it better because last year, the very first year we knew what we were doing, but we didn’t have the relationships with the people. The second year, we had some people return from the first year. So it felt like we were seeing friends as opposed to just new attendees that we hadn’t met.

And this year we had a lot more returning last year — attendees from the 2017 event. So it really felt like when we saw people, we were excited because we knew them. We had been chatting with them off and on throughout the year, and we got to hear updates on their business. And so it was more — this year felt like we were just hanging out with all of our friends, don’t you think?

Steve: Yeah, no, totally. There was a much higher repeat rate this past year than the first year that we did it. And I felt like I was just seeing a whole bunch of old friends this time around.

Toni: Well, and it’s crazy, because we’ve already opened up ticket sales for 2019. And we’ve had almost half of our tickets sold already to previous attendees, which to me is so cool.

Steve: I mean, I think that’s indicative of the fact that I thought this was the best year that we’ve had, right? The fact that 50% of the people are willing to put their money down for something that’s not even happening for another year really says something about this year.

Toni: It must mean that we’re fun to hang out with, that’s what I think.

Steve: I think so.

Toni: Actually, I think we want to hang out with each other, which is fine with me too.

Steve: Yeah, that’s okay. I mean, you know how it is. We took the same — what’s cool is we didn’t really change up the formula, I didn’t feel like we did.

Toni: No, not really it’s pretty much the same.

Steve: And well okay, so one thing I personally liked was that we expanded the mastermind and we ended up getting a bunch of, I guess more seasoned sellers. And so that way, at least for me, I felt like everyone knew what they were doing this year. And I think that added a lot to the event as well.

Toni: I agree. And I think that getting — I think the mastermind helps us several ways. But I think one of the really cool things about it is that this year we had about 60 people and several masterminds. And so, all those people had an extra day together. And so by the time the actual event kicked off, even if they didn’t know each other on Wednesday, by Thursday night, they were all best friends because they had been together for 24 hours and really had been having really great conversations about their businesses. So they seemed to already have the friendship developed. And what was also cool, is even people that either didn’t qualify for the mastermind or were attending for the mastermind, a lot of people came in early just to hang out.

Steve: You know what I thought was really cool is that compared to the prior year, we’ve all kind of evolved as a group. So people who were in the mastermind last year at the 250K level, well, a lot of them actually qualified for the $1 million mastermind a year later. And so it was pretty cool to just kind of watch how everyone’s businesses has grown and evolved in just one year.

Toni: And that’s one of the favorite – my favorite things about the event is hearing about people who, a great example is Dean who came to our very first Sellers Summit and he didn’t have a product. If I remember correctly he had an idea, but he hadn’t launched or anything. And this year he was in the 250 and I think he messaged me the other day and said that he’s qualifying for the million dollar mastermind next year. So it’s exciting to see people who we basically knew before they even started their business and now we’re watching them and hearing their success and also hearing their strategies which I think is amazing.

Steve: Yeah it’s crazy, right? In just two years Dean took a business from nothing to a million dollars in revenue which I found is crazy.

Toni: I need to be Dean’s best friend now.

Steve: Yeah I got to figure out what he’s doing.

Toni: Yeah.

Steve: I mean that’s pretty fast growth in my opinion.

Toni: Yeah, on a pretty simple — I mean, he’s got a simple product. He’s not out there selling 500 things. You know, he’s got a real basic business model, which I think makes it even a better story.

Steve: Basically, he’s got one product with a bunch of variations, right?

Toni: Yeah. Yeah.

Steve: I mean, I don’t know about you but once again, I felt like I was kind of running on fumes during the event. I ended up speaking three times, and I’ve never felt like I could really relax. But I did have a blast. How did you feel about just kind of the event overall, from your perspective?

Toni: Well, it’s always interesting when you’re behind the scenes, because you see a lot of the things that go wrong that you hope the attendees don’t notice. But overall, I thought it was great. I had a great time and for me, it truly it is about seeing everybody and their relationships. And I actually get a ton out of the sessions. I think it’s why I love that we do the recordings because the ones that I don’t get to sit in, I’m able to hear later. But I found myself in a couple of sessions hoping that my phone didn’t go off with someone needing me so that I could actually sit in there and take the notes and learn while I was at the event.

Steve: Well, what do you think went wrong this year actually? I was trying to rack my brain for that.

Toni: You know we didn’t have any major — we had a few little glitches here and there, but for the most part, everything ran pretty smoothly during the event.

Steve: I mean, I know we were on time for everything. And then everyone showed up, which is good.

Toni: Yeah. Which I think is actually something interesting about our event that I see it’s very different than other events is our attendance rate is about 96% of people who buy the ticket. We have very few people buy a ticket and don’t show up, which I think…

Steve: Is that unusual. Actually, I don’t run a whole lot of events so I don’t even know.

Toni: I think it’s unusual. I think there’s a lot of people that buy tickets and then just — it’s not worth going, maybe they have something else come up. But we had an attendee this year that her son’s prom was one of the nights of the event and she agonized over what she was going to do. And she decided to come just for Saturday. And she said to us, I still remember her Pam, Pamela, she said at the end of the event, it was worth coming just for the day. So I think that’s one thing that people really want to be there. They really want to learn.

They really want to have those connections with people and I think this year just like every other year and the other one of my other favorite things is our speakers are so awesome and so accessible that I mean, I know that you get these emails because I get them too of attendees that email us afterwards and say, thank you so much for having this speaker. They took the time to speak with me after their session. They open their computer with my website; they go above and beyond what I think a lot of the typical speakers do at other events.

Steve: Oh, no, totally. I mean, that’s actually one of the things that we tell speakers, if you’re going to speak for the event, we’d like to stick around, just hang out with everybody.

Toni: Yeah. So I love that. And I love getting those emails at the end hearing those stories because to me, and it’s funny because, like, we get these emails from the speaker saying, hey, I learned so much at the event too. So I think our attendees are teaching our speakers, our speakers are teaching our attendees, our sponsors and our attendees, everyone’s connecting on a level that I think is really profitable for everybody’s business.

Steve: Yeah, and we’ve had a nice core of repeat speakers as well. And I feel like all the speakers have become friends with the attendees as well. So for them it’s like seeing old friends as well. So that’s another incentive for them to come speak as well.

Toni: Well some of our speakers and attendees have worked together on other projects. It’s just cool to see how everyone is growing and evolving over the years.

Steve: Yeah. And every year we send out a survey. And this year, the feedback was once again overwhelmingly positive in regards to the networking aspects of the conference. And we did it really straight from the standard formula, we kept everything small, catering lunch, had cocktail parties every single night. But I can’t really put my finger on it. I thought the networking was better this year. And perhaps that just has to do with the fact that more of the sellers this year were experienced. Any thoughts on that?

Toni: I think it has to do with that. I think it has to do with the fact that people already knew each other for the most part, and that if you were new, it was easy to kind of get in with a group because we also have the Facebook group that people who have attended the event are part of. So you kind of have the opportunity to network and meet people before you even show up. And I think that’s actually really important because I think we both have been in that situation where you go to an event and you literally know nobody, and you’re standing there at the first networking party in the corner hoping no one talks to you so you can be there for the set amount of time and then go back to your room, right?

And I think having the Facebook group and allowing people to virtually meet each other before the event, that way when you’re sitting there people are walking up to you, they know your name, they recognize you from a Facebook post or even a question that people are posting in the Facebook group. So I think that’s one of the reasons why the networking events get better every year is that we really push the pre networking in the group, and that way there’s no strangers.

Steve: Obviously so here’s one thing I thought we did really well. We encouraged a lot of people to do Facebook Lives in the private group, and by seeing a video of someone kind of give their introduction and their background that made people a lot more memorable when you actually met them in person. And I got to give a quick shout out to my boy Troy Gilboe. So Troy if you’re listening to this — so what ended up happening is Troy posted I guess an old goofy picture of himself, and then I turned it into a meme and then we all got into it and before you know it we were just going back and forth with these Photoshop battles.

Toni: I don’t think anyone should actually Photoshop battle you, but Troy is a great sport and he actually had some awesome Photoshop work himself.

Steve: He did.

Toni: Yeah I think he’s one of our most interesting attendee; this is his new nickname, right?

Steve: Most interesting man in the world yes.

Toni: Yes but I think that helps a lot because no one wants to be the outsider looking in, everyone wants to feel like they’re part of the community. And I think the Facebook group goes a long way in helping people with that, so when they get there they’re not — and I think having the networking events too every night is helpful. And then just keeping the event small and keeping everybody sort of in close proximity to each other, you’re always bumping into people in the hallway.

Even I noticed like for dinner people are going out to dinner, we have dinner groups, people are meeting up. I know everywhere I looked I saw attendees with each other, and a lot of them were like new attendees, with returning attendees, and everyone’s sort of meeting each other. So I think that all works together to provide an atmosphere where people are encouraged to build those friendships.

Steve: Speaking, which I do want to thank Susie. What she did, and this is not — this is kind of an outside event and Susie didn’t have to do any of this stuff. But she organized a lot of dinners and meals for the attendees so that no one felt left out. Like if you were brand new, you could go on this page, sign up for a dinner group and not feel left out at all.

Toni: Yeah, thank you. Susie was a rock star for us actually this year and last year, she’s coming back in 2019. So hopefully she’ll be helping us out again, she does this completely volunteer, she’s a complete volunteer for us and just took this on herself and really did an amazing job.

Steve: Absolutely. So Toni, before we get into the key takeaways, let’s start by talking about kind of what we did differently maybe this year that added to — we kind of covered some stuff already, but what were some of the differences between this year and last year?

Toni: So said one of the things we have everybody fill out this survey at the end the event. I think most people think, oh, they’re never going to even read it, right? But we actually read those and take them pretty seriously. And one of the pieces of feedback we got after last year was everyone loved those roundtable sessions that we do on Saturday afternoon but they wanted more. So of course, initially, I told Steve it couldn’t be done, it couldn’t be done. It was too complicated, too much work. And then I realized that even though it is…

Steve: We stopped padding ourselves on the — pad yourself on the bed too hard.

Toni: Well it is complicated, but I realized it’s actually something really valuable. And if that many — we got a ton of feedback on it. And so if that many attendees wanted something that I thought it was important that we figured out how to make it work, even if it was a little complicated, and it still wasn’t perfect the way it ran this year, and I think we can make it better I think, but I don’t know.

If you don’t know what our roundtable sessions are, we basically take about an hour and a half and all of our speakers host a table of about nine people where you can sit there and talk in depth whether it be about their session topics and maybe you went to their session and you had more questions, but they were a little more specific to your own business so you didn’t want to talk in front of the whole group, or maybe just didn’t understand something you wanted more clarification or you just wanted to continue to learn and learn from everybody else’s table. And so we do that.

And this year, we had two sessions. So you got to pick two different speakers or two different topic groups will be a better way to put it, and basically go in a deeper dive into that part of the business and that part of ecommerce. And I think that I’m glad that we did it that way. We gave people two options this year, because I think it was hard just to pick one honestly the first year, and people really want to learn while they’re there, so any opportunity we can to increase those learning opportunities we should take it.

Steve: I mean, I know for me, like when I’m watching a session, I’ll never ask a question. It’s just not my nature. Like when I was in college, I just sat at the back and I just kind of dozed off. It’s the same thing at the sessions. I’d rather just talk to the speaker one on one afterwards and the fact that we have these roundtables makes it just a whole lot easier to just raise your hand and the get courage to just ask a question in a small group environment.

Toni: Yeah, and not everybody who does want to, you know, especially most events, you have to take the microphone; you have to ask the question on the microphone. Not everybody wants to do that, and I totally get it. So I think that the roundtables provide an opportunity for people, or that they just don’t want to publicly share in front of 100 people, but they’re okay with sharing in front of five or six.

Steve: So one thing we also did was we kind of did away with the VIP ticket and then replaced it with two mastermind tiers. And the reason we did this is we found that people who are making 250K and people who are making over a million, they basically had different problems to talk about. And so I moderated one of the $1 million masterminds and we talked a lot about personnel and some of these scaling factors involved in growing a business, which were a lot different than some of the conversation that had the priority when I moderated the 250 plus mastermind.

Toni: I agree and I was in a 250 group this year, and a lot of the issues that we were facing in that group were next steps for business. How do we scale? How do we get to 500, 700k, a million? And what sort of things do I need to reduce in my business to make the other things more profitable? So I think you’re right. The conversations are very different. And I think I’m glad that we separated in this year. And we do bring everybody together for lunch and for networking. So it’s not like we’re completely segregating everybody. But I think when it comes down to specific business problems, it was better to have that separated groups.

Steve: And for all of you guys who aren’t familiar with what a mastermind is, basically a mastermind is where we kind of pre-vet sellers based on revenue. And then we kind of lock ourselves in a room, we cater in food, and we basically spend the entire day helping each other with each other’s businesses. Everyone takes a turn in the hot seat where they get to ask a question and everyone in the group basically helps them with that one problem. And we also all share a strategy that’s working with our ecommerce businesses and everyone has their own tactics. They all have their own strategies and it’s very rare that someone is not able to contribute something.

Toni: And I feel like I learned so much just moderating those and sitting in them. I feel like I leave that at the end of that day, just with so many ideas for new things to do in my business. It’s hard to, it’s almost too hard because you want to like do all these new things but you realize you need to stay focused.

Steve: Yeah, and what’s cool about it is we kind of go into this room with a pact that everything that’s talked about in this room, stays in that room. And what I always enjoy is how open and comfortable everyone is, and how willing everyone is willing to reveal their problems and triumphs. And we purposely, obviously, don’t put people in a group together that could be potential competitors.

Toni: Right, we actually spend a lot of time putting people in the groups for that very reason. And we have people fill out a survey and then we try to match people too with personalities. And so feeling like these people would be maybe not the best people in the same group versus other people that we think would mesh well together. And since we have a lot of returning attendees, it makes it easier to do that as well.

Steve: Absolutely. And I always end up learning a lot myself. And by the end I feel especially close to the mastermind attendees because when you spend eight hours in a room together, you get to really know each other in depth.

Toni: And the other thing, I think that I liked that we did this year, and I think we’re continuing to move towards this is we basically had — we’ve in the past had two tracks with more beginner and advanced and this year we did basically Amazon and off Amazon was our two tracks. And so, I really appreciated that because I’ve been focused personally on growing my off Amazon business over the past 12 months and so those sessions were really valuable to me, because that’s, I mean, I’m not — I love Amazon. I appreciate everything they’ve done, but I really focused on the other part of my business. And so to have those sessions to me was really valuable this year.

Steve: That’s actually a great segue into what the conference theme was about this year. So I got up on stage for the keynote, and I started off the conference by talking about Chinese people. The Chinese sellers are dominating Amazon right now. And they’ve really raised the bar in terms of what it takes to be successful in ecommerce. And so all the talks this past year were specially curated to help you succeed in 2018, build your own brand, and really stand out of the crowd.

I think the statistic that surprised me the most was that 25% of the sellers on Amazon are now based in China. And they have a lot of inherent advantages. And so that’s why establishing your own brand is even more important than ever.

Toni: Yeah, and I definitely I mean because we talk a lot about business off the podcast, but I’ve dealt with Chinese sellers since basically day one. And it’s made me realize how important it is to be building these other channels. And so I loved the fact – actually one of my favorite talks was Bernie’s on selling on Wal-Mart because I’ve been contacted by Wal-Mart frequently in the past six months. And after going to Bernie’s talk, I realized I don’t want to be selling on Wal-Mart right now, but honestly like I appreciated him getting up there and basically creating a case study on why it’s not worth it, most likely not worth it for your business at this right now.

He laid out like hey, but if your business meet this criteria and this criteria, then maybe you should be, but if you’re in this bucket it’s probably not a good idea and you need to focus more on these things. But I appreciated that he was really blunt with it because I don’t want everyone to get up there and sugarcoat stuff and make me think that everything is for me when clearly Wal-Mart is built for certain sellers right now and not for others. And if you don’t fall into that group, your time is better spent elsewhere at this stage in the game for Wal-Mart.

Steve: Yeah, no, absolutely. I mean, these days, I would say that if you are just selling a handful of products on Amazon, and let’s say you’re doing well, it’s still not going to be a long term sustainable business, or you’re putting your business at risk, I should say, because a number of things can happen like a group of Chinese sellers can attack you or something might go wrong with Amazon, they might ban you. And so it really pays to kind of spread out and diversify your marketplaces so to speak.

Toni: Yeah, and I appreciate like, that’s one of the things I appreciate about our speakers is they’re just really honest about these things. And so you don’t go in there — you don’t come out of a session thinking that you can do everything, you come out, I think more focused.

Steve: Yeah, and we did talk a lot of time about — we spent a lot of time talking about branding. And when it comes to brand, it’s more than just getting a logo and designing really great packaging, right? That’s just like par for the course. I think the only way to establish a true brand is to establish a connection with the customer, have the ability to bring them back over and over and over again until they are ready to buy and establish some sort of mindshare with the customer. And so a lot of the sessions this year were specifically curated along those lines.

So, for example, Mike Jackness, he gave an incredible presentation about Facebook Messenger strategy. And right now, a whole lot of people are not using Facebook messenger to market online. I recently just started doing it, I would say in the past four months, and I’ve been averaging 90% open rates and 30% click through rates, which is unheard of. Like if I look at my email, I’ll get like 20% open rates and maybe like 2% click through rates. And so I really enjoyed Mike’s talk.

Toni: Yeah, I missed, he’s one of the ones I need to — I get to listen to on the recording because I was not in there. But I’ve heard the same thing from everybody that was at that talk. Everyone is very pro messenger I guess that’s the best way to put it.

Steve: Yeah all the talk. So we never went to the same talk, right? Because I had to sit to moderate, so maybe we should just ping pong back and forth. So I just talked about Jackness, you want to talk about a talk that you went to?

Toni: So one of the talks that I thought was — and I love, Daniel Solid is one of our speakers. I think he’s attended every year, I think he’s spoken twice. Every time I go to his session, there’s always like one thing that he says as sort of like a mind blown moment for me. So this year he gave a talk about patenting and actually preparing your business to sell and an exit strategy. And I thought some of his ideas for getting patents and ways that you can create new products and create better products that you’re able to get a patent on were really, really interesting and stuff that I think most of us probably aren’t thinking about on a daily basis. And I feel like his brain is just always thinking about that kind of stuff.

So his he and I, it was funny because every time I have that moment, I look around the room, and everyone is frantically, they’re taking a picture of the screen, or scribbling down notes. So I always appreciate Daniel because he’s got these very different type strategies sometimes that I think aren’t as much mainstream as what we hear on other podcasts and reading different publications and stuff like that.

Steve: You know, what I like about Daniel’s style is that he’s a very long term thinker, like literally thinks like years in advance. And so, all the moves that he takes are for establishing a long term business as opposed to just making a quick buck in the next year or so.

Toni: Yeah, absolutely.

Steve: So one of the talks that I went to, which I know you wanted to go to, but I insisted on going myself was Dana’s talk.

Toni: Yeah you beat me.

Steve: What I like about Dana is she’s one of the sellers that I can really relate to because she just very down to earth. And what she did is she taught us her exact protocol for kind of gathering data and monitoring key metrics about her business. And one thing that her talk did, she made me really think about my priorities, like, what are my key objectives and what is the main reason why I even run my business? And so what Dana does is within 15 minutes every single day, what she does is she gathers key metrics about her business. And those key metrics basically just tell her what the health of her business is and where she needs to improve.

And it just takes a couple of minutes every single day and she gets like a high level overview for business. And that’s how she knows that her business is on track and meets her priorities and goals. I don’t know if I explained that very well. You just have to watch the actual talk to understand. But a lot of people they go into business not knowing what their objectives are and they don’t know what’s making a profit. They’re just spending money like crazy. Money is coming in but they don’t really have a firm grasp of all the metrics for their business.

Toni: Well and I think what I appreciate about Dana is that she doesn’t have this huge team, her businesses are very simple and her strategies are very simple and she bases everything on this sort of logic in numbers. So it takes a lot of the — I feel like this is a better idea out of it. And it really gets you to make decisions based on hard like numbers and facts, which I love.

Steve: Exactly. I mean, she has a gut feel for stuff but she always makes her decisions based on the numbers.

Toni: Yeah.

Steve: And her happiness actually, the happiness factor factors in.

Toni: Yeah, Dana is always one of my favorite speakers and I look forward to her. I look forward to just talking to her every year. I feel like I learn something every time I’m just standing by her. My turn okay. So another talk that I didn’t think that I would love but was actually very interesting was Nathan’s talk on your supply chain because we’ve been doing this for a couple years now. I feel like we have a pretty good system in order with dealing with our suppliers. But I think his talk compared with my trip to China and sort of finding new suppliers and seeing some maybe kinks in our system.

He basically walked step by step of things to look for in the whole process of sourcing and getting your products here where you think, I always felt like hey, we’re doing pretty good, our margins are decent. After listening to his talk, I realized, hey, there are some things that I can actually go back and maybe make some adjustments and even increase our profitability or just make changes in our business overall, to just help our productivity and things like that.

Steve: Yeah, along those lines, Greg Mercer gave a great talk about how he sells oversized items on Amazon. And when you sell oversized items on Amazon, it is very important to eke out every last dollar out of your supply chain. So Greg Mercer’s talk actually applied really closely with Nathan’s talk. And what’s cool about Greg’s talk is he gave a very detailed overview on how he ships flat pack containers directly to Amazon from the manufacturer without even seeing the merchandise. So he cuts out a whole bunch of intermediate steps and he ends up saving thousands of dollars in the process on shipping. It was eye opening.

Toni: Well, and I think too, that’s actually a question that’s come up in the profitable online store Facebook group over the past couple of weeks. I think I’ve seen that in there with people asking about that specific thing, or would you ship directly to Amazon? What are the risks? How is that going to work for your business? So that’s a talk I’m looking forward to listening to because I wasn’t in that one.

Steve: I think one person who attended Greg’s talk said that that one talk saved her thousands of dollars every year already. So that already made her conference worthwhile.

Toni: Wow. Well, on the opposite of saving money, I’m ready to spend money on Google Shopping after listening to Brett Curry’s talk. He gave a very step by step talk on how to set up Google Shopping, why you should be using Google Shopping campaigns, and basically how to get started doing that. And I think I met Brett with you a couple of years ago in San Diego. But I was excited for this talk because I feel like for a lot of brands, including what I’m doing, there’s not a lot of competition. And so way less competition to actually do like a Facebook campaign.

So I’m excited to get those started and actually just started working on that in the past couple — since I got back from Sellers Summit to set up some campaigns because he does a really good job of just walking you through just basic steps on how to get set up and how to get started. I think people — it’s a sort of a missed opportunity for people.

Steve: So I’ve been running Google Shopping campaigns for a very long time. And in fact, at the first Sellers Summit, I gave a session on Google Shopping as well. In these past couple years, Google has added a whole bunch of new features to Google Shopping to make it even easier to target people online. And so what we did this past year is I actually had Brett run my shopping campaigns, and he managed to increase the revenue out of my shopping campaigns with some of these new features. And it was — I don’t know, I didn’t get to attend Brett’s talk and I don’t know if he even referenced the case study at all. But the stuff that he talked about does in fact work. Did he talk about the case study at all or no?

Toni: Not a ton. He did reference it but yeah he really just kind of walked us through how you get started, basically the why of why you should be doing it and then how to set it up. And it’s pretty easy if you’re on a platform, it integrates pretty simply.

Steve: Right yeah. And I’ll probably be writing a blog post that details this case study as well, and so I’ll probably link that up once it’s available as well. So I attended my talk.

Toni: How was that?

Steve: It was very well received. And one of the main emphasis of my talk was that a lot of people they grow their revenues for their ecommerce store just by releasing more products. And that’s probably the easiest way to do things, but it’s also the most complicated and involves the most amount of work. A much better use of your time is to target repeat customers on both Amazon and on your own online store. And I gave a whole bunch of real life examples of how we’re doing that with our own store. And right now, only 12% of our customers, since we’re in the wedding industry are repeat customers, but they actually make up 36% of our revenues.

And so whenever a brand new year starts, just based on our existing customers, we already have a nice solid base of 36% right from the bat, which provides a really good foundation to grow your business going forward. As opposed to if you’re just constantly getting new business, the cost of new customer acquisition is always really high and there’s no guarantee that you’ll get those people back. So you’re kind of starting from scratch each time if you’re only going after new customers.

Toni: And it’s interesting because that was actually in the mastermind group that I was in. One of our primary conversations throughout the day was getting those repeat customers and focusing on those people that are your repeat business. That seemed to be a theme through many of the people that many of the attendees in the mastermind group, so I’m sure they were there in your talk or will be watching it. But it was definitely something that we talked about a lot, even in the mastermind session.

Steve: Oh, yeah, totally. I mean, it’s definitely the way to go. And that’s one of the key advantages of having your own brand, as opposed to just depending on Amazon.

Toni: Yeah. And while you were talking, I was actually in Casey’s talk from Viral Launch. And I have to say, I have to watch the talk again, because Casey has so much. There are certain people in the world that know so much about what they do that when they talk about it, it’s sort of infectious with their like excitement and just how excited they get about everything. And Casey is one of those people, and you’ve spent time with him too so you know his personality. When he gets going he’s like a freight train. And so his talks…

Steve: He’s like the LeBron.

Toni: Yes, he is the LeBron of product selection. So I actually want to watch it again because he gave us so much information in his 55 minutes or whatever the time he had just about how do you find products? How do you optimize? It was just it literally was a fire hose. So that’s one I need to watch. I actually had to step out in the middle too which didn’t help because he was just going and going and going. But his knowledge is like he didn’t need the slides, he didn’t reference anything, he just was, it was just off the top of his head and people were hitting him.

The question and answer in that time was also really good. It’s worth — I know so many people skip the Q&A at the end, because sometimes it doesn’t apply to you. But definitely watch the Q&A and that one because the questions that were asked were actually really good questions and they were applicable to anybody selling.

Steve: Yeah, and while that was going on, I think I was at Xiaohui’s — we just call him X.

Toni: Yeah.

Steve: He covered email marketing. And man, I know a lot about email marketing, and I learned a lot of it from X. But X managed to cover like all of email marketing in 50 minutes. I remember when he sent me the slides I was like, dude, there’s no way in hell you’re going to be able to get through all of this stuff because it was really dense, full of information, but he ended up covering all of it. It was an amazing talk, but it’s one of those talks that you’re going to have to watch multiple times to get everything taken in, because he basically covered almost every single email marketing strategy in this one session alone.

Toni: Yeah, and I got to eat dinner with him one night and I was just blown away by him, just such a smart guy. And that’s one of the talks that I missed. So I’m excited to watch that one now.

Steve: Totally. And we didn’t even have time for Q&A, so I bet his round table was packed.

Toni: Oh yeah, it was absolutely packed. I walked by it a couple times. Speaking of people with big personalities, I don’t know who got to see Zach Smith give his talk on Kickstarter campaigns. But he’s got — he’s another one of those people that you just can’t help but smile when you’re around him. Just the nicest guy and lives, eats, and breathes Kickstarter campaigns.

In his, he walked people through how to launch a Kickstarter and obviously he has a company that does that, but he basically taught people how they could do it on their own and some of the really — he went through I think they were the seven Ps of qualities that you had to have to have a successful Kickstarter. And basically if you’re missing one of those the chances of you being able to– and I’m not super familiar with Kickstarter campaigns, but I know vitality and those are pretty important to get to a certain point and then sort of takes on a life of its own.

So he went through that with the attendees and basically taught them how to find the right product to do that with because not every product fits. And then once you think you have the right product, the things that your product, the characteristics and the character [ph] of the campaign so that you can be successful.

Steve: Yeah I think Kickstarter is grossly underutilized. You know how — one of the main problems of ecommerce is that cash flow can be a problem; you have to put your money down in order to fund your inventory. And if you do a Kickstarter correctly, there’s a lot less risk involved because you’re actually making — you’re raising money to fund your first production run and that greatly reduces your risk.

Toni: Sorry. It was interesting to see he had some case studies that he shared of clients that they had worked with. And it was interesting to see things that they had done that it even turned campaigns around after an initial slower launch.

Steve: I think while Zach was talking, I was in Reza’s talk. And he talked about dynamic ads retargeting or sequential dynamic ads retargeting. And what I discovered from his talk is that I’ve been running my retargeting ads wrong this entire time. And Reza very clearly, you can tell Reza is an engineer because he outlined a really enlightening retargeting strategy that relies on telling stories about your brand as opposed to just going for the straight sale. And whenever you tell — when you arrange the ads in the way that he was talking about with sequential dynamic ads retargeting, you’re much more likely to get the mind share of the customer, which will lead to repeat sales and longer term customer value. It was an amazing talk.

Toni: Oh, I got to meet him briefly. And I can — just from his personality; you can tell that he is very detailed in that way.

Steve: Yeah, I mean, he’s very analytical. And he basically spelled out everything step by step. And as soon as I got home, I ended up implementing his retargeting. He runs the company that does this for you, but he also taught us how to do it step by step by hand as well. And that was the route that I chose to take.

Toni: Another…

Steve: I was just going to say especially because his software doesn’t support my shopping cart. Get to work on that Reza if you’re listening to this.

Toni: That’s right. A long time speaker alumni is Scott Volker. And if you know Scott, you know he is a great speaker.

Steve: Has low energy.

Toni: Yeah, he’s so boring. Yeah soft spoken. But Scott did a talk on how to launch a six figure brand in 2018 which I think everybody knows in the Amazon landscape for sure it’s just getting harder and harder. And he walked everybody through his whole process from not really brand — not really product selection but basically once you have a product, the steps that he’s taking to move forward and launching without any built in audience really.

And as always, Scott does a great job in just breaking down all the little details that you need to know. And working with, even if you don’t have any Facebook fans, or you don’t have any email list, or you don’t have anything you can still do – it’s still possible to do. And I think a lot of people think, oh, it’s too late to get on this, launching new brands and things like that. But he really gave a, oh my god, what’s the word, roadmap, gave a roadmap for being able to do that, even in this landscape, which is so competitive these days.

Steve: I didn’t get a chance to attend his talk, but I was in the adjacent room and there’s this pretty thick wall between our sessions and I could hear his talk from the adjacent room.

Toni: Yeah.

Steve: Which was soundproofed, yeah.

Toni: He’s not quiet but anyway, if you know Scott, he’s just great to have at the event in general because he’s one of those speakers that just talks to you all night long and help you with your business. And so we love that. And Chris Shaffer actually came; his partner came too and helped out with the roundtable. So it’s always great to have Scott and it’s always interesting to see what he’s working on, and he’s always willing to share that with everybody.

Steve: Absolutely. And while Scott was talking, I was in Edwards talk. And he did an amazing job on teaching people how to run Amazon sponsored product ads. And what I did this year is I purposely asked him to do a much more advanced talk since all the basic stuff is already covered, you can find out stuff online. And one attendee Pamela, who we talked about earlier, who attended his talk said that her ACOS went from 60 to 70% down to 15% within a week after implementing Edward’s strategies, which I thought was pretty amazing.

Toni: That’s incredible. And I know Edward poor guy, I think he met with any attendees that wanted to meet with him over the weekend. Every time I saw him, he had a computer out and was sitting with somebody working on their sponsored product ads. So just his willingness to meet with people one on one and walk them through it was phenomenal.

Steve: I mean, he enjoyed every minute of it he said. He’s kind of like a sponsored product ads geek. He pulls all nighters for this stuff, too. He’s just really into it. Yeah, I couldn’t understand it. But yeah, he just loves it so much.

Toni: Yeah, he was definitely busy. Another talk that I actually was very bummed I had to walk out of because I had to go take care of something was Brad Moss. He’s a former head of Seller Central. And he talked about accessing hidden analytics on Amazon to get repeat customers. And I’ve actually only heard the first 10 minutes of it, but that’s the one video that I actually have downloaded and ready to watch from Sellers Summit already, because even within the first couple of minutes of his talk, I was completely hooked and actually very irritated that I had to leave because I always learn so much from Brad anyway, just in our conversations, and I know that he’s got definitely special insight into these things. And so I’m very excited to hear what he has to say about this.

Steve: Yeah, I was bummed to have missed his talk as well because he always delivers. I think his last year’s talk was one of the most popular ones. And this year, the whole topic of getting repeat customers, he really hammered that home in his talk on how to do that on Amazon.

Toni: Which some people think is impossible. So I’m very excited to hear what he’s got to say.

Steve: They also said it cannot be done to have multiple roundtable groups at a conference. But…

Toni: Well, we’re breaking all sorts of rules now.

Steve: So while that was going on, Pam and I, we did a Q&A session this year about freight forwarding, and there’s all these inefficiencies in your supply chain. And the reason why we did a Q&A this year was to kind of cover some of the more advanced topics in freight forwarding, a lot of things in your supply chain that can be optimized. And I felt like we did a really good job of covering them all.

Toni: Well, and what I love about Pam is even if you don’t work with her, she’s still willing to sit there and help you and she is — I mean, like all, I think all of our speakers are amazing. They’re just so nice and helpful. And they’ll go out of their way. They’ll stay up late. They’ll come in early. I know someone was meeting with somebody early in the morning to help them. It’s just they’re always available and accessible. And Pam is just, it’s like she embodies a lot of that. I feel like she’s just always available, always smiley, always helpful, and she doesn’t care if you work with her or not, she just wants to help people.

Steve: I mean I think that’s a prerequisite to be a speaker. We get a whole bunch of speaker applications and we turn most of them down. And speakers that we do get; I’ve either met in person, had on the podcast, or they’re just people that we know personally. I tell them they’re going to stick around and they’re going to be really friendly.

Toni: And it’s funny because we have some speakers that asked to come back and speak because they enjoy our attendees so much.

Steve: Yeah, I mean, we do screen out the attendees to a certain extent too if you’re coming to the mastermind I guess.

Toni: That’s true.

Steve: So are there any more sessions that we haven’t talked about?

Toni: I think we’ve got, we’ve hit them all other than the — we closed out the event with a quick panel Q&A with Steve, Greg Mercer, Scott Volker, and Mike Jackness. And that was basically, we just passed around the microphone, let folks ask questions, and I think that was a fun way to end it just because it was very relaxed. Everyone was finished with the event as far as the pressure of speaking and doing a session with a PowerPoint. And so we just opened it up to the audience, let them ask questions. And that’s definitely one worth watching because we got people just kind of having a casual conversation.

Steve: Yeah, absolutely. And once again, I think tickets, when we sold them, they sold out super quick. I think we were done in February. We were done earlier than that for the mastermind.

Toni: Yeah.

Steve: And the main reason is we purposely limit ticket sales. It’s not a large conference.

Toni: No, we can’t do that. That’s impossible.

Steve: You can’t do that and maintain the level of networking that we have.

Toni: I agree. I agree.

Steve: So we actually opened up the tickets as you mentioned earlier in this talk to alumni only, and we’ve already sold 50% of our tickets for next year.

Toni: Yeah, so if you want to meet some of our alumni, if you want to meet Troy that’s our selling point.

Steve: So all these sessions that we talked about, we are still selling a virtual pass for this past year’s event. And one other bonus that we always do for virtual pass members is that we have a live Q&A. So I like to say that we’re bringing the conference over to you, in case you didn’t get a chance to attend. So all the video sessions are available for purchase, but we’re also going to hold a live Q&A webinar with a bunch of the speakers in the next three weeks or so. The exact date is TBD, but we’re going to do that to just answer any questions that you might have about the sessions.

Toni: And if you’re not able to attend the live Q&A, it is recorded and available for you to watch at your own convenience. But we really do like you to be there live because then you do have the opportunity to ask questions.

Steve: Absolutely. Yeah. So I’ll probably post the link to purchase virtual passes underneath in the show notes for this episode. And we already obviously decided where the conference is going to be next year. And where’s it going to be Toni?

Toni: It’s going to be in Miami at the Conrad Hilton, right on the bay. So it’s a great location. It is very close to the airport and also close to tons of restaurants and places to sort of hang out when the conference is not going on. The hotel has a great lounge area and tons of space. So it will be another great event for networking and hitting all the dinners with everybody. And I think it’s going to be another great space for us.

Steve: And what are the dates?

Toni: The dates are May 15 through May 17.

Steve: Yeah. I mean, one of the mistakes that we did this past year is we kind of overlapped this summit with the Canton Fair third phase, and that is not a mistake that we were making this next year.

Toni: No, we pushed it back a little bit for everybody. And one other thing we listened to on the survey for you guys is a lot of you didn’t want it over the weekend. So this year will be the masterminds on Wednesday. But then the actual conference is on Thursday and Friday. So you will be able to fly home Saturday morning to make all the sports games proms, graduations and anything else you’ve got going on that weekend.

Steve: Yep, that was one thing we changed based on the survey results as well. So underneath in the show notes, I’m going to be posting links to purchase the virtual pass as well as a pass for next year. And the fact that we’re already 50% sold out, I’m guessing that we’re going to sell out a lot quicker for this coming year.

Toni: I agree. I think I love our alumni coming back. I’d love to see some new folks there. We did make the mastermind bigger, the actual sessions are not bigger, but we’ve opened up another block. So we did add some more mastermind spots, so if you are interested in that — but those always do sell out first. And those are definitely things that we can’t — at some point we can’t add any more. So we don’t have a lot of flexibility with that.

So if the mastermind is something that you’re interested in, it’s definitely — and those are not recorded. There’s no way to access those for the main reason we want people to be able to share things honestly and not worry about anything getting out of that room. So that is definitely something if you’re interested in, I would not hesitate to purchase that pass.

Steve: Yeah, absolutely. And we’re not changing anything up for the third year. We are purposely keeping the event small and intimate to foster networking. And I think we have a really good formula and we’re not really going to change much at this point.

Toni: So you definitely want to join us next year. And if you’re not sure, grab a virtual pass from this year and just see what our content is about and see if it’s something that you think would help your business.

Steve: It sounds good. Well Toni, thanks a lot for taking part in this Sellers Summit recap.

Toni: Thanks for having me again and again and again.

Steve: Well, you’re a fan favorite. No one listens to me.

Toni: That’s another reason why they come to the summit too, right?

Steve: Yes, it is. It is true.

Toni: Lies, lies.

Steve: All right. Take care.

Hope you enjoyed that episode. Virtual passes for the 2018 Sellers Summit are on sale right now until July 1st. And as part of purchasing a virtual pass, we’re also hosting a special private Q&A webinar with Mike Jackness of EcomCrew, Greg Mercer of Jungle Scout, and Scott Volker of the Amazing Seller. Now this webinar will take place on June 28 at 10:00 AM Pacific. So to buy your tickets go to sellerssummit.com. For more information about this episode, go to mywifequitherjob.com/episode210.

And once again, I want to thank Privy.com for sponsoring this episode. Privy is the email capture provider that I personally use to turn visitors into email subscribers. They offer email capture, exit intent, and site targeting tools to make it super simple as well. And I like Privy because it’s so powerful and you can basically trigger custom pop-ups for any parameter that is closely tied to your e-commerce store. If you want to give it a try, it is free. So, head on over to Privy.com/Steve, once again, that’s P-R-I-V-Y.com/Steve.

I also want to thank Klaviyo which is my email marketing platform of choice for e-commerce 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 autopilot. 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 both of these tools on my blog, and if you’re interested in starting your own e-commerce 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’re giving the courage people need to start their own online business. For more information, visit Steve’s blog at www.Mywifequitherjob.com.

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211: How To Self Publish A Book And Sell It On Amazon With Chandler Bolt

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How To Self Publish A Book And Sell It On Amazon

Today I brought my buddy Chandler Bolt on the show. Chandler is someone I met at a Fincon meeting in San Francisco. Then I saw him briefly again at Social Media Marketing World and knew I wanted to have him on the podcast.

Chandler runs Self Publishing School where he teaches others how to write and self publish your first book in 3 months working 30 minutes per day.

He’s the author of multiple best selling books and he’s an expert when it comes to going out on your own in the book business. Enjoy the episode!

What You’ll Learn

  • How to use an ebook to generate leads
  • How to successfully sell a book on Amazon
  • How to build your launch team
  • The most important aspect of selling a book
  • Why you should self publish instead of going with a traditional publisher

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Privy.com – Privy is my tool of choice when it comes to gathering email subscribers for my ecommerce store. They offer easy to use email capture, exit intent, and website targeting tools that turn more visitors into email subscribers and buyers. With both free and paid versions, Privy fits into any budget. Click here and get 15% OFF towards your account.
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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.
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Transcript

You’re listening to the my wife quit her job podcast, the place where I bring on successful bootstrap business owners and dig deep into what strategies they use to grow their businesses. Now today I’m happy to have my friend Chandler Bolt on the show. Chandler runs Self Publishing School where he teaches other people how to make a living selling books online, and today he’s going to teach us how he does it.

But before we begin, I want to give a quick shout out to Privy who is a sponsor of the show. Privy is the tool that I use to build my email list for both my blog and my online store. Now, there are a bunch of companies that will manage your email capture forms, but I like Privy because they specialize in e-commerce stores. And right now I’m using Privy to display a cool wheel of fortune pop-up. Basically a user gives their email for a chance to win valuable prizes in our store. And customers love the gamification aspect of this, and when I implemented this form email sign ups increased by 131%.

There are other cool things that you can do too. So for example let’s say you offer free shipping for orders over 100 bucks, well you can tell Privy to flush a pop-up when the customer has $90 in their shopping cart to ask them to insert one more item. But bottom line, Privy allows me to turn visitors into email subscribers, which I then feed to my email provider to close the sale. So head on over to Privy.com/Steve, and try it for free. And if you decide you need some of the more advanced features, use coupon code MWQHJ For 15% off. Once again that’s P-R-I-V-Y.com/Steve.

Now I also want to give a quick shout out to Klaviyo who is also a sponsor of the show. Always blessed to have Klaviyo as a sponsor because they are the email marketing platform that I use for my e-commerce store, and I depend on them for over 30% of my revenues. Now 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. 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 that is sent.

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, 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 brought my buddy Chandler Bolt on the show. And Chandler is actually someone I met at a FinCon meet up in San Francisco. And then I saw him briefly again at Social Media Marking World carrying a bunch of massagers and I knew I wanted to have him on the podcast.

Chandler runs Self Publishing School where he teaches others how to write and self publish your first book in three months working just 30 minutes per day. And he’s the author of multiple best-selling books and he’s actually an expert when it comes to going out on your own in the book business. And with that, welcome to the show Chandler, how are you doing today man?

Chandler: Hey Steve great to be here, thanks for having me.

Steve: Yes Chandler we didn’t get a chance to chat that much, but it looked like you had places to go with those massagers.

Chandler: Yes it’s that we were as Steve was mentioning, we were trafficking a version in Social Media Marketing World and our booth was next to a massage booth, they were fire selling these things in the end and I was caught in the middle as the transportation man for my team. And where we are — we were getting that boost setting up and having a good time.

Steve: So Chandler I know your background story but the listeners do not. So tell us how you got into the self publishing business.

Chandler: Yeah so my life changed when I wrote and published my first book. I was about 19 years old at the time believe it or not, and I was a C level English student and a college dropout. I was actually in the process of dropping out of school when I wrote and published my first book. And I always say that the book is the key that opens the door to Narnia, right? So if you see in the Chronicles of Narnia, it’s like this magical land that only exists and then they found this key, open this door, there’s this magical land.

For me that was what happened with my book. So the book was the key that opened this door like this world that really only exists for published authors. So for me that meant you know the book made close to $7,000 in the first month, and a few thousand dollars a month in passive income month after month after month.

Steve: Was this on Amazon or?

Chandler: Exactly.

Steve: Okay got it.

Chandler: It was just on Amazon. And then kind of since then it’s marked a multimillion dollar business. I mean we’ve grown Self Publishing School to little over seven million dollars in the last three years, and that’s bill off the back. So at this point I’ve done, I’ve written and published six books and those really like they bring leads for our business, they obviously bring passive income on a month in month out basis.

And then I think kind of the favorite, my favorite part is to see a bunch of people like in your audience, moms or people who say, hey I’ve accumulated all this knowledge over the course of my life whether that be my adult life, my entire life or my stories from being a kid, and I want to give back to others. I want to help people, impact them in a great way, but also like make some passive income or make some income that’s not tied to me training dogs for hours.

And so that’s kind of what we’ve seen is our students, it really just opens up a whole another world for them and I think gives them a lot of confidence. And then also it’s not a bad thing to be able to create some words and then like a year from — or sorry like three years from now still be getting checks.

Steve: Yeah totally.

Chandler: That’s X fifty bucks. I’m pretty pumped about that because that’s like some pretty good passive income.

Steve: Can you give us an idea — you said you had six books out, how much passive income is that generating you personally?

Chandler: Yeah so I think it’s about a couple thousand a month kind of in that range. Now we — and this is one of the things we talk about in the program, we structure books to fit your goals. So if your goal is to make as much passive income as possible, I’d be doing things very differently with my books. If your goal is to bring in business or leads for your business, then you’re going to structure it that way like really depending on whether it’s authority, depending on your goals you are going to do things quite differently from a marketing perspective.

So for me I try to give away as many copies of my books as possible because I know that that lead is worth like exponentially more for me, and they’re way more likely to become customers of publishing school, spend a few thousand dollars with us. It’s like that’s worth way more for me. So I’m not optimizing for book royalties. I’m actually happy to spend money on Amazon ads and all that. It’s like even if I break even on the books I’m happy because I know all the while I’m getting a whole lot of free leads, or actually I’m getting paid to get leads from my book.

Steve: Does that imply then that your books are free then for the most part?

Chandler: No they’re not free on Amazon, but like I’ll give away the audio book which is a huge lead gen for us. I mean in the month of January this year we did cash, so I was just showing this to Social Media Marketing World a TNC we did what seems like 1,500 leads.

Steve: Wow okay.

Chandler: But that seemed also like – and then on credit that was a nice top because we were launching a product but seems still like 26 of those leads were from a book that I wrote and published like two or three years ago. So for me I’m doing more lead gen. Now of course we still sell them on Amazon. We do some free question thing book funnel sometimes and create promotions around that, but kind of anywhere on our site, it’s impossible not to get one of my books for free. We just use that as a big lead gen and also kind of customer acquisition too.

Steve: So when you see a lead gen, these are like links within your book that lead to some sort of e-mail sign up form or something along those lines?

Chandler: Exactly. There’s two main things and this will be worth the price of admission just right here. So this is one of my best marketing tips is if you’re using a book to grow your email list is give away audio or video, and the first five pages of the book for free. Now if you look on any of my books, so you can go to search published on Amazon or a book launch on Amazon or any of my books, you’ll see this. If you click the look inside feature, you’ll see that I give away the audio book for free.

So imagine like how different our relationship is going to start off Steve where you’re browsing on Amazon, and some people think this, I think Chandler is an idiot, he doesn’t know that I can get this for free. But for me like I said a second ago that lead is worth way more than if they were to buy my Kindle book or print copy or whatever else.

And oftentimes they do go onto to purchase other formats of the book, but they can actually opt in without even purchasing the book through that look inside feature. And then obviously if they’re getting into the book or if they purchase the book they can do the same. They can get the audio or some people like to do video, or the other thing is just resources mentioned throughout the book.

Steve: Interesting, are your books about self publishing by any chance?

Chandler: I think three out of six of them are.

Steve: Okay.

Chandler: The only books are and then obviously now that I’ve kind of been obsessed with helping people write, and publish their first book, that’s what my last three have been about and those three others, the most recent three.

Steve: Can you kind of comment on just Amazon versus a traditional book publisher?

Chandler: How much time do you have?

Steve: Well just give me the pros and cons.

Chandler: I run a company called Self Publishing School, so you can kind of guess which side of the equation I’m on, and what my beliefs are. But so here’s the cool thing Steve, so and how many people know this but over 70% of all books sold are sold on Amazon.

Steve: Is that physical and digital?

Chandler: I think so. I think so, I can double check that stat, so both are stats though, less than — what is it, less than 16% exactly of best-selling e-books are from traditional publishers. If you flip to the other side to author earnings, 70% of author earnings are from independently published authors. I mean they’re either with a really small publisher or they’re self published. So basically what’s happening is self publishing used to be the redheaded stepchild, right? It’s the thing that you only do when you can’t get a publisher, and you’re not legit if you don’t have a publisher.

Now I’d say for 99% of people, it makes much more sense to self publish. And now obviously you’ve got to do it right, and the big objection is well, hey, I want to work with a publisher so they can do all this stuff for me. But the publisher is not going to market your book for you. That’s a common misconception. They’re going to ask you how you’re going to market it. It’s also going to take years of your life. You’re going to lose all your creative freedom and all of your control in the process.

So unless you’re [inaudible 00:11:38], unless you’re someone who’s going to get a million dollar advance, then also you want to sell internationally, then it just doesn’t make sense anymore because all of the power is back in the hands of authors with the books been sold on Amazon and the process is just getting easier.

Now there’s a lot of people who self publish the wrong way and who give self publishing a kind of a little bit of a bad name still. I say in five to ten years in my opinion the publishers are going to be out of business for the most part. You’re going to still have these big conglomerates just like you still have big cable conglomerates, just like you still have big record labels, but like they’re getting squeezed in a dying industry. And so for most people it just makes significantly more sense to self publish.

Steve: Is it possible to get on like the New York Times bestseller list if you self publish or even in like a physical book store?

Chandler: It’s possible to get in a physical bookstore. It’s difficult but it’s possible and especially Amazon has some physical bookstores so that they do that based on what sells the best.

Steve: Sure.

Chandler: It’s possible to get on the New York Times list, self publish is very hard. Now the thing a lot of people don’t know about the New York Times list is that it is an editorial list. Now this is highly problematic and it’s kind of a joke, and we’re going to write a blog post about this, how the New York Times list is a total scam. So editorial lists and so what that means is that if I’m an editor — so it’s meant to be a representation of books sold nation, right?

Right now it’s a complicated algorithm that says, okay, not only do you need to sell in like all the zip codes across the country, it needs to be local bookstores, small bookstores, some on Amazon, some from like big box Barnes and Noble. You need to have like two to four thousand of those that are from bulk orders so like companies or events, or things like that. So you need to fill all this algorithm.

Now the original intention was to keep people from gaming the system, but now, it’s just kind of people know the system so it still can be gamed. But then here’s the crazy part, so at the end of the day I find an editor at The New York Times, I could say, Steve I don’t like you or I don’t like your hair or the weather is bad outside, or my girlfriend just dumped me. And for any of those reasons I can keep you off the list. So it’s not a true bestsellers list.

Now USA Today on the other hand that’s a true bestsellers list, Wall Street Journal, that’s more of a true bestseller list for hard copy books. So those are two higher of a list of higher integrity but obviously everyone is still obsessed with The New York Times because of past prestige from like 50 years ago. So that’s the one that is coveted and everyone still goes for, but I really think that trend is going to change.

And here’s what kind of one final crazy thought on this, so here recently multiple people are being kept off the list who should have made it. So Michael Hyatt with his book Living Forward, he was the CEO and a publisher for 30 years, Thomas Nelson publisher. And they said hey, he’s like kind of in internet marketing land now, so we’re going to keep him up the list. He sold more than enough copies to be on the list. You need to sell about ten to 12,000 copies in week one, and I can’t really know what he sold but it was definitely more than that.

Jeff Walker here recently, same deal, launches a book, it was actually years ago I guess now come to think of it. But he launched his book launch and in week one he sold enough to keep him off the list — sorry he sold enough to make the list, they kept him off. And then he reloaded and not many people can do this. Jeff could do this because he’s just incredible and he has this huge following.

But he reloaded and went back even harder the second week and he hit number one week two. Now mostly being because they said, hey, we can’t keep this guy off or we’re going to look like idiots because the integrity will truly be compromised if we’re like purposely keeping this guy off for multiple weeks in a row. So he made it in week two. So there’s just things like that that you see that are happening that the landscape is really shifting and obviously you can tell how passionate about…

Steve: Yeah totally.

Chandler: In the dramas like this is scam. It just feels like what Uber is doing to the taxi industry.

Steve: Yeah totally.

Chandler: I’d like to still — I feel like we’re the Uber of the publishing industry which is saying, hey, this is a horrible experience. It’s a stacked deck, it’s rigged against the author, and the public is totally blind to it or feels like they can’t do anything about it and we can. There’s another way and there is a better way but it still starts with awareness around the problem.

Steve: So let’s talk about that. And so what does it take to become a successful author on Amazon?

Chandler: Yeah so hopefully people have stuck with us because we went straight to like book nerd like people who are here they had learned about the actual…

Steve: That’s like the number one question that most people have right, why not a traditional publisher, but anyways yeah.

Chandler: It is. It’s funny I have this conversation so much that I can’t believe it’s still a question that comes up, but in the minds of — I have to realize that in the minds of everyone else that’s not me in this day in day out, like they still very much like, oh traditional publishing will bust. So there’s a lot of education in the market that needs to happen and I’m trying to make sure that we do that. So what does it take to be successful on…

Steve: So let’s start from the beginning. So let’s have a book, let’s say I want to write about e-commerce, what are the steps, what should I be doing?

Chandler: Yeah so I mean there’s a lot that goes into it. It’s kind of a three step writing process. I mean step one you’ll get clear on what you’re writing about and get clear on who you’re writing to.

Steve: Well let’s take a step back. So you promise a book in 90 days, right?

Chandler: Yes.

Steve: So traditionally that assumes a certain length of book, and I imagine it assumes a certain amount of writing that needs to be in each day and a certain amount of time for marketing and that sort of thing, right?

Chandler: Exactly. So our target is fifteen to 40,000 words, somewhere in that range, but you do spend 30 minutes per day. Some people will just ship like lock themselves in a cave for a weekend or like in their office or whatever for a weekend and just write the book in a weekend. We’ve got some processes that kind of like speed that up. But either way yeah you got your link, you got your daily commitment, and then I think the big piece that a lot of people screw up besides the marketing, I mean I’m sure we’ll talk about that. I mean that’s what almost everyone in the marketplace just doesn’t understand and isn’t doing well.

But the marketing starts before you even write the book, and not many people realize that. So whenever you start with a broad topic, it’s not going to do well. And so one of my first things and one of the first things like our coaches do when they get on calls with people is let’s get crystal clear on what this book is, who you’re writing to specifically and also who you’re not writing to. So I see people in this stage that they try to go way too broad. So they try to please everyone and they end up pleasing no one.

Steve: So give me an example of one of your students for example that picked something that was too broad and how you narrowed it down.

Chandler: Yeah, so there’s a couple of examples. So I’m trying to think, so one of them is this from a while back and she was just incredible, she’s had a whole lot of success since then. Her name is Kelsey Humphries. So I think she had a book, it was like live your passion, fulfill your dreams, and accomplish your purpose or something. I mean it wasn’t that, but it was along that chain. We started talking and I’m like what are you actually saying here, because I don’t know if I’m a potential reader, I don’t know if I’m a fit or not just glancing at this book.

My general rule, and what we talk about as the litmus test is within two seconds I need to know what your book is about, and whether it’ll help me. So when I see the title and the subtitle, I need to know that instantly and you’re covered. If I don’t know that, that’s a problem. So, well I was like what are you really trying to do here, and I started talking to her. And it became clear that what she was really passionate about was helping people quit their day job. Later in the book she called it go solo, and I think the subtitle was how to quit the job you hate and start a small business you love.

So now all of a sudden you instantly know whether this is a fit for you or not. And that book I mean she got endorsed by Barbara Corcoran of Shark Tank, she’s going to interview Tony Robbins, Seth Godin like [inaudible 00:21:00] like all these incredible people and like that was kind of a launch pad for her. But I think it just all starts with getting super specific. And then, one more example that I’ll give, and this is one that comes…

Steve: So along the lines of the example you just gave, like small business in itself is pretty vague, right?

Chandler: No.

Steve: Like there’s a bunch of different types of small businesses, so would say would you recommend to actually niching down even more and like how to write a book business, or how to sell physical products online and that sort of thing in this specific example?

Chandler: Yeah I would, I would. We could probably kind of layer further than that. I mean it does still speak to like how to quit the job you hate and start a small business you love and go solo. I mean it speaks to that. But for me I’m trying to go as specific as possible with all my books. So as an example, my very first book, The Productive Person, I think gosh the subtitle on that was like basically spoke to – I’m forgetting it right now, but it speaks to this like it is for entrepreneurs who struggle with work life balance and want to take back control of their schedule and these are productivity hacks and things like that.

So now instead it’s like productivity hacks for entrepreneurs who’ve got work life balance wanting to take a control of their schedule. So like be specific and that’s what I recommend for others as well. One other just quick example that I’ll give is I was chatting with one of our students about her book idea, and we have a saying and I forget where I heard this but this isn’t original to me, but it says it’s easier to sell pain pills than it is to sell vitamins.

So, essentially meaning that people will whip out their credit card when something is painful, and they’ll stand idly by instead of buying vitamins. No one wakes up in the morning and says, I can’t wait to buy vitamins today. A lot of people wake up in the morning and say, wow my back hurts, and they reach for pain medicine, right? So that’s what really moves the needle with anything.

And now with books it’s specific. So she was writing a book about burnout, and the original hook and this just goes to show how important it is to really nail the hook from the beginning. The original hook was preventing burnout and kind of like steps to prevent burnout in the workplace. And I said this is great. You can actually talk about all the same things in the book, but what I would change the positioning is what to do once you burnout.

Steve: Got it, got it.

Chandler: Because like no one wakes up and says, hey, I want to prevent burnout in my job. But a lot of people will wake up and say, wow I’m burned out and they’ll start goggling things in that moment or they’ll go on Amazon and they’ll search searching being it’s in that moment. So I think the two takeaways just for the audience here is number one, get as specific as possible. There’s no such thing as too specific. And then number two, how do you address this so that it’s — or how do you position this so that it’s solving real pain in the eyes of the reader and not just a vitamin solution.

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 e-commerce 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.

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That’s interesting because there is a lot of bestselling books that don’t necessarily follow that philosophy and they do fine. But perhaps that’s just because the author is just so big already.

Chandler: Yeah I’d say so, any that come to mind?

Steve: For example I’ve just – yeah I know that’s cool. I was just thinking about like the Dover [ph] book like Win Bigly. It’s not really that descriptive of a title, but Scott Adams has such a large following that I guess it doesn’t even really matter what he writes at that point.

Chandler: Yeah and there’s a whole what makes something get traction isn’t what makes it keep traction, right? So when I’m getting traction as a no name author, people need to know.

Steve: Okay yeah that makes sense.

Chandler: Tony Robbins is like money master of the game, okay cool, I need to get control of my finances. And even he launched a second book like a year later that was unshakable which is way more pain focused, so like how to prepare yourself for coming recession and that sort of thing. Okay so for someone who has a big audience like that, they can get traction with a couple of email blasts and TV appearances etc, and then what gives that book legs which is what gives every good book that sells thousands of copies legs which is it has to be a good book, right?

Steve: Sure.

Chandler: If you can come on a conversation with me and say, oh here is what it actually means and here is why it is good and you should get it, then sure it still takes more effort for that author to sell me on it, but there’s the virility in the word of mouth. But for a lot of first time authors, having a big title or a clever title is just not going to do it and it’s not going to help them get out of the gates.

Steve: So let me ask you this, do you need to hire an editor, or can this all be done kind of solo, what would you recommend.

Chandler: Solo I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it simply for the fact that I was just you know what I was just mentioning which is you need a good book and there’s a lot of people in my space in particular that just say, hey, just speak and get it transcribed and publish it. They’re just perpetuating crap and kind of into the universe. But that’s not my stance, but I think you need an editor. Now for my first book I didn’t have one, we self edited.

And then I’ll even say to some people it’s like, hey, if you’re on a budget, call up your high school English teacher and they would love to help with this. And that would be like just a defining moment for them that one of their students went on to become a published author, like that’s pretty cool for them and also it can be helpful for you.

But with my first book we self edited, and then the book did so well that we used some of the proceeds from the first month to go back and hire an editor and then we published an update or a revised version a month or two later. So you can certainly do that, but then also editors aren’t that expensive. So we have a post in the Self Publishing School where we can link up in the show notes about how much does it cost to publish a book. And so we kind of break down like…

Steve: What is that number approximately?

Chandler: Yeah so how much does it cost to publish a book, or just for editing specifically?

Steve: Just to publish the whole book.

Chandler: Yeah so the whole book, I mean like 200 bucks on the very low end to like 1,500 a couple. I mean you can really spend as much as you want, and most people spend way too much. But we usually say, hey, 200 on the very low end like fully bootstrapped, and then on the higher end like 1,000 to 1,500 bucks.

Steve: Are the bulk of those costs the editor?

Chandler: Yeah so the two main expenses are editing and also going to be the book cover. Those are the two, I mean don’t cheap out of the book cover, that’s also a takeaway I would give people. I’m amazed how many people will spend years writing a book and they’ll spend five minutes and five dollars on the cover. People judge a book by its cover. So get a good cover and pay…

Steve: What are some elements of a good cover?

Chandler: Yeah great question. So, there’s two or three things there. Number one I already mentioned, the litmus test of I need to instantly understand what the book is about. Number two, the title needs to be easily readable. And then number three it needs to stand out. So that means that the cover is clean, that means that the title is in the upper third of the book. And so I always talk about how there’s a difference between a good looking cover and a good selling cover. So designers will send you good looking covers, they just might not sell well.

So it’s a big designer thing to like put the title on the bottom part of the book. Don’t do that; put it on the upper third because of natural eye path movement. People go to upper third and then read down into the right. So those are like the main things, make sure that I instantly understand what the book is about, make sure that it stands out. This is like your billboard in Amazon. So you’ll notice my book launch has like an orange cover. My book published, it’s blue, but it has red on it which the subtitle really pops of that. And then yeah the third thing is make sure that the title is easy to read and then it’s in the upper third.

Steve: Are there any things that you do to kind of split test the book cover before it actually goes out?

Chandler: I put everything up for a vote. Now I know this isn’t exactly like scientific and a lot smarter marketers than I am will say like, you should be spending money on AdWords or Facebook ads or things like that. I put it out for a vote to hopefully my target audience, but this also is kind of part of what we teach which is like building buzz before the book launch.

So now that I’m getting all these people involved and by the time my book launches they feel like it’s their book that’s being launched because they’ve had input, and I’ll get a lot of good input on my covers. So I’ll send out on my e-mail list, I’ll post on Facebook and things like that, it just gives some really good feedback on the cover, and usually one, or two of them will jump out of people.

Steve: So let’s talk about this a little bit. So let’s assume you have no audience whatsoever, what would you do? Would you try to build an audience before the book’s even written, like what is the process?

Chandler: Yeah this is kind of a chicken and the egg conundrum and some people it’s exactly the question you asked, some people it’s should I start a business or do the book first? Should I get authority or publish the book? It’s kind of like chicken or the egg. So, for me personally, I was 19 years old and I had no following whatsoever when I launched my first book, The Productive Person. Now I had like I think a couple hundred friends on Facebook or something like that, and these were just like friends and family that I knew.

And so I scrapped for every piece of feedback that I could get, every review I could get on my book, all those things. So if that’s you, then I mean in person, you can show people your book covers. If you’re on Facebook or any social media, obviously you can post that there. You can email it to people who would be your target customers or even family, friends, things like that.

If you have absolutely no one in your life that could give you feedback, for most people I found that that’s not the case, for some people it is. But definitely for me I had no – I had 4,000 [inaudible 00:32:03] list off of the book, but that was just people who basically purchased the book and that was in like the first six to eight months. But I had — that list did not exist before I published the book.

Steve: Interesting okay. So let’s talk about the different options on Amazon, and then what is the launch process like for you assuming you have no audience whatsoever?

Chandler: Yeah so if you were — when you say the different options on Amazon, what do you mean by that?

Steve: KDP, KDP select, stuff like that. I mean if you could define those first and then what you would recommend for someone brand new doing this.

Chandler: Yeah, so there’s a few different options for publishing. So obviously you’re going to have the option to do Kindle, option to do print and the option do audio book. Now all of these are easier than you would think, and Amazon has made this like there’s no upfront cost and like say for print, for print copies or physical copies, they can print and ship on demand. So you’re not going to get stuck with 1,000 copies in your garage that you paid a bunch of money for. So there’s multiple options from a type of book perspective, so there’s ACX for audio books, there’s CreateSpace for print books and there’s KDP, Kindle Direct Publishing for e-books.

Now as far as a launch plan for people with no audience, so there’s a couple of things that I do. Number one is I go to launch team. Now this is simply a small group of people who support the book, this could be friends, family members, coworkers, colleagues, I mean the moms at your son’s football practice, I think this could be anyone. It is five, 15, 50 people and that’s a group of advocates. And I think we have a post on the blog about this, or it’s definitely in my book published. It goes into like more detail like, hey, what’s a launch team, how do you run it, all that stuff and the [inaudible 00:34:00].

So like the 10,000 foot view is it’s a group of people that support your book. They’re going to leave a review when it launches, and they’re going to get a free digital copy of the book ahead of time and I’m going to put their name in the book in the acknowledgments at first for that.

Steve: Do they have to actually buy the book in order to be able to leave a review that has an impact on the sales?

Chandler: They can download it for free in the free period which I recommend for a lot of people who don’t have an audience. I’ll do a two day free period before I actually launch the book to get downloads, to get reviews. We call it like the stealth launch, so it’s like it’s lying on Amazon just no one besides my launch team knows it yet. And then we do our proper push after that. It stays like two days and they can download it for free or they can also purchase it like for 99 cents or something if you’re discounting it when you first launch.

And so the launch team is the biggest thing that there is if you do nothing else, it’s the 80/20 of a successful book launch. And then the free to page strategy that I just kind of mentioned is something that I also recommend for people who don’t have an audience.

Steve: I’m sorry so the strategy here is just to get as many reviews as possible in those first two days during the free period, right?

Chandler: Exactly, and then I’ll submit it to a lot of free Amazon free sites. So these are sites that are built up around this.

Steve: Can you give us an example of one?

Chandler: Yeah, gosh I’m thinking of around 99 cents sites, so there’s BK [inaudible 00:35:29], there’s Awesome Gang, there’s some other ones. I’m trying to think of then the free sites, I can’t think of any off hand. We’ve got like a whole rolodex of these things.

Steve: So, these are sites that just distribute free books?

Chandler: Yeah, it’s like so Buck Books is — that’s when books are 99 cents so a buck, but then gosh it’s been so long since I’ve been in the weeds for my books personally. I mean I have some people on my team who handle most of this, so I’m drawing a blank on the free sites right off hand, but just know there’s a ton of them. And that helps with a ton of free downloads or to the free store and we transition to the paid store, and then we’re doing promos and stuff there. So that’s kind of what I recommend is you can rank pretty high, you can get a lot of downloads, you can get a lot of leads for your business if that’s what you care about, all those things pretty early on in the process from that kind of free to paid strategy.

Steve: What about pricing? So let’s say you’re done with the free part, you’ve gotten like let’s say 50 reviews from your launch team and you want to start charging for it, are there any strategies there on pricing?

Chandler: Yeah, so I’ll switch over from free to paid at 99 cents, and then I’ll – and this is just for a Kindle book obviously.

Steve: Sure yeah.

Chandler: And then I’ll stair step up the pricing like one week at a time. So there’s urgency around that and I have an excuse to keep talking about the book. And then I’ll land on a sweet spot for the Kindle book. Maybe that will be 2.99 on the lowest up to 5.99 or potentially even higher. Again it all depends on your goals, like if I want to sell or if you want to sell a lot more physical copies, then obviously I’ll price the Kindle book at like 9.99 which is the highest that you can price it without taking a haircut from a royalty perspective. So if you go over 9.99, you start making less royalties.

Steve: What is Amazon’s take actually at the top price tiers?

Chandler: Oh yeah I thought you’re about to say why would Amazon do that which would both be great questions. So it’s from 99 cents to 2.99 is you keep 35% of royalties, and then 2.99 to 9.99 you keep 70% of the royalties. So that’s the sweet spot, that’s where they want books to be priced. Obviously they’re highly incentivizing that. And then above 9.99 I think it drops down to 35% again.

Steve: I see interesting. So they want cheap books in their library?

Chandler: Cheap and not too cheap.

Steve: Right okay.

Chandler: They’re like hey we don’t want our e-book store full of crappy e-books that are selling for 99 cents, at the same time we don’t want people pricing e-books so high which the publishers were trying to do when Amazon first came out, because they’re like hey, we’ve got a traditional model, we don’t want disruption. So let’s just price these e-books way high like we would for other stuff.

And then what happens when no one buys e-books and then print books keep selling and then it’s like so they want it to happen in that sweet spot which is they say hey, we think this is a good value for the customer, it’s also fair compensation for the authors. And so there’s kind of a happy medium here without the publishers just giving them a big FU and charging it like 15 bucks for an e-book just so that you buy more of their print books.

Steve: Do you recommend if this is your first book doing an audio version of the book as well?

Chandler: I do, I really do. It’s actually a pretty good earner for me. And this is totally dependent on genre is my audio book, and I highly recommend it especially if you’re doing any sort of business beyond the book, because think about it if you didn’t — and now you can do it for relatively inexpensive to hire someone. It’s actually cheaper to hire someone else to do it than yourself. And if you do like I did and I went to the studio and stuff, I mean you could do a DIY and we have some — I think there’s blog posts or training, or something around that, like the DIY side of things on how to make an audio book. And you can certainly do that for cheaper.

But either way you’ve got an audio book that’s — I mean you’re spending hours with prospective customers. So now I like for example publish, when people get to the end of that we’ve spent hours together, so how much more likely to you think they are to go on and do business with me to check out the podcast, check out the blog, share any of that. They’re in our world now and it feels like we have a personal relationship.

Steve: That implies then that if you narrate it yourself that’s an advantage, right, because they hear your own voice?

Chandler: I think it is. That wasn’t my stance with my first ones because I was like I can’t be bothered. It’s not like I’m wealthy. I think it took me a day and a half to narrate my book. So it’s definitely more time consuming to do it. I’m so glad I did it. Now again I paid more because I went to the studio and stuff, but I’m so glad I did it because I just think you build this much deeper connection with the audience.

For example, I remember listening to the Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. It’s read by him, and that sticks out to me and I thought like I know him as a person because I’ve listened to that book similar to like Brian Holliday reads all of his e-books, and like [inaudible 00:41:10] his audio books and things like that. So I just think you build a deeper connection.

Steve: And it’s just like podcasting, right?

Chandler: Exactly.

Steve: Tell them this is Steve for an hour. Okay, hey Chandler, I want to actually – we kind of stepped off the whole timeline, like you had a 90 day timeline. How much of that is writing, how much of that is promotion, editing and that sort of thing?

Chandler: Yeah so there’s you know we were ideaiting [ph] and getting clear on the idea and mind mapping, outlining etc for I think about, gosh I think it’s a week to two weeks. Then 30 to 45 days of writing, and then a month or so of promotion or build up. So that’s kind of the general 10,000 foot view of the timeline.

Steve: Okay and so the promotion and build up part, if you don’t have an audience there’s not much there, is there?

Chandler: With a launch team that’s a…

Steve: Oh the launch team got it, got it okay.

Chandler: We talk about building buzz. I mean so like really just let it be known that you’re writing this book. One of the big mistakes I see people make is they go in their writer cave, and then they come out and say, hey everybody, I’ve got this book, buy my book, buy my book, buy my book. And they just beat people over the head with it for like a couple of weeks and then go back into the writer cave. I’m just not a fan of that.

I would rather for weeks coming up like you know I’m taking like get a few pictures, I’m like you know screen shot in a coffee shop selling people the book cover, like really building up so that by the time it launches, it’s anticipated. It’s kind of like building that red carpet event where people feel like they’re behind the scenes instead of just surfacing like a submarine the week of your book launch.

Steve: Do you ever do any paid advertising?

Chandler: Yeah we do. We do mostly Amazon ads; those are working pretty well for us, AMS ads. Yeah that’s worked pretty well. I don’t do much Facebook ads, there are some tricky stuff with Amazon and Facebook’s Terms of Service, plus tracking is tough. There’s essentially workarounds, yes and there are people that teach courses on stuff. It is a bit of a gray area from the terms of service perspective for both sides. So I don’t really touch that. I mean also our Facebook ads are way more profitable and all of our other ads are way more profit when I’m sending them to things that we do and then looping the book in instead of going straight to the book.

Steve: Okay and then in terms of Amazon ads, does it work similar to physical products where you bid on keywords?

Chandler: Yeah it is. There’s two types, there are sponsored ad and promote — I forget what they call them right now, but I think it’s sponsored and promoted. And yeah they’re a little bit different. But yeah you can basically do keywords and they’ll show up based on those keywords.

Steve: Okay and then is there a particular type of genre or category of books that tend to be more profitable than others?

Chandler: Yeah so there’s — this is kind of a — are you baseball fan?

Steve: Not really actually, I like basketball.

Chandler: Do you know how baseball works?

Steve: Yeah of course.

Chandler: Okay cool. So I might lose most of the audience here, maybe, maybe not. So baseball analogy is nonfiction, is base hits, fiction is home runs.

Steve: Really interesting.

Chandler: Like sluggers in baseball, they hit home runs and they also strike out a lot with this. A base hit, even someone with a high on base percentage, they are just going to hit a bunch of base hits. So nonfiction it’s easy to get a win, and the probability is higher that you’re going to get a win. That win is just not going to be a go and it’s not to be as big of a win, because all – not all the money but a lot of the money on Amazon is in fiction books. And now this is crazy guys like you and me right Steve because we’re more like in the nonfiction world, self-help, probably like on the self-help book nerd side of the equation.

Steve: Aha.

Chandler: I’ll speak for myself. I read a lot of books and business books and sales and like all that stuff, and I can tell you the last time I read a fiction book it’s literally been probably since I was like in middle school. But that’s not normal, the majority of the population they read fiction books as a source of entertainment.

Steve: Interesting okay.

Chandler: This is hyper audiences of fiction book buyers who just buy like one to two books a week and just devour them, right? So if you go on Amazon, the top 100 on all of Amazon, they’re pretty much all fiction books. And actually funny enough, they’re like a bunch of erotica books like fiction erotica, like a guy with his shirt off with abs on the cover. It’s like a top selling a lot of that selling books in Amazon are in that genre specifically.

Steve: Interesting okay. So I guess it just depends on — like for your customers at least it just depends on what they want to write about.

Chandler: Totally yeah we have like fiction coaches and children’s book coaches and nonfiction and different courses for fiction or nonfiction and it’s kind of like a “choose your own adventure.” And I will say this, and this is kind of as we’re going in the homestretch here I think something that will be helpful, if you’re considering writing two books, write nonfiction first because it’s easier, it’s a whole lot harder.

Steve: Interesting. And I would imagine if you’re doing fiction, your audience probably matters a lot more than a nonfiction book, right?

Chandler: Yeah oh yeah and there’s just all these skills that you have to have as a fiction author that you don’t have to have as a nonfiction author as much. You can be a mediocre writer; if I’m telling you amazing stuff in the book you’re happy at the end of that book. You can say, hey that wasn’t very well written, but I learned a bunch. You can chance, not the case in fiction.

I need to be a good storyteller, I need to use consistent voice, I need to develop characters, develop the plot, develop conflict. I need to be — there’s a whole story arc that needs to happen. And if it rolls for like two or three chapters in a row, you’re going to put the book down and not be in. It’s like a Netflix series almost. It’s like I need to be able to keep you in that story for a longer period of time.

Steve: Okay interesting. Hey Chandler, we’ve been chatting for a little longer than I promised to actually. Where can people find you if they want to learn more about the self publishing?

Chandler: Yeah so self-ppublishingschool.com is our main site, or you can go to self-publishingschool.com/free. We’ve got some free training there that kind of builds on exactly what we were just talking about in this episode. So, three steps to writing the book, how to get clear on your idea, on how to launch it successfully, talk about launch team more in-depth, all that good stuff.

Steve: Okay and then the time frame is on the order of 90 days, and from what I read before you guarantee some sort of bestseller status, what does that mean exactly if you wouldn’t mind defining it?

Chandler: Yeah so it’s number one at least one category on Amazon. So that’s actually our best seller guarantee, and now this is not underwater basket weaving or some obscure category on Amazon, this is a proper category with more than one book in it. It’s like real bestseller.

Steve: Okay awesome. Well Chandler I really appreciate you coming on the show. I’m sure the audience will learn a lot from this.

Chandler: Thanks Steve. Thanks for having me.

Steve: All right man, take care.

Hope you enjoyed that episode. Chandler is one of the foremost experts in the online book publishing business, and I hope you got a lot out of the episode. For more information about this episode, go to mywifequitherjob.com/episode211.

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 Privy for sponsoring this episode. Privy is the email capture provider that I personally use to turn visitors into email subscribers. They offer email capture, exit intent, and site targeting tools to make it super simple as well. And I like Privy because it’s so powerful and you can basically trigger custom pop ups for any primer that is tied to your e-commerce store. If you want to give it a try, it is free. So head on over to Privy.com/Steve, once again that’s P-R-I-V-Y.com/Steve.

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, 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.

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210: How To Market Your Business Using Pinterest With Alisa Meredith

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How To Market Your Business Using Pinterest With Alisa Meredith

Today I’m thrilled to have Alisa Meredith on the show. Alisa is the content marketing manager over at Tailwind and she’s a Pinterest expert.

Now Pinterest is one of my top social media traffic sources but over the past year or so, Pinterest has made a bunch of changes to their ranking algorithms. So I asked Alisa to come on the show today to talk about what’s working today in Pinterest land.

What You’ll Learn

  • What you should be doing if you are a brand new shop owner with a blog
  • How often you should be pinning
  • What you should be pinning
  • How to automate the process
  • How to get more followers
  • How to find group boards and become a contributor
  • Alisa’s content strategy for pins

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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.
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Privy.com – Privy is my tool of choice when it comes to gathering email subscribers for my ecommerce store. They offer easy to use email capture, exit intent, and website targeting tools that turn more visitors into email subscribers and buyers. With both free and paid versions, Privy fits into any budget. Click here and get 15% OFF towards your account.
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Transcript

You’re 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 in business. Now today I’m happy to have Alisa Meredith on the show. And Alisa is the content marketing manager over at Tailwind which is one of the premier tools that business owners use for Pinterest. Alisa is an expert when it comes to Pinterest marketing, and today we are going to talk about what strategies are working with the platform.

But before we begin, I want to give a quick shout out to Klaviyo who is a sponsor of the show. Always excited to talk about Klaviyo because they are the email marketing platform that I use for my ecommerce store, and I depend on them for over 30% of my revenues. Now, Klaviyo is the only email platform out there that is specifically built for ecommerce stores, and here is why it is 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 out 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, mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O.

I also want to give a shout out to Privy who is also a sponsor of the show. Privy is the tool that I use to build my email list for both my blog and my online store. Now there are a bunch of companies out there that will manage your email capture forms, but I like privy because they specialize in ecommerce.

Right now I’m using privy to display a cool wheel of fortune pop-up. Basically, a user gives their email for a chance to win valuable prices in our store and customers love the gamification aspect of this. And when I implemented this form email signups increased by 131%. Bottom line, Privy allows me to turn visitors into email subscribers, which I then feed to my email provider to close the sale. So head on over to Privy.com/Steve and try it for free. And if you decide you need some of the more advanced features, use coupon code MWQHJ for 15% off. Once again, that’s P-R-I-V-Y.com/Steve. Now onto 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 Alisa Meredith on the show. Now Alisa is someone who I’ve only met on Skype despite the fact that we’ve attended the same conference for two consecutive years, but for some strange reason we have never crossed paths. Anyway Alisa is the content marketing manager over at Tailwind and she is a Pinterest expert.

And here is the thing, Pinterest is actually one of my top social media traffic sources, but over the past year or so I would say that Pinterest has made a bunch of changes to the ranking algorithms. So I asked Alisa to come on the show today to talk about what’s working today in Pinterest land. And with that welcome to the show Alisa, how are you doing today?

Alisa: Hey Steve I’m doing all right, how are you doing?

Steve: I’m doing great. Give us the background story and tell us how you got started with Pinterest and how you ended up at Tailwind.

Alisa: Goodness so Pinterest it was just kind of a matter of curiosity, what is this thing. I started using it instead of using bookmarking; I would just save things there. And that’s really how people use Pinterest. So I started out as a user and then I got curious about how it could work for marketers, could it work for marketers? So I wrote an e-book because that’s what I do when I want to learn something is I write.

And it started to generate some interest. I got my first client that way and I was just amazed at the traffic and even the leads that Pinterest could bring in. So I was hooked years ago. And so over time I kind of specialized in Pinterest advertising, but I am a big believer in Pinterest organic as well. I’ve always used Tailwind; I’ve always used Tailwind for my customers. So when they had this opening for a content marketing manager, I was interested because it’s a program I believe in and the people over there are really great and smart.

Steve: So you actually enjoy pinning and you just do it on a regular basis even if it wasn’t for the business?

Alisa: Oh yeah I do. Yeah it’s just great for planning. I have a trip coming up, so I use it, I use just a general board and then it’s a secret board between me and the friend I’m traveling with. And then inside we have board sections which is like you mentioned a lot of new things come to Pinterest and this is one of them, board sections. So inside one board you can have a section for whatever you want.

So I have one for each of the cities we’re going to and all the things we want to do, then one for packing and just things I need to plan. So yeah I use it as a user which I feel like is important if you’re going to use it as a marketer to understand the mindset and to be able to put yourself in their position.

Steve: Okay I mean I got to admit this to you Alisa; I’m actually not a Pinterest — like I don’t enjoy pinning. It kind of just seems like a chore to me, but I see the value because I see the traffic coming from the platform. And I actually know a whole bunch of bloggers who make a living off of just several viral pins that just bring consistent traffic to their blog. And so what I was hoping to do today, so let’s say I’m like a brand new e-commerce store owner that has a blog, what should I be doing to kind of build my Pinterest presence? Like how often should I be pinning, what should I be pinning so to automate the process?

Alisa: Well first of all I just want to tell you that you are not alone. I think everyone I met at Social Media Marketing World; you know I didn’t meet you so I was meeting all the other 4,500 people there apparently. But they either said, oh yeah I use Tailwind like all the time, or I know I’m leaving a lot of traffic on the table by not using Pinterest, or I don’t use Pinterest at all but it still brings in a ton of traffic for me. That’s just a very common theme.

And my hope is that over the next year or so as people start to feel the impact of the changes that Facebook or their reach is declining, traffic referrals are declining, as they start to look at other places that they’ll consider Pinterest because it is — there’s a lot of potential as you said.

Steve: Yeah I do want to talk a little bit about what happened like last December I want to say, like my Pinterest traffic took like kind of like a nose dive and then it came back up. Can you just kind of comment real quickly about some of the algorithm changes that have been happening?

Alisa: Yeah so they don’t really come out and say publicly what’s happening with the algorithm which no network really does except for Facebook recently right? But a lot of times what it comes down to are seasonal shifts. So what I noticed particularly in November and December was that the big brands were buying up all the advertising. So even if we weren’t competing on the same keywords, the same audiences, it’s like they just took over.

So certain networks or certain industries will have huge rise in December, November and some will — it’s just a seasonal fall usually. If you compare it to the previous year you probably see some pick somewhere.

Steve: Okay, so let’s talk about Pinterest strategy. So let’s say I’m just brand new, what are some of the must have things that I should be doing just starting from the beginning from scratch?

Alisa: Yeah so you mentioned as a new ecommerce seller perhaps, and I’m sure you talk about this all the time about the importance of quality professional photography.

Steve: Absolutely.

Alisa: Yeah so that is going to be your foundation. And having your product photos is great and that’s good for Pinterest visual search. So Pinterest has really heavily invested in what they call lens which allows you to like click, take a picture of something on a street and then Pinterest will match it to photos in their inventory. Or take a picture of your outfit and Pinterest will match it to other similar outfits, or one piece of clothing, it will match it to another for you.

So if you have photos of just like a straight product shot, that can be good for getting found that way. However, the photos that translate into sales are the lifestyle photos. They actually convert to sales at 170% the rate of a product photo.

Steve: Okay.

Alisa: Yeah so you’re going to want those lifestyle photos. And illustrations I’m sure everyone who’s ever heard me talk is sick of hearing, but it’s so true. It’s very much like when you’re selling your house; you’re staging it for a showing. Your real estate agent will tell you to okay paint over that fluorescent green wall, take down all your family photos, anything that is just too personal and so the people who are coming through can picture themselves and their life, and their family in your home.

That’s the kind of the way you need to think about your Pinterest images. So Pinterest doesn’t really favor faces so much like Instagram is loves faces, can’t get enough. But on Pinterest you often see even fashion shots where you have a person in the outfit but a lot of times they’ll be cut off at about from chin level, you’ll only see chin level down. And that’s why because people are planning for themselves when they’re on Pinterest. They’re not looking to see how you look in that outfit, they want to picture themselves.

Steve: Interesting, so you actually don’t want to put any faces in, which is completely different than the way Facebook works?

Alisa: Yeah I should say I mean Instagram also loves faces, but Pinterest I mean you can definitely try it. I would try to try everything right, experiment away. But in general faces don’t do great. If you could have a slightly turned away, or wearing big sunglasses, or just cut off at a certain point, that helps a bit. But you definitely want those lifestyle images.

Steve: Does that imply like every store should have lifestyle images that are longer rather than — that are tall rather than short?

Alisa: Yeah so when you go on Pinterest it’s pretty clear to see what stands out. They say those taller images look better in the feed; they take up more room, and especially on mobile that’s going to be really important. So the suggested ratio hasn’t really changed, but the size Pinterest is giving right now is 600 by 900 pixels is good. You can go up to about 600 by 1500 before you start getting cut off in the feed.

Steve: Okay, I think — I have a Pinterest assistant too who does all my pinning and she was telling me that everyone should be doing 1,000 by 1,500 pixels, is there any merit to that or?

Alisa: Well that’s kind of the same ratio, right?

Steve: Same ratio but resolution wise does it help to have high resolution images?

Alisa: No Pinterest actually suggests 600 by 900.

Steve: Interesting okay.

Alisa: I don’t think you need to go any bigger than that. It’s not going to hurt but you don’t have to.

Steve: Sure, sure okay. So every product on the store should have its own six by nine images?

Alisa: Mm-hmm.

Steve: Okay better than lifestyle.

Alisa: Yeah and two, you might have noticed that descriptions are not as prominent anymore in the feed. So it used to be that you would see the image and you would see the rich pin data which is the information that Pinterest pulls from your website. So it comes up as a like a bolded headline and then you see the description underneath, but now we’re not seeing that. So sometimes we’re just seeing rich pin data on occasion, we don’t see anything but pictures.

So that makes it more important. If it’s not really obvious what your product is now with e-commerce sellers, it’s probably a little more obvious what the pin is. But if there’s any doubt about it, you want to add some text on it because people are not getting the extra context with the description like we used to.

Steve: Interesting okay. So are you implying then that we should put the name of the item on the photo in addition to maybe the price or not the price?

Alisa: No I would instead use rich pins because that pulls the pricing in from your website so you never have to worry about data pricing being out there on Pinterest. And if it’s obvious what your item is, right, so if it’s linens I mean it’s pretty obvious what the pin is about.

Steve: Right.

Alisa: But if it’s not text overlay can be great or if you’re doing a collage image which can be a great idea to have more than one item in a pin because it attracts a wider variety of people to that pin, then it might be helpful to have some text overlay. But all you have to do is just go to Pinterest and do a search for whatever it is that you’re going to be sharing. You get some ideas about what might be some affective text on the image.

Steve: Any tips on what to write in description?

Alisa: Yeah so your description should kind of tell a little bit of a story, but it also needs to be keyword conscious. Not keyword stuffing and not just listing your keywords but working them into the description really works, because Pinterest is a visual search and discovery engine that has its own SEO formula. And part of that comes from the description that you write, so it’s important to include that.

I actually got a J. Peterman catalog in the mail certainly and those are kind of hilarious but that’s kind of on the lines of the sort of thing you want to write. If I see a pin that has a description like I made this dinner for my family and even my kids loved it, that’s the kind of description that works on Pinterest.

Steve: Interesting okay. So, not just a description of the product, not on the doorstep but just something catchy.

Alisa: Yes something catchy. And also another change that came to Pinterest this year were hashtags. So I don’t know, have you noticed that?

Steve: No, no tell the audience about it.

Alisa: Okay so for years Pinterest said hashtags don’t work on Pinterest, don’t use them they’re confusing. And then they said; okay, now they do. So the way it works is there are now two different ways to search on Pinterest. We have a smart feed which is Pinterest algorithm which is dependent on things like pinner quality, material quality, the popularity of the pin, so many factors that many of which we don’t even know.

But then there’s a second search method which is purely big. So when you use a hashtag in your pin, it will show up in a hash tag search if anyone’s doing hashtag searches on Pinterest. I don’t really know how common that is but it will also work if someone has put a tag in the description of another pin to pull up your pin. There are some limitations to it. So it only works on pins not re-pins. So if you save a pin from Pinterest and add a hashtag, that won’t show up in hashtag search. It has to be something you pin yourself originally from a website.

And the other thing is [inaudible 00:15:07]. It’s the most recent fresh pin. So if you look at a hashtag search feed, you’ll see. It starts out this board was pinned five minutes ago, this one ten minutes ago and down and down and down the page they get older and older. So hashtags are a really great way to get your newer content surfaced more quickly, whereas the smart feed can sometimes take a little while for your pins to get into.

Steve: Can you define what those are?

Alisa: What’s that?

Steve: Using the Smart feed versus the hashtag feed.

Alisa: Yeah so the smart feed is based on Pinterest search algorithm which looks at your quality of your pins, your account quality, the popularity of the pins, the engagement of the pins, all kinds of different search factors. So when you pin, all your pins don’t go out chronologically. So you when you look at your feed, this is not a feed of just everyone you follow and their pins chronologically. It used to be that way quite a while ago.

Steve: Right okay.

Alisa: Now it’s much smarter. So Pinterest will kind of drip out your pins over time to start, will see how people are engaging or not with your pin and decide how much to show it, how quickly and to whom they want to show it. So that’s a big complicated thing, and the best we can do is just pin the best we can pin at the best times which we can go into in a minute. But then with hashtags searching, I feel like we have a little more control over how those do.

Steve: Okay and you found that that’s been working pretty well?

Alisa: Yeah I haven’t actually done a lot of analysis on it and I have someone coming on the Tailwind Facebook live coming up pretty soon to talk about that because she has done. But I feel like any kind of advantage we can get to get our newer content out sooner, I’m going to take advantage of it.

Steve: So you mentioned that the higher performing pins based on engagement tend to do better, so is there something that you do to test whether a pin is going to do well before you actually pin it or do you just pin it and if it does well you let it ride, but if it doesn’t do well do you pull it or do you just always leave it?

Alisa: No I mean there are people out there who encourage you to delete pins, but I feel like that’s a waste of time. It’s also can hurt you because I have had pins that have done nothing, nothing, nothing and then three, four, five months later all of a sudden they take off. So I feel like our time is better spent creating new content to share as opposed to going back through and deleting pins that don’t work.

Yeah but as far as like how to get those pins more engagement, it does matter when you pin because it’s kind of like how I understand the Instagram algorithm works. They start to kind of drip it out and then if you get good engagement at the start, then they will really kind of release the floodgates and let your content be seen by more and more people. So with Tailwind and Tailwind is a Pinterest and Instagram scheduler, what it does that’s unique, it has a smart schedule.

So it looks at your pinner, what you pinned and your followers, when they are most likely to be on the platform and engaging and suggests those times for you to pin, which means that your pins have a greater chance of that upfront engagement which means that they should be shown more in a smart feed over time.

Steve: I see oaky. And in terms of pinning frequency, so let me back up real quick. So let’s say you have product pins and you have like blog post related pins, like at least for me I found that the blog post related pins always do better. Is that the case of what you’ve see as well?

Alisa: Oh yeah definitely. So people go on Pinterest to discover new things, right? So 93% of pinners say they go to plan purchases. But the thing is they are starting way ahead of time. So it may be three months before they’re actually ready to make a purchase. So what they’re really looking for is something that’s inspiring and useful, and beautiful. And then later on they’ll be more open to those product pins. But Pinterest is unique in that you get to reach them up higher in funnel.

97% of those searches on Pinterest are non branded which is a great advantage for the smaller brands, for a new e-commerce seller who people aren’t looking for their brand, they’re just looking generally for what they offer. But Pinterest really has a pretty even playing field as far as that goes.

Steve: Okay so does that imply then that people need to have a blog with their store to be a little bit more successful with Pinterest?

Alisa: I kind of always felt so, but I’m not sure it’s practical for everybody. So I think that you can kind of compromise if you need to. So what you could do it and if you look on Pinterest, Target does a ton of advertising on Pinterest. So I look at what they do. They have one pin out which is two different dining room sets. And if you click on that pin, it goes to a category page which is dining room sets. And I think that’s really a smart way to bring in a wider audience and give them an easy way to purchase.

But what you could do which would be like a little more towards a blog side of things is you could create, it could be like a product page but it would have your lifestyle image so you’d have several products in it. And then on that page you could describe what it is, what this is good for like whether it’s great for spring time branches or baby showers or whatever kind of entertaining you’re trying to encourage there. And then you could have or easily linked to all those products so they can purchase each one separately.

Steve: So kind of like a custom landing sales page of sorts?

Alisa: Yeah somehow like 1,000 word blog post because we’re not trying to rank on Google, we’re just trying to have a good place for Pinterest traffic to go so that they feel like, hey, we’re still getting some other inspiration, some other idea and actionable tips but it’s also an easy way for them to purchase.

Steve: Okay so with a brand new account like how does one build the account because the account strength matters a lot right in terms of the visibility, yes and no?

Alisa: I mean yes and no. So you can get clicks on your website without even having a Pinterest account which a lot of people can attest to because there’s other people pin your pins and stuff, traffic starts coming. But I do recommend you start out with a strong strategy. So create a good profile and optimize profile using your keywords intelligently, and plan out your boards because once you start down that Pinterest rabbit hole things can get out of control really fast.

Steve: What are some best practices? So first of all you mentioned choosing the right keywords. What exactly does that mean on your account?

Alisa: Okay so when you are choosing your name, so mine is something like Alisa Meredith Pinterest marketer and content creator or something like that. So those keywords matter and your description matters as well, your board titles matter. Board descriptions are good practice, but I’m not seeing that they matter so much in search. You can do keyword search and look at just boards, and pull them up and half the time they have no description. So I mean I will say like whatever little advantage you can take, take it but I don’t think that matters too much.

But then keywords in your images like the images on your website of course you want to have them and you know this from optimizing for Google. You don’t want 123.jpeg.

Steve: Sure yes, yes.

Alisa: You want embroideredlinennapkins.jpeg. That matters on Pinterest as well and also the content on your site. Pinterest will look at that as far as figuring out what the content is.

Steve: Oh so Pinterest will actually crawl your site to see what the general theme is?

Alisa: Yeah.

Steve: Got it.

Alisa: Well they would like to relate your pin. So the way we can really see this in action is when we start promoting pins. Pinterest will allow you to dynamically target ads. And what that is, is Pinterest analyzing your pin and choosing the keywords for you. It’s fascinating. They won’t tell you what keywords they’ve chosen which would be really interesting if they would. But it’s based on number one; it appears to be the image you use. So if I’m going to use dynamic targeting, first I’m going to look at that image on Pinterest and see what Pinterest matches it to.

So if you pull up a pin, it will say underneath it more like this and it will show you what it thinks your pin is like. So that is a really good way to tell how Pinterest sees your pin.

Steve: Interesting okay. So let’s back up a little. I want to talk about promoting pins in a little bit, but for now I just want to focus on the organic. So would you start out by just pinning your own products, like what is the general strategy like should I pin other people stuff, should I be re-pinning more, like what’s the ratio?

Alisa: Oh I’m not a fan of ratios because I feel like people feel like it’s a rule. But I think it can be helpful for people who just like tell me what to do. But they’re lazy ones. So it kind of depends on how much content you have. If you have years and years of backlog content and you’ve never pinned any of it, well then you don’t really need to pin that much of other people’s stuff. But if you’re just starting out, you’re going to really need to fill up your Pinterest account with some other pins.

But in either case you do want to pin other people’s content because as you’re pinning really great quality content which people will engage with, that will also start to bring your pins up higher in search.

Steve: How does that work? So and I’ve seen other people’s accounts, they do this beautifully. They have different boards, different categories and then they pin beautiful images in each one of those categories. And then they have this really filled board, does that actually matter? Is it because people are looking at your board to determine whether they want to follow you or not or?

Alisa: Well most of the activity that happens on Pinterest now happens in search. So some people really care a lot about having board covers. Well I don’t think that’s a great use of time generally because for one thing it’s always changing and it is hard to figure out what to use. For another thing people will know they’re generally not browsing people’s Pinterest accounts, they’re searching. But as far as pinning other people’s content, I recommend everybody have at least one board that has just your own content on it.

So I have one for myself that’s only articles I’ve written. Nobody else has a board like that, I can guarantee you. And those boards tend to do really, really well and part of that I think is because most of the content on Pinterest are re-pins, and my board there is unique. It’s only you know it’s pins. But as far as everything else goes, you probably can’t create all the content that your ideal customer is looking for on Pinterest.

So you can create boards like multiple boards that would fit your content, you can have boards that are very similar in title and even similar in content. And Pinterest does not have a problem with duplicate content. So you could pin your pin to 15 different boards as long as it’s relevant. And in fact that is encouraged because it teaches Pinterest what your content is about. So I have a pin on my Pinterest board and then I have a pin on my visual marketing board, and I have that same pin on content marketing board that starts to teach Pinterest what it is.

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So what’s a little confusing to me is it seems like the performance of your pin really matters right, how well it does in a certain timeframe once it’s been pinned. So does that imply that your own boards can just be like a hodgepodge of stuff, like it doesn’t really matter anymore, it’s just really all about the quality of the pin?

Alisa: You mean a hodgepodge as far as whose content it is?

Steve: No not whose content it is but the way you organize it on your own boards, does that even really matter?

Alisa: No it doesn’t because really people are looking, they’re going to find you through search most of the time.

Steve: Okay so really when it comes to like organizing your own boards that’s really just for you, it has nothing to do with ranking, right?

Alisa: Yeah so I mentioned before that I like to use board sections in my private boards. So I might have a real general board and then break it down inside my board with board sections. But those board sections do not help with your SEO. Yeah, so people have asked, well does that mean I can just create one general board for marketing and have inside of that one for social media and one for blogging? No, you want to keep your board titles and themes very specific.

Steve: And that is to teach Pinterest how to categorize your pins?

Alisa: Yes.

Steve: Okay I understand, so it does matter then how you organize your boards, it just doesn’t have to be pretty, but it just has to be…

Alisa: Right.

Steve: Okay got it.

Alisa: It has to be relevant and you can do things like joining group boards can help get your pins in front of new people as well. There has been some talk that the group boards aren’t effective anymore, but I’ll tell you when I do an audit on somebody’s Pinterest account, usually I use heroin [ph] for that and I look at the board insights, and it will give you like the variety of the board and engagement of the board. And almost always one of the very top highest performing boards is a group board.

And then also on the other hand the group will usually be one of the worst. So it just depends on the group board whether it’s active, whether what’s being pinned there get pinned, whether they’re relevant, whether the pins lead somewhere where they’re supposed to or not.

Steve: So what is the strategy to get traffic then? Like if you’re just pinning your own stuff, that’s obviously not going to lead anywhere, right? You have to get followers and you’re to get on a group board, what is the overall strategy for traffic?

Alisa: Well again most of what’s happening is through search. So if somebody searches for embroidered linen napkins, you want yours to come up, right? So followers — I mean if you look at your home feed and you click on the little three dots next to the image or below the image, it will tell you why that pin is there. And you’ll see some are there because of a board you follow, right; so that means okay you do kind of want followers. Some are there because of other things you’ve engaged with, some are promoted and so on.

So there are a lot of factors that go into why you see what you see in the home page. But again most of what you’re doing is searching. So when you search, you can see pins from anybody.

Steve: So how do you rank yourself in the search algorithm too?

Alisa: So you pin lots of great stuff.

Steve: Interesting okay, so it’s all merit based at this point like there’s no — like in Google land you can game it somewhat by getting back links and whatnot. How does that work in Pinterest land?

Alisa: I mean there are probably people who hack things and I know there are people who will take other people’s pin’s and change the URL which is bad, bad, bad and we would never do that. But basically create beautiful content, create beautiful and engaging content that is helpful to people. So one of Pinterest big things is get off the platform and go do it. So they really are very generous with the traffic that comes from Pinterest to your website, but it’s up to you to entice people to want to click.

Steve: So, there’s a number of people that pin and pin, that obviously affects the search rankings, right?

Alisa: Yeah it seems to, now it’s interesting that this year they removed from desktop where you used to be able see how many re-pins a pin had. And the reason for that they came out and told us and I’m paraphrasing but basically they don’t want us just re-pinning because something is popular. They want to give all the content of a good content a chance to rise to the top and not just be sharing what people are sharing because it’s popular if that makes sense.

Steve: Yeah I know it does, it does. So from what I’m hearing at least it seems like you just pin your own stuff, you can get by just pinning your own stuff and if it’s good it’s good, if it’s not then it will get buried. And I don’t actually see the point in pinning other people’s stuff if your primary purchase on Pinterest is self promotion.

Alisa: Well except that if you’re printing other people’s stuff — I mean if your stuff is the best content in the entire world, most beautiful pins that ever were created and you can create an endless amount of them, you can get away with only pinning your own stuff. However, most of us can’t do that. Another thing I like to look at is inside Pinterest analytics, you can look at the people you reach section, and there’s a section there on interests. And that will show you. You can sort it either by people who follow you or just everybody who sees your pins and see what else they’re interested in.

So I almost always there’s going to be people interested in quotes. They’re usually interested in DIY, food, but other things are going to vary by account. So if you go in there and you find, okay, my followers are interested in motivational quotes but I don’t really do that. There’s still value in creating a board even if none of your content can’t get on there and then pinning other people stuff to it, because that will encourage Pinterest to then show your other pins to those people who are interested in that board as well.

Steve: In search you mean?

Alisa: Yeah.

Steve: Okay.

Alisa: Yeah in search or even in the home feed.

Steve: I see. So when you say followers though that implies it is important to get followers because those form the basis for your search rankings?

Alisa: No, no search rankings are not dependent on followers, at least not that we’ve been told. So in that dashboard I was talking about, you can either look at the interest of your followers, or the interest of people who see any of your pins. And those people who see any of your pins are those who are also finding it through search.

Steve: Interesting.

Alisa: Yeah so I feel like almost nobody can fill all those interests with their own content, but there’s still value in pinning that or having a board for that.

Steve: For your followers primarily, right?

Alisa: Or for anybody who sees you in search because that is showing that those people who are interested in your content are also interested in this stuff over here. So then pinning this stuff over here will bring your other stuff more to their attention as well.

Steve: I see, so if they’re searching for quotes and they see a quote then they just see a pin for one of your posts, they might go and browse.

Alisa: Yeah, yeah.

Steve: I see.

Alisa: I mean and it’s all very unscientific obviously but this is just kind of what we’ve learned from how we’ve seen things work and from the times that they do tell us how things work. But it really it kind of it teaches Pinterest, okay, this person is interested in this, they have also seen your pins on here so let’s share more of your stuff to them even if they’re not following you.

Steve: Interesting okay. This is like a complicated thing to explain.

Alisa: Quite a bit.

Steve: Well let’s switch gears to promoted pins. So you can buy these keywords in search and have your pins show up, right?

Alisa: Mm-hmm.

Steve: So how would one use that for physical products? So one you mentioned before that sometimes people plan ahead and they don’t actually make the purchase until three months later, right?

Alisa: Yes that’s right.

Steve: So does that imply that if I’m buying pins right now, there could be a substantial time frame before a sale?

Alisa: Yeah exactly. So, this is one of the challenges I think, for people who are starting out with credit pins is to understand that your sales cycle is going to be considerably longer than most other platforms. So if you sell using Facebook ads and you find that usually the conversion starts to peak at about two weeks, you’re going to count on at least double that for Pinterest. Yeah, but there are ways to track conversion.

So it takes a little bit of either custom coding or a special plug-in but you can actually track things like add to cart or sign ups and purchases right in the Pinterest provided pin dashboard which I find incredibly helpful because then you can see exactly which ad is working, what targeting is working to really result in a purchase.

Steve: So what are your strategies for setting up promoted pins and how does this differ from like in AdWords for example?

Alisa: Well you may have to tell me because I haven’t done AdWords in a very long time. I do know some people who come over and want my help with Pinterest promoted pins; they kind of want to recreate their Facebook ads, which is not entirely possible. But there are some other options which I don’t think anybody else has. So when someone comes to me and wants to promote something, we’ll usually start with just a couple of products because each campaign will be for that one product. So can you give me a product that you might want to promote?

Steve: So let’s say I have like hundreds of styles of handkerchiefs, I would have to choose one of those, is that what you’re implying?

Alisa: Okay, well here is a budget friendly idea. If you had maybe six of them that were so like had a certain theme, like they were good for springtime weddings, you could create a pin that had all six of them in one pin, and then you can promote that.

Steve: Like a collage you mean?

Alisa: Yeah, yeah so let’s do that because that way you can try out promoted pins on a bunch of products but in a kind of a way that won’t break the bank. So this will be one campaign, it will be our [inaudible 00:38:04]. In that one campaign we’re going to have many ad groups. So I’m going to have an ad group for different kinds of targeting. We have audience targeting, so I would create one that was a visitor audience target.

Steve: Basically add anyone who’s been to my site?

Alisa: Yes. But then we’d have a talk about okay does it make sense to target everybody went to your site or should we just target people who went to those six pages for those six handkerchiefs, or should we go for a category of pages. So we’d have to figure out like what pages or visitors who we really want to target. So then we would also look at your e-mail lists and see if it made sense to target any of those. And then we would think about okay are there pins already out there that we would want to target people who would engage with them?

So let’s say I go to your website and I find spring handkerchief number three, and I pin that product page myself. And then my friend Tina sees my pin and she saves it. Now you Steve can create an ad and target Tina because she saved that pin that I pinned of your product. Kind of crazy, right?

Steve: Yeah. So what you describe basically is traffic that I already have. What about like top of funnel stuff, how would you set that up?

Alisa: Oh no but that third one there, I mean she has never been to your website Tina. She clicked on my pin to go see your website, or she saved that pin but she hasn’t been there yet. So you can now target anybody who has just saved that pin that goes to that website.

Steve: I see.

Alisa: Yeah so that’s a really great way to get some cold traffic. You can also once you’ve run those three audience campaigns; you can look at what works really well. But maybe if you have a smaller audience size anything under 100,000, it’s kind of hard to get scale. So then what you want to try is an act like audience. So any of those other audiences you created if they’re working well, you can create a one to 10% match act like. So that Pinterest will look at your original source audience and then try to match it to other users who it’s not a lookalike like Facebook will look at demographics, job titles, whatever, Pinterest really tries to look more at their pinning activity, and what they are interested in.

Steve: So, based on what they’re searching for?

Alisa: Based on what they’re searching for, what they click on, board titles that they themselves may have created.

Steve: Okay so these are audiences and at the same time you’re picking keywords, right to bid on?

Alisa: Well you don’t have to, you don’t have to. So that would be reaching everybody on those audiences. Now if you found like especially if you had an act like that maybe wasn’t converting really well for you, you could add on top of that keywords.

Steve: Interesting so when you don’t use keywords though, what is there – yeah just to everybody but that includes blog posts and products, so how would you distinguish between the two?

Alisa: Well it’s like if you were going to do the visitor audience, you could say all right I only want to do people who’ve been to this blog post, or I only want to do people who’ve been to this product but not that blog post. You can get really specific about how you create your audiences.

Steve: So is that how do you recommend people start with their own audiences without any sort of targeting just to get those people back?

Alisa: Yeah. And but I also — so this is why we start with just a few products because inside my campaign I usually have eight plus ad groups. So right now we have four, but we could have more. So we have four, we have the visitor audience, we have the customer audience or your email list, we have your engagement audience, we have your act alike. So then we can move on to other things like interests. So Pinterest has 7,000 preset interests that you can target.

And an interest is Pinterest is trying to get inside of our heads and figure out what it is we are interested in. So it’s really kind of comical when you start to look at the different interests. You can target things like dogs. Okay well that kind of makes sense, but you can also do field tracks, man burns [ph], javelin throw, stretch marks. So, you might be like, oh I’m not going to have mine, but they have some pretty interesting ones.

So you can target any of those that you want and they can work really well if you find one that’s not super popular. So what happens is you can imagine when you do keywords it’s an unlimited number of combinations of keywords you could bid on. If you’re doing interest, it’s only 7,000. Obviously the competition for each is going to be higher so they can be really expensive. But then you have keywords so you can do broad match keywords which actually, this is kind of an interesting one.

And I was puzzled by them when I first started running them because I would export my data on my promoted pins and looking at the placement like where were these pins showing up on Pinterest. My broad match keyword ads were showing up in people’s home feed. And I said to my ad assistant what in the world is this, I’ve only targeted keywords, why is it showing up in home feed, they haven’t searched. It has nothing to do with search. It’s really just like create your own interests. That’s what broad match keywords are.

Steve: Okay, that’s really bizarre. So, along those lines then, so if you’re using like exact match on the keyword level, could what happened to you still happen then?

Alisa: No. So we have interest, we have broad match keywords. And now yeah we have keyword and phrase match keywords. I mean exact and phrase match keywords. When you use those together or each separate, you will only reach people when they search. So I had a feeling that they would convert a lot better, so I ran a test. I had 74; I had two sets of 74 identical ad groups. And one set of 74 I targeted with a broad match type targeting and the other was phrase and exact. And the phrase and exact converted at 60% higher to sales which makes sense because they’re not just browsing, they’re actually looking for what I’m selling.

Steve: Okay. I’m leaving with more questions than answers Alisa. No I’m just kidding. Yeah you know Alisa I don’t even think we can fit this in an entire episode because yeah it just seems like Pinterest has fundamentally changed a lot from like the last one and a half to two years.

Alisa: Maybe, but you know what, the principle still apply. So inspire people, meet them where they are, where they are on Pinterest is not a social network, they’re not going there to impress anybody. They’re going there to be inspired to play in and to become a better person.

Steve: So if we were to just kind of sum up everything we’ve talked about like at least on the organic side, it seems like you just want to be pinning the best pins, that you can organize your boards based on the keywords that you want to select, pin other people’s content based on the interest that you’re seeing that your followers are that you don’t have content for, and it doesn’t really matter at this point whether you have a large follower account or group boards. You just want to be pinning the best stuff out there, and let Pinterest kind of decide what’s going to flow to the top in terms of search.

Alisa: Pretty much yeah, although I would add that I do pin other people’s stuff aside from what I can create myself. So if someone has pinned an article a great article about Pinterest, about Pinterest promoted pins, I will pin that because I feel like and I know that if it resonates with my audience which is anyone who sees my pins not just [inaudible 00:46:24], that increases my clout on Pinterest for all of my pins. So it’s like that rising tide raises all boats thing, it’s a nice thing to do to share with people, but it also helps you out as well.

Steve: And in terms of like the number of pins, in terms of visibility, there are purposely hiding that to level the playing field. Do you find then that the pins that you see on the front page or in your feed have like a wide range of pins on them?

Alisa: Yeah so when I look at my home feed now, sometimes I see pins that are really recent like within the last week or so. So that’s encouraging to me that it’s definitely not too late for anybody to get started on Pinterest.

Steve: Okay and in terms of ads, you recommend starting with the audiences that you already have and then gradually reach out because you can reach people that have already pinned your stuff that are not familiar with your brand to start out doing that and then gradually move over to interests which tend to be more expensive followed by keywords?

Alisa: Well you know what I start them all at once because usually the people I work with have a smaller audience. So anything under 100,000 again is pretty small and hard to scale. So I find that we need to reach out to those colder audiences using keywords especially phrase and exact match. The other thing is when you get sales from Pinterest promoted pins, 70% of those people are new customers. So that’s telling you that you’re probably going to have to reach beyond your own audience.

Steve: Okay. OK well Alisa we’ve been chatting for quite a while. Thanks a lot for the overview of Pinterest.

Alisa: I enjoyed it.

Steve: Yeah thanks a lot for coming on the show. And if anyone wants to find you or your content, where can they find you?

Alisa: Well I blog over at Tailwind, so blog.tailwindapp.com, and I highly suggest that if you’re looking to save time on pinning because we didn’t really get into numbers, but you know you could spend a long time pinning, you do you want to schedule and you also want a stream of updated content to choose from. So I suggest Tailwind and Tribes. But if you want more promoted pin information, that’s my blog Alisameredith.com.

Steve: Okay and we didn’t even talk about what Tribes are. Are Tribes essentially what is replacing group boards in your opinion?

Alisa: Well, I mean group boards is part of the Pinterest platform. Tribes is on the Tailwind dashboard, anybody can use them though. So what that is, is like a group of likeminded bloggers will put their own content in and then share other people’s out, and so you can see like what kind of reach you got and how many pins and re-pins. There’s a chat function in there, so I’ve discovered a whole bunch of really great bloggers I never knew existed because of Tribes.

And I almost exclusively pin for my Tribe now because I don’t have to check the links when I’m — when you’re pinning on Pinterest, you’ve got to check and make sure the link is good because you don’t want to be linking to spam because you get reported, it will hurt you. But Tribes always has very good content.

Steve: So Tribes are basically groups of collaborative bloggers or content producers, right?

Alisa: Yeah.

Steve: Okay cool. Well Alisa thanks a lot for coming on the show, really appreciate your time.

Alisa: Thanks Steve, I enjoyed it.

Steve: All right, take care.

Hope you enjoyed that episode. Pinterest has undergone a bunch of changes in the last year and I thought Alisa gave a great overview of what it takes to succeed on the platform today. For more information about this episode, go to Mywifequitherjob.com/episode210.

And once again, I want to thank Privy.com for sponsoring this episode. Privy is the email capture provider that I personally use to turn visitors into email subscribers. They offer email capture, exit intent, and site targeting tools to make it super simple as well. And I like Privy because it’s so powerful and you can basically trigger custom pop-ups for any parameter that is closely tied to your e-commerce store. If you want to give it a try, it is free. So, head on over to Privy.com/Steve, once again, that’s P-R-I-V-Y.com/Steve.

I also want to thank Klaviyo which is my email marketing platform of choice for e-commerce 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 autopilot. 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 both of these tools on my blog, and if you’re interested in starting your own e-commerce 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’re giving the courage people need to start their own online business. For more information, visit Steve’s blog at www.Mywifequitherjob.com.

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209: How To Make Sure Your Product Will Sell Before You Launch With Kevin Williams

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209: How To Make Sure Your Product Will Sell Before You Launch With Kevin Williams

Today I’m really excited to have Kevin Williams on the show. Kevin is someone who I met at the Ecommerce Fuel live conference. He was actually one of the keynotes there and I really enjoyed his presentation.

Kevin runs the site BrushHero.com where he sells a power cleaning brush that hooks up to your hose and spins with a lot of torque to clean up hard to clean objects like wheels, bikes, boats and more. He was also recently on the hit show Shark Tank.

Anyway, the reason why I brought Kevin on the show is to talk about his process for testing products so that he knows it will sell before he spends a lot of development money on a project. Enjoy the show!

Note: I apologize for the audio quality on this one. There was something wrong with Kevin’s mic but I guarantee you that the content is good.

What You’ll Learn

  • Kevin’s philosophy on design and utility patents
  • Kevin’s process for testing products prior to production
  • Why he decided to apply to Shark Tank
  • How Shark Tank affected his sales
  • How Kevin generates sales outside of Amazon
  • What it’s like to sell on Costco and Walmart
  • Which traffic sources and marketing tactics have worked the best for him

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.
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Privy.com – Privy is my tool of choice when it comes to gathering email subscribers for my ecommerce store. They offer easy to use email capture, exit intent, and website targeting tools that turn more visitors into email subscribers and buyers. With both free and paid versions, Privy fits into any budget. Click here and get 15% OFF towards your account.
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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

You’re listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast, the place where I bring on successful bootstrapped business owners and dig deep into what strategies they use to grow their businesses. Now today I’m happy to have friend Kevin Williams on the show. And Kevin is an e-commerce entrepreneur who was recently on Shark Tank, and he’s making a killing selling power cleaning brushes online. And the main reason I brought him on the show is because he has an excellent process of testing products so he knows whether they will sell before he spends a lot of money.

But before we begin, I want to give a quick shout out to Privy who is a sponsor of the show. Privy is the tool that I use to build my email list for both my blog and my online store. Now what does Privy do? Privy is an email list growth platform, and they manage all my email capture forms. And in fact I use Privy hand in hand with my email marketing provider.

Right now for example, I’m using Privy to display a cool wheel of fortune pop-up. Basically a user gives their email for a chance to win valuable prizes in our store. And customers love the gamification aspect of this, and when I implemented this form email sign ups increased by 131%.

Bottom line, Privy allows me to turn visitors into email subscribers, which I then feed to my email provider to close the sale. So head on over to Privy.com/Steve, and try it for free. And if you decide you need some of the more advanced features, use coupon code MWQHJ For 15% off. Once again that’s P-R-I-V-Y.com/Steve.

Now I also want to give a shout out to Klaviyo who is also a sponsor of the show. Always blessed to have Klaviyo as a sponsor because they are the email marketing platform that I personally use for my ecommerce store, and I depend on them for over 30% of my revenues. Now 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. 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 sent.

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, 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 really excited to have Kevin Williams on the show. Now Kevin is someone who I met at Ecommerce Fuel Live just a couple of weeks ago actually, and he was actually one of the keynotes and I really enjoyed his presentation. Now Kevin runs the site brushhero.com where he sells a power cleaning brush that hooks up to your hose and spins with a lot of torque to clean up hard to clean objects like wheels, bikes, boats and more.

And he was actually recently on Shark Tank literally a couple of weeks ago as well. In any case the reason why I brought Kevin on the show today is to talk about his process of testing products for sale so that he knows something will sell before he actually spends a lot of development money on a project. And among other things he actually does a lot of business. He does retail as well and so we’ll see what where the conversation goes. And with that, welcome to the show Kevin, how are you doing today man?

Kevin: I’m doing well Steve, thanks for having me.

Steve: So Kevin, you have a pretty interesting history and background, please give the audience a brief overview of how you got into e-commerce in the first place and how Brush Hero came to be.

Kevin: I can blame you Steve now by the way sort of, sort of. You were definitely along the path somewhere. I used to be what could best be described as a venture capital mercenary. So angel investors and venture capitalists would hire me to parachute into a company and fix it and prove it, sometimes close it. After a number of years of doing that, I felt that I had recognized that I had built a tool set for being able to test opportunities really, really early as opposed to spending tens of millions of dollars and then ending up closing at the end of the day.

So I was looking for ways of deploying what was sort of a derivation of the minimum viable product methodology that Eric Reese and some others were really developing about five, six years ago. And I hit on e-commerce and the beauty of digital marketing and the ability to really toss ideas out there on the internet and very efficiently test them in a short amount of time. E-commerce was an absolutely natural fit for that. I did a little bit of orient into affiliate marketing where we did a lot of rapid product testing of course over there and I was able to apply those concepts in the products.

And a former business partner/CEO of mine from my venture days approached me with this brush that he had found in the United Kingdom that had a patent on it and wasn’t really going anywhere over there. So we applied my methodology to it, and up with some quick results through some Facebook advertising and rolled from there.

Steve: So I didn’t realize that the product was very developed.

Kevin: Yes this is — I’m not an engineer. I like to play one at night but I’m not.

Steve: Okay so…

Kevin: [inaudible 00:05:46]

Steve: Yes so you stumbled upon this product from your friend in the UK, and you decided whether you wanted to buy them out essentially and bring it to the US?

Kevin: Yes so our MO is to generally buy or license patents. We found that there’s just thousands of ideas that are floating around out there. Everyone seems to have one, father in laws, brothers, uncles, whatever aunts who have been doing away at whatever cool utility part in their basement. But most of these people couldn’t market their way out of the box.

So I will admit we got sort of lucky with this first patent because it grew really rapidly, but the engineer who owns the patent still does is out of Oxford, England and he’s been working on it for some time. And we license [inaudible 00:06:38].

Steve: I’m just curious, you just go up to the guy and say we would like to license your patent? Like how do you figure out how much it costs and yeah what’s the process there?

Kevin: In this case it took a while. There were some things that were happening before I was involved. My partner returned the product. He’s a big car guy and has like a fleet of really nice cars that he likes to clean, and he was looking for a solution to his own problem. He had found this product in the UK. He bought one and said, wow this is really cool, and then he tried to buy another one from someone and he couldn’t find it. So he tracked down his original order, gave the guy just a cold call, and started talking about it. That call led to the idea of possible US distribution etcetera, and then I stumbled into the picture to basically run the thing.

Steve: What are the terms of such a deal look like; I’m just kind of curious? I mean you don’t have to give exact numbers, but I’m just kind of curious like what the royalties look like.

Kevin: So we pay a royalty on gross sales that are related to the core intellectual property of that particular product. It’s around 4 to 5% is what we usually pay on the primary product. If we develop a secondary product based on that intellectual property that royalty drops to 2, 2.5% depending on the product. But we always make sure that we lock up full on global rights to whatever we’re going to invest in. So we have the exclusive global rights to the underlying IP of this product basically forever.

Steve: Okay, so you’re like Mr. Wonderful, he always like…

Kevin: That’s sort of a sensitive subject; it’s not so Mr. Wonderful.

Steve: Yes, yes, yes.

Kevin: But yes we do form partnerships though with our inventors. We like to keep them involved and they’re incentivized to continue to develop products. And we generally end up with a first right of refusal for those products as well.

Steve: Okay. So you know that you want to license this and then of course you want to know if it’s going to make money in the US. So, let’s kind of walk through that process of validation.

Kevin: Okay so in this case we did have an actual product. So it was a little bit easier. Sometimes we do this sort of testing when we don’t have a product or if we’re just prospecting for intellectual property. Let’s just say a product crosses our desk that we think is cool, we think it might have legs, but we have been known to test products before we have a license or we have any product to sell. In this case we bought a few of them, we imported them. I am an amateur photographer so I set up the light box.

I shot some photos of it, I did a couple of quick clips of dirty wheel, clean wheel, then we set up a landing page in the US as just at the time we were using lead pages I believe. And the landing page was dead simple. It was just a sales language about the product, a video, me squatting next to my car cleaning a wheel, some other sales language under it, and a big call to action right in the middle of the page.

And the idea is we can then do — set up Facebook campaigns based on a couple of different audiences or ad sets, drive traffic to that lander and determine how many people clicked on that add to cart button. Now once they clicked on the add to cart button, they continued to buy the [inaudible 00:10:11] we had five or six of them. Instead they ended up on a page that said, oh no, all sold out, leave your e-mail here and if you’re interested we’ll sell you one when we actually have them in stock.

It’s awesome that we take some people off, sure but we really only directed about eight, nine thousand clicks to this particular lander. What I was looking for was purchase intent based on sort of a half way attempt at marketing. And in this case we had a CTR on the add to cart button of almost 8%. So 8% of the traffic that we drove in our most successful campaign was willing to click on that add to cart button. Now as we all know, there would be a lot of cart lost under there or whatever, but if this is a design that took me just a few hours to put together and I was getting an 8% conversion rate on it, I really know that I have something going on.

Steve: So what are your metrics for that, like what is considered a bad conversion rate, what is considered okay, and what is considered excellent for just add to cart?

Kevin: It depends entirely on the product. I want to see a bare minimum of a 3% add to cart rate, 8% would be exceptional. I mean I’ve certainly heard of people with higher conversion rates than that, but in our testing that’s one of the highest just add to cart conversion rates that we’ve seen in a seasonal product outside of holidays and special occasions and things like that.

Steve: Okay so a 3% add to cart rate would be like considerably lower on the actual purchase rate, so let’s say like a 1% purchase rate is that kind of what you’re shooting for?

Kevin: Sure, overall we want to see a 2.5 to 4% purchase conversion. But remember these landing pages we’re putting together are deliberately not — they’re sort of half done. We don’t want to invest too much time or effort into any of these concepts. What I know about myself, and what I know about humans in general is that the more time that they spend on designing, and caring for, and loving a concept, the more they’re going to fall in love with it. And once you fall in love with a concept, it’s really hard to walk away.

All of a sudden you start looking at it, oh it’s more than a half conversion rate, maybe that’s good enough, maybe I just didn’t do it right. And it’s hard to be agile and move fast if you fall in love with a product.

Steve: So given that Facebook ads tend to perform a lot better with videos, like let’s say you didn’t actually have the physical product in hand, how would your process have differed?

Kevin: So we do, do this a lot, usually we don’t have a physical product in hand. If the product doesn’t really exist as in we’re looking at a patent that it has some prototypes, we would make the prototype, we would doctor it using Photoshop. At the time it would have been me, but now we have a graphic designer who does that for us, maybe change the color, add some things in the background whatever it is, and hit the language a little bit harder.

You know video does perform better on Facebook; we’re very solid on video advertising. In fact we always look for products that have some sort of geniality to them like in the case of the brush, the wheel is dirty, then it’s clean. We have a have a cooking line, there’s the patent holder there. It’s actually one of the White House cook, and he’s a guy who’s full of personality. So on video he can really be full of life and really be presenting the product quite well.

But without video you may be looking for a slightly lower conversion rate. So when I give my range, if I don’t have video I may be looking for something more like a 3% versus 5 or 6%.

Steve: Okay and so I guess the whole process is kind of like an art form right depending on what you have and how you feel the Creative is, you expect different CTRs for this experiment. But I guess the whole point really is just kind of the idea of the overall interest and your gauge to see if you want to push forward with the idea?

Steve: Absolutely and it’s not rocket science and there’s nothing really new. I think that our spin on it is moving really, really fast with it and adding a level of rigor to it. So I literally write down what my goal is and that goal can change from product to product. But what I feel in my gut is going to make me feel like this is could be a good product, it could be three, it could be 5%. I write that down on a piece of paper, I stick it in an envelope; I stick it on my desk piled and all the other things that are piled up here. And then after the test, I open that envelope up and I try and be as intellectually honest as I possibly can about the product.

Steve: So, let’s say in the case of your Brush Hero project your click through rates were good, what is the next step?

Kevin: Then it’s more of a true minimum viable product test, and then it was a matter of importing 1,000 of them, getting a low level video crew out to do some content development for us. And now we’re trying to spend a decent amount of money you know small figures, we’re not talking five, eight figures, but we feel pretty good about it. And in that case we often move to Amazon relatively early. I do not believe in Amazon as a product discovery engine. It’s great as an emporium and finding products that exist and finding niches and products within niches, but as a brand new product it’s not a wonderful place to be.

However, being on Amazon early allows you to skip a lot of the infrastructure issues with getting a new product going. You can ship directly through Amazon multichannel fulfillment. So in a very lightweight environment you can slap up a Shopify store, you can ship some product to Amazon, you can connect your Shopify store via ShipStation or something else to Amazon and fulfill from there. Obviously now I have an infrastructure so it’s not as big a deal, but we use that same approach when we’re testing new markets.

So before we went to Europe with some of these products, we did the same thing. We shipped just 500 or 1,000 units over there, stood up a site in German, did some German based direct response advertising, it worked great, so now we’re going to do seven figures in Europe, well we did seven figures in Europe last year.

Steve: So you put these products up on Amazon, and for something like your product which is totally unique and people probably aren’t searching for it, how do you get some early exposure to that product on Amazon?

Kevin: So as I said Amazon is a tough nut to crack with products like this. We use aggressive launching strategies like the Amazon pros out there well as far as getting early sets of reviews. We try and get as many legitimate influencers as we can to review the product, to get the product in their hand. We try and demonstrate sales velocity to the Amazon algorithm to help that rank. We target specific keywords. In the case of the brush, it was things like wheel brush or detail brush are sort of the key keywords that we needed to rank for.

Steve: Are you doing this all through Facebook then or?

Kevin: Yes plus we’ve developed networks of influencers that we can pull from. I’m not going to do that, we try to stick away from incentivized type reviews, but certainly people who have a lot of influence out there we’ll do disclosed influencer type things to get a product in their hand and get in front of blog post. And I’m not necessarily shy about using some of the Amazon tactics to rank for specific keywords.

Steve: So regarding these influencers, provided that you weren’t in this niche before, were these relationships that you kind of developed during this whole process?

Steve: Yes definitely during it. I’m a big fan of YouTube influencers and I think it’s a big opportunity for all of us in the space. I don’t go for big fish, I go for moderately sized fish out there, the people who are enjoying whatever the subject matter is, they have maybe tens of thousands of followers, but they seem to be on the upslope. And investing in them early on sort of a portfolio basis so you’re investing in a lot of them can give you opportunities as they grow and their audience continues to increase.

Steve: So how did you find these influencers, do you use a service or do you just kind of go off on YouTube and look for them and just contact them directly?

Kevin: I have never had any luck with the services, many people do but I’ve tried Tomoson and I’ve tried Intellinfluence and some of the others that are floating around. At the end of the day I’ve had the best luck with just having folks from myself prospecting out there, looking for numbers, looking for quality, and then reaching out to them directly. It helps with this product that although our primary market is cars and motorcycles, I race mountain bikes, I race cyclo-cross and other things, so I’m not necessarily known in the community, but I can talk and talk. So I can connect with influencers or at least I started by connecting with influencers in that space since we have an affinity, so we can…

Steve: Yeah sure of course.

Kevin: That I’m part of the tribe and they’re eager to help me out, and I don’t have to pay them very much money. I give them brushes and soap and what they need, and it’s amazing the sort of work they do.

Steve: Can you just give me an idea of what the competition would be like for an influencer with like 20 or 30,000 subscribers?

Kevin: So in your world I imagine that there are a lot of other type influencers who can be some of the toughest people to deal with in my opinion. They’re going to be mercenaries. We pay very little. Sorry if any of you are listening guys, but product sponsoring a race like giving like prizes for winners type things maybe $500. We’ve done a whole variety of things. We also have affiliate agreements that are set up with most of these guys. They really don’t yield a ton of indirect sales, but they make them feel incentivized to get our brand name out there, and we just run a private affiliate program that way.

Steve: Okay. So while you’re doing these initial Amazon launches, do you have your own site up at the same time?

Kevin: Yes, yes.

Steve: And at what point do you focus some more energy on your own site and doing more direct response advertising for that?

Kevin: Well pretty early. Once we’ve demonstrated the concept and feel that it’s going to work, when you’re going from four figures in investment to five figures of investment, I want to capture that customer. We have a considerably higher average order value on our own environment than we do through Amazon and we have the ability to remarket to those customers.

One of the required elements of products that I’ll invest in is that it has some sort of a consumable element to it. So in the case of the brush it consumes the bristle, we have soaps etcetera, in our cooking lines there are some ices, there oils, there are other things that we can remarket to our customers once we form that relationship with them.

Steve: I guess what I’m trying to get at is you’re working with these influencers and you have these ad campaigns going, like at what point do you — like it’s hard to focus on both, right, like if you go to an influencer, you tell him to either pick it up at Amazon or you’re outside. I guess you could include both links, but do you try to focus more on one channel than the other with your campaigns?

Kevin: Generally we try as hard as we can to capture those customers. We’ve come to the realization internally though that we have an enormous bleeding over between our direct response advertising, Facebook, PPC, Pinterest. Anywhere our brand is being advertised, we have an enormous bleed off to Amazon. So we know that, we’ve internalized that and we’ve incorporated that into our success metrics and our advertising.

So it would be tough to look at our direct Facebook results on a CPA basis and see enormous successes, but if you step back and you look at the enterprise and recognize that there are whatever 40% of people who added to cart bleed off to Amazon, we can be comfortable with an enterprise level cost of sales.

Steve: Yes so what I was trying to get at is like you’re driving all of your ads to your own site and indirectly that kind of leads to more Amazon sales?

Kevin: Yes.

Steve: Okay got you, whereas you never run ads or campaigns that drive traffic directly to Amazon?

Kevin: I won’t to say never, there are a lot of circumstances that we do. If we’re employing ranking strategies we will. If we’re low on stock for instance in the holidays, we make a very deliberate move in the last couple of days to shift our advertising away from our sites to Amazon because Amazon is then responsible for fulfillment and customers will buy right up into the last minute.

Steve: Okay. And in terms of when you drive ads to Amazon, do you do anything to kind of track those people or do you just send them straight to like your store page on Amazon?

Kevin: There are a lot of different tactical ways of attempting to track those people, well the best known are the using associates’ links. We’ve had some success with that. It also gets a little bit hairy because it’s a gray area at best in the Amazon terms of service and we don’t really like to mess around with that if we can avoid it. So if we’re pushing traffic directly there, we will look at the Amazon conversion metrics. So we have a pretty good idea on a product basis what our conversion rate is the session percentage rate on Amazon and also the sort of traffic we get.

So if we can correlate and we push several thousand clicks from Facebook to a direct Amazon link, how is that showing up in session percentage and can you get to a result there? It’s sort of a low yield analysis, but directionally we feel we can get a decent idea but it’s a hairy way to optimize campaigns for sure.

Steve: Yeah so I mean basically you’d only do this if you’re launching or if you’re trying to rank for certain keywords, right, otherwise it makes more sense to divert the traffic to your own site where you can actually capture the customer?

Kevin: And it’s pretty fascinating. We have some tools and techniques that allow us to assess our brand impression on Amazon that are readily available. And we can watch that over time and see how many people are hitting Amazon and typing in one of our brand names. And if you correlate that with off Amazon spend, you can correlate the two. But also over time it’s fascinating to see the organic development of a brand this way. Of course when we launch a brand, we get no links or just a couple from whatever the advertising is. Now even in periods of no advertising, we’re seeing hundreds of people that are typing in our brand name every day.

Steve: How do you get that information? Are you just like buying ads on your own brand and getting statistics that way or?

Kevin: No, it’s sort of highly technical. I think I’m going to go to decline that.

Steve: I know. So Kevin you do really well on Amazon and your own site and you kind of expand it internationally, I’m just kind of curious why you decided to go into the whole retail space. I know you’re in Costco, maybe Home Depot, why the shift there?

Kevin: So we’re in Costco and we’re in negotiations with Wal-Mart right now for a full rollout as well. We were fortunate in that with a niche product like the brush hero, in the case of both Wal-Mart and Costco the buyers were actually here and did our product by friends of theirs who knew what they did and said, hey this is a really cool product, you should check it out. The next thing you know we get a call from these guys. That’s not usually the way it works of course, but so first there’s just an opportunity that’s presented to you. In the case of Costco, the way that their system works is fantastic if you can present a value to their customers.

Costco has an agreement with their members that they are willing to only mark up the physical products that they sell by 14.6%. So if you walk into Costco and you say, hey the street value of this bundle is $50 but we think we should give you an MSRP of $25 for it, Costco says, great that’s a huge value to our customers, we’re delighted. And then they have to pay you 21 or 20 or whatever that number is for the 86% of that that, that’s just the way that Costco works.

Steve: Well, hold on time out, so their margin is only 14.6% off of the price that you give them?

Kevin: Yeah. So that is the way that Costco works. They make almost all of their money on memberships.

Steve: Interesting, okay.

Kevin: So it’s a wonderful and this is all publicly available, you can check it out in their 10K. Their grocery [ph] business is different, but in the physical products it’s fantastic. So we’ll net, our gross revenue off of that $25 sale is $21 at Costco.

Steve: So how do you determine what the price is?

Kevin: So that’s a conversation with them. What’s most important to Costco is turnover and customer value, because in essence they make their money and this is all hearsay like what do I know about Costco’s mindset. But the way that it seems like they make their money is from their memberships and you see that in their financial reports. The way that they keep their membership numbers up is by offering excellent value to their members.

So again if you have a bundle that if it were priced down in your website or Amazon or wherever else at $50 and you can price it at 40 to 50% off that, Costco feels that that’s a really strong value for their members and they want to present it as an opportunity to their members. They’re not really looking for that 14.6%, that covers their overhead.

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 e-commerce 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 attained 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.

That’s very interesting. Okay so that means you make a pretty good profit selling to Costco?

Kevin: Yeah I make an excellent profit selling to Costco. It’s been a very interesting thing. Costco is very particular of course. If you can picture their warehouses the way they work, their pallets are structured deliberately inefficiently. So our standard retail pallet that we would ship to a normal retailer has over 800 units on it. A pallet that we ship to Costco has 75, so it’s…

Steve: Why is that?

Kevin: Because they want to fill their warehouse and they want to show consumption. So if you pack wall to wall boxes of something into a crevice in Costco, they feel that it impacts the shopping experience. So they want to create a sense of scarcity. So if they’re only 75 units sitting there and half the pallet is already picked through, it encourages people to buy. And then the game is getting them more pallets as they need them.

Steve: So what are some of the terms, like some of the details of the terms of selling to Costco, like do they expect a certain amount of volume from you and what do you need to — like what capitals do you need to have in place, how many units do you need to ship them and that sort of thing?

Kevin: There are roughly 500 Costcos in the US plus another 250 internationally. Costco works — they have two different divisions. They have the US division and they have the international division, and they’re actually not really connected. So, if you want to sell internationally, you’ve got to sell to international people, and domestically you’ve got to sell to the domestic people. They want to see and it just depends entirely on the segment, they want to see X units that are being sold every week yielding Y dollars.

And their seasons are really short. So our product will land in Wal-Mart in March and it will be totally gone by the 4th of July so it’s a very, very short selling season. But the goal is to replenish that pallet several times. In our case they want to see two or three pallets per store move through during that period.

Steve: How do they know how well it’s going to sell in their store though?

Kevin: So we did a trial last year just a few stores, 16 stores, and there were a lot of learnings all the way around about how the product needed to be priced and positioned and packaging and everything else. Costco is not for the faint of heart, I will freely admit that. The packaging requirements are absurd.

Steve: Can you give some examples?

Kevin: Sure, so our 75 unit pallet, at the end of the day we’re almost spending more on the packaging, the pallet, the pallet design, the [inaudible 00:32:57] packs than we are in the product itself, it’s very expensive. And it’s very expensive that small runs, it gets better at tens of thousands of units. But your test is pretty much a break even proposition at best.

Steve: So they force you to use unique packaging?

Kevin: Oh yes, yeah so you have to picture those big cards that they have in there. And again those are deliberately inefficient and they’re very expensive. So I think my cards are two layers of 24 point card stock with blister in between and there or whatever 14 inches wide and 13 inches tall, and then they have to have a customized tray set that they’re inserted into, and then the trays have to interlock so that they can be dipped double stacked etcetera, etcetera.

Steve: Okay interesting. So given that Costco came to you, is that the typical way that it works or can you typically apply to Costco? I mean, I guess you aren’t familiar with the process outside of being approached, but do you know what that process looks like typically?

Kevin: Usually you would you would be working with some sort of a seller group who has access to Costco and understands their needs, and understands how the whole thing works. I’m friendly with a bunch of these groups and they’re actually working with us. One group in particular is working with us for outside of Wal-Mart and Costco while we run [inaudible 00:34:30].

But they know the buyer at Bed Bath and Beyond, and they know the buyer at Kroger or whoever it may be. They know when the buying season is, when they’re designing their [inaudible 00:34:43] and what the requirements are. They give you a call and say, hey jump on a plane, we’ve got a meeting with Kroger, and you talk through the product with them. And we’ve done a lot of that too but yeah.

Steve: How does the experience with Wal-Mart differ from Costco?

Kevin: We’ve had an excellent experience with Wal-Mart so far, and I say so far because we haven’t — we’re in negotiations trying to figure out the whole thing. It’s very clear that the devil is in the details, that they have no tolerance for lateness or operational shortcomings or product issues or anything else. And the level of bureaucracy is impressive. In fact we’re trying to hire a person right now to be our retail channel manager who can help us through that process. I may not be dispositionally suited for the level of detail that’s required in that particular relationship. But they’ve been good to work with, they really have.

Steve: But in terms of pure dollars, is the pricing structure similar to Costco? I would imagine it’s a lot different and your margins.

Kevin: It is a lot different. So I can’t emphasize this enough that when you start thinking about retail, you need to think about price integrity. Once you set a price that’s up there in the wild other than retail, that is going to be your price. You set it too low and you can be leaving a lot a lot of dollars on the table. You set it too high; you won’t have the turnover that’s necessary to make these retailers happy. So that’s been an ongoing negotiation with all of these guys.

I think intuitively for us, we feel that the direct consumer base price of our product is about $35, $34.99 which is sort of a strange number. I’ve always felt that once it gets going in retail it’s going to land around 29.99 but that’s pure margin, right? So we have to walk carefully when we’re thinking about that. But you’re exchanging margin for volume and it is substantial volume.

Steve: Okay, can you just give us an idea of what is it like, a couple of orders of magnitude?

Kevin: So Wal-Mart has 5,200 stores, I maybe making that number up but we’re talking about entering 3800 of them. The name of the game with Wal-Mart is definitely inventory turnover and small inventory numbers. So whereas Costco had 75 units a store, Wal-Mart may only be 46 units a store and they only expect to sell half a unit a week per store, because there are just so many, hundreds of thousands of skews that are in there, right?

Steve: Correct.

Kevin: So you have to be operationally prepared to be fulfilling small case levels to the Wal-Mart distribution system constantly.

Steve: What happens with unsold units? I guess that’s less of a problem with Wal-Mart than Costco, but do they have the right to return you all the unsold inventory?

Kevin: Everybody’s agreement is going to be different of course, but our agreements with Costco is a guaranteed sale, which means that if it doesn’t sell by the beginning of August they are welcome to ship what’s left back to us which is a substantial risk of course. We have figured out what are our breakeven point is, how many we need to sell and our comfort level with that. And at the end of the day, it doesn’t mean we can’t sell those products, magically a [inaudible 00:38:21] skew might appear on our page or be a special offer or something like that to get rid of that inventory.

But the cash exposure, we’re obviously building for this order right now. We will be paying for it in the next 30 days. We won’t get paid for 30 to 60 days. You need to be prepared for that, and these are these are large numbers. So we’re entering sort of a new age for ourselves where we’re talking with trade financial organizations for factoring and trying to set up large lines of credit etcetera revolving credit. We’ve always been bootstrapped and we’re proud of that, but the fact is that the working capital needs of a wholesale organization are quite a bit different from those of a DAC [ph] organization.

Steve: Yeah, I was just going to ask you the payment terms are sometimes on there are 60 days.

Kevin: Yeah, 30 to 60 days. I have heard stories of Wal-Mart that it can be 60 days post sale. So imagine that.

Steve: Oh man, that’s crazy.

Kevin: You build the product, you ship it to them, it sits on the shelf for how many weeks, and then you get paid 60 days after it’s sold. That’s not the case with us, we’re not…

Steve: Right okay, that’s all negotiable I’m sure.

Kevin: To be honest they understand that we’re a small organization, that we’re new to this, and they’re interested enough in the product that they’re holding their hand through. I like to joke that these buyers sort of seem like the kindly uncle who makes no bones about the fact that you know haul you out to the woodshed and shoot you if things go wrong. But I mean they’re open about it, they really are, and it’s appreciated. They’re not trying to hide anything, they’re just like we understand that this is a big operational burden on you, these are the things you must do. And if you fail in these it will be very bad, so don’t fail please.

Steve: So again let me ask you this, I mean your B2C business is doing really well, you’re in Wal-Mart, you’re in Costco. I was just kind of curious what your motivation was for going on Shark Tank. Was it just to be on TV; was it just to get to know the sharks?

Kevin: So the Shark Tank process is really long. We first applied early last year and the process went relatively quickly for us, but it still took months and months and months. And when it looked like we were actually going to get on, we looked at each other, my partner and I, and said, well what do we really want out of this, what are we really doing? And I think first off, they can smell people who are after publicity from miles and miles away. So you’re not ever going to get to meet the sharks if they don’t think that you’re going to be either super entertaining or willing to take a deal.

So we internalized that, we decided, okay, getting in bed with one of these guys could be really useful to us, the brand cache, the connections, flat out money. So we came up with a figure that we’d be willing to take and the amount of the company that we would be willing to give away and per my MO we wrote down on a piece of paper, and then if you watched the show we clearly ignored that.

Steve: Yeah, I did see the episode. I’m just curious, when you came up with that number, did you account for the fact that they would counter offer something significantly worse than your offer?

Kevin: I mean I honestly feel that our valuation is quite good given our net revenue and our trajectory, and especially where we’re heading in 2018. I think that their counteroffer was ridiculous, but you take that into account when you’re sitting there thinking about what Lori Greiner could possibly add to your business. I have no illusions about the fact that she would be personally involved in it. She won’t be, but she has an infrastructure and she has a machine that’s working with her as a statement, and that should accelerate things.

Steve: How do you factor those in your calculations, like how do you estimate how much business like a shark will bring you in your calculations?

Kevin: You’re giving me too much credit.

Steve: I’m just kind of curious what your process is. I mean it seems very wishy-washy to me.

Kevin: Yeah I’m pretty analytical of course, but in this case, gosh, you think about the value of seven or eight men and it’s on ABC at prime time and getting the brand out there. Even if it goes — well as long as it doesn’t go poorly from a product perspective, the brand is getting out there and people will see it. So there’s of course a marketing opportunity to it. In terms of capital, we asked for $500,000 and $500,000 I can tell you would be useful right now as far as our inventory financing is concerned.

The valuation was low but it wasn’t completely out of sight. So it’s hard to say right. In retrospect had I taken the deal, I think I would have felt like I gave away too much of the company, but yeah they’re super intense. It is filmed like live, it’s not actually aired live, but there aren’t cuts or anything, like you’re out there and you’re out there for a good hour and going back and forth with them and it’s intense.

Steve: I mean you were portrayed very well on the show unlike one of my buddies who got roasted. He is actually on the podcast, and he got roasted by Mr. Wonderful. But I’m just kind of curious like how did being on the show, just being on the show, how did it affect sales?

Kevin: It’s been good. We do have a hose mounted product right. And I’m looking out my window here in Utah and I have 18 inches of snow out here. So these are frozen right now, so the airing time January 21st was not ideal for us. It would have been really, really great had it been March or April right when people are starting to think about cleaning. We did screen captures of our simultaneous sessions and we got up into several thousand people all on the site every time it aired.

So it was on the East Coast and it airs Central or Mountain Time, then it airs on the Pacific. So you really get three airings in one night, and each time we had spikes of several thousand users. And we did well, we did well. It wasn’t like a complete home run, we’ve certainly had better days especially around the holidays, but it is a gift that keeps on giving particularly on Amazon. Our Amazon sales are excellent right now and we’re literally getting 700 to 1,000 individual brand searches a day on Amazon which is great.

So that’s converting well. And I think it will pay dividends when the products hit retail shelves. Brand building is one of the hardest things you can do, what is Brush Hero; nobody knows what Brush Hero is. But now seven million people have at least sort of experienced it. So as they brush through the aisles of Wal-Mart, they’ll have an idea of what it is, and that can only help.

Steve: Yeah absolutely. I was just kind of curious like whether the sales bump kind of just lingers or whether it was just spiked when the show airs for you.

Kevin: It definitely lingers. The way that people watch TV these days, it’s just different right. Every single day there are x number of thousands of people who DVRed [ph] and haven’t watched it yet, my own wife hasn’t seen it yet.

Steve: That’s okay; my wife doesn’t listen to my podcast either, so it’s all good.

Kevin: Oh so you’re on national TV yeah.

Steve: Yeah, so I mean so overall the Shark Tank experience even though you didn’t get a deal was very positive, and if you got the deal it sounds like you probably would have regretted the terms that were given on the show in some way?

Kevin: Certainly with my own terms, the final terms were ridiculous. The main terms that we made a tactical error and left the tank, I think we could’ve lived with those. Both my partner and I are experienced enough in the investment community that I think that in diligence we could have worked a good deal and we could have ensured that they would be heavily involved. I like to say that, who knows how it was laid off.

But all in all, absolutely a positive experience. I think most important for us was making the product look decent and it did. The fact that two of the sharks were willing to invest $500,000 validates the product. The fact that we ended up looking a little maybe slow is okay, that’s fine. We’re human and it humanizes the company a little bit. So yeah, I have nothing but positive feels.

Steve: I know. I thought you guys came across great actually. So, yeah for sure.

Kevin: I will say that that there are posts on the Shark Tank Facebook page, one of which has a picture of me and a quote below it that says, never leave the tank. And there are like 18,000 comments which of course are really warm and friendly, and supportive for us.

Steve: Yeah I’m going to have to post that episode right below on the show notes actually so people can actually know what we’re talking about here. Kevin, before we end this interview can you just tell people where they can find you, where to buy your product or look at the product?

Kevin: Sure I will, brushhero.com, Amazon, all well brushhero.co.UK.eu etcetera. Our second product is the elevated cook, so elevatedcook.com, that when just recently launched.

Steve: What is that product?

Kevin: That is an elevated chicken roasting rack. So it allows you to essentially rotisserie a chicken without a rotisserie. And that patent is held by one of the White House cooks. So the last four presidents have been fed off of my product.

Steve: That is really cool. So did you get to go to White House?

Kevin: No.

Steve: No it’s unfortunate.

Kevin: I don’t think the White House knows that I’m combining spices in their basement. I guess they do now, I’m kidding.

Steve: Oh hey Kevin, I really appreciate your time coming on the show, a really interesting story. Thanks a lot.

Kevin: Cool, thanks a lot Steve.

Steve: All right, take care.

Hope you enjoyed that episode. What I love about Kevin’s methods is that they seem really obvious and intuitive but most people don’t do it, and we should all be applying his strategies. For more information about this episode, go to mywifequitherjob.com/episode209.

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 Privy for sponsoring this episode. Privy is the email capture provider that I personally use to turn visitors into email subscribers. They offer email capture, exit intent, and site targeting tools to make it super simple as well. And I like Privy because it’s so powerful and you can basically trigger custom pop ups for any primer that is closely tied to your e-commerce store. If you want to give it a try, it is free. So head on over to Privy.com/Steve, once again that’s P-R-I-V-Y.com/Steve.

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.

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208: The State Of Small Business Ecommerce And How To Create A Thriving Community With Andrew Youderian

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208: The State Of Small Business Ecommerce And How To Create A Thriving Community With Andrew Youderian

Today I am honored to have Andrew Youderian with me on the podcast. Andrew has the distinct honor of being the very first guest on my podcast ever in episode number 2.

Back when this podcast had 0 listeners, he took a risk to come on and I really appreciate it. Andrew has created and sold 2 dropshipped ecommerce businesses. He is a well known figure in the ecommerce world through his blog and podcast at EcommerceFuel.com

And he runs the best small business ecommerce community that I’ve come across that specifically caters to 6,7 and 8 figure businesses.

Anyway, today we are going to talk about some interesting statistics regarding the ecommerce landscape based on the members in his community.

What You’ll Learn

  • Andrew’s motivations were for starting the Fuel forums.
  • Some interesting statistics from his state of the ecommerce merchant survey
  • How to build a fantastic community of ecommerce entrepreneurs and what it takes

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.
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Privy.com – Privy is my tool of choice when it comes to gathering email subscribers for my ecommerce store. They offer easy to use email capture, exit intent, and website targeting tools that turn more visitors into email subscribers and buyers. With both free and paid versions, Privy fits into any budget. Click here and get 15% OFF towards your account.
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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.
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Transcript

You’re listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast, the place where bring on successful bootstrapped business owners and delve deeply into what strategies are working and what strategies are not in business. And today I’m happy to have my good buddy Andrew Youderian back on the show. And since I last had him on, a lot has happened.

Andrew has sold all of his e-commerce businesses and is now focusing all of his time on his super successful forum over at Ecommercefuel.com. And today what we’re going to do is we’re going to find out the exact steps he used to create such an amazing community.

But before we begin, I want to give a quick shout out to Klaviyo who is a sponsor of the show. 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 30% of my revenues. Now, Klaviyo is the only email platform out there that is specifically built for ecommerce stores, and here is why it is 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 out 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.

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 I also want to give a shout out to Privy who is also a sponsor of the show. And Privy is the tool that I use to build my email list for both my blog and my online store. Now Privy is an email list growth platform, and they manage all my email capture forms. And I use Privy hand in hand with my email marketing provider. Now there are a bunch of companies out there that will manage your email capture forms, but I like privy because they specialize in ecommerce.

Right now I’m using privy to display a cool wheel of fortune pop-up. Basically, a user gives their email for a chance to win valuable prices in our store and customers love the gamification aspect of this. And when I implemented this form email signups increased by 131%. So bottom line, Privy allows me to turn visitors into email subscribers, which I then feed to my email provider to close the sale. So head on over to Privy.com/Steve and try it for free. And if you decide you need some of the more advanced features, use coupon code MWQHJ for 15% off. Once again, that’s P-R-I-V-Y.com/Steve. Now onto 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 honored to have Andrew Youderian with me on the podcast. And Andrew actually has the distinct honor of being the very first guest on my podcast ever in episode number two. Back when this podcast had zero listeners, he took a risk to come on and I really appreciate it, and it’s been three years since then. And maybe there’s a reason why I actually haven’t had him back on in three years.

But anyway Amazon – not Amazon, Andrew has created and sold two dropship e-commerce businesses, Right Channel Radios and Trolling Motors. He is a well known figure in the e-commerce world. There is a blog and his podcast at Ecommercefuel.com. And in my opinion, he runs the best small business e-commerce community that I’ve ever come across specifically catering to six, seven, and eight figure businesses.

And today what we’re going to do is, we’re going to talk about how Andrew created this incredible community, and some interesting statistics regarding the e-commerce landscape based on the members in his community. And with that, welcome to the show Andrew, how are you doing today man?

Andrew: I am doing well Steve, thanks for having me on. And I think it’s probably wise of you to only have me as the first guest when nobody was listening as opposed to 10, or 11 or 12 because it’s a safer bet for you, you didn’t scare off as much of your audience, and you’re probably the better for it today. I’m surprised you had me back on.

Steve: I think it jump started the podcast actually in the very beginning. So it got a slew of visitors sucked in from your community, and it just propelled it upwards from there.

Andrew: Well, it’s good to be on here man, thanks for the kind intro.

Steve: Yeah so I mean it’s been three years since I’ve last – well not really since I’ve checked in with you but since you’ve been on the podcast and the listeners have checked in with you. So what have you been cooking up, and do you ever plan on selling physical products again?

Andrew: Yes, you give me a hard time all the time which is really funny as do other people very justifiably so. Yeah I guess three layers of what’s happened in the last three years. The last three years, I have sold my last like you mentioned, that last physical products business the CB radio business. That was 18 months ago. I really doubled down on Ecommerce Fuel which is like you mentioned private community for kind of seven figure store owners.

And I still I have — there’s – I’ve got a small product, I manufactured and designed and sell on Amazon that there’s a very small amount of revenue that keeps me just a little bit [inaudible 00:05:06] sturdy into the game. But really trying to spend most of my time, 80% of my time on Ecommerce Fuel and just doing my best to connect to merchants over there, build a great community there rather than selling and that’s what I’m focused on. So, to answer your question, potentially yes in terms of the big physical products business like a massive one. I think my focus is going to be on the community for the foreseeable future.

Steve: Yeah that’s interesting because what are some of your motivations, so what were some of your motivations for starting the forum in the first place, and how have they kind of transitioned now that you’ve sold your businesses?

Andrew: Yeah the motivations I think were to twofold. One was I didn’t see anyone doing it. There was no to my knowledge — well actually you, I would say you were probably the — in terms of at least the blog and the content, I actually remember looking at your site before I got started at Ecommerce Fuel I think and this is really cool, but I wish there was more of it. So motivations on the community side, was to build a community of peers in the e-commerce space, because I didn’t see that out there.

And then also just thinking I felt like I had a – there was something I would enjoy doing. I thought maybe I could add value to people’s lives through it, and also potentially make it into a viable business. So I’ve always enjoyed getting people together, kind of community building at some scale. And so those were the two motivations kind of behind the genesis of it.

Steve: I’ve actually tried to start small communities in the past, and I must say that I’ve never been nearly as successful as you have. So I kind of wanted to know your secrets. Let’s go back to the beginning, like when you had zero members like how do you start a forum? And just for the listeners out there, Andrew actually charges a monthly fee to belong to the forum, and that makes it actually double as hard. So let’s start with the basics first, like how did you choose your platform? What do you use and why did you choose it?

Andrew: The platform isn’t super important. There’s a couple of key things you should have. Like anything a lot of times in some instances technology is probably far more important as like who’s in the community, the personal relationships, and kind of your strategy. But to answer your question, the platform we’re in one right now is called Vanilla Forums. It’s a hosted forum software. You can also get the open source version if you want to run it.

And the big, probably the biggest thing for me when picking forum software was that I cared that it had the mentioned features. So in some forums if you’re going in and in our forum at least you can do an ad to like Steve Chou. And you will be notified if I mention you in a discussion. And when you’re starting a community, to get the community to a point where it’s going to be able to be self-sustaining based on the kind of organic discussions and contributions from the membership. That takes a long time.

And so you have to have someone likely the founder who have [inaudible 00:07:48] to really drive that engagement discussion and activity for a long time. And so having the ability to take people in discussions that also notifies them and pulls them into the discussion was huge and that was the biggest feature I looked for.

Steve: Interesting, yeah because the forum software I use, I actually didn’t do enough research, and mine does not have that ability. And I guess that — is that — would you say that that actually drives a lot of discussion, the ability to tag other people?

Andrew: I would say it doesn’t drive a lot of discussion now. I think it’s a crucial element for any forum software, but I would say it’s probably two to three or four times as important early on, when you’re trying to really get some of those early discussions going. So yeah it’s — and I’d still say it still drives email notifications I would say even more in general probably drive a lot of the discussion and the engagement people coming back in.

Steve: And when you’re starting a community, it’s like a chicken and egg problem, right? So in the beginning when you have no one and especially for a community like yours where you actually screen out based on revenue, how do you convince someone who’s making a lot of money to join this forum when there’s nobody there in the beginning?

Andrew: Yeah so it’s tough because some of my strategy was you’re exactly right, you have a chicken and egg problem, and you can’t charge for something when there’s no value there I think. So most people try to say, hey to join my community it’s $100 a month, but it’s crickets that doesn’t last. That’s pretty sure fire recipe for disaster. So my plan was — and it really takes a while to ramp this up was I spent probably a year just blogging, starting to get to know people in the e-commerce space and this has been after probably four or five years of just running an e-commerce business, and building up connections and a network in the e-commerce world.

And so every time for that year when I was blogging, I’d come across someone that I thought was interesting, had meaningful experience that I really enjoyed talking to, and I thought would add value to a community. I would add a Gmail label to them saying I’ll try to remember in the community. And I did this for the whole year, so it took me probably a year to build up a kind of an initial group of 150ish maybe 175ish people that I wanted to see the community with.

And so that took 12 months, and then when I was ready to go over the course of 30 days, so okay here we go. And you really have one shot at this, right, you have one shot to build the momentum, because if you lose the momentum, it’s going to be really difficult to get to where — if you try to get it again with the same people which is can be challenging or you want to build a new seed list of people. And so for 30 days, every day I would bring five people into the community, tell them what we were doing, invite them personally.

And I think for those especially that initial group of people; you have to have some kind of personal relationship with them. And so bringing them in, I’d make introductions to everyone that came in with other people, every week starting probably at least three or four discussions where I would kick it off and then try to using that tag feature to bring five or six, or seven people in to try to get it going. So that was kind of how I got it going from nothing.

Steve: I mean how do you get people to post their content? Okay so for the people who have never been to these forums like there’s members there right full on like ten page essays on what they’re working on and what’s working and what not, like how do you get that, how do you encourage that?

Andrew: I think part of that is just the type of people that you invite in. Some people like to do this, some people don’t. Probably that’s by example, I’m less good at this now especially since I don’t have as much hard data too. I’ve kind of gone for more of an operator role to more of a kind of a community manager and try to set the direction and vision for the community and have a macro role as we’ll talk about later with some of the industry stats. But early on in the early days I tried to lead by example with that with some posts.

And so probably setting that culture and bringing in the right people. Part of it too is highlighting people and appreciating people. I think when somebody goes in and they have a post, and they spent a lot of time on it and nobody notices it, then that’s tough right there. So what is the reward for doing that? But if they do spend a lot of time on something and the person who’s running the organization really notices and reaches out to them and thanks them for it, that’s beneficial if they get a lot of likes.

Another big feature I wanted in my forum software was to have something that could have an upload or a like functionality. We have a like functionality just like Facebook. There’s you know just like Facebook like there’s something pretty cool about spending time on something and seeing a dozen, 15, 20 people who are your peers that you respect acknowledge the work that you’ve done. I think that’s pretty powerful, at least it is for me.

And so those are I think all those things kind of in concert help. If you had just one of them that wouldn’t do it, but I think the kind of the trifecta of it can be helpful in setting a culture and also kind of helping build credibility and trust for encouraging people to post those things.

Steve: So far a lot of the features that you’ve been mentioning in your forum are actually covered by Facebook groups. So I was just kind of curious, why the decision to take it off of Facebook?

Andrew: A few things one, it’s hard to customize Facebook. We’ve built out some custom functionality with our community that there’s no way we could do with Facebook, that’s one. The branding is a second thing. Third, I feel like it’s less of a community like maybe this is just a bias, it’s not fair. But I feel like there’s less of a – it’s less of an independent autonomous community.

I wanted it to be a place where this is the — this is e-commerce so this is where you come to connect with other established writers, not like, oh I’m also checking out pictures from my brother and my best friend’s wedding. Oh here’s some e-commerce stuff too, maybe I’ll jump in there. I want it to be a dedicated place for people to go. And also ownership too, I wanted to own it like Facebook.

Steve: Yeah.

Andrew: I mean you think about the credit that they — I don’t know if they’ve done this with private groups, but think about how much they’ve cannibalized the organic traffic you got from your organic fan listings. Like you got to pay through the wazoo [ph] now to reach people that initially they promised that you could always reach if they liked you.

Steve: Yeah they definitely nerved the reach of groups even as well.

Andrew: Oh they have.

Steve: Yeah they have, they have. So yeah I was just curious at the time though it seemed like Facebook would have been the easy way out since it had all these features. Let’s talk about — you mentioned culture a whole lot, and so I just wanted to kind of talk a little bit about how you screen your people to come in outside of the revenue requirements of course.

Andrew: Yes so whenever people apply, we do a full on review of their website. And the requirements right now are you have to be doing at least a quarter million dollars in annual sales or work for a business that — work full time for an e-commerce business. And occasionally we’ll let in very select service providers if we think they are a really good cultural fit for the community. But for an average store, we’ll go and we’ll look and it’s we’ve kind of got like an internal process for doing this, and can give away everything so people can game the system.

But you can look at — on both ends of the extreme let’s take a store that you land on. And you go to their trust pilot page and over the last 30 days they’ve had 400 reviews and their site is well laid out. They have lifetime reviews of let’s say like 5,000 reviews from people. You can read through those. Let’s say they’ve got domain authority on their domain of 40, they’ve got 15,000 Facebook fans. There’s a pretty good chance, I would be shocked if that store was not at least a quarter million in sales right. So that’s pretty easy, and especially if it comes from an application with somebody with the domain in their email address.

On the flip side of that, if you go to a site and it’s not designed very well graphically, it just looks really horrendous, it’s not laid out well, domain authority of 10, no engagement on Facebook or review sites, their product descriptions aren’t well done, there’s nothing that seems like they’ve grown, working toward or social signals or SEO signals. They could still be crushing it with paid traffic behind the scenes maybe on some pages we didn’t see, it’s a possibility. But in that case we’ll ask people for revenue proof if that’s the case. That’s kind of a sense of our process.

Steve: What about like Amazon folks since there’s less evidence I guess.

Andrew: Yeah so if you’re on Amazon a couple things, I mean we require everyone to be transparent on the Amazon front as well. That’s also a big part of the community is transparency, so everyone has to use their real name or real store. Some people don’t like that and that’s totally understandable, but that’s part of our membership and they’re not — if you want to be a member that’s what we require.

So in that case if we look at their merchant page because everyone has a merchant page to list their products, and we see let’s say they’ve got a dozen products and all of their products have over one hundred reviews, probably pretty safe bet they’re doing the volume that we think. And we actually require $50,000 per month if you’re just on Amazon versus you’re kind of 20ish if you’re not. But again same thing if it’s kind of weak sauce, then it’s hard not to mess the long term. But if it’s hard for us to tell at a glance that they’re doing at least what we think we require, then we’ll ask for a revenue snapshot from their Amazon.

Steve: What about personality fit, like do you actually interview these people and get an idea of whether they’re going to contribute personality wise?

Andrew: Yeah good question, so we don’t. We don’t interview ahead of time but we do look at we’re reading the little things in the application and if people are on kind of around the border and they have a real thin application, that’s something that we’ll at times we’ll say, I suppose not a good fit. More so than that though it’s when people come into the community. I have a very — I love discourse and good discussions and debate, and I hate people who are disrespectful and rude.

And so those are done on a regular basis. We’ve tossed out people who were just kind of a one strike warning, like this last month actually we had to reach out to someone saying, hey man, the way you interacted with this person here was totally out of line and just downright rude. If it happens again we’re going to throw you out. And we have a pretty strict no jerks policy and I — yeah I mean I don’t feel bad about tossing people out who are a good cultural fit after they’ve had one warning.

Steve: What happens to posts like semi-naked pictures of like a popular blogger or podcaster of EcomCrew for example? Will that get like a strike?

Andrew: Well it depends how good the Photoshop job is and who it is. So as long as they’re not totally – I agree, I know exactly who you’re referring to, you may be getting an e-mail from Laura. You’ve been on our watch list throughout Steve, so we may have to talk off record about some of your activity.

Steve: So you give people a strike if they’re disrespectful and if they do it again they’re out.

Andrew: Yeah and if they’re really bad. I mean if they come out and they’re just you know — it’s all I mean community management and moderation is something that is tricky. There’s a lot of judgment and judgment calls involved, and if somebody did something atrocious, we will throw him out without a single strike. But usually you try to — a lot of those people don’t — what I have found is people communicate in very different ways just like they would in person to person, same thing with written.

Some people are very careful about how they write and want to make sure they don’t come across as rude or mean or aggressive. Other people just don’t think about that, they don’t understand the way that they come across in their written word, and sometimes people are being malicious, they just don’t — it just doesn’t forever click in their brain that this could come across really poorly. And so yeah someone like that and it’s not in a malicious thing more than just a lack of being conscientious and that’s something we’ll definitely warn him about.

Steve: Yeah so since you have a pretty good community of e-commerce entrepreneurs, what’s interesting is when you have a whole bunch of those people together, then you can extract like kind of macro data about them, and I know you sent out this ridiculously long survey, or you send it out every single year, it takes me a good 30 minutes to fill it out.

Andrew: And you complain about…

Steve: No not that I complain about it or anything. It’s a very good survey, very thorough; it could be a little shorter. I’ve just put that out there.

Andrew: Steve knows I wouldn’t have all these great insights to share on your podcast.

Steve: That’s true, so let’s start sharing those insights. So I’ve got a couple questions first. I know you have a couple of insights that I’m probably not going to ask you about here, but I am actually curious about the percentage of people that are private labeling and what the state of drop shipping is right now.

Andrew: Yeah so this is a report we call The State of the Merchant Report, and if you want to check out the full thing, you can go check it out at Ecommercefuel.com/2018-report. And it’s where we survey — this year we had 450 respondents to it, and so we get data on all different facets of their business. About half, a little over half I think are ECF members, the other half are just people in the community that run stores.

And so you want in terms of private labeling what percentage of people are private label. So we broke it up in a kind of five business models. You’ve got pure drop shipping; you have a hybrid model where you’re maybe drop shipping and also reselling something. Proprietary manufacturing, you’re making your own product private labeling where you’re making something but it’s probably a contract on a contract basis and either someone else’s design or tweaking someone else’s design and then pure reselling.

And so to answer your question Steve, private labeling makes up about 22% of the overall mix. So not just shy of a quarter and drop shippers make up about 16% of the whole mix. So you asked about the state of drop shipping, and it’s interesting because the only reason I sold my business 18 months ago was just being worried about the macro environment, and how difficult it is to be a dropshipper in today’s age.

I think in e-commerce if you don’t [inaudible 00:21:19] I think most people know this, 2018 if you don’t have something proprietary and you’re trying to just win on distribution, Amazon is going to crush you there. But what I found is drop shipping actually has — there definitely if I had to pick the model I would least like to be in, it would be drop shipping given the margins…

Steve: What are the margins that in your survey for drop shipping just curious?

Andrew: Yeah so much for drop shipping, so drop shipping your gross margin on average for a drop shipper is 28% compared to manufacturing the high side which is 49%.

Steve: So is that gross margins or net margins?

Andrew: Gross margin.

Steve: Gross margin, okay got it.

Andrew: You look at the net margins; your net margin on average for a drop shipper is 14% versus manufacturing 20% and private label which is actually a bit higher at 21%. But yeah I mean but you still it’s probably the hardest business to be in, but when you look at it, I think last year when we did this 2017 survey, one of the metrics I tracked is the number of stores with flat or declining revenue. And I think it was 45, close to half of all drop shipping stores were either stagnated or declining, in this year that had shrunk to only 33% of stores.

So you had two thirds of them were growing, and the average growth for drop shippers this year was almost 33%. It did better than I thought, and one thing I was wondering about this is I wonder if Ali Express, drop shipping from China and Shopify being over low and doing a lot to promote that, I wonder — I don’t have any data on this, but I wonder how much of that kind of strength and up take in popularity impacted those drop shipping numbers.

Steve: Yeah that’s a good point. I was always curious whether people are actually making money with that. So just for the listeners out there who don’t know what I’m talking about, Shopify there’s this app called Overload which allows you to easily do drop shipping from Ali Express which is this marketplace in China where you can get products really cheap from the manufacturer and then send them direct to the consumer through Amazon. And I just can’t imagine that being a good long term business model.

Andrew: Yeah I think it would be something that could be fun to spin up and play with, but if you want a business that can be around five ten years, yeah absolutely, because barriers to entry are low. It’s there’s a lot of the problems you have to drop shipping traditionally, but with the increased problems of you’ve got longer wait times, you probably have even more quality control issues because you have less intermediaries between the factory and the Customer. Yeah I mean I think it’s…

Steve: Plus you can take a month for the product to even get there.

Andrew: Yeah you get to deal with — and you can set expectations for people I suppose when they buy, but yeah I think there are some — it would not be the model I would choose to try to build a business that is going to be around in a decade.

Steve: There’s nothing in your survey about whether people are doing that, right?

Andrew: No unfortunately not. I was trying to – I heard a lot of people complaining about the length of the survey, trying to be more concise.

Steve: So the next question I had and I don’t know if you have statistics on this is just kind of like we all talk about how Amazon has taken over the world. Is that what you’re seeing in your survey as well in terms of percentage revenue of Amazon versus your own e-commerce store?

Andrew: Yeah so you look at the some of the trends with Amazon, and so I’ll give you three here. So the number of stores that listed Amazon as their number one sales channel was 26% this year, and that was up from 20% last year. So the number of stores that Amazon is the number one place they move product that’s up almost a third. Number of stores selling on Amazon in any capacity is 55% of merchants.

And if you look at the — I think this is maybe the most telling number — if you look at the aggregate revenue, so if you look at all the revenue from all of the people who responded to the survey, it’s about a billion dollars in revenue. And if you look at the percent that came from Amazon, last year that was about 200 million, this year it was about 276 million. So up pretty starkly from the year before. And so Amazon is definitely of course — I mean this isn’t a surprise they’re growing and you can see in the numbers. So they’re definitely taking up a larger share of the…

Steve: It seems much lower than I would have expected actually. So that’s like a third of the people, so most of the people are making a third of their revenue off of Amazon it sounds like.

Andrew: Yes if you look at not even that. So Amazon well it would be the percent so you look so actually on aggregate basis probably about a little over a quarter of the revenues coming from Amazon.

Steve: Right like 27 yeah interesting. And then how many people are just – did you say 20% are just only Amazon?

Andrew: So if you look at the people that are let’s see, I don’t know if I actually have a number for the percentage that are actually…

Steve: It looks like the survey is going to get longer man. It’s just not comprehensive as I thought it was.

Andrew: To be fair, if you’re listening to this thinking like why in the world would anyone spend 20 minutes filling out a survey, we do every year give out a free international round trip ticket anywhere in the world. So that’s kind of the carrot that we use to daggle in front of people.

Steve: Has anyone been announced yet, because I didn’t get a notification that I had won.

Andrew: Yeah, I was looking forward for this podcast.

Steve: Okay.

Andrew: They’ll send you the notification so we can make it official. I don’t actually — I could get that, I could circle up with you up on the show notes. I don’t know the number of people that actually are you know what was your question, your question was how people that are predominately selling on Amazon?

Steve: Yeah or only selling on Amazon.

Andrew: Only selling on Amazon. So I don’t have that number right in front of me. I would guess just based on a long weekend spreadsheet data that is probably about 25% of people are pure play Amazon players, but that’s just a guess.

Steve: Okay and I’m also curious of the members in your forum who are making the most, how long have they been selling online period, like did they start out with their own stores, did they start on Amazon and transition over?

Andrew: Yeah. You mean just anecdotally?

Steve: Yeah anecdotally or what you know. I mean you talk to a lot of the members of your forum; I was just kind of curious.

Andrew: Yeah I would say I think it really varies. I don’t think there’s a hard and fast rule there for who kind of that — I think about people that are really killing it in the community. You have some people who don’t sell on Amazon, have a really high quality branded sites with a very cool product, high quality products, high quality branding and they’ve figured out a way to drive revenue off Amazon.

And you have people too that are doing incredibly well with but with you know with an Amazon channel, that they went on Amazon, they used that to kick start the brand and now they’re taking a lot of those proceeds and the spoils from the Amazon launch and using that to build their own brand site at their own independent website out. So I see people doing very well with multiple different approaches. I don’t think there’s necessarily a category or a mold you can fit people into.

Steve: So you mentioned growth numbers earlier, and I’m curious did revenue — like how did revenue go up with people’s own sites in general as opposed to Amazon sales?

Andrew: Yeah so if you look at the revenue growth for stores that kind of broke it out, if you’re not selling on Amazon — so the average growth rate, I can’t remember if I mentioned this for the entire group was about 37% year over year.

Steve: That’s crazy.

Andrew: It is crazy although if you look at e-commerce growth in general year over year, it’s roughly isn’t going to serve [ph] a couple of days ago roughly and like for 2017 in the low to mid 20s range, so call it 22, 23%. And that’s for everyone right, even enormous massive big box stores. So when you think about merchants that are on the smaller end of that which relatively speaking seven figures are still pretty small in the broad scheme of things in a global economy, you make sense that they’re up a little bit so 37% on average.

If you look at stores that do not sell on Amazon, they grew at a 30% rate. If you look at stores that are selling on Amazon in some capacity even if it’s just 10% of what their sales, they’re growing at a 41% rate. If you look at stores where Amazon is sixty plus percent of their revenue, so the majority of their primary channel, they’re growing at a 51% rate.

Steve: Wow, Amazon is just killing it.

Andrew: Yeah they really are. I mean they’re — and not to say it’s the only way you can grow, but on average the more Amazon you have the faster you’re growing.

Steve: What about the best source of traffic like if you’re running your own store, like what are most people using to get new sales?

Andrew: Yeah so I looked at top traffic sources for everyone, and so this isn’t the — when I say these percentages, this is not the average percent of traffic that comes from a certain source, but it’s the percentage of merchants that listed this traffic source as their number one traffic source. And it’s interesting because you look at merchants that pay for traffic and three quarters of stores actually pay for traffic, but only 30% of stores list traffic paid traffic as their top traffic source.

You look at even despite all of the myself included moaning and groaning and wailing on the fact that organic traffic is getting harder to get and Google is just pushing those organic results further down below ads, organic search represents over half like 51% of all the – excuse me 51% of merchants reported that organic search was still their number one channel.

And in terms of conversion rates out of this, from that kicking out dive into deeper, but if you look at the conversion rates for merchants, so again this is the conversion rates reported by merchants based on their number one channel, direct was 3.94%, email was 3.32%, paid traffic was 2.66, and organic was 2.40. So email and direct email and paid traffic were by far the best converting channels for people that had that as their number one.

Steve: Interesting, you just said paid traffic was only 2.6%?

Andrew: Yeah 2.66% yep.

Steve: I’m wondering then if most of those people are running Facebook ads then, because usually Google AdWords conversion rates tend to be higher, at least for my store. I mean I only have one data point.

Andrew: Yeah again those people, I didn’t differentiate to try to – on the…

Steve: Oh God, this survey is worthless man.

Andrew: I am going to send you and let’s see where the [overlapping 00:31:36]. And when you don’t fill it out I’m going to go on my podcast and totally call you to town for it.

Steve: So are there any other interesting statistics? I know you’ve got a whole spreadsheet probably in front of you right now, that we hadn’t covered.

Andrew: Yeah so a couple more that came up. I was actually surprised that I saw that gross margins have stayed pretty resilient over the last year. So last year Amazon of course as we’ve just talked about Steve, they’re blowing up, their fees are always increasing and they take their little cut. Paid traffic costs are up this last year by 15% or so.

Steve: Ouch okay.

Andrew: But when you look at the margins year over year, they stayed almost the same. I mean you look at let’s see — so if we look at the margins in general when I go to that part, so gross margin on average were 39.2% across the board. I think they were like 39.6 last year and net margin 17.4 this year; last year I think they were 17.7. So they’ve stayed stronger than I would have guessed, that’s one thing.

You look at the discrepancy on the margins between people who sell primarily through their own store versus selling primarily on Amazon, and that’s widening a little bit. Like if you’re selling primarily on Amazon, your gross margin is 36% and your net margin is 16.6%. If you’re selling primarily on your storefront, your gross margin is going to be 40.4%, so about 4% higher, and your net margin is going to be 17.7 so a percentage higher and that’s widening a little bit from last year. So that’s one interesting thing.

Steve: So before you go on, so PPC costs you said have increased 15% roughly. And so how are they making up for it on the margin side?

Andrew: And that’s a big question I had. You’re thinking like how are the margins not getting eaten away more when you have these increasing costs? And the one thing that I saw and I’m not sure to be honest with you but the one guess I had and this kind of ties in to the probably the most startling data point I saw from the entire survey was that conversion rates, I think conversion rates last year were 2.10% across the board. This year they jumped up to 2.62%, which is like a 20% plus for revenue, like that’s normal number but anyone who’s tried to increase your conversion rate by twenty plus percent like that’s hard to do for one person let alone for like an entire universe of 450 store owners.

So thinking through that I thought that maybe one of my hypothesis was maybe more people, just a ton more people are getting into manufacturing and other markets maybe where they have better margins and better conversion rates because conversion rates in manufacturing tend to be higher than some of the other reselling models. But I saw the conversion rates go up across the board, across all different types of models. And so my best guess is that just it’s been a really good year with the economy at least because it’s a pretty US centric survey and the people are willing to spend more. But I think that’s part of the offsetting of the increased cost.

Steve: Either that or people are getting more intelligent about retargeting and site design and that sort of thing which is incidentally things that you learn just from browsing the forums because people share all that stuff pretty openly which is pretty amazing.

Andrew: Yeah it’s a good point, I should use this to leverage.

Steve: Come on Andrew, I’m just marketing your forum here.

Andrew: For the community, I’m slacking here.

Steve: Well it is true like [inaudible 00:34:59] Mike Jackness for example; he’ll post like this five page essay on what he did to improve sales whether it be like Facebook Messenger or whatnot. And this is stuff inside that I’ll read and then I’ll go try and instantly I just started doing Facebook Messenger stuff about a month ago, and I have almost 1,000 people and I sent out my first blast the other day and I made about 50 cents per subscriber which I was impressed upon because I didn’t even know what I was doing, so stuff like that.

Andrew: Yeah and that’s a good place, I didn’t even think about in terms of because you’re yet to see the survey, so ECF, Ecommerce Fuel centric. That’s a good point, I didn’t even think about that. A couple more metrics and before you throw me off the podcast here Steve, this is kind of fun, your favorite billionaire, so you have to really guess this between Elon, Richard Branson, Mark Cuban and Jeff Bezos, who do you think people most wanted to have lunch with?

Steve: Elon Musk, that was my answer at least.

Andrew: Elon and who do you say number two was?

Steve: Probably Bezos.

Andrew: So Elon Musk you’re right. Number one with 30%, almost 30% of the votes was Elon. Richard Branson was number two, 24.8, Mark Cuban was number three with 23.1, and in an e-commerce survey Jeff Bezos came in dead last with 22.2%.

Steve: Wow okay. I guess it’s because the other guys seem more personal, like Richard Branson just seems like a really nice guy, right?

Andrew: He does I agree, and he’s also to be fair he’s not trying to kill a bunch of members businesses, that might have something to do with it too.

Steve: That’s true, that’s true. And Cuban is pretty nice too. I mean if you get on his good side it seems at least, based on Shark Tank.

Andrew: Yeah and this is before too the whole of the Falcon Heavy launch and all that kind of stuff, so it’d be interesting that we do the poll the today. One less thing on Amazon front then we can if you have any question Steve, but the last thing I want to mention was if you look at obviously Amazon is becoming a bigger part of most people’s businesses and growing like crazy and powering a lot of growth. But I also took a look at — one thing I ask every year is what’s the number one struggle in your business this year? And this year I noticed a 3x increase in the number of people mentioning Amazon when asked about the biggest problem or concern, or struggle in their business.

And originally I thought like hey maybe this is just a bunch of people who have their own sites that are getting crushed by Amazon, it’s killing their own off Amazon model, but that was only 20% of people. 80% of the people mentioning struggles, it was related to like compliance issues, Amazon getting more competitive, them being more overly reliant than they wanted to be on Amazon, some kind of variation of I’m having problems or worried about Amazon actually selling on, so I thought that was interesting.

Steve: And is it because people are getting banned or it’s because they’re getting maliciously attacked?

Andrew: It’s all over the place. So I kind of broke it down, people complaining about Terms of Service, policy compliance, things like that was about 70% just people complaining about Amazon getting more competitive in general, and that would also include people hijacking their listings, trademark issues was about 31%, and then over reliance on Amazon was also about 31%.

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 e-commerce 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.

Interesting, interesting. Yeah I noticed that too just with the members of my class as well. I mean a lot of these unscrupulous sellers are actually — it seems like they’re paying people to just maliciously leave negative reviews and just destroy your listing right off the bat, and that’s happening a lot more these days. I hope Amazon does something about that.

Andrew: Yeah I totally agree. I’ve been seeing more of that too and it’ll be a hard thing to — I guess it depends on circumstance, some could be pretty cut and dry who’s right or wrong, but yeah it probably requires a lot more human interaction on that and that’s Amazon is all for getting the humans out of the equation.

Steve: I want to switch gears a little bit, like Andrew you’re sitting on a boatload of cash from two e-commerce store sales, how are you investing it, what do you plan on doing with that boatload of cash?

Andrew: Thank you for wishing that.

Steve: By the way Andrew lives, his address is…

Andrew: So investing is interesting. To be — I mostly just kept it in cash. I have done a little bit; investing a little bit in a very little amount in crypto, most is for funding anything but that’s a tiny percentage. So that’s been fun to watch, it’s just kind of a fun kind of debt speculative bet. But for the most part 99% of it is still sitting in cash waiting for some good opportunities to come along. And I think actually it’s funny you mention this; we’ve had some private discussions about this in the past.

Next week I have multiple days blocked off to really thinking through how to put some — have more of a tangible plan, but yeah right now it’s been most in cash. And my hope is to be able to with some business stuff coming up in the future, I think we’re as entrepreneurs a lot of people listening plus some of the best return you can get on your money is to be able to employ that in your own business or in other businesses that you can control.

So that’s going to be part of that with some stuff we’re going to be doing in the future hiring some more people to help out with some things, buy some assets, things like that. And the other too is I think we’re in a huge asset bubble right now. And so we did a podcast about this at Ecommerce Fuel about trying to time the market, so I’m not planning on timing the market. But I was pretty excited to see the stock market take a nice little hit this last week. It’ll probably be a tiny [inaudible 00:41:16] before it runs to 50,000.

Steve: I guess the reason why I’m asking this question is do you plan on deploying this money on buying another business, and if so would it be an e-commerce or something else?

Andrew: Probably not e-commerce just because it’s really kind of it’s my commitment to try to double down on the Ecommerce Fuel community and brand an ecosystem. I think it’s hard to do a lot of things well at once. But I would invest more in — like one thing I’m going to be doing in the future is a job board and really trying to build out a more dynamic job board for e-commerce marketing and world class customer support position.

Steve: Andrew you spoiled my next line dude. I was going to say, you know what, it would be really nice if there was just a centralized place where I could find help with my e-commerce store. And that was supposed to lead into that but you just ruined it.

Andrew: Sorry, I do that all the time. I step all over your…

Steve: This way it doesn’t seem like you’re pitching yourself and I’m genuinely curious about it.

Andrew: Which dude I need all those cues, do I put personal too much in your docket?

Steve: All right, tell us about your job board Andrew.

Andrew: No I was just — that’s probably where I was going to potentially put some money. Yeah so those were one thing, where are you thinking about putting money right now?

Steve: Probably real estate as soon as things slow down a little bit. So one of the number one questions I get asked from readers and listeners is why not just start — like you teach a class, why not just start like an infinite number of e-commerce stores? And I have an e-commerce store, I’d like to diversify. And so that’s why I went to blogging, that’s why I went to podcasting, that’s why I started an event.

And what’s next on my list, maybe something in the software space because that’s something that I haven’t done yet, but it’s just taking me a long time to figure out what that piece of software is going to be. I haven’t — I’m really anxious to start typing and coding because that’s what I enjoy doing, but I haven’t found anything that I feel like is going to have long term potential versus my time, because doing anything in tech, there is support, there is a whole bunch of other costs involved that ecommerce actually doesn’t have, or info products doesn’t have.

Andrew: Yeah it’s hard to do a lot of things well, that’s the other thing too is it’s really — I am not even in the same ecosystem as Elon Musk, and I think you do a really good job of this. I don’t know how you do it so well, but for me I do better when I focus on fewer things, I think most people do. And so yeah it’s hard to do a lot of things. Real estate was only — you mentioned it and I like that too. I like — we flirt with the idea of that happens somewhere else as opposed to where we spend some time. And the thing is it’s stuff for us right now as I’d love to invest in some real estate too, but it’s do you worry about how expensive the markets are in real estate?

Steve: I mean I hear that there’s a lot of growth opportunities in the San Jose and Bristol [ph] area. I mean it’s just right for…

Andrew: [Overlapping 00:44:06] is a very nice place as well.

Steve: Yeah it’s just ripe for growth. So one thing I wanted to kind of end this is we both run events, and we both know that they aren’t like the best profit centers so to speak. And I was just kind of curious like how your event ties in with your community and why you run them.

Andrew: Yeah so coming from full circle here back to the community.

Steve: Yeah.

Andrew: The reason we do the events is not to make money, like we make that little bit of money off of it, but when you look at how much time and energy goes into it it’s we’re probably making two three dollars an hour, it’s terrible. It’s not a good money maker. We do it because — I do it because it’s the most effective way to build relationships and to build community. And for us that’s – for Ecommerce Fuel that’s the biggest thing we’re focused on trying to build a genuine tight knit value adding community for seven figure store owners.

And so that’s kind of the mentality I bring to it. I try to really use the event as a way to cement and strengthen the bonds between the community members than a lot of the other meeting online because I mean meeting in person it’s kind of cliché, but there’s nothing like it and you can’t replace it.

Steve: Yeah totally. So for my event at least the Sellers Summit, I don’t have like this really tight community of forum members. And so the way I try to build community that way is I guess getting my most loyal listeners and readers kind of all in one place so I can get to know them better, and the hope is that these people will come back over and over again, and every year our existing relationships will be strengthened.

Andrew: Yeah, have you seen it like have you seen a good percentage of people…

Steve: Yeah. I don’t have the exact statistics, but I think it was like thirty something percent. We also changed the event a little bit this year in that we are screening for revenue and we’re hoping to get a large percentage of people who actually sell full time as opposed to pure beginners.

Andrew: Yeah I know it’s a great event, I was able to come last year, I was there the first year you did it.

Steve: Tell everyone what you were doing during the event last year.

Andrew: I was in an interview within meet up in the Utah desert hanging out with a bunch of other people who have an obsession with having fun and playing and sleeping in 30 year old fans.

Steve: Yes, yes I don’t know e-commerce Sellers Summit camping out in a van with a bunch of fanatics.

Andrew: If I hadn’t committed to it and paid for it ahead of time, I wouldn’t have been there. And I will be there this year, I’m very much looking forward to it Steve.

Steve: Cool. Andrew, where can people find this job board, where can people find your forums, and where can people find information about your event?

Andrew: Yeah thanks. So Ecommercefuel.com is the best place just to check out everything. If you want or interested in learning more about the community or joining, you can head over there and just click at the join now button, and you can learn more about how that whole process works. The event is limited to community members only. So if you do want to be a part of that, just the first step would be joining the community.

And on the job board front, if you are — we’ve got a job board that we’re launching, and the real vision and focus behind it is to be able to help seven figure store owners get great marketing talent and world class customer support. So if you have a store and you’re looking for people, looking to find a place you can post jobs and get great talent, that’s going to be the focus.

And if you’re in the e-commerce world as well and you want to find out about opportunities with kind of really interesting, fun, cool e-commerce companies, and we’re also going to some internships as well. So if you’re kind of still just getting — if you’ve got a lot of hustle and grit and maybe some insider experience but not a ton of e-commerce professional experience but you want to maybe learn about some of those intern opportunities, we’ll have those over there as well. So, all those would be Ecommercefuel.com/jobs.

Steve: Is this job board for the general public?

Andrew: It will be yes.

Steve: Okay.

Andrew: Yeah we’re definitely going to make it a little more tied in and hopefully will be more of a service to the board members first and foremost, the community members, but yeah it will definitely be available to the general public.

Steve: Cool man. Well Andrew, thanks for coming on again after three years, and thanks for being my very first guest which jump started the entire podcast.

Andrew: Hey, thanks for taking on a limb and let me come back on knowing my personality and what I could potentially do to damage the brand. So thanks for having me, but it’s good to be on as always.

Steve: Yeah man, I think you’re due for a Photoshop job, so we’ll see what we could do about your podcast image for this episode.

Andrew: Thank you dude for a warning before.

Steve: All right dude, take care man.

Andrew: Hey thanks Steve.

Steve: Hope you enjoyed that episode. If any of you are selling online and making over $250,000 in yearly revenue, then I highly encourage that you sign up for Andrew’s forum over at Ecommercefuel.com. It will make a huge difference to your business. For more information about this episode, go to Mywifequitherjob.com/episode208.

And once again, I want to thank Privy.com for sponsoring this episode. Privy is the email capture provider that I personally use to turn visitors into email subscribers. They offer email capture, exit intent, and site targeting tools to make it super simple as well. And I like Privy because it’s so powerful and you can basically trigger custom pop-ups for any parameter that is closely tied to your e-commerce store. If you want to give it a try, it is free. So, head on over to Privy.com/Steve, once again, that’s P-R-I-V-Y.com/Steve.

I also want to thank Klaviyo which is my email marketing platform of choice for e-commerce 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 autopilot. So head on over to mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O and sign up for free. Once again, that’s mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O.

Now I talk about how I use both of these tools in my blog, and if you’re interested in starting your own e-commerce 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’re giving the courage people need to start their own online business. For more information, visit Steve’s blog at www.Mywifequitherjob.com.

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207: How To Use Facebook Messenger Bots To Sell A Digital Course With Mary Kathryn Johnson

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How To Use Facebook Messenger Bots To Sell A Digital Course With Mary Kathryn Johnson

Today I’m thrilled to have Mary Kathryn Johnson on the show. Mary is someone who I met long ago when I was guest on her podcast Parent Entrepreneur Power. And we recently reconnected again at Social Media Marketing World.

It had been a while since we last spoke and when we started chatting, I discovered that she’s now a Facebook messenger bot consultant which really piqued my interest because that’s exactly what I’m studying right now.

Anyway, Mary has implemented high converting messenger bots for a lot of high profile clients and today we are going to pick her brain on how to implement a messenger bot for a digital products business.

What You’ll Learn

  • How Mary discovered Facebook Messenger bots
  • Her best Facebook messenger bot implementations for selling digital products
  • How Facebook messenger can be mixed in with email
  • The best way to get new messenger subscribers/li>
  • Some sample messenger autoresponder sequences

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

Privy.com – Privy is my tool of choice when it comes to gathering email subscribers for my ecommerce store. They offer easy to use email capture, exit intent, and website targeting tools that turn more visitors into email subscribers and buyers. With both free and paid versions, Privy fits into any budget. Click here and get 15% OFF towards your account.
Privy

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

You’re 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 they use to grow their businesses. Now today I’m happy to have my friend Mary Kathryn Johnson on the show. And a couple weeks ago I actually had Molly Pittman on the podcast to talk about Facebook Messenger bots to sell physical products online. But today, we’re going to discuss with Mary different ways people are using Facebook Messenger bots to sell digital products online.

But before we begin, I want to give a quick shout out to Privy who is a sponsor of the show. Privy is the tool that I use to build my email list for both my blog and my online store. Now Privy is an email list growth platform, and they manage all my email capture forms. And in fact I use Privy hand in hand with my email marketing provider.

Right now for example, I’m using Privy to display a cool wheel of fortune pop-up. Basically a user gives their email for a chance to win valuable prizes in our store. And customers love the gamification aspect of this, and when I implemented this form email sign ups increased by 131%.

Bottom line, Privy allows me to turn visitors into email subscribers, which I then feed to my email provider to close the sale. So head on over to Privy.com/Steve, and try it for free. And if you decide you need some of the more advanced features, use coupon code MWQHJ For 15% off. Once again that’s P-R-I-V-Y.com/Steve.

Now I also want to give a quick shout out to Klaviyo who is also a sponsor of the show. Now always blessed to have Klaviyo as a sponsor because they are the email marketing platform that I personally use for my ecommerce store, and I depend on them for over 30% of my revenues. Klaviyo is the only email platform 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. 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 sent.

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: What was that?

Mary: I don’t know what was it?

Steve: Is that a piano in the background?

Mary: No.

Steve: No, okay all right.

Mary: There is one but nobody’s playing it. If somebody is, I’m in trouble.

Steve: Okay. Welcome to the My Wife Quit her Job Podcast. Today I’m thrilled to have Mary Kathryn Johnson on the show. And Mary is someone who I actually met long ago when I was a guest on her podcast Parent Entrepreneur Power. And we recently reconnected again at Social Media Marketing World, and it had been a while since we last spoke. And when we started chatting, I discovered that she is now a Facebook Messenger bot consultant.

She runs Messengerfunnels.com. And that really piqued my interest because that’s exactly what I’m studying right now. And Mary has actually implemented high converting Messenger bots for a lot of high profile clients. And today we’re going to do is we’re going to pick her brain on how to implement a Messenger bot for a digital products business. And with that, welcome to the show Mary, how are you doing today?

Mary: Hey there Steve. I am fantastic. I mean I woke up this morning, how could I be not good since I woke up and the sun is shining, so yeah I’m doing great.

Steve: It’s true, the weather is great where we live, we can’t complain.

Mary: My gosh, I cannot. It’s crisp in the morning and nice and warm, not too warm in the afternoon. So yeah life is good, how are you?

Steve: I’m good, I’m good. You know first off, I just want to say I love your name Mary Kathryn Johnson. It always makes me think of a movie star because they always say they have three words in their name.

Mary: Well I got to tell you, I can’t just be Mary Johnson. There’s a lot of Mary Johnsons in the world, and so I had to distinguish it a little bit, plus the domain Mary Johnson…

Steve: That’s true, impossible to get.

Mary: Yeah I had to just put my middle name in there, and channel my grandmother whom I’m named after, and yeah go on with life.

Steve: So Mary, give us the quick background story. Tell us how you actually got into Facebook Messenger bots.

Mary: Oh my goodness that is Andrew Warner’s fault, it is absolutely his fault. I’m on his list; I listen to his podcast periodically. And one day I open my email and there was a message in there, this was late January of 2017. And the message said how would you like 80% open rates and 60% click through rates unlike everyone else I went to, yeah dah.

Steve: I fell for that too man, yeah.

Mary: So I opened that message and it led to a invitation to a webinar. And of course like all wonderful humans that use the internet, I went ahead and registered for it with absolutely no intention of attending. I’m just one of those people that I’m just over webinars, and I’m just like I know your process, you’re going to give me an email, you invite me to the webinar, yes I’m intrigued, but you still invite me to the webinar and probably what I’ll do is I’ll be busy at the time and I’ll watch the replay. That was my absolute intention.

And somehow for some reason at the time the webinar was going to happen, it was on my calendar and it popped up and I was absolutely not doing anything else except whatever I was doing. I was not as intrigued as the webinar, so I jumped on. And I jumped on this webinar and he absolutely blew my mind. It was one of those experiences like the first very first online business that I did in 2003. I was totally consumed by this topic.

And he went through a very simple demonstration of how to create a Messenger bot on Chatfuel because at that time Chatfuel was free and easy and ManyChat was still kind of working things out. And so I jumped on during the webinar, got on to Chatfuel, checked it out, was just, oh my gosh, this is amazing and I kept telling him, it was a live webinar thankfully. And I kept asking him in the chat, how much would you charge for this if you were in a business, if you were actually doing this for clients?

And he evaded the question, oh it depends. And I hammered again, I said no, and he evaded the question again. And finally I’m like no; I really need to know how much would you charge for this because I had no clue. And I think he just grabbed a number out of the air just to shut me up to be honest, and it came out to about $1,000. And I went, okay. He was selling a course and I’m like, I got to do this but I’m not going to go into debt to do this course. I’ve done that before, I’m sure all of us have.

And I’m like, no, I’m not doing it. So I’m going to have to make this work. And he was actually charging $400 to get on the phone with him to see if you even qualified for the course. This was his first round of webinars. And I put down my money and I had two days before I was going to talk to him. So I went out into my network and I built a temporary and just a demo bot and went out to people, and just started talking to them about what they were doing. And this was launch season obviously is the end of January beginning February.

And so I just went talking to people and I got a couple people that said you know what, last year I was killing it. I was clashing it with my course, people were doing great. This year nobody clicks it, nobody wants to buy it. And I’m like, hey, you want to chat, maybe I can help. And that’s all I did. And as I started talking to them about what they were doing, their email open rates and click through rates were terrible.

So I said, there’s this new thing that I’m getting involved in and learning about, you want to see what it’s about? And they said yeah, and when I showed them I said, it’ll be $1,000 for me to create this for you, and they said do it. So I sold — pre-sold to people before I even knew how to do it and paid for the course, and the rest is history.

Steve: And I think you had David Siteman Garland as one your clients as well.

Mary: I do yes.

Steve: Who has a ton of digital products.

Mary: He is — yeah we built a — we call it the adventure, ad adventure because that’s really what it is. As people get into your products, they come in for one, you’ve got a lead magnet, you bring them in for one particular product and they start going through that funnel so to speak and that’s why the business is called Messenger funnels not Messenger bots, because the bot is just the delivery method Steve, it really is.

Well, I try not to be annoyed but I am when people say do you build bots, and I’m like well dude that’s like saying I build emails, right? It’s just the delivery method; it’s what you put into it. It’s the funnel, it’s the process, it’s the adventure, that’s what I build and I just happen to deliver it in a chat bot.

Steve: I might have to rerecord the introduction entirely.

Mary: No that’s totally cool because people are now getting to learn that whole words. So that’s totally cool, it’ll get their attention, then I’ll educate them.

Steve: So Mary what I was hoping to do today, and we had this I want to say hour and a half long conversation a couple of weeks ago on this, and it was recorded but it wasn’t like in podcast format. So what I was actually hoping to do today was also go into depth on how you’ve implemented Facebook Messenger funnels, not bots, funnels to sell digital products for some of your clients.

And we don’t have to talk about a specific client in person, but I just want like a holistic view on how you might get started. Let’s say you sell a digital product and you have a small following, let’s talk about the funnel, how to acquire subscribers and that sort of thing, and how they can be mixed with e-mail too.

Mary: Yes, yes, yes because it’s vital even though I don’t personally use e-mail really anymore for any kind of outreach or communication for my business. It’s still vital because the day of this recording, this is how Facebook works. So the day of this recording, Facebook just came out with — because of this breach of data that they had recently, they just came out with the statement that they are not allowing anyone to connect a new chat bot to their Facebook business page until Facebook has figured out this data thing.

So as of this recording, you cannot attach a chat bot right now to your business page. Now that obviously Facebook will lose money with that, so that’s not going to be going on very long. But my point of it is definitely integrate e-mail because Facebook’s goals and your goals might not exactly be aligned, okay? So I’ll just leave that out there and say definitely connect email, Facebook will go through changes and adapt to things because Messenger is still really — I mean it’s very not even infant stage, it’s still brand new.

This is still the Wild West. So keep your stats, keep your connections, but dive in to Messenger. And by the time you hear this, I’m sure that will be lifted and everything will be fine. I don’t anticipate that being more than a day or two to be honest with you.

Steve: I didn’t even hear about this, I had no idea.

Mary: It just happened a couple of hours ago as a matter of fact.

Steve: Okay, that’s why I haven’t heard, wow okay.

Mary: Yeah that’s how fast things — I got a message from Chatfuel that basically said, hey, just to let you know, don’t try and connect any business pages to Chatfuel because you won’t be able to. So anyway so with that in mind, the point of this is think big picture first just like any other sales of your digital products. You don’t start with how you get people to something you haven’t even created yet, right?

Steve: Right.

Mary: Okay so the first thing you do is start with the end in mind. So I’m going to talk about starting with an overview of this, start with the end in mind. What are you selling, what are you converting? Some people are converting to an appointment because they have a high ticket mastermind, some people are converting to the sale of their course, some people are converting to the sale of an e-book or physical book. But whatever it is you’re converting to, think about the conversion first, then you work backwards from there. Because if you if you don’t know where you’re going, you don’t know how to get there, right?

So you need to start with conversion and then you think of the adventure people need to go on to know, like, and trust you. These are all terms you already know, that to know, like, and trust you to be able to buy that thing. And so if you start with the end, you think about the adventure, then you can start thinking about how do I get people in, and what do people need, what is the hook, what is the lead magnet, what are those things that will get their attention because that’s the biggest commodity right now is attention.

So what’s going to get their attention to be able to come in and consume, and go on the adventure that I want for them. So that’s the big picture, does that make sense?

Steve: Yeah so let’s make some assumptions here that we’re selling a class and let’s say we have some of those lead magnets that are already in place on our e-mail sequence.

Mary: Perfect, absolutely perfect. So what you’re going to want to do is if you’ve already had this funnel created in e-mail, you’re ahead of the game. But you need to think very differently in terms of communication style when you take that copy and put it into Messenger, okay? So you need to think about, then the next thing we need to do is once we have that already laid out, so I’m thinking I see on a whiteboard this funnel, right, this adventure. And there’s connections, here is first email, then it connects to the second email etcetera, etcetera.

So you need to take that and do what I call a face tweet. So I used to be a Twitter gal. I would love the short done, I’m kind of gabby when I talk to people in person, but I’m a very much to the point.

Steve: No, I didn’t really notice that.

Mary: So I’m a face to — I was a Twitter person and I really didn’t do a lot of Facebook because it was just too chatty and surface stuff for me, and I don’t talk about my luncheon, what my kids did that day online at least. If you’re talking to me face to face, yeah I’m going to tell you all about my business. But so when Facebook, the Messenger came in, it just was perfect for me because it’s like telling a story like the Facebook type thing but with Twitter bluntness, okay?

So that’s why I call it face tweet. So you want to look at that e-mail and now you want to reverse engineer that e-mail that you just wrote. And it’s a wonderful long story email, it’s got people, it’s hooking people in if they read it, problem is they don’t read it anymore. So it’s all that long form story. Now I need you to reverse engineer that and go back to your outline form, and take that big not beautiful long story and turn it into an outline and highlight only the most important parts. So you’ve got to get to that story much faster with much less copy.

So take that e-mail, face tweet it, tear it down. And that’s the start of the copy you put into Messenger.

Steve: You know what’s funny is like I have these emails that are like 1,000 words or more, and you’re telling me that I have to condense it down to like a couple of hundred characters, right?

Mary: Oh yeah less okay. So here’s the way, so yes here’s the way Messenger works. You start — what I do is that another reason that I think I give it a face tweet is I usually have each message in my sequence of messages. So you’re going to take that e-mail and you’re going to break it into maybe at the most like seven messages, okay?

Steve: Right.

Mary: And each message is like one 160 characters. So Twitter was 140, okay I give you a few more, 160 let’s say. And what you want to do is you don’t want to just tell like we do in the email. We’ll start in the — think of it as email is passive, you’re telling a story like you’re reading a book. The author isn’t engaging with you. The author is not asking you to engage back and share your opinions, but in Messenger that’s exactly what you’re doing. So you need to not tell a story, you need to engage people.

And really number one, if you hear nothing else, this is Facebook besides advertising. This is Facebook’s main purpose. They want people to engage. So if you keep that in mind, Facebook will love you and you will love Facebook. You need to engage people. So if you have an email, let’s say you’re going to tell a story about this time that you — okay let me just speak from experience and I can make something up. So I fell and broke both my legs when I was eight months pregnant.

And so I go through that story with people and I talk about yeah this is what happened and that’s what happened. So instead of doing that I would say something like, have you ever heard of someone at eight months pregnant falling and breaking both their legs, so that they have to deliver the baby with a cast on each leg up to the knee? Do you believe that, right? And so I’d say do you believe that, and I put a button, oh my gosh, no way. Or yeah that’s me. I mean I would put those two buttons after I put that question, does that makes sense?

Steve: Yeah. So do both buttons lead to the same reply?

Mary: Not necessarily. So that depends on your adventure. So I have a client Allison Prince and we go through a whole process for her, and she has an online course, a digital course and it’s sold through an evergreen webinar. And so she might ask, did you know that my two daughters sold $100,000 in products in the first nine months of me helping them start their e-commerce store? Do you want to find out how I did it? And then one of the buttons is heck yeah, and the other one is no, I’d rather stay stuck.

Well the one that says no, I’d rather stay stuck goes to another message that says, are you kidding me, you’re probably the first person to actually click this button, right? And then it goes to no worries, that’s totally cool, I’ll be here if you need me. And it stops. We’re not going to keep trying to sell them, we’re not going to — if they say, if they want to stay stuck that’s cool. Then we come back later and follow up and that kind of thing a couple of days later. But the one that says heck yeah, well then that goes into the funnel. And each of those buttons you’re going to tag so that you can segment your audience.

Steve: I see. And so in this case you’re tagging just based on interest, right? So in this example that you just gave, if someone click yes, you will just immediately tag them for interested in e-commerce for example?

Mary: That’s right.

Steve: Correct okay.

Mary: And then the next one is, okay great, now we need to know are you a newbie at this or do you already have a store and you need to know how to grow it? So that’s very important tagging, right? I’m a newbie or I already have a store. You’re going to give different information to those two people.

Steve: That’s correct. Okay so these are questions that you ask right off the bat on the front of the funnel?

Mary: Well it could be. So it depends on what your lead magnet is, right? So that’s in the middle of her funnel, that’s actually toward the end when we’re going to invite them to the Evergreen webinar. So that’s around the middle to the last half. The beginning part of the funnel is all lead magnet stuff. So a lead magnet, it might be, she might have one of her lead magnets be the 15 biggest business mistakes I’ve made and how to avoid them yourself.

So, they come in and they want to find out the business mistakes, and how to avoid them, and that’s the beginning in the funnel. Then we offer them another lead magnet to be honest because again Facebook engagement. The standard web in our funnel doesn’t work in Facebook as well, so in Messenger anyway. So you don’t go to a Facebook ad and then you hook them in with your lead magnet, they come in with your lead magnet and then immediately you say, hey, come to my webinar, and then immediately it’s buy my course.

That process doesn’t work as well. It works pretty okay but nowhere near as well as getting engaged with people. So instead of that Facebook ad to the lead magnet, the beginning of the funnel for her is and for most of my evergreen webinar clients is a Facebook live on their business Facebook page.

Steve: Okay.

Mary: They do a Facebook Live and I’ll take that exact same lead magnet. The lead magnet hasn’t changed, but she’s doing a Facebook Live saying, hey, do you want to know — I got to talk to you about my big business mistakes because we all make them, and I’m not going to sit here and try to tell you that I’m this perfect person who’ve never made mistakes. Are you kidding? She says I hired a CEO from one of my last companies who totally ran my business into the ground because I didn’t trust my gut and do what I knew needed to be done. I followed what I thought this person that I hired who was supposed to know everything that we were supposed to do, and the business failed.

So she talks about that little bit more and then gets people to engage and say, hey, you know what, tell me tell me what your biggest business mistake was, comment on this post, and when you do I’m going to give you my 15 biggest business mistakes in Messenger and how to avoid them.

Steve: I see, and this is happening during the live or is this just a piece of content. Okay during the live, I see.

Mary: The live yes and so then that’s a post. In Messenger, you have a comment, a Facebook comment tool that allows you to take one of your posts and anyone who comments on that post they can then become a subscriber. But again I caution you, don’t just use this as click bait, this has to be engaging. You can’t just tell people, hey, comment buy and I will give you stuff. It’s got to be actual engagement, you have to ask in the Facebook Live, ask open ended questions, what would you do, what have you done to get people engaging with you in the comments?

Then tell them very clearly and explicitly, when you comment I will give you my thing in Messenger. I will deliver it to you in Messenger. If you do that, Facebook will love you. If you try and click bait and just get them to click so you can get a subscriber, Facebook will shut you down. And they will have no problem shutting you down first and asking questions later.

Steve: In terms of advertising the live, do you just go live or do you actually send out a message ahead of time?

Mary: Either way depending on your own Facebook page and how much engagement you already get.

Steve: I see.

Mary: So a lot of my clients have a business page but the majority of their engagement is in groups. Again at the time of this recording, we can’t attach a bot to a group; we can only attach it to a business page. So what we have to do then is start building up the engagement on their business page first. So we just start doing Facebook lives, we just start posting more, we just start engaging with people, we invite people in to go to comment on this post so that we get people used to engaging on the business page now.

Once you do that, then you can start going live and again start getting them to engage in the lives, and then you start once you start getting enough engagement and that is really up to you as to what your business is, and it doesn’t have to be a lot. So just like with Alison and I do have permission to share some of her stats, so I’m not talking out of class here. Just with hers, she just passed the 3,000 mark, so she just has 3,000 subscribers in her Messenger bot. And last week, we sold 44 of her online course.

Steve: Crazy.

Mary: And that’s with 3,000 people.

Steve: On her business page, it’s like if you’re starting from scratch do you recommend — would you recommend building up the Facebook page first before you start doing these lives, or do you just do them all from the start?

Mary: Just started engaging with people, just starting all the normal ways that you try and get people to your page or your group, do all the normal ways that we already know to try to get people into your page or group and not being scammy, not being like click baity. But a lot of the groups that you might belong to have a follow Friday kind of thing or a promotion day or something like that, definitely putting your page into those, you can go ahead and do an ad, just a click add that specifically gets people to like your page and shows them hey, make sure you make notifications so that you see this first, and give them some value, you know that’s what it’s all about.

Steve: Sure but the audience might not know, so I’m glad you’re actually saying all this stuff out loud.

Mary: It’s value, it really is all. So Allison and all my clients don’t like in like dynamo stuff or boss moms. They don’t just try to get people to like their page, they give lots of stuff, lots of free stuff that are higher level than their course gets. Your course is usually deep down really teaching high quality stuff will start with the higher level. So like with Allison, if it’s the business mistakes, one of them might be the top six apps I use in my business every day.

So everything is related to e-commerce business, and the things that you have in your life as an entrepreneur. That shows value of that she knows what she’s talking about in building a business. Then she gets deeper into the funnel to give more value and then brings them to the course, does that make sense?

Steve: Yeah it does. And do you recommend using like auto posting services then onto your page?

Mary: Yeah there’s no problem. All of us do whether it’s MeetEdgar, or RecurPost or Buffer or Hootsuite, any of those kinds of things. But I wouldn’t have that as the only posting you do. I would definitely have that as providing value. And I usually personally use that when I’m especially in the bot world I have a Google alert.

And so I look at that Google alert and especially with Messenger bots or chat bots or any of those keywords. I get an alert every day from Google about the top pieces of news or the top information with those keywords. And I go through that and I stack that and my assistant then schedules it out in Buffer or RecurPost depending on if it’s evergreen or if it’s just timely.

Steve: The reason why I asked that question is because when you auto post things, those posts tend to get less engagement than for example a live, right?

Mary: That’s true but it also then just still at least has data, still has stuff on your page that people can still engage with. So if you sprinkle it, I don’t post five times a day in auto posting in Facebook. I might post five times a day on Twitter, auto posting but not on Facebook. So I might only have one or two auto posts and the rest are my own.

Steve: I see and then you mix in a live maybe like once a week or?

Mary: Yeah, once a week or more often if you are needing engagement, if you’re needing to build that page up. People respond to images, gifts, and videos more than they respond to text posts on Facebook.

Steve: Okay yeah, that makes sense. And then once you — so let’s say you’ve done a couple of lives and you’ve built up your subscriber list, what are some of the next steps to conversion?

Mary: Okay. So again as long as you have the funnel in Messenger built and you know the adventure, so you’ve asked engaging questions, you’ve built that out, you’ve tagged all the buttons, you’ve figured out what kind of adventure people need to get to go to the conversion, and again all of these surveys, quizzes, all of it you can do in Messenger. You don’t need outside software.

You can even if you’re an e-commerce business which I know we’re talking about digital products, but I got to say this because this is the direction that Facebook is going. Even if you have and e-commerce product, you can actually even sell it in Messenger. So that’s the direction Facebook is wanting to go. But now once you get through the adventure, you can then go out to a landing page or a sales page on ClickFunnels, or Leadpages or Infusionsoft, wherever it is you have the rest of your sales funnel when they actually buy.

Steve: Can we talk about that for a little bit? Do you have any experience with just selling directly on Messenger with any of your clients?

Mary: Yes I do. I have a couple of clients especially in e-commerce. I don’t use ManyChat, at least not — again I have to keep expressing this, and I’m sorry because this is changing so fast. I have to say as of the time of this recording because if you hear this a year from now, it probably will be totally different. But right now I have my e-commerce clients on Chatfuel, and the reason is because — and we’re talking ManyChat and Chatfuel, for the people you don’t know this ManyChat and Chatfuel are programs to build these bots in Messenger just like Leadpages and ClickFunnels and all those other Infusionsoft are programs where you can build sales funnels and landing pages.

So Chatfuel is where I have my e-commerce clients because they have developer tools that are very sophisticated. And what we do is so exciting. What we do is instead of — so most people are on the phone, right? They’re on their phone, they got the Messenger app, they’re going, and they’re checking things out. And we get them into the funnel in Chatfuel and in Messenger, and they’re starting to — let’s say one of them I was working on right before I came onto this call with you has a business selling skincare products.

And so she sells skincare products to aestheticians specifically, you have to be a licensed aesthetician. So you come into the bot and they say, we ask them, we qualify them with okay, what kind of business do you have? Do you just wax at home, do you have a solopreneur with your own shop, or do you have a full fledged salon? So they choose one of those and we tag them there. And then we ask them, okay, what kinds of products are you interested in? So she has her own product lines, and then she also resells some others.

And so then they choose which product. And then when they choose that product, instead of having the bot just give a link to that page on their site and then the bot will make the browser open and then make them go outside of Messenger to your browser on their phone to see that page, instead of doing that we can actually use what’s called a web view. And we can call that website into Messenger so that they’re on their phone, they say yes I wax at home and I want the brow code, this is a new product that she’s got brow code. So I want brow code.

And so when they click that button brow code, what happens is Chatfuel goes out to her website and calls in the actual site with the shopping cart, all the features, all the menus, everything into Messenger. So the consumer or the aesthetician never has to leave Messenger. They purchase right inside Messenger even though they’re using the shopping cart, the merchant account, all of that from the website, but it’s actually conducted in Messenger.

Steve: So I know you showed this to me at SMMW, but to me when you showed this to me, it seemed like it was just a browser within ManyChat, kind of like how like if you have an Android phone and you click on a link in Gmail, it’s actually opening that site within Gmail. Is that the same concept?

Mary: Same concept.

Steve: Okay same concept okay.

Mary: But the difference is again Facebook doesn’t want you to leave Facebook. So it helps Facebook along by calling that into Facebook rather than sending you out to Safari or whatever other browser you have on your phone.

Steve: I’m just wondering like if that aspect actually has an effect on conversions.

Mary: Negatively or positively?

Steve: Either, it seems to me that it would be neutral, right, because it looks like the same site.

Mary: It looks exactly the same site. The difference is it’s probably going to load a lot faster because there are less steps first off, because it’s actually calling it into Messenger rather than waiting for that browser to open on your phone, you see what I’m saying?

Steve: Sure.

Mary: Instead of linking it and having a browser open and then you’ve got to call the website, so no matter what is going to be faster. So if nothing else, that will increase conversions I would assume just because it’s faster. And then secondly, it’s in the native app. You’re not having to go anywhere or see anything differently. You are never leaving. Now let me say this, the reason we’re doing it that way is because the native payment system which is active right now, you could actually code your bot with all of that information to actually purchase inside Messenger instead of calling in your website. And it goes and purchases through either Stripe or PayPal.

So you could do that, but she’s got umpteen products. We’re not going to code all of that and create a brand new store in Messenger. When that becomes easier, of course we’ll do that.

Steve: Have you seen people using the native payment method for a digital product?

Mary: You can’t.

Steve: Oh you can’t.

Mary: As right now, as of this recording you can’t sell through the native payments digital products, you can only sell physical products.

Steve: Okay but I suspect that’s something that’s…

Mary: It’s coming.

Steve: Definitely on everyone’s roadmap.

Mary: Yeah it’s coming.

Steve: So let’s go back to the funnel again, and maybe we can talk a little bit about how you develop that story. So you have the subscriber and you’re selling additional product, like how can you give us some examples of how you’re kind of nurturing that person along your story, and how you actually finally end up converting that person to a big ticket sale.

Mary: Yes okay. So the big ticket just to get an idea let’s say Alison’s product or one of the other products that I might be working on, it could be anywhere from 997 to say $2,000 to $10,000. I met a client that’s in the real estate market and she helps women and also men, but the majority of her market is women, become real estate investors without the need of a real estate license. So it could be anywhere from 997 to up to five or $10,000.

And again the nurturing process is just like you do an e-mail in the sense of the marketing concepts, obviously the communication is different. But I start with the big picture and I always start with mind maps. I have to see it, it needs to be in pictures, I’m one of those picture book kind of girls. I tried to read Lord of the Rings and I got through it, but it was one of the hardest experiences. And someone saw the sun and this and that, I’m like dude, just give me the story.

So yeah so I see in pictures in that respect. So I start with this and I build little boxes and I build myself a little adventure and I put in the actual copy so I can see it and make sure that one of them isn’t more advanced than the other and it doesn’t lead very quick clearly. So I start with a mind map and you need to start simply and higher level, and then you get deeper and deeper and deeper as they come on the adventure with you. So it’s just like a book in that respect. You start with the concept of where you’re going and then you lead people deeper into the story.

So again I would take one of your e-mails and you start in your email, you don’t start in the middle of the dense stuff that you’re trying to teach people. You start with a higher level version, right, yeah. And so you do the exact same thing only in again 160 characters. And Steve if you like, I have a little just a easy little PDF with a fillable box and that’s really all it is that you can use that is specifically 160 characters and it makes you stay small, it makes you stay less wordy, it makes you really weed out your words. And again Twitter does, you should do that more, but does that as well.

So you just start with one of those outlines and start creating engaging messages. Now not every message has to be a question with a button. You can combine say two or three of those messages with what we call typing delays in between. And that’s fine but I wouldn’t go more than say three, and actually ManyChat doesn’t let you do I think more than five in one message without making the user do something.

Steve: What is the purpose of using the messaging delay because at that point it seems like you’re pretending to be an actual human when you’re not, right?

Mary: Well you could look at it that way and yes definitely a lot of people use it that way, but it’s also to let people catch up. When you’re giving a message, you can’t necessarily — I have not been able to get every single message, only 160 characters before I have to ask the user to do something. And also you don’t want them to always — we’re not trying to train them like dogs, right? So we don’t want to make them click buttons constantly.

So we do want to deliver a certain amount of information and it’s okay to do that where you deliver a piece of content and let them read it, because okay, here’s the deal, are you going to be more inclined to read a short message and see the typing delay underneath and then wait for the next one and then read that, or would it be better for me to put all of that copy into one long message where they have to actually scroll back up to start reading it.

Steve: Okay I see your point.

Mary: That makes sense?

Steve: Yeah. I suppose if you’re delivering a huge piece of content, you’d probably want to direct them to a web page or some sort of PDF right, or a video even?

Mary: What do you mean by that, a huge piece of content?

Steve: I was just thinking like one of my emails could be like 2,000 words, and so instead of like walking them through this journey through all that content, just send them to a video or send them to a PDF download?

Mary: And with both of those depending on how long they are, you don’t have to send them anywhere, you can deliver it straight in Messenger. So you say — that’s especially lead magnets, we don’t have to go outside of Messenger to deliver those PDS. We just put that right inside Messenger, and people click it and open it right there.

Steve: Okay sorry that’s what I meant sorry.

Mary: Yeah and then the videos, again it depends on how long. I wouldn’t put a 30 minute video in Messenger, but I’ve heard upwards of ten minutes, people had no problem. The difficulty and that’s another place you can use that typing delay, the difficulty is the load time. So if you have a video of only say 30 seconds or a minute that explains the concept, you can actually talk much faster than people have to read that type. And so you could do — I don’t know about 2,000 words, but you could do more in a video at 30 seconds or a minute than you could in typing and it would be much more engaging.

So yeah you could still deliver that content in a video rather than having to type it all out with buttons and all that stuff. But again find out which content is most important that you need to know about your consumer, and make sure you put that in buttons so that you can tag them.

Steve: What are just some general best practices, because a lot of people are going to be used to e-mail since it’s been around for so much longer? What are some just best practices when you’re moving over to Messenger or just even in general creating a Messenger bot?

Mary: Yes. So the first thing I would say is the normal marketing best practices apply. So you’re not going to want to use click bait, you’re not going to want to just buy a lead, you’re not going to want to just take someone and get their email address and then never do anything with it or sell it to somebody else. So those kinds of things I’m sure everyone listening to this since they’re listening to your podcast knows that they’re going to use marketing best practices.

Beyond that in bots, really the first thing I’m going to say is I don’t want — I know you don’t market or want to get too technical, but what you should do is familiarize yourself with Facebook’s Terms of Service. I would do that myself instead of relying on someone else. I haven’t gotten any of my clients’ pages shut down that’s for sure, and I’ve got quite a few of them, so I’m very proud of that fact. But that doesn’t mean everyone is paying attention to the terms of service.

For instance, here’s one little term of service that I see almost no one complying with. And that is we have what’s called a check box that we can put on buttons on a website to look for lead generation. And that checkbox basically checks you off as Facebook. If you’re logged into Facebook it says, is this you? I’m sure you’ve all seen it, and it has your little picture there and it says is this you and there’s a checkbox saying, yes this is me. Well that checkbox on the buttons according to Facebook’s Terms of Service again at the time of this recording, I know I feel like a darn here, but according to Facebook, that checkbox should be above any button you apply it to, but almost everyone is putting it below the button.

Steve: I hate to bring this to you Mary, but I’m actually following this terms of service.

Mary: I love you. So I haven’t seen yours yet, that’s fantastic.

Steve: I didn’t know about that rule by the way, just to be clear.

Mary: Good for you, thank you for that because that is everyone else is putting it below and putting it very small, and I mean it’s really Facebook is a stickler and you want to follow it. So, fantastic, good for you Steve.

Steve: Well the only reason why I’m doing that just to be clear though is because right now you can’t have that checkbox clicked unless you are grandfathered in. And so in order to get someone to actually physically check that now, they have to see the offer before they click on the button, so that’s why I put it up top.

Mary: Perfect, good for you. So you’re actually following marketing best practices, you want people to be aware of what they’re doing and not just trying to trick them into doing it. And so just little things like that. Now I don’t know if Facebook is going to shut down everybody who’s putting that below the button and all that kind of stuff, but I’m sure it’s on their algorithm that it will be a mark against you, right? And there are many other marks that you can get so I don’t know how many Facebook adds up before they say that’s it, you’re done.

So the more you can follow and of course Facebook doesn’t accept your excuse that well I didn’t know. So we need to be aware. So number one, Facebook Terms of Service. Number two, this is not about you, this is about the person taking your adventure, and stay in their frame of mind and think if I were coming in here, what would I want to do, how would I want to be treated, what kinds of questions would I want to be asked? Not just for the sake of getting my data, but for the sake of really educating me and getting me to the end result that is going to better my life.

And beyond that the number one thing I would say is it is not about numbers. So your numbers here are not necessary. I actually invite people to reject me, Steve I really do. That’s that one thing when I made that decision back in January of 2017; I invite people to reject me because those people aren’t going to have fun on my adventure. So I don’t want them here.

I would rather have them taking an adventure with someone else. I want people who are just as hot about this and excited about this as I am and following these best practices just like I am, and then we’re going to have a blast together. I don’t want to just take people who are lukewarm and hope I can sell them at the end.

Steve: Does that imply you always ask for the unsubscribe at the beginning of any interaction?

Mary: Yes I do, yes I specifically say at the bottom of the growth tools which in ManyChat are the lead magnets, are the entrances. I specifically say in there, PS, just simply reply stop if you want to be removed from my list, and then I add my own personality in there and then I say, and I’ll cry for you and I’ll miss you but I understand. So something personal beyond just reply with stop, you’ll be unsubscribed. I usually add because it’s Facebook, we’ve got to be personal. That’s what people do, this isn’t just business to sell, you have to show some of your personality to a certain extent.

So I don’t know, did I give you enough of the marketing, the best practices, follow terms of service, marketing best practices by themselves, engage people on the adventure for them not for you, and don’t be too wordy, use emojis, oh my goodness you’ve got to use emojis, people love emojis, images, and gifts. Start every conversation, when you’re going to push out a message start it off with an image or a gift not just text, because that pops up on their phone and it says Steve sent you an image, or Steve sent you a gift. They’re going to open that faster than Steve sent you a message.

Steve: These are great tips. Mary by the way, have you heard of anyone getting banned on Messenger just yet?

Mary: Yes.

Steve: Oh you have okay. So they are actively policing the promotional messages and that sort of thing?

Mary: They are. Since the algorithm change in January of 2018 which people thought was Armageddon, I’ve had none of and no issues at all with my clients because our number one purpose is engagement. It’s not just selling, it’s engagement. And since then I’ve heard of many more people getting shut down.

Steve: This is all great Mary, and we’ve been chatting for quite a while. I do want to give you the opportunity to tell people about your services, where they can find you and contact you.

Mary: Oh that would be wonderful, thank you. Messengerfunnels.com is the website, Facebook especially Messenger Funnels, but I also have a private group that I use to answer a couple of questions where we are active in there and we’re talking a lot about we call it Messenger hackers, we call ourselves Messenger hackers. And what we do is we go out and see bots and hack them, and say I really loved when this person did this, or I really loved when this person did this, and I probably wouldn’t have done that. I mean we’re nice, we’re not going to tear people to pieces because obviously do unto others kind of thing.

So I’d rather not have them tear me to pieces if I do something wrong or something that may not work for others. But so Messenger funnels, Messenger hackers, they can email me directly if they want any information or message me on Messenger. But my email is mkj@messengerfunnels.com. And I’d love to help in any way I can, either myself or my team because really Steve my number one goal and my number one passion with this, the reason again I call it Messenger funnels and not Messenger bots is because I want to make sure that this does not become the next e-mail, right?

Steve: Yeah I think the chances of that happening are less because you have to opt in, like I can’t just willy-nilly message you, and I can opt out at any time.

Mary: Right but people don’t know that yet.

Steve: It’s true.

Mary: A lot of people are getting, they’re opting into things, and they don’t even realize they’ve opted in. They just clicked a button and it’s so much easier to opt-in in Messenger because you don’t have to enter your name and e-mail address.

Steve: That’s true.

Mary: And we didn’t even talk about sending emails out and connecting this stuff. I mean that’s a whole other world you can — and like with Alison bot and Whitney the real estate and all the all these other people and my own bot included, you can take people and ask, you have to ask them for their email address, Facebook won’t just give it to you. And then you can use Zapier or other types of interactions to send that information to a Google sheet to send it to a CRM, to Salesforce, to anywhere you want to send it.

You can link it in with even WebinarJam or GoToWebinar so that people are automatically registered, so you don’t even have to ask them to fill in a new form. You just ask them in Messenger for their e-mail and the bot can register them for you. So there’s lots of those kinds of details that we obviously don’t have time to get into. But that’s my number one purpose is to keep this best practice and to make sure that people actually look at this as a very valuable tool not a scammy, spammy, oh my gosh, I don’t want to do that anymore.

Steve: I don’t know if you listeners out there can tell, but Mary is very passionate about this topic, and she has tutorials and she has the Facebook group. So if you’re interested in all the stuff that we’re talking about, make sure you go check it out, and I will link up all these resources in the show notes. But Mary, thanks a lot for coming on, I really appreciate your time.

Mary: Thank you for the invitation Steve. I’m so glad we were able to reconnect, and I just look forward to many more connections and spreading the word about this amazing tool.

Steve: And hopefully that encourages you to hit more conferences Mary.

Mary: Yeah I know. I will be going to the second one now. I just got back from Funnel Hacking Live, so my second one this year. It’s only March, so who knows what the rest of the world is going to be.

Steve: Cool Mary. It was great chatting, take care.

Mary: Thanks.

Steve: Hope you enjoyed that episode. Mary really knows her stuff, and she has real hands on knowledge on how to implement these Messenger funnels to maximize sales of digital products such as online courses. For more information about this episode, go to mywifequitherjob.com/episode207.

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 Privy for sponsoring this episode. Privy is the email capture provider that I personally use to turn visitors into email subscribers. And they offer email capture, exit intent, and site targeting tools to make it super simple as well. And I like Privy because it’s so powerful and you can basically trigger custom pop ups for any primer that is closely tied to your e-commerce store. If you want to give it a try, it is free. So head on over to Privy.com/Steve, once again that’s P-R-I-V-Y.com/Steve.

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

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206: The Right Way To Run Facebook Retargeting Ads With Reza Khadjavi Of Shoelace

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The Right Way To Run Facebook Retargeting Ads With Reza Khadjavi Of Shoelace

Today I’m thrilled to have Reza Khadjavi on the show. Reza is the founder of Shoelace which is a company that boosts your sales with automated retargeting journeys. We’ll get into exactly what that means in a moment.

But Reza is a master of running retargeting ads in the context of ecommerce and selling physical products online so today we’re going to pick his brain. Enjoy the episode!

What You’ll Learn

  • Why Reza founded Shoelace
  • The main difference between sequential and behavorial retargeting
  • Some good metrics to gauge yourself against other sellers
  • Guidelines on ROAS, CTR vs AOV
  • The best converting types of ads
  • Some good guidelines for running dynamic product ads
  • What to set as your budget depending on audience size

Other Resources And Books

Sponsors

Payability.com – A financing company that provides high growth Amazon sellers with daily payments. With Payability, you can say goodbye to cash flow issues and stockouts and hello to scalability and profits. Click here and receive a $200 credit upon signup.
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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

Privy.com – Privy is my tool of choice when it comes to gathering email subscribers for my ecommerce store. They offer easy to use email capture, exit intent, and website targeting tools that turn more visitors into email subscribers and buyers. With both free and paid versions, Privy fits into any budget. Click here and get 15% OFF towards your account.
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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.
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Transcript

Steve: You’re 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 in business. Now today I’m happy to have Reza Khadjavi. And Reza is the brains behind Shoelace, one of the leading Shopify apps that automatically handles your Facebook retargeting ads. And in this episode, we’re going to discuss the intricacies of running great retargeting.

But before we begin, I want to give a quick shout out to Klaviyo who is a sponsor of the show. 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 30% of my revenues. Now, Klaviyo is the only email platform out there that is specifically built for ecommerce stores, and here is why it is 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 out 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.

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 I also want to give a shout out to Privy who is also a sponsor. Privy is the tool that I use to build my email list for both my blog and my online store. Now there are a bunch of companies out there that will manage your email capture forms, but I like privy because they specialize in ecommerce.

Right now I’m using privy to display a cool wheel of fortune pop-up. Basically, a user gives their email for a chance to win valuable prices in our store and customers love the gamification aspect of this. And when I implemented this form email signups increased by 131%. Now bottom line, Privy allows me to turn visitors into email subscribers, which I then feed to my email provider to close the sale. So head on over to Privy.com/Steve and try it for free. And if you decide you need some of the more advanced features, use coupon code MWQHJ for 15% off. Once again, that’s P-R-I-V-Y.COM/Steve. Now onto 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 Reza Khadjavi on the show. Now Reza is the founder of Shoelace which is a company that boosts your sales with automated retargeting journeys. Now we will get into exactly what that means in a moment. But I actually met with Reza’s team over at the Ecommerce Fuel conference, and I heard great things about this company from my buddy Mike Jackness and other attendees at the conference.

And in fact Reza is a speaker at my conference the Sellers Summit this year. Anyways Reza is a master of running retargeting ads in the context of e-commerce and selling physical products online. So today what we’re going to do is we’re going to pick his brain. And with that, welcome to the show Reza, how are you doing today man?

Reza: I’m doing great, excited to be here, thanks so much for having me on.

Steve: Yeah so give us the quick background story, tell us kind of how you got started with Facebook ads and specifically retargeting?

Reza: Sure. So I can kind of give you a step back of how we started the company. So we were with three co-founders of Shoelace. Right now our team is about 23 people. We started a little under three years ago where the three co-founders we were working together at a startup in Toronto, and we had joined that company pretty early on and started to work very closely together.

And at some point along that working experience, we realized that one day the three of us wanted to leave and start a company together. We didn’t know what we were going to do or what we’re going to build and have a specific idea in mind, but just the three of us we felt were the right ingredients of a founding team.

Steve: So why retargeting?

Reza: Right so when we quit we didn’t have a specific idea, but there was a theme that we were very interested in and the theme was we looked at a lot of people who were creating software products, and generally the way it goes is the way to get value out of a software product is that you kind of need to have a strategy in mind. You need to learn how to use the software tool. You need to go into the software tool, do some work. And then it’s through that process where you extract value out of that software product.

One of the ideas that we were exploring was this idea that we wanted to help businesses who shared a similar audience cross promote each other. So let’s say you have somebody who sells like women shoes, and then you have another brand that sells women purses for example. What if you can have these two businesses cross promote each other and send traffic to one another? And one of the ways that we thought that we could do this kind and we kind of just assumed that everyone is doing retargeting, everyone is doing it well and that there’s no particular opportunity there.

But what if we can do this advanced clever method of retargeting where when somebody buys a product from business as A, they’ll start to see retargeting ads for business B and vice versa. So I was like an idea that we were exploring. We talked to a bunch of merchants and started to get feedback and people were overolling telling us that’s something really cool idea. I’d love to try that when you have your beta program ready and you have a few partners for me.

But in the meantime like this retargeting thing, I’ve got to have something set up and I don’t know that I’ve done it as well as I should have and I’ve not given it as much attention and I know I probably should. It’s pretty smartly, can you help me figure it out and meet me.

Steve: Just for the benefit of the listeners, who might not be that familiar with just retargeting in general, let’s just start from the basics. So what are the different — so first of all what is retargeting, and then what are the different types of retargeting that you can run?

Reza: Sure, so yeah I mean in a nutshell retargeting is this idea that if you have an online store or any kind of online business and you look at the conversion rate of that traffic, for the most part something like 98% of visitors to a website will leave without buying anything or doing the conversion action whatever that may be. And then some of those people may have left an e-mail address and you have a way to contact those people and kind of send them follow ups to encourage them to come back and complete the purchase.

But for the majority of people that may have visited the website and left without buying anything, the only other way to get in front of those people or one of the only other ways is to do retargeting which is the idea of showing advertising on Facebook, Instagram, or throughout the web to people who have left a website without buying anything. So it’s not concerned with trying to drive brand new traffic to the store, it’s this idea of being you already have an existing set of traffic that has been to your site or engaged with your content and can you show high retargeted ads to do those people to encourage them to come back and complete that action.

So that’s retargeting in a nutshell. You take everybody who’s been on your site no matter what they did, no matter what pages they visited, no matter how long they were on the page, and you show all of those visitors the same retargeting ad for a number of days after they leave. So it’s kind of in our opinion not the best way to do things, but if you have a really small audience, you don’t have a ton of traffic; it’s not a horrible way to start. At least you are getting in front of those people to encourage them to come back.

But then the next level of retargeting we like to think about is this idea of behavioral retargeting. So take the actions and the behavior the visitors did while they were on your site and then segment those people to show retargeted ads based on what they did. So if you look at an e-commerce store and you think about the customer journey funnel, somebody may land on your home page and then they might look at a collection, then they might look at a product and they might add a product to cart, and then if you’re lucky then they might buy something from your store, and then eventually come back and buy from you again.

So that kind of funnel drips down and not everybody that visits your home page obviously is going to make it all the way down to buy. And so for behavior retargeting, we think that it’s a really cool idea to take various parts of this funnel. So take people that left on the home page for example and didn’t even look at a product or didn’t add to cart and segment those people into a unique audience, and take people that have added an item in the cart and who are much lower along in the funnel, take those people and group them into an audience and show them the retargeting ad.

So to take the various parts of that funnel and create an audience segment based on the behavior the visitors did on the site and show them a highly personalized ad. So for example, if somebody leaves the site after just having viewed the home page and your ad copy is like aggressive sales copy that says like come back and buy now, it’s like it might not resonate with somebody who didn’t even look at a product. Whereas somebody who went as far down in the funnel as adding an item in cart, they might resonate well more with an aggressive like discount offer to join cart and to come back.

And so the idea is to speak to people based on which stage of the funnel they left and we think about that as behavior retargeting. And the third part which we think is really sequential retargeting where if you imagine that you’ve segmented your audience in the behavioral funnel and you’re showing somebody who left the homepage a retargeting ad, that’s pretty good. But if you show that person the same retargeting at over and over again for months after they leave, at some point they’re going to get banner blindness and ad fatigue, and they’re just going to start to become annoyed with your brand frankly.

Especially in the context of social advertising, we like to remind people that just think about your own native experience browsing through Instagram or Facebook the moment you see a piece of content that you saw an hour ago or the day before just like instantly scrolling past that piece of content. And so the same is true with advertising, and if you watch advertising in places that people are hanging out like on social media, then the idea of having that content of all those people are being exposed to your ads we think is really powerful.

So sequential retargeting is this idea that as people leave your site, they’ll see a sequence of ad experiences. And that doesn’t necessarily mean that they need to go through a specific sequence. We’re doing a lot of research right now to understand what was the best way to execute sequential retargeting. And the idea is instead of showing the same ad over and over again, they should be exposed to overwrite the same example if somebody has left off of the home page and that’s the only action they took.

Maybe it makes sense to show them a block content and something that adds value and kind of builds a brand relationship and gets the visitor to learn about the brand a little bit more. And then maybe a day after or a couple of days after they can see a carousel ad of some of the best selling products to encourage them to come back and look at, or maybe on a different day they could see a video that your brand has made. It’s a really interesting video that exposes your brand. I think there’s — I forget the number but there’s a stat that a consumer needs X amount of touch points.

Steve: It’s like eight touch points I believe.

Reza: Right and so using those different touch points to kind of tell your brand story in a variety of different angles I think is really important. So those are the three different ways if you think about retargeting. Even it doesn’t have to stop with people who haven’t bought from you. So you take your audience of customers that have bought from your brand and you repeat, you have an aim that you can kind of drive repeat purchase. You can have a retargeting ad that is specific to people that have bought and show them for example your rivals and things like that.

So I think that there’s a lot to retargeting than just kind of setting up one dynamic product ad and letting it run which is what most people do, which again is better than nothing. But especially when you’re getting into kind of like high volume traffic, there’s a lot of interesting ways that you can slice the audiences and get highly targeted.

Steve: Let me ask you this before we go on to sequential dynamic product ads because they’re showing different images in the carousel, does that somewhat mitigate ad fatigue in your opinion?

Reza: Yeah, I think that it does. I think for the most part they do show a variety of different carousel ads. But when you think about the experience, it’s still very like just product focus and it kind of depends on the type of e-commerce store. If you have some for example general stores that are very, very product oriented and there isn’t much emphasis on the brand, and the reason to buy from the store is kind of a relationship with the brand and it’s very much like a very trendy product or gadget, or something like that. And I think in those cases, they tend to work really well.

But for example if you are building a brand and one of the reasons why somebody would shop from your brand is what you stand for and the messaging of your brand and the story of your brand, I think there’s a lot of cases where those are some of the selling points that the brands are using to compete with kind of big box stores. And again those cases while it does mitigates some version of being fatigued with advertising, it doesn’t do a particularly great job at building a relationship and telling a brand story, which again depending on the type of store and the nature of the business can be very important.

Steve: That makes sense. So can we kind of talk about specific use cases and kind of what Shoelace does behind the scenes. So first off it probably creates a bunch of different audiences, right?

Reza: Right.

Steve: So what are some of these main audiences that it creates, and how do you use them?

Reza: So behind the scenes what we’re doing is creating a product catalog, creating a bunch of different audiences. And these audiences are based on a number of things. They are based on the behavior of the people that were on the sites, the people who just viewed the products, the people who added to cart, the people who purchased, the people who just looked at a home page. And then we create audiences that are based on the number of days since that person has been on your site and having done that action.

So we’ll create like one day, two day, three day, five day, seven day, 30 day audiences in a variety of these behaviors and these are used over time. They are all used on day one but they’re kind of used so that we can track the audience size of some of those small segments which kind of unlock the ability for us to create a very specific campaign. So as an example, when we create a variety of these campaigns, and then one of the campaign suggestions that we’ll send to someone is let’s say a multi-stage retargeting journey that targets people who have looked at [inaudible 00:14:50].

And then in that case the audience may not have been big enough for us to create a specific journey. By the way, we refer to as kind of sequential retargeting which we call those journeys in our product. And so somebody’s audience of people who added to cart over let’s say the last seven days, if that audience size isn’t at least something like 500 or 1,000 people, then the audience is way too small for us to create a journey specific to people that added to cart.

But we have those audiences created so we’re monitoring the increase of that traffic, and as soon as it does become that minimum audience threshold in order for it to make sense to start adding more complexity to the retargeting, then they’ll receive a notification from us with an additional campaign created and in a preview set. I think the idea is that as audiences grow and as the traffic to an ecommerce store increases, the complexity of how to segment the retargeting audiences and what to do there starts to change. And so one of the places that we add value is to monitor the increase in that traffic and make those suggestions accordingly.

Steve: I think the best way to help the audience understand this is to actually walk through a specific example of a company that uses you guys. And if we can talk about the different retargeting ads along this journey, that would be great. So I don’t know if you have a company in mind that we can talk about?

Reza: Let me let me pull something up and then and walk you through it specifically. So, one example of a customer that is using us is a company called Wee Squeak. So Wee Squeak is pretty a successful Shopify brand. They sell shoes for kids, and so I’ve heard from a lot of people that tends to be a very difficult niche, but they’re doing pretty well. And on their retargeting journey, here is what it looks like. So on the first day after somebody leaves the website, they’ll see a combination of two different ads.

Steve: This is they haven’t added anything to the cart or anything, just a home page abandon?

Reza: Right so these are people who have viewed at least one product.

Steve: Okay got it.

Reza: So viewed a product journey and so on day one they will be exposed to two different ads. And these ads are targeting that audience at the same time, so they may see one, they may see the other, and they will likely see both. So what happens to our campaign, the product, those always when you include them are often in the journey. And another one is a lifestyle ad where we’re pulling a carousel of lifestyle images from their Instagram feed that are tagged with a product.

And so in the carousel, instead of it being very product specific with a white background and just like clear product shot, it’s a carousel lifestyle images that are a lot more engaging and interesting. And so in the first day those are two ads that they will be exposed to.

Steve: What does the landing page look like for the lifestyle images?

Reza: So the lifestyle images if they’re using — so we have an integration with an app called Foursixty. Foursixty creates these shoppable Instagram galleries that allows you to tag your products and have a shoppable experience on your web page that when you put the destination, you see the lifestyle image but then you also see on the side of it the products that are contained in them and you can shop that experience.

So if we’re doing this with Foursixty integration, the landing page that we take them to is that shoppable experience by Foursixty that would show the lifestyle and niche that they clicked on, but then also has a buy experience that they can do on site [overlapping 00:18:30] will be directly to the product page. And in this case…

Steve: Real quick before we move on, that tend to work better than just a standard dynamic product ads like the lifestyle images?

Reza: Yeah so we still have a lot of work to do in terms of putting together all the data from being able to give a definitive answer of like which one of these is working really well. It’s very hard to say at the scale that we’re working on running kind of millions of dollars with retargeting per month. It varies a lot from customer to customer, and so we don’t have a kind of canned answer of like this is better in all cases. In some cases some things work better and other things, other things work better, and we’re doing a lot of work to try to figure out those answers.

But they are going to be mostly around in this kind of a vertical, these tend to work better, in that kind of vertical, this kind tends to work better, in this kind of an average order value this tends to work better. But from just thinking about for example if you have an audience that is in Instagram a lot, and if Instagram is a platform that they’re directly typing to, then that lifestyle resonates a lot more with them [inaudible 00:19:45] and tends to work a lot better from a click through rate perspective. But yeah it’s hard to give a specific answer. Generally I think it varies a lot for people and who their audiences are and what type of store they run.

Steve: That makes sense, that’s why you run both?

Reza: Right. And then for this person, then the next stage of ads would be an ad that links to a place of a page on their website that is a sizing chart. And so it’s not easy to…

Steve: Is this on the first day or is this on a subsequent day?

Reza: This would be on a subsequent day. And so we also play with these stages as well. They aren’t necessarily running day one, day two, sometimes they are — that first stages is running for like two or three days and the next stage is running for two or three days after that. So that’s an area we’re doing a lot of testing too to understand what is the best kind of staging experience for these kinds of ads.

Our goal is to show variety of ads. The specific mechanism by which to make that happen we’re still exploring a lot to understand what the best way it is to do it, and we run a lot of those experiments up against to show and provide. And so the next day’s case would be the second day. One of the ads is to make it to the sizing chart to help our visitor to make a decision about what size might be the right size for their child, and so it links that page.

Steve: So the landing page is like it links directly to a content page, it shows them how to size something?

Reza: Correct yeah.

Steve: Got it.

Reza: So this brand will have a sizing chart on their page and it links directly there. And so it’s not like an aggressive buy now type of ad, it’s more like maybe one of the objections to making a purchase. So like how do I know what size works for my child like on that landing page. There’s probably some content around if it doesn’t fit you can return it, and kind of showcasing that return policy.

And then another ad in that stage as well is a video ad. It’s just like a cute little fun video that they’ve made for their brand that has a little toddler kind of wobbling and walking, and wearing one of the Wee Squeak shoes. And it’s just kind of a fun interesting video that it’s kind of hard not to enjoy watching it’s brand and it starts to resonate with customers like what Wee Squeak is about, like there’s a sense of humor and stuff like that.

Steve: Can I ask you a question before we go on?

Reza: Sure.

Steve: Are all these ads leading to conversions, like when you calculate the return on ad spend, are you just aggregating all these together?

Reza: Right yeah. So that’s how we like to look at it these. We look at the total conversion from the entire journey and not necessarily like is that specific video ad driving immediate conversions for example. I think and so yeah we tend to look at it holistically, but then also do look at which of these ads are doing well from things like click through and engagements and stuff like that.

Steve: So what are some of your guidelines? For example that sizing ad what would be like a good click through rate, and what would be a good watch through rate for the video?

Reza: Yeah. I think in this case the video is very short. I think it’s something like, it might be something like ten or eleven seconds. So I mean in this case we’d like to see a really high watch through rate, something like 90% is have maybe a majority of people watching most of the video is what would be expected here. And then in terms of click through, I don’t have a specific…

Steve: I’m just curious if you have any guidelines, or like how do you know if it’s just like a total dud for example?

Reza: Right. I think Facebook’s relevance score helps but also sometimes that’s misleading. So relevance score, if it’s like seven, eight, or nine, that’s generally a really great sign. And I think from a click through rate perspective, I think you generally want to see something around like a full percentage or more. If there’s a click through rate that it’s like really close to zero, that’s bad and if you have two, three, four percent click through rate, that’s wonderful.

And I think in this case because the audience is relevant, it is not cold traffic, you do want to see some pretty good metrics there. So if you compare it to your kind of cold audience maybe dud, the result should be a little bit better. For example in terms of click through rates, so that’s a good way to compare for example if you’re running cold audience then you’ll never – cold traffic to people who have never heard about your brand before and you have somebody who [inaudible 00:24:27] then maybe you want to see your retargeting do a little bit better than that because [inaudible 00:24:36] isn’t good.

But the overall success I think is based on a couple of things like we’re introducing some things into your own product to be able to show us a lot better. But for example if and we talked earlier about showing retargeting ads to various stages of the funnel. If you have a retargeting journey targeting people that have left off the homepage, then the immediate success metric isn’t necessarily how many of those people came back to buy a product. It will be more about how many of those people were able to move to the next stage of the funnel which would have been to look at a product.

And the calculation of like true ROI there is going to be a lot more holistic to think about overall what is like lifetime value of a customer through these various touch points, how much are they all totaling up together to have some rough idea of what is my retargeting cost for a net new customer. But then it’s kind of a lot more complicated than just looking at a success of a specific campaign.

They should all be measured in the exact same way. I think the overall measurement is performance, is conversion, is sales, but to kind of look at every single ad, you look at every single ad set with the goal of like each one is going to drive immediate return on not spend, that I think is probably not the best way to look at it.

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So far we have DPA and lifestyle images on day one. Day two it sounds like it’s more of a content play, what do the other days look like in the funnel?

Reza: So in the last couple of days, then we have a bestseller carousel, so this is a carousel of specifically products that are doing the best in that month. So, some of the products that are just doing really well and selling well. So those it’s a carousel but it’s not a dynamic product one that is set to a carousel. It’s our system taking the winning products of that month and plugging it into a carousel app to showcase more curated list of things that are doing well.

The ad copy will be calling that out and saying like here are some of our bestsellers this month, check out what the people are buying. And then on the final day, we’ll go back to a dynamic product ad and have it be pretty kind of product specific based on their visiting behavior. And that’s the example of this person’s funnel.

Steve: So this is a four day funnel then?

Reza: Yeah, so this is a four stage funnel. It lasts for – this funnel lasts for about seven days. So the kind of third stage and fourth stage, each run for a couple of days longer. And then that’s also a really big area of experimentation that that we try to run different things to understand based on the type of your store what should the right duration of a retargeting funnel be. So for example the easiest example I like to refer to is like if you have a store that sells like t-shirts or fidget spinners or something that is more of like let’s call it an impulsive purchase that doesn’t have a really high average order value.

In that case people aren’t necessarily thinking long and hard about making a purchase of that product. It’s more just like if they find it interesting, they might buy, if not they’ll kind of move on pretty quickly. But if you are for example selling jewelry or something luxury and the average order value on those items are in the mid hundreds, then that that is probably a bit more of a considered purchase and would take some time for people to make a decision. They might be looking at the competitors and so on.

And so in some cases the answer of like how long should a retargeting ad, a retargeting journey run for varies from person to person and it is among the things that we’re researching pretty intensively to try to find out answers to those things that are big hit into our products so that people don’t have to necessarily individually go and try to find these things and we can do it for them and also use the collected data that we have from all of our customers to try to make better decisions or obvious things. But that’s a good example of like how length of a retargeting journey not necessarily being the same for everyone.

Steve: I’m just curious like how this would perform versus just a straight DPA ad. Did that company use just straight DPA before?

Reza: Yeah so in this specific case, we have a case study that just kind of based on her experience and looking at the results that she had gotten previously that this retargeting journey outperformed her DPAs. It doesn’t always happen that way and I think that again among the things that — one of the things that I like to say a lot to people and we talk about in Shoelace is that we’re on — our mission is to first of all understand what it means to be the world’s best retargeting expert and then turn that into software.

And the answer is generally not so black and white. I think there’s a lot of things to research, a lot of things to understand and we’re doing a lot of that to try to figure out in what case is something like this better than just a straight up DPA. And if a DPA is a lot better, are we talking about success metrics in exactly like in understood way. And if you think about for example, some people will look at performance — I think like one of our biggest challenges in trying to figure out what is better than something else is to get on the same page about how do we define success.

If somebody for example is purely interested in multiples of ROI and that is the only thing they care about for example, then it’s like, okay, maybe we can just narrow the ads down to people that have added to cart? And the ROI multiple on those ads are going to be phenomenal because these are like a really hot audience, these are people who have shown a lot of interest, but it’s not a scale to provide really huge sales just because that audience size is pretty limited.

And so instead of going up and plan this game, we’ll say — and because of trade off which will return a revenue generated, like sales lived through these activities and people have different levels of preference. Some people have their on levels with data, are happy with what’s called like anything above 3X, I’m willing to spend just the minimum amount of money to get returns at that multiple whereas other people have different preferences. So it’s kind of like it’s really important to get on the same page about how do we define success, and then think about how some of these different ways of doing things can compare against each other based on that metric.

Steve: Yeah I guess I’m just curious. So first of all for the audience, DPA stands for Facebook Dynamic Product Ads, and that’s basically where you’re shown an ad based on what someone actually looked at, at your store just in case we’re using acronyms that people don’t understand.

Reza: Sure.

Steve: I’m just curious, so in terms of scaling, like if you just had like a top of funnel plus DPA, I was just kind of curious again your experience at least whether these journeys end up as a whole as a collective out performing these just straight dynamic product ads?

Reza: So I think if you are just trying to get return multiple or is it that maybe in spending a certain amount just showing the same ad will have a return of multiple. But then if you increase your budget to that same audience, there starts to be kind of diminishing returns on that one ad. It’s a difficult thing to answer and I don’t want to kind of mislead your audience to just be like these are better than that.

I think our approach has been just kind of thinking about this from first principles to say in our experience, it is a more pleasant experience to not be seeing just the same kind of rotating product ad and to see a variety of different things. And starting from that kind of first principle, we’re doing a lot of research to figure out in what case is that true and what case is that not true, and how do we take those learnings and continue to make our product experience better. But we’ll have a lot more to share on this as we kind of release a lot of our research on the topic and I’ll be sure to forward that off to you so you can share with the listeners who are very interested in the kind of the nitty-gritty of the data around this.

Steve: Along those lines then what are some of your frequency caps then on your ads that you like to keep below?

Reza: Yeah, so frequency is also an interesting topic I think for people who for example let’s call it for retargeting. If you just kind of run with all of the default placements and you look at your placements being like Facebook mobile, Facebook desktop, Instagram, right hand placement, audience network, etcetera. And you just have to leave all of those things on and then you look at the frequency number based on that. You might find for example that the frequency number could be really high.

Let’s call high being anything over 10 starting to become potential concern to ad and you dig in and get a lot of [inaudible 00:35:32] placement which in itself is questionable whether it’s a valuable placement or not. But for example if a lot of the frequency comes from the right hand side, then it might not be as concerning as a really high frequency that is just coming from desktop or newsfeed mobile because people aren’t really paying that much attention to the right hand side. It’s not as kind of a disruptive experience as you might see if you got.

And so I just wanted to add that as like additional thing to think about when thinking about frequency, but we usually I think like to see mid to high single digits is probably a good range for frequency on retargeting. So anywhere from like five to nine is probably a good ratio to look for.

Steve: And so by obviously introducing more variety in your ads, you’re much better able to fall below this cap right, because people are seeing a variety of your ads?

Reza: Right. And so the frequency per each one I think for us we’d like it to be even lower. I think the idea is collectively on if we’re running four, five, or six different [inaudible 00:36:44] the idea is for each of those to be seen [inaudible 00:36:50] so there’s like some good variety.

Steve: Okay and I did want to touch a little bit about kind of what return that you can expect to get kind of depending on what your average order size is, your average order value. Do you have any guidelines along those lines?

Reza: Yeah, so we’ve seen a very good correlation between kind of return on ad spend and average order value, which makes a lot of sense, right? I think when looking at the return on ad spend, the biggest kind of variable there, the two big ones are how much was spent and how much was made. And the idea of how much was made; it has a lot to do with what the average order value was in each of those purchases.

So if you make ten sales for example, and each sale is worth $20 and in another scenario you make ten sales and each sale is worth $150, almost like the same number of sales can have a really big difference on the actual ROI. So in Facebook ads and retargeting, it’s also no different here. [inaudible 00:38:01] the higher correlation, the threshold is where below a certain number it starts to become pretty difficult to see good returns.

It’s like under $30 for example; an average order value of less than $30 starts to become pretty tough to see great ROI on. And the lower the average order value, the more important it is the quality of the traffic, which is another variable there. If you’re driving high quality traffic even though the average order values are low, the quality of that traffic is really good, then enough of them will convert to make math work.

But the place in that quadrant that you don’t want to be in is have really low quality traffic and really low average order value. That’s going to be a nightmare to try to get good returns on. Where you want to be is pretty good conversion rates, high quality traffic, and pretty high average order value. So anywhere in the kind of 60, 70, 80, 100 dollar average order value or higher starts to become a lot easier to see a good return on ad spend.

Steve: Okay, so just to kind of summarize then, if your average order value is below 30 from what it sounds like, you should try to do things in your shop to kind of boost that value up to make just Facebook advertising easier in terms of getting better ROI?

Reza: Right or spend a lot more time thinking about like what is the source of the traffic here? Are you driving traffic that isn’t the right kind, and if that’s the case like we try to only going to advertise to traffic that’s already been to your site, and if traffic was not good traffic to begin with, then it’s just like pouring more money away to advertise to not great quality traffic. And so there’s a lot to be said about just auditing the quality of the traffic that is coming to the store to begin with before even trying to optimize the retargeting campaigns, because those two are very, very closely connected.

Steve: But along those lines, if you’re just targeting people who have added to cart for example, that’s generally going to be high quality traffic?

Reza: That will be yes, but generally people — if people have trouble getting high return ad spend on an add to cart audience, something is wrong there. Generally with such a small audience, so the cost of advertising them is not very high, and it’s as you said highly engaged, good quality traffic to add that too. So [inaudible 00:40:29] turn out and which is generally a pretty good starting point as well. If someone is just trying to figure out what kind of retargeting to do, that’s a good place to start is to just kind of retarget to people who added to cart and start getting an understanding of how is that performing, and it kind of becomes a baseline to start comparing as you move higher up 70 higher up in the funnel.

Steve: Yeah and if people are having problems converting on those ads, then chances are there is something wrong with the site, right, or something is wrong with the messaging and that sort of thing?

Reza: Right yeah.

Steve: Reza, we’ve been chatting for quite a while. Where can people find more about your company, and where can people get ahold of you?

Reza: Sure yeah. So our website is Shoelace.com, so people can find us there and learn more about the product there or also available on Shopify app store. If you search Shoelace there, I’m always happy to connect with people who have questions about this sort of thing. My email is Reza@shoelace.com. I think one of my favorite topics is just around like performance and how to compare one thing over another. I hope that the answer is that weren’t trying to avoid the question. It’s just more about it’s complicated and we want to try to be very clear about our messaging.

[inaudible 00:41:48] just about that and has some inputs or opinions about how they think about measuring performance or how they would look it if they were comparing the performance of one thing over another thing. And I’ve always loved to hear from people on that regardless of anybody who is listening and wants to shoot some thoughts on that topic. I’d love to hear from you and also in the other topic as well.

Steve: I’ll be honest with you Reza, if you gave me definitive answers, I would have been worried because this is such a broad type – I mean it totally depends on what you sell, the type of product, whether it’s an impulse buy or just come like a long term seller. There’s just too many variables here. So I was just kind of curious. I think you gave good guidelines without giving definitive answers which you can never really give in this case.

Reza: I’m glad.

Steve: So thanks a lot for coming on the show Reza, I really appreciate it and I’m looking forward to seeing you at the summit.

Reza: Yeah, I’m looking forward to as well, thanks Steve.

Steve: Hope you enjoyed that episode. I apologize for the audio quality, but I believe we were recording actually during a blizzard in Canada. In any case, I’ve actually been running straight dynamic product ads with my store, and I actually learned a ton about sequential retargeting from Reza. For more information about this episode, go to my wifequiteherjob.com/episode206.

And once again, I want to thank Privy.com for sponsoring this episode. Privy is the email capture provider that I personally use to turn visitors into email subscribers. They offer email capture, exit intent, and site targeting tools to make it super simple as well. And I like Privy because it’s so powerful and you can basically trigger custom pop-ups for any parameter that is closely tied to your e-commerce store. If you want to give it a try, it is free. So, head on over to Privy.com/Steve, once again, that’s P-R-I-V-Y.com/Steve.

I also want to thank Klaviyo which is my email marketing platform of choice for e-commerce 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 autopilot. 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.

And finally I want to thank Payability as well. If you’re looking to take back control of your cash flow, and scale your Amazon business fast, then sign up for Payability and say goodbye to cash flow issues and stock outs. With daily payments, you can speed up your supply chain, buy inventory at optimal times and stay in the buy box. The more control you have over your cash flow, the more buying power you will have. So visit Go.payability.com/steve to get started, and cash in on a $200 credit just for being a My Wife Quit Her Job listener. Once again that’s G-O.payability.com/Steve.

Now I talk about how I use all these tools in my blog and if you’re interested in starting your own e-commerce 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’re giving the courage people need to start their own online business. For more information, visit Steve’s blog at www.Mywifequitherjob.com.

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205: How To Use Facebook Messenger Chatbots To Sell Physical Products Online With Molly Pittman

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How To Use Facebook Messenger Chatbots To Sell Physical Products Online With Molly Pittman

Today I’m thrilled to have Molly Pittman on the show. Molly is someone who I met at both Traffic and Conversions and Social Media Marketing World and she’s a digital marketing expert and educator.

Over the years, Molly has personally spent over 8 million dollars on paid traffic while achieving a positive ROI. And right now, she is one of the foremost experts on Facebook Messenger chat bots which is the topic of today’s episode!

What You’ll Learn

  • The best way to get new messenger subscribers
  • The best chatbot implementations she has seen
  • How to send broadcasts without violating Facebook’s rules.
  • The best use for auto responders to sell physical products
  • How to gather both email and messenger subscribers

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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.
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Privy.com – Privy is my tool of choice when it comes to gathering email subscribers for my ecommerce store. They offer easy to use email capture, exit intent, and website targeting tools that turn more visitors into email subscribers and buyers. With both free and paid versions, Privy fits into any budget. Click here and get 15% OFF towards your account.
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Transcript

Steve: You’re listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast, the place where I bring on successful bootstrapped business owners and dig deep into what strategies they use to grow their businesses. Now today I’m happy to have my friend Molly Pittman on the show.

Molly is the former VP of Marketing for Digital Marketer and she is one of the foremost experts on Facebook chat bots and Messenger marketing. And that is exactly the topic that we’re going to be delving into today. And I just want to give you a warning that the audio is a little bit choppy in the first five minutes or so but it gets much better later on into the episode.

But before we begin, I want to give a quick shout out to Privy who is a sponsor of the show. Privy is the tool that I use to build my email list for both my blog and my online store. Now Privy is an email list growth platform, and they manage all my email capture forms. And I use Privy hand in hand with my email marketing provider.

Right now I’m actually using Privy to display a cool wheel of fortune pop-up. Basically a user gives their email for a chance to win valuable prizes in our store. And customers love the gamification aspect of this, and when I implemented this form email sign ups increased by 131%.

So bottom line, Privy allows me to turn visitors into email subscribers, which I then feed to my email provider to close the sale. So head on over to Privy.com/Steve, and try it for free. And if you decide you need some of the more advanced features, use coupon code MWQHJ For 15% off. Once again that’s P-R-I-V-Y.com/Steve.

I also want to give a quick shout out to Klaviyo who is a sponsor of the show. Always blessed to have Klaviyo as a sponsor because they are the email marketing platform that I personally use for my ecommerce store, and I depend on them for over 30% of my revenues. Now you’re probably wondering why Klaviyo and not another provider. 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. 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 sent.

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 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 Molly Pittman on the show. Now Molly is someone who I met at both Traffic and Conversions and Social Media Marketing World, and she’s a digital marketing expert and educator. She was the VP of Marketing for Digital Marketer for many years until she recently stepped down to start her own consulting agency.

And over the years Molly has personally spent over eight million dollars on pay traffic while achieving a positive ROI. And right now she is one of the foremost experts on Facebook Messenger chat bots, and she is known as Molly the chat bot Pittman. I don’t know about you but I just love her infectious laugh as well. And with that, welcome to the show Molly, how are you doing today?

Molly: Hey, thank you so much for having me on Steve, I like that name Molly the chat bot Pittman, I’m going to tell people about that. Yeah thanks for having me on, I’m excited to talk.

Steve: Yeah so just for the listeners out there, Molly and I actually don’t know each other that well, so I just kind of threw that chat bot Pittman out there and fortunately she has a good sense of humor.

Molly: I love it. I was like girl that will work. I sound like some sort of cartoon or something or a wrestler.

Steve: Actually [inaudible 00:03:45] comes to Mind. I don’t know if I’ve just aged myself, but yeah.

Molly: Yeah I don’t know who that is, but I’m imagining I’m like wrestling and here come the robot and [inaudible 00:03:58].

Steve: So I felt certain that the majority of my listeners know who you are, but just in case, can you give us a quick background story. Tell us how you got started with Facebook chat bots, how you ended up at the Digital Marketer and that sort of thing.

Molly: So I moved to Austin, Texas without a job, I was ready for a career change. And I saw a post on Craigslist for a marketing internship. So I had nothing to lose, took that internship, and that was at Digital Marketer. So two and a half years later, I’d be given the VP of marketing after I started learning Facebook ads, email marketing. I stepped into that role and then as you said Steve I recently left the company to start my own agency, but I’m still a faculty member in Digital Marketer, and I have a podcast with them called Perpetual Traffic and I create courses to help educate users.

But I got started with bot back in late 2015. So it was actually I think November 16th Facebook list Messenger ads, and so I’ve always been really into Facebook ads. So of course I was very interested, okay, we can run an ad inside of Facebook Messenger, let’s see what this is about. And when I started playing around with it, I realized that I really couldn’t run Messenger ads without building some sort of bot.

So that’s when I became familiar with ManyChat which is the bot building tool that I use, and I started learning as much as I could about this new marketing channel, and it’s only gone from there only a year and a half later.

Steve: Just curious, when you’ve been implementing ManyChat or chat bots, have those been for both ecommerce businesses as well as like digital product businesses?

Molly: Yeah, I work with an array of business and luckily ManyChat is one of my clients so I get access to a lot of the data and the happenings inside of their thousand Facebook pages that are now connected to the tool. So I also have a client in the nutrition space based on health plans. I’m also good friends with Ezra Firestone, so I actually went up to his house in New York, and we shot some videos on chat box for Messenger. So I have experience but also I’ve just been around it and seen what’s working for people trying to sell physical products which are bought.

Steve: So Molly what I was hoping to do today was to go in depth on kind of the best way to implement a chat bot just for e-commerce store that sells physical products online just based on your experience, what’s working and what’s not. And my first question actually along these lines are when you’re going for a chat bot Messenger like how can these tactics be kind of mixed in with e-mail? Do you have to choose whether you want an email or Messenger subscriber, or do you try to get both?

Molly: So both are still valuable, right? Email is a huge revenue driver for businesses. So any time that you can have a prospect across multiple platforms, you’re in better shape. So you can’t really — it’s interesting, Messenger and email work very similar in terms of functionality. You’re building this list, you can send broadcasts, you can set autoresponders, but in application they are very different because the messaging is very deferent, right?

Think about how you use email, you usually send longer emails, you might not respond to emails for a few days. With Messenger it’s these short quick back and forth messages almost instantaneous. So, the two are similar but also very different. So any time that you can use e-mail to drive Messenger subscribers and the other way around, you’re better off. So for example, I’ve seen Ezra Firestone for example, he sends a coupon code to his e-mail list for his skin care line, and he said, to redeem this coupon to get the code, click here and get this code inside of Messenger.

So he sent that e-mail as a way to run a flash sale, but he also moved these email subscribers over to Messenger, and was able to deploy this flash sale but also ensure that they run both purposes. The same thing works the other way around. When you’re engaging with someone in Messenger, you can ask them for other contact information.

And a few weeks ago Facebook actually rolled out a feature for when you anchor some bot to email address as a brand, a quick reply button shows up above their keyboard with their email address that they use to log into Facebook. They can one click that button and now the brand has the e-mail address and it’s not just an email address, you know that’s probably a good email, right? It’s the one that they use to login to Facebook.

So then you could use a tool like Zapier or ManyChat just released [inaudible 00:09:03]. If you want to integrate your CRM to ManyChat then you can push that data back over there too. So both is great and they can be used together, but also never confuse them. I’ve seen a lot of people trying to use Messenger just like they use e-mail and it just doesn’t work, because the messaging is so different. So I just always like to emphasize that when we talk about email and bots.

Steve: Sure. I guess the question to kind of clarify is if I’m going for a particular subscriber on my list, let’s have a pop up form on my site, would you be going for an email sign up at this point or a Messenger subscriber first initially because you can’t ask for both right away, right?

Molly: Sorry Steve, could you say that one more time?

Steve: So let’s say I have a site and I have a pop up form on my store, would you recommend I go for email subscriber and then try to move them over to Messenger, or would you recommend that I try to get a Messenger subscriber and then move them over to email, because it’s really hard ask for both in one sitting, right?

Molly: Totally. I would use Messenger first because it is so much easier and frictionless for the end user. So think about it, inside a ManyChat there are things called overlay widgets. So you can trigger a pop up or have a hello bar at the top of your store, you could embed a button, you can embed a box, and when they interact with any of these widgets it opens in Facebook Messenger.

So say you have a coupon code, and you use a pop up and you say, click here to get the coupon code in Messenger. Well they click the button on your pop up, it opens in Messenger, they click yes I want this, now they’re a Messenger subscriber, and they have the coupon code. You could also ask them for their email address if you want. And then again just one click and they can give you their e-mail address. They never have to type anything, right?

Steve: Yes.

Molly: They literally clicked three buttons. So with e-mail, you would have to ask for their e-mail address, you probably ask for their first name, last name, which you don’t have to do inside a Messenger because Facebook already knows that. So I would lead with Messenger because it’s easiest for the end user, and that’s the theme of bots and Messenger. This isn’t a shiny object; oh look at this new tool.

This works because it’s where the people are, but it really works because it’s so easy for the consumers; three clicks versus trying to fill out these form fields that people are tired of filling out especially because most of them are still for some reason not mobile optimized. It’s like this is easier for the end user so you’re getting a better result. So I would always lead with Messenger because you can still ask for the e-mail, but you’re going to get more interactions because it’s just so much easier for them.

Steve: I guess part of the reason why I’m squeamish is that Facebook controls Messenger and at some point they might just like nerf the reach of Messenger or they might start charging for it. Do you have any insight into what you think will happen going forward?

Molly: That’s such a good question. I have a little bit of insight. I don’t think that Facebook will ever charge to use Messenger in terms of the way that we think about it with ads, right? I think that the rules will change. I think what Facebook does a really good job of, Facebook does what is best for their end user, and their end user are the billions of people who have Facebook profiles.

And as marketers I think – at Social Media Marketing World, the keynote session day two I was on a panel talking about chat bots, and we opened up for Q&A. And the first question was a man who asked because there was a lady from Facebook Messenger on the panel, and he asked, how can we trust Facebook after all of the recent changes and how it affects businesses? And she gave a really sweet answer that was…

Steve: It was a very pissy answer yes.

Molly: It was a very pissy answer but then I said, hey guys listen; I totally understand your frustration. You’re using a platform and it changes, and it affects your business, so it’s really frustrating, but as marketers we really need to readjust our entitlement or expectation of these platforms. These platforms have to do what’s best for their end user just like I hope every business owner out there does what’s best for their end user.

And they need to make a change like decreasing the amount of organic reach that Facebook pages are getting because it’s not healthy for consumers, which is what they found through studies. It was literally not healthy for our society. They may need to do that and we need to adjust. And so, I think the same — sorry if I’m a little off. That part of how I feel here, I think that Facebook, they will continue to adjust.

I had the pleasure to meet with some people from their team in San Diego and then they came to Austin for South by Southwest and really the theme that I’m getting is that they still don’t quite know either, right? Like they opened this up in 2016 to advertisers, and they are going to create rules and best practices and pricing models and ad types based off of what they think is best for the end user.

And I think that’s why they have things like the 24 hour rule, right? You can only be directly promotional within 24 hours. I love that, I don’t want Messenger to turn into email. Emails lasted a long time and e-mail is not dead, but darn, my inbox is flooded and that’s because there’s not one person ruling the rules of e-mail.

So long story short, I don’t know where it will go. I know that Facebook will continue to reward the people that follow the rules, and I think the key here is that we’re moving into a different time where what’s happening on Messenger really is what consumers are expecting, give a little value first. I heard someone — someone came up to me, and they’re like Molly, I’m not going to use this because you can’t be promotional after 24 hours. And I’m like, wow, that’s so small minded. This is a new channel that we get to use as marketers and we have to be willing to change what we’re doing a little bit to play nice.

So I think there is a fear factor in terms of this is on Facebook’s platform and it could go away at any moment, but I think my thought process is why would you miss an opportunity like this in fear of losing it, right? And I understand why. I do understand that fear, but what are the other options right now? Like email opening click through rates are decreasing, Facebook ads are still effective, but we’re starting to see Facebook run out of inventory. If you’re a really good marketer, Facebook ads will still work. Google is there, YouTube is there. There are these different platforms, but in terms of the opportunity, it much outweighs the fact that we’re building this on someone else’s platform.

Steve: So I ask you those questions because I was pretty biased. I’ve recently been playing with these for like the last four or five months and the performance of these chat bots have just been amazing for me especially with the ads, the Messenger ads.

Molly: They are.

Steve: I’m getting maybe like a 6x ROI per subscriber compared to email, and in then the open rates are just ridiculous and the click through rates are as well.

Molly: That’s awesome, what are you doing Steve, would you mind to share?

Steve: Yeah absolutely. So I have this free plus shipping flow right now, so I set an ad giving away a free handkerchief, this is what we sell, and then that actually takes them over to a landing page. So they opt-in as a Messenger subscriber, then I take them to a landing page where I really describe the offer very well and then I ask for an e-mail there, and then I have an up sell and a down sell. And ideally I get a Messenger subscriber, an email subscriber, and a purchase.

Molly: That’s awesome. And see Steve I love what you’re doing because I think what a lot of people are doing right now, they see bots, they see Messenger marketing and they’re like, oh this is intimidating, all right? Like I have to build this little bot, people think about bots and they think about bots that have been programmed to answer any question you might ask. Tommy Hilfiger has those types of bots, like cute brands.

And that’s not really what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about taking something like what you just said Steve, that’s a funnel that was already working for you. You’re just using Messenger as an entry point, right?

Steve: Absolutely.

Molly: You can take that a step further and remove those web pages all together, promise the free handkerchief. They click on the ad that opens in Messenger, you say, okay great, what’s your e-mail address? I want to send you some other cool updates and information. You get that e-mail which is so much easier than sending them to a landing page, and then you could say, great, now about this free handkerchief, here’s some bullet points.

You definitely probably wouldn’t want to have as much information as you do on the landing page, maybe you have a little video or an image of the handkerchief. And it’s you know ask, are you interested in purchasing, or are you interested in taking you know what’s up on this offer or whatever the language is. And then if they click yes, you could send them to the order form or and the next week or so ManyChat’s launching payments across all accounts.

So first it will be Stripe. But this is the ability if they click yes to literally pop up a credit card like box for them to input their credit card information and process that payment inside of Messenger. When that first launches, it’s not going to be what everyone wants to use because you can’t do up sells and down sells, but it shows you this is what’s coming. But for now you could also have another button that says, learn more so they could click learn more, and go over to the landing page if they do want more information.

So you did the first step which is, here is something that already works in my business, let me just use Messenger as the entry point because Messenger is frictionless for the end user. And it’s cheaper to run those ads because Facebook’s like, oh you want to send traffic inside our ecosystem and not off to a URL, awesome. But I love what you did because you just took something that was working and used Messenger. It wasn’t about building this bot, and I think that’s the frame of mind everyone needs to be in to get started with this, this year.

Steve: I mean I will say one other thing that I did with my site was I introduced a live chat widget. So basically it’s actually reduced our customer support load because we put the most frequently asked questions on there, and every time someone clicks on a button or interacts, we instantly get a Messenger subscriber as well, so this is fantastic for us.

Molly: Yeah, especially for people selling physical products because you guys know the top five questions somebody is going to ask. So using that live chat plug in, you get the subscribers. Something else I’ve seen people do that was really smart, if you engage with the live chat they say, hey Molly, thanks so much for engaging, let us know if you have any questions.

They could have also said, here are frequently asked questions, if you want to browse through. But then they gave me a coupon code, and it was like, hey thanks for visiting our site, use this coupon code for five dollars off. And so I thought that was a cool way to add a conversion element to that live chat plug-in.

Steve: Yeah absolutely. So in your experience, what are some of the best implementations and uses for chat bots that you’ve seen for a physical products store?

Molly: Yeah great question. So I think the first is similar to what you are doing, promising a coupon or some sort of free plus shipping offer either in an email and then using the Ref URL growth tool to create a unique link that inside a ManyChat when they click it opens in Messenger, or running ads. So promising them something, whatever that top of the funnel offer is that you use in your business and then delivering it through Messenger, sending them off to a landing page or a sales page when you need to do so.

Steve: So on ads real quick Molly, I just want to ask you this question since you have a lot of Facebook ads experience. When you’re targeting a Messenger subscriber with your ads versus a conversion element, how does the relative performance work? I’ve been experimenting with it myself, but I haven’t quite figured out what works better just yet.

Molly: So I’m still seeing using general conversion campaigns optimizing for that low dollar purchase to have a lower CPA than using Messenger. And that’s just because people are still getting familiar with Messenger. People still think when they click on an ad and it opens in Messenger, some people think it’s a bug. So remember that we still need about six months for consumers to catch up, but that doesn’t mean you should wait as the business owner because don’t forget you’re building that subscriber list, right?

So you’re getting this lead, it’s not just about the purchase, it’s also the lead. So when I’m running ads for Messenger, I’m seeing the cost for the click or the conversation is cheaper than sending them over to a landing page, but I’m still seeing the CPA a bit lower going direct to a landing page than Messenger. But when I run Messenger ads, I either use the traffic objective or the Messenger’s objective, and then you just select the destination as Messenger and Facebook knows instead of sending this to a site, we’re just going to open this inside of Facebook Messenger.

Steve: Yeah I mean I’ve been trying to – the CPAs are better for me if I don’t use Messenger, but then I’ll send like a broadcast via Messenger and it’ll make up all that money.

Molly: Exactly, exactly and that’s what the client, the nutritional client I was telling you about, the CPA is higher going through Messenger, but then once a week we send a broadcast that’s content and if they engage with the content, we tell them about a sale we’re having. And then every other week we send a sponsored message which you can pay Facebook about $30 CPM to send a sponsored message that can be directly promotional to all of your subscribers. And that’s because you’re paying Facebook.

So we send about one of those every other week. So between those content broadcasts and the sponsored messages, we’re seeing what you’re seeing. We’re able to make up the money because we can leverage, we can continue this conversation. And then don’t forget the follow up sequences. So if someone engages with you on an ad, it opens in Messenger where you can set up a follow up sequence.

For the nutritional company I have one that follows up for six days. The one that goes out on the 5th day has a 92% open rate, that’s insane. So people are still engaging after that first interaction.

Steve: Can we talk about that autoresponder sequence? You mentioned they’re messaging someone every single day for six straight days.

Molly: No so the responder, the actual sequence is over seven days. And we’re sending a message about every other day, but it’s all themed, it’s mostly content. So this is a nutritional company, so we’re talking about people’s health, and I can’t get super specific into what the ad is. So we’re using comment to Messenger to ask a polarizing question in the market, something that they would debate.

So for example, for copywriters that would be something like should you use the Oxford comma or not, comment a little with your thoughts and we’ll let you know what we think. So we’re using the comment to message as a way to just drum up conversation and build Messenger subscribers. They don’t even see an offer until the next message. So they comment below, this is about food, and which types of food you should eat.

They comment below with their thoughts, now this post has thousands of comments, the relevant score is super cheap. For this particular ad, I’m optimizing for engagement because that’s what we want, and then every person that comments it opens in Messenger. So we open up in Messenger and we say, thanks so much for your comment, here’s the correct answer, and there’s a video with one of the health coaches, so they’re starting to build a relationship with him.

And the video gives the correct answer, and then the correct answer leads into a free plus shipping offer for a product that leads seamlessly into this conversation we’re already having with them. And so, hey do you want this for free, yes, they click and they go over to buy the free plus shipping offer. Then for a week, so the first three days we do follow up every day, but it’s with more content, recipes, here’s a video with more content.

And anyone that engages with those, we then say, hey, don’t forget you can get this for free. And people love it. They’re like, oh this — they’re following up with content, I’m in the kitchen with them, this is so cool. And then we go every other day for two more messages. And the goals of those, there’s one that’s more scarcity like, hey, this free plus shipping offer is going away. And that one only goes to people who have engaged in the last 24 hours, and then two days later the last thing we ask is just a question for segmenting.

So like the three big buckets of products they sell, we just ask a question that allows those people to self select based off of their health goals for the year so that we can tag them and send them more relevant information later. But it’s a weeklong sequence, but it’s not buy, buy, buy. It’s statements that leads into the offer, but it’s really fun for the end user and that’s what this takes outside of when you want to take this past coupons or funnel style actions, it does take a little bit of creativity and knowing the conversation your market wants to have. And that’s what’s really fun to me.

Steve: It seems like the way you just described would work a lot better than what I’m currently doing now, because when you shove some sort of offer in someone’s face, sometimes that leaves a bad taste in their mouth, but it sounds like if you ask them an open ended question, get them on Messenger, that would lead to much higher conversions. Is that what your experience has been?

Molly: So it’s — I mean I don’t know if I would say much higher conversions, but it’s a longer term relationship. This client decided, Molly we want this CPA but we also want to be one of the first people on Messenger. We want to build Messenger as an asset in our business just like we have e-mail. So they’re committed to a long term relationship. So it’s also just a different way of looking at it. I think that’s the way everyone should be looking at it, but not everyone has the resources to do that too.

But yes any way you can make this more conversational, it’s going to work better short term and long term because that’s what this is, it’s a conversational platform. So giving them value even if you were running an ad to some sort of lead magnet like I saw a yoga company, this was awesome. They had a seven day free challenge where you learned a new yoga move every day. So they ran an ad and it was a click to Messenger ad, hey sign up for this seven day challenge in Messenger.

So you click, you quickly sign up, they ask for your email address, they got everything you needed. And then they said, okay, here’s day one, and they delivered the actual video there in Messenger. You could also click off to a web page if you wanted to do that. And then every day for seven days, you’re getting a video in your inbox, hey, it’s day two. And sometimes it would say, hey, are you interested in the yoga mat that you just saw Sarah using in that video? Yes or no.

And then at the end, they were able to do a larger pitch for a bundle of their products like a starter pack. But what they did that was brilliant is they gave value first, here’s a seven day yoga challenge. You know people are going to consume it because Messenger open rates are so high, you’re in their Facebook inbox, but they’re weaving their product into this value. And that’s the type of stuff that I’ve seen work really well. Now they’ve built a long term relationship, they haven’t pissed these people off because they’ve given them value, but they’re also able to sell their product, right?

Steve: Yeah, I mean this is just like the email funnels that I use for my digital class and email funnels that I use for my store. It’s just a matter of I guess translated them over to Messenger.

Molly: Yeah and Steve if you’re interested, go to Course.ManyChat.com, Course.M-A-N-Y-C-H-A-T.com. And I think you would like this free course that myself, and Dan from ManyChat just released, because what I did is I made 15 blueprints. And the goal was to take things like you just said, funnels that you already use, webinar funnels, many class funnels, lead magnet funnels, coupon funnels, and say, okay, you probably have these because you’re a marketer, here’s how you translate them into Messenger.

So I think you would find a lot of value in modules four and five are just those blueprints. But yeah it’s key to say because I think the trouble people are having is Messenger is cool, what do I do? I don’t want to invest a bunch of resources and this not work. So taking funnels and selling systems that are already working in your business and translating them to Messenger, and a lot of times that’s just realizing that instead of an entire sales page, you can say something like, hey, are you interested in this yoga mat? A lot of it is just the messaging, changing that really in my opinion.

Steve: And making it a lot shorter and more concise, right.

Molly: Exactly. And thinking about Messenger is a lot of questions, and giving them options, and buttons and choose your own adventure. So traditionally, that health and fitness company would have said, hey, we have this free container of this health supplement, do you want it free plus shipping? But yeah I had to back it up a little bit and say, what’s a cool question we can ask to engage these people, how can we ask them about their health goals? We had to flip the script a little bit.

Steve: Yeah, I mean actually what you just said has made me rethink the offer, because ultimately I want the Messenger subscriber. I’ve already seen the power, and so when I said conversions earlier, I actually meant a conversion in terms of getting a Messenger subscriber not a sale.

Molly: Oh heck yes, Messenger subscribers are cheap. Like that client I was telling you about, we’re getting Messenger subscribers for like a dollar. Even Kajabi, the [inaudible 00:33:20] they are one of my clients and we were talking email leads, a lead to them as an email lead. And they had a traditional lead magnet funnel for this report that they give away. And normally when they run a conversion campaign for Facebook ads, their cost for lead is about five to seven dollars which is great for them.

We took that same funnel, same ad, just changed some of the copy to, hey, make sure when you are running an ad to Messenger that you set the expectation that they’re going to get this in Messenger. That will help with the congruency. So we just changed a little bit of the text, you’ll download this inside of Facebook Messenger. Their cost per lead which I mean email lead, they were still asking for the e-mail went down to a dollar seventy five because it was way easier, no telling how cheap the Messenger subscriber was.

Steve: Oh yeah, yeah totally.

Molly: So yeah sorry to change…

Steve: What you’re talking about here is like the one click email?

Molly: Exactly.

Steve: Okay, got it got it. One thing I did want to ask you about the comment growth tool, I know Facebook has been cracking down on like fake engagement. So when you run one of those ads, you don’t necessarily want to tell them what to comment anymore, right?

Molly: Yeah, so when that first came out, I mean I taught people the first thing that I did was comment yes below to get this lead magnet. But yeah Facebook doesn’t want that anymore. They don’t want people to scroll through their news feeds and just see thousands of comments that say yes. They want meaningful conversation. So basically what they told us is we just don’t want people asking someone to comment one word or one sentence to get something. So ask a real question that starts a conversation.

So that’s really it. You can still say, ask your question and say, what do you think, leave a comment below and we’ll let you know what we think and we’ll send you this free thing. That’s okay to do. They just want people to actually comment with real answers.

Steve: I see so you should set up your growth tool to not detect any keywords, just to automatically set them up?

Molly: Exactly, so I’ve seen a lot of people doing — basically they just ask a question in their market that people debate about. And it’s something that also leads to whatever their offer is. So it just takes a little creativity, but those are super powerful because you’re paying Facebook for the engagement. If you ask a good question that people want to weigh in on, that will be really inexpensive. And then the relevance score is super high because all of these comments are here.

Steve: So current talk a little bit about Facebook ads. So do you suggest doing a traffic ad and use the comment growth tool, or would you recommend a Messenger ad? What’s worked better for you in terms of variety?

Molly: Yeah, it really depends on what you’re doing. So if you’re using the comment growth tool, I recommend using the engagement objective because that’s really what you want. Anyone that engages comments on that post, it’s going to open in Messenger, and then as soon as they engage with you they’re a subscriber. So for comment growth tool, use engagement. When you’re running click to Messenger ads that when they click it opens in Messenger, sometimes I use the traffic objective and then just change the destination to Messenger, and sometimes I use the Messenger’s objective.

Honestly I’ve seen the traffic objective to be a bit cheaper. But I’ve tested both and you can use either of those to run a click to Messenger ads. So every lead just depends on what you’re doing. If you’re trying to say, hey, here’s this coupon code, click below to get it in Messenger, you would run a click to Messenger ad and use the traffic or Messenger’s objective. If you want to ask what’s your favorite yoga pose and why, let us know below and we’ll send you a free seven day challenge, then that would be an engagement objective in the comment to message growth tool.

Steve: What is the distinction between click to Messenger versus traffic to Messenger?

Molly: So click to Messenger is basically just what Facebook calls that ad type. So that ad type exists in multiple objectives. The objectives are the first thing that Facebook asks, what’s your objectives? So whether you choose traffic messages, you could even choose conversion, I absolutely would not recommend that until the Facebook pixel is somehow integrated inside a Messenger. But the click to Messenger is just what they’re calling the ad that you see in your news feed that when you click on it opens in Messenger. So you can set those up through the traffic objective, Messenger’s objective or conversion objective.

Steve: So the click to Messenger, does that imply that Facebook is showing your ad to people who are more likely to click to get a Messenger response?

Molly: So it’s more of an ad type. I would say that they probably know that and so they know, okay, we selected traffic, we want the destination to be Messenger. Well they’re going to show the ad to people who are most likely to click on ads. I’m not sure if the algorithm is smart enough yet to know who clicks on Messenger ads. It probably is. So I would say that’s the case.

Steve: So in your experience, if the goal is to get Messenger subscriber, has it been cheaper for you to run these engagement and use the comment growth tool, or quick to Messenger type of ads for a response?

Molly: Yeah, good question. It really depends on the offer, but I would say if you’re going, you kind of need to decide like is your goal for this particular sequence going to be a CPA, Messenger subscriber or both. If the question that you ask in comment to message is super engaging, that’s the way to go, but the question has to be really good. Or if the offer is really good for the click to Messenger ad, like your free plus shipping offer, I would probably click on that. But if someone said, click here in Messenger to talk to my bot, I probably wouldn’t.

So it’s really all about the offer. I wouldn’t get — I don’t like to say one strategy is better than the other. It depends on your offer, but I think the comment to Messenger is going to give you cheaper subscribers unless that click to Messenger offer is just super enticing.

Steve: Right okay.

Molly: And a huge mistake real quick Steve, I see people using video in click to Messenger ads. Don’t do that because when you click on a video it just pauses or opens that video. And so the only part of the ad that they can click on to open Messenger is your headline or the button down at the bottom. So you’re losing out on a lot of clicks. So when you’re running those ads, use an image or a carousel so that anyone that clicks on that image opens in Messenger too.

Steve: It’s funny that was my next question actually, because I experimented with a video versus a static image and I found that the clicks for the static image were a lot cheaper and the Messenger subscribers were a lot cheaper. But the CPA for the video was a lot better because it did a much better job of describing the value proposition of our products.

Molly: Interesting. So if you’re going for CPA, video could be good because it gives that extra info, but if you’re looking at Messenger subscribers, I’ve just seen people be like, Molly, why is the cost of video much higher here? And I’m like, oh it’s the video, you are losing those clicks.

Steve: Yes I guess it’s like a trade off in that case because I’m trying to describe my offer, and I just have to be able to describe it much better in a video as opposed to a static image. And so I just found that more people are giving me the email going through the offer with the video.

Molly: And that’s why Steve like with any of this, anything in marketing or business really, people ask me Molly, what is better, what should I do? And I always say, what is your goal, what is the one thing? Like with a marketing campaign, you kind of have to pick one thing you want to do. I want to sell this product and then my secondary thing is Messenger subscribers. Or my first thing is Messenger subscribers; my secondary thing is the CPA. So once you decide that success metric I call it, then you can pick the strategy that best fits what you’re needing.

Steve: Yeah I mean there’s no right or wrong answer. And the questions I’ve been asking you, I’ve just been kind of framing them based on like the clients and what you’ve seen.

Molly: Yeah I love it. This is a great conversation.

Steve: So how much longer do you think chat bots and Messenger bots have until everyone kind of just hops on the bandwagon and it turns into like email?

Molly: I mean the good thing is that it can turn into email. That’s what I love about this and that’s why I am a proponent of this platform because there will always be people that can get around the system and things like that, like I will address that. But this platform in my opinion is good for humans, and the reason is because it is conversational and because Facebook is not going to let it become e-mail.

So you’re going to see more people use this, but the ones that have success with it are the creative people that are willing to step out of the box and write conversationally and come up with the strategies that we just talked about. The people that aren’t are going to say Messenger doesn’t work or they’re not going to get good results, and they’re going to retreat.

So you can’t be — because of the rules Facebook has put into place, you can’t be that person. You literally have to give value first. And if you don’t know how to do that, you’re not going to be able to use the platform well. So I think you’re going to see more people use the platform. You’re definitely going to see more messages from brands in your inbox, but it’s going to be maintained and controlled in a very different way than e-mail has been, because one person owns it, and that’s Facebook.

And if people start to get angry about the messages in their inbox, they’re going to make the rules more restrictive. And I think I love this because I think good marketers will win on this platform, and people that actually take time to get to know their audience, know the pain point of their audience, know the progress that their audience is trying to make and then they provide that experience inside a Messenger.

Steve: I guess the one difference is that no one can send me a message unless I specifically subscribe, whereas anyone can send me email today, right?

Molly: Exactly, that and Facebook is actively hiring people by the hundreds to be Messenger moderators they’re calling them. So this is kind of like policy for Messenger. And right now if your bot or your Facebook page gets marked as spam a few times, someone is actually going to go manually review that, and they’re going to see are they sending promotional messages outside of the 24 hour window? And if you are, you’re probably going to get a block for a few days.

So that is what Facebook is doing well with Messenger. Instead of just banning accounts, they’re putting people in timeout. So that’s really good because they understand that people still need to understand the rules better and things like that. But Facebook is going to patrol this, like don’t think that they’re going to let what I think is their best asset, Messenger has more active monthly users than the actual Facebook platform, they’re not going to let this get overrun.

And if people think that, look at the announcements Zack made earlier this year. So they have people policing this, and I don’t know what the rules will look like in a year, but I know that they’re going to let businesses use this platform because that’s their huge initiative and that’s where this is going. But they’re going to change the rules to make sure that this doesn’t turn into email. And like you said, no one can just message you on Facebook; no Facebook page can just message you on Facebook. So this is all up to the user, it’s all up to the user and Facebook patrolling this promotional policy.

Steve: So in order to send them a promotional message, what are some creative methods that you’ve got to just get them to interact so you can send them a promotional message? And are there any grey areas there, so for example can I say something like, hey, we just got a bunch of new products in our store and we’re having a small sale, would you like to hear about it? Yes, no, unsubscribe, is that like a violation?

Molly: So it’s still a gray area, they haven’t come out and really said what is promotional or not. I gather that it’s pretty much going to a sales page. So I would try not to do the, hey, we have new products available, are you interested? Anything other than that, talk about anything other than the product. So a lot of what I do is I’ll give them a question.

So, say I was selling a water bottle, we could say like when is the last time you cleaned your water bottle, or when is the last time you purchased a water bottle? These aren’t great, but like how many days out of the week do you use a water bottle, and provide some button answers which is great because then you learn more about these people. So you don’t ask domain questions, just ask them, ask questions so it’s like, wow, we really want to talk to the people that use a water bottle every day.

So ask a question like that that engages them, and then it’s like awesome, we just released this new water bottle, you can grab it here, or lead with content. So I wouldn’t lead with like, hey, we have a sale going on, or we have new products available, are you interested? I would lead with something just a tad a step forward than that like just something a little broader than that if that makes sense.

Steve: Okay so a little more subtle like the examples you just gave, or just simply say, I have this piece of content, would you like to take a look or something like that.

Molly: Yeah I have this free piece of content. You could even say, hey I have this new piece of content and link to it. And anyone that clicks that button you can say, awesome, thanks for checking out that that piece of content, what do you think, are you interested in this product? So I mean most of what I do is just giving an audio message, a question, but something that also leads seamlessly into the whatever we’re trying to sell in that moment.

Steve: Okay, yeah so you’re basically just trying to get them to respond to at all or in any way shape or form and then you can lead on to other conversations that lead to more promotional messages. Hey Molly, we’ve already been chatting believe it or not about chat bots for 47 minutes and I want to be respectful of your time. Thank you so much for coming on the show, and where can people find you and what good resources can you recommend if people want to learn more about you and your chat bots?

Molly: Yeah thanks so much for having me Steve. So I have a consulting agency at Digitalstrategybootcamps.com. It’s kind of a long URL. There’s a wait list out there now, but we’re launching a site next month. And then of course ManyChat, M-A-N-Y-C-H-A-T.com, course.ManyChat.com, there’s over ten hours of video and blueprints that will teach you all of the details of what we just talked about for free.

So those resources and then the Perpetual Traffic Podcast. You can find it at Digitalmarketer.com/podcast. We’re inside of iTunes, but we talk a lot about traffic, and chat bots, and digital marketing on that podcast. So, any of those would be great.

Steve: Awesome. I will link all those up in the show note resources. And thanks a lot Molly once again for coming on.

Molly: Yeah thanks so much Steve, I had a blast.

Steve: Take care.

Hope you enjoyed that episode. Molly really knows her stuff and I love how generous she is with information and her willingness to help. For more information about this episode, go to mywifequitherjob.com/episode205.

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.

And I also want to thank Privy.com for sponsoring this episode. Privy is the email capture provider that I personally use to turn visitors into email subscribers. They offer email capture, exit intent, and site targeting tools to make it super simple as well. And I like Privy because it’s so powerful and you can basically trigger custom pop ups for any primer that is closely tied to your e-commerce store. If you want to give it a try, it is free. So head on over to Privy.com/Steve, once again that’s P-R-I-V-Y.com/Steve.

And finally, I want to thank Payability. If you’re looking to take back control of your cash flow and scale your Amazon business fast, then sign up for Payability, and say goodbye to cash flow issues and stock outs. With daily payments, you can speed up your supply chain, buy inventory at optimal times, and stay in the buy box. The more control you have over your cash flow, the more buying power you will have. Visit Go.payability.com/Steve to get started, and cash in on a $200 credit just for being a My Wife Quit Her Job listener. Once again that’s Go.payability.com/Steve.

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.

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204: The Best Way To Launch A Successful Product On Amazon Today With Casey Gauss

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The Best Way To Launch A Successful Product On Amazon Today With Casey Gauss

Today I’m thrilled to have Casey Gauss on the show. Casey is the founder of Viral Launch which is both a software company and an Amazon product launch service.

They have two main software tools called market intelligence and product discovery which help you find profitable products to sell on Amazon and their launch service has catapulted many clients onto the front page of Amazon search.

Casey is also going to be one of the speakers at my conference the Sellers Summit in May. Anyway, Casey is an expert when it comes to finding and launching successful products on Amazon and today we are going to find out how he does it.

What You’ll Learn

  • What it takes to launch a successful product on Amazon today.
  • Which factors he looks for in products to sell.
  • The most critical aspects of a product listing
  • Does enhanced brand content really matter?
  • Do giveaways still work?

Other Resources And Books

Sponsors

Payability.com – A financing company that provides high growth Amazon sellers with daily payments. With Payability, you can say goodbye to cash flow issues and stockouts and hello to scalability and profits. Click here and receive a $200 credit upon signup.
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Transcript

Steve: You’re 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 in business. Now today I’m happy to have Casey Gauss on the show. And Casey is the brain behind Viral Launch a tool that helps you research products to sell as well as launch them on Amazon. And as Amazon becomes more competitive Casey and I discuss what’s working today.

But before we begin, I want to give a quick shout out to Klaviyo who is a sponsor of the show. 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 30% of my revenues as of last month. Now, Klaviyo is the only email platform out there that is specifically built for ecommerce stores, and here is why it is 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 out 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.

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 Privy who is a sponsor of the show. Privy is a tool that I use to build my email list for both my blog and my online store. And what does it do? Well Privy is an email list growth platform and they manage all my email capture forms. And in fact I use privy hand in hand with my email marketing provider. There are a bunch of companies out there that will manage your email capture forms, but I like privy because they specialize in ecommerce.

Right now I’m using privy to display a cool wheel of fortune pop-up. Basically, a user gives their email for a chance to win valuable prices in our store. Customers love the gamification aspect of this. And when I implemented this form email signups increased by 131%. Bottom line, Privy allows me to turn visitors into email subscribers, which I then feed to my email provider to close the sale. So head on over to Privy.com/Steve and try it for free. And if you decide you need some of the more advanced features, use coupon code MWQHJ for 15% off. Once again, that’s P-R-I-V-Y.COM/Steve. Now onto 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 Casey Gauss on the show. Now Casey is the founder of Viral Launch which is both a software company and an Amazon product launch service. They have two main software tools called Market Intelligence and Product Discovery which help you find profitable products to sell on Amazon. And their launch service has actually catapulted many clients onto the front page of Amazon search.

Now Casey is also going to be one of the speakers at my conference, the Sellers Summit in May. And Casey is an expert when it comes to finding and launching successful products on Amazon. And today we’re going to find out how he does it. And with that, welcome to the show Casey, how are you doing today man?

Casey: Steve thanks so much for having me. I’m doing amazing how about yourself?

Steve: I’m doing well myself. I’m a little bit sick, so if I start coughing or whatever, it’s all good. I will stop eventually.

Casey: Exactly.

Steve: So Casey, you got a pretty cool story about how you started Viral Launch. Can you give the audience just kind of like a quick overview of how you got started selling on Amazon, and why you decided to start Viral Launch in the first place.

Casey: Yeah of course. So essentially I went to college for a couple years. I was running track and studying business. Always had all these ideas I wanted to give a shot at. And yes I taught myself how to code, dropped out of [inaudible 00:03:58] and a friend of mine was the guy with the idea for Viral Launch. So he was the Amazon seller and he always wanted to start a business with me.

So I built the original platform for Viral Launch just as kind of like a side gig. But pretty quickly we were making money and it was so cool to see the amazing success that some of our clients were having. And so that’s really how I started to get my understanding of Amazon, what’s working, what’s not. I love data, I love metrics, and so yeah I’ve never sold anything on Amazon but we’ve helped people sell literally billions of dollars on Amazon.

Steve: But you developed Viral Launch along with your partner who did sell physical products on Amazon, right?

Casey: Yeah correct, and I ended up, I officially bottomed out like a year after we had gotten started. He wasn’t really into what was going on, and I just saw the incredible opportunity and wanted to run with it.

Steve: Okay. So what I like about you Casey is that you run the service where you’re helping like thousands of Amazon sellers launch. And so you kind of have intimate knowledge over it like a wide range of different products on what works and what doesn’t. And so what I was hoping to do today was kind of discuss what it takes to launch a successful product on Amazon today. A lot of things have changed in the last couple of years. And I guess let’s start with what factors you look for in deciding what product to sell in the first place.

Casey: Yeah, so I would definitely say probably our biggest advantage right now is just our perspective of the space. So we work with guys just getting started on Amazon that maybe have a budget of $2,000 a month all the way to our largest private label client does just over one 100 million dollars a year on Amazon. So really, really wide range. And from I am a huge advocate of the go wide strategy.

And essentially what this is is looking for those products where you’ll only do 10,000, 20,000 maybe somewhere around $30,000 a month in top line revenue but competition is extremely low. And what this allows you to do is quickly get into a market; you don’t need to have a crazy marketing budget. You don’t really have to spend too much time maintaining the products, making sure that competitors are not coming in and pushing you out of the market.

I would much rather — the saying is, I would much rather sell ten products that do $10,000 a month in top line revenue than one product that does 100,000. There’s a few reasons why. In those markets where you’re doing six figures a month, you are going to have a lot of competition generally. You’re going to have to spend a lot of time, continued time making sure that you maintain your rank, that competitors aren’t using shady tactics to leave bad reviews.

It just becomes a big mess or it is just a lot harder to manage than getting into these markets where it’s no headache to get up, to get ranking, to start getting those initial sales, to reach maximum sales potential, and to move on. And once you build that process around the product launch, your product launch strategy once you build that process, you just continue to push new products through that process, and in low competition markets it’s really easy.

So there’s definitely a lot of guys that have success in the products that are doing six figures and make sometimes high six figures per product, but they’re spending six figures to get that product to become successful. So for the – yeah go ahead.

Steve: I was going to ask as part of your go wide strategy, do the products have to be related, or they’re just completely desparied products, truly individual?

Casey: Yeah, I mean that completely depends on what your goals are as a business, right? So if you’re looking to build the brand that you can then sell, if you’re looking to build the brand that you can try to take off of the Amazon, I mean cohesion is important among your product line. But if you’re looking purely for cash flow, then yeah you can just go really wide on just a bunch of random products.

So the biggest account that I know that does that, they did just over 30 million last year, and they just sell literally everything from pet products to health products to car accessories, I mean they’re selling everything. But they just really — they’re like that, that [inaudible 00:08:15] for picking off just amazing markets where the competition is low. They get in and they can just kill it really quickly.

Steve: So branding isn’t as much of a factor when you take the strategy, right? Are you going into this with the philosophy like if this product dies it dies, and there’s always going to be another product to replace it type of philosophy?

Casey: Yeah, I mean obviously the goal is not to allow products to die, and in these markets products die a lot less frequently than in these high volume markets where people just get burned out from competition or they lose their pulse on the market. In these high volume markets, you always have to stay on the cutting edge or else people will push you out, and that’s a big revenue source for you. If you’re making a quarter of a million dollars a month in sales and your $100,000 a month product goes away, that’s really going to hurt if you are doing, you have 100 products that are all doing $10,000 a month, and you lose three of those, I mean that’s not that big of an impact on revenue.

Steve: Okay. And so what are some of your metrics then to find some of these lower competition products?

Casey: Yeah so the quickest metric to identify is this market worth looking into or not is what we call the sales review ratio. So from a conceptual level, essentially we look at reviews as the general barrier to entry in a market. So let’s say I’m selling a fish oil, and everybody on page one has 10,000 reviews. Let’s just say for the sake of an example, 10,000 reviews. That means that I need relatively close to 10,000 reviews to sell at the same volume as those other fish oils.

Even if you had let’s say 1,000 reviews, independently if you looked at this product 1,000 reviews seems like a lot. But if you compared to the other products, basically I think from the data that we have for essentially that customers are saying, wow, I wonder why this product only has 1,000 reviews while all these other ones have 10,000. It must not be as good. That must be — people must not be buying it for a reason, because from the consumer’s perspective the only indicator of popularity on Amazon is review quantity. They’re not looking at bestseller rank or anything like that.

So what this means is basically we look at the average sales review ratio. So we estimate monthly sales, let’s say this product is selling 1,000 units a month, and they have 100 reviews. So 1,000 divided by 100 is 10. If they have 1,000 sales — if they’re selling 1,000 units a month, and they have 1,000 reviews, then the sales review ratio is one. And so the higher that sales review ratio, the essentially the higher the ROI is for the amount of work that you have to put in to get there, and the easier it is to get there.

So anyways we look for these markets where the average sales review ratio is like two to three. So if the top ten guys are all selling 1,000 units a month and they have 100 reviews, that’s sales review ratio of ten, it’s relatively easy to get in there, get 50 reviews, 75, somewhere close to that 100 review mark, you will be able to sell a decent amount of volume pretty quickly. So that’s like the number one thing that we analyze for a product’s market.

Steve: Okay. And in general, I’m just curious what do you see the correlation to be right now in terms of reviews versus sales?

Casey: Yeah so we don’t have — it’s not necessarily one to one in so much as like if you have ten reviews and you get x percent of sales then you get 30, it’s all relative. So in some markets you only need 10 reviews to sell 1,000 units a month, but in some markets you need 2,000 reviews to sell 1,000 units a month because it’s so competitive.

Steve: So you’re looking at a review ratio of at least three you said three to five?

Casey: Yeah so if you can get 10 or higher, then that’s amazing, and again on average. One mistake that we see people make when like making their product selection is again you search fish oil and they see one ASIN has low review quantity but they’re selling a ton of volume. So they’ll think, oh I just need to sell this one particular ASIN and I can replicate those results. But the problem is you can’t attribute where those sales are coming from.

Maybe they’re amazing at driving Facebook ads and that’s where their sales volume is coming from. You need to make decisions based on the performance of the market as a whole.

Steve: So how do you determine whether someone is driving a lot of external traffic to a listing? Like if you’re looking at all the listings on the front page for example.

Casey: Yeah so basically one, there is no sure fire way. Two, essentially the way that we do it or estimate is we say, okay, well the majority of sellers are not driving significant volume from external sources to Amazon. In which case if I look at the average of the market and say the top 10, top 15 are selling 1,000 units a month, then I can assume that the majority of those sales are coming from Amazon.

If there’s one person that’s selling 10,000 units a month, then I have no idea what kind of volume that this — or how this guy is driving that volume. So I’m not going to guess it’s coming from that search term. I’m going to guess; maybe it’s coming from somewhere else, in which case I may not be able to replicate it, so I don’t even want to try.

Steve: Okay. So you’re basically looking for outliers and ignoring them?

Casey: Right exactly.

Steve: Okay. And in terms of sales revenue, you’re looking for that 10,000 range, does that sound accurate?

Casey: Yeah. I mean so it’s relative to every – basically one of the sayings that we have is every product is a good product to sell so long as it makes sense to you in your business. And what that means is I have friends where if they’re not doing 50 to $150,000 a month in top line revenue for a product, they’re not happy with the product. But then other people, they come in; they only have two, $3,000 budget. If they’re doing three to $5,000 a month on Amazon, they’re very happy.

So it’s all relative, but in the go wide strategy, I would be cautious around products that get up into the 30, $50,000 a month range, because I’m adverse to competition in this case.

Steve: Okay yeah, so you’re basically just hovering just under the radar of the most popular products so that you get less hijackers and trouble in general, right?

Casey: Yeah exactly.

Steve: Okay. So in terms of creating the listing, what are some of the more crucial points of a listing that you need to pay attention to based on what you’ve seen in terms of helping other people launch products?

Casey: Yeah I think that the whole listing optimization process is one of the most underrated things when it comes to having success on Amazon. If you don’t have a well optimized listing, it can literally mean thousands of dollars and if you’re in those competitive markets tens of thousands of dollars lost in sales every month, because not only does it have an impact on conversion but the biggest impact is in how it performs in the search results.

And so basically the three main tips that people really don’t get, one of them people have a little bit different opinion on. But the first one is you have to have plurals in your title. So you need to have a singular and plural form in your title. So let’s say I’m selling a singular grill brush, right, I need to have brush and brushes even though it may not make that much sense. I need to have both of those in my title because inevitably people are searching grill brushes or brushes for your grill because yeah.

And so you need to treat these words different. You can see this by going and searching fish oil, you’ll see different order of the results. And so one example that we’ve had is we’re launching let’s say it was this guy’s grill gloves. And so we ran a promotion targeting the singular form grill glove but he only had the plural form in title. So we got him mid page two for the singular form grill gloves, we add grill gloves which is what he was targeting. But for the plural form he was like top ten on page one for the plural form because it was in his title.

So these are general, it depends on the market but generally the singular and plural forms of words of high volume, and if you’re excluding one then you’re missing out. Number two is kind of keyword stuffing your title. So I know people want to add these beautiful titles that really impact click through rate, and I mean you definitely need to use the data to your advantage. But I would much rather rank for two times as many keywords, three times as many keywords but have a lower click through rate, because in total in aggregate you’re going to be driving more sessions.

So I think that’s really important. And then number three is, don’t include your brand in the title. This is a waste of space and Amazon shows your brands in most search results right there. So I think it’s a big waste of space. People aren’t searching your brand unless you are a name brand like Nike or Toshiba or something like that. Your brand is there already and it just is wasting character count.

Steve: Interesting okay.

Casey: Another quick little tidbit is you should be putting a colon or a hyphen after the fifth word in your title. The reason being is by putting that colon in your title, the five words that come before that assuming there’s no stop words like and, the, that is what dictates your canonical URL. And so, your canonical URL — we’re not exactly sure if it helps SEO in Amazon, but we do know that it helps SEO in Google, so yeah.

Steve: That’s an interesting tip. I remember when I’m trying to get the canonical URL correct; it’s just trial and error for me. I didn’t realize that you could put a colon or a dash in there to force it.

Casey: Yeah.

Steve: Okay. So I know you guys do a lot of launches as part of Viral Launch. And I was hoping we could just talk a little bit about some of your most recent successful launches with your service. What exactly do you guys do these days step by step to launch a product on Amazon? Can we talk about like giveaways and sales velocity, and that sort of thing?

Casey: Yeah, yeah. So first off you have to have an amazing listing. Again in the example with the grill gloves, here this guy was missing out on sales because he didn’t have the singular form in his title. And so make sure you have a well optimized listing.

Steve: Does enhanced brand content a big deal?

Casey: So enhanced brand content is supposed to help conversion rate, and we’ve seen it everywhere from it has no impact; it has a small amount of impact. I don’t think or if it does have any impact on SEO it’s so small and it’s hard to tell with all the noise. But what you should be doing, this is a good question — one little trick is if you have enhanced brand content, make sure that your description in Seller Central is still filled out, because those words will still index and help you rank.

Steve: Interesting okay. So can you tell me what type of products where enhanced brand content made a bigger deal than the other ones?

Casey: So honestly we didn’t see any correlation around beauty products or anything like that. So we also have this little test tool, and we’ve done a decent amount of split testing around content and how this impacts conversion. Split testing content is hard though because sometimes when you update the title, it hurts your search ranking, then it also you see declines so it’s hard to normalize after you change.

Anyway basically again it depends on the market or the type of products specifically, but conversion rate is largely driven from like your product photography and making sure that you have the features like in your listing. From there it’s all about having the keywords in your listing to make sure that you’re ranking and getting as many sessions as possible.

If you have beautiful photos that highlight the products, that are helping them to understand how many pieces are in this, what do I get, what don’t I get, how big is it? Answering all these questions so they don’t even have to read because less and less do people want to take the time to read, they just want to know is this right and then buy it. So you do a lot of that with your photos.

Steve: I was just trying to get an idea of like where in the hierarchy enhanced brand co