Our first Listener Q&A of the year
In this Listener Q&A episode, we talk:
Paul Reda: Ain’t we lucky we got ‘em? Good times! Ask me what I did over the holidays.
Kurt Elster: What did you do over the holidays?
Paul Reda: Watched a ton of Good Times.
Kurt Elster: On what channel were you watching Good Times?
Paul Reda: TV One.
Kurt Elster: What is TV One?
Paul Reda: It’s just only black sitcoms.
Kurt Elster: And it’s a local station?
Paul Reda: No, it’s like a cable station.
Kurt Elster: Oh, okay.
Paul Reda: It’s mostly Family Matters and Good Times, is like 75% of their programming.
Kurt Elster: Because I got an HDTV antenna, like for people who don’t have cable, and there’s a ton of weird, local, independent channels that just show weird reruns.
Paul Reda: That’s where I live, is in the weird digital subchannels that all they do is show reruns.
Kurt Elster: Okay.
Paul Reda: That’s all I want to watch. Antenna TV, New Year’s Day, all day NewsRadio marathon. Starting the year off right.
Kurt Elster: A classic. So, what do you do-
Paul Reda: Hey, do you like my shirt?
Kurt Elster: I do love your shirt. It is an embroidered Ethercycle-
Paul Reda: We’re on a podcast, so I’m gonna talk to people about how my shirt looks.
Kurt Elster: Yeah, let’s not tell them what’s on it. Go check the video. That’s an embroidered shirt. A lot of Shopify merchants use Printful for print-on-demand, and I found out they’ve done embroidery for like the last two years, and it’s actually… It’s really easy to use, provided you have a vector graphics file, so an .SVG file from Illustrator. You drop it. It’s just like the regular thing. Pick your garment, you drop it in, but then it’s really cool. It goes, “All right, here are the thread colors we have. These are the colors in your .SVG. Map them to the thread colors you want.” And then you wait a few days, and magically, a perfect embroidered shirt shows up.
Paul Reda: I just wanted to feel like I was working at a Best Buy.
Kurt Elster: Yeah, we got that Geek Squad look going.
Paul Reda: Yeah, right.
Kurt Elster: Yeah. Based on the amount of gear, and stickers, and crap in here, 100% we’re like, 20 years ago we would have been a Geek Squad.
Paul Reda: Oh yeah.
Kurt Elster: So yeah, today we want to do a listener Q&A episode as we go into the new year, as we go into 2020. So, an interesting thing happens. Every year, because we’ve been doing this podcast I think five years now. I think this is year five. You don’t know. I don’t know. That’s great. Neither of us are really sure how long we’ve been doing this.
Paul Reda: Yeah. It’s year five. I’ll give it year five, at least.
Kurt Elster: And every January, downloads spike in January because of the number of people who have a… whether they call it a resolution or not, but they want to start the year strong, and they’ve got a goal, when they say, “All right, I want to get my business off the ground. I want to get it to a place where I can quit my job, or I want to double my income.” Whatever it is, but things really take off in January.
A PSA here. This is also when the scammers come out of the woodwork, and they prey on people who are new to an entrepreneurial venture, who are new to doing an e-commerce store or Amazon drop shipping, and they’ll sell you a course, and you end up buying like 30 grand worth of stuff on a palette from China that sits in your garage for several years. So, the PSA here is just be wary of get-rich-quick schemes, especially the first quarter of the year. We talked about it last January for the first episode of the year.
Paul Reda: Last January. Yeah. Yeah, that was that big… Yeah. About people who get sucked into the idea of like, “Get rich quick drop shipping on Shopify.”
Kurt Elster: Yeah, and it was specific to like Amazon and Shopify, so just to be-
Paul Reda: You’re not gonna get rich quick. Don’t think that you will.
Kurt Elster: Yeah. Overnight successes are extremely rare. This is more of a grind-it-out thing, but, so I put together some questions that people had asked over the… during December, that I thought would be a good starting point for like, “Hey, let’s talk about things we could do to grow our businesses going into the new year.” And the first one, if you don’t have any other housekeeping items, that is, sir.
Paul Reda: When are you going to Disneyworld next?
Kurt Elster: Oh boy. In 10 days. Actually, so in like less than seven days from when this episode publishes, we-
Paul Reda: Oh, it must have been rough for you, not going for a month.
Kurt Elster: Yeah, I was last there… It will be a little over 30 days since the last time I was there.
Paul Reda: You starting to get the shakes?
Kurt Elster: No.
Paul Reda: You haven’t heard It’s A Small World in a while?
Kurt Elster: So, Small World is very polarizing, and I’m on the side of people who thinks it’s like a torture device. It’s like 11 minutes of a 30-second song looped.
Paul Reda: Who likes it?
Kurt Elster: Oh, plenty of people like it. Do you know that It’s A Small World is also the most played song of all time at this point, because it’s been running for decades.
Paul Reda: It runs on a loop for 24 hours a day.
Kurt Elster: On a loop. In multiple cities. Yeah. That’s a weird thing to think about. Yeah, Andy Bedell, master marketer who’s been on this podcast several times and works at KeySmart, his family has a timeshare at Animal Kingdom, so we’re gonna… and it overlooks the savannah, and they’re like, “Yeah, you should come stay with us.” So, that’s how we ended up going twice in two months.
But then when I get back, next… The month after that, Julie is going, but it’s to run a marathon, so it’s all good. Plus it’s-
Paul Reda: That’s the February trip. What’s the March trip? You going to Disneyland Paris in March?
Kurt Elster: After that, there’s no trips planned until June-
Paul Reda: When you go to Tokyo Disney?
Kurt Elster: I would love to. Tokyo, it’s called DisneySea, it’s bonkers. That’s like they had a different kind of money when they built that thing. No, we’ll go… We’ll do a Disney Cruise this summer.
Paul Reda: Well, you think about your love of Disney is built on extremely high quality engineering and precision, and so then you take-
Kurt Elster: Well, systems and processes.
Paul Reda: Systems, and processes, and precision, and then you take that and you put it in Japan, the land of systems and processes and precision, and it’s like precision Voltron.
Kurt Elster: Oh yeah. No, it is… The hardcore Disney people, when I’ve seen their videos, they’re like, “This is next level. I can’t handle it.”
All right. We’ll get off Disney. We’re just here to talk about e-commerce, Paul.
Paul Reda: Disney sells things online.
Kurt Elster: They do. Actually yeah, the Disney Store is pretty nice.
Paul Reda: They should build a Shopify store and have us build it.
Kurt Elster: Maybe like a popup shop. Yeah. Okay. All right, for anybody who’s listening. All right, let’s talk about e-commerce and our listener questions. So, the first one came from a YouTube comment on our burgeoning YouTube channel. Chris T. says, “I need to know about email marketing specific to customers that made recent purchases. Seems obvious, but it’s something I’ve been missing. Learned a lot here, thanks guys.”
Email marketing specific to recent purchases, so this is like post-purchase cross-selling right?
Paul Reda: Well, I was thinking it was more like feel good education.
Kurt Elster: Oh, okay. Actually, so that’s probably one of the things that people are new to this may be missing.
Paul Reda: That was the first thing that popped… You immediately went to cross-sells and upsells. I immediately went to, “Let’s make you feel better about the thing you just bought, and about the brand itself, so when we send you the upsells and cross-sells later, you’re more likely to buy.”
Kurt Elster: You’re 100% right. You need to do that pre-sale education, and that post-purchase, feel good, cuddly cuddly. Well, that’s the technical term. All right, so let’s-
Paul Reda: So, in my mind it’s like the thing you just bought, here’s how you take care of it, or here’s how you use it.
Kurt Elster: Aha. Yes.
Paul Reda: So, you just send them education about the product, of like, “Here’s a thing it can do. Here’s how you take care of it. Here’s how you clean it. Here’s how you maintain it.” And that works for a myriad of stuff.
Kurt Elster: All right, let’s walk through some examples. I like this idea. All right, so number one they get an email, and it’s easier in my head to work with a working sample, so we’re gonna do… We’re gonna pretend we have purchased a wallet made of fire hose from our friend, Jake Starr at Recycled Firefighter in Louisville, and you buy your wallet, let’s say it’s like 20 bucks, and you get an email the next day that’s like, “Hey, Jake here. So, so grateful for you. Appreciate you. Thanks for buying.” So, it’s a thank you from the owner, right?
But that’s a customer service opportunity, so you’re like, “Hey, if you have any questions, just hit reply.” And then the day after that, you go, you want to set their expectations and keep them interested, so you say, “All right, you should receive your wallet in X2, in however many days.” Ideally, I can estimate it.
Paul Reda: Oh, so you’re talking before they even get it.
Kurt Elster: When you first buy the thing, that’s pretty exciting, and then when you get it and open the box, that’s exciting. But there’s the lull in between, where you got nothing.
Paul Reda: Where you’re just watching the tracking number.
Kurt Elster: Yeah, and this is where you could really, you could add a lot of value, I think, by just doing a daily email up until they get the thing, to really… and that really sets, really helps set their experience as positive. So, the next day you’re like, “All right, here’s when your item’s gonna go out,” if it’s made to order. I recently talked to somebody who they had a four-week lead time on their stuff.
Paul Reda: Oh yeah.
Kurt Elster: And so, that would be a really nice thing for them to have, like a lot of… To fill up four weeks, a lot of personalized content.
Paul Reda: Well, and the four-week example, they sell extremely specific, bespoke clothing.
Kurt Elster: Yeah, it’s made to fit.
Paul Reda: That’s made to fit, and probably requires very specific maintenance and other things done to it, so that’s where you can do the education of like, “Hey, when this thing comes, here’s what you do. Here’s the first thing you should do when you have it.” Like try it on, make sure that it fits right and everything’s good. And then like, “Here, after you wear it, here’s how you maintain it,” and all that sort of stuff.
Kurt Elster: So, you brought up apparel. That’s a good one.
Paul Reda: I feel like yeah, apparel-
Kurt Elster: If I try it on and it doesn’t fit, what do I do? That’s a bad experience for people. So, what I’ve seen some really smart retailers do is before you even got the item, one of the emails you get in between the purchase and receiving it is, “Hey, when you get your item, try it on, and if it doesn’t fit, here’s what you’re gonna do.” Wow. Okay, great. Give me the instructions up front, so I don’t have anxiety about returning the damn thing if I have to, or exchanging it. I like that, and then Jake Starr does a really clever one.
He doesn’t do it for all of his products, but he’ll send you an email that’s like, “This is the story of that product. Here’s how I came up with the idea. Here’s how I developed it.” And like he just runs you through the history of it. What I think is so brilliant about that is if you read it, and then you pull out this firehose wallet and somebody goes, “Oh, that’s a cool wallet.” There’s a good chance you may parrot back, “Hey, well actually, it’s cool. It’s a story. The guy used to be a firefighter, and they’re throwing out decommissioned firehose, and he started sewing.” You then know that story behind your wallet, and it makes it that much cooler.
Paul Reda: I was thinking if it’s one of those businesses where you donate X percent to a charity, or there’s some sort of charitable organization involved, and you’re actually doing that, fingers crossed, I hope you really are, one of those-
Kurt Elster: I know, we’re always very skeptical of those.
Paul Reda: We’re always very skeptical of those people, but if you are doing that, one of those emails can be, “Hey, you bought something from me, your money went to these people. Here’s what your money did.”
Kurt Elster: Okay.
Paul Reda: And talk about the charity, talk about what they did, talk about how they made people’s lives better, blah, blah, blah. And it’s like you’re giving that good feeling over to the consumer of just like, “Thanks for that money. You did a good thing. Here’s what your money did for people.” And I think that’s a extremely powerful email.
Kurt Elster: No, absolutely.
Paul Reda: And helps them feel better about the brand, too.
Kurt Elster: If it’s part of the brand story, for sure, and we’ve seen that the brands that do stuff like that and do charitable giving, when we do customer surveys, it’ll be like, “Well, what’d you get out of this?” And a lot of people will cite it. But I think that’s the difference with if you’re using cause marketing, it needs to be baked into every touch point. Otherwise, people see it for what it is. It’s like, “Well, you just kind of tacked it on.”
Paul Reda: Yeah, you can’t throw a freakin’ GIF in the cart that’s like, “By the way, oh, if you buy something, 10% of the profits go to cancer.” That doesn’t-
Kurt Elster: Would you stop giving cancer money?
Paul Reda: Cancer needs help.
Kurt Elster: Yeah, people keep trying to stop that, I’ve heard.
Paul Reda: Yeah. When I see that, I’m just like, “You’re full of it.”
Kurt Elster: Yeah, it feels like a cash grab. You know, it’s all because of Toms is who started that, really drove cause marketing, and now they’re going under.
Paul Reda: I was about to say, didn’t they get in a ton of trouble?
Kurt Elster: Toms is… Oh, Toms is… Just Google it. They have been in the news, and not for good reasons. All right, so we have yet to actually sell anybody anything else here.
Paul Reda: We’ve yet to upsell them on anything, because we gotta prime them for the upsell. You gotta make them love you.
Kurt Elster: There’s another one I want to do. There’s a Klaviyo automation in there that you can run called delayed fulfillment. I’ve talked about this before. You can have it automatically send out an email if it’s been X days after the order, but an order has not been marked fulfilled. So, let’s say normally you fulfill an order in two days, but an order that’s sitting for five days clearly has been backordered. You can have Klaviyo automatically send an email that’s like, “Hey, we know. We’ve got a high volume. We’re sorry. We’ve not forgotten about you.” So, that’s a nice one to include in there, just as an automatic customer service thing.
Then, finally, you can send an email, and ideally you want to have this be specific to their purchase, but you send out an email that’s like, “All right, here’s how to really enjoy your product. Here’s some other things to buy.” So, I bought yet another drone, and what did they send me? I got cross-sold on a protection plan, because you spend money on a drone, and then fly it at 45 miles an hour into a tree, yeah, that’s gonna be a painful experience, and they know that, so they’re gonna try and sell me this protection plan. But, like Jake could do that. If you buy the wallet, “Hey, well, I’ve got a belt. I’ve got other accessories that match, that go with it.” Or digital camera’s always a good example. “Oh, you bought a camera. Hey, did you want to get extra batteries? Did you want a bag? Did you want memory cards?”
So, finally you hit them with that stuff, and you say, “Hey, since this is a second purchase, if you make it within a couple days, we’ll give you 10% off, we’ll give you 15% off, or we’ll give you free shipping on any order.”
Paul Reda: That’s what I was gonna say. I was gonna say if you do the pre-upsell sequence to make them love you, then you send that upsell email, I don’t know, 48 to 72 hours after they actually get the product, and you include a coupon code in it, I think that’s just like 100% conversion rate in my head.
Kurt Elster: As long as it’s got that it expires, that’s gonna help.
Paul Reda: Oh yeah. Yep.
Kurt Elster: Yeah. I look for… I use those. I bought a bunch of gifts.
Paul Reda: And I don’t even think it needs to be a big discount. Seriously, like 10%.
Kurt Elster: Yeah, it’s just, “Here’s a token of gratitude to just push you over the edge.”
Paul Reda: Yeah, I’m gonna give you 10% off.
Kurt Elster: And create a little bit of urgency.
Paul Reda: 10% off on your next order. You should buy one of these things, because it’s better for your product, and you have two days to do it. Otherwise, this 10% off expires. Everyone will use that.
Kurt Elster: So, I bought a bunch of gifts for people from Shopify stores, and one of them, it was Popov Leather, when you made an order, you got an email that was like, “Hey, if you want to make a second purchase in the next X number of days, here’s a coupon code for 10 or 15% off your order,” or whatever. So, I used that. I’m like, “Cool. I’m not gonna go looking for something else. I’ll just buy something else from these guys.” And lo and behold, I ended up making four or five separate purchases from them.
So, if you get someone in the right place, yeah, it absolutely works. And that was… There was none of the other nonsense. Either I got the thank you email, like they did a couple, but the first thing I got was, “Hey, if you want to make a second purchase, here’s your coupon code.” So, that argues against our butter-them-up-first strategy, but-
Paul Reda: People just love discounts, but-
Kurt Elster: I mean, you could do it both ways. You could have it part of, like immediately they get the coupon code, then they get all these customer service feel good emails, then they get the coupon code again. You go, “Well, hey. It’s about to expire.” That’s how you do it. You give them the first one, you go, “All right, you got 10 days on it.” Then you space out the emails over 10 days, and then the final one is, “Hey, you got 48 hours, 72 hours, whatever, for this coupon code we gave you back when you made your first purchase.” Nailed it!
Paul Reda: Free money!
Kurt Elster: Basically, yeah. Acquiring a customer is hard and expensive, so if you can really improve that experience, where they remember it, and they come back, and they recommend you, this stuff pays dividends beyond just like yeah, they made a second purchase. It’s going to really increase customer lifetime value.
Paul Reda: Well, I mean whenever you’re vetting a new client for us, one of the questions you ask is how many people are on your email list. Okay, because that immediately tells us how much, how high we can make this rocket go. Because if they have nobody on their email list, it’s like, “Okay, well there’s a problem that we gotta deal with.”
Kurt Elster: Yeah. That’s a real limiting factor.
Paul Reda: Whereas if they have a ton of people on their emailing list, on their mail list, it’s like, “Oh, okay, we could… Sky’s the limit, here.”
Kurt Elster: Yeah. Oh, I love when someone’s like, “Oh yeah, I got this email list, but I don’t do anything with it.” Those are my favorite words. First I’m like, “What are you doing? Also, let me help!”
Paul Reda: Yeah, it’s like, “We’re about to look real great to you, because we’re gonna make a ton of money come in.”
Kurt Elster: Yeah, so if you… That whole sequence that we just laid out for post purchase, that is a phenomenal missed opportunity if you aren’t doing it. Go back, relisten to it, write it down. If you’re using Klaviyo, a lot of that stuff is already built in, like the thank you is in there, the delayed fulfillment is in there, so you just rework those flows to get these other ones to work, as well. Or you can even add them as the like the first customer thank you email, just add more after, additional emails to that flow would be how you do this.
Shall we move on?
Paul Reda: Yeah, sure. John Murphy asks, “I cannot run ads for my niche, so I’m planning on building out an SEO content strategy to build in traffic. Is that a good idea?” Of course it’s a good idea!
Kurt Elster: That’s a great idea!
Paul Reda: Why would you, even if you could buy ads, you should still do it! Also, I want to know what his business is.
Kurt Elster: These things are… Well, number one, this is phrased as though it’s mutually exclusive. They’re not.
Paul Reda: He sells like gun weed.
Kurt Elster: Gun weed?
Paul Reda: Weed guns.
Kurt Elster: It’s CBD for your rifle.
Paul Reda: It’s like CBD gun dildos.
Kurt Elster: Oh my God.
Paul Reda: And he can’t buy Facebook ads.
Kurt Elster: So, we call them sensitive niches. All right, is it in a sensitive niche? Which really just means it’s any age-restricted good. If there is any kind of age restriction on making the purchase, just assume you cannot advertise in a pay-per-click network. And you’re at an immediate disadvantage, and the problem is you might say, “Oh, well, so my competitors are at a disadvantage, too.” No, because some of them are gonna be real sleazeballs, and work their way around it. It’s problematic.
Paul Reda: Until it all blows up in their face, but still, they got a little bit of action out of it.
Kurt Elster: I’m not sure. I believe John Murphy sells shooting targets, so he does not sell guns, gun parts, ammo, just the targets, and I believe-
Paul Reda: That should be fine.
Kurt Elster: And I think recently they shut him down. I mean, increasingly it’s a tough… We don’t want to get into the politics of a gun debate, but if you’re selling even tangentially-related accessories online, it’s just a matter of time before you get shut down.
Paul Reda: Well, that’s-
Kurt Elster: Not shut down, but your PPC networks are gonna-
Paul Reda: Your ads are disallowed, we’ll say.
Kurt Elster: Yes.
Paul Reda: So yeah, that’s unfortunate, so you gotta go double hard into your content strategy.
Kurt Elster: Yes. Well, and I think another thing, they’re not mutually exclusive, so if I… A great content strategy, if I’ve got an article that I’m like, “Wow, people Google a problem, they find this article that’s the ultimate guide to choosing a practice target.” I don’t know what… We’ll just say a target. I don’t know what these things are called. The ultimate guide to choosing your target. And then he’s got a 1,500 word article that really lays out, “Here’s why you want… You don’t want a cheap one, because it’s gonna be dangerous, it could explode, you’ll poke your eye out.” I don’t know.
A whole ultimate guide article. That gets a ton of traffic. And then, all right, so the people who visit that, I want to then retarget them with the products referenced in the ad, and then I could also send my cold traffic to that article, or people who only visited the homepage and bounced, I could send them to this educational article, and then once they view that, retarget them. Or people who viewed my Instagram profile. That’s its own custom audience. I could retarget them with just this one article.
So, if you have an SEO, this content strategy to bring in traffic, that, and you can do PPC ads, oh my gosh! Those are the people who are gonna really work around the difficult low return on ad spend problems that a lot of merchants are seeing with Facebook.
Paul Reda: You mentioned something in there, and it ties into something I’ve been thinking about a lot, which is I’ve always been a major poo-pooer of like, “Well, we’ve gotta get big on social, like Twitter, and Facebook, and Pinterest, and Google Plus,” like social! Social’s huge! And it’s like it’s not. No one ever buys anything off of your tweets. That never… That has never happened in the history of the world.
Kurt Elster: I’d say right now, we don’t have a single client who has been successful selling on Twitter.
Paul Reda: Yeah, and Pinterest, I don’t think anyone… Pinterest is a lot of drive by traffic. Doesn’t work. But-
Kurt Elster: Twitter is more B2B, I’ve noticed.
Paul Reda: But, and like your Facebook group, which I think is probably good for-
Kurt Elster: It’s good for I think for existing customers.
Paul Reda: For existing customers, but you’re not, “Like my Facebook page,” and stuff like that. But I think my opinion is changing about Instagram.
Kurt Elster: How so?
Paul Reda: I think Instagram really drives sales. Well, we’ve seen it in the apparel world.
Kurt Elster: Paul likes Instagram?
Paul Reda: I don’t like Instagram. I’ve recognized its power. I recognize its power, because it’s… Being huge on Instagram is key to any apparel store.
Kurt Elster: It’s very visual, and it’s influencer-driven. The other thing that… YouTube I think is also so… It’s so difficult to get traction on YouTube, but the people who do do tremendously well. When you look at someone… I mean, the people who started early. Look at someone like Beardbrand, Eric Bandholz from Beardbrand has this huge YouTube following. I mean, that really is a key driver of their business.
I talked to someone recently who bought their way into YouTube success. Especially, like this works when you have a niche audience, so they sell a product targeted toward doomsday preppers. Well, you know where a doomsday prepper lives? On YouTube! YouTube has a whole doomsday prepper culture.
Paul Reda: Yeah. Well, any whack job culture is on YouTube.
Kurt Elster: Yes, and I loved that Nat Geo show, Doomsday Preppers. I wish they’d bring it back. Anyway, so building an audience at this point is gonna be very difficult, but you could set up an affiliate network, and then contact those merchants, so even if you can’t sell through PPC networks on social media, you could still have a presence on social media, and you can still also use affiliate marketing, so that… I think we could lump social media into content strategy, I guess.
Paul Reda: And that’s what I’m saying, is that I’m not saying, “Buy stuff. Send free stuff or buy stuff from Instagram influencers.” I’m saying get on Instagram yourself, and become your own Instagram influencer with your product, and show off your product, and make cool Instagram videos. I assume you can make videos of you shooting targets on Instagram.
Kurt Elster: Oh, there’s a huge-
Paul Reda: I’m sure you got gun dudes on Instagram.
Kurt Elster: Yes. Oh, absolutely. And if that’s your tribe, more power to you. I think the issue with social media, or with us giving advice about social media like that, is when you show up, your people already prefer one kind of network, so that’s the one you want to go to. We’ll use my wife’s business, her Disney planning blog business as an example. WWDW. Don’t roll your eyes at me. It’s catch and memorable. It’s a tongue twister.
Anyway, the audiences are… She was like, “I’m gonna nail social media.” The Instagram audience seems very fake, like 5,000 followers, but engagement is poor, those people don’t convert. YouTube, so saturated, extremely difficult to get traction, but the way she found was able to get some traction with an engaged group was zig where everybody else zagged. So, everyone’s covering big stuff. She covers the not sexy stuff for parents, like, “Here’s our experience with babysitting.” So, sometimes that might be a way into social media, is just cover the most boring thing that no one else wants to talk about.
And Facebook, that’s where she found her tribe, and then Pinterest, wow, that drives a ton of traffic, but is it a vanity metric, in that that traffic converts the poorest of all of them. So, I think you gotta try it, you gotta experiment, but try to do all of them and make yourself crazy, so experiment, and then figure out where your tribe lives, like the people you want to reach.
Paul Reda: Well, and the kind of content that you personally excel at creating, where could it live the best?
Kurt Elster: So that now we got the Venn diagram, and wherever that overlap is, that’s your unfair advantage. Not everybody… Some people would prefer to write, so that’s probably best on Facebook. Maybe, or if you’re like, “I’m gonna write thought pieces, and big… I’m gonna be a thought leader.” That’s LinkedIn.
Paul Reda: Or it could be let’s just be on-site content on your store, too.
Kurt Elster: I’m a big believer in cross-posting, just shotgun it everywhere.
Paul Reda: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Kurt Elster: To be clear, I don’t own a gun. But I have been… I do enjoy trap shooting. It’s fun.
Paul Reda: Are you a trap queen?
Kurt Elster: I am not a trap queen at this time, no. Trap shooting, it’s like duck hunt with the clay pigeon.
Paul Reda: I know what it is.
Kurt Elster: I always just thought, “This is real life Duck Hunt.” It’s very nerdy.
Paul Reda: You know what’s real life Duck Hunt? Going duck hunting.
Kurt Elster: That’s… I don’t want to shoot a bird. My God. The same duck I’m feeding bread, I’m gonna go blast with a shotgun? That seems rude.
Paul Reda: That’s the whole point of hunting is to find something beautiful and then murder it.
Kurt Elster: Oh, this all has to go. Gonna get angry emails. All right. Third question, final question of the day, Josh C., so he sent me a nice email, so you want to have a good opening question in your welcome series, because then occasionally people reply and you get these nice interactions. So, this was in a reply to my welcome email. Josh C. said, “I’m a business junkie, and my wife and I have just hit $1.6 million in revenue for our e-commerce company for 2019.” Congratulations, Josh.
“However, 95% of that revenue is from Amazon. We’re excited to escape the clutches of Amazon, and have slowly been building our own brand on Shopify. I’m a big fan of your podcast. Our biggest issue right now is generating traffic to our website. I am currently learning content and customer acquisition strategies.” All right, so this is a common problem that people experience. When you’re first starting out, building the audience is really tough, so rather… The shortcut to validate the idea and the product market fit is sell on a marketplace. The downside to that is you don’t own the customer, you don’t really own the brand, and you have this single point of failure. So, whether I sell on Etsy, Amazon, eBay, any one of them, and in this case Amazon, could just go, “Eh, you violated a policy. You’re out. You’re done. That’s it.” And cut you off. So he said, “Hey, we did $1.6 million,” and all right, so one and a half million was on Amazon.
When you get into those sums, it gets scary, because at any time, Amazon could go, “You’re out.”
Paul Reda: Well, you get used to that money, and then there’s the chance that that money disappears next year. Chinese knockoffs can come get you, Amazon can make a copy of it, Amazon could just push you down in their search results. You could be dead at any moment. You don’t own any… and you got nothing to fall back on. You don’t have an email list. You don’t have anything to hold your floor.
Kurt Elster: Yeah, and so the solution is you want to diversify those income streams, and the answer is, well, build your own brand and you own it. And you do that with a Shopify store. Now, this doesn’t mean you quit Amazon. No, do all of them, right? So, if you want to keep selling on marketplaces, do it, but also build your own brand.
What’s interesting about the successful Amazon sellers is when they create a Shopify store, there are times where these stores will have immediate sales on day one organically, because people on Amazon, it is not uncommon, they will Google the product title. They will Google the maker, the brand, and find the store, and then buy direct, because for whatever reason, it makes them more comfortable.
Paul Reda: Or they might be able to get it for cheaper.
Kurt Elster: In the past, Amazon had said you could not… If you sold on the marketplace and sold directly, you couldn’t undercut them, and I believe they changed that, so you can now.
Paul Reda: So first, I-
Kurt Elster: I could be wrong, though. Please Google that before you take my advice.
Paul Reda: I have questions and maybe an idea.
Kurt Elster: All right.
Paul Reda: One, so for Josh here, he’s been selling on Amazon, he’s got $1.5 million in sales. He’s sold-
Kurt Elster: 1.6, sir.
Paul Reda: Oh, pardon me.
Kurt Elster: I’m assuming. He said 95%. Here, we’ll do the math.
Paul Reda: Who cares?
Kurt Elster: Yeah, 1.5.
Paul Reda: He’s sold to tens of thousands of people. I assume his thing doesn’t cost $1,000.
Kurt Elster: Yeah. Let’s assume an average is 50 bucks.
Paul Reda: Yeah. What does he have from those people? He doesn’t have their emails. I know that.
Kurt Elster: Yeah. When you do it with Amazon, they make a dummy proxy email that’s like at Amazon Customer Central, whatever.
Paul Reda: And then they send it.
Kurt Elster: Yeah, they send it out, and then they post the tracking into Amazon, and that’s how you get your payout. Yeah. Amazon won’t pay you until you have shown that you put the tracking in, and that’s like they… Because no gods but shipping in e-commerce, and Amazon knows this, that to maintain good standing, you need to be constantly demonstrating to Amazon that you are fulfilling quickly. Assuming you’re not using fulfillment by Amazon, in which case you don’t worry about it.
Paul Reda: So, if you’re shipping it out yourself, you have the addresses?
Kurt Elster: Well, you would have to.
Paul Reda: Okay, in like a database or something.
Kurt Elster: Yeah.
Paul Reda: If you’re using fulfilled by Amazon, you don’t get the address.
Kurt Elster: You know, I don’t know. You may. I know in the past, there was a way to get the phone numbers out, and if you wanted to, you could use… You could use the phone numbers to try and match custom audience in Facebook, but the match rate’s very low. The email, 100% of Facebook accounts of an email.
Paul Reda: Yeah. Facebook has been trying to get you to their phone numbers. Also, there was a giant leak of all the Facebook phone numbers. It was real bad. Because I’m thinking if you’re in this dilemma, the first thing would be well, I just email them, “Come to my Shopify store. Don’t buy off my Amazon store.” But you don’t have the email, so you can’t do that. But if you have their physical addresses, can you send them a mailer that has a coupon?
Kurt Elster: Direct mail.
Paul Reda: A direct mail campaign, and the direct mail campaign directs them to your Shopify store with a coupon.
Kurt Elster: I’m gonna assume one, yes, and two, that I’m sure that violates some Amazon agreement, but what… live dangerously. Beg forgiveness, not permission.
Paul Reda: What, is Amazon gonna be like… What, have they got postal inspectors seeing if you mailed people?
Kurt Elster: Yeah. Well, I just don’t know what Amazon’s draconian terms of service are. Yeah. I like that. That’s very clever. That’s outside the box. All right, here’s another one: You include in the instructions, or you do a pack-in card.
Paul Reda: Oh, you gotta register it.
Kurt Elster: You have to register to get your warranty. You want your warranty, right? Register on our site to get your warranty. Aha. Now you’re… And then have a checkbox, “Hey, do you want to get on our email list?” And all right, to register your warranty, you send them to a landing page on your Shopify store. So, now they’re on the store, now you can hit them with remarketing.
Paul Reda: Yeah. Your cookie dough.
Kurt Elster: And now you get the email. Ideally they opt-in to marketing, and then you can retarget the email indefinitely, and you could get them on your newsletter. So, there are ways around this.
Paul Reda: The goal of this entire operation is to get your customers out of the Amazon black box, and into the light, so you can somehow find them. And get to them yourself again without the middle man.
Kurt Elster: Yeah. It’s, “Hey, can we recover the Amazon customers? Can we get those people to buy from our website?” And the direct mail thing is brilliant. I love it. And recently I’ve seen more direct mail coming to our house from e-commerce brands, and Drew Sanocki was on the show recently to talk about like, “Hey, this is this completely untapped channel that people are ignoring, that can work well.” So yeah, I think direct mail’s great.
A pack-in for the warranty is smart.
Paul Reda: Yeah. It’s a good idea. Can you make Amazon pack that in?
Kurt Elster: Amazon won’t do it, but you just package it with your stuff. And I’ve gotten those in Amazon packages. Even though they do… I’ve gotten them where it’s like, “Leave us a five star.” This is bad. They’re like, “Leave us a five-star review and we’ll send you a free gift.” Uh oh. That does specifically violate Amazon TOS.
Paul Reda: I don’t think Amazon is really into rules following.
Kurt Elster: For the merchants, yes. Well, because it’s this giant, this unbelievable automated system that’s running at all times around the globe, and is terrifying and baffling.
Paul Reda: There isn’t enough eyeballs on it is what I’m saying.
Kurt Elster: They’re processing 50 cents of every e-commerce dollar in the United States. Yeah. That’s quite the monopoly. He said, “Our biggest issue now is generating traffic to our website. I’m currently learning content and customer acquisition strategies.” All right, so I mean-
Paul Reda: All that stuff we just talked about with John Murphy. There you go.
Kurt Elster: Yeah. Exact same thing.
Paul Reda: Only he could buy ads now, hopefully.
Kurt Elster: Yeah.
Paul Reda: Because he’s not selling weed dildos.
Kurt Elster: Yeah. Ideally this guy could buy ads, but also, when you’re starting out on Amazon, a lot of people have to buy Amazon ads, or they continue to buy Amazon ads, where you’re buying ads on the marketplace, so the sponsored related products. I’m sure there is some data there, or some learnings that can transfer to Facebook or Google Shopping. Like if the keywords people are using, and I really… I have no experience with Amazon ads, but ideally, if you could figure out the keywords people are using to search your items on Amazon, that can inform an SEO strategy. That could inform a Google Shopping strategy. And Google Ad strategy.
And then for Facebook ads, if we’re registering people for the warranty, can we do basic surveying? Can we figure out demographics? Or does Amazon give us demographics on who buys? If I can get any of that, that’s gonna make… I can narrow down. I could use a look-alike audience on Facebook, but then also narrow it to who I know is buying.
Paul Reda: Yeah, I mean the phone number matches are probably… You can’t build an ad campaign on the phone number matches, but maybe you can get enough of a sample size of the phone number matches on Facebook to figure out the demographics, at least. But maybe I’m wrong.
Kurt Elster: Well, they really, they handicapped audience insights after their privacy issues in recent years, so I don’t think we have… Well, no, we just don’t have the data insights we used to. But what’s cool, you can just start. You can just play with audience insights tools, and figure out what an audience looks like. So as an example, we’ll use Julie’s Disney business again, we really didn’t know who these people are, and using audience insights tool, you’re able to figure out, you could derive a customer avatar if the audience is big enough. Just poking around and playing with it. By being like, “Show me people who like this, this, this page.” And so it’s like a lot of people in the South, because they’re driving there, that was interesting, and because it’s a lot of people in the South, it also, and it’s like Disney’s traditionally, especially from the Reagan-era on, is considered this wholesome thing, this wholesome family thing.
It attracts a lot of people interested in wholesome family values. So get this, it was like the number one TV channel they watched, Hallmark Channel. Their favorite restaurant? Cracker Barrel.
Paul Reda: Yeah.
Kurt Elster: Until I heard it I was like, “You’re right. That’s the most wholesome, traditional values restaurant in existence.” Cracker Barrel. Get me some country fried steak. So, you could, I guess, take kind of a backwards, back your way into it and try to use the audience insights tool to develop a customer avatar that way.
Getting a little deep in the weeds.
Paul Reda: Yeah.
Kurt Elster: But I mean, it’s free if you have the ad account, which doesn’t cost you anything. Just go. It’s called the audience insights tool. Try playing with it. It’s cool. Can figure out some demographics. So, hopefully that narrows it down. There’s also for content creation, there’s some cool tools out there for trying to identify like, “This is content that people engage with.” BuzzSumo is one that’s really neat, and BuzzSumo, it’ll try and… You give it a keyword, or a website, and it will essentially run it, search for it on social media, and in doing that, it can tell you like, “Oh, well this is the article that got shared the most, so this is the one that we think… In theory, this is the thing that really clicked for that brand or website, so maybe you could create similar content.”
Paul Reda: Great job.
Kurt Elster: All right. Anything else?
Paul Reda: That’s it.
Kurt Elster: All right. We’d love to do more Q&A episodes. We need more topic requests, so of course I will post in the Facebook group in a week, hit you guys up for that, so if you have not joined, join the Facebook group! Search Unofficial Shopify Podcast. Join the Facebook group, and I will do a pinned post every couple weeks where I go, “Hey, call for content.”
Paul Reda: Ask us questions.
Kurt Elster: Ask a question. And we do answer most of them.
Paul Reda: Yeah, if they’re good.
Kurt Elster: If they’re good.
Paul Reda: If we don’t answer it, it’s because it was probably bad.
Kurt Elster: It’s because you’re stupid. It was bad.
Paul Reda: Yeah, it’s because you’re stupid.
Kurt Elster: No, it’s because we look for a theme.
Paul Reda: Best to not try at all.
Kurt Elster: Yeah. Just give up now. Save yourself the hassle. Just order a pizza, watch some Netflix. No! Oh my God. No!
Paul Reda: That’s what I’m doing tonight.
Kurt Elster: Okay, that’s also what I’m doing tonight. It’s Friday when we’re recording this.
Paul Reda: My wife’s gone. Just laying around in my underwear watching Good Times.
Kurt Elster: I got nothing. All right. I will see you guys later. I appreciate the time. Join my Facebook group!