In the podcast:
02:21 – Who this episode is for
05:25 – The current trend
06:34 – A delicate situation
09:10 – So you want to go direct to consumer…
12:39 – When something’s not working
16:36 – What type of business are you running?
19:25 – Choosing your approach
20:51 – Getting repeat sales on Amazon
24:10 – Harnessing the holidays
29:08 – Your go-to, must-have, off-the-shelf sequences
33:44 – Lessons from SilverCircle
35:42 – Summing things up
James: James Schramko here. Welcome back to SuperFastBusiness.com. This is Episode 606, and we are talking about ecommerce. In fact, not just ecommerce, how to supercharge your ecommerce business with Austin Brawner from BrandGrowthExperts.com. Welcome, Austin.
Austin: Hey James. Hey man. Happy to be here. Thanks for having me.
James: It’s always a pleasure chatting to you, Austin. You’re a very interesting fellow. I remember meeting you in San Diego at Ezra Firestone’s ecommerce event. We were both speaking there. I was talking about teams. I think you were talking about emails.
Austin: I was talking about email. Yes, exactly.
James: It was a great presentation. I remember it well, and we’ve stayed in touch since. We’ve been chatting on a regular basis. I’ve been helping you behind the scenes a little bit with some stuff with your business. And I’ve been learning a heck of a lot of stuff just from our conversations, because I would have to say, from the outside, certainly, it looks like you are possibly one of the best experts in the entire world when it comes to things such as ecommerce, growth and scaling, and especially the email marketing things that are happening in the background of ecommerce brands. Would you say that’s fair?
Austin: I would say that that’s my hope. You know, that’s what I’ve spent a lot of my time over the last couple of years, focused on working with growing fast-growing brands and trying to figure out what is actually helping them scale up, right? So what is the difference between a brand that actually can scale up and one that doesn’t scale? And that’s been my main focus. So yeah, that has been really pinpoint on what I’ve been interested in over the last few years.
Who this episode is for
James: Now, who is this episode for? When we talk about ecommerce – and I know we’re going to talk about what the big product companies do and what the trends are and what the email systems are – but who is this relevant for, just so that we can make sure we’re spending our time here wisely?
Austin: Sure. So this is going to be relevant for anybody who runs an ecommerce business. And when I say ecommerce, what I mean by that is somebody who’s selling a product direct to a consumer, even some business-to-business, I work with some business-to-business clients.
“There are different phases that are important as you grow.”
But it’ll be basically, if you’re running an ecommerce brand, this is going to be relevant to you, because we’re going to talk about different levels of scaling, right? What different phase you might be in. Because that’s one thing that I feel like a lot of people don’t realize, is, as you grow, there are different phases and different things that are important as you grow. So if you’re smaller, there’s things you can take away from it. If you’re larger, we’ll talk about, you know, what the larger businesses are doing and what you can learn from that.
James: Right. So what if I had an agency, or just was selling affiliate products? Would some of the things we talk about still have concepts that are portable into other industries?
Austin: Absolutely. We’re going to talk a lot about life cycle email and triggered emails, that is relevant across the board. So if you’re selling any product online, you should be focusing on triggered life cycle emails, and we’ll dive into what that actually means and how impactful those can be and how much profit they can drive. One of the things that I love, you always talk about profit over revenue, right? Because that’s really more of a metric that you can sink some teeth into. And that’s what triggered emails drive. They’re all designed to drive profit.
James: Perfect. Yeah, I do like profit. And I know ecommerce businesses, they can have a slightly smaller profit margin than some of the businesses who I often work with. However, they have massive revenue, some of those businesses have revenue. And they have really strong brands and they’re super saleable.
And you’ve been watching some of the trends, because you work behind the scenes. And I think you came into it from the angle of the major email service provider in that industry, which is Klaviyo, you’ve become quite a specialist at that. So you get to go in behind the scenes and look under the hood of these businesses.
But you know, even when we talk about your ecommerce stuff, I know that it’s applicable to what I’m doing. It’s the same concept. I love one of the things, the theme that’s been coming up in our conversations, and probably the big news is you’re seeing a lot of vertical integration happening in the ecommerce space. And this is an age-old technique of cutting out the middleman. We’ve seen it happen with the book-publishing industry. People like me can write a book with the help of someone like Kelly Exeter, and publish it now, directly reach consumers without having to engage a big publishing house. And the same thing is now happening in ecommerce where people are going direct to consumer. And I’m just wondering if you could just shed some light on the trends you’ve seen and explain what that means more accurately than perhaps how I’ve put it.
The current trend
Austin: Sure. So yes, if you are following the ecommerce space, the brand space, almost all the sexy brands that are out there, especially in the States, most of them are direct to consumer companies that are selling some type of product that might have been traditionally sold to, like, a reseller or distributor. Now they’re selling it direct to a consumer. So that includes companies like Casper. Casper is now selling mattresses direct to a consumer online. So you can go place an order, shipped to your house, and get there. It’ll deliver it to your house in a big box, you open it up, no longer have to go down the mattress store.
There’s companies like Tecovas boots, cowboy boots, huge industry in the States, traditionally sold to a reseller. Now you can go to Tecovas.com, buy them direct-to-consumer. Their company has been scaling incredibly fast, massively. Same thing with Warby Parker. Same thing. You can continue to go on and on and look at all these companies that have redesigned. Everlane redesigned the model, and gone rather than through a distributor like a reseller like Macy’s direct to consumer selling their products. And those are the ones that kind of initially have been scaling the fastest because they’re reaching big, large audiences.
A delicate situation
James: Right. So I get this question a fair bit inside SuperFastBusiness membership, where ecommerce stores are trying to ask, should their site be catering for resellers and sending customers off to their resellers’ stores? Or can they sell directly to the consumer without upsetting their resellers? How do you handle that?
Austin: Sure, that is a very delicate situation. And I think that depends a lot more on your relationship. Well, it depends on what type of business you’re building, right? And this is something that I always like to have a discussion around with different clients or potential clients, is, what type of business are you actually building?
“What type of business are you building?”
If you’re building a business for scale, one that can really scale up quickly- and you mentioned some of these businesses grow to 60, 80, $100 million in revenue very quickly because of the market size – then you’re clearly building a business that most of the time is not going to be working with resellers. You’ll be going direct to consumer and you definitely won’t be dealing with the question of whether you should be able to sell to resellers or on your own site, because you’re going to have a clear strategy.
If you have more of a business that is built not to scale like that, but is a business that can still be very profitable and you’ve been selling through resellers for a long time, well, then you don’t want to go direct to consumer and cut these people out, if that means that the majority of your revenue is going to drop because those people won’t work with you anymore. So I think that’s kind of a delicate situation.
And the big question that I always think about is, what is your end goal? If you look at a company like Casper or Warby Parker, these larger, direct-to-consumer… Harry’s shaving company, those are category-defining brands. That’s the only goal. they’ve raised tons of money, and their only real goal and the only thing they can be successful is if they redefine an entire category and become market leader. So that’s one way to go about it. And that’s what some of these larger businesses are doing.
If you’re in a different boat and you don’t have to be a market leader to have success, or a category-defining company to have success, then you can go about it whatever way you’re currently working as long as it’s successful for you.
James: Gotcha. I think some of them have discussions around starting a separate brand or having a different site.
James: It is a little bit of a dance with the devil, isn’t it?
Austin: It is.
James: I’m seeing this in the surfboard world, too. You can either order a surfboard through a store, or you can deal directly with the surfboard maker and cut out the retailer. But you also want to have that nice relationship with the retailer because you still have to buy fins, and leg ropes and wax. And they’re good people. And, you know, they’re employing people. And it’s often where you find out about the products. So it’s always this delicate thing.
So you want to go direct to consumer…
So if the big news is vertical integration, and we have a brand that we think we want to be a category-killer, and own the market, what would be the steps to go direct to consumer?
Austin: Well, I think what’s interesting about, regardless, if you’re going to be like, a category-defining brand, or just a brand that wants to wants to scale up, this is typically the way that I’ve seen it happen. And I’ve worked with a ton of different companies, and seen behind the scenes at a ton of different companies that have experienced a lot of growth. Generally, they start, and they’re working to get some traction, right? They don’t know initially where they’re going to, they’re trying different channels, and then one channel will actually hit for them. And sometimes that’s paid social, maybe Facebook and Instagram ads. For the last few years, that’s really been what is driving a lot of these brands.
So maybe they find paid social works, or maybe it’s YouTube, maybe it’s content marketing. Whatever their initial channel hits, they will then, they know they have traction, they’re starting to scale. And then at that point, really what happens is you go all in on that channel. And you see this time and time again – they’ll grow quite quickly through this channel, until they get to a point where they kind of max that out. And that point can be very different, like the size of the channel maxing out can be very different for different businesses, depending on how big the market is.
There’s a an article from a few years ago, hilarious title, and it talks about this, it says, It’s a nice little $20 million ecommerce business you’ve got there. Call me when it scales. And the whole point of that was that a lot of these companies can find a product market fit, and then grow incredibly quickly, because there’s demand for this product, but they aren’t even really a defensible business. They’re just an arbitrage that they’re able to sell on Facebook and make money.
So that’s kind of the first step, is find that initial fit, scale it up and get to a point where you then can replace yourself in that role. Initially hire people to help you do the other things, and then replace yourself and whoever’s leading the marketing that is giving you that success, so that you can kind of take it to the next level and try some other channels.
Generally, I would say, depending on the size of the market, anywhere from a couple of million dollars to like, up to eight, $10 million in sales from one channel before you can kind of shift over and start diversifying. That’s what I’ve seen, at least.
James: So double down, get really strong, and I guess it’s like that dip Seth Godin talks about where it’s going to start to sort of fade off and you want to start the next cycle before that happens.
Austin: Exactly. When you start the next cycle, you want to launch more products. Another huge, huge thing is, you know, initially, sometimes people will have a product company where they sell one or two products, scale that up massively, sell a couple of million dollars in a year of one type of product. And oftentimes, the best opportunity from there is then to launch more complimentary products. And that’s a big strategy that any company that wants to move from just being like an arbitrage opportunity to a true business that is scaling up and continue to grow has got to launch continuous more products that complement their customers’ needs.
James: Yeah, this is very smart. It’s one of my favorite exercises, when I start working with someone, is I have a look at what’s already working. And of course, we do more of that. If you’ve got a lot of SKU items (I think that’s what you call them, right?), then there’s going to be some that just sell so much better and have more profit than the other ones. It makes sense to sort of focus around that.
When something’s not working
And how important is it to trim or delete or clip products that aren’t working? Are they taking up a lot of bandwidth for no reason? Or can they be revitalized?
Austin: I think that’s a tough question, because, like you mentioned, the 80/20 rule applies across SKUs as well. So if you have 100 SKUs, maybe 20 of those SKUs will drive 80 percent of your revenue, and then of those 20, four or five of them will drive, like, 60 percent of your revenue, for a lot of businesses. I’ve noticed that for ecommerce brands that have a lot of SKUs, it’s not always exactly 80/20. Maybe it’s like 20/65, something like that?
I don’t know, I don’t necessarily think they distract from, if you should delete them, or what you should do. It’s a tough question to answer, because every business is a little bit different.
“Be careful how much cash you sink into inventory.”
But I would say that you’ve got to be very careful around how much cash you sink into inventory. And one of the big traps that people fall into is, as they are growing and scaling, they need to continue to buy inventory, right? And that’s very, very expensive. And they project, if you’re growing very, very quickly, well, you need to continue to buy ahead and place the larger and larger orders. And as you place these larger and larger orders, it almost locks you into a cycle that you have to hit the growth projections that you have set out for yourself, or you go bankrupt. Or you need to take out a loan or raise money, or whatever.
So around SKUs, you have to be careful of having too many SKUs that aren’t successful or aren’t desirable, because every time you sink money into inventory, that can really take away from the amount you can invest in advertising in the business to be able to grow. And a good example of that is, there’s a company called Native deodorants. And this company is like the success story. One of the largest success stories in the ecommerce space. They sell all-natural deodorant, and they were there founded a couple years ago. And then about two and a half years after they were founded, they were sold for 100 million dollars to Procter and Gamble. So, tremendous success story.
And one of the reasons that they were so successful is that they had a very quick turnaround from the time that they could place an order for their product to be created, and the time it was actually delivered. I think it was almost print on demand. Very, very close to that. So they didn’t have to invest that much in inventory, and they could spend all that money on ad spend, and scale up quickly, rather than dumping hundreds of thousands of dollars into the products on a guess that they were going to be able to sell them.
James: It’s such a huge issue. You know, I’m getting flashbacks from when I was running the car dealership. At any time, we’d have over $20 million worth of stock on floor plan. On finance, right? And there were some models that just wouldn’t sell. And the worst thing is, these things expire. Like they, they get stamped with a built date. And as soon as that year ticks over, and you’re stuck with a one-year-old vehicle, I mean, it depreciates. They drop like a rock while they’re sitting there on the showroom floor. And you have to come up with all sorts of clever schemes and incentives to move those machines, and rebates. And that’s why a lot of dealers register the cars and sell them as demonstrators, etc.
I’m seeing, you know, companies like Tesla cutting out the dealerships all together, and having things like waiting lists, where it’s almost on-demand car manufacturing, which is what we used to have before the 70s, you know? In the old days, the 20s, 30s, 40s, you’d wait for your car. It only happened in the 70s, I think, where there was excess capacity.
So I’ve seen this too, with several of my ecommerce students, where they go into hyper growth mode and then they start having to take loans from, I think Amazon provide funding to them at low rate.
Austin: Shopify, as well. Yeah.
James: And PayPal, I think, are always trying to shove credit down our face for, you know, getting more inventory. But it is that, it’s a double-edged sword, isn’t it? You need the money to advertise and to get staff and to keep growing because you’ve got to keep refreshing. And I wonder if you know where the market can actually go to in advance, or you just have to suck it and see?
What type of business are you running?
Austin: Yeah, it’s a tough question. And it’s also, going back to what I mentioned earlier, about really asking yourself what type of business you are running. Because a lot of the market leaders, a lot of these companies that you see that are like, I would call sexy brands, they’re doing a lot of things that aren’t profitable, right? They’re leading the way in a direction.
Like, If you go to New York City, and you go in the subway, you’ll see ads for a ton of these new direct-to-consumer brands. They’re advertising in the subways, they’re on podcasts. They’re spending money everywhere. And again, this is because the only vision of success for them is complete category domination, and they’ve raised hundreds of millions of dollars.
You know, I like bringing this up and I’ve done it many times, because I think it’s so interesting. There’s three brands: Harry’s, Casper and Warby Parker. They’ve all raised over north of $200 some million; they’ve all been around for like, eight years. Six, eight years. None of them are profitable at this point, right? And so for people who are running a business that is a goal of being a profitable business, you can’t imagine running a business that you’ve started for eight years, bootstrapped, and not being profitable. It just wouldn’t work, right? So they’re leading the way in a very strange, strange way of non-profitable growth, that’s buoyed by venture capital investments.
So the first question really, is to ask yourself, what type of business are you running? And if you’re running a business to be profitable – and if you guys are listening to James’s podcast, chances are you are building a business that you want to be profitable – then you’ve got to kind of tweak the way you think about acquisition, and you think about retention and look at your customer list to reflect the fact that you need to actually be profitable month in and month out.
James: Well, it’s one of the joys of having a business like mine, where there’s no stock, I do have books now, that’s a physical product, but it’s a printed-on-demand, I think, or they, you know, they print enough stock to supply it if you go along and buy it at Amazon, but I don’t have a garage full of books like your typical author who does some print run with a publisher, and then has to move them all at the local church or with a business meet-up. I don’t pursue that model.
Very interesting. And I think Amazon took a long time to make a profit, and the guy’s the richest guy in the world. But that was a very long-haul model. And he was pretty early to market as well.
Austin: Yeah. And also, I mean, the difference between Amazon and between some of these other companies is that Amazon, they’re really a software company, right? If you look at what they’re actually doing, they are a marketplace and a software company. And that’s where a lot of their profit comes from. They do incredible, incredible things. But they are playing a long game and they’re not sinking a ton of their own money into inventory, right? They don’t really have to do that. Except for now, there are Amazon basic stuff. But they’re launching that in such a smart way that they already know exactly how much of a certain product people are going to buy, before they even create the product, because they’ve got all that information.
Choosing your approach
So a little bit different in terms of their approach. And it’s not to say that these direct-to-consumer companies aren’t going to be successful because I think a lot of them are. It’s just a different game. And it’s one that if you look and you see what all these companies are doing, you try to model after that, it’s a quick way to spend all your money on advertising that might not directly result in sales, when you could focus instead on, you know, triggered emails and triggered messages through Messenger and ManyChat that lead directly to sales, and focusing and mining your current customer list and identifying people who are ready to make the second purchase and triggering emails and messages to those people, which is some of the highest leverage stuff you can do to drive repeat sales.
“Repeat sales are so much more profitable for a business.”
Because repeat sales are so much more profitable for a business, but especially for an ecommerce business that has a lot, like a brand selling products, when your margin is lower. If you can have a repeat purchase, you don’t have to then pay the toll to Amazon, to Google or Facebook that you will pay if you’re acquiring new customers. And that’s something that sometimes people forget, is how expensive it is. When you’re acquiring customers, through paid social or through Google, it’s very expensive for every click. But if you can bring them back through a different channel, whether it’s email or messenger, those second purchases are so much more valuable to you. And those are what you can then take the profit from that and push it back into advertising and drive more growth in your business.
Getting repeat sales on Amazon
James: Yeah, I’m glad you mentioned that because I was going to ask you, if you are competing with someone like Harry’s, and you don’t want to wait eight years and maybe make a profit, what things are available to you? So you’ve already hinted triggered emails and reinvesting in advertising. If we’re selling our product on Amazon, is there a way that we can still connect with our customer and get the repeat sale?
Austin: Oh, man. That’s tough. Talk about a, often a necessary evil. So Amazon, really depending on what type of products you sell, is something that you can either, you see, there’s kind of multiple strategies that people have on Amazon. You’ve got people who avoid it entirely. And if they have a really strong brand that they try to sell off of Amazon, that’s really defined, it can create its own demand that’s unique from Amazon, and it’s a unique enough product, they’ll sell it off of Amazon. Companies, like Bonobos, UNTUCKit, even like, all the companies that I talked about – Warby Parker, Casper, all those companies, they’re not doing Amazon.
If you’ve got a product that is kind of more demand capture, right? And demand capture what I mean by that is, people are searching for it on Amazon, and they find your product, you’ve got a really good version of it, then you’re probably going to have to continue to sell on Amazon. And it’s very, very hard to get that customer information from Amazon. Because again, that’s their business, they’re in the business of being the most customer-centric business in the world. That’s what they want, they want to provide everything you could possibly need as a customer. So they want that and value that information.
And there are things that people do. You know, there are people that are trying to match up emails from addresses. That’s one thing that I’ve seen businesses do, if somebody purchases on Amazon, and they’ve also then had purchased on their Shopify or Magento store, then they’ll manually look at addresses and see if they can combine those records to combine purchases. There are people that are exporting the customer email and trying to work that way.
I think the most brilliant thing that I’ve seen for selling on Amazon and then capturing the customer information, it’s a company they work with that has a product, they sell like a productivity product that also includes an app. So they don’t really care if they sell the product from their site, or if they sell the product on Amazon, because to use it, they have an app that makes the product much, much better. So no matter where somebody comes from, they will download and install the app, and enter their information. And then they link that back into their email service provider, into Klaviyo. So they’ll sell it everywhere and get all that information. I think that’s brilliant. I’ve seen a couple of companies start thinking about it that way, like, how do we match things up? Is there a way for us to bring the information back through some other way, like an app or direct mail, whatever? And that’s how they’re starting to match those records so that then they can follow up and continue to drive repeat sales.
James: Yeah, that’s very clever. And I hope Jarrod from TheAppMatch.com is listening to this episode. Because since I put apps on my own websites, that’s been a great way to retain customers. And also, I think publishing a book on Amazon is good. I’m sure people go from the book to podcast to a waiting list to join my membership. Absolutely certain I’ve had people come directly to SilverCircle from purchasing a book on Amazon. So there is a way to move that.
Harnessing the holidays
So we’re into the zone now where we’re talking about things like triggered emails, and last cycle marketing. We’re coming into a busy season for ecommerce stores. I imagine we’re coming up to promotion time of the year, it’s, at time of recording, we’re into October. So I know there’s a big few big sales that come along, that even digital products seem to harness these days, you know? Whether they’re education companies or whatever, they seem to be riding that wave of promotions. What sort of things should we be aware of as an ecommerce owner with an email list? What are the things that we could pay attention to, to supercharge our performance?
Austin: Well, the first thing to pay attention to is, as we continue to move through, into, you know, November and December, is all your paid social advertising, all your advertising in general, the prices are going up. So we’ve seen, basically from the beginning of mid-September to kind of beginning middle of October, prices raised by about 20 percent across the board for advertising. So you’ve got to be very aware, and just understand that everything you’re currently doing will be more difficult and more expensive throughout the holidays.
And so what we can kind of look at is kind of break it down into different phases, right? There’s phase one, which is pre-Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, right? That’s the kind of the first phase. That’s the time, give me a quarter for the big sale week. Then you’ve got Black Friday, Cyber Monday, which kind of phase two. And then you’ve got phase three, which is after that time. And most of your sales are actually going to be driven through phase two, phase three. Right, that’s the time when you’re going to be changing your strategy a little bit and driving most of the revenue.
Phase one is the time when you’re going to be really focusing on opening up your prospecting. And you’re not going to be driving nearly as many sales, but you want to get in front of as many people as possible during that time, phase one, so that around phase two and phase three, especially phase two, you can kind of close the net. And I think of it a little bit like dropping a fishing net.
So if you take the net and you open it up super wide during phase one, and then when you get to phase two, when the prices of advertising go way up, then you can just retarget. You can retarget people that you already pixeled, that are already on your email list, with a really solid, simple offer. And that’s where you kind of close in the net.
So when it comes to strategy and what’s working, it’s prospecting early, turning a lot of your ad spend from prospecting over to retargeting during phase two, with your best, most simple, comprehensive offer. And again, that matters. What matters with that is looking at, it’s more contextual. If you never offer any discounts in your business, and you offer a 15 percent off discount for Black Friday, that’s a really good offer. If you’re constantly offering 10 percent off and you offer 15 percent off, it’s not a very good offer. And so you’ve got to be thinking about contextually what is a good, good offer that’s going to stand out in the market.
And then partner that up with email marketing. So email is still going to be generally the largest driver of revenue during November for holiday-centric brands. And what’s been happening the last couple of years is everything’s been moving earlier. Right? So there’s so much competition for an inbox around the holidays that a lot of people are having success by moving earlier before the Thanksgiving, Black Friday rush. So week before, sending to a VIP list. So, finding people who are previous customers, maybe bought two times, and giving them early access to whatever promotion you’re going to be putting together during that Black Friday, Cyber Monday weekend. That’s a very successful strategy. And it also gives the people who are most likely to purchase the best opportunity to purchase, because if you have any products that are going to stock out or go out of sale, you want to send those to your previous customers, get them to come in through email, which is going to be your highest profit margin, and also reward your best customers. So starting earlier than Black Friday, getting that thing rolling. Definitely putting your best offer Black Friday, Cyber Monday, that weekend.
And then phase three is continuing your retargeting, because phase three is basically from Thanksgiving to December 20th or so. During that time, you are going to want to continue doing a lot of your retargeting. Minimize prospecting, because it’s going to be so expensive. And you’re competing with these huge brands like Macy’s, and these big companies that can spend so much during that time. So you’re going to focus on retargeting and provide a good solid offer that is very relevant. Maybe that’s a buy one, get one, a bundle-type product, and drive your revenue through till the end of the holiday. That’s kind of how I would approach it.
And also focus on email marketing as a big revenue driver, sending emails earlier and sending emails multiple times, even in one day, if you have an offer that is scarcity-based. So if a sale is going to run out, make sure you’re sending say, three emails letting people know about your Black Friday sale ending. Because there’s a lot of competition in that email inbox, way more than there was five years ago, and It’s only going up.
Your go-to, must-have, off-the-shelf sequences
James: Wow. Yeah, OK. So that was a really good campaign. What can we do when it’s not seasonal, just, what would be your go-to sort of off-the-shelf, you-must-have triggered email sequences?
Austin: So, off-the-shelf triggered email sequences that you should have year round, but also especially during busy times, like quarter four – you’re looking at, you know, I say life cycle email marketing, because what life cycle email marketing is, as a customer starts and gets first introduced to you, their needs for information and offers change, right? Initially, they learn about you, they need more information about what you’re doing. As they become a customer, they’re going to be needing different messaging. And as they become like, a VIP customer, even more different messaging. And then if they’re lapsing, they’re going to have, again, different messaging at different time.
So kind of the main things I would look at our starting from, initially, the browse abandonment email would be kind of a staple email. As people are browsing your site and browsing around on different products, you can then target those people with an email based on the products that they are actually viewing. So browse abandonment, cart abandonment, initially some sort of a lead magnet.
And one of the things that I’m seeing work extremely, extremely well right now is quiz-type funnels that are a little bit more relevant to what somebody’s searching for. So that could be, you know, like example, skin quizzes. I’ve seen a lot of these work very, very well where it’s rate your skin, and people can go through a quiz, get a rating of their skin, and then have products specifically delivered to them. You could use something like Typeform, a great, great surveying tool that people can go fill out the survey, and have a product given directly to them based on what they previously have filled out. That’s working really well. Also a great way to capture emails.
On the life cycle side, right away, upsells. So there’s, really three ways you can do an upsell, after somebody makes a purchase. You could do it with a tool like OneClickUpsell from Ezra or Carthook, both those work on Shopify, and you can give an upsell right away. Or you could use an email as well where an email goes out with an upsell opportunity right away. That’s, again, a life cycle email, the messaging on that email is going to be right away a great offer that expires right away. If you’re using something like Klaviyo, you can definitely have an actual offer that expires.
And then a little further down the life cycle, I mentioned this earlier, it’s the most profitable purchases for you if you’re running an ecommerce store. It’s going to be the second and third and fourth, the repeat purchases that come through email, because you don’t have to pay for them. So targeting people, as you know, somebody on average, buys, let’s say, every 30 days, then targeting them as they hit that 30-day period with a follow-up reminder to try to incentivize them to make a second and third purchase. And if they don’t make that purchase, to escalate your offer, so that you are providing a better offer to people who have missed their typical time window of making a purchase.
Those are kind of the initial staples that I’d look at for out-of-the-box life cycle emails. Again, there’s a lot, a lot. And I talk about a lot of these on my podcast as well, just like, different emails that you can put in there. But those are kind of some of the out-of-the-box ones I would make sure everybody, every single person has.
James: Right. So your podcast is EcommerceInfluence.com.
James: We’ll make sure we link to that.
Austin: Ecommerce Influence Podcast.
James: Yeah, it’s good stuff. I recommend people to that.
I’m pretty sure, you know, Ezra reconnected us. So I’m really grateful for that. And Ezra’s the ecom bomb in my books. He’s always my first ecom superstar. And you’ve come along. And the thing that I’ve noticed about ecommerce people is they’re really good at traffic. And they’re really good at behind-the-scenes automation and optimization when they get the things flying. And I’ve had plenty of ecommerce customers in SilverCircle.
One thing I’ve noticed about you, because you’ve been doing a membership with BrandGrowthExperts.com, is you just immediately came in and optimized our information world with an ecommerce mind. So some of the innovations in SuperFastBusiness membership were inspired by your innovations. Namely, the most important one is when someone joins now, they automatically get their first private coaching discussion posted on their behalf and sent to it. So they really can’t miss. They can’t join and not start anymore. And that was directly from Austin. And hopefully, I’ve been able to exchange some good ideas for you as well with our discussions.
Lessons from SilverCircle
Austin: No, it’s been fantastic. I mean, we’ve been working together I think since May. And it’s kind of changed the way that, I for a long time had been running my business through like, you know, event-based, which was very heavy for a couple of months, then, you know, low for a few months, because you’re waiting for the next event. Very heavy growing that. And the problem with that type of business is it can be very stressful, the same sort of thing I was talking about with inventory. Very stressful to run a business where you know, three to four times a year you have massive sales and then the rest of the time you’re kind of just waiting and you’re spending money to prepare for those events.
So it’s been great. We’ve kind of taken the process that I had, moved it into a membership model, and have launched, got 120 members right off the bat to move into a what I call the BrandGrowthExperts membership, and then on a consistent basis are rolling out training, have coaching in there, and also a forum. And that’s been totally changed the way that my business has run, in a way that has gone from boom or bust to a very consistent growth month in and month out. So I’m very, very happy. I’ve been sleeping a lot better, and that’s been due to kind of just rethinking the whole business process and ultimately launching a new business model since working with you in SilverCircle.
James: That’s so good. It’s just awesome to see someone with your talents and ability with the ecommerce, for you to be able to set up an environment where you’re helping ecommerce owners, that also works for you. In a way, I think it’s just ecommerce business owners sharing Austin in a way that gives you such stability and comfort that you’re able to help them with all your energy instead of focusing about the next big event that you have to run. And so I love seeing that, it’s really good.
Summing things up
You’ve been so generous coming in and sharing this information with us. I really, really appreciate it on behalf of the audience of SuperFastBusiness, because we’ve covered some big concepts today.
We’ve talked about vertical integration and how you might be a direct-to-consumer market leader but without having to stress so much about going for seven years without a profit. You maybe don’t have to run billboard ads in the subway. Possibly you could just install the go-to triggered email sequences and make sure you have a really good Q4 campaign locked in for your business.
And whatever you have, even if it’s a coaching agency or membership, there are going to be lessons in today’s discussion that are useful for you. Namely, go and find the best-converting channel and your best, most profitable product and double down, at least until you run that dry. And then if you sense that the business is becoming bigger than your skill set, it’s time to replace yourself, just like many ecommerce business owners will have to do as their business outstrips their ability to handle everything.
Austin: Hundred percent. Now, James, it’s been fantastic. Thank you for having me on. And yeah, if you guys want a little bit more, I talked about this in my podcast as well, a lot. A lot about scaling, and we do it weekly as well. So I’d love to have you guys check it out.
But yeah, James, super fun, man. I really enjoyed this and yeah, we’ll talk to you very soon.
James: Awesome there you go, that’s Austin Brawner, we’ve been talking about ecommerce. You can go and find him at BrandGrowthExperts.com. If you want coaching with your ecommerce store, he’s my go-to recommendation. In terms of podcast, EcommerceInfluence.com is a great podcast.
Also, if you enjoyed this episode, I would love you to go to iTunes and give me a five-star rating. Because we had this weird thing – we got someone, tried to put a campaign hit on SuperFastBusiness. There were 68 one-star reviews which Apple kindly removed for me when they found they were from shady accounts, and it’s time to balance the ledger back into the good side. Let’s get back to that five-star rating, folks. SuperFastBusiness in iTunes, five-star rating would be really appreciated. I don’t ask very often, actually, and we’re over 600 episodes now. So if you’ve been getting some value, that would be super awesome. I do read them and I appreciate it very much.
Austin: James, I’m going to go do it right now. I’m doing it right now, after this.
James: Thanks, Austin.
Austin: I will go put one there. That’s shady stuff, you know. You don’t want people doing that.
James: I’m sure that happens with ecommerce reviews as well. You’ve got to keep an eye on these things. But obviously we’re ruffling someone’s feathers out there with all this good information, and it’s not going to change what I’m up to. I’m going to keep publishing. I’m sure I’ve got 1000 episodes in me.
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