Conversion Rate Optimization ⎜ PCR ⎜ EP 154
Ryan Cramer: What's up, everyone? Welcome to my corner of the internet. I'm your host, Ryan Cramer, and this is Crossover Commerce, presented by PingPong payments, the leading global payments provider helping sellers keep more of their hard earned money. Hello, everyone. Welcome, and thanks for tuning in. I'm your host, Ryan Cramer, and this is episode 154 of Crossover Commerce, presented by PingPong payments. As you heard in the introduction, this is my corner of the internet where I bring you the best experts in the Amazon and e- commerce space depending on the topic we're covering for the day. So if you're new to the show, thanks for tuning in. This is an interactive show, if you are watching us live on Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube or Twitter, or if you listen later on, on your favorite podcast destination, you can actually ask your questions, and we'd be more than happy to connect you with our guests, or just our staff where we can answer those questions that you might have about the topics we cover on a day to day basis. Today's today's guest and topic is no exception. We have a great topic in store for you today. But before we get to that, I want to go ahead and give a quick shout out to our presenting sponsor PingPong payments. PingPong payments, no, not a table tennis company, no, not something that we are a competitive sports agency, we are a cross- border payments solution. What that means for you as an Amazon or e- commerce seller, if you're listening to this, if you're expanding internationally or globally, your brand, you're accepting different denominations and different currencies from all around the world, you need to consolidate it into one currency that you need to use on a day to day basis. Whether it's paying out your employees, your manufacturers or distributors, make it easier to receive funds from all around the world with PingPong payments. You can do that by signing up for free and signing up with an account at PingPong. Go ahead and check out the comments in the show notes below or the comments section, and you can click on that link and sign up for free today. It's easy to get going, it's easy to save money, and especially in an industry where margins are getting squeezed out by logistics and sourcing and all the prices are going up, you want to be able to have control over one sector, and that's fees, you can do that with PingPong payments, PingPong payments, go ahead and sign up for free today. That being said, our topic... If you're new to the show, again, we cover anything from sourcing logistics, we kind of touched on a little bit right there, to marketing, advertising, imagery, so on and so forth. And because of the ever evolving industry, we're talking about how do you stand out to an audience and of course, that can come with the definition of conversion rate optimization, helping turn traffic into profit. That's the definition of CRO or conversion rate optimization, turning your traffic that you're driving to your direct to consumer store, to your listing, whatever that might be, into a sale or revenue. So what's the trick? Is it a strategy? Is there luck to it? Is there something else that we might be missing? Is there just eyeballs if it's throwing money at it for ads and whatnot? How do you get people to convert with a higher rate? So we're going to be talking about a little bit of that today. And of course, your questions are always welcome. When you come to the show, just put them in the comment section and we can get those answered today. But that being said, our guest today is Drew Himel of PCR. Drew actually started in 2007 when he was 23 years old teaching himself web design, and at six years became the second highest grossing franchise in the world out of 1, 500 different companies, and he rebranded the agency to what is now PCR in 2012. Over his time doing that, he's worked with early- stage startups like MUD/ WTHR... or WTR, excuse me, and Vive... organizing help, that's a word in itself. Over again, it achieve helping... I'm going to say that again live, this is why I butcher it. And then Los Angeles Chargers there in Los Angeles. Everyone knows that if you're an NFL or National Football League fan, getting those started in a new city. So with that being said, he is an active investor and advisor having worked with the likes of, get this, SpaceX, Calm and Seed, very fascinating companies and very well known companies around the world. I believe SpaceX has just sent up their first civilian astronauts, I believe it's yesterday or last night, whatever that might be. So that being said, he's worked with them in terms of those companies and his views on entrepreneurship have been covered in the likes of USA Today, Wall Street Journal and of course, Fox News. Welcome to Crossover Commerce, Drew Himel of PCR. Drew, welcome to and thank you for spending some time here in my corner of the internet.
Drew Himel: Yeah, absolutely, happy to be here. Thanks so much, and thanks for the kind introduction.
Ryan Cramer: No, of course. This is what I do as a host, and maybe this is, if you have your own podcast or webinar or whatever you do, reading other people's resumes are so fascinating to me because of what they feel... The splash page, I call it, if you will, this splash introduction. Those are some heavy hitters they've worked with. So congrats on doing that. Is there something that you've ever had a pinch- me moment? Or like, " Wow, they're coming and approaching me?" And that's kind of a an honor, but also, maybe you expected that, right? That's what you wanted to get to according to your bio.
Drew Himel: Yeah, you definitely mentioned one of them. I think every dream as a kid is to do something in sports, so getting the opportunity to work with the Chargers is a pretty unprecedented situation. Here you are with a multi- billion dollar organization and a huge, huge sports league that everybody knows that is really a startup in a lot of ways because they moved from San Diego to LA, they were really the only game in town. And then the Los Angeles move, they didn't have a fan base, they didn't have anything that they could really draw upon. And they were in the second largest market in the country, and with 11 other professional sports teams to compete, along with all the other fun things to do in LA. So we had the challenge of how do you grow the brand? How do you start to build and strengthen relationships in the community? Then ultimately, how do you sell tickets? So that was two years of my life. And yeah, being a football fan and watching and participating in fantasy football and things like that, to be able to go and be working out of their office and seeing all the players and the coaches and then seeing the product on the field and being able to participate knowing that you had some small part in bringing those fans into the stadium was, I'd definitely say a pinch- me kind of moment. It was something that was pretty special that I'm really grateful for.
Ryan Cramer: Well, see, you've touched on my background too, a little bit. Before I got back into e- commerce, I'll say, I took a departure for a little bit, I worked for the Indiana Pacers and the Indiana Fever here in Indianapolis where I'm at. So as an entertainment person or as a sports person I can definitely understand the value of competing with localized markets, right? NFL, you have the Indianapolis Colts, you have Minor League Soccer and baseball and whatnot. But working with the WNBA specifically, that was a challenge in itself of, " Hey, how do we get people to get their eyeballs, especially in summer market when you don't think of basketball, how do I get people to the stands? And how do I get people to cheer for products that might not be their first choice," or whatnot? But it was super fun to work with players, the marketing staff of course, ticketing stuff and operations to see behind the scenes, it really made me appreciate all the hard work it takes to go on and put a product on the field. Again, for NFL, now it's what, nine home games, eight home games, they change it up on me crosstalk they had one game, so home and away, it might be one more, one less. But the branding of itself in a second largest audience, was that something you were always trying to push for with your agency of, " Hey, let's bid on this?" Or how did that come about? I'm really curious.
Drew Himel: Yeah, it's funny. I mean, I've never, still to this day, which is kind of crazy, made a cold call. So a lot of our growth has been organic referral, whether that be through clients or strategic partners. And so had a friend that was connected with the CFO and they were just looking to find, in a lot of ways, the smartest and the brightest in the respective space, and I promise I didn't bribe them, but my name came up. So I think we connected and it started off as a really small project. They wanted some conversion rate optimization, some UX on their new site. So I took a look and it was supposed to just be a few days, I was working out of the office with my agency and I was living in New York at the time. Then it just kept growing where we were really the digital strategy lead and marketing working with... We were quarterback for the analogy there with a football of about eight other agency partners, so we were really making sure that all the media spend, all the moving parts were kind of together. So yeah, it was just a fortunate thing where we got the referral from a friend and then we were off to the races. Took about two years of my life. I ended up moving from New York to LA to run that account, but yeah, it's something I'll never forget.
Ryan Cramer: That's fantastic. Well, congrats on the success and obviously now operating in the most expensive arenas and the stadium's fantastic, will be hosting a Super Bowl, so I'm assuming they'll be calling you up hopefully in the future with other projects that they might have. But that being said, we'll kind of go back to the e- commerce show, always fascinating to hear people's subject. So for your agency, PCR, it's very much like a driving traffic and getting more profit, right? That can be in many different facets of services, products, any kind of solutions or consulting like non tangible or solid goods. That being said, is that how you guys stand in the market of how you position yourself of, at some point you're trying to drive people to opt into or purchase, or any sort of make them do an activity with your company? That's what you guys excel at, correct?
Drew Himel: Yeah. I mean, the story arc is I did start the company at 23, it was a franchise that my dad was actually doing some consulting. And the whole idea was, if you don't really know anything about internet marketing, that you could purchase this franchise, somewhere that you could of like a Subway or McDonald's. And they would give you the digital marketing expertise with production centers. And so my dad was like, " Hey, I think this internet thing is going to be big, would this be of interest to you?" And was able to negotiate a deal with me to purchase it without having to... It took over a failed kind of license, and so quickly grew that, taught myself how to code and read SEO for Dummies, and was just doing a little bit of everything. At the time, it was convincing people not to advertise on the yellow pages, and then maybe even build a website. So we've seen a lot of evolutions, and it was stressful. I think, keeping up with Google and the algorithm, and then at one point we were writing 350 blogs for clients and trying to just do social media, it really was like we were a jack of all trades, master of none. So I decided, I was like, " All right, what can I control and what do I know?" And ultimately, that is, if you have a lot of traffic, or you have a lot of customers, or you have a large email database, well, if I can get really, really good at that, it eliminates a lot of these variables that exist in the digital kind of marketing world, it was just too much to keep up with. So we did that about 10 years ago, came across HubSpot, which really fit in nicely with that, and we became a partner of theirs, and just the light went on, because they were focusing so much, not on this tactic or what you're doing, but more around, is this traffic, are these emails actually driving revenue for your business and being able to quantify that? We became a partner of theirs, we actually were the fastest agency out of about close to 4, 000 to reach platinum status. Yeah, it really kind of took off from there, where we focused on your own audience, we didn't touch SEO anymore, we didn't touch PPC, social media, we only did UX, or conversion rate optimization with email marketing, and now SMS has been a really big channel. And the transition to e- commerce was really natural, because you can track every single thing that's happening in that business, there's no, in a lot of ways, offline that's happening. So yeah, we work with really fast- growing e- commerce brands that have figured out their product market fit and find ways that we can drive more value, more profitability, for the business off of their existing audience, website traffic, email database customers. And we do that through your website, email and SMS, primarily.
Ryan Cramer: Absolutely. I think that this is something that's so fascinating to me, because as a marketing person, as a salesperson, as like a data geek, maybe you can relate to this, is when someone comes to market and they say, " I have a great product or an idea or service." That's fantastic. And if it does fit a niche, awesome, but there's always room for improvement, right? There's always ways to get people to actually push them over the edge and say, " Yes, now's the time to either purchase," whether that is a discount or a coupon, that builds a trust and need that you have to have this product in your life at this moment or service at this moment, and making sure that you're always constantly open to people who opt in to that niche. That being said, optimization is a how do you take it from zero to 100%? It's how do you take it from 80% to 90%? It's finding that that miss, if they will, of what can we do better? So that being said, when people come to you, what are those things that, right away, they might be shocked to hear of like, " This is what you can do better."
Drew Himel: Yeah, I think you're absolutely right. And for us, I talk a lot around low- hanging fruit. So there's a lot of easy things that can be implemented pretty quickly on the business. What I always say, and I always kind of start because I do find people over complicate this, our industry has a lot of acronyms, and a lot of technical speak. But at the end of the day, you're dealing with people that have the attention span of a second grader, and usually the reading level of kind of a fourth grader. So it's really simple messaging and reducing friction is the name of the game, that's how you really want to think about it. And I think a lot of people get caught up on the website of, " Oh, we're going to have this carousel and this animated GIF and this flashing," and ultimately, what you're doing is detracting from the experience. I mean, we have heat- map trucking on all of our clients' sites, and we can actually show them the rotating carousel or rotating banner, where they're about to add the item to their cart, and then it rotates, and then they go back over to the banner, and then they leave. So I think first and foremost, it's just making it very simple and easy to do the things that you want them to do, subscribe to your email, add the product to the cart and then ultimately make that purchase. And so kind of, for us, some easy things that we identify are you can't treat every user the same, a new user versus a returning should be a little bit different, and they're going to have a different path on how they make that purchase. So for a returning user, they might come to the homepage, they see the best selling product, they've already purchased it, just let them add it to cart, you'll be surprised if you look at a lot of your e- commerce stores where it's on the homepage, they see the product, there's nowhere to add it so they have to click on it, then they go to the product page, and then maybe they add it or even sometimes they take an extra step. Well, every step you're introducing is reducing the likelihood of conversion pretty significantly. So make it easy to find your products, make it easy to add those products to the cart, and then making that purchases is definitely one that we've identified that's really easy to do and makes a huge difference as it relates to conversion. Two-
Ryan Cramer: Right...
Drew Himel: Yeah, sorry. Go ahead.
Ryan Cramer: Oh, no, I was going to say it's like going through a door, right? So many times you're tired of opening a door, it might be sticky or it might be easy to go through, but you're just tired of looking for what you need to get to, otherwise, it'll just abandon. So make that analogy, and I think that's so hard, people make, like you said, shiny object syndrome, it's cool to have all these flashy, things pop up and distract you. But ultimately, you want it to kind of create that pathway that's the least resistance in order to get for you to the end result, which is purchasing your product. So anyways, go ahead in number two, I apologize for that.
Drew Himel: No, no, no. Yeah, I mean, I think you're 100% right. I think for us, we're seeing that time and time again, and I think brand owners get so caught up and it's understandable, there's so many different aspects and moving parts of the business. But does the customer fundamentally want this? And if they do, how do we make it as easy as possible for them to get it? A lot of times, that just gets lost in translation along the way. So I think another element that we focus a lot on is, I talked about new versus returning, so when we're looking at analytics or anything, we are separating the two and seeing the different paths and seeing where there might be drop off and not treating the same. Another simple one is mobile versus desktop. We don't want to design experiences just for one or the other, they need to be both. So one experiment that we just did recently was have a desktop pop up, which enter your email for a 10% to 20% discount, is a very effective way to capture them, because they might not be ready to buy now, but email's a huge, huge driver of revenue for a lot of our clients as high as 30%, 40%, so you want to be able to capture that as simple as possible. But what we started to do is implement one for mobile and one for desktop, and it would be different. It's little things of just making the button a little bit bigger on mobile, you're usually on your thumb. So we always kind of internally joke, it's, " Okay, how does this work for the fat thumb?" It's kind of getting in that mindset because it is difficult. So we did that for a client, their conversion rate on that pop up went from 4%, which is still great... I think if we just crosstalk
Ryan Cramer: That's fantastic.
Drew Himel: Yeah, we're doing great. It went up to 14% just by making it larger font, a little bit easier to click that button and be able to put it in place. And then another one in that same vein on the mobile is the what we call a sticky add to cart. So if you're scrolling on mobile, and you think about it, you see the product, you're like, " Okay..." But maybe you want to read some reviews or see some features. Okay, once you've done that, a lot of brands now make it where you have to scroll all the way back up to add it to the cart. Well, if it's sticky, it just follows them along, and it makes it really simple to be able to do. We see conversion increase by half a percent, or a percent, just by doing that, and that doesn't take much development, it's pretty easy to kind of put in place. But those are some items, when we think about designing experiences for the user, new verse returning, you want to differentiate from an in- mobile versus desktop, you want to differentiate from as well. So those are some simple things that I think you can implement on your site without re- hauling it or doing a lot of development or things like that.
Ryan Cramer: Yeah, I like that, on the right- hand side. When you mean sticky, for the listener out there, if you don't understand that. So it'd be almost like hovering add to cart along the side, whether it be on the right- hand side, or at the bottom of some mobile device, something easy, where it's... Again, you're not scrolling, there's lots of content that people are putting on their product page, again, you look at Amazon, it feels like it can go on forever, literally until you get to reviews section. But sometimes it's always confusing to know that people might get to a certain section and again, like, " Oh, scrolling is not that big of a deal." Like you said, it cuts down the time and it cuts it maybe easier, like they found what they needed, moving on, and then want to purchase it at that moment, as well. So very fascinating in terms of that regards, if you're going direct to consumer, is there tactics in terms of along the way, when you should introduce upselling features? Or let the product shine on itself? Or how are you trying to optimize that kind of path, if you will?
Drew Himel: Yeah, no, that's a great question. I think, again, a common mistake that we see is the CEO or the head of e- commerce or the CMO, or whoever's really kind of in charge is like, " I don't like pop ups," so they don't do them. We're fighting with one of our clients right now, we're like, " We're seeing as high as like 5% of your revenue coming just from that pop up." But he doesn't like it. And so for us, we want... So not designing the experience just for what you want, but really thinking about it a little bit more holistically. So another one does come up of like, " Oh, let's just let the product stand by itself. We don't want to like blast them and feel like we're a used- car salesman with upsells or cross sells." So for us, we love the idea of, and we see this time and time again, of recommended products, or upsell and then a one click add to cart, just make it super simple, really easy for them to be able to do. We're seeing average order value on your cart go up by 20%, 30% by just making that pretty prominent, easy to do. And look, if they don't want to do it, it's not like we're making them sign a contract in blood and saying, " Okay, you got to commit to this just by seeing it." We have a lot of success with that as well. And it's again, the one click, don't make it where, we see this a lot, they see the recommended product, and the only option is to go back to the product page to then add it to your cart. You're causing extra steps, just make it super simple, easy to do. There's a lot of logic that Shopify builds that you can kind of build that directly. So that's very simple and something that we're implementing, I'd say kind of across the board, just because if it's not there, again, low- hanging fruit, we know it's going to increase revenue, it's going to... The name of the game for us is how do we increase revenue without having to spend more money on paid media and marketing and things of that nature? So yeah, that's another super simple way to kind of increase revenue just off of that one user alone.
Ryan Cramer: Right, like you said, attention span is so short for people nowadays, any sort of ad but even on a product page, let's say we'll add it, old adage of you won't get a yes if you don't ask first. So if you're not asking people to consider that product, they're never going to say yes in the first place. They're not just going to naturally upsell themselves, I think that'd be silly. That'd be a really nice customer to have, but that's not the case for the general public. So obviously, enhancements in that regards, is there... When I'm first developing a site, is there the basic necessity or is there like a tried and true how should I structure a page in order so that it makes people to find what they're looking for quick and effective? Because obviously, I ask for this distinction because lots of our listeners are Amazon sellers. It's kind of a built- for- you process of this is how it's laid out, you don't have many options on how to ebb and flow and get creative with it. Shopify, you actually do, you have that ability to really make your funnel basically look and feel how the way you want to with your brand. Is there a maybe tried and true way of this is successful when you have these on your top banners or top hero image, and then you go into like your tabs and whatnot? Is there a way that you can help our listener out if they're trying to build that first Shopify store, if you will?
Drew Himel: Yeah, no, I mean, it can be overwhelming, to your point, Amazon has a template, you plug it in, here's the images and kind of the slider and what you need to do, here's where you put your description. What we see a lot, and it's a balance of content and commerce, and so you do... What is differentiating your product? So the about us, having that on the homepage, usually a little bit further down. For us, again, we're big advocates of a pop up, but not take over the whole screen, just make it where it's there, offering them a discount, getting them into your email database, so then, if they're not ready to buy, you can start to control that communication, that relationship. So having that in place, turning that on, whether through like a Klaviyo or Privy or something pretty simple to set up and put in place. On the main banner, usually, there's some kind of USP, unique selling proposition, who are you? People are looking left to right of how do they get there? So, they get there, look at your logo, okay, what's the brand? What are you doing and why are you different? So if you can get those three in five to seven seconds or less, you're going to already stand out pretty quickly, because, again, that short attention span. And so that's above the fold, we do a lot of the heat map tracking, you're still losing roughly about 40% of your traffic when they have to scroll down. So it's something to keep in mind, you want to make it prominent, you want to make it above the fold of all that really relevant information. That's why people do the carousel, or the banners, they're like, " Well, we have so many products and this and so we just want to cycle through." But again, it can negatively impact conversion, just by trying to fit in all that in the real estate side of it. So you have to really land on what are the core elements? What is the message that you want to get across, so that becomes... It's that blink test, if you ever do it, it's an easy way, even with friends, you're building a site, have them come on the site, open their eyes for three seconds, close it and say, " Okay, what did you recall? What did you remember?" And see what stands out. It's a really neat way to see... And you'll be kind of shocked, but it's just a very easy way to do your own kind of user researcher kind of testing there. Then as you go down, about us, a little bit of the story, your top selling products, so that you can do a lot of the work already for them, and then reviews or validation of media. If you can get that on the homepage, and it doesn't all have to be above the fold, but as they're scrolling down, I think you're like 80% to 90% of the way there, to be honest. Then there's other things that you can tweak along the way and leverage templates that Shopify has given you. There are a lot, but they've done a lot of testing on what works, what doesn't. And then just track, have everything to see where's your conversion rate, where's your pop up, those different kind of metrics that you can get set up in like a Google Analytics or Klaviyo.
Ryan Cramer: Absolutely. Well, and that's the thing, too, is the tough thing about Shopify is, again, it's a blank canvas, right? You basically create it yourself, you have to go through it all and you're driving traffic to it. But from a customer mentality of who you are, what you do, what you're good at, inaudible hit you quickly, or you're abandoning ship, right? That's your chance to get one new customer that found you, whether it was an ad or through Google or whatever that service might be that you're driving people to your website, you only have that one shot, so it's super important to really hit them quickly in that regards. With that being said and converting them so you have people in your system, and you're going through... You said, right away, if you can get them in your email system, they might not be ready right now, but you want that person to not be wasted, they're opting into giving you their information. What is that timing and way that you inaudible cultivating that relationship of saying like, " Hey, thanks for subscribing. Let us build you up and butter you up until you're ready to make that purchase. And when you're ready to purchase, you're going to think of us first." So what are this tips you have for us?
Drew Himel: We're huge, huge proponents of nailing your welcome series, and so they subscribe, and then we will put them into an automated flow. We see this being a driver of like 20% of your total email revenue off of this one series, so it's really critical to nail. The template usually is anywhere from three to five emails in that series, where the first one, it's just like anything, you're starting to introduce yourself to this user. So tell them a little bit about the brand and remind them of the discount, the code that you gave them, if that was part of the incentive for them to sign up. So is there a little bit of the story, is there a little bit of kind of a welcome? Don't try and get married on the first date type of deal. That's the first one that we typically recommend. You're telling the brand story, you're giving them a gentle reminder of the code, a little bit about what's going on. Then on the second email, and you can wait anywhere from one to three days, test it out, see your open rate, click rate, unsubscribes are going to happen, and modify, that's where you really want to start talking about the top selling products, having reviews for the validation. And again, have maybe that gentle reminder, even though you might be like, " Oh, we've already told them." We're getting inundated with messages and brands and things like that, so gentle reminder's always really, really helpful. And then the third is more of, not I would say last chance or ditch, but you want to still be nurturing the relationship, but it could be a little bit more bottom of the funnel type of sales. And so that's a great way to establish a relationship, get into that more of like surprise delight, validate who you are, build some credibility. And it's just a huge, huge driver of revenue off of that one series alone, when they maybe aren't ready to buy when they initially make that purchase.
Ryan Cramer: Is there a video introduction or maybe something that... Because again, people don't... You said it earlier, people don't read or they read at a very low level, do we see more conversions happening if a video introduction is maybe had or inserted? Or does that feel a little too aggressive at first?
Drew Himel: Yeah, because you can't embed the video directly in the email. So they're having to go back and watch it on the site. So you are kind of taking them away. We have had actual success in animated gifs. There's a client, or not a client, one of my recent investments that I thought did a really, really good job, it's called Spark Grills. If you love grilling and the charcoal taste, but don't want to deal with the pain and hassle of clean up and getting it started, they've set out to solve that. So it's electric, they have these bricks, it's up and running in like 20 seconds, or actually three seconds. And then the cleanup's like you just dump out the brick afterwards, so it's really cool. But how I got involved with them was, I bought the product, and I just loved their user onboarding from an email. I was like, " Who is doing this? It's so good." The unboxing and then they had the concierge service if you had... They call them their grill masters. If you had questions, they were there, you could even book on Calendly like 15 minutes to talk about the experience and then they used animated gifts to show you the unboxing step by step. So it was just like... It worked so well, not only did I buy the product, but I ended up invested in the company too, just because I thought they did such an incredible job of welcoming me to the brand and what's going on. And then they had a whole video how- to on their site that they kind of linked to as well. So that was just an example that really stood out to me of nailing the community aspect, the content, the communication and just the overall user experience.
Ryan Cramer: Well, I guess that's the age old question, right, Drew, of when we're talking about ultimately why people are buying from us, is it now more than ever that people are buying into a brand or the feeling of what they're buying from, instead of just the tangible product? For example, I mean, branded product can always tie together, but in an age when there's so many new companies, there's so much product out there it might be a little bit different, but how they stand out, are people buying brand first then product second, or do you think it's more still that product and then they get won over by the brand? What do you inaudible we're moving towards?
Drew Himel: I think we're moving... To me, there's the commoditization what Amazon's done, whether it be a toothbrush or paper towels or like household... I can order it on my phone, and think about it and have it... Even for me, I'm like, " Do I want to go the grocery store, or do I just want to buy this and have it that day or the next day?" So there's that convenience factor. And I don't think a brand that is building something on Shopify hopes to even compete with that. And so how do you differentiate yourself? I think Amazon is all around convenience and commodity, where they struggle is around brand and community. So the way that you can stand out, and you've seen a lot of these D2C, these direct to consumer brands pay the design branding agency a boatload of money, and it's a cool, sexy brand. That's okay, I think it can help. But where you really need to differentiate is the community aspect. So I think, that can be built through content, that can be built through experiences, that can be built through kind of that surprise and delight, where there is a little bit of that product differentiation. But I just don't think you're going to be able to compete with Amazon when it comes to convenience and technology, there's just no way. Brand will get you so far, but someone else can go and do it, stand up a Shopify store in a few days and be right there with you. So I do believe that community, retention, lifecycle marketing, whatever you want to talk about is a huge, huge way to differentiate. And I think you're starting to see brands now where they're building private Facebook groups or private Slack communities, and the customers are actually able to be a part of the product ideation and what do they want to see and then in turning what can normally be a complaint into something really constructive. I think Glossier did such an incredible job with Emily Weiss, and it all started with Into The Gloss, and there was a blog and the community and she's now got these inaudible fans that the the big apples of the world are going and buying the product just because of the brand, but the brand is the community and what they're able to kind of build around it. So we're seeing all types of even chief customer officer or head of community, things like that are popping up everywhere in the e- commerce space, because it's one of the only ways you really can can differentiate and separate yourself, because yeah, you're not going to inaudible Amazon on shipping and checkout or kind of any of those other things, just because they've invested billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of employees to solve that problem.
Ryan Cramer: Right. Convenience came first. And it's stated in many documentaries of, " Hey, what came first?" It was the quickness and effectiveness of getting consumers product, right? It wasn't, " Hey, we're going to make each brand associated with every product that we're going to list on there." People aren't going to be aware of that, what they did say is like, " At the end of the day, consumers want stuff fast, cheap, and to get to my door without me... Getting through the process quicker." So they made those pillars, that's what they continuously put first, and again, not a bad thing. How does that evolve over time? I think they put the bones and the structure in place now... Maybe in theory, they're kind of going backwards and starting to grow brand awareness. We talked about it in the podcast yesterday actually of, you know when you make purchases of either 1P, or sellers whoa re first- party sellers, or actual brand in their brand directory, you can actually have a follow function once you make a purchase from that brand. So they're actually calling out... On the mobile version, at least, I haven't tested this on the desktop version of when you buy from... Again, I just bought a Honeywell fan. It's sitting right there, it's super nice, great products. I got it today. It's keeping me cool during this podcast. But actually, when I purchased it on Amazon, because it was going to get here quicker than buying directly from them and whatnot, they actually said, " Follow Honeywell," on their page. Obviously, that can mean I can get push notifications through Amazon, get emails from, " Hey, Honeywell has new product launches," so on and so forth. So Amazon's kind of coming back to this. Let's put brands at the forefront of this. But is that an opportunity now for if you built a brand off of Amazon, to get them on the Amazon, is that just a market they can just clean up really quickly, bring their customers with them, introduce something of an idea, and they can maybe clean up a certain area? Is that a fair assumption? Or is that maybe not the right route to go, as well?
Drew Himel: No. I mean, it's changing, to your point, pretty rapidly. We would have a lot of-
Ryan Cramer: It's a chicken before the egg scenario, right? Which is first? Do you start on Amazon? Or do you start off with Amazon? So that's, I guess, my question to you, Drew?
Drew Himel: Yeah, look, I think it's really, really difficult to build audience on Shopify yourself. I mean, we've found a niche where... Usually it's brands that are doing 5 to 15 million a year in revenue. So they've already figured out the hard part of the product market fit, especially now, with the Apple updates on kind of Facebook and a lot of what you were able to do with targeting and things like that, it's becoming even more expensive. So I get this question all the time of like, " Should we try TikTok? Should we try Facebook? Should we try Instagram? Should we try..." And my answer is like, " I think you want to try one, maybe two channels and just own that, whatever really, is most relevant for your brand." If you're a lifestyle product, Instagram, or TikTok's probably going to be a little bit more convenient. If it's more of something that's differentiated, Google Search can be great, because it's kind of that intent for what you have. So the answer is, if you're trying to build direct to consumer, out of the gate, and some even triad retail, and everything else, it's just kind of overwhelm you pretty fast. So you're not going to be able to do it. I think Amazon does allow you a shortcut, you don't have to worry about building the site, what it looks like, there's a template that you can do, they have best practices. But they're also going to promote competitors on your listings, they're going to have their own products that they're going to be pushing. So I think it just depends. I mean, I know that sounds like I'm punting on the answer. But I do think, what is your category, doing some research to see how saturated it is on Amazon, how saturated it might be on Facebook or Instagram or when you're doing Google searches, that's going to be a big... if you see a little bit of a gap on one or the other. But I tend to lean towards Amazon as an easier way to get started. Because you can also do FBA and things like that, where you don't have to worry about some of the shipping and inaudible, it eats into your margin. So that's where the category is going to dictate like, " Are you a high margin product or not? How competitive is the landscape?" But I would say, as a whole, they give you a little bit more of a toolkit to start versus starting it directly on your own site.
Ryan Cramer: Right. There's not a wrong way to start, it's just how do you evolve with that? How do you continuously make the customer experience better in product imagery, how you handle customer service, how you handle your community? I thought there's fascinating way for inserts, obviously, Amazon's very stringent on what you can and can't put in your product inserts. There was a really cool one that actually ties back to marketing. We talked about it yesterday as well on the podcast that there is now a highlight of saying, " Hey, if you love our product, or like the product in general..." The old way is like, " Give us a review on Amazon." Ranking and stuff like that is a no no, now that's how people get in trouble. Like falsifying and inaudible get paid for it. But what people are calling out is, " Hey, find us on TikTok, or post this video of you unboxing, using the product on TikTok, using the hashtag, company XYZ, or use their own hashtag. And if your product and your views and the video actually itself reaches a certain view threshold, email us with your order ID and the video link, and we will give you$ 500 gift card." Or something like that. It was nuts. I love the idea of marketing of, " Hey, make my audience obviously loyal to me." But everyone is getting a TikTok or they're testing out this stuff and everyone wants to be, quote unquote, famous in that regards, so doing something like that, that obviously brings great equity, a drive, obviously, hopefully traffic to that brand, TikTok's now allowing you to do direct ads and direct to products, and actually integrating with Shopify pretty recently within the last month or so. Is that the new way to use your audience for you to drive repeat traffic or new traffic is kind of this crowdsourcing technique of using my Shopify store, but also in conjunction to using social media to have my audience work... In that regards, the micro influencer route, if you will?
Drew Himel: I think so. I mean, I think a really successful strategy and launch of this was Thrive Market, the marketplace around groceries for non GMO. They partnered at launch with 350 health and wellness micro influencers. None of them were really big names. But what they did was really cool, they have more than 10 people on their content team that just work now with their micro influencers. And for example, instead of just being like, " Hey, swipe up, bye," they would work with them and say, " Hey, let's write a long- form blog post and say,'Hey, do you know they're finding traces of chemicals and pesticides in your urine now? Well, I choose to only buy non GMO products. Oh, and by the way, Thrive Market is the largest producer doing that, check them out here with this discount code.'" So it's a little of that kind of idea that they were empowering them. And they ended up actually giving them a little bit of equity and things like that for launch, and it was really, really successful. What can you scale and replicate yourself? I love the idea of empowering your customers, the user generated content. And then coupled with more micro influencers that are very specific to your vertical, versus trying to go and get a Kardashian or whatever, that it's just... One, it's not real crosstalk
Ryan Cramer: It's so funny how everyone uses a Kardashian as an influencer. That's the go- to. Use micro influencers, but not a Kardashian inaudible. That's the always go- to. I wouldn't even be able to come up with another person and be like, maybe... Unless inaudible sports world. There is no other person that's built their... Again, audience correct me if I'm wrong, if you're listening to this, go and post this on our comments. What other person is there that has so much influenced that doesn't come from sports world or I guess, celebrity of movie or TV fame that has become an influencer? Maybe what, like a Jake Paul, or something of that regards, like a YouTube or... Nowadays, you're actually seeing influencers becoming TV stars, because of that audience, they just want the eyeballs... It's so fascinating this trend of how quickly it became... how we tapped into these people of promoting products, using as a resource. But it's always been around in just different ways, right? You used to see actors and actresses smoking and it would always be like Marlboro Man, or whatever that might be. There's other ways that they would have influence, this just seems so... it goes so deep and the passion is real. And if I'm showing up at this locale, and you're in Miami, their audience of 100,000 people are going to show up or something crazy like that. There's this wave of strength in brands and personality that's really hard to shy... How it became about, but I mean, that's a different topic and podcast. So Drew, since you're involved in the Shopify community very well, what tools, maybe, if I'm kind of lost, or I'm still trying to grow that brand, I'm doing well on Amazon, inaudible have this other source of... build an audience out there. Is there a tool or resources that I can tap into to maybe help me along the journey or would help me with those conversion rates, helping people just buy easier and get me started?
Drew Himel: Well, I mean, obviously, it's promotional, but I do a weekly newsletter just on our blog talking about... We'll have e- commerce insight every single week-
Ryan Cramer: Oh, perfect.
Drew Himel: ...talk about a brand in the space or tool that we're using that we've had a lot of success with. So you just go to consultpcr. com, you'll see our pop up, and you can subscribe right there. And we have about 3, 000 subscribers now, so it's still small, but it's gotten really great engagement and really good feedback. So that's something really simple. I think, a couple other people in the space do an incredible job. There's one called Nik Sharma, and he's got a really active newsletter as well, that I recommend. And 2PM, Web Smith is another great, great resource. And then Lien Lockes is more if you're like a luxury, trying to kind of figure things out, he has a really great newsletter as well. So a couple people just to follow in the space that I think do a really good job and run the thought leadership and things like that. Then from a technology... Yeah, Shopify, obviously, they're just doing so many incredible things. On the communication side, Klaviyo, I do think is best in class if you're an e- commerce brand. They have so many templates and guides on how to build these emails and what to do and best practices. They take out a lot of that gray area that you might not know. And then I think looking at reviews and things like that, there's a bunch of other... There's a Kendo or Yapo or Stampt, those are usually the main ones, but reviews is going to be really important. So I think if you have those three, and you got Google Analytics, you're well, well, well off to the-
Ryan Cramer: You're good.
Drew Himel: Yeah. The last one I'd probably add is, if you have a subscription business, or you're looking at adding that, you probably want a recharge or something like that to be able to manage the transaction, some of the communication and things too.
Ryan Cramer: Yeah, we talked about subscriptions, and how that industry is just very much growing, a week or two ago with one of our guests. And that seems like a very nice cornerstone of a business and lots of businesses and brands will constantly be tapping into here in the next five years or so. I mean, you see it just with streaming services, but also just in products. People always like getting product in mail. It's the new like, " I love getting mail." You used to not like getting mail. I hate getting mail, but I like getting packages. So it's kind of one of those things of like opening stuff every now and then getting to your doorstep. But in the final minutes we have you, Drew. As kind of like even side of things, I'm not personally as well versed in types of events of like education. In terms of with Shopify, I think that in the Amazon community that I come from and ingrained with, there's always those really easy ones to get more information on and learn about. Is there any kind of like events or... We've talked about resources. Is there in- person events, or networking, or thought leadership, things that are going on as the world slowly starts to open back up and have these events again, are there ones that you have to attend, or you're going to no matter what, clear the schedule, I'm going there?
Drew Himel: In this time it's been pretty challenging. So there's a lot more webinars. Klaviyo puts on a ton of content, we did a co- marketing webinar with them around SMS and the value and how to get that started. I thought it was pretty good. Shopify, the main people in the space are doing things. I know, you're familiar with the retailX in Chicago.
Ryan Cramer: You were there.
Drew Himel: Yeah, I saw that on one of your prior podcasts. Then if you're in the food and beverage space, there's Expo West, which a ton of vendors, brands, all kinds of things. And Geek Out festivals in San Diego is really good. But yeah, I would crosstalk
Ryan Cramer: crosstalk.
Drew Himel: Yeah, the crosstalk
Ryan Cramer: inaudible traffic and conversions just happened in San Diego as well, crosstalk.
Drew Himel: Yeah. Chase Dimond, he has a competitive... like an email marketing agency. But he puts out a ton of great, great content, he's got templates to use, he's doing a Black Friday summit with some of the leaders in the space. His agency is called Boundless Labs, he's out there sharing tons and tons of information that's really valuable. So, yeah, there's some great, I would say, cheerleaders in the space that just give so much information away for free, which is great. I think it just helps more people get started, more people launching their own site, and not make it quite as intimidating as it really can be.
Ryan Cramer: Right. And my final question for us today in this episode is what's kind of like your focus, for a tip of going into Q4? I think today is the day... I think I counted 100 days till Christmas, we have this window of... Right, I told him, I guess yesterday, I have this spider sense, I have this tingling sensation that it's around that magical 100 days countdown, like, " Hey, everyone, starts to freak out, because Q4 is almost here." What's that focus that entrepreneurs should be really focused on? I think as the holiday season is going to continue to elongate, there's so many different things in terms of what they have to focus on of supplies of logistics and things like that, just getting inventory? And then, of course, paid media, all these inaudible things you have to worry about to make sure that they can get as many sales as possible for Q4. What are the things that you're educating and telling people, " Really focus on and hone in on this."
Drew Himel: Yeah, it's kind of funny, I'm actually doing a panel on Tuesday to get prepared for Black Friday, there're going to be about 300 e- commerce companies on the air and it's with Flxpoint, which does a lot of like the backend integration for supply and logistics. And then I think Shapiro is the second, so it's figuring out these different things like, " What do you need to think about for supply? What do you need to think logistics, inventory?" And then obviously, I'm handling everything on the marketing side. So what I can touch on, don't discount gift cards as one, it seems really simple and then also the utilization of wishlists. Say you're getting closer and closer where the cutoff date for Christmas delivery is happening and you can't get the product. Last minute gift ideas of like gift cards are amazing to still drive revenue for your brand, and to re engage those lists in Q1 to get a really good start to 2022 and the year. Same with wishlists. They're giving you data and information to be able to use to communicate with them and kind of put that in place. Be overly, overly transparent with any type of shipping delays, out of stock, nothing's going to frustrate a customer more than landing on your page ready to purchase and then it's out of stock. Get ahead of that. Or purchase it, you don't get ahead of it, and they don't get the product in time for Christmas or Thanksgiving or a birthday. I think brands just get really nervous, and they get a little scared and they want to put their head in the sand and just hope for the best. We advocate to get ahead of that, be really overtly communicative with your customers. And you can take a bad experience or a negative experience and turn it into something really positive, because you've been really transparent and open. Maybe you deliver it sooner, and then you get surprise and delight and things like that.
Ryan Cramer: Yeah, I was always the advocate of let's create a shipping table of, " Hey, if you're ordering here..." Let's make sure people know this is LA expectations. Worst case, this is what you can expect, so order now on our brand side. So it's always offer the free shipping, but it's not free shipping, it's always economy shipping, everybody, you got to realize it's going to take less priority. So what are those options inaudible, like overnight shipping, you're going to pay a little bit more, gift cards are always good to lay up, like you mentioned too, of, " Hey, last second ideas, buy a gift card." I know Amazon even does that. On their last second holidays, the last two days, three days, it's like, " Buy a gift card." Duh, you're going to buy something from Amazon. Like, " Just buy a gift card from us," that you get... I think when you mentioned the discount, don't do things like buy 100, give them 10, or are you telling people do do that?
Drew Himel: No, no, no. Yeah, to not. I think, yeah, just crosstalk
Ryan Cramer: Don't give away money.
Drew Himel: Yeah, I don't think so. And the gift cards are... I mean, what is it, like 70% actually get used? Starbucks has like 1. 6 billion in unused gift cards on their balance sheet. It's just insane. So it's an easy way, make it available, see what they think and are able to do.
Ryan Cramer: There's a stat on that, and just a funny fact of... I believe I saw it on LinkedIn, again, I have to validate the fact. But with the gift cards, and because there's money on it, Starbucks is considered one of the larger banks because of all the on- hand cash they have in their ecosystem in just their app alone, because it's money that actually they control and you're redeeming it for their own goods. So again, if you're to equate that to a bank, it actually is bigger than some of the bigger banks in the world that have cash on hand. So stuff like that blows my mind in the terms of the gift card world. But that being said, Drew, thank you so much again for hopping on. I think there's so much valuable insight that you shared with us today in terms of conversion rates, and just the easy stuff that is to get those inaudible... It seems like there's a lot of great tactics. And even on the podcast, I subscribe to the newsletter, super easy to do, so if people are looking to hop on and do that just go to consultpcr. com, and of course, check out and subscribe to the newsletter, the pop up was non invasive, and it went to even the bottom of the page and just threw it in real quick. So super easy to sign up. So thanks so much for hopping on Crossover Commerce and now friend of the show. We will make sure... Obviously, if they want to get in touch with you, what's the best way to do that?
Drew Himel: Yeah, I know my LinkedIn's there, it's pretty easy. I just launched inaudible, didn't even say anything, but if you're thinking about community, talked about events, I just launched drewhimel. com and my first post on seven easy ways to build your network from scratch. I've been so fortunate to have all these incredible experiences and meet so many interesting people. So a little bit of the blueprint that I applied there, so you can follow along. I'm going to be blogging weekly in addition to the newsletter, so check that out. And then yeah, LinkedIn is usually a pretty easy way, I'm usually posting different content there as well. But it was a fun conversation, Ryan, I really appreciate you having me on. And yeah, definitely could tell you come from the space where we're able to nerd out a little bit in terms of not just superficial, but get into some of the down and dirty which was great.
Ryan Cramer: The best part of my day, Drew, is when I get to talk to like minded people in the space and we get to, like you said, nerd out on a forum like this. Again, I learned something, I know our listeners are learning something as always from our guests. So of course, now I call them the friends of the show. You're always welcome to hop on again and give us some more insights. And congrats on all the success and the growth and we'll be following along. Good luck in the rest of Q4 when that launches and with the rest of your business. I have your website up, man, it looks good, it's drewhimel. com. So I'll be following along on that as well. So thank you again so much for hopping on Crossover Commerce, we appreciate it.
Drew Himel: Thanks, Ryan. Really appreciate it.
Ryan Cramer: Yeah, no problem. Thanks, Drew. Again, everyone, that's Drew Himel of PCR. Again, you want to make sure you follow him on LinkedIn, but then also go to consultpcr. com, and then subscribe to the newsletter to get more information about building your Shopify store, some tips and tricks. And again, today was all about growing that conversion rate and how to optimize it. Again, optimization, the key word there of you know what you do well, you know your product, you know your audience, let's take that to the next level. Let's make that enhance. Let's get some lift on those numbers of sales, those revenues, those low- hanging fruit, if you will, and utilize those tips that we learned from Drew today, and apply them to our business moving forward. That being said, again, this is episode 154 of Crossover Commerce. Loved having you guys on and listening to the show today. We'll catch you guys tomorrow. We're actually going to be talking with... Episode 155, a little teaser here, how to create high conversion Amazon imagery with Ian Bower of Graphic Rhythm. That's going to be super exciting on a Friday. I like to have a lot of fun on Friday, just get really deep and dive on Amazon images, Amazon video as well, and more of the integrate... Again, converting where... This is the theme this week, is conversion, a lot of great stuff that's happening in the space and how we can just optimize those things as well. We'll catch you guys next time. Again, this is Crossover Commerce. I'm Ryan Cramer, your host of Crossover Commerce. Take care, everyone.
Ryan Cramer of Crossover Commerce talks with Drew Himel of PCR one-on-one to discuss conversion rate optimizations and what tools/resources should brands use for CRO efforts.
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