Optimized Ecommerce EP 026 – The Old and The New of Ecommerce
In today’s episode of The Optimized Ecommerce Podcast, Casey Brown joins tanner Larsson to discuss the past and present of Ecommerce. Casey is one of BGS’s top Revenue Optimization Experts. Join us today and find out some of the old ways in Ecommerce and discover the new and better ways to do your Ecommerce
Welcome to Episode #026 of Optimized Ecommerce – The Old and The New of Ecommerce. I am your host, Tanner Larsson, CEO of BGS.
BGS means Build Grow Scale! It is a community that we founded where eCommerce entrepreneurs and physical product sellers come to learn how to take their businesses to the next level.
Today, Casey Brown joins me to talk about the past and present of Ecommerce. Casey is one of the top Revenue Optimization Experts here at BGS.
Here’s just a taste of what we talked about today:
First, we talked about how Casey’s Ecommerce journey began in the Republic of Colombia and how we got connected.
Casey moved to Colombia after losing money in the MMJ industry. He went south, saved up some money and vowed to not return until he can have another online business. That was his goal.
In 2015, he got involved in the gold rush on Ecommerce through the AliExpress dropshipping model that eventually led him to sign up for Tanner’s “The 6 Pillars of Ecommerce”. And that is how Casey discovered the BGS.
Even at the early days of Ecommerce, Casey was already evolving and was doing some techniques that are very common today.
The early days of Ecommerce common marketing strategies today, such as partnering with industry influencers, were revolutionary for most dropshipping brands back then. And this is exactly what Casey did.
We dived deep on more examples of techniques that a lot of Ecommerce businesses did back then that are no longer effective today.
Next, we talked about what a brand is. How is it defined differently from the company? And why is it vital to establish your branding?
Casey has two definitions for what a brand is.
First, the brand is the personality of a company. And second, a brand is also a promise.
Casey explains how a brand should communicate whatever it is the company stands for. It’s a clear outlook on what to expect from your company.
We also discussed a few more topics, including:
- What the rewards are for proper marketing and proper advertising.
- What it means when your CPMs are through the roof and the best things to do for your Ecommerce business at that point.
- Revenue Optimization is one of the top cures for crappy Ecommerce.
- The critical role of a dedicated customer support division for your Ecommerce business.
- We share some examples where our clients have developed true competitive advantage over their competitors.
But you’ll have to check out the full episode to hear more!
Tanner Larsson 0:07
Hey, everybody, welcome back to the optimized e commerce podcast. I’m Tanner Larsson, your host on this episode, and we’re gonna be going through some pretty cool stuff today — kind of comparing the old and the new, the past and the present of ecommerce. So I’ve got a really cool guest with us today. His name is Casey Brown Casey is actually a former coaching student of mine. That’s how we actually met. And he’s going to tell you a little bit more about that story in a minute. But that’s how we actually met. And then fast forward to now, he’s working with the BGS team. One of our top revenue optimization guys. And the cool thing about Casey is he’s got — again, this is gonna be part of his story. But he’s got a really cool perspective on this as. He didn’t just come in to learn how to do optimization. He actually was a business owner, had his own store and kind of grew up through some of the earlier five years or of ecommerce. He can talk about what’s different between now and today. What worked then and what doesn’t work now. It’ll be a fun episode. We’re going to jam back and forth. And we’ve got a bunch of really similar knowledge bases and as well as a bunch of different stuff. So it’ll be a fun episodes. So Casey, thanks for joining us on the show today, and I’m excited to see what we’ll be talking about.
Casey Brown 1:15
Yeah, I’m happy to be here. Happy to share my perspectives with the world.
Tanner Larsson 1:19
Awesome. Cool. So Casey, first of all, let’s just start with the beginning. Right? Who are you? And what do you do?
Casey Brown 1:26
Yeah, my name is Casey Brown I do Revenue Optimization for you guys. And I’ll go back to the story of how we got involved in ecommerce and how I got involved with you guys. Sy journey with e commerce begins in Colombia. After Colombia, the country. Not British Columbia, or Colombia,the district of — I don’t know, whatever. After losing thousands of dollars in the MMJ Industry, which means Medical Marijuana Industry, I decided that I couldn’t afford the rents in Los Angeles. And I headed for warmer pastures down south. Now, it didn’t take too much motivation for me to leave California anyway. And there were probably other reasons for going to Columbia, let’s be honest. But I’m also wondering, you know, why the heck did I even stop doing internet marketing in the first place? This was before I lost the money in the marijuana industry. I’m doing some affiliate marketing and some other stuff. I had too much shiny object syndrome. I did SEO, affiliate marketing this and that. But anyway, I went down to Colombia, I saved money, live cheap, I lived off of savings. And I said, “Hey, you know, I’m not leaving this country until I have an online business again.” That was my goal. And I kind of got involved in the gold rush of ecommerce in 2015. With the AliExpress drop shipping model. There might be some old-timers who say, “Oh, no, the real gold rush of e commerce was 1998 or something.” But I mean, anybody had the means to easily source things from China. You didn’t have to be a big player and go there and whatever. That’s why I defined it is the early days of ecom. Like I said, I was one of the many that jumped into it — into the e commerce AliExpress drop shipping model that eventually led me to Build Grow Scale. I can’t say exactly how I got on one of your webinars, Tanner. I was on so many guru email lists. It could have been anybody who cross promoted for your. Or maybe I opted in, I don’t even know. But I said, “Hey, why don’t I do this webinar? Let’s just give this guy a chance, you know.” and I was something like…was it called “The 6 Pillars of Ecommerce” or something? Was that the webinar title?
Tanner Larsson 3:26
Casey Brown 3:27
Okay. Yeah, it was that one and I was just blown away, because every pillar was a huge pain point. Right? It was just like… There wasn’t like, “Oh, well, you know, pillar number four doesn’t really apply to me.” No, they were all there. So it was just great stuff. And I became a part of the BGS Academy. Now, we call it Econ Insider. And things were great. You know, the paying for it wasn’t an issue. The money was good at the time. But then things were no longer good. Things started getting really, really tough. And things tanked after Q4 of 2016. It was right after easy mode, or Q4. Actually, I don’t know if Q4 is even easy anymore. The CPMs are so high.
Tanner Larsson 4:09
Yeah, I don’t know. Q4 is big, but it’s still it’s a struggle, I know.
Casey Brown 4:12
Yeah, I think it used to be easy. But now we have an election going on — another story. But anyway, yes, Q4 might be different. But yeah, things just kind of stopped converting. They just stopped working. At the time I blamed Facebook ads. Now I know I was just putting my efforts on the wrong side of things, so to say. I was going through Facebook ads courses. I was worrying about my pixel — trying to coddle my pixel and do… There are so many weird things you would do — I paid post engagement ad on top of a PPE and then switch it to manual bidding after you hit this, you know…
Tanner Larsson 4:48
This mythical seasoning of a pixel that we all used to buy into the crap that just wasn’t real to begin with.
I wish I was Eugene Schwartz, you know, these copywriters of old. Joe Sugarman. And then I could just say, “Hey, I want my ad in this magazine on this page.” I don’t have to, you know, pray that I get impressions or that they ban it or, you know, whatever. Anyway, um, but I thought it was because I wasn’t getting love from Facebook ads, which I probably wasn’t because it changed so much. But the main thing was, my site was just crappy. You know, we’ll go into more on that later. But, um, you know, it was it was real a struggle. I hurt my ego to see my business failing. The insomnia, the anxiety, all that stuff. We all know, too well, I had to give up my lavish lifestyle. And I was making 10s of thousands of dollars a month in the third world. So I mean, I was Jeff Bezos, basically.
You’re living like a king down there. Oh, yeah.
Um, and, yeah, I thought, “Oh, man, I have to live with my parents, my life is over.” You know, it was really rough times I don’t — I think every entrepreneur can — I think if you haven’t had one or two businesses fail, you’re like, extremely lucky. You’re just not a real entrepreneur yet. I mean, I don’t know very many entrepreneurs that have their first couple ideas fail. And you don’t have to lose their wealth and come back. So hopefully you guys can relate to that. Another problem was, I was overstocked on inventory, I had about 50 grand worth of product I couldn’t move. You actually helped me move that. So he basically took all of it off my hand. So that was also a big help. And then another big help — something pretty incredible happened just by chance. I got a message from this guy named Matt Stafford, on Facebook. And he said, “Hey, you know, I see you’re in Vegas, you know, do you want to network? We had some mutual friends. And I said, “Great! Yeah, I’ll meet up with you. But, uh, but sorry, who is this? I know, you’re in the group.” He said, “Oh. I’m Tanner’s business partner.” I go, “Oh, I didn’t know Tanner had a business partner.” I guess it was kind of a transition from — I guess Ecom Academy – BGS Academy to Ecom Insider. And I don’t know. But anyway, we met up in Vegas there in person. And I was just completely blown away by what he was doing, which is the Revenue Optimization stuff. You know, I’ve never really heard of that before. I mean, when you’re an entrepreneur, like us in the internet marketing space, how many times a day do you get a Facebook Ads course on your feed? Or POD course? You know, something like that. But now I think you do see some Revenue Optimization stuff. Because we’ve been screaming this from the rooftops in the last three years. There are people that are ripping off our stuff, you know. Or maybe not. Some are ripping off our stuff. Some are just, you know, seeing what we’re doing and going their own route. But I mean, when we started there were like one or two other guys who were really talking about revenue optimization, and we got on early. But back then, you know, we never really heard of that stuff. And then it instantly that was like my epiphany, aha moment. It became clear that to start winning at Ecommerce again, I had to study this stuff. I had to — what’s the expression? Like, burning the candle at both ends? I guess that’s usually a bad thing. But if we can make that a good thing, you know, optimizing the ads, you know. You don’t want to ignore Facebook. I’m not saying Facebook is irrelevant. But I think there are enough agencies and enough help out there. And I think it’s just improving. But not neglecting the other side, which is optimizing your damn site. Making your site work for you.
Yeah. And you know, I mean, you had different niches, you were doing the whole thing. And yeah, you actually were doing some early stuff that’s now mainstream. Today. Like I remember with your fishing site, you actually had partnered with an early influencer back before Influencer Marketing was cool. And so I mean, even though it was the early dropshipping days when everybody could basically just throw up a piece of shit site and grab any crappy product and make it sell thinking they were good at business. You actually — and even as things started struggling, you were already evolving. And like, honestly that fishing business… If everything hadn’t, you know, changed the way that marketing worked at some great potential because you had this great fisherman who could literally be the face of the product and everything. So it was very cool to see what you guys were doing even back then. But yeah, so obviously, as it has progressed, and you didn’t know who Matt was. I love that story, still.
Casey Brown 9:15
Yeah, I was like, “Who are you?”
Tanner Larsson 9:17
Yeah, that had been my partner for well over a year at that time. And he’s like, “Casey didn’t even know who I was.” And I just kept cracking up. And Casey came to one of the events we had in Reno. And there are two things that stood out about Casey at that time. One was, he was actually doing it, and that was during the time he already had the fishing site with the influencer and everything like that. Which was, at that time, revolutionary for most brands and most dropship style brands. Nobody was doing that. And the other thing was his business partner. You couldn’t miss him. I mean, like he would be visible from space. His name is Geo and he wore this blingy gold blazer. Like, I mean bright gold blazer. Like I was on stage speaking and I could not — like I’m trying to look at everybody but I kept going back to him and Casey was sitting right next to him. So, Casey became very top of mind to me because of Geo and his blindingly gold blazer
Yeah. Yeah. That’s interesting that you bring up the influencer thing. I’m going to talk a lot more about that as we go on to the future part which is the topic about how Ecommerce has evolved and changed. Back in the early days, it was just a 19 year old kid could find some some weird niche like cross-sex yoga with pugs with wine. Make a shirt that had all three and then you know. The market was totally new. They’ve never seen anything like this. The designs were crap. But they were like, “Oh my God, this speaks to me so much. I love all three of these things.” Or, you know, they’d be
The name I don’t know.
Casey Brown 10:55
Tanner Larsson 10:56
The name shirts.
Casey Brown 10:57
Oh, yeah. The name shirts. Yes. I remember those. Yeah, yeah. Now you can’t target it. They’re limited. You can’t call out certain things now. Right? Like what characteristics about them…
Tanner Larsson 11:08
They deemed it an invasion of privacy. The name shirt guys were huge. It was basically like, they would scrape Facebook for everybody using UID. Unique Identifier and Facebook ID for the people who have the name Tanner. And then they would run an ad, a custom shirt that says Tanner is the greatest or whatever. And it would have my name in the shirt, and it would show to a Tanner. And they would do that for every name in the alphabet they could come up with. And they started layering it with name shirt plus… Pitbull, name shirt plus… gun, name shirt plus… yoga. And layering all this stuff. And people are making a lot of money. It was smart. But it was gray area in the Facebook Algorithm. And again, like Casey said, it wasn’t really a true business because it was crappy designs. They were just throwing up shit, there was no optimization. They literally launched 50 designs, hope one hits, and make money. The one that does hit makes up for all the losses. And that was the early days of POD. Right?
Casey Brown 12:09
Yeah, that just speaks to the mentality back then. I’m going to go more into this later. The mentality was, “What quick income stream can I make? I don’t want to change the world. I don’t want to create a new movement. I don’t want to solve big problems in the world. I don’t want to leave the world a better place. How can I just illegally scrape UIDs — User IDs? And send someone an ad for a shirt with their name on it? How could I just biz ops” — that’s what they’re called. Most people just torrent them. There’s these torrent sites where you can get all these biz ops for the pod course. They’re all crappy courses. And, yeah, it just speaks to that mentality where it wasn’t a real business. The whole cash income stream versus a real business.
Tanner Larsson 12:48
Casey Brown 12:49
Talk about a, the opposite of a long term sustainable business, you know. That’s the dropshipping model. So, I guess, yeah, I can just kind of get into what I’ve seen and elaborate more on these differences and kind of get into…
Tanner Larsson 13:03
Yeah, let’s jump into what you see the biggest changes have been. What did you see before? Like, what was done? And then, what’s working now? And what doesn’t work anymore? And what can’t you get away with any longer?
Casey Brown 13:13
Yeah, so the main thing is the fall of that “Get Rich Quick” dropshipping model, like we’ve talked about. And then the rise of true brands. I guess, I’ve got a quick little tangent here and just define, you know, a brand. What’s a brand? I know what a brand is. It’s a company, you know. But I’m just gonna quickly use two definitions. I don’t think you can represent or define a brand without talking about two different things. So I’ll just go into them. One is a brand, it’s the personality of the company, right? What they stand for, what they represent, what they like, what they don’t like. You know, think of brands like, Nike. You know, they clearly align their seelf on that. Social justice, whatever side of the coin, that’s, you know, pissed off a lot of people. You know, that siding with Colin Kaepernick, that’s made people a lot of super fans. For better or worse, they clearly planted a flag in their gut and said, “Hey, this is what we stand for. We don’t care if we offend you. We’re on the side of, Kaepernick in social justice.” Or you know, Gillette did the toxic masculinity thing. They’re, clearly stating… It doesn’t have to be political. These two examples are political. It could be kind of like, maybe Apple, maybe their personality is like, “Hey, a computer can’t be made a nice computer, unless it’s $2,000+. A PC, I actually prefer the software of a PC, but the physical body, they’re, they’re kind of plastic, the trackpad doesn’t work that well. So that’s kind of the personality of it. And then a brand is also a promise, right? It’s a clear expectation of what the customer is going to receive when they do business with you. So when you walk into, say, a Bentley dealership. You know what you’re getting. It is even an expression. “It’s the Bentley of this. It’s the Bentley of that.” Right? When you’re buying a Bentley, you know what you’re getting into. When you buy an apple, for instance, you know, you’re paying more for a premium thing. It’s the expectation of what to expect. So that’s my little side tangent on a brand.
Tanner Larsson 15:12
I 100% agree with that. And I also believe that you can’t actually build a brand. The brand is the reward from doing proper marketing and proper advertising. Yeah. Actually having the company mission and aligning it exactly like you said. You do all of those things. Well, the reward that you get is the brand.
Yeah, yeah. It’s about creating a movement and creating a culture. Actually, I’ve been invited to another podcast about that, in the future. But yeah, I’ll stick to this. The fall of that get rich quick, spammy model that we’ve talked about a lot. And the rise of true brands. So 2015, like we said, was the era selling those like tchotchke little trinkets you’d sell. The Zippo Lighter shaped like a fire hydrant and targeted to firemen. The hairclip that looks like a pair of scissors to hairstylist. We talked about this. There’s no real skill involved. I mean, another model was just copying other people’s stuff. Remember that? Just trying to find people’s best sellers and ripping off their ads. Then just outbidding them and being a better buyer of media on Facebook Ads. So now, things are completely different. I would say like I talked about every niche has been hit. Right? We’ve seen you know, the cat plus wine plus yoga… that pilot niche. Everything. Homemade bath soaps. I’m sure that niche has been hit. Two, people are now a lot more wary of these types of businesses. I think AliExpress is even in the lexicon of like, just the average person now. Just because dropshipping got so big. I mean, even in Colombia. Even in the third world, I’ll see girls they post like a picture in a bikini and then the caption says hashtag Ali Express. And I’m like, “Wow.” A 19 year-old Colombian girls know what Alli express is? So it’s clearl that people are recognizing that they’ve been burned. I mean, most of these companies had zero customer service, right? Correct. Yeah. And then third, obviously, just CPMs are through the roof. It’s just getting really, really hard. I mean, I think I heard on your on your webinar, maybe one of your Six Pillars, or maybe you mentioned it somewhere else. But you’ve said this ad nauseum that if you are relying on something — well, you said two things. Number one, if you can’t go out and spend advertising dollars to acquire customers, you don’t have a business. And another thing you’ve said on that same vein is if you’re reliant on making a front-end profit on that first initial sale, you probably don’t really have a business either. I mean, maybe if you’re just a little bit of luck and a ton of skill, maybe you can pull it off. Very few people are making first sale front end, you know, good margin on them that you need to kind of break even or lose,
That is especially true today.
Casey Brown 17:56
Yeah. Oh, yeah. That’s… Yeah, CPMs are just… When did they go up? It’s probably 25% a year or something. I couldn’t say…
Tanner Larsson 18:05
It’s massive. And especially like right now, like you said. Elections are going on. CPMs are through the roof. And then obviously, as fourth quarter goes on, companies are dumping their holiday budgets and their end of year budgets. And that’s another thing that just people don’t even think about. Why did all of a sudden my Ads stopped working? Well your ads didn’t stop working. The competition in the marketplace for the bidding on the different available inventory of ads has just quintupled. Whether it’s from elections, or as you get closer to the end of the year, big companies have to spend their budget if they hope to get the same budget or more next year, if they have a surplus at the end of the year, their budget gets cut in the next year for marketing. So they’re like, “How do we blow as much money as we can?” And Facebook facilitates that with the bigger brands by allowing them to just dump massive amounts of ads out there that serve no purpose other than blanketing their ads out there. They don’t convert, they don’t work. They just are a way for the companies to blow their budget and “advertise”.
Casey Brown 19:05
Yeah, it’s not direct response at all. It’s just like you said, blanket. Direct response, by the way, in case anybody doesn’t know what it means… you’re measuring the result, right? You put an ad and you’re tracking everything. And if that ad did well, you’re not kind of like putting up a billboard. And you can’t track how many people came to the site from that Billboard. So defining that. So what do we got to do then? What’s the solution? Well, I kind of have three things here. We can just elaborate and dissect on these. I’ll just list them all out and then I’ll go one by one. So number one will be Revenue Optimization. That’s one of the way to survive in 2020? Or the cure for crappy Ecommerce? Can we can call it that?
Tanner Larsson 19:46
Casey Brown 19:47
Number one. For crappy Ecommerce, it is Revenue Optimization. Number two, having a true competitive advantage over your competitors. And then three, Rockstar Customer Service. So we’ll just kind of go — Actually, you know what? I’ll just do the Rockstar Customer Service thing first, even though I don’t have a ton to say on it just because I think it’s kind of self explanatory. There’s a… If I could just summarize it, there’s kind of a… what’s the word… A little saying that I’ve heard. And I’ve repeated it many times mysel f too. Customer Service is the new marketing. When was the last time you had a problem returning something to Costco or Amazon?
Tanner Larsson 20:27
Never. They make it so easy that you don’t even have to think about it.
Casey Brown 20:30
When was the last time you bought something on Amazon and found a much cheaper price somewhere else?
Tanner Larsson 20:35
Not very often.
Casey Brown 20:37
When was the last time an Amazon package, you know, arrived late, like very late?
Tanner Larsson 20:42
Well, aside from COVID? Never. But COVID obviously they told us that they were going to slow their delivery time. But it was still quick.
Casey Brown 20:50
Yeah, I have it. So that that’s my point. Right? You know, you wonder why, you know, Jeff Bezos is like Pac Man and just just devouring the world and buying everything. Because the customer service is just so good on all his products. Right? Do we want to elaborate that? You know, I mean…
Tanner Larsson 21:08
I think on the customer service, people say like, “Yeah, have stellar customer service. And it doesn’t need to be said.” but the reality is, we see it. We see thousands of stores a year through the different things BGS does. Whether it’s workshops, or events or courses or whatever. By and large, most of these stores don’t even have a customer service helpdesk system. Much less that it’s like, “Oh, well, whatever emails come in, I handle it, or I have a VA that checks the email or stuff like that.” But like, there’s no ticketing system, there’s no dedicated support thing. There’s no dedicated support hours, there’s nothing that actually conveys good customer service to the end user… to the customer. And so, there’s a lot to be said for actually treating customer service like part of your business instead of an unnecessary evil that you just do when something comes in. You know, good customer service will make or break a brand.
Casey Brown 22:07
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, it’s just, I didn’t want this to be the focus of our talk. But I mean, you know, thanking your best customers. Send them little freebies. If you have, your top customers who spend over $10,000 with you a year, send them something free once in a while. You have phone support if you can. If you can support it, have phone support. Just treat them really, really nicely. I don’t know how to…
Tanner Larsson 22:33
Treat them the way you want to be treated.
Casey Brown 22:34
Yeah, I mean, it’s just you know… I’m sure this can be researched and delved into more. But just suffice to say, if you just love your customers is kind of unusual. That sounds too like touchy feely, I feel like. But I’m serious. You have to really treat them like an extension of your family and understand that they have a wide variety of options of people to do business with.
Tanner Larsson 22:56
And from a very baseline perspective, if say you don’t like the touchy-feely… Think of them as your family. These customers are the reason you eat. They’re the reason you have a roof over your head, or the reason that your family has clothes. They are the reason that you survive. Why would you not treat them well? So just from a very selfish perspective, you should be treating your customers like gold because without them you don’t survive.
Casey Brown 23:27
Yeah, exactly. Well, I think we’ve satisfied that one. Okay, cool. So um, do you want to end on Revenue Optimization?
Tanner Larsson 23:38
Go wherever you want to go.
Casey Brown 23:39
Okay. Um, yeah, I’ll end on Revenue Optimization. Then I’ll go into having a true competitive advantage that was number two on my list. Turmeric powder. That was a big thing. I think it still is a big deal. Remember when everybody was selling turmeric?
Tanner Larsson 23:58
Mm hmm. And it was huge on Amazon. The biggest categories on Amazon.
Casey Brown 24:02
Yeah, because it cures every disease. If you get in a car accident, you have a bone popping out of your arm just sprinkle some turmeric on it. It’ll just fuse the bones back together. It makes you into Wolverine from the X-Men basically, right? Um, so how can someone get in there and just start selling turmeric? let’s say you wanted to do that. There’s a ton of ways but one that I’m going to talk about is there’s a company called Smarter Nutrition. Anyway, they make a turmeric that I’ll just say supposedly. I’ve researched a lot. I’ve seen a lot of biohacking blogs and I seem to support their claim. But I’ll just say “Supposedly it absorbs a lot better and it does it without black pepper. So not only am I getting a huge tangent about turmeric. But i think it is Curcuma, the active compound that fights inflammation and gives turmeric its power. It is absorbed very poorly unless you mix it with black pepper. However, the black pepper extract can irritate — what’s it called acid reflux right now — for some people and there are other reasons why it’s less ideal. They’ve done something where they’ve bonded it maybe with argan oil. But some some oil delivery system where supposedly it’s much higher absorption and without irritating your esophagus from the thing. So you look at it there, right? They probably didn’t spend you know, billions of dollars on this. Things have been fused with oils for absorption forever but they now have a competitive advantage, right? They’re not going to take over the world but…
Tanner Larsson 25:43
…they differentiate themselves and just made a better mousetrap basically.
Casey Brown 25:47
Yeah, exactly. So that’s one. Another random example would be toothpaste. I’ve seen a lot of these companies now that do toothpaste as a little pills or tablets. If you’ve seen those, Tanner? I don’t know if you’ve seen them.
Tanner Larsson 25:59
No, I actually haven’t seen those yet.
Casey Brown 26:00
So it’s like a tablet. Like an aspirin. You take it and you put it on the toothbrush and it melts in water and stuff like that. And it’s supposed to cut down on the plastics from all the tubes. I mean, how many plastic toothpaste tubes Have you gone through in your whole 10 years of brushing teeth? but I mean, for the average person that does brush their teeth.
Tanner Larsson 26:18
If I did brush my teeth, I would have gone through tons and tons.
Casey Brown 26:22
That’s why we social distance even without…
Tanner Larsson 26:24
Casey Brown 26:26
Yeah, so they’re environmentally friendly, it’s a new thing. They also claim it’s easier for dosing. You get a consistent dose and you don’t overuse too much. So another example, I have a client in the pet niche, I won’t get too much into what her product is out of respect for her. But she basically took an existing version of this product in the pet niche and just told the supplier, “Hey, can you change this? Make this a little longer make this a little wider, put this on the side to this and this.” And she had a unique product. And it turned into a great unique value proposition that nobody had on the same product. And it’s been ripped off, you know, time and time again. But at the time, you know, we were the only ones selling something like this. And she’s not an engineer. She didn’t go to engineering school for four years and write up blueprints. I’m trying to emphasize here that you don’t have to be a chemist, or be an engineer.
Tanner Larsson 27:31
Simple, right? Like, I mean, the example that I’ve always given — which is pretty basic. But if everybody’s selling spatulas that are black and you come out with a pink spatula. You have a limited time competitive advantage that differentiates you because everybody else has black and you stand out as pink in the sea of black. Women like the pink and boom, you have something that sells. Now, the problem is that’s an easily duplicated competitive advantage. It will not last for very long, But it doesn’t have to be anything crazy to differentiate. Sometimes something as simple as a color change, a material change, or a size change. Making something work on a rechargeable when it’s not normally rechargeable. Little things like that can be done and those things are simple. Go to private label manufacturer, and a lot of those kinds of changes can be made, you know, for a negligible cost.
Casey Brown 28:27
Yeah. They’re super easy. I’ll just go through a couple more real quick because maybe people are getting some creative juices. I don’t want to stop them. I think it could even just be better content. Partnering with the right influencer. Even if there’s nothing really that different about it. What if the dog whisperer, Cesar, Milan — what if he just launched a pet probiotic that was just white-labeled. He just copied the formula of the top selling Amazon product. And he’s, you know, selling a duplicate of that, just because it’s his face. And he’s the influencer. He has that trusted authority.
Tanner Larsson 29:00
It’s going to sell.
Casey Brown 29:01
It’s going to sell. We have a client that basically took a ratchet system and applied it to a belt. And we’ve got a patent on that now, don’t they? Yeah. So we can talk about them because they have a patent.
Tanner Larsson 29:19
We can just movies go in generalities.
Casey Brown 29:21
Okay. Yeah. ThirdLove. This is not our client. I wish they were. I think they’re valued at a billion dollars. ThirdLove is a company that sells bras for women but they’re completely customized. So people have been selling bras since the dawn of time. And you know, “How am I going to reinvent the bra?” Well, they put together a wizard, which is just like basically a questionnaire where it says, “Hey, what shape are your breasts? What size? What cup size do you wear and which brand? Is one breast slightly bigger than the other?” Because I think if you buy a bra, I mean — you can’t go to Victoria’s Secret and say “Hey, my right breast is bit bigger than my left.” Which I think like all women have one slightly bigger than the other. So they’ve really, you know, carved out a huge competitive advantage by saying, “Our bras are custo-tailored for you.” And then specialization is another way to have a competitive advantage. So everybody now… I guess the new Turmeric is CBD.
Tanner Larsson 30:26
Casey Brown 30:28
Yeah, they move on from one plant extract to the next. So CBD right? CBD for anybody who doesn’t know… It’s an extract from cannabis, from marijuana, but it’s not the psychoactive one. THC is the one that makes it feel high. And CBD just has other effects like relaxation, sleep, pain relief, things like that… with little to no psychoactive effects. And there’s a lot of different cannabinoids, there’s CBD, CBDG, CBN… There’s a million CBs. And you can say, “Hey, ours is more specialized for pain.” The generic CBD you buy on the corner store may have a weird array of cannabinoids that’s sourced improperly. They may have been extracted by high heat which would have destroyed it. It’s a wide range of things. “We only have this cannabinoid, that’s good for pain. So if you’re looking for something for anxiety or insomnia then we’re not maybe the best option for you. We really just put specific cannabinoids for pain.” …or anxiety …or sleep. And, you know, so that’s specialization. I think you can add on this, if you want to have anything else to add on this…
Tanner Larsson 31:40
Yeah, I would just say you’re right. specialization is honestly one of the easier ones. And also, it specialization in that aspect can give you a very unique marketing angle in an “us versus them” approach. It’s like, “Hey, everybody else does this, we realize that we know that doesn’t really work that well, we’re tired of it. So we’ve created a specialized version that does this.” A perfect example of that is in the car care space. Ceramic coatings are huge right now. It’s like one of the most popular things out there for selling them. Every brand under the sun now has their own quick detailers slash ceramic coating that you wipe on. And all of a sudden your car is super protected. Some of them are better than others. But the only thing that matters in that ceramic coating is the silicon dioxide, which is a certain percentage of that has to be in the product in order for it to legally be called a ceramic coating. So what do manufacturers do? Well, they put the bare minimum in there. Which means that doesn’t work as well. Now, silicon dioxide is also more expensive. So to put more of it in your product, costs more money. There’s a new brand in the market right now, that is doing this “us versus them” approach and they’re running tons of YouTube ads, and they’re saying, “Hey, everybody has like 1% to 2% silicone dioxide in their product, we have 15.” And here’s the difference. And here’s why. “We were so sick of paying top dollar prices for not great product. We actually went out and created our own and figured out what the exact maximum content of silicon dioxide to the other ingredients would be to create the perfect coating.” So now they can sell at a higher price. They can be premium price, and they have literally just made the market shift in their perception of him. Like “Hey, these guys are the good guys. They’re the Robin Hood fighting King John.”
Casey Brown 33:33
Yeah. that’s one of the — that’s such a good marketing angle. You’re building trust You’re building authority. You’re calling out an injustice. And it justifies you selling it at that higher price too.
Tanner Larsson 33:46
And none of this stuff had to be done in the early days of drop shipping or any of those heydays. It was literally just throw shit up against the wall and something would stick and you’d make money. The problem is now it’s evolved. Just like the offline brick and mortar space, it’s a real business world. There’s lots of competition — more competition every day. Your consumers are more discerning. They’re getting more sophisticated. So now, you actually have to build a real business and do the right basic fundamentals of business if you want to succeed in the Ecommerce space from 2020 and beyond.
Casey Brown 34:20
Yeah, yeah, no more just torrenting a dropshipping course and throwing up a free shipping offer for the Millennium Falcon bottle opener.
Tanner Larsson 34:29
Oh, God. Oh, God.
Casey Brown 34:29
I know a guy who moved to Panama just so they could avoid the… what’s it called? The FCC?
Tanner Larsson 34:34
No, not FTC. Well, I guess FTC is involved. But it’s all the patents…
Casey Brown 34:40
Yeah but I believe you can, I don’t know. I just I know a guy. I don’t know what the Panamanian laws are. But I know guys who moved to Panama specifically to sell Harry Potter. You know, this is…
Tanner Larsson 34:51
If you have to do that… You have a business that you’re too afraid to talk to your family about. Like, that’s not the kind of business to build. You have to defraud another person or company to build something? Selling, you know, knockoffs or whatever, that’s a joke.
Casey Brown 35:07
Yeah, you have to have a real business these days. You have to really offer a value. Yeah. I mean, just think about how Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk is revolutionizing everything. You know, Tesla, like I said when’s the last time you saw an advertisement for a Tesla or an advertisement for Costco? You don’t see advertisements for them, because you can get avocado oil, at 50% less than any store, at Costco. You know why you don’t see ads for Tesla? Because it’s a self-driving electric car. It’s a spaceship for 30 grand. When you sell spaceships for 30 grand that are revolutionary, you don’t need spammy marketing techniques. You don’t need all this stuff. You’ve created a real business. Real value.
Yeah, this is the main one, too. So, we’ve talked about how CPMs are insanely high and you have to basically burn the candle at both ends. Um, one thing that Tanner used to be really big on and amazing on, is funnels over Ecommerce sales pages, remember that? And then there was a time when that was absolutely true. Because very few people had a full-time developer. Where you can just say, you know, “Make this happen. Do this.” You know, people weren’t savvy to that. Or for whatever reason, they were stuck on Click Funnels and tools that made building landing pages easier. And I agree that, by and large, a dedicated funnel or dedicated sales page will outperform an Ecommerce page, in most instances. However, when you really get down to this Revenue Optimization stuff you can create Ecommerce pages that perform just as well, if not better than a typical sales funnel. If you want, you can even take out the header, I mean, you can code a page … you can build something in Click Funnels. Give that to your developer and say, “Make this as a Shopify product page.” They can even do that. So there’s really no reason to get off the platform. And when you really study this revenue optimization, there’s just no need for funnels and stuff. You can just massively lower your Cost Per Purchase. And not from a Facebook Ad side. Your CPM stays the same, but your Cost Per Purchase just gets lower and lower as you do this Revenue optimization stuff. And yeah,
Tanner Larsson 37:39
Yeah, the other side of the funnels, though. They’re great for acquisition. They’re not great for LTV, right? They’re not great for the lifetime buyer, which is where the store is always better. And, you know, it took an evolution of Revenue Optimization of what we’ve learned to be able to — we were always like, “Hey, how do we make a store convert, like a funnel?” That was literally Matt and my focus back in 2015-16. Like, how do we do this? Like, funnels are doing great, but they’re not good for repeat purchase. They’re not good for lifetime customer value. The store is. How do we marry the two and make the best of both worlds? And that’s what Casey is talking about, that’s where the revenue optimization came from. And you can literally get the same performance of a funnel in a well-optimized store, and have all the secondary back-end benefits that actually make you real money. That you’re not going to get out of a funnel.
Casey Brown 38:34
Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. I mean, there’s just there’s no need — It’s crazy when I click on ads. I click on ads for many reasons, you know, to dissect them… I like to see the ad and the landing page and all that. It’s just so funny how many people have clearly been smart problem solvers in so many other areas of their business, but just completely ignored revenue optimization. Which I believe is one of these — I mean, these three. It is hard to say, which is the most important of them all. I mean, they’re all, you know — customer service, having a competitive advantage… I’d say it could be the top though. It’s just funny when people like — scientists create a new better mousetrap in some industry but I don’t even know why it’s better. I’m sure it is better. Or how about this? I can’t think of the product exactly right now but I remember one time… Something just looked cool and it caught my attention. I think it was something for a camera. And they had done something. It took me like 20 minutes of navigating their site to even find what they had done. How they had made it new. If you can’t — the jargon term for it I think is called the two-second rule or the two-second test. Where if your visitor doesn’t know what your website is about in about two seconds, they’re gonna bounce.
Tanner Larsson 39:55
Casey Brown 39:57
See, and you know, massive clarity issues. I saw a landing page recently. I think it was for a Facebook Agency. And it’s just a blank white page with a big black headline that says, we help Ecommerce brands return 4x revenue for every $1 spent on Facebook ads. Enter your email now to learn more. And it’s just like, you know — I mean, I could have coded this page in HTML when I was 19 years old. It didn’t have any bells and whistles. It was super clear. It was super to the point. And, yeah, it’s just almost like a crime, you know. When you see a company that has so much potential and you know that they’re paying the best Facebook ads guys and they’re doing all this stuff. But they have, for instance, what’s some big points that are missing, they have no risk reversal, right? They have no money-back guarantee or something like that. Maybe they have a really weak or unclear value propositions, like we talked about…
Tanner Larsson 40:54
Or no value proposition. I see these on stories all the time.
Casey Brown 40:58
Or maybe they’re missing some type of social proof. Or there’s just very clear and obvious objections that they’re not getting. And you see this a lot. I’ll talk about one technique that has been on the tip of my tongue a lot. Let’s say I’m doing an audit for a client. Or a friend of mine, I’m looking at their site. I go, “Hey, friend, I’m looking at your site, and is this thing organic? Because I would only buy it if it’s organic.” “Oh, yeah. It’s organic.” I’m like, “Oh, that’s a huge value proposition. You got to put that, and say it’s organic. And they go, “Oh, it’s there. If you just click “FAQ”, it’s the fourth question on FAQ. And I’m like, “No, no, no, no, no… You need to shout your biggest objection handlers, and your biggest persuasive elements from the rooftops. You need to really, you know, drive this home. And this is why — I don’t want to give away this client’s business. But I have a client who sells a product. Hope I haven’t said too much. And the sizing is very important with this particular product. We have a size guide four times on the page. Do you know why we have four size guides? Because every time we tested adding a new size guide? It increased conversion. And
Tanner Larsson 42:17
And the wizard.
Casey Brown 42:19
Tanner Larsson 42:19
4 size guides and the wizard. So yeah. And this leads to the other aspect that we see in the store owner, the product creator, the one who sets up the store. They set the store up, and they’re like, “Well, yeah, you said, Where’s the organic? Well, it’s here on the fourth FAQ down.” We’ll come across, sometimes. We’ll try to just do a basic purchase, we’ll go through the flow. And it will work in like, “Oh, but you need to go up here and click this and then go over here and do that.” And I’m like, “So are you over the shoulder of every one of your customers that comes to the store?” Well, “No.” “Well, how in the heck are they supposed to know how to do all this stuff?” And that’s where you get into this alternate reality where it’s like, just because you know how to use your store… And it’s set up in a way that even though it’s not intuitive, it’s intuitive for you because you set it up. That doesn’t make it intuitive for the customer. It doesn’t make it a good user experience for the customer. And ultimately, those kind of stores are the ones that struggle the most, they may have the best product or the most unique product with every bit of potential in the world, but they can’t make a sale because the store is set up from the perspective and the convenience of the store owner and not the buyer. Like Casey’s client that we’re talking about for the AMP partners. She does not need 4 size guides on her store. She knows those sizes. She knows where everything is, but the customer does.
Casey Brown 43:41
Yeah, yeah, it’s um, it’s banner blindness. It’s like you said, you designed it for you. It makes sense to you. The care for this is user testing. It’s a bit difficult. It’s a huge ordeal to take on yourself. I have some articles about it. But it’s tougher than what it sounds. But if you can get good at it, you will find — well I’ll just define what it is. And in a nutshell, there’s a lot more to it than this. Knowing what questions… the devil is always in the details. But you basically have people browse your site while their squeeze screen is being recorded. And they complete certain actions and they narrate what they’re thinking and feeling as they do those actions. So an action could be browse the site for a minute and find a good Father’s Day gift that’s on sale. The product you find has to be at least 10% on sale or more and it has to be something you think your dad would like for Father’s Day and add it to cart. Then as they do that task, “Okay, okay, so I’m going to the search bar I’m typing in ‘sale.'” and you go “Oh, wow, people type sale into the search bar.” I just click menu and I click you know collections and then I click filter by sale. Oh, maybe I should you know put a custom thing in my search, you know. perhaps you can change what populates in your searches. But a custom search result for when they type in sale, that’ll just take them to the sales collection. You’d probably have to customize it. You’d have to program it in there. You can easily program that…
Tanner Larsson 45:10
Whether it’s custom or not, it’s something that clearly needs to be done when you see that someone is doing that. You know, again, convenience for yourself, “Oh, I know where the sales are.” Versus your customers, “I don’t know where the sales are. I can’t find them.”
Casey Brown 45:22
Yeah, exactly.You just see how they perform. But that’ll really get to the heart because I always tell people, right? When we do something called a heuristic analysis, which is basically when I analyze a site and kind of do an audit on it. What’s strong, what’s weak, what should be removed? What we can improve? That’s an HA or heuristic analysis. When I do these, I always tell people, I can only do them so well, for niche I don’t understand. Meaning. If it’s what’s the niche that I don’t understand… Barbie dolls or something. I could only point out you know, the obvious clarity issues. The obvious. If the site has bugs on it, if it’s slow, if things don’t follow the prototypicality principle, I don’t want to even get into that. Let’s just say the technical aspect, but if I’m not an expert in Barbie dolls, I don’t know…can you can you take off her shoes? What’s the hair like? I don’t know what the specific objections are, but if you can find people in that niche to do the user testing for you, they will tell you all types of objections that you never even knew that people had. I didn’t know that people really were worried about. I don’t know… The Barbie would… the hair would fall out easily. All these other dolls you know, you brush the hair and the hair just falls out within two weeks of getting it. Your daughter or whoever’s playing with the Barbie doll brushes her hair and you get a bald doll after two weeks, I didn’t even know that’s something people worried about. But now I’m gonna address that in the copy, “Hey, on our Barbie dolls, the hair doesn’t fall out when you brush it. So I mean, that’s kind of my thing. The customer service, the competitive advantage, and just making sure that you’re burning that — you’re hitting up both ends you have the highly optimized Facebook Ads as best you can. But you’re doing your best to convert people on your own website. You have a clear and strong value proposition. You’re handling all their objections, the site is fast.
The site you know, has good copy, things that makes it very persuasive and actually makes people pull out their credit cards and buy. I think it’s being less and less ignored every day. Probably like I said, because of people like us were screaming from the rooftops. You know, running conferences about it. You know, this podcast is about it. Something you just almost unheard of three or four years ago. We were one of the first ones to jump on this huge overlooked thing. But well, that’s what we’re here to help you with it
Tanner Larsson 48:14
And it’s necessary now guys like, again, if you’re still trying to do things, the way that someone was teaching and doing it three to five years ago, it’s not working now. It’s why you’re struggling. This, everything Casey is talking about sounds like a lot of work. And it is. But that’s what’s required. If you want to be successful in Ecommerce, you need to optimize every step of the buyer’ journey. If you want to be good at traffic, get good at revenue optimization instead. And you’ll think you’re the traffic ninja, because all of a sudden, you’ll be able to buy traffic from practically any source and have it convert and have an acceptable RO-Ads on it to where you can actually scale your advertising. Without what Casey’s talking about and what this whole episode has been about, it’s just not going to be feasible. The concept of “Okay, I made two sales out of 100 visitors, I’ll go buy 100 more visitors.” That’s the old mentality. What works, and what should have worked back then. And it did, but nobody was focusing on it because we didn’t have to was, “Why did only two out of 100 buy? How can I turn that into four or six or eight?” That is the magic. And then traffic is never a problem again, because once you learn how to fix that conversion aspect, and the AOV, and your LTV and everything else…everything gets easier.
Casey Brown 49:29
Yeah that’s AOV we didn’t even talk about that. That’s another huge part of revenue optimization too. AOV. We do order bumps and post purchase upsells and things like that to free shipping calculators that can help increase AOV. Yeah, we have a ton of stuff on that. That’s another point too.
Tanner Larsson 49:45
It’s a whle othe episode,
Casey Brown 49:47
Not only you know optimizing that sale but a high-value sale. Yeah. And it’s just what’s and I don’t want to get too into this because I can’t even explain the math. It’s something like when you increase your conversion rate from say you’re paying 10 bucks to get a customer, right? And your conversion rate goes from 1% to 2%. You’re not now paying five bucks for a customer, you’re paying like 2.50. It goes down like an exponential… get my dad,. My dad’s a math teacher we can get him on the podcast. So it’s like for every little bit, your conversion rate goes up. It’s a massive increase in your net profit.
Tanner Larsson 50:21
Yeah, and same thing with bounce rate. A 10% reduction in bounce rate will cut your traffic cost your actual traffic cost in half.
Casey Brown 50:30
Yeah. Which is 10%. This 10% there. No, it goes. Yeah, it’s like an X. It’s like a logarithmic. I don’t know, I need my dad but yeah,
Tanner Larsson 50:38
It’s a big math thing. But it works, right. Casey, this was awesome, bro. We covered a whole lot of stuff. And we’ve got a whole bunch of little tendrils and tangents that we can jump into for future episodes, which I’m excited to do. So. We’re gonna wrap this up guys, if you liked this episode, please make sure you leave a review below whether you’re on YouTube, or iTunes or whatever. This is a video podcast so you can listen to it on iTunes or Stitcher or whatever. But we also do it on YouTube. You can watch us there and also see when we’re sharing stuff on our screen, you can see what’s going on. Make sure you’re subscribed to both because again, the content changes from time to time. To get the links of where you need to go, visiit BuildGrowScale.com/podcast you can also get all the show notes there and all the links to all the places you can listen to this podcast guys. Really appreciate you coming to listen to us and we’ll see it in the next episode. See ya.
Ecommerce Store Audit
Want us to do an Audit on your e-commerce store and show you how you can make some quick changes that will dramatically increase sales and profits without increasing your traffic?
Ecommerce Store Audit
Want us to do an Audit on your e-commerce store and show you how you can make some quick changes that will dramatically increase sales and profits without increasing your traffic?