New year, new podcast. And this one promises some out-of-the-box eCommerce stories from huge names in the field, ready to blow your mind. And boy, was this an interesting first episode!

But wait, what is this fresh Ecommerce Growth Stories podcast about? 

From starting their businesses in their parent’s garage to making a difference in the DTC world, these brand founders are sharing with you the story of how they made it and what keeps them motivated every day in this crazy eCommerce industry.

This podcast is sponsored by VTEX: The first and only fully integrated commerce, marketplace and OMS solution that offers the fastest time-to-revenue and no upgrades.

Each episode will be hosted by Juliana Jackson, also known as #theCLVlady, and the outstanding Derric Haynie, the Chief Ecommerce Technologist of Ecommerce Tech

Let’s get the show on the road! Enjoy the podcast and check out the main ideas below.

Who is Adam McDonald?

Adam McDonald is an E-comprenuer, currently the founder of Pet Collars, Australia’s most effective Pet ID company. He also created the event brands Miss Muddy, Slideapalooza and Rumble Run and ran 40+ large scale events across the country for over 100k Aussies. Adam also produced a TV Show and sold the rights, Disney, for their Global Sports Network ESPN.

Starting from a conversion rate of 8%…

We bounced between probably 7.5-10 percent in Q4. I find that when we’re advertising to a cold audience, so if we’re doing a very broad advertising campaign, the error rate will go down towards more like 7-7.5 percent.

I only advertise when the CPMs make it nice to do so. So in Q4, we were just not advertising to a cold audience, we were just retargeting and that was it. And our conversion rate went up to closer to 10 percent because everybody that was coming in was kind of warmed up. I’ve got a bit of a theory as to why we do so well. And it is a combination. I spend a lot of time testing button colors and call to action. And even now we have a marketing message on our landing page. I adjust that all the time and test and we use Google Optimize as a tool for testing stuff. 

For me, it’s about user experience. Every quarter I’ve got an alarm set in my calendar. I go on and purchase our products. So I go through the whole experience of jumping on our website, working out how easy it is to find a particular item. I order it, I get into the email flows, and every time that I do it, I’m forever thinking of a better way to do it. So that’s something that I kind of implemented into my plan to just deliver a website that is a good experience and gives people the information that they need.

There is one change. We use heat maps quite a bit and one thing that we noticed as a kind of a bounce point for our website is people not knowing the size collar that they need. We’ve got a collar designer so people will see what collar they want and they’ll put their name in and the number and get to see exactly what it looks like. But when they get to the point where they’ve got to select their size, they go, “Oh, I don’t know what size Charlie’s neck is!” And so we’re working on a kind of like a guide, which should get my conversion rates up closer to 15 percent. 

I think the side effect will be that because we’ll be making suggestions of dog breeds and the weight of the dog versus now we say you measure that because that’s the best way to get the perfect fitting color. If we start making suggestions, just because all breeds are different, this is going to bring a lot of variables. So I expect that our returns are going to go up a bit.

But I’m just sitting there doing the sums to see if having it where they don’t have to disappear from the site to measure their dog’s neck and then life happens and it’s up to our retargeting to try to remind them to come back in. And if they don’t, that’s obviously affecting our conversion rate and our bounce rates.

So we are working with our web developers on coming up with a cool tool. We’ve been looking at customer service bots, but basically, just to answer the question of “Do you want us to give you some idea on your sizing based on your breed and the weight of your dog?” 

And moving on to customer value optimization of a product with low frequency!

It’s pretty easy. I kind of put it down to this: the friend that only rings when they want something. I’ve got some mates that I love to death. I’ve known them since I was at school. But when my phone rings and it’s them on the ID, I know that they’re going to want something because the only time they ever call me is when they want something. No one likes that. So it’s sort of a commonsensical approach to commerce, let alone eCommerce, where we communicate, we build a good community between Search4hurt and our events business. I’ve always had a knack for building and nurturing a community

And that’s what we do with Pet Collars. We produced a magazine called Human Magazine, which I just produced as a value add to our customer base. It’s just a short form. It’s designed for mobile phones. So it’s beautiful to read on mobile phones and it is just full of short-form articles of tips and tricks about being a pet owner. And that was something that we designed just as a community gift.

More so, but it’s turned out to be one of our best lead generators that we could have because we offer a free subscription to all pet owners for it. And then obviously, once they subscribe, they become part of our email flow and part of our community.

I’ll only ever email our database if we’ve got something to add value to their life. So it’s either when we’ve got a new issue of the magazine dropped, if we’ve had a couple of good blogs, because I think a lot of people get stuck in the kind of the social media trap. Everybody assumes that everybody’s on social media.

We have quite an older demographic and a lot of them aren’t on social media. So if we’ve had a couple of blog posts that have really blown up and in particular we had one. I wrote an article about Things You Can Do in Byron Bay, which is a really popular travel spot here. Shopify sent me a notification saying, “Oh, your blog is getting the highest views of all the blogs in Shopify!” And it was cool news!

We only promoted it through social media. So we dropped an email and just said, “Hey, for all you guys on social media, I apologize. We kind of got caught in the trap that we thought everybody was on socials. If you haven’t been there, here are some cool things that have happened in the past six months.”

The response we had back from that, like so many people replied to that email just saying, “Oh, thanks so much for thinking about that. Obviously, I’m not on any social media, so I know that I missed out a bit.” They haven’t adopted social media because they are a bit of an older demographic.

The other time is if we’re having a sale, which for me it’s customer service, letting them know that we’ve got a promotion on and that if don’t really need a new color, but if they’re getting sick of looking at the same color, now would be a good time to buy because we’ve got a 25 percent off.

I very rarely do campaigns through our emails. We’ve got Omnisend set up, but it’s purely for flows.

Bonus: How to use Reveal in a surprising way

Reveal’s been good in that it gives you a bit more data around the customer-specific sort of stuff. I use Reveal for completely different reasons than most people would. 

I use the data to find customers that I want to create lookalike audiences for, for my advertising. For me, the metrics around lifetime value are flawed because every customer is as important as the next one because the value in my customer base is not how much money they spend themselves, it’s how much exposure they give our product within their dog community.

Because our product lasts for such a long time, the person that has a collar for ten years, that means they’ve only spent forty dollars with us in ten years. So in the Metrics column, all the data is saying you shouldn’t even bother talking to this person. But that person, because they’ve had our collars for ten years, is the one that in the dog beaches and the dog parks are telling any other pet owner that will listen just how good our collars are. 

This is probably what helps our conversion rate as well. That old mate who’s at the bottom of my customer lifetime value metrics is talking about us in such a positive way that he’s sending people to our website pre-warmed. They already know that they want the product, that all they want to do is get in there and work out what colors they can get and pick their size and off they go.

For me, CLV is a very different thing because the person who has a customer lifetime value of thirty dollars, to me they might be my best customer. Whereas the person who buys every year because they just get sick of looking at the same color probably isn’t talking about our brand the same way as the old mate at the bottom of my metrics table is.

We just treat everybody the same as if they were our most valuable customer, whether they buy once in ten years or ten in one year.

Stay tuned for our next podcast episode of the Ecommerce Growth Stories, where we’re going to talk with Aaron Spivak, the Co-Founder of Hush Blankets.