In this week’s episode of Growth Interviews, we invite you to join our podcast conversation with Alex Cleanthous, co-founder and director of strategy and innovation at Web Profits and co-founder of Zage Marketing Group at the same time.

Alex Cleanthous is an amazing entrepreneur, always in search of new opportunities to leverage his resources and capabilities to drive rapid growth and make a positive impact in the world. He feels passionate about personal and professional growth, making sure to surround himself with people with the same proclivities. He possesses considerable private board experience, having successfully launched an IPO.

Welcome to Growth Interviews!

Welcome to Growth Interviews, the fun, stimulating and engaging series of conversations driven by digital business growth. Our mission is to provide valuable insights from the eCommerce arena, and each episode is a fascinating quest into the best-kept business secrets and money-making strategies of an insightful world-class expert.

In today’s episode, Alex Cleanthous has talked with us about everything there is to know about business growth, emphasizing the importance of expansion, personalization and collaboration to grow in a healthy manner.

Here are the biggest takeaways:

  • How to grow your eCommerce in 2020 – 01:49
  • The lack of marketing skills – 03:50
  • An approach to customer retention – 05:01
  • Never forget personal growth – 07:11
  • Machine learning is not for every kind of business – 08:23

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How to grow your eCommerce in 2020

The concept of growth has a different meaning for every type of business. Alex gave us three short pieces of advice for eCommerce businesses with revenue above 5 million dollars annually willing to grow in 2020.

  1. Experiment with programmatic advertising: be wary of your targeting and expand on channels you are trying to attract customers
  2. Keep an eye on personalization, sophistication, in terms of how your company approaches marketing
  3. Create more content, then collaborate with influencers from your niche as much as possible to promote it to their audience on maybe Facebook or Instagram

The lack of marketing skills

Alex is of the opinion that there is a lack of marketing skills in marketers’ education nowadays. Let’s read his own words:

“I’ve interviewed thousands and thousands of marketers over the years and there’s a general lack of proper education or proper understanding of actually how campaigns should run. You don’t learn it at school! It’s about the organization where you get it, like your first job, and then the second job and so on. Some people are just going to be naturally good but there’s a general lack of strength in the marketing education space. That’s my biggest frustration.”

We completely understand his frustration. However, those willing to become a better version of themselves both professionally and personally are the ones who will thrive in the end, no matter the circumstances. So, let’s be confident that education can also be self-taught.

An approach to customer retention

Are companies focused on customer experience and customer retention? How much do they actually care?

Alex believes that “companies making over one hundred thousand dollars a week probably have something that’s already working from a customer retention perspective”. But should they be spending more on it? Of course. “eCommerce is challenging because margins are so low. You can’t just scale the team at the same level like a SaaS company can, like a lead generation company can.”

Here are the top three pieces of advice/ideas from Alex:

  • Approach upsell like you would approach inbound!

Perceive this as a cold audience: you can have look at the size of the segments or the size of their spend because they are going to spend at a higher percentage than the people that are already a customer.

  • It’s time to focus on retention!

Like investing in Analytics, look at the average order value, the packaging, everything around it. Customer retention is just another stage of the funnel, right after conversion – the loyalty phase.

  • It will make more sense when it is large enough to have a high ROI.

Never forget personal growth

How does Alex perceive personal growth and school education for that matter?

“Personal growth is everything to me. I think I didn’t do well at school not because I didn’t like school. But I did find a couple of years after I left school that actually I really like learning. School took that away from me. I didn’t like learning after I left school because they don’t teach you how to learn, they teach you how to copy and how to memorize. Everything I’ve achieved so far is because of that love of learning.”

True words, we might say. Moreover, Alex feels that personal growth is greatly influenced by so many elements, such as your employees, the people you surround yourself with, the books you read and the podcasts you listen to.

“It’s the one thing which can help you go from point A to point B as fast as possible.”, he proudly states. 

Machine learning is not for every kind of business

“We’re already seeing the impact now through the campaign management tools. They’re still not as good as someone who can optimize but at scale, you’re going to need the machine learning algorithms. I think for the majority of small businesses it’s not gonna be helpful if you have five hundred dollars to spend on a campaign. Machines aren’t gonna help you at that point. You just need to know what’s going to work and have the best guess and spend that money because most small companies can’t afford to just keep spending money until they figure it out. It’s about larger companies! I think that machine learning is going to have the biggest impact for them and it’s mostly going to be around ad campaigns and the management of them.”

What would you say to your younger self in order to be happier?

“I don’t think it’s about being happy.”, Alex curiously begins. He continues to explain that the most important aspect of life is to find something which you can put everything into. He mentions the book Jordan Peterson wrote, called 12 Rules for Life, where the concept of “happiness” is replaced by “meaning” and “purpose”.

“Find the thing you love that pays enough to give you a good life!”


Our interview with Alex Cleanthous has proven once again that growth begins from oneself and it is reflected in the business we want to create or are part of. Keep in mind his pieces of advice because you might never know when they could actually help your eCommerce business skyrocket!

We hope you enjoyed our podcast interview with Alex Cleanthous!
For more valuable insights, make sure you come back to check out our next Growth Interviews as well.

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