Giving away a vibe of pure freedom, Tyler Sullivan surprised us all during his session of the Ecommerce Growth Stories this week. As an entrepreneur, you definitely have something to learn from this guy!
Learning to delegate to experts a huge chunk of your own responsibilities is probably the hardest thing to do as an entrepreneur, but Tyler finally managed to do it – the hard way – and boy, was that a relied on him and his family.
He learned that work is not everything and the most important part – what’s the point of work if you’re not enjoying it?
An eye-opening story was this episode and we can’t wait to share it with you. So let’s get it started!
Who is Tyler Sullivan?
Tyler Sullivan is the founder of BombTech Golf, an eCommerce store with over $20 million sold online since 2012. Tyler also runs EcomGrowers where he and his team have helped countless Shopify owners add 6-7 figures in additional sales to their eCommerce stores by optimizing email systems and ad campaigns to find hidden revenue streams.
Over the years Tyler has come to learn the formula for running successful and profitable eCommerce businesses. He believes that even with online companies there is huge value in having real conversations with customers and potential buyers. Tyler is hyper-focused on the customer experience and operating a lean business that doesn’t just drive revenue but drives serious profit and cash flow.
Shifting focus from ads to email marketing
We still run ads. I wish I could say, “Hey, we’re ad-free!”, but we run a ton of ads.
Email is… It’s just so essential! I’m actually shocked every day that people think email is not effective, it’s just what they’re doing with it. If someone were to buy my company, they’re buying my assets, which are my email lists and my customer lists. That is my true value.
So my goal is to keep that list as healthy and viable and vibrant as possible. And that’s what’s exciting for me, because, when we get to launch a new product, we can send hype emails, get people engaged and follow up and you can do days where you do over one hundred thousand dollars a day.
Yeah, you can do it with ads, but your return is going to diminish.
Email is really the backbone of any eCommerce brand. You do need traffic. It’s a yin and yang. You need both. Email just makes ads work better and allows you to profit more. And that’s really the name of the game.
I try to think of it in this way: if Facebook Ads died tomorrow or if I got banned from Google SEO, would I survive and sell my three million dollars of inventory I just paid for in stock? Yes, because I can email them. I can text them. Whereas if that wasn’t the case, I’d be much more fearful. I’d be only relying on paid traffic.
Trend-chasing – yea or nay?
Trend-chasing is something I’ve never believed in. Do something you enjoy or you’re going to feel like you’re working every day! I just did it because I loved it. I could have never imagined trying to do something that I’m not passionate about and just because it’s a trend. That just makes zero sense to me.
Everything I’ve always seen is once you’ve heard about a trend, it’s already too late.
Golf specifically is probably one of the hardest industries in the world. But I really just believe in doing what you enjoy, number one. And then as it was, when you start collecting assets, whether it’s email – the core – and SMS, because you never own those channels.
In 2016, our Facebook page had eighty thousand people or something, one hundred thousand. And we could reach them. Then they had that algorithm change where pages were pretty much pay-to-play or something to that effect, where the organic reach was reduced so much, and that hurt.
That was my “aha moment” there, we needed to have an asset we own that is not social because we were doing a ton of revenue from the social posting. I could post about a product coming back in stock and it would crash. By posting “back in stock” with a link right now, I’d get one like and no one would buy.
It’s interesting that people wouldn’t think emails are effective or your asset. I think it’s just a change in strategy and thinking.
Email is really simple, like just being native to the platform and don’t make overly designed newsletters with 70 calls to action with 50 different stories. Our thesis at the agency is one call to action, but a lot of plain text emails. We keep it fun, we keep it short and the simpler emails get opens, get replies. That allows us to have an asset that you can have for a long time if you have that foresight.
How much has eCommerce changed in the last nine years?
It has changed a lot. The core things have never changed. Make a great product, have solid offers and have an amazing customer service experience.
Everyone says they’ve got great customer service, but no one does. We spend more on customer service and I guarantee anyone does to have an experience that really no one can compete with. That’s how you get real lifetime value. I did that because that’s just what I want as a customer.
How you get your product and offer out there has changed.
But really, it’s pretty basic: new traffic, which is Facebook, Google, Instagram Ads. You can do influencers or other tactics, TikTok, whatever, you need traffic. Then you need a back-end system, which is email. Really other than that, it’s just making great products and asking questions and engaging and making good contacts.
It’s really not that complicated. I see just so much confusion with the tactics and strategies. In my business, I’ve set up that I’ve outsourced all the pillars that are important to the business and I’ve outsourced to some people better than myself.
That allows me to have the all variables in terms of cost and very little overhead and then really have the core things or processes with experts in each silo. If something new comes up, I typically will try to vet them in some way. If it’s an ad guy or someone says, “I have got this concept, I want to try. I’ll do TikTok ads.” and I’ll just say, “OK, let’s do a one-hour screen share and I’ll pay you for your time. If you guys teach me something or teach my team something great, then we’ll hire you. If you teach me nothing, great, I didn’t waste an engagement all this time and effort with you.”
That’s my way forward. If I think it’s really a new channel, new opportunity or something I’m not doing now, I’ll vet them with a one-hour test. And if they can beat me or show me something I don’t know, you’re hired. Done. And I’ll move on to the next. So that’s kind of how I approach.
If you do score things well, you’re good, but as a founder, focus on the product, the offer, the experience and the story and let everyone else on that stuff.
One caveat is you have to know everything enough to be dangerous, to hire and fire properly. And I’ve made that mistake before. But you don’t know enough. And I did fire my best ad guy ever because I didn’t know enough. So that’s the one thing with hiring these experts, you’ve got to know enough to hire or fire.
This podcast is sponsored by VTEX.
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