In this week’s episode of Growth Interviews, we invite you to join our podcast conversation with Ryan Kulp, an extraordinarily insightful marketing expert with an unmatched worldwide experience.

You need leverage and scalability to grow.

Here Are The Biggest Takeaways

  • How digital in widening the physical experience – 03.13
  • What growth means for professionals in the digital space – 07.03
  • How to identify growth barriers – 16.23
  • Customer Retention in e-Commerce. An expert’s point of view – 25.41
  • Growth Ideas – 35.43

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.

Ryan is a marketer, musician, and self-taught developer. He’s built more than 30 web apps in his spare time and hosts a live stream series where he builds new products from scratch in a day. In addition to running Fomo.com, he has a portfolio of small apps that generate over $1.6mm per year. 

His latest project, MicroAcquisitions.com, is an extensive course on learning how to buy, grow, and sell small companies with little to no money upfront. Ryan has been traveling full-time for 8 months but has been based in NYC since 2013.

Growth is the hottest subject of the digital world in 2020 and everyone’s focus is on finding the best recipe for it. From our podcast with Ryan Kulp, you will find exactly where you should focus and how to innovate to get the best results. Just press play. There is a lot more waiting for you!

Digital is Widening the Physical Perspective

Diagram illustrating the connection between physical and digital objects through a digital twin generator/simulator, showing a user, industrial things, and a physical market in the real world mirrored by a user avatar, digital industrial things, and an online market in the digital world.

The world is shrinking. The ability to reach every corner of the planet in a matter of hours at affordable prices creates a new perspective. On top of that, all the digital tools we have today help us manage our lives, travel, money, households, and businesses, providing a sense of security, independence, and possibility. Ryan Kulp, an avid traveler, and our Growth Interviews guest, sheds light on how digital is widening the physical perspective and how traveling and experiencing different cultures narrow down the most important things to focus on.

The Impact of Digital Tools on Global Connectivity

Abstract visual of digital platforms and networks showcasing interconnected nodes, cloud computing icons, and wireless symbols.

Digital tools at our disposal are helping us manage various aspects of our lives, including travel, finances, households, and businesses. This digital transformation provides a sense of security, independence, and possibility. Ryan Kulp, an avid traveler, shares insights on how digital advancements are broadening our physical perspectives and highlighting the key focal points through diverse cultural experiences.

A marketer, traveler, and enthusiastic digital thinker, Ryan Kulp observed the world from various angles and started seeing the gaps and opportunities of leveraging what he knows to address what is missing in specific places. In his perspective, innovation is not only about creating something new that responds to specific human needs but also about bringing something that already exists to a new place where it is needed.

Many businesses have faced the problem of meeting an unprepared market over time—a market that was not ready for a product, idea, or service. Many entrepreneurs failed, and many were stubborn enough to survive and see the day when their market matured and the adoption of their product or service grew exponentially.

Far from being just a legend, the timing of entering a market is of the essence, and Ryan Kulp emphasized this many times during our talk: ‘Timing is a critical aspect, and you can think of timing as marketing.’

What Growth Means for Professionals in the Digital Space

A theater screen displaying the text "Taking advantage of the digital space" with rows of red seats in the foreground.

‘As marketers were so in love with tools’  said Ryan during our chat and we agreed with him. We live in an age of martech where there is a tool for everything. Every marketer can plan, test, approximate leads and conversions, and scale before launching a campaign without even starting to write a brief

For many, it feels like magic but Ryan Kulp considers it a pretty dangerous and superficial road. No matter how good and performant tools can be, they are as smart and good and performant as their operator which, in most cases is the marketer. 

Going further with our talk from this perspective, Ryan sheds light on the human side of things. Marketers are emotional beings who are trying to help other humans find what they want and need in the best possible way. If marketers miss the empathetic aspect of the entire shopping journey, they miss the most important point. 

Data is just an effect. A causality. The most important is creating the right trigger. And the right trigger is always emotional. Data is the easy way out, but real marketing means real human experience and willingness to be of service at your best. 

Most of the tools are not used at their full capacity. Being at your best professional self, being informed, thoughtful, enthusiastic and always reaching for new experiences regarding the customers, also means that there is a better understanding of the target and a deeper need to use the tools at their full capacity.

Effectiveness does not come from the digital world but from the professionals in marketing as every machine gets ten times better the moment its operator adds a new layer of thinking and creates new perspectives. In the end, it all comes down to a great question Ryan Kulp asked: ‘How can we change ourselves so that every lever we pull as a growth marketer is more valuable.’

Barriers of Growth

Diagram titled "Barriers to Growth" highlighting differentiation, pricing, product, culture, fear, markets, and customer as key factors.

Growth in the digital business landscape is a very hot subject right now. Many practitioners who found their niche and a great recipe in their industry are sharing their knowledge at conferences, talks, podcasts, articles, and books. Many have common points and experienced the same turning points, and their conclusions might be similar many times.

Internal Efficiency as a Foundation for Growth

Diagram illustrating the relationship between internal efficiency, belief, challenges, measures, and the ongoing struggle for internal efficiency.

After working on many different projects with various low points, and needs, and addressing different industries and markets, Ryan Kulp concluded an interesting aspect: growth cannot be truly achieved on the outside until it is achieved on the inside. This means a digital entrepreneur must find a way to become more efficient as a person to create a more efficient organization.

Ryan confessed that to achieve healthy growth, he needed leverage and scalability for himself first. ‘So when you work on multiple projects in parallel, it forces you to work on each of them a little bit differently.’ Different projects involve different processes that have to be treated separately, but they all have a few things in common, and those are the points that have to be leveraged.

Leveraging Common Points for Scalable Customer Service

Illustration of three customer service representatives wearing headsets and working on laptops, engaged in conversation.

Those are the points that helped Ryan scale his processes and figure out how to provide customers with a unique touch in a scalable way. Finding the common points and scaling them is the first step and the basis. “But how do you serve a lot of customers well?” asked Ryan during our chat. The answer is through the “personalization scale.”

In marketing, unlike other industries, everybody shares information, knowledge, and best practices. But even with all that, success is not guaranteed; on the contrary, marketing is also an art, not only a science. It comes down to people, their skills, and ultimately their talent to create something different. For a great digital marketer to become successful, the most important thing is to scale the unique mix of knowledge and talent, to scale a personal and unique approach.

Points of View on Customer Retention in e-Commerce

Circular diagram illustrating the customer lifecycle stages: Reach, Acquisition, Conversion, Retention, and Loyalty.

‘Well for e-commerce specifically you know the whole world is moving towards subscription everything not only in the sense that you pay every period but subscription everything in the sense that we no longer own things.’ stated Ryan Kulp at the beginning of our great chat on customer retention in e-commerce

The world economy is moving towards being an asset list and no one will own anything anymore in a short while. For Ryan ‘it doesn’t make sense every time I want something to google around and click a bunch of Facebook ads and go to the third page of results and comparison shop. I should find things I love subscribing them and not think about it again because humans have better things to do.’

No matter how good marketers get at manipulating audience targeting, performance media, and advertising, for Ryan Kulp everything seems far removed from ‘why a lot of us get into the business, which is to help people and in the process when you help people to get paid.’

He continued ‘every conversation you had with the customer treat it as a pre-sales conversation because the average customer today in any business especially as a subscription business, their lifetime value is usually 10 times whatever they paid you the first time they become a customer. So, therefore, you need to treat every conversation like you’re not even close to tapping into the value.

The focus should be on the client and how to help them solve their problems in such a smooth way so that they will want to become a subscription customer, forget about their problems, and see the product as the greatest permanent solution for them.

Growth Ideas for E-commerce

Infographic titled "5 Ways to Grow Fast" in eCommerce business, highlighting: 1. Invest in SEO, 2. Up your content game, 3. Utilize social media, 4. Invest in paid advertising, 5. Optimize your website.

There are always great complex schemas of channels and CTAs and ideas on what works better in e-commerce but in Ryan’s vision, before going big with the communication the focus should be on the direct response to the customers which mainly happens through email and newsletter automation, and how that response feels like. 

After almost 4 years working with e-Commerce, Ryan’s observations and critiques do not focus on the timing of the mailing but on the quality of the message which lacks empathy and interest towards the customer. ‘You just get the vibe that stores don’t care about you’ In his opinion, every e-commerce that wants to grow must focus on customers and especially on how they feel about the products and the shopping experience before, while shopping, and especially afterward. 

The after-sales process, with all the messaging, not only creates a good feeling and memory about the shopping experience but also allows the online store to create an up-sell program and to leverage every relationship with every customer. This is a lacking aspect that is a must-do from our guest’s perspective.

The second growth idea goes to observing the customers more closely and observing their patterns and behavior trends. Consumers are savvier than ever these days. Everybody is looking for the best products at the best prices with the best services included. 

Even if the customers find exactly what they wished for, they will always make comparisons and they will always look for a better deal that fulfills their need to win the so-called shopping battle. The difference an eCommerce can make for winning the price battle is in storytelling and branding and Ryan has a wonderful point of view reminding us that that there is no price tag and comparisons between stories. No one can doubt the price of something that already shows value.

Conclusion

Growth is the main theme of 2020 and all digital entrepreneurs are looking for the best solutions and trying out the best practices to figure out what works best for the business. But no matter how good and complex the marketing mix is, the most important aspects of succeeding will always be two, actually very simple things, no one should ever take their eye off: great customer care and products of undeniable quality.

We hope you enjoyed our video interview with Ryan Kulp.
For more valuable insights, make sure you come back to check out our next Growth Interviews as well. 

FAQs

What are the key strategies Ryan Kulp recommends for achieving growth in digital marketing?

Ryan Kulp emphasizes the importance of leveraging common points across different projects to scale effectively, understanding the emotional triggers in marketing, and maintaining a balance between using digital tools and human empathy. He believes that efficiency on a personal level translates into organizational growth, and success comes from a mix of knowledge, talent, and a personalized approach.

How can digital entrepreneurs overcome the challenge of entering an unprepared market?

Ryan Kulp highlights the importance of timing in entering a market. He suggests that entrepreneurs should be patient and persistent, recognizing that markets mature over time. Leveraging existing innovations in new markets and understanding the specific needs of the market can also help overcome these challenges. It’s crucial to continuously observe and adapt to market readiness.

What role does customer retention play in the growth of e-commerce businesses according to Ryan Kulp?

Ryan Kulp stresses that customer retention is vital for sustainable growth in e-commerce. He believes in treating every interaction with a customer as a pre-sales conversation, focusing on solving their problems seamlessly. The goal is to convert one-time buyers into subscription customers by providing exceptional value and creating a smooth, continuous experience that makes them see the product as a permanent solution to their needs.