Episodes > Season 1 Episode 12

Paul Rogers Josh Duggan episode

Vervaunt: Optimum growth through paid search and CRM segmentation

Paul Rogers, Managing Director & Josh Duggan, Co-Founder

What's in this episode?

Paul Rogers and Josh Duggan, cofounders of the agency Vervaunt, have worked with big brands like Lush, Pangaia, and Bulletproof Coffee. We chat about the current state of paid search and discuss tactics to help scale a small or large program.

We also talk about CRM auditing and why it is important to segment audiences so Facebook and Google can return the best results. Paul and Josh also share their work in UX improvements focused around cross-sells and upsells for subscription merchants and tie it all together with emphasis on how each piece of a brand’s strategy impacts the next.

Connect with Paul on LinkedIn or Twitter and Josh on LinkedIn. Check out Vervaunt.

Episode transcript

Chase: Josh and Paul, thank you guys for joining us. Why don't we do a quick intro. Paul, you go first.

Paul: Yeah, absolutely. My name's Paul Rogers. I run a company called Vervaunt with Josh, my co-fonder, and I run the eCommerce sites. We essentially do eCommerce consultancy with big focus on technology selection. We do a lot of professional services around re-platforming as well, so kind of project management solutions, consulting, BA work. We work across platforms, so Magento, Shopify, Salesforce. Shopify and Magento are probably our biggest two, but we also work with BigCommerce a little bit, and some of the newer best-of-breed solutions as well. And then on top of that, we also do a lot around customer experience, generally, and CRM, and some of the other areas of eCom.

Josh: Cool. I'm Josh Duggan, so I run the paid side of Vervaunt, co-founded along with Paul three years ago. Everything we do on the paid side is essentially biddable media, so we do a lot of Google Shopping, Google search. Much more paid social, so we'll probably talk a lot on that today, but it's been a massive growth for us as part of the agency, so Amazon, Pinterest, YouTube, and any form of biddable media, essentially.

Paul: And then some of the brands we work with include people like the Pangaia, Muji, Lush, Joseph Joseph, The Conran Shop, Sunspel, Alexachung, Bulletproof, and various others.

Chase: Love it. Love it. So excited. Today's going to be a little different, we're going to talk a bit more technical, and go behind-the-scenes. As you two both mentioned, we're going to jump into some paid media, some paid search, talk about CRM, and talk about some UX stuff. Hopefully, for our audience, this is going to be a bit different than what we usually talk about, but I'm excited.

Let's hop right in. Let's start with this paid media, paid search. Give us just a quick definition for that, just so everyone is on the same page.

Josh: Paid media is essentially any form of paid advertising. Typically, now, it's just refers to digital, of which the biggest channel is obviously Google, Facebook, which obviously owns Instagram as part of that. And then slowly there's a lot of new platforms joining the mix, so TikTok obviously have been the most noticeable, Snapchat, a couple of years ago, and then Amazon is a pretty big player as well. Essentially, paid media-

Paul: And Pinterest. Josh, you love Pinterest.
Josh: Yeah. I've recently downloaded Pinterest, and I am a big fan. They're the main channels which encompass it, essentially.

Chase: We'll hop into Pinterest later, I'm really curious to see your boards, and all the fun things you're pinning on there.

Paul: Yeah, he loves it.

Chase: Give us an overview, what is the current state of paid search? Obviously, we're hopefully near the end of this pandemic, and there's a lot of things that have been moving, and changing, and adapting, a lot of new brands entering this paid search world. What's the current state of this?

Josh: Yeah, great question. At top level, a lot of brands are now moving to more digital-first approach. With stores being closed, Google search is a pretty big channel, and a big opportunity for a lot of retailers. Across our clients, we've seen a big increase in investment, not only across paid media, but also across anything from a digital perspective, like a lot of investment into the site. It's just becoming a big focus for a lot of brands.

And just in terms of where the industry is, Google is pretty saturated, it's been around for a long time. There's a lot of advanced tactics, so you can essentially change the ad messaging based on the weather, and you might adjust how aggressive you are on shopping, based on your price competitors. There's a lot of sophistication, and a lot of technology that goes into search, so it's in a pretty good place in terms of how many brands are there, and it's very competitive. For the user, the consumer, there's a lot of choice. I guess it's probably quite a difficult time now to enter if you're a new brand. I guess that's a quick top line summary of Google.

Across social, it's just in massive growth. There's a third more advertisers this year, than there were in 2019, so a big increase. This year, Facebook are expected to drive two times more revenue than 2018, so really, really big increases. Again, across our clients, we're just seeing a lot of brands move to social.

As great as Google is, it essentially can only pick up the demand, so you're almost just waiting on consumers to search for your product, search your category, search your research terms. Whereas, social really gives you the opportunity to push your message out, and especially if you are a new brand, or you're like a D2C client, which we're slowly working a lot more with. A big opportunity is the social piece, where you can push out your brand values, you can push out your brand messaging. It's a lot more creative, you can push video out to consumers, and it's just much more effective than relaying on a consumer search and showing a shopping ad.

Paul: To add to that as well, we work with a lot of brands that have historically relied a lot on wholesale, they're now obviously pushing direct consumer. A lot of those companies have taken budget away from traditional marketing. A lot of our clients, we've found, have moved budget from maybe more traditional marketing, more to activating new audiences, and doing a bit more clever targeted activity via social.

Chase: I love that baseline, that's a fantastic place to start. Let's get tactical right away here. What does success look like? Are we talking conversion rate? Are we talking actual product being purchased? How do you work with your clients? How do you determine what a good outcome is?

Josh: That's a great question. I guess it's all essentially relative to what the brand are doing as well. If you've got a really good profit margin, you'll obviously accept a lower ROI than brands, and multi-brand retailers, working on pretty tight margins.

But just for listeners who are looking to benchmark where their performance is, I guess at a top level, CPMs, CPCs, and CTR metrics, which are going to be pretty consistent across the board. I guess if you're running Facebook activity, for example, if you're achieving a 1.5% CTR, or above, you're probably in a good position. You've got people who are engaging with your content, especially if that's reaching new customers, and you're achieving that level, that's quite good.

Likewise, CPCs in social are a pretty good benchmark. We work with quite a few US clients in looking at industry stats in general. I think if your CPCs are around 70 cents to $1, you're in a pretty good position.

As I mentioned, it's all going to be relative to the brand, but a top line, say you're measuring how effective Google is, you can always just benchmark the conversion rate against your direct channel. So people who are going direct to the website, they've obviously been on the brand's store before, they're aware of what they're looking to buy. If your Google search is inline with that, you're going to be in a pretty good place.

And likewise, with social, you can benchmark against how your start performs in general.

Paul: On top of that, Josh, in terms of measuring activity, the majority of the time we're probably focusing on, depending on the attribution model, net ROI, but increasingly maybe a bit more on brand awareness?

Josh: Yeah, that's a really interesting point. Most of our clients, we're focusing on net new customer acquisition, and a big focus for us over the last year or so has been looking at that attribution. Facebook have got a lot of tools now to measure the value which Facebook is driving. There's an incrementality test, which essentially runs a controller and exposes an experiment to serve ads to certain people and not to others, and it looks at the uplift, which is a really smart way to understand how well Facebook is performing for you.

There's brand recall studies, so essentially it'll serve your creative to users, followup within a week around if they saw an advert for your brand, and it looks at the recall, and that's a good way to benchmark if your creative is good as other brands. And we do a lot of focus on the attribution piece.

Another example of what you could do, you can upload new customer email data, and then map that back to campaigns. And then you can essentially say, "Of 100 new customers we got last week, 20% of them were a result of the Facebook ad," and then you know that your targeting is going to be in a pretty good solid position.

So everything Facebook has done in the last couple of years around measurement, is trying to prove its value, and help advertisers understand what Facebook is doing. A big focus for us is that net new customer number, and then attributing that back to media spend.

Paul: One last point I'd make, just purely because we're obviously on this podcast with you, Recharge, we have a few paid media clients that do subscriptions, customer lifetime value has become quite a big part, not just for those subscription customers, but particularly when working with subscription customers, estimating that customer lifetime value, and assessing what a good ROI looks like beyond just the first purchase.

Chase: I almost can't even dig into all of that stuff that you just described. There's so much going on there, but a ton of value. I really appreciate that.

One of the things that I do want to dig in on, is one of the stats you gave, and I'm going to put you guys on the spot here, and see what you think about this. There's been a bunch of news over the last handful of months, maybe even up to a year, that some of these massive companies, the Googles, the Amazons, the eBays, they're scaling back some of this paid advertising, because they're seeing that some of it just doesn't work.

The number that you mentioned was the 1.5%, I think it was click-through rate. I mean, 1.5, if you just toss out that general number, that seems low. How do you evaluate if 1.5 is a success? How do you take into account these companies like eBay, who are essentially like, "You know what? We're just going to skip out on that. 1.5 is not enough for us?" Where's the value there?

Josh: Yeah, great point. If you look back over summer, and post-COVID lockdowns, the response from some of these big players, especially from a search perspective, there was a big drop. Amazon, probably most famously, between, I think it was April and August almost, their impression share dropped. Essentially, they compete across so many different categories, so many different brands, but it did, as Amazon pulled back media spend, it lowers CPCs, it does increase CTRs of clients.

But one thing I would say is, although Amazon are such a big player in the search space, on Google Shopping, the way that it works, at any one time you're probably competing with 50 brands. So to have one brand leave that auction, there's still a lot of demand, a lot of competition fighting for that click. I wouldn't say we saw massive uplifts in the periods where Amazon pulled back. I think if you are selling electronics, or something where Amazon has got a good offering, you probably did see a good uplift. But for a lot of our brands, it was a slight reduction in CPCs, and not too much for change.

And then eBay followed a similar trend, but again, since September, at least to my search perspective in the US, have re-picked up where they were. And both brands, year on year for January, for example, were pretty much as aggressive as they were in 2020, at least from an impression share point of view. Obviously, we can't get the exact cost metrics, but in terms of how often, it looks pretty in line.

And then across social, a lot of it is just benchmarking, like if you can understand how well your ads drive engagement versus other brands. There's a lot of industry publications that share the 2021 industry CTRs, and I think if you can make sure you're exceeding that, maybe reading some of these brand uplift studies to make sure that you're driving additional value, that's a good way to measure what you're doing.

Chase: The industry benchmarks is an important point to make here. We've talked a little bit about it at Recharge, about how benchmarks are a ton of fun to look at and see what the rest of people are doing. Ultimately, as long as you are working on what you did yesterday, and trying to beat what you did yesterday as an internal team, that's what's most important. But benchmarks are significantly important, it's really great to look at these numbers and say, "Here's the industry as a whole, here's what these guys are doing," so good numbers to watch for, but as long as you're beating your yesterday, that's where the real value is.

Josh: Yes, that's a great point. For example, say for social, if you're targeting remarketing, so people who have visited your website before, and then brand new customers, if your engagement rate is not far off new customers to existing, you're probably going to be in a good place as well. And you can benchmark within your own activity and, as you mentioned, always looking to improve it month to month, is just going to put you in a good place.

Chase: Yep, spot on. Definitely agree there. Without giving away your secret sauce, what were some best practices you can offer for maybe a smaller brand who's just starting, or a larger brand who's looking to scale that paid social, paid media spend? I think you mentioned looking at Pinterest, looking at TikTok as new avenues, I'm sure you'll dig into that.

Josh: Yeah, great. At a top level, if we start with paid social, for example, essentially a big focus for us ... Imagining the marketing funnel, and starting from the bottom up, looking at your existing customers, and any kind of first party data, essentially you want to build up effective segments of users you've already got data on.

A big one for us is building a segment of your VIP customers. You definitely want to be re-targeting them via social, you want to be pushing out new collections, you want to be pushing out interesting content. As opposed to just purely product-led imagery, you also want to be telling them about the brand, you want to be reinforcing why they buy from you. Obviously, if you've got the data on people who purchase regularly, but don't subscribe, that's going to be a prime audience of someone you can push that message to.

Again, within the CRM piece, there's a lot you can do around upselling, so selling products based on what they've purchased before. Also within the CRM piece, a huge one for us is lapsed customers, so people who have purchased in the last four years, but just haven't been on the website in the last year, they no longer open emails. That's a great audience to reach out to from a social perspective.

And I'd say, your social remarketing strategy could almost follow what you do on email, in terms of for workflows, and the way that you cross-sell different products. I guess that's all going to be existing customers. And then the way the brands will grow is all via the net new customer growth, and brand new customer acquisition.

I guess there's quite a few key strategies we always recommend. A big one for us ... Facebook, obviously you have to look at targeting functionality. What you would do there is, you would use that VIP list that I just mentioned, you'd pass that into Facebook, and every three days Facebook builds an audience of consumers who share the most similar characteristics. Normally, those lists work pretty well, so we would build out a lookalike list of our VIPs, a lookalike list of recent customers, a lookalike list of anyone who has purchased in the last year, and then you can scale those lists by percentage. The smallest percentage would be 1% of the Facebook audience, and then you can scale that up to 10%. So a really effective approach for scaling paid social is essentially just scaling that percentage benchmark in lookalikes, and that's a really good tactic.

Once you've gone beyond the lookalike targeting, the most interesting piece of Facebook is the interest targeting, and what you would probably refer to as prospecting. And you imagine, Facebook is one of the most targeted platforms, or probably is the most targeted platform in the world, you can target someone if they are pregnant, what post code they live in, what school they went to, what job, where they work. It's highly, highly targeted, and for brands, that just gives you a great opportunity to reach your potential customers. And in terms of an actual tangible recommendation, targeting your competitor brands would be a pretty good place to start, in terms of that prospecting piece.

There's a Facebook tool called Audience Insights, and essentially you drop in your Facebook page, and Facebook show you all of the characteristics and behaviors of the people who like your page. It would show you where they work, what other pages they like, how old they are, what behaviors they've got. And then essentially you would build out different personas from there. Say Facebook recommends 100 interests, you would group 30 into one category, so one might be eco, they're all sustainable, they're all eco-warriors. One might be a group of fashionistas, people who are interested in luxury brands. And then you would serve them content relative to what they're interested in. You'd serve green messaging to the people who are interested in environmental factors. And then you would serve more of the product led messaging to the people interested in fashion. That's a pretty good place to start.

And then, obviously, there's lots of other places to get data to build prospecting lists. GA, now gives pretty good audience insights, depending on what CRM you're using. That will obviously pull out different interests.

Essentially, as a really quick summary, hopefully, of social, but starting from the bottom, you'd have a really good segmentation of remarketing. Lookalikes, you just want to keep expanding until essentially the efficiency drops off. And as you do scale lookalikes, you can still segment, so you might want to treat female lookalikes different to male in terms of what messaging you use, and what creative you push. And then on the prospecting front, just targeting competitors is a bit of a no-brainer in terms of new customer acquisition. And then also looking at the interests that Facebook recommend.

And then also who you consider your target audience to be. We always allocate test budget into reaching new audiences, and I think that's a big part of growing, is essentially trying to identify who new customers might be. A good example for us, we work with a fastly growing alcohol brand in the UK, and one of their best audiences is gym buffs, or gym enthusiasts, which seems quite backward, but whilst we're in lockdown, it's just been a huge audience. I think just testing is probably a big feature of that.

I feel like I've rambled on. Have you got anything to add, Paul?

Paul: Quite a long answer, wasn't it?

Josh: Yeah. And that's probably all of our secrets as well. Probably all of our secrets too.

Chase: No, that was awesome. Paul, do you want to add anything in there?
Paul: I don't know if there's still time, is there? No, I don't think so. I think, ultimately, it's just a case of getting the most for your budget, and focusing on the activity that gives you the highest ROI initially, and then scaling beyond that. I do think that prospecting piece, or activating new audiences, and generally combining brand awareness with that net new acquisition via social is where people are allocating a lot of budget now. Historically, it was a bit smoke and mirrors, the attribution was a bit wooly, no one really understood it. Whereas, I feel like it's matured a lot now from there, and that's the big one, isn't it?

Definitely. The platforms have come a long way in terms of what they can do, and how they can target, and all those kind of things. One thing that I want to double-down on, that I know you mentioned, but from a marketing standpoint, because that's where I live and breath every day, delivering content, and delivering things outside of just product sales, outside of, "Hey, buy our product," that goes such a long way, from a psychological perspective. So instead of consistently delivering buyer product, here's why you need it, here's why it's awesome. Delivering just value, that may not get you an ROI in terms of a sale, but that stuff peppered in with how to use your products, and what it's good for, and like you said the eco stuff, all that stuff goes a long way.

Josh: There's a Facebook tool, which shows you the adverts which different brands push out. And if you look at Patagonia's adverts, it's just pages and pages of all their CSR initiatives, and it's nothing about the product, it's just purely around different initiatives they're involved in, different things like sustainable resources they're using. And over lockdown, there are loads of examples of brands giving examples of how to do a quicker 5K, lots of people got into running. There's lots of articles around mindfulness while working from home, a lot of sports brands got into that. And I think that's key in terms of building relationship with your customers. And very different to just shop now. In all of this today, I think that content piece is massive.

Paul: And I think in some of the other topics we'll go onto discuss, engagements become massive for a lot of brands in re-engaging customers all the time, regardless of whether they're coming back to the site to buy. And I think Patagonia is probably one of the best examples of on-site CRM advertising, just having that constant focus on engagement, which I think is a big trend as well in the D2C brand space as well.

Chase: Yep, I think you're spot on. Another one over here in the US, that a lot of people have dug into, was social justice. There's a lot of things going on right now in the United States. The key, obviously, is you have to be authentic. We can do an entire other podcast episode about being authentic, and not filling your customers minds with a bunch of just crap that you're trying to throw out there to make some money. As long as you're authentic, I think it definitely comes across really well.

Paul, you mentioned one of the other things we're planning on digging into is CRM, so shifting gears a little bit on here, what does a healthy CRM integration look like for a merchant? How should that be managed day-to-day?

Paul: Yeah, absolutely. I think it differs depending on technology stack, and product, and everything else. But realistically, I think a good integration, from a bare minimum, should essentially just have a good constant flow of clean data, and the right data points. Tracking on-site activity is really important, so the fundamentals need to be there from an on-site behavioral perspective. All purchase data, returns data, all of that kind of stuff from the eCom platform.

And then beyond that, from other channel brands and retailers, I think POS data is really important as well, and as much data as you can pull out from those physical store customers.

And then from an on-site perspective, I think really most of our clients would be using customer banks as well to track even things like logging in, attributes of different products being interacted with, things like wishlists, all of that kind of stuff. I think that's usually a good opportunity.

And then beyond that, particularly if you're working with one of the SaaS platforms, pulling in data from third-party vendors can be really beneficial. For example, interaction with the customer service platform and team, search technology providers, personalization engines, all of that kind of stuff. Any data you can get on a customer really, and just pulling that in against a profile that then allows you to personalize, and segment better, and build flows more effectively.

Chase: Did you say gangster profile?

Paul: No, I don't think so. Customer profile, I think I said. What do you think I said, Josh? I don't know.

Josh: I think customer, hopefully.

Paul: Customer. Hopefully, customer, but it could be a gangster as well.

Chase: I have a British accent jumbled thing that goes on in my head, occasionally I hear random words.

Paul: That's how it works.

Chase: So just wanted to clarify there, customer profile. Cool. So we're tying this together now. We were talking about taking customer data you have, and using that to create audiences to prospect for new customers. This is just the piece before that, is gathering as much of that data as possible, and making sure it's organized so you can do those things.

Paul: Yeah. To be honest, it's actually crazy how much the two cross. If you've got a CRM platform, a lot of our clients, particularly Ometria in the UK is pretty big, Clavio, whoever else, but particularly some of the more CRM-led ones that give you a lot of data against customers from different channels, I'd say that Josh's team is in there doing as much, if not more, advanced segmentation than the actual CRM team half the time. And I think the two actually tie-in together, and are actually pretty connected now. It's ultimately the same piece, it's just two different mediums.

Chase: Cool. How do things like content, I know we touched on that earlier, campaign segmentation, you've talked a lot about, how do those things continue to work together between those two systems? Start with content, how do you manage what content you create, based on the segmentation and profiles you get from the CRM?

Paul: That's a good question. Ultimately, it's just about ... I think the first piece, or that initial piece, is about building the right segments to match your business, and building out based on interests, purchasing history, everything else. And ultimately, that will be constantly evolving.

From there, you build out your activities, so a combination of automated campaigns, and broadcast activity. And then it's just a case of trying to build content that appeals to the audiences. Maybe starting off with a wider audience, and then gradually improving that, and making it more tailored to those specific groups or segments.

I think that same principle applies to paid, right, Josh? In terms of social, and as people progress down the funnel and things like that.

Josh: Yes. Yeah, exactly. The only point I was going to add as well is, it's really important for the internal business team to also work with the paid agency, if that's the relationship in place. And in terms of the business itself, they'll have a pretty good understanding of what campaigns it's going to be launching, what messaging it wants to be pushing out to consumers. Whereas, it's the paid team's challenge to really give the insight in terms of what's working, provide recommendations around what content should be built. But ideally, it would be a mix of the two groups working together.

I think a lot of the time we see clients working in isolation, and they'll build the content they think works. Whereas, you definitely want input from the social team to relay what consumers are engaging with, what's getting the best interaction, what's getting the most comments, and then that can inform the future strategy. So I'd say, good communication between all teams is pretty key there.

Paul: Yeah. And I think testing is the other thing that's really important out of all of this activity, particularly paid advertising, where you're spending money on it. I think testing is the most important thing.

One thing that you said earlier, which I think is particularly important, and I think when brands do it really well, they really benefit from it, and it's not particularly easy, is that whole ... it is engagement, but building content into these automated campaigns and flows that isn't particularly transactional, it is more about helping people get more from the product, caring for the product. And I guess then you can build in activity that's geared towards upsells and cross-sells. But really just building campaigns that will engage with.

One example I've written here is Patch Plants in the UK, and I think they're in the US as well. I always tell our clients to go and buy a plant, because the whole flow, from order confirmation, to the order updates, to the post-delivery confirmation, which comes two seconds after it's actually at your doorstep, all the way through to the first six months of product care, is exceptional. And by the end of it, you can see it happening, they're promoting different plants, different fertilizers, all that stuff, but very, very subtly. And the content is amazing, it looks amazing, it's written really well, like a really consistent tone. I think they're a really good example of how some of that stuff should work.

Chase: Plants is a great example, because it's not a suitcase that just gets delivered to your front door and you know what to do with it and you're done. Plants are living, breathing, depending on where you put it, and humidity, and water content, all that stuff. That's exactly what I'm talking about, the kind of content you need to deliver post-purchase, or even pre-purchase of a different product. Some sort of content to deliver to keep you moving, rather than just, "Great, you bought this one, what's next? What else can you buy from me?"

Josh: Yeah.

Paul: Absolutely, yeah. To be honest, and just because we're on a podcast with you guys, from a subscription perspective, I think this is way more important. And when we have done this kind of stuff with brands that have had subscriptions, I think that engagement piece, particularly for people that haven't yet subscribed, is massive. And it's a case of getting people really bought into the brand whilst they're using the product, learning the benefits, and then trying to subtly encourage them to then subscribe.

Equally, the same principle if someone is subscribed. Making sure that they feel like they're benefiting from the subscription, and making sure they do benefit, and avoiding people ending it, etc.

Chase: I know cross-sells and upsells, you've touched on that a little bit. I know that you two specialize in that piece as well, that's somewhere in between this whole segmentation in paid media and all that, it kind of overlays there. Let's dig into some of that a little bit. How do some of the UX improvements you've made, how does that work with cross-sells and upsells? Once you get people into the funnel, how do you keep them moving, and keep them going?

Paul: Yeah, absolutely. I guess I'll start with, firstly, the PDP generally ... I'm going to start with the PDP. I think it's a hugely important page. I think it's really important that you position the product really well, selling the product really well, avoiding just having an image, some long description, technical detail, and an add to cart. I think those days are gone. I think a lot of the D2C brands, people like Made.com, Patch, various others ... [Alburt 00:32:12] is a really nice example of a rich experience that really sells the product, and helps people understand the product, and gets rid of all of the barriers that prevent you from purchasing. I think that, plus the various other new features that are out there now to encourage engagement, and AI has become a lot more accessible, etc, I think that's part of it. So just positioning of the product is really important.

And then I think once you get into the checkout, I think it's just important to make sure that whole process is seamless, you're localizing the checkout fields, which I think can be a barrier that a lot of people don't realize is there. The whole process is very simplified, I think that's a big benefit of Shopify, is that simplified checkout process, and shop can be a part of that.

And then I think in terms of that upsell and cross-sell piece, something that we have been doing a lot of recently is essentially, it's a big trend at the moment, so the cart draw, or off canvas push cart, whatever you call it, lots of people have different names for it, but essentially that cart draw, and having those really nicely positioned upsells within the cart. So if I'm buying coffee, and then upselling specific ingredients that people often put in their coffee.

We've got a brand at the minute we're working with, who sell alcohol. With specific products, we're upselling the mixers, or we're upselling glasses, we're upselling cocktail making equipment, and it's all rule based. Again, that's something that is proven to work really well. And a lot of the D2C brands do it particularly well. Natreve is a really nice example.

The technology that we've been using a lot recently for that cart and checkout upsell is Rebuy with Shopify, and they've got a really nice example. We weren't involved with it, but it's a really nice example, which is Kettle & Fire, and I think that's really nicely done as well.

And they've got another example actually that, again, just because we're on this podcast I'll talk about, that I want to copy for a load of our customers, is ... They have a one-click subscription upsell within the cart draw, and then also in the checkout, which works really nicely. The best example is on a site called Primal Kitchen, and it's just really seamless. And if there's configuration options, it's just a really nice, easy to use dropdown. It works really well on mobile. I think that can work really well.

Chase: We're big fans of Primal Kitchen and Kettle & Fire, both in my household, and just in Recharge in general. We're huge fans.

Why is the one-click so ... I mean, it goes without saying, I guess it's a stupid question. It goes back to the whole idea of being seamless. Why is it one-click that's such a huge deal? Just going from, "Great, we know you want this product, now just get it to subscription," or now, "Here, you can add this other product," or now, "We can upsell you onto this." Why is it so important to make it super seamless and quick?

Paul: I think it's just removing the friction, and just giving people the chance to make a quick decision alongside it, if you're positioning it nicely, and explaining the benefits. Primal Kitchen really pushes the saving that you can get from it. And just making it really easy. Essentially, that principle applies to most things in eCom, which is you should just make things really simple, especially for when there's already a certain level of interest or intent. It's just making it super simple for someone to add another item, or sign up to a subscription.

I think the same principle applies to the other upsells within that cart draw, because you don't want to have to push someone back to a PDP for them to them consider other aspects of the purchase, or go through that same process. You want them to be able to simply add an accompanying item to the basket.

Chase: I'll lob this last question right over to you, Josh. How does all of this circle back and tie into this whole idea of paid search? Taking the whole cycle from top to bottom, front to back, and creating a whole unified loop.

Josh: Yeah. In terms of a paid search perspective, as Paul mentioned, driving traffic to a PDP, and removing the journey through a homepage and category pages, if you can have a pretty good search build, and have it really granular in targeting product-specific terms, you can link people direct to the PDP. And that's going to be probably one of the quickest ways to, as Paul mentioned, remove the friction. And essentially have the buy button on that page, that's going to be quite effective.

In terms of the ad copy, really relating that to a user's query. All of that stems back to what Google is about, and it's essentially just serving relevant ads based on a user's query. And it's still best practice to have a really, really well built out account with tens of thousands of keywords, all related to what users are searching. And then just making sure they go through to the most relevant page, and where possible it would obviously be a PDP, sometimes it might be a PLP, for broader category terms it might be the homepage. From a search perspective, you just want to make sure that search account is really built out, quite granular, very segmented, all relevant.

And then from a shopping perspective, obviously all traffic from shopping goes direct to PDP. There's a lot of factors there, but you want to make sure you've got the inventory available in terms of what you're pushing there, making sure you're appearing on the most specific keywords. Form a search perspective, it's just more around the general best practice. And if that's the case, and you're taking people to the right places, then it should convert quite effectively.

Paul: I think the other thing that people doing paid need to think about as well, is that landing page piece. It's really easy to just send people to the most related, or the closest landing page, but really, particularly if you're spending a lot of money, or you're allocating a lot of money to different channels, I think it's really important to really think about the landing page for the different levels of the funnel, and the different types of users.

If you don't have that level of control over content ... Another thing that we've been doing a bit of recently is having almost like channel or segment-specific messaging, like via personalization solutions. For some of our clients, via Google Shopping, we'll promote the concept of price match, for example. Or it could be that if people have been on the site a few times before, you add different messaging to push them to then convert by that message. But just anything you can do to make that landing page more relevant and, again, more seamless and easy for people to go on to buy, the more you're going to get from your spend.

Chase: That's awesome. Rarely do we get to come full circle on these episodes, where we can start with paid search, and move to CRM health, and move to UX activity, and then tie it all the way back into the whole loop.

Lighting round. Last couple of questions for you guys. What advice would you give to a subscription brand who's just starting, who's trying to get off the ground?

Paul: I can start this one. I've talked about it all the way along, but I think that it's important to get your brand ... I feel like I've gradually gotten more wooly with some of this stuff as I've been working more with some of these newer brands, but I think really telling the brand story is really important.

I was having a conversation with one of our new clients recently, it's a company called Caleno. They've got a really cool product, it's non-alcoholic spirits essentially. You look at the site, and it's really nicely positioned, they're branding is really nice, but they don't really tell a lot of the story, and how the product came about, how the flavors came about. I think that's really important, again, particularly if you're paying for traffic, which you probably need to as a new customer, or to grow.

I think that, and engaging content, and creating a really solid brand experience is really important.

Josh: I think a pretty simple technical tactic as well, in terms of what CRM data is available, you want to be pushing out messages to people when they're likely to be re-buying. If you know an average product lifecycle is 30 days, and someone purchased 25 days ago, that's when you want to be starting to re-target them via social.

As Paul mentioned, for a subscription, you're probably going to be in a market where there's a lot of players, and a lot of competition, where it is more the branding piece what sells it for you. And using your CRM data to make sure you're outreaching all of your customers with good content, and good messaging, and it will be more around the brand values, the brand philosophy, and that's the stuff you want to be pushing to customers.

Chase: How about the other end of the spectrum? What advice do you give for brands who are already big, just looking to continue scaling, and take the next step past whatever plateau they're facing?

Josh: From a paid perspective, there's a lot you can do. Just touching on what I mentioned earlier with the lookalike stacking in terms of growing audiences, that's a pretty good quick way to scale. Across Google Shopping you want to be optimizing your product feed, so essentially adding in terms into your shopping feed, which users are searching for. So it might be that you add more subscription-based terms into your feed, so that you're more likely to rank the most queries. A lot of our clients that do subscription, as Paul mentioned, are personalizing from, if the traffic comes from paid, you might default for subscription products when they're on the PDP, promoting things like 10% cheaper, or something like that. There's a lot of tactics there.

In terms of scaling, a lot of it is just, the biggest thing, that we've slowly touched on, is testing. Across social, you want to have a really strong testing plan in place. You really want to understand, does UGC outperform product imagery, or campaign imagery, or video about the brand? They're the questions you want to be answering pretty quickly. The more that you spend, the quicker you learn, and essentially that does help you scale, just by identifying areas that work. Lots of test audiences, as I mentioned. And once you refine from there, you're in a good position to grow.

That's probably the quickest paid answer. I'm not sure if Paul has got anything on the actual UX point.

Paul: No. I think, I guess it's the same thing really, isn't it? It's continuing to test, trying obviously to increase commercial are the two big on-site metrics that you probably pay attention to the most. And then that whole same engagement piece, as you grow, it's really important to make your site more engaging, particularly now that people are spending less time in physical retail stores, that whole brand experience piece ...

Historically, pre-pandemic, it was the D2C brands that were really doing this, and they had almost this system of building a really engaging experience that you're throwing paid traffic at. And now, I feel a lot of the traditional brands are starting to apply some of those principles. We have a lot of older premium brands that we work with, and historically they've been very careful with some of this stuff, whereas now, they know they need to be replicating some of those deep sea brands that are really growing. There's almost an expectation that brands should be applying some of this stuff now.

Chase: Yeah, absolutely. Final question for you both, what do you subscribe to? What physical products do you guys get monthly, quarterly, whatever it is?

Paul: I'll start, because I'm not sure Josh subscribes to anything. I subscribe to cat food for my cat. I subscribe to hair product. And then I also subscribe to the This Works Sleep Spray, which came as a result of me doing lots of testing when they launched recently on Shopify with Recharge, and I'm still a subscriber, and I still get it every month, and it lasts about three months, I think, the bottle, so I've got a pretty big backlog of it.

Josh: I'm yet to subscribe to anything. Now, we're in lockdown, I'm pretty close to subscribing to coffee. I ordered some recently, which Paul recommended, and it's not turned up after like two months, so I won't be subscribing to them. But I think probably coffee. I think in future it's obviously becoming more and more popular, and it does make a lot of sense, so I think over time I'll be subscribing to much more.

Chase: Coffee is a must. Can't go days without that, you need that every single morning waking up.

Josh: Yeah, exactly.

Chase: Paul and Josh, thank you guys so much for joining, really appreciate having you here.

Josh: Thank you. It's been fun.

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