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Advanced List Building Tactics for E-Commerce Marketers

We talk with a fellow podcaster and e-commerce guru Mike Jackness with the Ecom Crew for some more advanced-level list building tactics to share with the Ecwid community.


Jesse: Hey guys, welcome back! This is Jesse and Rich here, with the Ecwid E-commerce Show. Rich, how is it going today?

Richard: It’s going great, I’m excited.

Jesse: Yeah definitely excited here, we’re starting to see a lot of the good reviews coming and comments so thank you for subscribing. We really appreciate the comments so we can steer where we’re going with future podcasts and, of course, really appreciate the reviews, particularly of the five-star variety. Shameless, shameless plug: please review, and tell your friends, so that we can keep doing this podcast.

Mike: Unlike on Amazon, you can ask for a five-star review.

Jesse: Absolutely! We can say whatever we want on with this podcast. Awesome! Also, the other request we have for you if I can put another shameless plug is on the bottom of the page\podcast there’s a button where you can tell us about your store. So please, it’s not a quiz, but just want to hear your story about why you would be a good podcast guest, your story etc. Please do that, we want to have more merchants on.

Richard: Yeah, it always good to hear stories from the merchants here, what their concerns are, or what their successes are, their story, their journey, their origin what made them get started. We always love that and, you know, what got them to be successful.

Jesse: And we want to help you guys be more successful so we can give you advice during that podcast. Speaking of successful podcasts, Rich we got a pretty big one on today.

Richard: Yeah that’s the reason for my excitement not only are we podcasters but we brought on a fellow podcaster Mike Jackness, of EcomCrew, and Mike, welcome!

Mike: Thanks guys, it’s good to be here!

Richard: Glad you’re able to make it! You actually here in San Diego located right up the road from us here, so thanks for making the trip down. So that we know more about you (we listen to the show all the time) why don’t you give us a little bit of origin story of how you got started on the internet, and what got you in e-commerce specifically?

Mike: Oh man. I’ve been doing this for a while so this could take a few minutes (laughing.) Start on the internet as a business person was affiliate marketing back in 2004 which really dates me, and did that for quite a while. And I was we’re talking about this before, I kinda semi-retired for a little while, started doing some keyword domain investing, which eventually brought me in the e-commerce world with a We bought in 2012 I believe, it was a start of developing in 2013, sold seven figures fitness equipment, the first two years out the gates, and then sold it. And here we are today with a bunch of other private label products. Now we don’t really resell the people’s products much anymore, it’s mostly or owns things, so we control more of the pipeline in our destiny.

Richard: And the margin — the most important part…

Mike: The margin is definitely better. You know, at first, it seems so… like the shining lore, right? But a lot of times the shiny object isn’t as shiny as it might be because, yeah, there is more cash flow demands now, and more R&D development, there’s another costs, that you realize why sometimes the Millman has to make some money too.

Jesse: So you’re doing this to make money then, that’s a good thing (laughing.)

Mike: Well, in theory, I look at our P&L sometimes and I wonder… it is definitely a cash flow intensive business, so that the P&L was always looking good but there’s less cash in the bank, it seems like it because as we continue to grow, it needs more cash. So you constantly under that, in this environment vs. affiliate marketing where I found to be like “the magic money that fell of the sky” syndrome which doesn’t have much in this.

Jesse: Very true.

Richard: I wish it were so easy.

Jesse: So, tell us a bit more about the EcomCrew and your podcast.

Mike: Yeah, so we started about 3 years ago, as I said, I was an affiliate marketer for a long time. I have known for a long time, like, where there’s traffic, there’s money. So, you know, I did not really think of the profitability angle of that when we first started, I just thought that what I was doing was cool. And I realized that we were doing stuff that other people weren’t doing. Really early on the process, I joined a form called “E-commerce Fuel” which is my first foray into talking to other e-commerce entrepreneurs, and at the time, I felt like I was the guy that was lost and like just didn’t know what I was doing and I was really behind the curve. And then I realized was that we were actually way ahead of the curve and, because I have a tech background and I already knew how to do affiliate marketing, there’s a lot of skills you build that you take for granted from day to day. And as I started getting into the form and I got a chance to speak out a couple of events I was like you know, what I’m doing a lot of stuff that can be helpful for other people, I enjoyed helping other people, what goes around comes around, and I start the podcast and here we are about three years later, we’re at episode 157, as recording this one and it’s been a blast.

Jesse: Awesome. So you got a little bit of a head start on us. So for that reason, that’s why we brought you on: we want to cherry-pick. We want the best nuggets of information here that you can share with the Ecwid E-commerce Crew, not to steal your name (laughing.)

Mike: No problem. It’s not trademarked.

Jesse: Well, “Ecwid E-commerce Crew”, might be a ring to that. We could check the trademarks, URLs available (laughing); but so, particularly taking a look at helping beginning merchants that maybe they have their store going, they’ve maybe had a few sales and kind of like: “Man I’m stuck. What next?” What’s a good you know 101 advice you’d have for people getting started?

Mike: Yeah, OK, so for that particular question… You’ll hear people like gurus talking on podcasts constantly and there are all these ideas floating around. Well, people often don’t think about when they’re like: “I need to be doing this, and I need to do this, and do this,” that’s what everyone always is saying. They don’t realize that people like us, that we’re in a 7-figure e-commerce company, we have 19 employees. We’re not a solopreneur.

My first piece of advice would be to pick one thing, maybe two things and go with that and not worry about trying to do everything but do one or two things and do it really well rather than try to do all these buzzword things, because again, there’s 19 of us at our company doing all the things that I talk about and share with people. And if you’re just getting started — it’s just you. Or maybe you hired one VA and there’s only so much you can get done.

Jesse: Sure, sure-sure. So for new merchants, a lot of them might not have a big customer base. They don’t have an email program they’re using, what’s a way for them to start building their tribe, so to speak?

Mike: Yeah, I think list building is definitely a really important component of e-commerce. It’s a lot more important now than ever because you’ve got platforms like Amazon that control that experience a lot more. They don’t share the user with you, you can’t communicate with them, and you want to be able to send traffic to wherever you want on that particular day, whether it’s your own store or another channel. Having that list is really important.

So we use Clavijo for our email platform. But if you’re just getting started, I would recommend using something like MailChimp or something that’s cheaper. Clavijo has a lot of functionality that’s really good for more advanced email marketing. At some point, you’re going to want to do that. But when you’re just getting started, you’re gonna want to probably do it on the cheap.

The things that we’ve been doing to get people on our email list have been incredibly effective. It’s typically what I call like “super low friction, no-brainer offers”, we can talk about what that means here and a little bit, but what’s really happened over the last I guess let’s say 10 years, is people’s attention span has shrunk tremendously, and to the point, where like the average session you get on something like Facebook — this data has just been published — is like four minutes, so you have a very short amount of time to capture someone’s attention.

So trying to get them to buy something from you, you know, they go from “I’ve never heard from you” to “Oh, that’s something I might want to buy”, to “Do I trust the store? Are they actually going to show me the thing or are they going to steal my credit card information?” All these different things that go through their head and trying to complete all that within four minutes is very difficult to do. So if you come at them with a “no-brainer low-friction offer” to start with, that has been the thing that’s really revolutionized our business when we can kind of break that down, if you want.

Jesse: So, you’re definitely trying to get their email — let’s break it down — you need that email. So then you can start to send them emails from whatever system you have, you can start to retarget. What’s a good tip you have for newbies to get those first sets of emails?

Mike: So, we’ll talk more about this as we as we get into it. Email is actually one component of what I call the Trifecta for us so we’re actually like when I wake up in the morning it’s not just about email anymore. It’s getting the email address, getting them on our Facebook Messenger list, and getting them pixeled, so I can then market to them in one of or all three of those ways moving forward.

But we’ll talk about the email component here first real quick. And so the “the no-brainer like low-friction offers” typically will be a contest or a giveaway let’s say. So everyone loves a chance to win something for free. So we’ll do something like, We’ll give away one widget a day everyday for the month of X, and then we’ll pick a winner every day, and so that the low-friction offer is: just give me your email address and you now have an entry into this offer, and if you do other things down the road, like following us on Facebook, Instagram or, YouTube or whatever, you can earn more entries so that helps with the virility component of that contest and give away.

They also can refer their friends and things like that. So we want to let them do some of the work for us. But once we have their email, we what I call like “epic engagement.” It doesn’t just stop. We don’t just take their email address and then send him an email for 10 percent off on our store. That doesn’t really work, it’s got to be at least the 80/20 rule of 80 percent value, 20 percent salesy stuff. So most of the communication we send will be tips and tricks the types of products that relate to our brand.

So one of the brands we have is in the coloring space geared towards adults, for instance. Don’t ask how — that’s another whole story. But you know there might be tips and tricks on how to blend and shape with markers, or how to sharpen your colored pencils so they don’t break easily. And we’ll send a lot of this type of content to them and work on engaging and training them to open our emails rather than just trying to shown a sale down their throats and trying to get that sale in the short term, because the great thing about completing that effect I talked about and having their email, having them on Facebook Messenger, by having them pixeled is you now have a virtually unlimited amount of time to eventually get that sale. There’s not that pressure of “OK, I got their attention for this four minutes I got to get them to buy something.” I can communicate with them over a long period of time.

Richard: Sure. So do you figure with the contests and giveaways that is actually the fastest way for you to collect the email in the first place because a lot of the Ecwid community, some of these people are just getting started. They don’t have a list at all. One of the reasons why it’s great we’re covering list building. So you have this contest or giveaway I’m assuming you’re using some form of additional piece of software, because some additional entries or you share, you get more entries, you comment in different places, you get more entries, so we’ll talk about that in a minute of what potential is a good contest plugin or whatever it is you might use. And then, secondarily though, where are they putting these mostly in the social space like, on Facebook, on Instagram, where they are sharing? Feel free to whichever order you want to go.

Mike: So the way that we set that up, it’s a little bit different for each of our brands depending on where we are in a lifecycle, but let me just talk in generalities.

First of all, there’s a ton of platforms. I think whatever one you pick, they all kind of do the same basic thing. The ones that we use are and UpViral. There’s another one that’s really popular called a Viral Sweep or Viral Launch, I think Viral Sweep. But the basic idea is that that program will help you with the virility partly because we’re talking about it. So the way that we do it is we run a Facebook ad to… A Facebook Messenger ad, first of all, let’s get that other component real quick. Let’s go through the process one through whatever it is.

So the first up is a Facebook ad that drives people to a Facebook Messenger popup, so it’ll say “Send message” and the ad will basically say “We’re giving away one widget every day for the month of October” or whatever month it might be. And you can do is click “Send a message” to get entered so they click the message, it pops up and says “Thank you very much for your interest in our contest. If you want to enter, click here. If you change your mind, say ‘Never mind’. But clicking, they say ‘I’m interested in that point.’ Boom! They are on my Facebook Messenger list. That’s quick because they’ve interacted with me. I give them the URL of where to go to sign up, when they click the URL to sign up for the contest, that landing page has the Facebook pixel on it, so I’ve now got them pixeled, on that landing page. It has a spot for them to put in their email address, and when they do that I now have their email address so now I’ve completed the Trifecta.

Now when they’ve given me their email address, the thank you page basically will say: ‘Hey, thank you very much for entering the contest, you’ve been entered, you have one entry.’ And then, at that point is that communication happens through that widget, through all these platforms do the same thing, where you know ‘Click here to share this on Facebook’, so they’ll be sharing it on their own Facebook feed at that point, or ‘Click here to tweet this or and earn additional entries’ . 

There’s usually also a way for them to share it with their friends by copying a link and then giving it to them that way. And then one of the things that we do after that is follow up with them via email and remind them that they can earn additional entries, because we really want to take advantage of them, wanting to be an ambassador for us to be able to earn more entries. The last thing I’ll say real quick is that we pick a winner every day, we find that those month-long giveaways in this format do best, and picking a winner every day and notifying them every day, and announcing it on social media helps the whole thing just have that less scammy feel to it, because the typical mindset of people is like ‘they’re not going to really give it away or this is BS.’ So by doing that and showing that, there are real winners that really helps as the contest progresses throughout the month and we’ll usually see a hockey stick kind of growth curve each month on the on the contest, because you have all these things working for you.

Jesse: I have a couple questions, Mike. One, I want to start back at the beginning with Facebook ads. But second, I’m excited about you mentioned announcing a winner. So do you announce their names? Can you show a picture of them all, like, how do you seem like a great idea, that makes you look legit? How do you notice them?

Mike: So, we have an email template, this one I think that one of our RBAs does in the Philippines, we have a staff of 13 people over there now. And so, they’re just sending out a template. So, first of all the software allows you to let it pick you a winner. So, it is legitimately random, you just pick one winner. It gives you their email address, so we reach out to them, because they give your email address right, so you have their email.

You say: ‘Congratulations, you’ve won!’ And it says: ‘You basically need to respond within three days and let us know, otherwise, we’re going to pick another winner, because you need to need their address right.’ We need to ship ownership of the product. Yes, we need their address, but what we do is a part of that communication once they do respond, we asked them for their permission to use their name on social media. We’ll use their first name, last initial and the city they’re from all over disclose. But we still even asked their permission to be able to do that, because we think it’s the right thing to do.

Jesse: Sure.

Mike: And then, once a week, we make a little post with all the winners” names, like little infographic kind of thing. And we make it a square image that has the winners and that we can use it both on Facebook and on Instagram, because it’s a square milepost and that’s how we handle that. And the only thing that will do once we ship the product to them, we also then follow up and ask them, if they’ll send us a picture of them with it, which is really powerful, but, unfortunately, we only get, like, maybe, one or two of those a month. But even that helps, because now you started to build a library of user-generated content, that you can use for future contests on your landing page and, say, “Check out all the previous months winners and now you got, let’s say, 12 or 24 those images on that page, and it looks so legitimate at that point, because you can put fake testimonials together really easily and that’s something that I think a lot of people have become aware of. But when you do it at that scale and it’s, you know, obviously being done by iPhone’s and it’s like not everyone’s holding it in the same way, because you’re getting all this done in a user-generated way, in the fact, that it is real it helps it look so much more legitimate. So what ends up happening with all this marketing kind of stuff, is that the first time you do any of this, the first month, the first time, whatever, it is always the hardest and the least performing, like, the next time you do it, you’ve got more traction, you have more, you can show past results to future people and you can continue to build on this. And what we’ve found is now that we’ve been doing it for a couple of years, it’s, like, almost easy for us at this point. You know, it’s overwhelming to start with.

Jesse: So people believe you when you do these giveaways, they’ve seen the pictures. They’ve seen you do this before. So, starting back at the beginning, now for people that have not a lot of people, that are looking to build this, maybe, have not launched Facebook ads, you know. And I know, for people that are regulars at doing Facebook ads it’s pretty easy to, just you know, to choose a segment, you know etc, etc. For somebody, that hasn’t lost a Facebook ad, what would be your advice on it, it could be kind of daunting for somebody that has not done this before? How would you tell them to go about, you know, choosing their niche and targeting for their Facebook?

Mike: So, like, you know, one year or more of knowledge boiled down to, let’s say, three minutes, trying to get you and overview. There are a few things I think that are really important. The first thing is that not every niche is going to work on Facebook. Let me give you some examples. I’ve mentioned already, we sold coloring books geared towards adults. Well, there is an interest in Facebook for coloring books for adults. Believe it or not, I would never think that, one of the things that we sell, we have four brands, the other brand is baby products. There’s an interest on Facebook of expecting mothers or parents with kids that are 0 to 2, very easy target.

Jesse: I feel like that’s about 25 percent of Facebook is baby pictures and expecting mothers.

Mike: I think that’s right. And I’m one of our other brands isn’t the tactical space, so very easy to target people who like hunting, and fishing, and camping, prepping, survivalism these are all interest groups on Facebook. What doesn’t work is one of our other brands which we sell hot and cold gel packs. You throw them in a microwave, they get high from a freezer they get cold. You can’t target somebody on Facebook that has pain, like, that type of targeting doesn’t work, so it kind of illustrates that there’s something that is going to work, because Facebook is an interruption-based marketing platform. So these are people that are going to see your ads. they are not looking for you at that exact moment, so you want to be able to target people that at a minimum have an interest, that you know definitively have an interest in these products. So, the first thing I would do is evaluate that — do you think that there’s an interest group on Facebook that relates directly to your product? There’s a very high likelihood that you’re going to go down the wrong road, but you can still give it a try.

There are some things, I’ll give you another example, I’m really connecting e-commerce. A friend of mine sells a keychain that folds up, so all the keys are stacked, like really neatly together and swivel out. Well, everybody has keys and that’s an annoyance for everyone. So that kind of product is one of the few things, that they kind of bucks, that trend, because like the majority of Americans, let’s say, you’re targeting the United States, have that problem. But not everyone has pain. So it’s hard to target that.

Jesse: So that’s the first can target people that have keys in their pocket, because now you’re targeting everybody.

Mike: But everyone has the keys in the pocket at the same time. So, it’s like, you know, you can just at that point, you can just open up, like, I just want to target people in the United States and it works like magic, because that’s a problem that.. Such a high percentage of people that are on Facebook have that it just works without any real interest group. But that’s a very small segment of people, that are listening to us, that are in e-commerce, have a product, that they’re lucky enough that that’s their market.

Jesse: Yeah I’m jealous. I’d like to have a product that everybody could potentially purchase. So that’s, yeah, hard for targeting. But I see the market potential.

Mike: There’s a reason why he is a nine-figure seller. OK. So that’s component number one. Component number two is the messaging. So, again, you want to make it sound really compelling for them to want to sign up for this contest. So you want the contest to be of enough value to be interesting to them. Most of the products that we sell are like the 30 to 50 dollar range. We have some things that are lower some things that are higher, but for the most part, the third is the dollars. So, for us, giving away one of these widgets every day is worth it for most people to want to interact with this contest. if you have a five-dollar product, probably not going to be so interesting, if you have a $2000 product, you probably can’t afford to give away one every day. So, you’re going to have, to figure out the component of your giveaway based on that.

But, what I would advise is try to make it the frequency of the giveaway throughout the month to be as frequent as possible, hopefully every day if you can, and then make it so the value of what you’re giving away every day is interesting enough to the person that’s looking at this ad. So that’s number two component.

The next component is to try to use a video ad. Video ads outperform still images at least two to one if not three to one. Unfortunately, they’re harder to create there. But what we use, is we use a software almost exclusively now for these types of ads. One of the things that’s become difficult for us to do as we’ve been scaling towards eight figures is repeating things and scaling interest and being able to do things efficiently. So, we use a software called Animoto. It’s affiliated with them in any way, I think it’s like 30 dollars a month or something relatively cheap. And what you can do is stitch together still images and turn them into a video. So, you just don’t even know how to have any production video, production experience at all. You upload 30 still photos and put them in the order that makes sense and it makes really pretty transitions, and you can also add text to each slide, if you want, or pick slides one text on you can also even upload over a voiceover track, if you want it as well which is something, that we use a thing called Voice Bunny, a third-party platform. And now, for a very low cost, we have a fairly high production value video, that will beat the pants off of any still image.

Jesse: And so even with that type of video then we’ll call it a bit of a hack of a live video. Right. You’re still beating still images two to one?

Mike: At least two to one.

Jesse: Wow. We’re not really talking that much money — thirty bucks and maybe a couple of hours of time?

Mike: Yeah, We budget we’ve been kind of doing this now. It’s actually one of the things that we really try to nail down for us in the third and forth quarter of this year, we’ve been budgeting one day of our time to produce one of these. That’s going to be one of our staff, because we have everything we can to get everybody’s stuff planned out month by month. And so we’re budgeting a full day for someone to be able to write the scripts. We don’t just upload, we’ve gotten complicated with. So that’s public interest and a half a day of it. If you’re just trying to meet a minimum bar. But we’re also uploading some stock photo, stuff that will or stock videos stuff you will get off the internet, like, off of a stock photo or one of these types of companies, that you can download clips, and then we’ll take our own video clips and, like with Gimbal, and film the product and stitch all that together with Animoto, so we don’t have to be able to produce long clips of really high production value stuff, we can do it in three to four second increments with, like, anybody can do with a Gimbel and an iPhone. And, so, we’ll pan over, we’ll throw the product on the table and just pan around it, and then take that clip and add that in the Animoto with some still images, and then add in the voiceover and we can produce something that would probably be worth five thousand dollars to have a video production company to do. And we were producing it for a couple hundred bucks. And if you wanted to just produce a lower quality video just to kind of get started, I think you could do it in a half a day with under 100 dollars.

Jesse: Ok. Wow. Yeah, so, that’s a good tip for everybody out there that videos are going to outperform stills probably two to one and it doesn’t have to be that hard. You don’t have to have a fancy camera, and lighting, and all that. Certainly, it helps, but Animoto will cool down the show notes for everybody out there.

Richard: So you are saying you do the Facebook ad and we’ll just be able to cover everything on here. We won’t go too deep of a dive on that right now but, so. You want to specifically drive them to message you or message them for more information, whatever that is. Is there a quick and easy way for them to do that? Is that just setting inside Facebook too?

Mike: All this stuff adds a level of complexity and, maybe, if you’re already overwhelmed, you can skip this part and just have it go directly to the landing page to start with to get. What’s really good to do is to get a minimal viable type product up there and build some confidence. If you see that this is working really well for you-you’re going to want to put more time in the way and make it even better. But what we do with the Facebook Messenger thing is we use something, called ManyСhat. So, ManyСhat allows you to build out this flow and you use, that they have different growth goals as a part of their platform to be able to do Facebook Messenger and you have a, like, a landing page growth tool and commenting growth tool. The one that we use is called The Jason Growth tool, so you build out the Facebook Messenger sequence and this is all visual and actually very easy to do, even if you’re just a beginner. Very easy to do.

Jesse: That Jason was just to scare people, that it’s not really that hard.

Mike: It’s not that hard. I promise, this is actually probably one of the easier things. And so you’ll build out the growth tool visually, so it’s very easy to see exactly what messages people are going to get. Again all visual. And then the hard part is actually easier, because they make it easy for you: when you’re done with that you hit the set up tab and it gives you all of the code, you just copy the clipboard and then you paste that code into Facebook, when you’re building the ad. There’s a look a little spot there to add your own Jason. So it takes all the programming part of it out and all the high tech part of that out and makes it relatively simple. And, so, it isn’t all that complicated in the end. So, basically, you build out your messenger flow, and the messenger flow is again, when they click ‘Send message’, I want to pop up and ask them: ‘Are you, sure, basically that you want to enter this giveaway?’ and it for me it’s an excuse to get them to say ‘yes’, because as soon as they interact with that messenger, but they get added to my list automatically. So, now they’re going, like my Facebook Messenger subscriber count the same as an email subscriber count will increase by 1 when they click that button, and we have given them an option, you know, that says: ‘Yes, I’m interested, I want to enter the giveaway’ or ‘I’ve just simply changed my mind.’ When they get to that point and if they hit I change my mind. We just unsubscribe them. That happens, like, 1 percent of the time very few people click that. Again it’s just an excuse to get them to interact with you. Now they’re on your messenger list and you can interact with them in much the same way, although there are some restrictions that you have with email. So now you have an opportunity to be able to send them a Facebook message which gets, like, 90% open rates. It’s triple or quadruple that of email.

Richard: The early days of e-mails.

Mike: Like the early days of email and the thing is that this isn’t going away. The thing that really helped us have this ‘aha’ moment, I think is the fact that we spent two months a year in China or in Asia, Southeast Asia and Hong Kong, China, Taiwan area and they all use WeChat for everything, like, not just a message each other, like in the old AOL like A.I.M. days. But it’s like the equivalent of Apple Pay over there. They’re paying everybody with Apple Pay or with pay WeChat Pay, they pay the taxi driver, they pay their friends, they pay them for their food with WeChat. They are there Uber over there, it’s called DD. And it’s just becoming, it’s already ubiquitous. But, like the functionality of it over there is becoming more and more sophisticated, and you can really take a look into the future by spending some time over there, because what’s happening here is that, you know, we’re three to five years behind, really. But Facebook Messenger is already installed like the mass of Americans” phones, so it’s not going to get supplanted with something else, it’s too late. They’ve already come. They’ve already won that.

Jesse: And already we’re thought is that Facebook’s not going to say, you know, “I’m not sure about this Messenger and chat thing.” They’re sticking with this.

Mike: This is why they already made it a separate app. When we all had to go through installing another app on our phone, it was really frustrating. They’re doubling down. They saw what was happening in Asia. They realized they needed a separate app to be able to handle the credit card information and other integrations with an API, to be able to work with things, like, Uber and Lyft. You know, again, over there it’s called DD, but you’re gonna be, like, opening up Facebook Messenger to do almost everything, you know, in three to five years from now and being having someone as a subscriber on your Messenger list is going to be the equivalent of having their email address, or better, in the future and it’s already, it’s already amazing. It’s really hard to miss a Facebook message that pops up on your home screen. It makes a noise, I mean, it’s really hard to miss it. And, so, even right now the effectiveness of it is incredible and, I think it’s just going to get more and more ubiquitous and effective, but it’s going to get more and more expensive, like just like anything else just like three to five years ago Facebook ads, like this Holy Grail because it was new and it was it was really cheap. Google AdWords — there was a time when I was paying pennies per click for online poker affiliate marketing ads, which now would be, like, 20 or 30 dollars a click. You know, it’s crazy, like, how things change. We’re at that stage now with messenger, which is why I’ve been talking so much about, I think it’s important to be one of the early adopters for these types of technologies, because it’s never going to be cheaper.

Jesse: So you’re seeing a bit of the gold rush, if you will in Messenger really, and getting people on your messenger list?

Mike: Yeah, yeah.

Richard: What are some of the rules you were describing there? There are some parameters that Facebook sets that there are?

Mike: Yeah. And it’s going to give a high-level, you can, if you’re going to get into this, I advise you, actually, ManyChat has this amazing free course that Molly Pittman put together from Digital Marketer, that I’ve, actually, had some of my employees go through that really gets into this in detail, so, if you’re going to do what I would recommend, and it’s free by the way. But there are three different types of ways to message people within many chats within Facebook Messenger. The first one is called a Broadcast. So, Broadcast the same thing is like a campaign, would be unlike Clavijo, where Mailchimp, we are gonna like email your whole list. You can only do that if it’s not promotional. So, if it’s, like, we have a 10 percent off sale today, that is not permissible with the broadcast, you aren’t allowed to just send a straight-up promotional message with the Broadcast.

But what you can do, like, one of the things that we did for our recent coloring the launch with one of the brands, we launch from gel pens was one of our new products, so you can do as a broadcast to say: “Hey, I’m just curious, do you like coloring with gel pens?” Asking them a question and you can have a button there Yes or No. And if they clicked yes, then we say: “Oh well, by the way, we just released a new set of gel pens today. It’s available to buy here on Amazon.” This is one of the ways that we get a new number one bestseller everything that we launch as we have 50,000+ people already on our messenger list and then clicked Yes. They’re interested in that type of product and then we show them the product, and that sequence even though it’s a little subtle difference. It’s allowed. And if they say No, we just say: “Thank you very much.” You know you don’t like pencils or pens. No big deal.

Richard: You don’t say: “It’s because you’ve never tried these…” (laughing)

Mike: No, we don’t do that. Although, that would be pretty funny. You must sell cars at some point. But don’t we all. Yeah, that’s how we handle that. So, that’s the Broadcast one and then the other one you can do that, is promotional, is you’re allowed to send the Broadcast out to people that have interacted with you within the last 24 hours.

So, as someone, now — that’s what’s really cool about sending out that type of question, even if they do say “no”, it hits the reset button, but they have interacted with you again and you can then send them other messages, anything you want. If they just interacted with you within 24 hours, you can send them anything you want in that time frame. And then, the last one that you can do is a Promotional Broadcast. You get a one, get out of jail-free card, kind of thing. So, anybody that signs up to your Messenger list one time over the lifetime of them not interacting with you for a while, you can send them a promotional message and we typically save this for something, like, Black Friday. So, like a really big sale we’ll broadcast out to our entire list. Now what happens is it, like, resets them back to, like, “OK.” They’ve been contacted. There’s kind of a state that they’re at that point, they’ve received this message about this promotion and they haven’t interacted with you, but if you can get them to interact with you again in the future, it resets that, so the following time we send out a promotional message it would be allowed to go out to them again. You just got to get them to interact with you. So what Facebook is just trying to do is not make this, like, annoying, like, they’re trying to prevent the spammy aspect and they’re trying to curtail and prevent what’s happened to all of us with email and nip that in the bud.

Richard: Yeah, I mean, it’s definitely a catch 22 for them, because, as they know, they get their money from marketers, but yet they can’t wreck the customer experience. And marketers are known for wrecking the customer experience for the most part. I know, we’re all marketers too. But, believe me, I get what they’re protecting us from them from. Quick question, when you keep mentioning the actual phrase “interact with them, they need to interact with you”, so they first land on this. Would you like more click, more for a message and they have to interact, does interact specifically mean they have to say “yes”, or if they say “no” is that an interaction too, are they still on your list, but you just happen to unsubscribe them? because you said you unsubscribe and they said “no” in the very beginning.

Mike: Yeah, yeah. So, in the very beginning, when we asked them: “Are you interested in this contest or giveaway,” and they have the option to say “yes” or “no.” If they say “no”, there we don’t contact them anymore, because they’re not, they don’t really want to be on our Messenger at that point. And you want to give them every opportunity to not get on messenger, because it takes a very very small portion of people complaining to, like, block your Facebook Messenger account, it actually happens to us. I’m still, like, blown away. It was just a little slap on the wrist as a one week ban or whatever we had 13 people complained out of 50,000. It’s like those numbers look so small, like, people that marked us as spam and are like: “Yeah, like, your account we flagged you for spam. You can’t send messages for one week.” I’m still blown away, because it’s such a small number. So, like again, we do everything we can and every time we communicate with people, every time we send a message, we ask them like: “Do you want us to stop messaging you on Facebook Messenger?” That’s one of the things we also say that they say stop it they can type in the words “stop.” And when they do that we just unsubscribe them, because we don’t want people on Facebook Messenger that are going to be annoyed by you and complain, because if they do, they’ll close your account. So, you’ve got to be very careful.

Jesse: Make sense. It’s probably a good reason why you reference the Trifecta before. So, if you don’t have somebody’s email, you have somebody’s messenger and you have them remarketing. So, I guess if you get blocked on messenger, you still have two avenues to reach out to them.

Mike: Yeah. I mean, we certainly don’t want to get our messenger list block, we’ve spent a lot of money building that 50,000 people on it, so effective. But yes, I mean, it’s always good, no matter what you’re doing. I mean, there was a time when we only focused on email, because, you know, that’s all we really knew. But now we have the pixel which we can use to run Facebook ads to them. We didn’t even get into that. But basically, by pixeling them I know that they were on my website and I can run a very targeted Facebook ad to them. So, yeah, having all these different avenues is really important, but the way that I look at it actually now someone, I did a talk a couple of years ago about email marketing, talk about, like, how many people open our email and a guy came to me afterward and said: “Well, what about the people who don’t open up your email?” And I was like “Oh man.” And that’s when I really got into these other avenues of marketing, because no matter how good you already know email marking the highest plateau target can get to a 30 percent open rate. And that’s, like, crushing it. So, what about those other 70 percent of people, who are also on Facebook. You can advertise them on Facebook ads or, maybe, can get the most of your Facebook messages. So, you have other opportunities the market to them. And then, again, dictate and drive. Turn that dial however you want to be able to send traffic where you want at that exact moment in time, whether you’re launching a new product or you’re selling on your own store, however, you want to do it, you control that asset and it’s valuable.

Jesse: Absolutely. So, I like the idea of the Trifecta particularly with Messenger as being a part of that’s not something we’ve covered in a previous podcast. So, let’s talk money about, you know, like, so, you guys have made it, you’ve got your system a little fine tuned. So, somebody starting now is going to be launching their first Facebook ads. Maybe they’re not able to afford 30 dollars a day of a giveaway of a product. Maybe they’re doing a 50 dollar per week product. What type of investment, because you have to buy Facebook ads too to sell a product. There’s paying for Facebook ads and obviously some time of course that goes with that, but OK, not using your numbers, using somebody more of a newbie number. What type of investment do you think people are in for, you know, per contact meaning the trifecta, the pixel, the email, and the Facebook Messenger? What’s, you know, the average number which obviously there’s no such thing as an average number? But, you know, what can you give us one?

Mike: Absolutely. I mean, we’re looking to spend 50 cents per lead, because you’re optimizing for leads at this point or less. So, our lead optimization, lead pixels on our thank you page after they’ve given us their email. So, if they’ve been counted as a lead, they’ve completed the Trifecta. Like, if they just complete one or two of those parts, they don’t count as a lead. So, we’re optimizing for lead conversions. So, that means that they’ve added to their Facebook Messenger list. We’ve got them to pixeled and we got the email address, boom, we count them as a leader and we’re looking to pay less than 50 cents per lead, as our max, so, we’re willing to pay. We actually know that we can pay a lot more than that, because we’ve been doing this for a couple of years and the math works, for sure. We actually are able to get leads for under 30 cents for the majority of the time. But again, every brand’s a little bit different, we do this for 3 different brands, so we’re going to do very different types of marketing or messaging to get there. But we are able to keep it under that 50 cent threshold.

Now, what I would say is when you’re first getting started I would look to be at a dollar or less to give yourself some room, if you can get to a dollar, you can get the 50 cents. I promise you, because, if you’re just getting started and you’re paying a dollar a lead, no matter what you’re doing, how good you are you’re going to be able to improve upon that, you can run a better ad, create a better landing page. You know, do a better contest, do something different that’s going to help, even just small amounts, you know, with your conversion rate over time and, if you can improve your conversion rate by 50 percent over time, it will cut your costs down by 50 percent and, you know, you’ll go from a dollar down to 50 cents or whatever, so you can definitely do that, I promise you, I’ve been doing this for a long time. The first landing pages we did, the first lead offers that we did, we were paying three or four dollars per lead.

Jesse: I thought that was way you were going to say by the way I was thinking this might be a three or four dollar lead, so 50 cents is really encouraging.

Mike: Again it’s “a no-brainer low-friction offer.” So, it’s the content we aim to get in and kind of go through a couple of the other ways, but, yeah, contests and giveaways are the primary focus that we deal with. That’s one of the main ways we drive traffic. But another really good way to do it is with content, like, you’ve heard of lead magnets, I’ve never heard of that at this point. For the most part. So, depending on the brand we have more or less very compelling content. So, with our calling brand then it can be free downloadable drawings, so that’s a very compelling piece of content for our baby brand we created — to be able to really make and run these types of very compelling offers — we created a whole thing just for this with baby shower games. So, we figure someone is attending a baby shower. There’s a baby being born somewhere. And, you know, our target market is a newborn, infant and young toddler kids we saw, like, organic baby clothing and stuff, so we then encourage them to buy one of our pieces of clothing and bring it to the baby shower. You know, they know someone in that circle that is involved in having a baby. That’s our target market, so we can get so cheap.

Jesse: Let’s dive into that a little bit more. So you’re targeting, you’re going to Facebook and targeting people that, you know, they’re going to a baby shower?

Mike: Now target expecting moms, so no, the mom might not be the one arranging the baby shower typically night, but she’ll see the ad to be like: “Oh, this would be called having my baby shower.” The game. So we have, like, five games that we just print them out and you can… And we had a group of our graphic designers on our team, like, designed to look really nice and there it’s just downloadable content, so they give us their email address and we know that they’re most likely an expecting mom. So, we have an opportunity to market to them over a long period of time about our products.

Jesse: And I assume that… The giveaway is great, but I assume that that email also includes maybe some pictures of the products you have, maybe a coupon, some other other interesting content.

Mike: We actually don’t do that in the beginning, like, I was saying we try to do the whole 80/20 rule ,so we can try to just deliver them all this value first. It’s called value-first marketing, as a kind of the way that we put it. So, we’re just trying to give them a bunch of value over the first several interactions, and then it’s like all we also have some products and, you know, they know what’s a company. You know, it’s all babies the name and, you know, some people have that curiosity cat kind of thing. But we don’t hit them up with a coupon or other things, like that for a little while, actually. It’s not even a part of the original delivery. We want them to get the free game, will contact them we follow up and ask them, like “Did you have fun with the games, what was your favorite game?” Try to build a little bit of a relationship with them. And typically at that stage is where we start to do that more of a hard sales part.

Richard: When you’re doing these are you sending separate messages, with messenger than you are and your email, are you deciding is there a way you decide, which way you’re going to keep interacting with them?

Mike: So, it’s kind of on a graduated scale, so you can think of the default, like, well, email everything. Anything that we ever want to communicate in any possible way, that’s where email comes in.

Richard: No, because, only 30 percent of them are getting opened anyway.

Mike: It’s a combination of only 30 percent are being opened and we can get away with any frequency we want. Like there is no limitation to it, like we, Facebook Messenger has that limitation, right, so it’s kind of, like, the graduated scale there is, like, we will test things with email, we’ll send any offer whatever it is, whether it’s additional value, or coupons or sales, that go through email. The next level up is, if it’s, like, slightly more important to us, then we’ll take advantage of the pixel and run an ad. The ad might be for that coupon, or sale, or giveaway that does better with that, and then the broadcast is typically safe for, like, the big kahuna thing, like we got a new product launch something really important to our organization or to that brand. And that almost saves the broadcast, where we’re not going to just send them a broadcast message and go through all that just for something that’s trivial that we can just send through email. So, hopefully, that kind of makes sense the level of importance is really the way that we think about it. So, the most important things, the things that happen with less frequency, which is going to be, like, again, branded products been launched, or it’s now Mother’s Day sale, or something that’s important to that brand and that world, then we’ll take advantage of that.

Jesse: So, when you send the messenger, so you mentioned, like, a 90 percent open rate. That’s pretty amazing. So, you want to save that for. Don’t waste those.

Mike: Don’t waste those, yeah. It’s a 40 percent click-through rate, the click-through rate is higher than the open rate on email. It’s crazy.

Jesse: Yeah, I mean, I know what you mean, Facebook Messenger. I see them all the time. I get hundreds of emails a day. I don’t see most of those, but Facebook Messenger, yeah I may a little annoyed by it, but I looked at it you looked at it. So, that’s all you need. So, that’s awesome. Yeah. Now I’m thinking about my own personal Messenger plans. What kind of contest can I run to do Messenger marketing? So, when you get people on your messenger list or you, like, how many, how much or how long is the drip conversation from, when you start off, like, do you know, like, three or four interactions that leave them alone? Or do you just go, until they stop answering?

Mike: Yeah. So, it really depends on how they came into the system, to begin with. So, if they’ve come in through a contest or giveaway, we’re going to treat it differently, than if they came in through a free shipping offer, which may or may not have time to get to today. But we have a bunch of different types of top of funnel things that we’re sending people through. And, so, if they come in through a contest or giveaway, you know, there are some stereotypes about that you might be already worried about, like, these are going to people only looking for free stuff and they’re going to be a lower value, and that stuff is true. Like, there definitely is that component to that, so you want to be cognizant of that and not bother people, that came into your contest and give voice to your Messenger, that is also going to be more likely to mark you as spam. Right. So you’ve got to be, like, a little bit more careful there, so these interactions don’t look a lot different than, if someone came through as a free shipping offer or someone that came through a lead magnet offered, so, like, another example of this. I mean, to give you an extreme example. We have a promotion that we do get 20 free downloads of coloring content. We literally deliver every drawing through a messenger to them. It’s 20 messages over 20 different days, because we want to spread it out. That’s another thing is you kind of always want to spread it out, get people trained to open your email, be thinking about you and getting used to doing that. But there is a situation where we’re sending them a message, like for 20 different times, I mean, it’s a long messaging sequence versus the contest and giveaway. It’s typically just one extra follow-up, like, “Don’t forget to get extra entries.” We don’t want to take a chance of late having them mark spam. So, like we were a lot more sensitive to that.

Jesse: Now there are 13 out of 50,000 is a pretty low bar.

Mike: It’s a very low bar. And again, that’s why we’re so paranoid now and we’ve been: “OK, lately, I mean, it’s been fine.” The one thing that we did add as a part of that conversation with Facebook and we were talking to our rep was, like, they’d said: “You got to give them an option to opt out every single time you send them a message.” Now we have and it’s annoying, actually, because, like, we actually send them a second message, it’s like: “Here’s the message you really want,” and then it’s like: “If you want to stop receiving messages from us on Facebook, just type ‘stop’ and we put that in every message and how often.”

Jesse: How often do people opt out?

Mike: It’s, like, 1 percent or, you know, typical is the same as an email, it’s very similar. You want to stop them from, you want them to opt out, just like you do what, you want them, not on email. Honestly, like, I mean, that’s another whole conversation. We scrub our email list all the time. We, mean, it’s painful, you don’t, like, seeing your email list go down, they hit the go button to take your list down your list, but it helps get the open read up and keep your emails in the inbox, so that people that are engaging are going to be worth more to you, that, if you just want to have the ego saying: “I have a million people on my list,” because I could say that we’ve had literally a million people signed up for our email list to this point, but our email list is still under 100,000 right now, because, like, we scrubbed, you know, nine-tenths of them off over the last couple of years, because they stop interacting and they don’t want us.

Richard: Yeah, but those to your point, those are more vanity numbers. Maybe when you were doing some J.V. offer with another affiliate guy. Yeah, and you had a million people on your list it was great, because, you know, they wanted to mail for you or your mail for them. But one of the things I was going to ask there also, when you’re talking about email messenger and picks for the Trifecta there — is there a way for you to look at your actual subscribers and see your subscribers other than just scrolling down the list of your messengers way to export them and looking to Excel file? I know that sounds like a random question, but.

Mike: I know you can export them, because I know you can switch between, like, ManyChat and other chat like, no other program and we’ve never done that before, so I’m honestly not sure exactly.

Richard: So, more specifically, how would you know these 30 percent of the people are both on her email list and our Messenger?

Mike: We never cross-reference though. That’s a good one. I might actually go back and be out of curiosity, but we never have looked at that correlation now.

Jesse: And on the Messenger list, you have the name, or just OK, you have their name, you have the same last name. So, you could technically cross-reference if you’d probably.

Mike: But, I mean, like, there’s probably also, like a bunch of Michael Smiths, or something like that, so it’s hard to know exactly who they might be. But yeah, we’ve never, I mean it’s curious, I mean, just never have done, I don’t know what we would do with that data. But a lot of times we get, you to get these data points, sometimes the data points send you down a rabbit hole that you don’t need to go down, and sometimes you get a data point that revolutionizes your business. I’m not really sure what we would do with that information yet.

Richard: I’m curious love the idea of knowing this whole idea and I’m sure you’ve heard it many times that people call it different things. But if someone follows you on every platform and everywhere, you know, you have a superfan.

But, real quick, because we’re coming to the end of the hour, here and want to make sure people know more about you. You obviously have a lot of information. Please let them know about your podcast, where they should go to find out more about you, maybe even something you’re up to these days that someone might be interested in.

Mike: Yeah, there’s a lot going on. So, as far as the podcast goes you mentioned really, it’s called EcomCrew, we have 157 episodes as a recording this and doing about two a week, now we’ve launched something called EcomPremium as well which is a subscription service that allows people to, for just a flat fee get all of our courses, we’ve released all of our courses under one umbrella. And I think that’s unique and really cool about what we do. Are you also get a monthly webinar that you can come in and ask any questions you want, it’s interactive. My partner, Dave, and I run it once a month, just for our premium members, and the other thing that we do is the second web and are just for premium members that show you under the hood of our brands. It’s like being a fly on the wall in our office, so, like all this stuff I just talked about today, we’re showing the exact ads that we’re running and the sequences, and the spend that we’ve done and the results only to those people that are on the subscription and we also show that all the products that we’re launching and any questions you have we also show that stuff, so it’s like a fully open book. Very unique in this space, because most people never talk about even the items they sell. They’re very guarded about it. But I just don’t care about that and more secure with myself at this point. So, that’s been pretty cool and we also have a free area called MyEcomCrew. That’s a bunch of free content. And it’s that whole same concept of value first. It’s like the ideas that people that are searching for stuff on Google, or they hear on our podcast, they come and they subscribe to the free area, and if they like what they see, hopefully, they’ll eventually purchase and that’s the same concept, that we’ve done with everything I just talked about in e-commerce. I mean, we give away that free content, and do free shipping offers, and do these unbelievable offers that are too good to be true and, hopefully, they interact with the brand and become, you know, fan for life.

Richard: So, do they Google those are those specifically the URLs, like or where?

Mike: You just going to and up on the top right there is, like, a free button to get started with.

Richard: Perfect, any social profiles you’d be comfortable with?

Mike: Yeah, what we buy the time we got to that point we learned our lesson, because we’ve been doing online marketing for long enough to know everything should be EcomCrew consistently. Facebook, Instagram, everywhere. Yeah.

Jesse: Awesome, so I can personally vote you can listen to on the podcast for a while, so for people, listening, please check out the EcomCrew, please check out the Ecwid podcast. We really love those reviews. I know Mike knows all about it.

Mike: Listen, you know, you’re getting free information from the podcast. Go leave them a five-star review. It takes five seconds, it means a lot and I promise you.

Jesse: I love it. So, guys, really appreciate everybody listening, you know, make it happen.

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