PODCAST

SHOW NOTES & TRANSCRIPT:

Catch Michael on his podcast Ecom Crew 

His brands: wildbaby.com, tactial.com, icewraps.com & colorit.com

Mike's Recommended Apps

Rewind - Backups   |    One Click Upsell   |   Zipify Pages

SHOW TRANSCRIPT

 Intro/Outro: 00:00 Welcome to the Winning with Shopify podcast, the podcast that will teach you to take your shopify store and turn it into an automated sales machine with the latest marketing emails, sales and social media advice, strategies, and tips from experts without the fluff. Your host, Caroline Balinska, the founder of JustAskParker.com, the only small marketing task agency for shopify owners with over 10 years experience in marketing, manufacturing, design, and ecommerce. She shares her knowledge and interviews the experts to help you in your journey to success. Now, here's your host, Caroline Balinska.

Caroline: 00:37 Hi everyone. Welcome back to the podcast. I have a wonderful guest today and I'm so excited to have a fellow podcaster on the show today. It's very exciting to have Michael Jackson on the line with me today. He is the host of Econ crew and he is here talking about his own businesses today and what he's learned over the years. So Michael is the owner of it, is his business where he runs all of his business stuff from. He owns colorit.com and wildbaby.com. He has so much different stuff going on. So there's going to be so much great information in today's show, all about ecommerce, so let's get into it. Let's talk to Mike and find out more about what he's doing. So Hi Mike. Welcome to the show.

Michael: 01:24 Thanks. It's exciting to be here. Thank you for having me.

Caroline: 01:27 Wonderful. I'm so glad that you wanted to come on the show because it's great hearing you do your podcast and it's really nice to collaborate and work together and let people know more about what's going on out there. So I do know something that you told me before that you don't really talk about yourself on your own podcast. So I'm very excited to have you here today because it seems like something you don't do very often. So thank you for taking the time to do that today.

Michael: 01:50 It's always weird talking about yourself. Right? So at least the, the pre ecommerce stuff, especially because people don't want to hear about that stuff typically on our ecommerce podcast.

Caroline: 02:00 No, that is so true. But it also does say a lot about you and your history and how you've come to where you are now because I think that that does give you a lot of the knowledge that you put. You didn't just come into this yesterday and start running these, businesses, you have really good history behind all of the ecommerce that you do now as well.

Michael: 02:17 Yeah, without a doubt. The past life I've had with doing other things online has definitely contributed to my thought space these days and I think I have an advantage because you previously I was doing affiliate marketing or doing seo or content marketing and in these types of things and those are typically things that people think about way down the line in ecommerce, but I think they're actually essential building blocks. So the sites that we run, we've thought about Seo from day one and a couple of years into it. When people start to typically think about Seo, we were already miles ahead of that because we've spent the previous two years already doing it. So it's definitely been an advantage that I've had from all that previous experience.

Caroline: 03:01 Fantastic. So you've been selling online for awhile. Do you want to tell us a little bit about the different brands that you actually run?

Michael: 03:08 Yeah, so I actually started selling stuff online in 1998 back when eva was actually more relevant than it is now, but most recently in an ecommerce land, the way that we got started as I was a big domain investor and I still am and one of the domains that we had purchased was treadmill.com and I wasn't intending it to be an ecommerce site. I was buying it as an investment, but I would make it an affiliate marketing site, which was my background from before and at some point I was like, you know what, I. I really don't think that what we're doing with these domain names is going to do justice for these big powerful domain names moving forward. I think Google is going to change their algorithm. I don't think we're really adding a lot of value to the world by what we're doing. And it was almost an overnight decision of let's just turn this into an ecommerce site and see what happens. So that's what we did and in our first year we sold seven figures of fitness equipment on, on treadmill.com and ran that for a couple of years and until we ended up selling it and I'll move onto the next project.

Caroline: 04:17 Wow. So I love that story. How it wasn't something you expected to do, it was just something that turned into that. And, I think that is a lot of people that go through that where they start thinking, going to try something like this and then it turns into something different. So it's great to know that there can be a lot of success from that as well.

Michael: 04:34 Yeah, I think the thing that helped us be successful with it, and this has just been my personality since I was like a little kid, is just because I don't know how to do something, isn't going to stop me from doing it. So I mean I legitimately knew nothing about ecommerce. I mean, I was, when he started treadmill.com, the first thing I did was type into Google, something along the lines of like what our ecommerce hosting platforms or you know, how do I start an ecommerce site? And it was like legitimately typing in those types of searches and were we looked at big commerce and shopify and a bunch of these other different platforms and that, that was how they got started and I never had logged into any of these things or even how to even set up and take credit card payments or do anything. But again, that just didn't stop me because I feel like, uh, that to me, that's the exciting thing is learning something new. I mean, some, it's just the personality traits. Some people resist change or afraid of the unknown. For me, that's the exciting part. When it gets to the point where I've figured it out, it becomes much less exciting to me.

Caroline: 05:40 I know what you mean I am exactly the same. I know that feeling. So how does ice wraps and colorit and wildbaby all work together? How did you end up with those three different, very, very different sorts of brands or working together for you?

Michael: 05:55 Yeah, so again, I think everything in life is just kind of building blocks and experiences and you learn from, from one thing to the next and when we were running treadmill.com, the things that I, that I realized at that point for me in, every one's different so every business model is different but I didn't like dealing with big, heavy pieces of equipment because I learned that trucking companies are really unreliable. I didn't like drop shipping because I had a deal with, you know, selling something to somebody and then finding out it was out of stock or selling something and having to wait three, five days for it to ship things that were all out of my control. I didn't like a drop shipping as well because I was also competing against the same people that were drop shipping it for me. The actual manufacturers were selling the stuff.

Michael: 06:44 I didn't feel like I had any type of competitive advantage other than the fact that we own treadmill.com, but like we weren't the manufacturer, we didn't, we couldn't control map pricing, we couldn't control like other sellers. It was just, there was a lot of things that were out of our control and the, the trucking part of it was one of the things that probably was the most frustrating because it was basically impossible to deliver something on time and this is something that people would take a half a day off of work for to set up a four hour window delivery appointment. And when, uh, you know, there's a misdelivery appointment, then they're having to take another half day off of work and they just spent two, $3,000 on a treadmill. It created a lot of really upset customers and that was the thing that I really didn't like.

Michael: 07:29 So when we wanted to get into the next, the next business, it was like, okay, here's a list of things for. Again, for me, I think everyone, everyone's different, but I was at a point where it's like, you know what, I want to have the inventory in my possession and be able to ship it the same day, make, make happier customers. Uh, and so we ended up buying ice wraps.com and that was the way that it, it kind of happened was that we sold treadmill.com and I actually had one employee that was, that worked for us for, for treadmill.com and he was just a really great employee, still was a good friend of ours and I didn't want to have to lay them off. Number one, it didn't want to lay them off. But number two is an entrepreneur. As a business owner, it's hard to find like really good employees.

Michael: 08:13 So as like this, this guy can help us build the next ecommerce business. And I've learned so much in ecommerce to this point, running treadmill.com for a couple of years. I felt like the next thing would be really successful. So that list. And basically it was, I want something that's small, relatively easy to ship, isn't unbreakable in shipping, I can ship via common carrier, doesn't have a technology component to it that's changing every year. So if I write content about a particular model number or rank well for a model number, I don't have to worry about the next year, that model number changes. And that's how we ended up with ice wraps. It was that set of criteria that I was looking an an ice wraps fell within that.

Caroline: 09:00 So I think you actually touched on something very important that I always talk about is this understanding the foundation of your business. And I think that you have actually gone right down to the very, very basics of what do I want to achieve from this business? What do I want to get out of it? So, um, and you learned that the hard way. Yeah. It's not like you just realized that I made a similar mistake. My first ecommerce store, I started my own shoe labeled designing manufacturing out of China. Um, didn't realize how big the boxes are going to be to store all those boxes of shoes. So I totally understand what you mean by, you know, those sort of things. And that's you and learning from trial and error. Yeah. And I think a lot of people out there don't sit down and think about these things. So I think that whatever and couldn't hear from what Mike's saying right now is learned from our mistakes, learn from the mistakes we made before. Don't just jump into something thinking it feels like it's going to be really good. Have a look at all of those things. Take off full of boxes of does this actually suit my lifestyle? Can I actually make this happen?

Michael: 10:06 Yeah, exactly. So if there was lessons to be learned with tredmill.com, they were similar lessons that we learned from running icewraps.com and that's why we started colorit. So the things that we kind of learned from it wasn't our mistake. So we still run icewraps.com. It's actually still our biggest brands. So there wasn't any mistakes that were necessarily made with that particular site. It just, I learned as we were starting to really get into the marketing angle of it, I learned one really important thing and that it's really hard to market boring products, you know, it's like you're never going to get someone to be like, oh my gosh, I stuck this ice pack in the freezer and it got cold. They're not going to, that's not, that's not exciting. They're not going to share about health. And uh, you know, the coloring part of it was, okay, well first of all we want to have our own brand, but when we started ice wraps, we were buying and reselling other people's products, which is a fine business model and we still do that component.

Michael: 11:05 But we've now added our own house brand and ice wraps now is primarily the bulk of the revenue we do is our own branded products. And we weren't doing that at the time when we started colorit. That was, we wanted to be like an exclusive our products only company that also incorporated the passion part of it. So people that like to call her a really like to color and they're really passionate about it and they want to share their creations, you know, the things that they call her and draw. So it's easy to get up and a great community of very active people, that enjoy our products. And I think that's really important. The other thing that I learned and the reason we did colorit as well, I think it's very important to have a good lifetime value of a customer and something like treadmill.com.

Michael: 11:55 You're never going to sell them a second treadmill and you know you're never going to sell somebody or it's very difficult to sell somebody a second ice wrap if they buy a knee ice wrap, for instance, to ice their knee, like there's no reason to get a second one. If you sold them a good product and doesn't fall apart in a month, they're not going to go buy another one. Like you've solved that problem and they're never going to talk to you again. Versus colorit. When someone colors through one of our books, they need to go buy another book or they color through their pencils down to a nub. They need to buy more pencils and markers dry out, same thing. They need to buy more markers, so that was another thing that we were very cognizant of when we were looking for another brand, the start that it also fit a that set of criteria as well and that's where a lot of the marketing things that we do today have become incredibly effective and we may or may not have time to talk about some of those things today on this podcast, but you can probably imagine, you know, marketing is a lot more effective when you can sell somebody something again versus having something that you can only solve them one.

Michael: 13:01 So that was some of the reasons why we wanted to start colorit.

Caroline: 13:04 Yeah. Fantastic. The whole coloring, the craze has just gone through the roof, hasn't it, it's something that a lot of people..... I think there's probably people listening to this not understanding exactly how, how powerful that area is, that genre of people who love coloring. So like you said, you've really got a good clientele of return clients.

Michael: 13:28 Yup. Yup.

Caroline: 13:30 And that's why were wildbaby comes in as well. Yeah. Once people buy something for their baby, they're back for more products.

Michael: 13:35 Same thing. Yeah. And we also, uh, we didn't talk about our other brand, we also own tactical.com, which is one of those other keyword domain investments that I had made early on and what we're doing with that now, that's actually a content site, but we have a, another brand we're launching that we've launched this year, we're just not really talking about a whole bunch yet, but it is also a shopify store, but the same concept, people that are really into, in the hiking or fishing or hunting, survivalism, prepping, backpacking, all these types of things that fall under the technical umbrella, very passionate. Once you have sold them one thing, it's very easy to sell them, other cross sell them. Other things are more of the same. And I think that that's a really important component to ecommerce. I mean, listen, there's plenty of brands that are successful that have like a one product, you know, it just looks like the one thing that they sell and there's, there, there is no repeat business.

Michael: 14:32 It's definitely possible to make a living in ecommerce that way. But I think you have a superior advantage if you have an ability to, to, to sell them more, more things down the road. So that's something that we look for. And again, everybody, everybody's business is different. But I think that email marketing to become so much more powerful once you can sell them more of the same and you can in facebook ads become more powerful and you can change your, your cost of acquisition model and your timeline of how long you need to to make money back from a customer or to stretch that out over time. If you have a good lifetime value of a customer versus having to make the math work in a vacuum of I make $12 per sale on this item, I could never sell them another one of these so I can only afford $11 or whatever you're willing to spend on marketing to acquire a customer and that's that standard of the story. So having that repeat business opportunity like really helps the math on a lot of advertising campaigns.

Caroline: 15:35 That's so true. And you mentioned you said it before and we were talking about before we got on the recording, you were talking about the affiliate marketing side and I guess with the different brands like tactical and colorit I guess I guess wildbaby when it comes to affiliate marketing, how does that work for you with your knowledge of your background and how have you taken that forward now into ecommerce?

Michael: 16:00 I mean the thing that we really learned as an affiliate marketer, I mean to just for people that aren't familiar with it as. Let me just kind of explain real quick what we did back then and what affiliate marketing is, so we got good at creating content and and ranking for content and search. So it could be, let's make it more of an ecommerce example. What are the best trekking poles or whatever it might be and people would. Or best colored pencils is probably an even better example since we're talking about colorit more so you will. We'll put together an article about the best colored pencils, which we rank number one for on Google. So that's the search engine ranking number one. Uh, we review all the different types of pencils that are out there for coloring. And one of those pencils that are going to be on that list is going to be our own brand of pencils so that we get the sale for that if they, if they do buy that pencil.

Michael: 16:53 But we're also still affiliate marketers because we have in the list competitors' brands and through our Lincoln go buy off of Amazon or wherever it is. We still get credit for that. So we kind of have the ability to, to get the best of both worlds and because we have a, a background in content and Seo and affiliate marketing, we also know what search terms are the best ones to go after that were going to produce the best results and something like I just mentioned like best colored pencils as like anything with the word best in front of it is typically like a really great thing. The rank for it because there's a high intention of purchasing. So I'd rather rank for best colored pencils than just colored pencils because people are typing that in like don't know what the heck it is. They're even looking for a. or they might just be looking to like how to, how to sharpen their pencil or how to blend with their pencil or uh, they, they, they have really no clue. But if you're typing in certain terms, you're going to, your, your intention to buy is going to be very high. So you know, our, our goal is to rank high for high intention convert ing terms and also have the ECOMMERCE aspect and affiliate marketing aspect. Like all kind of work together,

Caroline: 18:06 fantastic. And you seem to do a lot of different stuff like that. So when, as an example, best colored pencils, you would then recommend that people put that on the description of the actual pencils as well on the page as a seo from an seo standpoint as well.

Michael: 18:24 Yeah, so I mean there's a lot of on page factors with SGL can get into some technical stuff, but you want to have a good title tag, a good h, one tag, which is the header tag on the thing. Make sure you have best colored pencils on the page, sub headers, lots of photography, like we pick a lot of pictures, but the probably the, you know, with the limited amount of time we have, I think the best advice I can give is to write truly epic content about the subject. So as an example for this particular, like exact example, the typical thing that you'll see out there when people do this is they spend 30 minutes to an hour like writing the posts. They'll go on Amazon, they type in colored pencils, they find like the first five or 10 results, they still the Amazon pictures, they make up, you know, five sentences of how each brand or each thing that they see out there and write a bunch of basically jibberish and it's just non non informed content, let's just say.

Michael: 19:22 And what we did for this particular thing was we actually bought seven competitors products and so we had ours and we had eight, eight total. And what we did is we call it a, um, what's called, I'm in Dallas, so it's like a circle that we kind of divided up into eight slices and then colored with all eight different competitors. Brand pencils on, on that drawing. And then made a picture of that as a part of the post so people could see visually how all eight brands stacked up against each other in terms of vibrancy and the color palettes and all the different stuff. And then we did several different tests with each one. What were we were using a similar amount of pressure on each one and use it on the tip of paper and then compared everything and swatched everything and showed it all side by side.

Michael: 20:10 Took our own photography of all the products and wrote this truly epic piece of content that's better than everything else out there about this subject and more than anything else. That's the reason why we ranked number one because it we leap frog over everything else that was already out there about this subject because most of the stuff is thin crappy content that the average affiliate marketer is putting out there trying to rank number one and they don't really care about anything. So I mean our approaches, we want to legitimately have the best piece of content out there. When someone reads this piece of content we're going to put out and make it actually answer their question and be helpful and have them learn something like really learned something from reading our posts and feel like they've come away better for it. And like legitimately and the money part of it will come later. Like naturally calm. Like we know if we meet the other goal of actually answering, they're pushing and helping them. The other parts of our business will fall in line. So that's kind of the reader's digest version of that.

Caroline: 21:20 Really what that comes down to is you're just going that extra mile, that extra little bit of a. it's a. It sounds like a lot of efforts, but really it's not like five years to do it. A couple of extra hours, couple of dollars put into investments, pencils, getting that content put together, but even if it took you 20 hours to do that, then it would be worth it because you've created something that the next person to try to catch up to you, it's going to take that much time and the chances of someone doing that is very slim by what you're saying.

Michael: 21:52 Exactly. I mean very few people are willing to put in the hard work and you know, things are changing within Google and if you just give instead of playing games with, you know, there's always black hat and gray hat seo where you're trying to constantly see what gets you around the rules today and you can get some back links or you can submit yourself to a link farm or mean all these throw extra, you know, the keyword density on the page or all these different things that you can use to kind of game the system or you can just do like Google is setting out to constantly do which is buy the best content for their customer. So when, I mean Google is the best search engine because they deliver the best results and so like they're constantly legitimately going to try to deliver the best piece of content and if you just play by those roles and work a little bit harder than the next guy, then you can actually win at that game pretty, pretty easily because most people aren't looking at it from that perspective.

Caroline: 22:51 Yeah. It's so true. It's a lot of people say to me, Oh, I hate that I'm not on the first page of Google, and it's like, well, just do a better job of what you're doing because Google wants to help people. That's what their aim is to help people. So they helping the person that's doing the such.

Michael: 23:06 Exactly. And you know, backlinks still do matter, but if you think about people that are typically linked to other sites and if you make a piece of content that's worth linking to, it's a lot easier to get links. You don't, we don't even really ever asked for links. You just producing great content. You'll get good links. I mean or, or doing things like this. I mean like, you know, taking the time to go do podcasts. I mean these typically get back links to our ecommerce site and other things where you're like actually providing value and doing, doing a good job out there. Not worrying about like the, you know, the direct money aspect of it or whatever. It's just providing really great content. Hopefully this type of thing helps people get your name out there. People typically will, you know, when you write the show notes, it gets linked back. This is the types of ways to do SEO that aren't gaming the system versus the cheap quick and easy way of doing it

Caroline: 24:07 and I guess that's a thing of the moment and you know this as all of these people that are talking about the fast way to make money and the, you know, set up a drop shipping business and you'll be a millionaire in five minutes. Most of those people are aligned. There is the occasional case where someone makes a lot of money, but I was just telling someone the other day, they were telling me that the client makes a million dollars a year from drop shipping business and bragging about it. And then the friend of mine said, so how much profit do you make? Oh No, I haven't made any profit in four years. So you know, it's easy to have a turnover of money, but whether you make money or not, it's very. It takes work. It takes effort. It's not an overnight success.

Michael: 24:51 Yeah, I mean there's a lot of things there to let me, first of all, like you weren't making money as you're saying sales does not equal profit in any way, shape or form. So, um, and in, in anything where there's a get rich quick aspect to stuff, even if it is true for the early adopters, have whatever get rich quick things that people are pitching, it always dries up really quickly. I mean, it just math. I mean if, if you're making money doing something and it's really easy, then people are going to flock to it in droves and copy it and do the same thing and they're very willing to make less money on a per transaction basis. You are, a lot of times there's an instant race to the bottom and it just completely erodes, like any actual value out there.

Michael: 25:44 So, you know, the further you are away from that end of the spectrum, the better off you're going to be. I mean this is why we created our own brand and we don't do drop shipping because if it's easy than other people can do it. So we actually purposefully like we look at the complexity as well as the opportunity or you know, having to go out and do all this stuff and actually like legitimately providing value and building a community, making really great content that's really sticky and going to get results like that is not a get rich quick scheme that is a lot of work. I mean we talked about this an art, like we're one of the few I think out there that's always talking about like how hard this says it's not. I don't think that there's any aspect of selling online.

Michael: 26:30 It's a get rich quicker easy thing. But like I think you can build like a really great longterm defensible business that can be eventually sold at a really great multiple. Whatever it is that you want to do that legitimate investors are going. If you look at it from that perspective, but you're building a business that silicon valley or Wall Street's going to want to invest in because it's a really great business and if you have that type of business, it's going to be more work. Right? It's if it, if it was easy, everybody would be doing at kind of thing like you mentioned, so that's more the angle that we take with, with what we do.

Caroline: 27:07 Yeah, I love it. So true. And what are your. You've just given us one strategy of creating that content for people to share, but what are some other strategies that you suggest for getting more traffic to, and this is usually I know what you're really thinking because most people come to us and say I want more traffic. It's like, no, you need to get more conversions because getting traffic is the easy part, but let's just talk about this in stores out there, they're just starting out. They don't have any traffic at all. How can they get more traffic and of course the right traffic?

Michael: 27:39 Yeah, I mean it's always the chicken and egg, right? You need traffic, but before you can get sales. So we obviously already talked about content marketing, search engine optimization, search engine marketing. So we've covered that. One of the things that we really work on now that it's been a very successful component for us is facebook advertising and one of the things I didn't mention when we were looking, when we look to evaluate things that we're going to launch a, I forgot this one, so it's the perfect time to bring this up. We look for an audience that is obvious and easy to pick a within facebook, so let's use icewraps as an example and then colorit as an example. I'll use colorit at first, so if I want to run facebook ads for colorit, it's incredibly easy to pick an audience with no knowledge of how like facebook even really works.

Michael: 28:33 That's going to like almost guarantee your success because there's actually an interest on facebook. Have coloring books. People, you know, when they fill out their profile, they, they mark all the different things that they like. Coloring books is, is one of those things, it's a, it's a million person audience within the United States alone versus something like ice wraps is incredibly difficult to target. Like Who do you target? Do you target all old people because like they typically have more aches and pains will mean that doesn't really work because not every seventy year old or Sixty five plus person is necessarily going to have a need or any campaign or something that they want. Right? Right then and there, or okay, well maybe you target people who play sports. Well, again, you can't just target hockey because not everybody that plays hockey is going to have shoulder pain or whatever, whatever it might be.

Michael: 29:29 So that was one of the other things that we learn and we purposely, when we were developing colorit, we look for that. There's an interest, very targeted interest on to advertise to the same thing goes for baby. It's very easy to target parents with kids. You can pick if there's an interest group of parents with kids that are zero to two years old, which is our target market. Same thing for tactical. It's very easy to target people who like hiking, backpacking, hunting, fishing, prepping, survivalism homesteading, a doomsday under the world, uh, guns, all these different types of things that fall under the tactical umbrella. Uh, and they're big, big audiences. I was, that was one of the things we learned after running colorit for multiple years, even though we were, we've had a lot of success. The audience is relatively small and million people. Sounds like a big number and it is when you first get started, but over a couple of years old saturate that.

Michael: 30:30 So when we do something like tactical, now when we, that's the reason we picked this brand, we're talking about tens and tens of millions of people aggregated, especially when you add up all the things I mentioned, homesteading, camping, prepping, survivalism, all these things. You add up all those different category. It's, you know, 50, 60, 70, million people in the United States alone, like one of those categories. So now we have like this massive, really deep audience to advertise to. So our facebook advertising is typically really successful because of that. And it wasn't like by accident, I mean this was strategically thought of, so I mean, unless you have a product like there is a friend of mine that sells, this key chain thing where instead of having 20 loose keys in your pocket, you can put it in this really organized thing that you screw the keys into and you can kind of flip out the key like a knife blade on a Swiss army knife. That's something that can appeal to everyone. So you can run ads to people, just everybody really everyone 25 and over or whatever, whatever you might do that, that type of product can, can cast a really wide net and you can be successful with facebook marketing. But other products like ice wraps are just never going to be successful with facebook marketing. So again, very deliberate with colorit, wildbaby and tactical. So for us that's been even for a brand new brand that we're launching, been incredibly successful getting traffic through paid advertising.

Caroline: 32:03 Is there any brands that you think don't work well on facebook ads that don't touch that?

Michael: 32:09 Yeah. Things like fake ice wraps is like a great example or it's very difficult because it's hard to target even something like a treadmill, like if we were selling treadmills still I think very difficult to do through facebook ads and anything that has a price point above $100 is starts to get to get more difficult to sell because now you're in a category of like, it's more, I think there's a psychological thing that it's more than one bill, but people still. There's been a lot of studies about this where if they had more than one bill out of their pocket, they equate it to being significantly more expensive. So something that's like $101 in someone's mind is astronomically more expensive than something that's $99. Even though it's only two percent more money. Uh, psychologically it's let's say 50 or 100 or 200 percent more expensive mentally.

Michael: 32:58 So you get past that hurdle, it becomes more difficult. Um, and it also becomes more difficult because the, the buying cycle is much longer. Like you, you have to hit somebody on the right day when they're ready to make that life changing goal of losing weight. You know, there's obviously people that, that buy a treadmill for the home because they're already fitness nuts and you know, they, they want to be able to run 10 miles on a day that it's raining or snowing or really, really cold or really, really hot or whatever outside. But those people are few and far between. The majority of fitness supplement gets sold to people who are overweight. They're upset about the way that they look or they want to make themselves look better or they don't. They don't feel good about themselves and today's the day that they're going to make that change and it's hard to, to be there like on that day.

Michael: 33:48 And so like, if those types of ads become, become really, really difficult to pull off versus something that's like spontaneous, like someone can see a coloring book ad or a baby one Z or a tactical product that we saw that that's done well, like a flashlight or credit Karma or something and just be like, I want that, I want that, now I'm going to buy it. They don't think about it's 20 bucks. Whatever, uh, those types of things work way better than the, the other end of the spectrum. And there's, there's probably a lot of other examples of things that could come up with that that are more difficult. But in generalities, I think that that's after spending a million dollars in facebook and over the last few years, those are kind of the things that I've, that I've learned.

Caroline: 34:37 Fantastic. And so what would be some strategies that you recommend for people to get more sales to get conversions on their website?

Michael: 34:45 So switching gears, thinking about conversions on your website, even in 2018 as we're recording this, um, people still have like these big barriers mentally of, of trust online. You know, you think back to 1998 when ecommerce was like, just kind of starting in budding people like I would never spend money online. I give you money like online, this is still a problem, like shockingly slow problem. People don't think about it as a problem as much anymore because so much stuff gets purchased on Amazon and Amazon's already got your credit card information and Kinda really lowered those barriers and you don't think about the Internet being a scary place in purchasing anymore. But when you have a shopify store, it's a lot of people that come to that still have this, this mental block. And I know this because we've been doing it for, for five years and we take phone calls and talk to our customers and often, you know, they'll call them because they're afraid to give us their credit card for instance.

Michael: 35:52 Or they don't realize that we're like literally just taking the order and typing it in the shopify store anyway because that's like how we would place an order over the phone. Uh, and that there's really no risk. But the thing I'm really trying to get you here is it's important to have a trustworthy looking website. So it, it's, and it's one of these examples of the extra work you do at the end that last one percent to like get it to looking really refined. It I think makes a big difference. And so we, we do things on our websites. I help with this that we've studied a lot. you know, he makes sure that, our phone numbers prominently displayed in the header for instance, we make sure that on the product page that it's really clear what our return policy is because that's the other thing people are really concerned about.

Michael: 36:47 It's like, if I buy this and I don't like it, how big of a hassle is it going to be for me to return it? I'm, am I going to have to pay for return shipping? Are they going to actually take it back? Are they gonna you know, all these different types of things I think are really important. So we make sure that our return policy is really clear and for something like colorit, we decided to institute a 30 day, no questions asked return policy and we actually like make fun of this on our website. We talk about like we'll take it back for any reason, like you colored it and you don't want it anymore or you, uh, you're, you bought it for your, your boyfriend and he broke up with you and he doesn't want any more. You can return it for that if zombies like spill brains on it or whatever.

Michael: 37:29 Like we say something stupid or something like that, we'll take it, we'll still take it back like no questions asked me is no questions asked and we try to really convey that and we, you can't do that with every brand and every product. So we have, we have different return policies for our different brands because I'm obviously couldn't do that with a treadmill because we can have it to deal with you gotta you gotTa pick your return policy based on the products. But we tend to be more liberal with it then conservative with it because if you are always worried about like the one person that's going to take advantage of you, uh, then you're losing sales to people that are liquid, intimate customers. And uh, some days like we had people flat out rip us off and we know it. We actually just had a customer the other day we were talking about here, joking.

Michael: 38:14 They said that they got their coloring book and it had coffee spilled all over it and they wanted to return it becuase of that. And like we know that there's a zero percent chance that the thing showed up, a coffee spilled on it, we ship it out of here, we would've seen that and it's shrink wrapped, shrink up the book to protect it. Like what they're saying is impossible, you know, do we change our return policy to prevent that one person at a $10,000 from screwing us? Or do we have it there to make other people feel comfortable and get over that hurdle? So it's really important to like, make sure that, that, that that's clear. The other thing is the shipping time, you know, unfortunately Amazon has set a really high expectation embar of everything's going to show up in 2 days. So it's important to make sure that on your, on your page, that's very clear how long it's gonna take to get to get the thing to the person.

Michael: 39:11 And in that same thought process, it's also really important to have free shipping on your website regardless if you ship everything for free all the time under no circumstance, no preconditions or uh, what we found has worked really well is to set a bar to hit like $30, $50, whatever, whatever the number is, a two to qualify for free shipping because people in this day and age, uh, often won't buy if they have to pay shipping. I like, it just puts the brakes on it and stops them in their tracks on. We're like, I'm, I'm out of here. See you later. Because of shipping. So, uh, and the last thing I'll mention just real quick is site speed is also another really important factor. If you have a really slow loading website, uh, there's been lots of studies about this that for every second longer I takes for your site to load others, there's an exponential drop off of a conversion rate. It's really important to make sure that your site loads quickly and efficiently. So this is something that we test for an optimized for. An Google is also super to pull the SEO conversation back into this of Google also looks at this as a ranking factor. So if you have a slow website, all things being equal, your site's going to rank lower than the guy who, who's faster. So that's another important thing for usability as well.

Caroline: 40:33 Yeah. Fantastic. And um, do you have any apps that you recommend? Do you have, um, I was at to get three different apps that you would recommend to store owners that. Well, I only get to pick three. Um, I can tell you more, but let's keep it,

Michael: 40:53 you know, I think one of the ones that we really just can't live without these days is the zipify apps stuff. Ezra firestone stuff. He's also a good friend of mine. So, that might have something to do with it. But I mean, the reality is that the page builder and one click upsells stuff has made a dramatic difference in our business. I mean, you look at what we do today versus a couple of years ago before we had those apps, it's made probably the most dramatic positive difference of being able to make landing pages on the fly that lines up perfectly with the facebook advertising or search engine campaigns that we're trying to do that look significantly better than the, uh, the stuff that shopify allows you do out of the box is really important. And then with that, the one click up sell stuff which allows you to increase the average cart value of every sale.

Michael: 41:47 We have an 11 percent average a take rate on, on upsells for the things that we offer, upsells on a, which dramatically increases our, our average cart value and our revenue. Um, so those two things hand in hand, uh, the other one that people probably don't talk about a lot. There's a lot of other apps. If I'm only going to pick another one, I had to go back and look at the name of it real quick. But uh, we have an APP that backs up our store. Uh, I think it's called a rewind now that I think about it and as a fix it guy, you know, a guy that came out of the I before I was doing affiliate marketing all that back in, in 2003. And before I left my job I was the director of it for a pretty large company. So I come from that background and there's nothing worse than losing all of your data.

Michael: 42:38 And once you introduce a employees, especially into your business, like there's not a lot of safety net from someone going in and just like deleting all your products are doing something really nasty to your store. So having the ability to, to restore is really good, but it also protects you against yourself. I think that I'm, I'm just knowledgeable enough in programming and in an it stuff to be really dangerous. So there's been more than one time that I've edited something and completely broke my store and uh, being able to click a button and be able to restore it is like a really good feeling and it actually makes because I know I have that safety net allows me to be a little bit more aggressive and creative or whatever when I'm doing things I don't have to worry about. Like if I do break, that's what are the repercussions. I can restore it. So if I'm, if I'm forced to only pick three ops, uh, to that have made a big difference in one that I think that people don't talk about often. Those, those will be the ones.

Caroline: 43:38 Yeah, definitely. Um, I will get the links from you for Ezra's 2 apps that you're talking about because they're not actually in the shopify store. They, you need to find them separately that he's running the shopify store yet he is now. Actually, I was going through the other links, but we'll put that in the show notes. So the links to Ezra's, two apps that you're talking about, the page builder and the upsell and also to link to that APP that you're talking about because I think everyone needs to have a look at those in more detail and see exactly what it means for them.

Michael: 44:11 Yup. And it is called rewind. I just confirmed real quick.

Caroline: 44:15 Fantastic. it will be in the show notes. And so what did you think the future of ECOMMERCE is your building? All these brands that I show you all the best person to ask about this. What's the future look like?

Michael: 44:26 It's always tough to. I never, I've never right with this stuff and I'll give you my, uh, it's hard to predict the future. Right? Let's start with the obvious stuff. I think that without question, ecommerce is going to continue to grow. I mean there can't be, there can't be a scenario that where people are going to be like, you know what, I'm sick of buying online. This is just truly, convenient. I'm going to go back to the mall and that isn't going to happen. So I think that that's a great spot to be in. Like if you are even just getting started or are contemplating a, is it too late to launch a shopify store? Like Hell No. Like, I mean we're, we're still in the infancy. Um, I think you need to pick the proper lane now. I think things like drop shipping or the things, the low value drop shipping stuff where people are talking about this all the time.

Michael: 45:21 I see facebook ads for the stuff all the time, like take my drop shipping course and you'll be a millionaire overnight. Kind of what you were alluding to earlier. That's going to become an even more and more crowded space that's going to become even more difficult to do that. And I already think we're kind of past that. Like I think anyone that's talking about that stuff as it is flat out full of crap personally. I mean, I don't know these people and I'd love to have a debate with them. If you can get one of them on the podcast, I'll, I'll debate

Caroline: 45:47 and we'll get to meet one that I completely think that. Yeah, there's a lot of things out there that has said. But

Michael: 45:58 yeah. So, um, yeah, I think that, that that's a factor. I think unfortunately, the thing that I don't like it, I think that Amazon's going to continue to get a bigger and bigger piece of the Pie, but one, one bold prediction that I'm going to make. I actually think that Amazon's going to fall from grace. I actually see a situation potentially coming where it's like dramatic or like Amazon five years from now or 10 years from now, whatever it might be, as relevant as Sears is today. I just, I think that there, there's, you've seen this type of cycle through history as companies get bigger and bigger and try to conquer more and more things out of their original core competency. And get too big for their britches. I mean, what's happened is that the sellers on Amazon, the relationships flipped to where Amazon's needed those people and now it's the other way around where they don't need them as much as, as the, uh, the as it was before because they soldiers have helped build their infrastructure and Amazon's now have like, has all this power.

Michael: 47:04 But what's happened is because there's another, if there's a drop shipping on shopify money grab, there's a selling on Amazon money grab. This is an equal thing and, when you create these environments, people are just like Seo, like when, whenever there's money to be made, there's always gonna be people that are going to be trying to do black hat tactics to do illegal or immoral tactics, whatever you want to call them. And so that same thing's happening on Amazon. I think it's destroying the platform. You know, fake reviews, counterfeit products. I mean all these things are starting to get some light where Amazon was like the cheapest and most trustworthy place to shop online. It's becoming quickly not that way anymore. I think that people are more and more are not shopping on Amazon first or not completing the sale on Amazon, which is really exciting for shopify store owners because if that segment of the ecommerce can continue to grow outpacing Amazon, which it hasn't in the past, I think that we're going to see a chef there and then I think that's a pretty bold prediction.

Caroline: 48:08 I like this idea coming out with something like that.

Michael: 48:12 Yeah. I mean I just, again, I, I, I've seen it happen in other industries. I mean that's the unfortunate thing about getting older. You see things happen. Seeing patterns even in different in different niches and your people don't understand Amazon. Like, I mean we, we, we also sell on Amazon as well as on, on shopify, but the average customer doesn't understand the relationship of third party sellers and like how Amazon actually fits into the whole pie and everything. And when it gets to the point where people are buying, uh, there was a great podcast about someone about a toothbrush and it was like a counterfeit toothbrush or whatever. And they didn't even understand like how this whole thing happened or they're reading reviews and it just. And it gets to the point where everyone knows it's all fake and be us, but when you lose that credibility, things happen really quick.

Michael: 48:58 Like the court of public opinion changes things on a dime. Sometimes. There's, there's definitely been other examples of that

New Speaker: 49:04 Like Facebook.

Michael: 49:06 What happens. Exactly. Yeah. That's a great, great example. And you when, when the train starts going the other direction, you know, it becomes like trying to catch a falling knife. You know, it's, it's really a really, really difficult. So, you know, I just, it may be my prediction of this Amazon things because I am rooting for that to happen some way, uh, because they had made it really difficult for, for brand owners. And I think clearly having your own shopify store and presence, uh, is, is, is a way better position to be in.

Caroline: 49:39 Yeah. I think you will like me or any comments a lot longer than I have, but I started 12 years ago and the just the changes in the last 12 years, I think that no one needs to be scared that it's going to stay. Like you said, Amazon's the ruler. I totally agree with you. Yeah. We've seen so much change in the last 10, 12 years that there's going to be continued change.

Michael: 50:01 Yup.

Caroline: 50:03 Yeah. Fun Times, Fun Times. I'm looking forward to it.

Michael: 50:08 I mean, it's hard to know what the future's going to bring, but that's uh, I think uh, I will definitely smile a little of a if that's the way things go.

Caroline: 50:18 Well, it would be great. It gets you back here in a couple of years where you can say, I told you so. Everyone. I told you so...

Michael: 50:23 I was on the forefront of that thought.

Caroline: 50:26 So tell everyone how they can get in touch with you. If they want to learn more about you can help them in some way or about your podcast that I think everyone should listen to that as well. You put really great episodes there. So tell everyone how they can get in touch with you, mark.

Michael: 50:39 Yeah. Thank you. So you mentioned off the bat we have a podcast called ECOM Crew. It's e c o m c r e w on itunes. It's also ecomcrew.com, one of the things we didn't talk about on this, on this particular podcast episode. One of the things that it's really helped propel our ecommerce businesses have something called value first marketing. So you develop a relationship with somebody first by giving them a ton of free stuff. Uh, so with the ecommerce it's been free. Downloadable content or giveaways that we do every month or contests with our community are writing really good content about how to, how to use colored pencils or markers to shade or draw things or whatever. And so for ECOMMERCE, for us it's the same concept of, of this, we have the podcast which is free and we try to deliver a epic really great content and really help people with that.

Michael: 51:37 We also have the blog which, uh, on a concrete outcome that gets into all that as well. And we also have some free mini courses you can sign up at ecomcrew.com/free that the whole idea is to give a whole bunch of value first, but we know the whole idea is that you get comfortable with us and eventually join one of our premium packages which gets you access to all of our courses and be able to email us with any questions you have and join our monthly webinars and all that good stuff. So it's another thing to apply to ecommerce as well and we talk a lot about that stuff on the podcast blog and everything else.

Caroline: 52:15 Fantastic. So I'd love to get you onto my summit, Mike, because I know that we haven't even scratched the surface when it comes to sort of the affiliate marketing within influences and how that all works. And I know you're doing a lot of stuff with your brands and I think you can give a lot of advice in that area. So I'd love to have you on the summit that's coming up and of course you're going to have to come back on the show at some stage to say I told you so that'll definitely be another episode for us that thank you so much for being here. Has been wonderful and I'm really happy with all the advice you given everyone because you definitely have a lot of information to pass on because you have learnt a lot of these.

Michael: 52:55 Yeah, it's easier to learn when you've been through the school of hard knocks. Right? So I, I, and I love the pay for it so hopefully it's been helpful and I appreciate you having me on.

Caroline: 53:03 Perfect. Thanks Mike. Thanks for being here and thanks everyone for listening. Bye. Hi, it's caroline again. Just before I wrap up this podcast, I want us to have a quick word with you and let you know about the summit that I was just talking about with Mike. I have invited him on the summit and they'll also be about 15 to 20 other that are coming on and everyone coming on the show will be an expert in social media influencing in some sort of way. We will have social media influences on there talking about their experiences. I'm going to have marketing experts on there. People just like my who own their own brand and also other people who have apps, so we're gonna have quite a few founders on there talking about apps that will help you with your social media influencer marketing. So it's gonna be an amazing summit.

Caroline: 53:53 It's run over three days. It's held from the 29th of October until the 31st of October, and over those three days we will have speakers on every single day and you will get to watch it free over those three days. Now you feel listening to these and it's after that date. Don't worry head over because you still can get access to a lot of the content for free, so head over to shopify, influence on marketing summit.com and get all the information over there or just head over to justaskparker.com and look up the podcast and you'll find information on each of the podcast pages about the summit as well, but that was shopifyinfluencermarketingsummit.com and all the information is there for you. And just one more thing before I finish up is I wanted to ask you to leave a review for this podcast.

Caroline: 54:44 I have had so much wonderful feedback about this podcast. I've had amazing guests on so far and I've got a lot more amazing guests lined up as well and I've been completely blown away because I've been ranked as number one in the ecommerce section for one of my episodes and this podcast is also had five episodes in the top 200. So the whole category of business and that is just amazing. It's mind blowing to nora that after just such a small amount of episodes so far that I can be ranking so well in the itunes store and I'm blown away by it and I'm so happy to have all the guests that I've had on here involved in that process, but I would love you to leave a review. It's just going to help me find out which podcast episodes of people love the most.

Caroline: 55:31 So leave us a review. Let us know which episode you love, leave a review, and tell us what you want to hear more of to help you succeed with your shopify store. I can't wait to get more guests on. I'm taking this podcast all the way and so far it has been an amazing journey and I can't wait to go further with it, so thank you. Please leave a review. It will really make a difference and make sure you go and check out shopifyinfluencermarketingsummit.com and check out all the information that it's free from the 29th until the 31st of October. So make sure you come and check it out.

Intro/Outro: 56:04 Thanks for listening to the winning with shopify podcast. Join the facebook group facebook.com/groups/winningwithshopify and get our show notes at justaskparker.dot com forward slash podcast. Don't forget to subscribe to this podcast so you never miss an episode as a listener. Get 20 percent off, at JustAskParker.com by using the code "podcast".