The Unofficial Shopify Podcast

BFCM: Prepping for this Holiday Season

Episode Summary

“...the biggest audiences win the Q4 game.”

Episode Notes

If you're going to have the best holiday selling season ever, you need to have a plan in place starting now. But what's that look like? What do we prioritize?

In this episode, we'll talk through phase 1 of your Best-Black-Friday-Ever plan by laying the strategic groundwork you need to succeed.


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Q&A: Online Store 2.0


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In this Ask Us Anything episode, we answer listener questions.

...and more. Somewhat more. Most of it is even Shopify related.

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Episode Transcription

The Unofficial Shopify Podcast

Kurt Elster: We’re talking about Black Friday Q4.

Paul Reda: Are we?

Kurt Elster: Yeah.

Paul Reda: I thought that was the beginning of it.

Kurt Elster: Ah, fuck. Hit me with the cold open.

Paul Reda: So, you’re really into OJ, huh?

Kurt Elster: Yeah. I’ve been hearing a lot of OJ jokes lately and I have to admit, because I grew up watching the trial of the century, there’s some nostalgia. I’ve not not enjoyed the OJ jokes I’ve been hearing.

Paul Reda: You were in what, eighth grade during the OJ trial?

Kurt Elster: Oh no. Younger. Pretty sure I was younger.

Paul Reda: Well, it was my sophomore year of high school.

Kurt Elster: What year was it, was the OJ trial?

Paul Reda: ’94?

Kurt Elster: All right, I was 11. ’94. Oh, that’s 10 years after the Bronco my wife just brought home. She brought home a 1984 walnut brown Bronco.

Paul Reda: Was that uncomfortable for you, that your wife just brought home a Bronco one day without telling you?

Kurt Elster: Well, we discussed it.

Paul Reda: Oh, okay.

Kurt Elster: I was just like, “Well, that’s too good an idea to ignore. Please bring home another strange half-running car.”

Paul Reda: Yeah, so you have a third car now that also doesn’t run.

Kurt Elster: Yeah, I got two of three cars that… You know, not the most reliable things. No safety features at all.

Paul Reda: And then your third car is the Tesla, which has every single feature but also kind of doesn’t run sometimes.

Kurt Elster: That’s not true! No, that one I’ve not had a single problem with.

Paul Reda: Unlike a lot of people.

Kurt Elster: Yeah. Others have been… All right, this is a show about eCommerce and there’s something very exciting right around the corner. It’s Q4. What does Q4 have other than Halloween?

Paul Reda: Labor Day?

Kurt Elster: It does have Labor Day. Black Friday Cyber Monday!

Paul Reda: I don’t think it does have Labor Day.

Kurt Elster: It doesn’t?

Paul Reda: Isn’t Q4 not until October 1st? Yeah. Last three months would be October 1st.

Kurt Elster: Black Friday Cyber Monday. That’s what we’re talking about.

Paul Reda: Is there a sound playing? I don’t know. I don’t have my headphones on, so I don’t have to hear your dumb sounds.

Kurt Elster: No, there wasn’t.

Paul Reda: Oh, okay.

Kurt Elster: This is The Unofficial Shopify Podcast. I’m your host, Kurt Elster, AKA:

Ezra Firestone Sound Board Clip: Tech Nasty!

Kurt Elster: And I’m joined by my business partner and lead developer of many years, Paul Reda, and today we’re discussing predictions and preparation for Q4. Yes, Black Friday season is nigh upon us, my friends. And I’m gonna go with Black Friday season because I think after what we saw last year, we gotta extend this thing out and just stop thinking about it in terms of one weekend. And this is a monthlong event if you’re doing this right.

Paul Reda: I mean, I’ll say for us right now, it is what, August 26th, and you said to me today, “Man, shit’s getting too crazy right now.”

Kurt Elster: Yes.

Paul Reda: So, our stuff is getting too crazy right now in August, so I think this year is only gonna get more nuts.

Kurt Elster: So, normally, yeah, we have the summer slump, which we really… It slowed down in the summer, but nothing like in years past.

Paul Reda: And August is usually dead. First two weeks of August, we’re coming into work just faking it. We got nothing going on.

Kurt Elster: Yeah. Just running around, screwing around, but not this year. This year was… I don’t know. It never slowed down throughout the summer, not particularly, and now all of a sudden August, my kids went back to school last week, and I think a lot of people’s did too, and it’s popping off. You can tell by the volume of inquiries, change requests, questions, that things are picking up steam quickly. And so, I’m excited about Q4 and Black Friday for 2021.

It was strong in 2020. I think it’s gonna be similar to last year. That’s my early prediction now.

Paul Reda: I don’t think it’d be as good as last year, but I think it’ll still be better than 2019.

Kurt Elster: Yeah. If we match 2020-

Paul Reda: That’s a good year.

Kurt Elster: Yeah. That’s what I’m going for.

Paul Reda: No, that’s happening.

Kurt Elster: I think plenty of people would be perfectly happy to do as well as they did in 2020. But first, some housekeeping. So, we’ve been working on our first nine-figure store. So, we’ve got… There’s eight-figure store in there.

Paul Reda: You love saying that term, but that obfuscates what… They do $100 million a year.

Kurt Elster: Yes.

Paul Reda: Nine figures. Well, if you include cents…

Kurt Elster: I shouldn’t use jargon.

Paul Reda: You love it.

Kurt Elster: But I shouldn’t use it. Jargon exists to exclude people.

Paul Reda: Correct.

Kurt Elster: Yeah, so I shouldn’t. All right. Okay, yeah.

Paul Reda: Well, it’s four figures. Okay, a thousand bucks? Wow. Great. Four figures sound way cooler.

Kurt Elster: It sounds very natural to me, and I was watching Generation Hustle on HBO Max, which is great, it’s about Ponzi schemes or scams, and someone was describing this guy who was a con artist posing as a businessman and he’s like, “Yeah, we totally believed him because he just seemed like such a business guy, like he was always referring to dollar values, and number of figures.” And I thought, “Oh. That’s not weird?”

Paul Reda: Yeah, that’s you. No, you’re the only human being I know that talks that way.

Kurt Elster: Really?

Paul Reda: Yes.

Kurt Elster: Uh oh. Gotta turn off CNBC.

Paul Reda: Like my sister-in-law is the CFO of a large company and she doesn’t say that.

Kurt Elster: Okay. So no, yeah, we’re working with our first $100 million store. And to put that in perspective, normally the stores we work with are doing a million a year to $20 million a year, somewhere in that range. So, suddenly like our… You’re catapulted into this environment of bigger eCommerce business.

Paul Reda: Yeah. A lot of the questions that our current client base has is should we go on Plus? How do we properly leverage Plus? How do we properly leverage this? The problem with these guys is we’re gonna break the Shopify API. Get us on a call with Shopify corporate so they can give us special treatment. And they do. It’s incredible.

Kurt Elster: Yeah. Essentially, you say, “Hey, there is a limit.” This is what’s kind of cool about Plus, is you can say, “Hey, we’re encountering this rate limit in the API. Can you raise it for us and here, we’ll make the case for it.” And as long as you can make the legitimate case for it, I have found they’re willing to accommodate you. It's very helpful if you have that problem. Very few stores I would imagine have this issue.

Having your extensive experience, do the nine-figure stores, do they operate differently? Do they have different pains or problems, the $100 million stores versus… in our limited experience, versus everybody else? What’s different?

Paul Reda: No. Their lives are just easier in every single way because people are willing to give you deals on rates. People want to work with you. If you’re doing split testing, you get that data in like 48 hours.

Kurt Elster: Yeah. The gigantic sample size is very exciting.

Paul Reda: If you need money, the money just shows up. It’s really incredible. But while this is our first individual $100 million store, we’ve worked with other private equity firms that have a bunch of stores.

Kurt Elster: A portfolio of brands.

Paul Reda: Yeah, a portfolio of brands that are doing over like $20 million, and I’ve realized that we love working with them. One, because they have a ton of money, so they could pay us, which is obviously our biggest issue. And then two, the guy that started the store is no longer involved with the store, and so-

Kurt Elster: Yeah, by the time the PE firm acquires it for their portfolio, that by definition, you have removed the original owner. The founder and owner disappears.

Paul Reda: Yeah, the founder, the original person that started it is gone, and thus the people remaining that run it have no emotional connection to the business whatsoever. Their only care for the business is does this business make money, yes, no? Not how does it make me feel.

Kurt Elster: Is it efficient and effective? They are emotionally divorced from it.

Paul Reda: And that’s the reason that we went into eCommerce in the first place, is because we were doing way too much feelings development for ad companies about how does-

Kurt Elster: Creatives.

Paul Reda: Like how does the website for our hotel make this guy running the project feel about the hotel, like no. We… eCommerce, when we did those projects, we were like, “Here you go. There’s now more money. See? It was a good job.”

Kurt Elster: Yes. And that’s the advantage to working with those later-stage businesses. I think, though, the emotional investment, you need it.

Paul Reda: You need it at the start.

Kurt Elster: At the start.

Paul Reda: You can’t not really care about a business and build up a business from scratch. You have to care about it.

Kurt Elster: I’ve encountered one out of 500 times an entrepreneur… An early-stage entrepreneur I’ll encounter, so like a startup business, is just… They’re like that machine where they’re not emotionally invested, they don’t care. The other 499 people, they can keep going in the face of adversity because they’re emotionally invested. I think at some point, though, it could cloud your judgment and it can make life more difficult than it needs to be.

Paul Reda: Yeah. It’s like a baby, like in order to raise the baby, you have to love the baby, and care about the baby, and pay attention to the baby all the time. Once the baby’s an adult, leave that adult alone. They don’t need you in their business 24/7. And I think the problem is a lot of these business owners, their little baby’s grown up and they still want to be there changing its diaper every day. It’s like no, just-

Kurt Elster: You gotta let go.

Paul Reda: You gotta let go and let your child blossom by themselves.

Kurt Elster: If you’re thinking to yourself, “Uh oh, it sounds like they’re describing me and I’d like to change that,” which you don’t have to, but if you do, the book The E Myth, if you’ve not read that one yet, is an entrepreneurial classic. And while it does not speak to it in these terms, it really is like, “Okay, here’s a guide to kind of emotionally divest and divorce yourself from the business while keeping it yours and successful.” So, there’s my recommended reading is The E Myth.

So, there’s this new app. I don’t know if you’ve heard of it. It’s called… What is it, like Tok Tik?

Paul Reda: Tactics? Fallout tactics?

Kurt Elster: No. TikTok! That’s it. Yeah, TikTok.

Paul Reda: Let me tell you a little something about myself. I am 40 and I spend my evenings watching movies that are at least 50 years old.

Kurt Elster: Okay.

Paul Reda: What do you think I know about the apps?

Kurt Elster: You like Steam. I’m 39 and most of my social media… When I go fire up YouTube in my house and it’s like, “Here’s your recommended list.” It goes like Disney World, Blippy, which is a toddler show, and then it’s just like how to install a carburetor in a Volkswagen from the 1970s, and then that’s it. That is my content. That’s where we go. I just sweat my ass off in a garage watching YouTube tutorials.

Paul Reda: I need to derail this and issue a correction. If you’re 39, how were you not in eighth grade or freshman year during the OJ trial? Because it was definitely my sophomore year of high school, so you couldn’t have been like, “I was 6.” That math doesn’t work.

Kurt Elster: All right, so I was born in 1983. When did we determine the OJ trial was?

Paul Reda: I don’t know. ’94, ’95.

Kurt Elster: We’re gonna go with I don’t know. I’m gonna go with ’95. No, ’94. The Bronco chase is ’94. So, I was 11.

Paul Reda: We should never look this up.

Kurt Elster: You know what? I don’t want to know. Nobody tell me.

Paul Reda: We’re just letting this hang. I’m just saying you’re bad at math.

Kurt Elster: 100%. Also terrible at geography.

Paul Reda: You’re so bad at time zones. That’s my favorite thing.

Kurt Elster: Every day I arrive on time somewhere, that’s a small miracle.

Paul Reda: I love… You have a big boy business meeting with our $100 million client that’s scheduled for 3:00, like mountain time, and you have to turn to me and go, “It’s at 3:00 mountain time, what time is it here?” And I have to do the math for you.

Kurt Elster: I’ve figured out U.S. time zones, I’ll have you know. I have to like… Really, I second guess myself and double check it, but I got it. Very successful. Can’t do math.

Paul Reda: Yeah, so TikTok, Shopify added shopping things to TikTok. I don’t know, is that a thing? You got like the old men watching teens dancing and then like a thing pops up telling you to buy something?

Kurt Elster: Well, I think it’s a shopping tab. And then I assume it’s a tighter integration on TikTok ads.

Paul Reda: What’s a tab?

Kurt Elster: It’s in-app shopping. So, normally you’d be like I see an ad or link in a bio, and I go to the site in an in-app browser and make my purchase there. Now, instead it’s like all right, we’re gonna show you a grid of products inside the app and then you can just do it from there. That was how I read it. I don’t know. The press release came out the day before our recording, so I have not played with it.

And online store 2.0, everybody’s excited about it. I see people jumping on it early. They want to live on the bleeding edge. And then you see forum posts around like, “Hey, we got our theme working in online store 2.0. Here’s the stuff that doesn’t quite work yet.” I would say wait two weeks. If you’re thinking about it, just give it two weeks for app developers and stuff to catch up with it.

Paul Reda: So, really no change.

Kurt Elster: No change.

Paul Reda: To what we said last time we talked about it.

Kurt Elster: Just reiterating. Not everyone listens to every episode in its entirety, Paul.

Paul Reda: Well, why not? Why not? When… Out of the Sandbox announced their date, didn’t they?

Kurt Elster: Yes. I don’t remember what it was. I’m Googling it. I don’t know. It’s in September.

Paul Reda: At some point, they said?

Kurt Elster: Yes.

Paul Reda: All right.

Kurt Elster: That’s what I’m going with.

Paul Reda: I still don’t think you should be doing it this calendar year. Because they’re gonna be in September. It’ll be the end of September.

Kurt Elster: It’s so close.

Paul Reda: You’re in October. Now we’re in October. You should be doing all your Black Friday stuff. You’re gonna be like, “I’m gonna completely refactor my entire store theme in October.” Don’t do that.

Kurt Elster: If a refactored theme comes out, you know right away there’s gonna be changes to it and updates.

Paul Reda: There’s gonna be bugs. You’re gonna have to redo a bunch of stuff. Yeah. I don’t know how compatible it’s gonna be with your previous install.

Kurt Elster: I would tread lightly.

Paul Reda: Yeah. I wouldn’t do it.

Kurt Elster: Okay, so Black Friday, the point of this episode. We’ve established we think as far as like… It’s gonna be a similar experience to 2020. What does that mean in practice?

Paul Reda: Shipping’s still gonna be boned, I think, so you gotta think about that.

Kurt Elster: How so?

Paul Reda: The shippers are gonna be overloaded and because people now don’t want to work garbage jobs anymore, they’re having problems hiring people.

Kurt Elster: Also true.

Paul Reda: So, that will make it even worse. So, what that means is you probably want to frontload more of your sales. I feel like every sale you make in October that isn’t a sale you make in December, that the October purchase will likely get to the people a lot faster, that’s better for you. That’s giving your customers a more positive experience. So, yeah, do that.

Kurt Elster: Yeah. There’s this logistical potential time bomb here. Last year, we ran into these issues with shipping where people didn’t have inventory, because they couldn’t get it into port, and getting shipments out, like the photos from distribution centers were crazy. Just mountains of boxes and they couldn’t get it out fast enough and you had packages, Christmas packages ordered in November that showed up after Christmas. That’s pretty grim.

Paul Reda: Happened to me.

Kurt Elster: It happened to me, as well.

Paul Reda: Yeah.

Kurt Elster: And so, we know it was a real problem. Last year, people were pushing back. They were like, “Stop talking about Shipageddon. Stop trying to make it happen. It’s not real.” It was very real.

Paul Reda: Yeah. No, I paid-

Kurt Elster: What are you talking about?

Paul Reda: I bought a several hundred-dollar product that I then also paid for the expedited shipping on. Didn’t shop up until two days before New Year’s.

Kurt Elster: And when people accuse me of having some ulterior agenda, what exactly do I get out of saying shipping is gonna be a problem?

Paul Reda: Well, people are paying more attention to you because you’re yelling about something and saying the sky is falling.

Kurt Elster: I’m saying be prepared. What’s the worst-case scenario, you’re able to get stuff out on time? Oh no!

Paul Reda: Yeah.

Kurt Elster: That Elster, tricked me again. Okay, so we’ve got getting inventory in, problem. Getting inventory out, problem. And we kind of figured, okay, well, it will ease up. The snake has eaten the bird egg. The bird egg has to move through the snake. The problem is I think we all assumed that this would be resolved within the following 12 months. Only-

Paul Reda: We all thought a lot of things would be resolved.

Kurt Elster: We did, didn’t we? It didn’t. Those problems never went away. If you see like the port at Long Beach, there’s just boats waiting and the cost of moving a container has become significantly more expensive. So, people are concerned about getting the inventory to sell, so number… I would definitely really think about inventory forecasting here and then just getting the stuff out the door, and that’s why I think same as last year, you’re shooting yourself in the foot if you don’t start November 1st.

Paul Reda: Start what?

Kurt Elster: I think your promos start November 1st. I think you’re running-

Paul Reda: My only to that is, is that too late to start?

Kurt Elster: I would certainly look for reasons to run-

Paul Reda: Look for reasons to have October sales.

Kurt Elster: Yes. And I think your dry run is happening now with Labor Day. That’s like your practice event.

Paul Reda: Yeah. It’s like for Labor Day or something, do Black Friday but do it at like half speed or like quarter speed.

Kurt Elster: Well, all right, so look for excuses in October and 100% I think start on November 1st, but then the other thing we weren’t dealing with last year was iOS 14 and its privacy switch.

Paul Reda: All right, so I’ve been seeing a lot of comments in the group of people being like, “Well, everything was peachy, and my life was smooth sailing, and Mai Tais, and then iOS 14 showed up and it ruined my entire life.” And I’m gonna be honest with you, I have no idea what they did or what happened, or if these people are like sales went down by 10% and they’ve now declared because that was the last thing they heard about, that’s why it’s bad now.

Kurt Elster: That’s recency bias in action?

Paul Reda: Yeah.

Kurt Elster: No, it suddenly got harder to advertise on Facebook.

Paul Reda: Why?

Kurt Elster: The people who spend money online have iPhones. You’re just statistically more likely… You spend more money on the internet if you own an iPhone versus an Android phone.

Paul Reda: Yeah, the Android… iPhone users-

Kurt Elster: I’m not trying to put Android people down. That’s just demographic data.

Paul Reda: They’re just green bubble losers, first of all.

Kurt Elster: Oh my God! One star!

Paul Reda: But secondly, yeah, if you go to your analytics, you will see the average iPhone user spends more on your store than the average Android user. It’s just a fact.

Kurt Elster: Yeah. So, in iOS 14, there was an update. You fire open Facebook and it’s like, “Hey, this app would like to know things about you.” And of course, sane folk say, “I don’t think the Zuck needs to know more about me. He needs to worry about treating that zombie bite he’s hiding. He doesn’t need to know anything else about me.” And that really wrecks up the efficacy of Facebook advertising. And so, in practice what people saw was this update rolls out to people’s phone and then their unchanged Facebook ad campaigns, their return on ad spend starts dropping. And then what’s interesting is what we saw, what Kurt Bullock told me, Facebook expert extraordinaire, was it’s the impressions on Android devices seemed to go way up because the algorithm is going to where it has data. But those people don’t spend as much, typically, so essentially Apple with this change made Facebook ads functionally less effective.

Now, some… There are really smart Facebook folks who are like, “Okay, here’s how we worked around it. Here’s what we’re doing.” It sounded to me like the layperson advice was lean on lookalike audiences and like your remarketing is really stuff your syncing from Klaviyo.

Paul Reda: So, but I mean I’m happy to get deep in the weeds on this. How was the Facebook ad to store purchase chain screwed with? Because you explained this to me earlier and I ignored you, but it was something like you could cookie people if they visited your store.

Kurt Elster: If I’m on my phone and I’ve got Facebook installed.

Paul Reda: Oh, yeah. That’s right.

Kurt Elster: It knew. It essentially fingerprinted my phone and goes, “All right, we know what that guy is even just by IP address.” And now I’m on my phone and I’m browsing.

Paul Reda: In Safari. Not in Facebook.

Kurt Elster: In Safari.

Paul Reda: Yeah.

Kurt Elster: And the website I’m on probably has the Facebook pixel on it. Facebook then goes, “Ah, same guy, and these are the websites they visited. This is the website he visited, and these are the actions on the website he took.” That’s where it’s been really severely limited. So, remarketing, which is where you’d really clean up in return on ad spend, because it’s a warm audience, that’s really what’s been limited here.

Paul Reda: So, you were marketing to… When you were remarketing to people it was people that were cookied by the Facebook pixel who ostensibly didn’t view your site at all in Facebook, but just as an independent person in Safari was looking at your site, and then Facebook knew about it, and then you could buy ads for that person in Facebook, and what happened is that connection got sliced.

Kurt Elster: Yes.

Paul Reda: Okay.

Kurt Elster: Yeah. Now, some people went, “You know what? Zuckerberg and the zombie bite can know about me. That’s fine.”

Paul Reda: All right. First of all, he’s not a zombie. He’s an alien who’s having a tough time with his skin suit.

Kurt Elster: What if he’s an android, like Data? Because he looks a little gold sometimes.

Paul Reda: Yeah. He is like Data.

Kurt Elster: Oh, I love Data.

Paul Reda: So, if that connection has been sliced, how else can we get to those people? That’s one way. I mean, I assumed you could still do like abandoned cart stuff, and it’s… You just said we could still do lookalike audiences, which is you do still have some people that you have cookied and can see what they look like, and you could build a lookalike audience off of those people and then market to the lookalike audience?

Kurt Elster: Yes.

Paul Reda: Okay, so do that.

Kurt Elster: The strategy is unchanged. It’s always the same. I was talking to Kunle Campbell yesterday, who hosts the 2x eCommerce Podcast, and he said a quote that stuck with me. I wrote it down, because I was like, “This is good.” He said, “Brands that have the biggest audiences win the Q4 game. It’s that simple.” He’s right. It is that simple.

Paul Reda: Well, yeah. Duh. I’m gonna totally steal that guy’s thunder. I mean, 2x. I’m gonna start the 3x podcast. How about that?

Kurt Elster: Just wait till you get a load of my 5x.

Paul Reda: Oh yeah? 7-minute abs.

Kurt Elster: So, I think that’s the thing to focus on, but with the knowledge that in years past, you could really lean on remarketing and it’s going to be… That’s going to be tougher this year. And so, but cold traffic really, like on Black Friday, never particularly worked.

Paul Reda: You’re not… Yeah.

Kurt Elster: And it was so expensive.

Paul Reda: Yeah. And that’s something we’ve talked about in previous years that is even more of a thing now, which is if you are marketing to cold traffic on Black Friday, you’re dead. You didn’t plant any seeds for the winter. It is now January, and you have no food. You should just be harvesting all the seeds you planted in September and October.

Kurt Elster: Yes.

Paul Reda: So, how do we plant the seeds?

Kurt Elster: I would still ramp up paid social now because it’s gonna get more expensive later, but it’s also less effective than ever, so I would-

Paul Reda: Do it as cheaply as you can get it.

Kurt Elster: Yeah. I wouldn’t give up on it because you… If they take action through the ad in Facebook, I can retarget to those people. So, I’m still going to say… All right, the strategy is the same. Attempt to build your… expand your pixels. Grow your remarketing audiences now if you can with Facebook. But with that grain of salt.

But with it, all right, you gotta grow all your lists. So, that’s gonna be email, which we can then sync those audiences into Facebook from Klaviyo.

Paul Reda: All right, so that’s one type of remarketing, if you already have their email.

Kurt Elster: Yeah. And of course, the email channel itself is probably gonna be your number one revenue driver.

Paul Reda: It better be.

Kurt Elster: Never changes. So, lean on email. You gotta grow that email list. But how you gonna grow it? I like giveaways a lot. I like popups with coupon offers. If you don’t have a popup strategy, you’re just not collecting enough emails.

Paul Reda: Well, and we’ve talked about this before. Obviously, this is if you’ve already gotten them to purchase, but you can really nudge them with free gift with purchase. It’s obviously a gift-giving season, so if you can nudge people to buy by saying, “Oh, if you buy something we’ll give you this free pin, or this free sticker,” or something that costs you literally 25 cents but is way more likely to make someone buy the $50 product if they get a free little 25-cent tchotchke. It’s amazing how much it works.

Kurt Elster: As long as it’s an exclusive.

Paul Reda: Yeah. You gotta make it exclusive. You gotta make it special. You gotta make it today only or tomorrow only. And it works.

Kurt Elster: Human psychology. We love scarcity. Can’t avoid it.

Paul Reda: Actually, we hate scarcity.

Kurt Elster: Yeah. We love it, hate it. It’s a real conversion lever. All right, so we got our email, first party, our email lists, our remarketing pixel. SMS, if you’re into it. I don’t know. It doesn’t work for everybody. I guess not everyone will give it a chance. But of the brands I know that have used SMS, you end up with a smaller list that is highly engaged, so I still like SMS. So, if you’re already doing it, see if you can grow those lists. Again, I think it’s with… It’s popup offers is probably what’s gonna drive most of your SMS and email, but figuring out, getting the right popup, with the right offer, to the right person, at the right time, that’s the thing you want to experiment with.

All right, so Facebook, we’re disillusioned with it. There are other channels out there and if you’re going to start experimenting with new channels, maybe take 15% of that Facebook ad budget and shift that to let’s experiment with some other channels. Obviously, you want to do that right now, not, “I’ll figure this out November 1st.”

Paul Reda: Yeah, again, the main thing we ask of you, doing a sub-optimal thing in September is way better than trying to do anything in November.

Kurt Elster: Yes. Absolutely. So, there was a great post in our Facebook group, in which someone asked, “Any marketing experts drive meaningful revenue with platforms outside of Google and Facebook?” Oh, I’d love to know the answer, my friend. But there were a whole bunch of comments where people said, “Yeah, and here’s what’s working.”

Paul Reda: Everyone’s saying Snapchat. Everyone’s saying TikTok. 7x to 8x ROAS on TikTok ads, which in the grand perfect world of when Facebook ads were banging would be a terrible Facebook ad ROAS, but in our brand-new world of no one knows what works anymore, maybe 7x-8x is really good.

Kurt Elster: No, 7x-8x is good for I think any channel.

Paul Reda: Okay. I don’t know.

Kurt Elster: No, 7x-8x, I’ll take it. I put in a dollar; I get out seven? I’m in. I mean, I suppose it depends on what your margins are and what you sell.

Paul Reda: Yeah. Obviously.

Kurt Elster: But yeah, that will probably… That dog will hunt for most folks. Pinterest. Well, I’m surprised to see Snapchat get mentioned in here. Because obviously we chase the shiny toy, and TikTok is the new hotness.

Paul Reda: TikTok is cool now. Snapchat is not cool anymore.

Kurt Elster: So many people have told me, “Hey, you won’t believe the results I’m getting with Snapchat ads.” I have no direct experience with this, but my suspicion is because so many people are ignoring Snapchat as advertisers, but it still has a relevant audience…

Paul Reda: It still has millions of monthly users.

Kurt Elster: Yeah. I’m guessing you can buy ads on that for much less than Facebook.

Paul Reda: That’s why, like remember eight or nine years ago it was like, “Well, go buy Bing ads,” because no one was buying Bing ads and there were still millions of Bing users.

Kurt Elster: Guess what? You could still do it. You could still buy Bing ads. There was a commenter who suggested it.

Paul Reda: Maybe buy Bing ads.

Kurt Elster: Yeah. I know. Why are we so married to and obsessed with Facebook and Google? I think like… they’re the biggest.

Paul Reda: Well, because they’re obviously 90% of the market. And with TikTok, it’s because that’s the cool new thing.

Kurt Elster: Yes.

Paul Reda: Hey, remember Clubhouse?

Kurt Elster: What? I don’t… No.

Paul Reda: I thought… I was told that was awesome.

Kurt Elster: That was the big… That would be forever and everywhere.

Paul Reda: Wasn’t that awesome? That was gonna take everything over?

Kurt Elster: Yeah.

Paul Reda: You know, there was a comment in the Facebook group last week that was a comic saying, “This is how Paul acts before they start recording.” And there was one character who was really mean and said he hated everybody and then Kurt made him record the podcast, and I want to make it clear. I don’t hate everybody. I’m a very nice, pleasant person, which is something a nice and pleasant person would say.

Kurt Elster: I was gonna say, you know, no one thinks they’re a bad person, Paul.

Paul Reda: I just have the mindset of this is probably bullshit until I’m proven wrong, which no one in the tech industry seems to share. And-

Kurt Elster: I know. They’re like, “Whoa! It’s hot and shiny! Throw money at it!”

Paul Reda: It’s like, “I heard that’s a new thing! It must be good!” And everyone just talks about how great it is.

Kurt Elster: And then when you question it, they’re like, “Whoa! This guy’s a curmudgeon.”

Paul Reda: Yeah, “He’s such a hater,” when I’m just like, “Yeah, it’s probably horseshit.” And I’m right more times than I’m wrong, so I’m happy to fulfill that niche.

Kurt Elster: Well, thanks. You’re performing a public service.

Paul Reda: I am. I’m actually, I’m like-

Kurt Elster: You’re the hero we need.

Paul Reda: I’m kind of like Gandhi.

Kurt Elster: Oh. Well, yeah.

Paul Reda: When you think about it.

Kurt Elster: I was thinking more like Batman.

Paul Reda: No.

Kurt Elster: Christian Bale Batman, to be clear.

Paul Reda: Val Kilmer.

Kurt Elster: Aw. Pinterest, somebody said they got 17.5X ROAS out of Pinterest. This one’s interesting. I have seen… I’ve seen lots of people try Pinterest and get nowhere, and I think it’s really like your audience has to be there, but then other people run Pinterest and do really well with it.

Paul Reda: Well, I mean doesn’t Julie run a bunch of Pinterest ads and they work great for her?

Kurt Elster: She does organic Pinterest and for a long time that was the number one traffic source. Now, Google has eclipsed it, but it’s just like that’s the nature of SEO. It’s a long game. But yeah, in the short term, Pinterest both paid ads and organic could work. And we have past content about that.

Someone said, “I’ve generated a lot of revenue by getting featured as a guest on podcasts.” Yeah, certainly. That one’s easier said than done. It’s really… It’s cold emailing. You gotta pitch people.

Paul Reda: Yeah. Yeah. You just-

Kurt Elster: And you have to have a topic that you can find podcasts for.

Paul Reda: Yeah. You need to find a podcast that’s relevant to your business and then something that you can be an expert at that the podcast would want to have you on as an interesting guest. So, you… That’s sort of like influencer marketing. You know-

Kurt Elster: Except you’re the influencer.

Paul Reda: Yeah, I was about to say there’s influencer marketing, but it’s… There’s two sides of the same coin, which is you get other influencers to talk about how great your product is, or you become the influencer talking about how great your product is.

Kurt Elster: You know, that’s really… That’s the best thing to do.

Paul Reda: Oh, without a doubt.

Kurt Elster: Yeah. You’re right.

Paul Reda: Well, I mean that all feeds back into our whole thing where people buy things from people and not from brands.

Kurt Elster: Yes. Yeah.

Paul Reda: So, like you have to become the expert person at the problem that your product is solving and then you go everywhere and tell them how your product is solving the problem. And you know, like so many 1950s brands, you have to create the problem first and then say, “Doesn’t this happen in your life? Isn’t that a problem? I can fix it for you now, now that you know it’s a problem.”

Kurt Elster: You know, great example… Think about teeth whitening.

Paul Reda: Yeah.

Kurt Elster: Yeah. It was not a problem to have normal-looking teeth until the last 20 years, at which point every product I buy has whitening agents in it and now my teeth are blue and look like chiclets.

Paul Reda: Yeah. You really got some chompers.

Kurt Elster: Thank you. Yeah. But yeah, no, it’s an excellent example and point. Another one that seems obvious, but nobody does it, somebody commented, and they said YouTube by repurposing your best-performing Facebook video ads.

Paul Reda: But how long is a Facebook video ad, five seconds? 10 seconds?

Kurt Elster: You can make it several minutes if you want. The ones that perform really well are about 20, 30 seconds. You can run a 20, 30-second unskippable ad placement on YouTube.

Paul Reda: Oh, as an ad. I run ad block. I wouldn’t know there are ads on YouTube. Plebs. So, I just thought they were talking about uploading it as a video. Okay. Yeah, it’s like a commercial. YouTube is the new TV for everyone under the age of 20 and you’re just running TV… It’s like you wouldn’t say TV ads are stupid, so run YouTube ads.

Kurt Elster: Yeah. Very much the same thing and the same approach. Because we’ll watch YouTube on our Apple TV, you know, when I’m watching Blippy-

Paul Reda: Stop watching Blippy.

Kurt Elster: Yeah, the parents with toddlers are like, “Oh, Blippy.” And it’ll stop and be like, “Ad 1 of 2,” and then it… Oftentimes, they’re regular TV ads.

Paul Reda: Oh, yeah.

Kurt Elster: Yeah. So, there’s nothing stopping you from the doing the same thing and accessing those same eyeballs.

Paul Reda: I’ve been hearing a lot of stuff about Bluey?

Kurt Elster: Bluey?

Paul Reda: Bluey is good?

Kurt Elster: Yes. My four-year-old loves Bluey. She the other day came up to me with her… She made a circle with one hand, placed it on the other palm like this. This will only work for the video version of the podcast. And she said, “Stick your finger in there.” So, I did, and she said, “Swirl it around.” I did. And she said, “Now you’re cleaning my toilet,” and laughed at me.

Paul Reda: What does that have to do with Bluey?

Kurt Elster: She learned it from Bluey upon interrogation. Yeah.

Paul Reda: All right, great.

Kurt Elster: We were shocked and she was thrilled. Someone said infomercials, old school. Every time I see… You ever see the commercials for like the Tac-visor, and the Tac-light-

Paul Reda: Oh, the Tac-light. Yeah, I remember the Tac Light ads.

Kurt Elster: Yeah. That guy has a series of products that really… None of them are amazing or special but it’s got this fantastic As Seen on TV commercial to go with it just like the ones we remember from kids, except now it’s like, “Go to this website.”

Paul Reda: Yeah. Instead of having the blue screen with an 800 number and like, “Wait six to eight weeks for delivery.”

Kurt Elster: If you don’t know what we’re talking about, look those up on YouTube. They’re fascinating. And then just shot for shot recreate it with your own product and you’ll print money.

Paul Reda: Those are direct response ads, though. Those are not infomercials. Infomercials is a half hour of George Foreman telling you to buy the grill.

Kurt Elster: That’s a direct response ad. Yes. I mean, you could do those, I just don’t…

Paul Reda: That’s a big commitment.

Kurt Elster: Yeah, that’s a bigger commitment, so instead of infomercials, we’ll say direct response ads.

Paul Reda: And if your target market is over the age of like 35, make them just like the direct response ads from the early ‘90s, because they’ll just automatically like it.

Kurt Elster: Yes. Oh yeah, totally. ‘80s, ‘90s nostalgia is coming back hard.

Paul Reda: No shit.

Kurt Elster: Yeah. That’s really… Psychologically, that’s 100% what drove my wife’s purchase of ’84 Bronco, was like, “Wow, this was… I remember this when I was a kid,” like that kind of thing.

Paul Reda: That’s why I’m tooling around in a ’91 Taurus.

Kurt Elster: No, you’re not.

Paul Reda: I’m not.

Kurt Elster: Reddit. Reddit ads. I don’t know anyone who does Reddit ads. They seem so simple, like it’s just a text headline and a link, so you could try running those.

Paul Reda: I mean, I’d be interested in knowing what the return on those are.

Kurt Elster: Yeah, I don’t know. And it’s… I think for those to work, I think you have to be a Redditer and be tapped into that culture.

Paul Reda: Which again, yeah, if you’re selling something to a subculture. You know, we always talk about like watering holes, like where does your subculture hang out? Go there and become a person to that entire community.

Kurt Elster: Better be authentic. They’ll sniff you out immediately.

Paul Reda: True. And so, that’s a great starting spot. There’s like a subreddit for everything. So, I guess what we’re saying is A, get started early. Figure your shit out now, in September. How are you going to get touch points on people so you can retouch them in November to sell them stuff? And two, get those touch points any way that you can. Try everything, think of everything, think of websites you go to, think of places where you see ads. You could probably advertise there, too. Give it a shot.

Kurt Elster: For the next 60 days, when choosing where to spend your resources, your time and money, especially in marketing, but in general with your business, ask yourself the fundamental question, “Does this grow my audience?” If the answer is no, you probably shouldn’t prioritize it until after Black Friday.

Paul Reda: Yeah. Like honestly, I understand you want to be making sales all the time. You don’t want to just shut off… If you had two spigots that’s like the new audience spigot and the sales spigot, you don’t want to shut off the sales spigot, but the new audience spigot is your focus for the next two months. And then in November, you are just hitting those people constantly.

Sound Board:

Kurt Elster: Now, assuming that you’re like, “Well, that’s easy. I already got that nailed. I got more traffic than I know what to do with. I’m not worried about shipping anything because we have a network of drones and carrier pigeons. What else you got for me?” Well then, at that point, now I think is the time to try and shore up your conversion rate and get really aggressive. If you’re in that position, all right, get really aggressive with split testing. Maybe you have the time and resources to mess with getting your online store 2.0 theme going.

But not until all that other stuff is out of the way would I be looking at that. Yeah.

Paul Reda: Yeah.

Kurt Elster: All right, let’s leave it there. I think that’s solid.

Paul Reda: Did it again.

Kurt Elster: Oh, another one in the bag. Whew.

Sound Board:

Paul Reda: This is really great. I just see you hitting buttons and like, “He’s probably playing something stupid.” And I don’t even know.

Kurt Elster: I was not. I absolutely was not.

Sound Board: Yakkety Sax music.

Kurt Elster: I was not playing anything stupid over here. So, I would love to hear your thoughts on this episode. Please join our Facebook group. Search The Unofficial Shopify Podcast on Facebook, join us. I’ll probably let you in the group and we’d love to hear your thoughts. All right, see you guys.