The Unofficial Shopify Podcast: Entrepreneur Tales

How Ezra Firestone plans to make a million dollars on Black Friday (with this exact blueprint)

Episode Summary

The marketing blueprint that’s Helping Ezra Firestone run a seven-figure Black Friday sale.

Episode Notes

In 2018, Ezra Firestone generated $700K over Black Friday, with $100k alone on Thanksgiving for his Shopify store BOOM by Cindy Joseph.

This year he plans do 30% more and he's going to tell us exactly how.

Master Marketer Ezra Firestone breaks down the exact Black Friday and holiday email campaigns he'll be running this year.

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Episode Transcription

Kurt Elster: Hello and welcome to the Unofficial Shopify Podcast. I'm your host, Kurt Elster. Today we're talking nothing but Black Friday prep. Some industry gossip will slip in here because we are with the original eCommerce authority, Ezra Firestone.

Kurt Elster: Mr. Firestone, I've heard you're not a guru and you hate this label. Let's talk about that.

Ezra Firestone: You know, guru has such a negative stigma. People think of gurus as creepy. People think of gurus as like ... it's just like if you get called a guru, you kind of feel icky. I never labeled myself a guru. I was one of the first, if not the first, sort of experts, eCommerce influencers who began documenting and sharing my experience with the world. I didn't get this authority because I was any kind of smart. I just saw what was happening with blogging back in 2015, six, seven. I saw all the mommy bloggers. I saw what content marketing was and I started doing it because it sounded like fun. Then, I got lucky that eCommerce took off. I just happened to be in the eCommerce sector and then eCommerce took off. I'm definitely not a guru, thank you very much.

Ezra Firestone: I'll tell you what I do hear. You want to talk about a guru? I hear, from what I understand, there's a new kid on the block. There's a new video influencer out there. There's a guy out here with drones, a guy out here with camouflage jackets, a guy out here old school ... just took one of the oldest trick in the book, driving around in a car filming himself talking, went to Disneyland. I hear there's a new video marketer in the game. Kurt Elster, ladies and gentlemen.

Ezra Firestone: I've been enjoying your content, man. I was telling you before we went that you're one of my favorite Twitter follows because not only do you have industry gossip, whatever's going down in the industry you're sharing, but you're also commenting on and sort of in your spot of hosting this, getting to relate with a bunch of folks in the industry. You're always commenting. I get to learn about different people in the industry and what's going on from following you. I think you are the guru, thank you very much. I'm just some guy.

Kurt Elster: That means a lot to me. Over the years, we've come to know each other, become friends. Okay. Sometimes I just text you to see what's going on. That's tremendous validation for me because years ago it was like I used to have clients approach me who go, "Oh." They're like, "Here's this thing we've got to do, because Ezra Firestone suggested it." I was just like, "All right, well enough people are telling me we got to do this thing because Ezra said so, so we may as well try it and see what happens." Low and behold, it was good advice.

Kurt Elster: Through experience, I discovered, "All right. I got to pay attention to this guy because he's making my clients money. He's making me money. He knows what he's talking about." Your social media strategy, it sounds like, is the same one I'm using. It is simply working in public. When I'm proud of something, I share it and I try to give you the insight on like, "Okay. I need to get out of my own head." I say, "All right. Here's why you should care about this." I always call those my quick wins. People love that, where you're enabling people.

Ezra Firestone: Totally. I know that this is about Black Friday/Cyber Monday. For all you eCommerce folks, we will get there.

Kurt Elster: Sorry.

Ezra Firestone: What I want to just touch on is I feel like right now we watched the phase of Google Ad sends when I got into the game and then Google Ad words and then search engine optimization and then Amazon optimization and businesses and e-Books and private labeling and Facebook ads and Instagram ads and Pinterest ads. We've kind of seen these waves, right? Right now, the business model that is available, agnostic of strategy of what you're selling, be it services like you or physical products and information like me, or software, whatever you're selling, the business model is do something passionately, well, and document that. Then the group of people who is also interested in that thing, be it kettle bell workouts or whatever, will subscribe to and follow you. Then that group of people that's sharing that collective experience, in this case, that group of people who is interested in that will follow you.

Ezra Firestone: If you can add value and demonstrate that you know what you're talking about, they will also buy stuff from you if you have things that are good for them. This is the same model I use [inaudible 00:04:16] by Cindy Joseph. We do content that is about the experience of our consumers. Our consumer is 50 and over women. They're having hormonal shifts in their body. Their hair is graying. Their skin is changing. Everybody is telling them that the aging process that they're going through is bad. There's a collective experience that's being shared by a group of people. We put content in front of them that touches on that. Then those folks subscribe to us by simply consuming. That's the subscription because we can re-target the people that visit our articles or re-target the people who watch our videos, et cetera, et cetera, our Facebook fans and followers and YouTube subscribers. Those engaged subscribers are the ones who buy from us.

Ezra Firestone: I think that right now that is the model in every market is obviously content marketing. I know you talk a lot about this, but especially influencer-ship. You don't have to do this, and you can make it without doing this. You can go full direct response, or you can go full branded where there's not a person behind it, but if you have the desire or interest in building a following around a personal brand, it is so powerful. We're seeing it at the highest levels. Goop and a lot of these physical product brands are now partnering with people who already have audiences, which is old school as well. I just feel like this has now become available to everyone, and you and I jumped on this many, many years ago but it's definitely not too late. We're at the early stages of this style of business where any individual person in any particular space can create an audience by talking about and documenting what they're doing in that particular category. I think that that model is a really powerful one and should be embraced more than some folks are even seeing.

Kurt Elster: I have heard that within Shopify, like it comes from the top, from Toby the CEO, feels the core of checkout ... or the core of Shopify is the checkout, so don't mess with it. We saw that in people used to side load garbage into the checkout by ... you could paste scripts into-

Ezra Firestone: Yeah. Yeah.

Kurt Elster: Additional-

Ezra Firestone: Yeah.

Kurt Elster: Into the page. You could use Java Script to rewrite how a page looks. They'd lock that down. It's like, "Okay. Clearly they were actively defending the thing," and

Ezra Firestone: Yeah.

Kurt Elster: In the past you had to add cool stuff like subscriptions. Really the only way was to rebuild the Shopify checkout, which is no easy task, replicate it, and now they finally added checkout extensions as a solution. You have a replacement checkout and it does something very cool in a one-click upsell. Talk to me about it.

Ezra Firestone: Yeah. Well, so yeah. Everything they do from multi-currency to integrations to a bunch of different gateways to integration to social networks, it's hard to keep up with them from a development perspective. What my app does is it extends the checkout and offers direct response functionality. One click upsells. We've got pre-purchase upsells coming. We've got cart up. We've got all kinds of really fun upsell and cross sell stuff. What we are really looking for is a native integration so we don't have to develop checkout to match all of Shopify's function, which is extremely difficult. They announced-

Kurt Elster: They announced it, though. Yeah. Yeah.

Ezra Firestone: Shopify at Unite, that this is coming and I just think that that, for people like me, is a really great thing because ... and I have been working. You know I know these guys from a long, long time ago, before they were this big, giant company. I was up at Shopify ... I produced the first course for them for their eCommerce University back in 2012 or 2013. I've been with them. It's really nice to know that they are going to allow folks like me ... because it was either that or we were going to get shut down, one or the other, and I really thought it was more likely that they were just going to boot us all. I would've had to fire 20 developers. I would've had to fire six or seven people on my support and marketing team. It was going to be really, really rough.

Ezra Firestone: A little bit of industry gossip is that that's all still in the works. What other gossip do we have out there that's good?

Kurt Elster: The Shopify fulfillment network, which is essentially their answer to fulfillment by Amazon. I started wondering, "Is anyone actually on this?"

Ezra Firestone: I don't think yet they are. I don't think they are. Yeah.

Kurt Elster: Well, I asked on Facebook and Twitter and I found two or three separate people who are in the process of onboarding with it right now. They said-

Ezra Firestone: Okay.

Kurt Elster: They haven't fulfilled anything yet. They're still setting it up and sending product to Shopify, but the onboarding process, they said, is so far very good. Just this week or last week, Shopify paid many millions for this AI fulfillment software-

Ezra Firestone: Right.

Kurt Elster: Which clearly-

Ezra Firestone: River Six-

Kurt Elster: River Six.

Ezra Firestone: They changed it to Six River. Yeah.

Kurt Elster: Six River. Clearly, that's for this ... beefing up this fulfillment network.

Ezra Firestone: Dude, I think it was like 450 million or something like that. I think it was something like that. I really think it's like, "Listen, every brand that I have that really has an identity, that's really well-oiled, that's really doing a good job, is three to four years old." I think we kind of got to give Shopify a little leeway to work out the kinks, to get organized. Maybe they're so big and so fancy that's not going to take them as long, but I don't think we can judge that infrastructure or product for at least six months to 12 months.

Kurt Elster: I agree. Yeah. It's unfair to judge something so early. I think this is true of any new product launch. New hardware comes out, iPhones. Oh my gosh. Don't be the guy that buys the first one. Wait. Wait a couple months. Get revision one of the hardware. Trying to think if I've got any other industry gossip.

Ezra Firestone: Last bit of gossip. Does anyone know what happened to Mail Chimp? Did they tank? Are they public? [inaudible 00:09:49] What happened? Mail Chimp got the boot. They got. You don't want to frame it that way and whatever, but in my world, I'm all Shopify all day. There's no way to ... like let's just be transparent about the camp that I'm in. I'm in camp Shopify. Shopify has changed my life. I love this company. I love everything they've done for me. I love the opportunity to collaborate with them. I'm going to be in camp Shopify because not only do I use them and not only are there a bunch of really amazing people who work at that company whose hearts are in the right places and all that, and sure, they have their ups and downs and their kinks and quirks as any big, giant corporation does, but I'm team Shopify all day. What I want to know, and not that I have anything against Mail Chimp, but it's like Mail Chimp did what it took. They did everything it took to get the boot out of the ecosystem as far as I can tell-

Kurt Elster: I found-

Ezra Firestone: So what happened?

Kurt Elster: I was not a fly on the wall for these discussions, but Shopify's very forgiving when ... if you screw up in the ecosystem. From every experience that I've seen, they say, "Hey. All right." They're always good about it, very professional, like, "All right. Here's what you're doing wrong. Here's what you have to change. Please do it." In no universe do I think this happened unexpectedly. I think they really did, when they say they made an effort to work this out, I ... my experience says that that's true.

Ezra Firestone: I agree with you, for sure, because I've had things where they've been like, "Hey, dude, I don't think you know you're doing this, but this isn't cool."

Kurt Elster: Yeah.

Ezra Firestone: I'd be like, "Oh my God. I didn't know that wasn't cool. Let me stop that." Do we know what happened to Mail Chimp? Because you ... this is one of the things on Twitter is I found out from one of your Twitter posts that some other-

Kurt Elster: Yes.

Ezra Firestone: Company got the boot. Then I was looking into it and I was like, "Oh my God. I integrate with this company. I better switch that integration." Remember this?

Kurt Elster: It was [Beaconing 00:11:43].

Ezra Firestone: Beaconing. They were a big deal at one point.

Kurt Elster: Yeah. There was a supposed Shopify Plus outage that turned out to be Beaconing script wasn't loading and it was preventing pages from rendering.

Ezra Firestone: Oh.

Kurt Elster: Wow.

Ezra Firestone: They didn't-

Kurt Elster: That's-

Ezra Firestone: Take responsibility for that?

Kurt Elster: I think they did and then something ... I don't know what else they did that was upsetting. Then they also, if you look on Beaconing's site, you can see they started building a Shopify clone. They started building their own eCommerce platform, which is fine.

Ezra Firestone: Well, this is the Mail Chimp thing, dude.

Kurt Elster: Yes.

Ezra Firestone: Why are you going to bite the hand that feeds you?

Kurt Elster: I know.

Ezra Firestone: Why are you going to try and dip into the cookie jar? Just do your thing alongside. I don't get it. Now that we have seen twice now in the span of six months that if you are a bad actor you will stone cold get the boot, I feel like-

Kurt Elster: I'm happy to see it.

Ezra Firestone: You were happy to see it?

Kurt Elster: I'm happy to see if-

Ezra Firestone: Tell me about-

Kurt Elster: You're a bad actor they'll toss you because it means they're ... it means Shopify is putting merchant security and protection before their own profit, because they get a ... I'm sure that was a sizeable amount of revenue that those-

Ezra Firestone: Right.

Kurt Elster: Beaconing apps generated for them. It's essentially passive income for them, and for them to say, "All right. Well, this isn't in the best interest of merchants. You got to go."

Ezra Firestone: Yeah.

Kurt Elster: That-

Ezra Firestone: They probably-

Kurt Elster: That's a good thing.

Ezra Firestone: They probably saw from Clavio that merchants won't leave Shopify. They'll just leave Mail Chimp and go to Clavio.

Kurt Elster: Oh.

Ezra Firestone: Anyways. All right. [crosstalk 00:13:12].

Kurt Elster: Yeah. Sorry. We'll talk about ... all right. Yeah.

Ezra Firestone: Clavio. How about Clavio coming up in the game? I was supposed to speak at their Clavio Boston Conference, but it didn't work out this year.

Kurt Elster: I'll be there.

Ezra Firestone: I use them. I love them. Yeah. My team will be there, so we'll maybe connect you guys.

Kurt Elster: Let's discuss Black Friday. Number one, tell me why should I care. Why should I listen to Ezra Firestone what he has to say about Black Friday?

Ezra Firestone: Well, every year for the past since, let's say, 2016, I have done between four and five million dollars in revenue in November and December. I have been running Black Friday/Cyber Monday promotions since 2008. I have been literally figuring out what the best system structure, sales process, email process, advertising process, multichannel re-targeting process, sales page, landing page, anticipation process works for this sale event, because if you are like me and you are an eCommerce merchant through and through, you understand the power that exists on ... in this buying season, the cultural and societal conditioning that we receive that this is the time to buy gifts and share gifts from the Christmas to all the holidays to the all that to purchasing for ourselves to make ourselves feel good.

Ezra Firestone: This is when, if you just look at where the money is flowing in eCommerce, the eCommerce sector, the ... maybe for retail too. I don't really understand the retail market as much, but this is when the money, the opportunity for sales, is at its highest in most markets. I've been an online merchant with my own eCommerce store since early 2007. I've now been doing this for 12 years straight. Every year for me, my Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales have done better.

Kurt Elster: What do you expect to do this year?

Ezra Firestone: You know, projections are difficult. This year I expect my holiday sales to be up 30% year over year from last year. I can pull up my analytics here. It might take me a second. Are you frozen or are you still hearing me?

Kurt Elster: I can still hear you. You cut out a little bit but I got your goal is to do a 30% improvement. I know you told me what you did last year when we talked previously, but it was sizeable. I don't recall what it was.

Ezra Firestone: Basically, from ... we do a presale campaign. What we've discovered is that 80 to 90% of our sales on Black Friday/Cyber Monday come from warm audiences. We are not really a big cold audience or gifting business. Basically, we found that 80 to 90% of our sales, Black Friday/Cyber Monday true monetization comes from warm audiences, which is past buyers, past email subscribers, past fans and followers, past website visitors. We really structure our sale to kind of monetize that audience. Some businesses have a much more cold audience strategy for the holiday sale, but for us I'm going to just show you what we do. Yes, we do still run some ... obviously we're running cold ads all of those months and those work, too. We're doing gifting and all. We're doing all that kind of stuff, but the real bulk of the value comes from the engagement of the past buyers and subscribers.

Ezra Firestone: We ran a presale campaign from Friday 11/8. This year it'll be Friday 11/8, November 8, to Thanksgiving Thursday November 28th. It will be three dedicated emails and it will be a whole bunch of ads. These dedicated emails will kind of introduce and educate the audience on what sort of our brand is and there'll be sub themes on our pro-age messaging and beauty within. It'll be about affirmations. All of this will be going to an early bird opt-in page, where it's like, "Hey. Here's a little bit of content. Oh, by the way, we've got this really big sale coming up and you should opt in to be the first to hear about it." Because what we've discovered is that when we build anticipation for a sale event, it performs almost double. People really like the idea of knowing about something in advance and then waiting for it and then engaging with it.

Ezra Firestone: In particular, all of the buyers that are really going to move ... maybe buy once or even twice over the holiday sale, they're going to engage on the Black Friday through Cyber Monday weekend. Then we've got a bunch of sub campaigns after that, so campaign number one is 11/8 to 11/28, three to four dedicated emails to the list, When we're not sending a dedicated email to go join the early bird list, all the content that we send out, our blog posts, things like that, there's a P.S. image at the bottom of that in the email that links over to the early bird opt in page. We've got four or five sub themes because what we used to do is like, "Hey. The sale's going on. Black Friday/Cyber Monday. Buy it. Yay. Yay. Yay." Then, "Hey," transition into, "Hey, the holidays are coming up and make sure you get your orders before the shipping deadline. Hey, this is your last chance." It was all about the sale.

Ezra Firestone: This year, we're sub theming it. Basically, we've got our prelaunch campaign and then we've got Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Friday 11/29 through Monday 12/2, or December 2nd. That is 10 dedicated emails Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday. We're sending 10 dedicated emails and two emails that are content emails with P.S. images in it. I think it's three emails Black Friday, email ... so three emails Black Friday, two emails Saturday, two emails Sunday, and three emails on Monday. It's a total of 10 emails over that five day period ... Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, four day period. We have found that emailing that heavy works extremely well with two of those emails, one on Saturday one on Sunday, being content emails that have the P.S. images in them, not being straight sales emails.

Kurt Elster: They're not just straight promo emails. You're still doing-

Ezra Firestone: Well-

Kurt Elster: Like, "Hey-"

Ezra Firestone: Two of the 10 are not straight promo emails.

Kurt Elster: Okay.

Ezra Firestone: All emails on Black Friday, all emails on Cyber Monday are straight promo. Saturday Sunday is one straight promo and one content with a P.S. image. The idea there is to reintroduce our brand, tell our story, what are our affirmations, what does empowerment mean to us as a company, what are we committed to as a company? While other companies are pushing over consumption in a going out of business sale type of creative, we're going to be pushing feel good about who you are and what you're buying and buy as a reward to yourself, which is why our people buy our stuff. Our people don't buy our stuff as gifts for other people. We're going to highlight our sustainability efforts because we know that our audience cares about that. We're going to show that our customers love our products and use a ton of social proof.

Ezra Firestone: It's really going to be our boom brand campaign, sustainability, and customer engagement in terms of testimonials and stuff. We're going to use a lot of GIF imagery. We're also going to be running ads that are themed for Black Friday, ads that are themed for Cyber Monday. Anyone who visits our holiday landing page from email or ads, we're re-targeting them. We're re-targeting people on YouTube and Google display network. We're running awareness ads to our sale to pass buyers, subscribers and fans on Facebook and on Instagram and on YouTube as well. We're kind of using this cross channel both awareness and re-targeting platform ... re-targeting advertising to all of our cold ... warm audiences for that sale event in addition to our emails.

Ezra Firestone: Okay. One of the other things that we do is, of course, on Black Friday/Cyber Monday we are calling out and promoting in the emails and promoting on the offer page our most popular and our highest margin items, because for us, it's an opportunity to make profit. Everybody's so focused on revenue. I would rather have lower revenue, higher profit. I'm pulling out my more profitable products and I'm pushing those up to the top of the emails and stuff. Okay. Now, we've now at ... we did our presale from November 8th through November 28th. We came out hard body, hard body on Black Friday/Cyber Monday from November 29th to December 2nd.

Ezra Firestone: Now, the next phase of our campaign is our holiday sale phase, which is Tuesday, December 3rd through Monday, December 9th. It has eight emails. Two of those emails have P.S. images and the concept is add color to your life. It's a whole new concept. It's like we're focusing on one of our products, our hero product. We're going to obviously link to the sale page because we always do a sale landing page. It's got a countdown timer that shows your coupon, that shows off our bundles. It's like a kind of a presale holiday sale page that we can link to individual product offer pages. We can talk a lot about how we optimize those. We build those templates in our Zipify page landing page builder. We have a mobile version and a desktop version, fast loading, yada yada.

Ezra Firestone: Anyways, the concept is really a monochromatic shock campaign, all based off the shade of our current product, little mini demos, how to use the product, how to use it just off the plane, how to use it before a family dinner, how to use it for a night out. The campaign will really focus on our boom stick color, which is our hero product and why it is the star of our product line. It will communicate the ease and simplicity of the use of that. We've got a bunch of different creative ideas for it and tutorials. It's all going to be about this core hero product and a bunch of different ways to use it and why it's awesome. Okay. That's a sub campaign. Now, we're not really saying, "Hey, go get a big percentage off. Hey, yada yada." Yes, you get 10% off during the holiday or whatever we're giving and we'll mention that, but it's really about this particular product.

Ezra Firestone: Then, we move into, "By the way, if you buy once," I'll get to that, "you're removed from all these ... rest of these emails. If you bought once, you're not getting these second and third and fourth campaigns. If you bought during Black Friday/Cyber Monday, something else is happening. If you bought during campaign one, you were on the presale list, then we did Black Friday/Cyber Monday campaign over those emails and ads and you bought, you're excluded from ads and you're excluded from emails for the second, third, fourth, fifth campaign and I'm doing something else to you ... or with you. I'm communicating you in a different way." Okay. Now we move to our third campaign, which is December 10th through December 14th. This is where we make a lot of our money. This is the standard shipping deadline.

Ezra Firestone: We don't give free shipping. A lot of people do and they miss out on the opportunity to do this. If they do give free shipping, fine, but you can still run this campaign. A ton of our money is made on what's called Green Monday or ... there's a date between ... usually between December 10th and December 15th. I think it falls on Wednesday the 11th this year, but basically it's the last time you can order with standard ground shipping and receive your product in time for the holiday gifting period or for yourself.

Ezra Firestone: We basically do nine dedicated emails from December 10th through December 14th where we're highlighting ... each email dives really deep into one specific product. The way we did that second campaign it was all about one product, now we do nine emails over the course of 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 ... five days, where it's all about every one of our other products: Nectar, Silk, Cotton, Gold. Every one of those emails is like, "Here's what this thing is. Here's why it's awesome. Here's how you use it. Go get it." Then it links over to that individual product page, probably bypassing the holiday sale page. Okay.

Ezra Firestone: That's the third campaign. Now, fourth. Should I keep going, or do you ... am I ...

Kurt Elster: I have so many follow ups, but no. We're on the third campaign here. Keep going. Let's get all of it.

Ezra Firestone: All right.

Kurt Elster: This is the strategy you're going to use this November/December?

Ezra Firestone: That's right. Yeah.

Kurt Elster: You're laying out your-

Ezra Firestone: This is my plan.

Kurt Elster: Exact Black Friday strategy for us. Okay. Yeah. I can't possibly stop you.

Ezra Firestone: It's nuanced in that there's things we're doing on the ad side. There's things we're doing on the landing page side. There's things we're doing on the upsell/cross sell side. There's nuance here, but this is a high level of the sort of energetic promotional strategy. This is what I can give in a podcast. Okay.

Ezra Firestone: Fourth campaign. We're at December 16th now. Let me recap the campaigns. Campaign one: 11/8 through 11/28, presale, get on the early bird list. Campaign two: open the sale. Black Friday/Cyber Monday. Friday 11/29, which is Black Friday, through Monday 12/2, that is Cyber Monday. Campaign three: holiday sale 12/3 sort of introducing, "Hey, we're going to have a holiday sale. It's not about Black Friday/Cyber Monday. It's now about the holidays." 12/3 to 12/9 really focusing on our hero product, a whole bunch of different content about that. Eight emails. Now, I just went over campaign four: standard shipping deadline Tuesday, 12/10 to Saturday, 12/14. Nine emails, one about each product.

Ezra Firestone: Now, we have Monday, 12/16 to Thursday, 12/21: the two day shipping deadline. Six dedicated emails with two P.S. images. Every one of these campaigns has content, not just emails about the sale. We're mixing in content as well. Two of those six emails have content emails going to our blog with about the sale. It's the same idea as the holiday opener that was about color but it's about our second most product stick which is our glow product. Same thing, six emails all about one individual product that we did not highlight in the previous campaign standard shipping that showed off a bunch of our products. We didn't highlight this one. This one is saved for your two day shipping deadline. While we're saying, "This product's amazing. Here's all about how to use it," we're also saying, "last chance to get this with two day shipping."

Ezra Firestone: Okay. Now here's where last year ... everyone stops there. Last year, and this is our ... let me just count them, it might be our sixth campaign. Presale to get you on the early bird list, opt in, optimizing for the opt in objective, getting email leads, we also run that to cold traffic and we get a whole bunch of email leads from cold traffic that we monetize in January, February, March. That's a nuance that I didn't mention, kind of a sub level of what we're doing with that early bird. We're going out cold with that even though we don't intend them to buy over the holiday. We have Black Friday/Cyber Monday. Then we have the holiday sale opener. Then we've got the standard shipping, which goes over all the different email ... individual products. Then we've got the two day shipping.

Ezra Firestone: Now this is the sixth and final campaign and it is from December 24th through December 31st and it is our New Year's Sale where we're basically saying, "Hey, this is your last chance to buy before the New Year. You can still get this holiday discount." Of course, if you bought in any one of those other campaigns, you don't ... what do you call it? You're not going to get these emails, but last year ... I just want to show you. Last year from December 24th to December 31st 2018, we generated 467 thousand dollars in revenue-

Kurt Elster: Whoa.

Ezra Firestone: At 55% of those people being repeat buyers. This campaign works extremely well and nobody runs it. It's like last chance to buy before the end of the year. We weave in a sub theme about 2020 empowerment. We say, "Hey, set yourself up on the right foot for the next year," a lot like the fitness people do. The December 24th through December 31st last chance to buy and get your discount before the end of the year crushes and nobody does that. That's our sixth campaign.

Ezra Firestone: Now, I mentioned, and this is the last thing I'll do before I answer any questions you have, I mentioned that we ... if you bought in any one of the campaigns you get removed from the main list. But, we do what is known as a discount ladder automation to 1x buyers during the sale. Let's say you bought Black Friday/Cyber Monday, which is going to exclude you from all the rest of the campaigns, right? You will still get the blog post ones. Each one of those campaigns had content emails with about the sale. If you bought once, you'd still receive those, so you might receive six emails over the month that were all content, but you already did your buying on Black Friday/Cyber Monday so you're not getting the promotions for those other campaigns. You with me?

Kurt Elster: Yes.

Ezra Firestone: Okay. Three days after you bought the first time, you get an automation email that says, "Hey. We really appreciate you purchasing." Maybe it's 72 hours. I think it's ... or 48 hours. It's either 48 or 72. I'll have to look at our automation. "Hey. We really appreciate that you bought once. So happy that you did that. Because you bought once, we want to offer you the opportunity to get an even bigger discount. For the next 72 hours only, you can get 15% off instead of you got 10 the first time. For making your second purchase, you can give it to a friend, you can buy it for yourself, you can buy something you always wanted, the biggest discount we will ever offer. You only have 72 hours."

Ezra Firestone: Then we ping them day one and then day two we send two emails and then day two ... day three we send three emails. This is happening concurrently. Every campaign that happens, every person that buys in campaign one, campaign two, campaign three, campaign four, campaign five a few days later is getting this, what I call a discount ladder because it's a bigger discount than the first one, coupled with a deadline. That converts. 10 to 15% of 1x buyers buy a second time.

Kurt Elster: You're doing everything you can to extend customer lifetime value here.

Ezra Firestone: Yeah, and of course we're also running ads to those people with that same communication. This is a omni-channel communication. Yes, email is our biggest driver, but everything that's happening in emails, every one of these sub campaigns has ad in Creative that matches it that goes to the group during this correlated times so on and so forth.

Kurt Elster: Clavio, when you make a segment, so the segment that's getting these emails, you can also sinc those to Facebook as a custom audience and then you re-market to that custom audience with an ad in Creative that matches what they see in the email. You're-

Ezra Firestone: That's across not just Facebook, not just Instagram, but also YouTube, Google display network and then of course we've got our branded search and Google shopping and what have you.

Kurt Elster: The total number of touch points here are wild. Once you enter the Boom funnel, I'm going to hear from Ezra literally dozens of times.

Ezra Firestone: Well, I think last year we sent 37 dedicated email blasts between Black Friday and the end of the year. Or maybe it was 45. Some of those were to unopens because we also mail to unopens. Basically, we communicate a whole lot and we get away with it because most of the year we're adding value. We only run a sale every six weeks. When we do run a sale, sometimes it's not even a discount. It's just a new product announcement, so there's not a lot of ways to buy from us at a discount. Because we're constantly offering value and constantly we're doing blog content and yada yada we can get away with a very aggressive holiday campaign. It works extremely well for us.

Kurt Elster: The trick to being able to send 30 to 40 emails for the holidays is to provide a whole bunch of value upfront?

Ezra Firestone: Maybe. Maybe. Maybe I've convinced myself of that, but maybe also one of the things that we think is like, "Dude, nobody gets your freaking emails." Everybody gets 150 emails a day. They don't see the first one that came in. They just see the third one. That's why we go 7:00 AM, 5:00 PM, 10:00 PM to open our sale and close our sale for Black Friday, for Cyber Monday, for each one of these sub campaigns. We'll have two or three emails to open and close because, dude, people don't see them. As a consumer, I've given up on email. I don't use it for my business. I only use Slack and people email my customer support desk. Occasionally I go in there and see who's selling me stuff but it's like I think most people ... I think, while email still is the biggest driver of revenue, you can email a lot more than you think you can without pissing people off because it just gets buried.

Kurt Elster: 100%. You could send way more emails than you think without creating an issue, especially when you're providing value. You've got your whole 2019 strategy laid out. It's early September. I've been beating this drum starting this summer. "Hey, you need to start at least thinking about Black Friday." Then in August we recorded an episode. We called it Start ... To Have Your Best Black Friday Ever, Start Now. We sent that email out. That had one of the highest unsubscribe rates of any email I've sent. People don't want to hear it. They don't want to hear like, "Listen. You need to start." Because I think email marketing campaigns on Black Friday feels like homework. We talked a lot about passion is an unfair advantage that you have, but then you got to do the campaigns and start early to get it done right. It feels like homework. What are your thoughts?

Ezra Firestone: Well, look man. I am in this not only because I love it and I enjoy it, and I think that one of the things you said, like one of the counter points I would make is you were talking about you got to be passionate. My viewpoint is passion comes from doing something. Humans like winning behavior. They like when they do well at something. If you do something long enough, you get good at it and then you fall in love with it because you're good at it because that's a cycle that you win at and we like winning cycles. I feel like, yes, that is true and I also feel like you can be passionate about anything you decide to put your attention on.

Ezra Firestone: What I think about your last statement of people feel like it's homework, it's like, "Dude, I'm in this to make money. I'm in this to take care of my family. I'm in this to pay my employees better. I'm in this to make great products. I'm in this to serve the world unselfishly and to profit." If you ignore Black Friday/Cyber Monday and don't prepare for it and don't create good assets and don't create a cohesive theme and don't think about your advertising strategy and your email strategy and don't have your copy written, well, you're just going to make less money than you could. If that is the situation that you want to find yourself in, fine, but why would you do that? Why not take advantage of the statistically proven time of year where you could make the most money by sending more emails than you think you should, planning your strategy, doing your ads?

Ezra Firestone: Yeah. Look, this ... they call it work for a reason. It is work. It's not easy. It takes energy and effort, but it's like, "Dude, there's almost nothing that you could focus on that would be more profitable for the time you spent on it if you're an eCommerce merchant with any kind of following." I think that that is a silly attitude from these imaginary people ... or I guess not imaginary because they unsubscribed from you, but I feel like that is just a misguided and silly response to, "Hey, get your shit together and get your holiday sale in order," is they're going to bail on you. You probably don't want them on your list anyways.

Kurt Elster: Good point. This year we've got an even ... we have shorter deadlines. The way the calendar falls, we have less time than ever. Does that change your approach this year?

Ezra Firestone: Yeah. You know, it's kind of a bummer. We have a week ... I think it's a week less or something like that, the way it works out. I don't know if it will change how effective things are. What I do know is that our strategy is iterative and this is an iteration on last year's strategy, as every other year has been. With everything that we learn, we then ideate about how we think we could make it better and we implement that. Our strategy is quite similar. We've got a presale and a bunch of sub campaigns and ads and emails that support that and then a whole bunch of nuance about what communications we're making, when, and why, which is what makes the thing work, what products we're promoting, what deadlines we're using, how we're doing our couponing where it's like a different coupon for each sub campaign that expires by the sub campaign date. It's not one coupon. That way our countdown timers can be related to the particular sub campaign. There's nuance that is about this strategy, but our strategy is the same.

Kurt Elster: Let's break down, because I don't want to overwhelm people. Over and over I think that's the number one thing that merchants struggle with is feeling overwhelmed because there's so much out there. There's so much opportunity. You find yourself kind of spinning your wheels and not getting anywhere. If you had to break your strategy down to like, "This is the skeleton version. This is the bare minimum work you got to put in to do," what would that look like?

Ezra Firestone: Buy Zipify Pages.

Kurt Elster: Got it.

Ezra Firestone: Copy my early bird opt in and early bird thank you templates. Build out a holiday early bird list and opt in page. Do email and ad traffic to your warm audiences to go there and subscribe. Then, open the sale on Black Friday with three emails, 7:00 AM, 5:00 PM, and 10:00 PM. Run ads to the same audiences you're emailing. Send at least one email Saturday, at least one email Sunday. Then, send three emails Cyber Monday, 7:00 AM, 5:00 PM, 10:00 PM local time if possible, opening and closing the Cyber Monday sale. Run ads that day. Then have at least two to three other deadlines that you do two to three emails on those days. Even if you did nothing else, you'll get 80% of the way there. "Hey, this is your last chance for standard shipping for our holiday sale." Three emails. "Hey, this is your last chance for two day shipping." Holiday sale, three emails on that day. "Hey. We're running a New Year's sale. Last chance to buy before the New Year." Three emails that day. Run ads the whole time. You're mostly there.

Kurt Elster: In that strategy, do I want to be setting up segmenting so when someone makes a purchase they don't ... let's say they get the 7:00 AM email. They make a purchase. They then do not get the 5:00 PM and 10:00 PM emails.

Ezra Firestone: Ideally, you are pulling out buyers. You can create a segment in Clavio of people who bought between X date and X date. You can say, "People who bought between Black Friday and the end of the year," even if the end of the year hasn't happened, and then you can have that dynamically populating and then you can exclude those people from all your emails. I would do the work of setting up the automation that offered 1x buyers a ... the trigger to enter the automation is bought ... is the list ... or the segment of bought once between this date and this date. I would set up the three day automation of buy a second time, get a bigger discount. Here's the deadline. I would do that work as well because that's really profitable. Yeah.

Ezra Firestone: It's basically like early bird, Black Friday/Cyber Monday sale, a few deadlines and your end of the year sale. You could do those all in one day. You could do three emails in one day for each of those deadlines to engage and then the end of the year and then your three email automation that happens once they buy once. Supplement that with ads and you've got a real good structure.

Kurt Elster: I love the discount ladder. I had not thought of doing that. That's really good.

Ezra Firestone: It works.

Kurt Elster: If you've got someone who's purchased, give them the opportunity to buy again. Why not?

Ezra Firestone: Bigger discount. Works so well. Yeah.

Kurt Elster: Give me your wisdom. I want the crash course on subject lines. I think that's the hardest thing to write.

Ezra Firestone: We use Clavio to split test subject lines on a campaign level. If we're running a sale campaign, like let's say through ... from Black Friday through Cyber Monday or it's for 10 days it's launching a new product. We will have a thesis of emojis in the subject line verse no emojis in the subject line, capital letters in the subject line verse no capital letters, customer quotes versus ownership benefit statements. We'll have a thesis and then we'll test that. I think that that is a better piece of advice because each group of people ... like Boom's people do not respond to emojis. Smart Marketers people do respond to emojis. Well, Boom's people are older women, 50 and over, and Smart Marketers people are millennials. It's like what works is based on the audience. I would say find a thesis of emojis verse not, caps verse not, customer testimonials verse not, questions verse curiosity statements, whatever, some idea of what you want to test and test that on six to 10 emails over a week in a given campaign, either blog content or otherwise, and start to find out what resonates with your audience.

Kurt Elster: That was also the same advice given by master email marketers at Chubby's who said, "Hey, we just ... every email campaign that goes out we split test the offer, the content and the subject before it goes out so we don't have to wonder what will and won't work. We just go and figure it out."

Ezra Firestone: Yeah. Yeah. We do the same thing with our content. Text emails versus HTML emails, short copies versus long copy, buttons versus text links. We'll do that on a campaign basis as well.

Kurt Elster: What's the one thing that will make or break someone this Black Friday?

Ezra Firestone: A lot of people just don't do enough. They don't send enough emails. They don't have their ad budgets high enough. They don't have a really nice holiday presale page, built in Zipify Pages that's optimized for mobile that loads fast, that shows off their products, that has a countdown timer, that has the discount present. They're not automatically applying the discount with a link when someone clicks the coupons. If someone clicks a link in their email, it auto-applies the discount. You can do that in Clavio through a dynamically applied coupon code rather than making them copy the code and paste it in at the cart, these kind of things.

Kurt Elster: You touched on landing pages there. I'm running these marketing ads that match my emails. I'm sending out 30, 40 emails. Where is all that traffic going to on my website?

Ezra Firestone: Ideally, you have a holiday presale page which you can think of as a stylized collection page that highlights, in order, your most popular items, your most profitable items, your bundles, et cetera, in either rows of three or rows of four, on mobile rows of ... columns, two columns with two products or one column with one product that has a countdown timer that shows when it's going away and is somehow themed, styled, to match the ads in the emails so it all feels coherent and cohesive from a design perspective, which could be as simple as a hero banner at the top. I have templates in Zipify Pages and that is the faster loading and has less content on mobile than it does on desktop. Zipify Pages also allows you to build a mobile, tablet, and desktop version of your page with all different content.

Ezra Firestone: We send all of our traffic to this hero presell page, which is a styled category page essentially, and that way we can re-target people who visit that and don't make a purchase, rather than just doing our traditional dynamic product ad re-targeting. It can be holiday sale specific re-targeting. We know they were part of the holiday sale. We know they visited that page. That works really well for us.

Kurt Elster: I want to hear more about what's new at Zipify, your Shopify app development company? Before we get into that, is there anything about Black Friday I missed?

Ezra Firestone: You know, I feel like we did a pretty good overview of it.

Kurt Elster: Yeah. I am so thrilled that you were able to break down, "Hey, this is what our campaign looks like in detail. Here's what a successful campaign looks like," because you know from a decade of experience going into it that this will very likely work. Hearing that and being able to hear it in September is very ... is telling and inspiring and I appreciate you for sharing it with us. Clearly you have a [inaudible 00:43:28] mentality, which I appreciate.

Ezra Firestone: Hey, man, I'm trying to help as many ... I believe in my tagline, "Serve the world unselfishly and profit." I'm trying to be in a role of service. I love our community. I love what eCommerce merchants do. I always try to buy from merchants rather than on Amazon. I want to be a good supporter of this community and I feel a lot of responsibility of somehow or another I've convinced 300 thousand people on the internet to listen to me and I'm kind of surprised by that. Also, I want to continue to do the work to serve them well so that I keep my audience. I feel like the way to do that is to stay humble and have integrity and do as good as you can and talk about what's working. The people who resonate with the stuff I have to say will buy my apps and buy my courses and tell their friends about me and stuff like that. Yeah. I feel like the more you share, the better.

Kurt Elster: Absolutely. It's interesting. Occasionally people in the community will ask me, "Oh, you know Ezra Firestone. What's he really like?" It puts me in the wonderful position to say, "He's not full of shit in the slightest. As he presents himself is exactly who he is."

Ezra Firestone: Why do we always assume people are different from their public personas? I guess that's such a common thing because I get that feedback a lot of like, "Yeah, man. I didn't expect you to actually be nice or cool," like when I meet people. I'm like, "Well, why not?" How would I bullshit that well is what I want to know? Is that a thing?

Kurt Elster: It would be harder-

Ezra Firestone: Are people that-

Kurt Elster: To bullshit it than just to be yourself. Okay. Final question.

Ezra Firestone: Dude, we've been going.

Kurt Elster: I know. This is great. No. You can go all day. It's amazing. What's new? What's new at Zipify? Because you've got so many businesses. You've got fingers in every pie. You've talked a lot about Zipify as it relates to a tool, a super power for your business for these sales. Tell me about it. What's new? What's coming out? What can I expect?

Ezra Firestone: Zipify Pages, which is our landing page building application, boy are we ever at stride with our ... we finally figured out development sprints in a new way where we're just ... our plan for the features and then our design and our development and our QAing and our testing and our rolling them out, we're going at a new clip. We've got our dynamic viabox element, which is everything we've learned about the viabox, how to have that part of the page where the person ... there's the carrousel and then all the related items next to the carrousel where the person actually clicks the add to cart button. We got size charts now.

Kurt Elster: Cool.

Ezra Firestone: We've got global layout functionality. We've got the ability for you to turn on and off elements on the desktop/mobile version. It's so cool and that is currently only publishing under the /pages extension. We're not really taking over people's product pages. Rather, we're being kind of landing pages, sale pages. A lot of people are using our pages as their actual product pages and not using the /products extension, but that is going to come to /products very soon, which is really exciting. We've added the ability to make 404 section. We've added a bunch of really cool social giveaway and product launch and long form sales page templates.

Ezra Firestone: We've done a whole lot with localization as it relates to countdown timers and our CRN opt ins. We've added new styles for our button element where you can do the outline with the clear inside. The very common, popular design aesthetic of a button outline with a clear inside and then text, we've got that now. We've added a bunch in terms of the tracking functionality with a native Facebook pixel integration now coming where we'll be able to fire pixels on your behalf, like lead events and all kinds of events. I mean, we already work natively with Shopify's Facebook pixel integration. We've got a lot coming that way. We can now delay the appearance of a block. Let's say you've got a sales video on a presale page and you want someone to watch two minutes of it before you pop the add to cart button or something like that. You can now delay the appearance of a block on the page if you're doing more direct response style stuff.

Ezra Firestone: We integrate with go to webinar now for the information marketers so you can have an opt in page where someone opts in and it auto registers them to a webinar. That's more for not eCommerce people.

Kurt Elster: Right.

Ezra Firestone: Man, we've got so much stuff that has been ... our [Wizzy Wig 00:47:48] better is ... our Wizzy Wig Editor is so much better. Our video element section, you can now do outlines on the video. We've got our opt in forms that are optimized for mobile. It might be like image on the left, opt in box on the right on desktop, but then it's like opt in box on the top and image on the bottom on mobile. We're just making it better. We got this really cool new FAQ block. A lot of people use it now to have their buy box and then their content is not long form. It's in our FAQ accordion block, where it's like it has the first one expanded. It has your content and then it's got the other blocks that you can expand underneath it. We have that style now for mobile, which is very popular amongst apparel, really apparel brands that have sizing and whatever-

Kurt Elster: Yeah, like sizing, care guide.

Ezra Firestone: Yeah.

Kurt Elster: As opposed to making a really long page. Yeah.

Ezra Firestone: We've got a lot of stuff. You can see it all on the Zipify blog.

Kurt Elster: Anything else before we wrap it up? Where could I go to learn more about Ezra Firestone?

Ezra Firestone: You can go to You can follow me on Instagram where all the ... all of it seems to be happening at @ezrafirestone on Instagram. I'm also on Facebook., if that's your jam. I blog at You can find me at Zipify, Z-I-P-I-F-Y, apps on the Shopify app store, or Hey, thanks for having me on, man. I really appreciate it. I love the community that you've built here. I love your podcast and always fun to hang out and talk.

Kurt Elster: Thank you, Ezra. I appreciate it. Yeah. Let's all hope everybody has an amazing Black Friday-

Ezra Firestone: Black Friday/Cyber Monday. It's time. Get ready.

Kurt Elster: All right. Start working on it now. It will pay off. I promise.