Lessons From Creating and Scaling an Figure eCommerce Brand from Scratch with Owen Bolwell
00:40 – Episode & Guest Overview
06:53 – Pursuing a Product that You’re Not a Target Audience of
10:52 – How He Did His Market Research
14:15 – Things He Could Have Changed in His Market Research
17:13 – What a Good Margin is in Ecommerce
20:29 – Ideas in Improving Your Margins
25:16 – Owen’s Thoughts About Heavy Products & Dropping Shipping Costs
32:02 – Looking at Website Traffic And Journey With It
46:12 – Campaigns that works for Owen
48:47 – Thoughts About Google Shopping
50:49 – Past Mistakes to Learn and Benefit From
53:12 – Learn More About Owen Bolwell
Episode & Guest Overview
Welcome back to another episode of Teach Traffic. I am your host, Ilana Wechsler. And today we are continuing on our eCommerce journey. And I have invited Owen Bolwell, from peachymama.com.au and a bunch of other websites to talk about his experience.
In the world of eCommerce. I am sort of embarking on my own journey in e-commerce, sort of stepping out of the agency space.
And I saw your post on a community that we’re both parts of which is Super Fast Business. about your experience with e-commerce and you sound like you had a lot of experience under your belt that I thought would be really valuable to share with our listeners today.
So welcome to today’s episode.
Oh, yeah. Thanks, Ilana. Thanks. It’s good to be here. Quite impromptu as we both agreed before. (laughs)
Yes, yes, exactly. We’ve got lots of things going on in our world. For me, I’m currently going through a 14-day retargeting challenge, which is a fun experience and proving to be a lot more work than I thought.
But that’s all good. You get that. And I’m sure you’ve got lots going on in your life. So thank you. And I appreciate you taking time out of your really busy day.
Do you want to sorta give us a little bit of a background? brief background about yourself and how you fell into eCommerce?
Yeah, well, look, I basically fell into ecommerce by accident, I would say I spent my early years in the music industry as a producer.
And so I was working with record companies and artists and things back in my youth and then started a family and got into marketing. I’ve always been, I’ve always been into marketing.
So I got into marketing and stepped into corporate for a while. And then my wife, Merril, started her small brand on the kitchen table nearly a decade ago, actually.
And she was in the fashion business for a while there. And she was making clothes for herself after our second child was born. And sort of after baby Mum Wear sort of not maternity but it’s after afterward.
And so she was making her own clothes and friends around her wanted the clothes and then that kind of snowballed. And it was it, you can sort of equate it to you’re in an aeroplane, right?
And you just, it’s just starting to go down the runway, you know. And it slowly, slowly, slowly. And sometimes it gets off the ground, but then it doesn’t get off the ground.
And sometimes it gets off the ground and doesn’t get off the ground. And I was going like that for I would say a couple of years. And we put a bit of money into it and just got it off. And she did some local manufacturing here.
And then I left corporate at the end of 2015 and basically jumped into the business into the brand, Peachy Mama, and running the marketing and the ecomm side.
And basically, you know, I’d already been doing it with her as a side hustle, you know, from about 2013 onwards. So we’d already made a lot of our mistakes back then.
And it was really starting to pick up steam towards the end of 2015. And that’s where I jumped in.
And so we grew it from there from the kitchen table. And we then took over the whole house. Basically there was stock everywhere down the hallways in every spare room.
You know, it was one of those sorts of businesses. Then eventually, one of our manufacturers started getting out of our garments made overseas.
Yeah, one of our manufacturers wanted to come in as an equity partner, and we hummed and hard for about a year on that one. And finally, we agreed to that and So they came in as an equity partner, they’re still our partners, which is fabulous. And that enabled us to really ramp up the company.
So we’ve got ourselves a warehouse, we got office space, we were able to hire some new, some designers, technicians, Social Media Manager. So we are able to get the real team together.
And basically, it allowed us to also get off the tools. So we weren’t picking and packing. We weren’t sending stuff out. We weren’t receiving goods in, we were basically focusing on building the business. Yeah, yep. And so that was really good.
And then we, I actually, I was over in America, to set up that particular part of the operation. So what we’re doing is we use a 3PL over there, third-party logistics warehouse.
So directly from the factory in China, the garments get sent directly to the warehouse in the US. A great bunch of people, I spent a while over there, figuring out the right one to go with.
We’ve got our customer service in California, and our social media manager over there is based in Florida, so it’s quite a….
Quite a global operation you’ve got going on.
Pursuing a Product that You’re Not a Target Audience of
And it’s amazing how it’s, it’s growing so fast.
But before we kind of go into where you are now with your eCommerce store, let’s just sort of backtrack a little bit and unpack how you did your market research.
I know that you’re personally a believer in playing or, you know, being your target audience, and obviously, your wife was your target customer for that.
Do you want to kind of discuss why you think that is so important, and it for potentially our listeners if they’re not their target audience?
Is it still worth pursuing something that you’re not your target audience?
Yeah, that’s a really good one. Because look, I want to step back just a little bit from that as well. There’s, there are two kinds of eCommerce stores, we can build here, we can do drop shipping model, which is you just have to jump on Instagram or LinkedIn and everyone’s spruiking, some kind of drop shipping, you know, get rich quick, make you, you know, a million dollars a year.
And then there’s the other one where you’ve got it, you’ve got a brand, you’ve got a product that you’ve developed, and that you’re passionate about. And that’s kind of tied in with a purpose. And then purpose, which brings us into being your customer for the product that you’re selling.
And so look that that’s been our journey, I can’t speak on the drop-shipping model. But there’s a few aspects of the drop-shipping model that kind of don’t make sense to me, as far as it’s hard enough out there in a competitive environment.
So that when you’re selling exactly the same thing as someone else’s selling, it just makes it even more difficult.
So I’ve actually had a little bit of experience in drop shipping, just more dabbling really. And I have to agree with you. I’m not a fan of it either.
But more to the point of not having just the same product to somebody else. But more along the lines of no control on what the end product looks like.
And actually, when I launched my drop shipping, so I mean, this is going back four years ago now, I actually ordered the product myself because I wanted to see “Well, what am I going to be flogging here?”.
And I was really disappointed with the quality, the quality was terrible. Nothing that I would want to put my name and my brand too, obviously have I created a new brand, but nothing that was worthy of growing.
And also you know, the delivery time was really long, like I ordered it was like five weeks late. I mean, maybe that’s because I’m in Australia, if maybe it was in America, it would be different. Pre COVID, obviously.
And yeah, so there were lots of things that I just thought if I was the end customer, I’d be pretty upset.
Yeah and look, there’s a lot about it. I’m actually quite passionate about this idea of, if you’re going to spend all your time and effort and money, let’s face it, because you can put a lot of money into these businesses.
If you’re going to do that you may as well….
Time is money, actually….
Time is money. Absolutely. But even when you’re putting all those resources into an effort into something, you might as well put it into something that you have control over. And that you also can kind of build up to be an asset, okay, that you can sell off at the end of the day. I mean, that’s kind of the holy grail of building business. You know.
So Getting back to the point of being your customer. So, Merril, she knew what she wanted, she knew how to make it.
Okay, so she had a really good grounding in not just what she wanted as the customer, but how to go about making it, okay.
And even though she didn’t end up making it herself, she knew the process in making it so she could direct the manufacturers, she knew what good quality was over bad quality.
She knew what, she could speak the same language as the manufacturers. Yeah. And I think that’s kind of important when you are developing your own product.
And so getting back to being the customer, our market research was basically, it all came from her and her circle of….
How He Did His Market Research
Interesting, that kind of leads me to my next question about market research. And I think, especially in a case where you are your own potential customer, you can have the false illusion to think, “Well, everybody wants this because I want it” right?
And especially in the baby world, you know, there’s a common sort of joke amongst my circle of friends because we’re all moms that, you know, someone becomes a mom, and they create a product for the baby industry, because that’s the world that they’re in.
And then they think everyone wants this when in actual fact, not everyone wants it. So, you know, it’s such a thing of, you know, proper market research.
I’m curious to know, if you did really extensive, extensive market research, and if so, what market research did you do to validate your product idea?
Yeah, that’s a good point.
Well, the first thing we did was see how big the market was. Okay, we knew that her circle of friends, like a product, and we’re looking for the product. Okay, so then we went a bit wider. I did some more, what you would call, you know, desk research in, looking at it at birth rates and, you know, the Bureau of Statistics, and this, that and the other. So looking at the size of the pool that we had to work with, yeah.
And then narrowing that down to see okay, the size of the pool that would want these sort of garments, you know, and so it was quite, it was quite a sizable chunk of the pool.
The other thing I did was some keyword research.
So actually, I jumped in as to what I was using at the time Longtail Pro, I think, I was using that at the time.
And, yeah, so basically putting in the keyword to see what the monthly search volume was.
Yeah. I mean, these days, you could use the Google Keyword Tool, even though those numbers are estimates.
Absolutely. And there are all sorts of tools you can use. I think back then, it was a, it was just something that I had.
So yeah, we just were the monthly searches for these keywords, going to give us the volume or percentage of the volume of traffic that we’re going to need to drive. You know, our conversions. So I look up, we tick those boxes. We were already going.
Yeah, right. Okay. Did you consult a tool like Google Trends or something to see, you know, maybe, or not some people do it like, we’re both in Australia.
And obviously, I’m sure you started selling in Australia. Did you look at, you know, the size of the market in the US, for example, as a proxy of what it could possibly become here?
Yeah, yeah. Yeah, I certainly did. That’s another one of my things, too, is that if I’m going to be building a business, again, if I’m going to be putting life savings in there all your time or your effort, I want it to be a global business. So or I want it to be able to be expanded into a global market. And so yeah, for sure, we looked at, of course, we looked at the domestic, the domestic market, but we also looked at Okay, what does this look like in the States? Roughly? It’s 10 times here. Yeah, that wrap of guts as a market size?
Things He Could Have Changed in His Market Research
If you were starting a new ecommerce brand from scratch? Yeah. 2021 is there anything else that you would do market research wise that you possibly didn’t do before? Like your through your experiences? Oh, you know, I wish I would have done this.
Look, I think that’s a really tricky one. Because you can’t get bogged down with market research. You know….
Paralysis by Analysis almost.
You can. Yeah and I think if you just take one, two or three data points, okay, whether it’s keyword volume, and total size of pool, and, you know, maybe social media influencer followers in your particular niche.
That’s probably a good one to do. That’s the one that we’re starting to really look at now, because we’re starting to utilize a lot of influences in our market, especially in the States….
Interesting. Sponsored posts and stuff?
Yeah, more just we provide the garments, and they do some posts for us basically.
And you find that works well?
Yeah. Works really really well. So and it also gives us material for our website.
Okay, so for beginners, we’ve got, if you look on our website, we’ve got a lot of different images, from our influences, with our product.
So that works really well. But yeah, I would say just taking some major data points, try and try and see who else is out there doing it. Now. That’s another big thing, too, is looking at your competitors.
We actually found that we were a niche within a larger niche. So that meant that we looked at our competitors, we looked at the offer, and what they were doing, were they doing something similar to what we were doing? Yes, they kind of were, but could we do it better? Could we do it differently? Yes, we kind of could. Yeah. Now back then. That’s, that’s, that’s what we were able to do.
Now. We’ve personally, not personally, but for our little brand. We’ve got probably half a dozen competitors that have popped up in the last, you know, three or four years that are really giving us a run for our money.
So we’re going to have to look at different ways of getting through into our market. And it’s kind of good and bad.
Yeah, there are pluses and minuses, it just means the good part about it is it means the markets there. Yeah, and the market is growing and they want what we’re, what we’re supplying. But with that comes all the competitors jumping into it. So it’s a bit of a backhanded on that one.
What a Good Margin is in Ecommerce
Yeah. I’ve dabbled in eCommerce long enough. And I’ve spoken to lots of other fellow e-commerce owners and operators who’ve been in the space for a long time.
And unanimously everyone talks about the importance of your margins. And so, you know, I was wondering if, you know, for our listeners who are somewhat may be starting their journey into eCommerce, if you could sort of share some of your lessons about the importance of margins, What’s, A: a good margin? And if you had your time again, you know, what would you look for?
Yeah, margins. Now, I’ve actually just written a blog post on margins.
Oh, that was convenient.
Not published yet. But it’s dear to our hearts. Because what you find is that your margin is the key to whether your business lives or dies. That’s where it comes down to, yes, you might hit, you’ve got a market, you’ve got your keyword volume, you’ve got your competitor analysis, you’ve done all that sort of work. If you don’t have enough margin there, to be able to facilitate your marketing and your growth.
You may be a one-man band or a one-woman band, it doesn’t matter if you don’t have the margin there. You can’t move, you’re going to be paralyzed.
Well, It’s true. And so basically, what’s going to happen is that if you simply break down a product, okay, so product, say $100 product.
Your, your operating overheads are going to be around about 30%. Okay, regardless of whether you’re one person or 10 people, it’s gonna be around about 30% of your overall revenue, roughly.
Okay, as a rule of thumb, that’s kind of what we learned. And then you’re going to need basically another 30% for your marketing. Yeah. So that you can afford your pay-per-click ads.
And you can do some influencer marketing, some Pay Per Click ads. That’s kind of about it. That’s really all you really want to be focusing on in the early stages anyway. But you want to be able to allow, you know, 30%, say $30, a product or a sale, let’s say it’s a sale. So you’re going to need you’re going to need that.
And so if you’re your cost of goods sold, if that is more than, say around 30%, which means your margin, you’re really looking for a 70% margin. Yeah. And we’re not even at a 70% margin yet. All right, but that is kind of the Holy Grail.
And you’ll find that when you can get to that 70% I think we’re in about 65 with, were slowly creeping up when you can get into that realm, that means that you can afford to have your operating overhead of $30 for your $100 product, your marketing of $30, your cost of goods for $30.
And roughly, you know, leaves your $10 profit at the end of the day, which again, is probably just going to get soaked up into growth, but you’re still not going backward. Yeah, so yep, the margin is, it’s kind of everything.
Ideas in Improving Your Margins
And I’m curious if you have any ideas on ways that you can improve your margin, I mean, I know from an ad point of view, one way that people improve their margins is by boosting average order value, right, they have, by one, get the second one at a discount to boost the average order value, and therefore their ultimate margin, what are some other ways that you have improved your margin because I can imagine when you started out, your margin wasn’t at 65%, it’s something that you’ve worked towards, to get to that point, and hopefully, you will get to the elusive 70%.
So what are some levers that you’ve pulled, and tweaked and to get to that 65%
Yeah, that’s, that’s a good one, you’ll find that, to get your margin up, you’re really going to need to, first of all, you’ve got to, you’ve got to be managing your suppliers, you know, really, really closely, you know, when you first start your MOQ or your minimum order quantity, will be very low. And it should be really low.
You know, I’ve, I’ve had some friends who have basically just gone into ecomm business boots and all, you know, let’s order a container load of widgets, and I really confident about this thing, and, hey, let’s go, you know, and I think they’ve still got, you know, three-quarters of those widgets sitting in their garage, you know, five or six years later.
And kind of they does that, because of the to get that price per unit. But that’s, I think that’s a big mistake when you’re first starting out, go with the minimum order as little as you can get as possible. And you’ll be paying, you’ll be paying top dollar for it.
But you will be able to guarantee that that first order will probably be wrong. Okay. Especially if you’re getting it from overseas, that first order, I could almost guarantee it’ll be wrong, okay. And you’ve really got to write that off as education.
But the thing is, if you don’t if you don’t, you know, blow your whole budget on it, then you’re okay, you can live to fight another day, and you just do it better next time. All right.
So your minimum order quantity, that’s not going to help your margin. Really, what you can do that I think the best thing to do is to increase your conversion on your website.
For me, that is increasing that conversion percentage, that is probably the most effective tool that you can use to increase your revenue, which, again, will increase your buying power, which will lower your cost of goods, which will increase your margin, it’ll also lower your cost of marketing, lower your overhead percentage, so maybe from 30%, it goes down to 25%. All those factors make a big, big difference.
Yeah, but I would say look, there’s the biggest lever there to pull is your conversion percentage.
The other lever is your average order value, as you’re saying.
So it’s like, okay, for that $100 product, you could have something at checkout. That’s basically an upsell at checkout. It’s like having the lollies at the supermarket, you know, at the supermarket checkout.
Absolutely, you know, and you incentivize it. And it’s not rocket science. And it’s been done, everybody does it. But it’s one of those things where it actually works.
So if you can add another $20 on to that $100 order, or $100 product, then you know, all of a sudden you’re in business, you’re making some serious headway.
And especially if you can pair that with increasing your conversion rate, percentage. So even if you can, if you say you’re sitting on 2.5, even if you can squeeze it up to three, it’s going to make a massive difference to your bottom line.
And if you can nudge down your cost of goods, and basically in not even nudge down your cost per acquisition. That’s, that’s another big, big one that I look at. With our average order value. It’s around about $152.
Our average order value, so my target with my I pay per click advertising is between 10 and $12. If I can get if, if I can get that purchase cost per purchase to that kind of number. I’m happy. I’ll just keep that going all day long.
Owen’s Thoughts About Heavy Products & Dropping Shipping Costs
Yeah, totally. Yeah. I want to talk to you about your traffic-generating strategies because I know you are a believer in running your own traffic. And I definitely want to talk to you about that.
But just going back to the margins, what are your thoughts on shipping and shipping really, and choosing a product which is, which is heavy?
I know many, so many people who teach the world of eCommerce, you know, banging on about, you got to choose a small product, and I pay a lot of shipping. But then what ends up happening is everyone’s just focusing on really small products.
And then everyone starts to support the brand or a skincare brand. For those reasons. It’s small, it’s repetitive, and of light. So you know, I’m a big believer in not zigging and zagging.
And so, therefore, maybe you actually do heavy products, because it’s far less competition in that space.
And back, then you’ve got the issue of, of really heavy products. So I guess I don’t know, do you have any thoughts on that? In ways to sort of bring down your shipping costs if you’ve got a really heavy product or just don’t go there?
I think that’s a great idea. I really do. And I think that’s a really good point that you make, because, well, Merril, I am often talking about how a headache it is to ship to store garments and to ship garments, and all that sort of thing. It’s a headache.
We just sometimes we just wish we had a little bottle of something. Yeah. And that was a high value of $100 a bottle all day long. Thank you very much. Yeah, it doesn’t work like that. That’s not reality.
I’m always very, very jealous when I see products like this, and they’re just killing it. They’re just killing it. Damn you. (laughs)
So look, I think it’s a great strategy, because and even making the product you know, I mean, even shipping. Yeah, for sure. But even trying to make it I mean, I think any competitors that come into our market, and they’re trying to make a quality garment, we basically say go for it, guys.
It’s not that easy. You know, you’re gonna you got to spend this amount of money we know you are. And yeah, just go for it. You know, here are the patents. You go. Good luck. (laughs)
I’ll talk to you in three years’ time (laughs).
Yeah, absolutely. But look, I’m with you on the shipping, though, because shipping is always a big thing. You know, and I know, especially with the states, you know, where we were finding that anything that’s not free shipping, Is people don’t want to know you, you know. Amazon’s educated them to expect it.
I know, Americans in my experience will not pay for shipping. Because Amazon Prime is just beating them out of them. Whereas Australians were used to it will pay easily $20 shipping because it’s what used to it.
No, but seriously, so what we’re finding though, is that we’re getting a lot of pushback on the shipping. So what we do is, we play the small family business card, you know, which we are. Okay.
So and the thing is, we’re not really seen as a small family business because we kind of project ourselves as being a larger entity. Yeah, no, but seriously, half a dozen of us. That’s it. So we kind of play that card.
And we basically say, you know, you know, we’re a small family business, we can’t compete with the big corporate so we paint the big corporate as being his big impersonal, you know, you know, gigantic corporations.
Yeah, absolutely. And we can’t afford it. Sorry, but we can do what we can do at a flat rate. I’m a firm believer in flat-rate shipping. So flat rate shipping.
I’m a big believer in flat rate shipping because the less thinking you can get your customer to do. So we just say the $10 flat rate doesn’t matter where it is. That’s it. Yeah. If you spend over a certain amount you get it free, but 10 bucks, that’s it. And that kind of works out for American customers.
The other one too is remittance returns. So that’s a beauty especially in the fashion game that returns a huge. We try and minimize that as best we can. And you can do that.
If You’re in the fashion business with good sizing charts and accurate, accurate fit. But, again, in the States, they expect free returns.
So to be able to return back in the game, we play the small business card, and it kind of works. So it’s not a huge thing for us. But I’m with you on zigging while zag, while the others are zagging. I think that’s, that that can be a really good strategy, if you can get it to work financially.
Let’s talk a little bit about your belief. And you sort of stand by your belief I by doing it in running your own traffic, you know, somebody who’s run a, you know, pay per click agency for a very long time, although I don’t do much agency work anymore.
I can’t tell you how many times I had people come to me who had a brand new store, no traffic coming to their site, whatever, they just want to go straight to hiring an agency to get them to to help them launch their product, etc.
And whilst that is sort of one school of thought, it always kind of felt a bit weird to me to take on a brand new account, I always felt like my, my secret sauce, or my special skill was inheriting an existing account where there was data for me to look at that I can analyze the data, and then turn it around, and really, you know, learn from the data, kill off the losers double down on the winners, etc.
And I do believe actually, that people should have, at the very least a basic understanding of how campaigns work, you know, the basic campaigns to run yourself, even if ultimately you do end up hiring an agency, you can have intelligent conversations with that ad manager as to what’s going on.
I’ve seen countless people pull the wool over other people’s eyes, or the end client has just got literally no idea. It’s such an important part in growing a business. Of course, it’s not the entire thing.
But it’s one piece of an important piece of the whole pie. So I’m curious to: A – How you look at traffic and the campaign’s that you taught yourself. And you have just that journey with it.
Looking at Website Traffic And Journey With It
Yeah, no, good. Good question. I’m only a firm believer in doing yourself to start with. Yeah. And I’m with you on that. I think I think if you’re just starting out in this stuff, it’s good to get a handle on the mechanics of it, how it works, the principles behind it all. Yeah and it’s, that was my feeling at the start of everything anywhere.
I wanted to know how this thing worked. I wanted to know how the Facebook ads worked and how the Google Ads worked and what was behind it all. And, and because it keeps changing. It’s been a constant learning curve.
We actually came late to the party, to be honest, on the paid advertising side of things. We spent a lot of time and effort on content marketing early on. So yeah, so from January 2013. We started a weekly blog, on the Peachy Mama Aussie site, and which we outsourced? Yeah.
And so that’s been going that’s still going today. So every week, there’s a blog post that gets published. And that’s, I don’t know how many years that’s going back a while now.
And that work that’s worked so well, for us, I look at our Google Analytics, and we get a lot of traffic, I would say, three-quarters of our organic traffic comes through a blog post, which is quite good, but it’s still relevant to our customer.
Yeah, I suppose it works, because it’s relevant to our customer because our customer has just had a baby. She’s looking for information. Yeah. Because I know when we have our first kids, you don’t know what the hell you’re doing. Yeah, you’re in the dark with everything. You know that.
Oh, yeah. Been there, done that. Got my T-shirt. (laughs)
That’s it. the second or third one comes around. It’s like, Yeah, no, I got it. Yeah. Yeah. But the first one, you’re freaking out, you know, nothing.
So there’s this quest for information. And we kind of tap into that with our, with our blog articles. And that then gets them into the site, and I see what it has to offer.
And that then can convert it actually really converts really well. So that’s what we were concentrating on early on content marketing. And when I jumped in full time in 2015, I actually had time to really focus on getting a handle on the pay per click on Facebook and Google and I kind of did them in tandem.
So did them both together because the two different beasts, as you know, but I kind of did them in tandem. And I found that over the years, you know, what did work really well, then the other one wouldn’t and then this and then sort of go up and down like this in their effectiveness.
And I was forever constantly monitoring. And that’s kind of how I learned. We allocated a certain amount of money. And the way I did that was that I allocated a certain amount per order that I was willing to spend like I was between 10 and $12.
You know, but if you’ve but because you get, you know, 3040 orders a day type thing. It kind of gives you a substantial budget to be playing with. Yeah, yeah. I think now, though, I would, I’m actually starting to think, okay, maybe it’s time to get someone else to do this.
And to do this daily thing, because seriously, it takes me two full days of just concentration to, to get in and create the ads, get the imagery for Facebook, make sure we’re still on track with our keyword things for Google, you know, testing different texts, different elements of the air does like I’ve just finished running a Facebook test over the past couple of weeks with real short form, copy, many copies and real long-form copy, like a, like a, basically a whole about page kind of thing.
And funnily enough, the medium and the long-form copy really performs really, really well.
I can’t tell you how much money I’ve spent on my own business, and also my clients’ ads, split testing, short copy versus long copy.
And it’s a case of like, I constantly proven long wrong. I mean, I’m, you know, I’m humble enough now, I’ve ever been proven wrong too many times. So I’m staying humble.
And starting out, I thought, this is a shortcut. He’s gonna kill it, of course, because he’s got the intentions and to read a long copy, right?
Well, let me tell you like long copy wins every single time. And then it sort of dawned on me afterward, where long copy actually kind of becomes a mini landing page, actually.
And if they do make it down the bottom, because people that inherently don’t want to leave the Facebook ad platform, right? That I mean, they’re there because they want to engage in their friends, photos and groups, etc. And so if something does pique their interest, and they do make it all the way down, it’s served as a mini landing page, actually.
And so I don’t know if you’ve done the right, because I haven’t seen them. But we will often lace through the long copy, you know, call to action links throughout the way so they don’t have to scroll all the way up the top or click on the button or whatever, maybe if you’ve done that, but yet long copy, you know, 9 out of 10 times wins. Quite interesting.
All right, there you go. Well, I’ve just proven it with this. I will test after this. That’s it.
Yeah. There you go.
I was surprised, I was exactly the same. I thought Nah, shot copy. No worries, these guys got no time at all. No, you’re right. You’re right. And they’ve converted the best into sales.
And is that an image ad, with a long copy or a video ad?
Yeah, it was an image ad, you know, funnily enough, we’ve tried lots of different videos. And for us, it’s always the images that convert the best for us. It is static, or a carousel, just kind of really does.
I actually challenge you to try a very, very basic video, I just in my experience with eCommerce. It’s almost like you need a video ad that is just so clear that a 10-year-old will know what it is, what it does, what are the features?
What are the benefits, and why they buy? It’s always like you can’t make it too simple. And I don’t know if your video ad does that.
But people want you to know like this is simulating an offline experience, right? Yes, you’re simulating an experience of someone walking into a store, picking the thing off the rack, and touching feeling it. Why would I buy this as opposed to something else? And if you can have a video that can fake conveys that then I think it’s worth trying.
I will….How long do you reckon this video should be?
I’d say no more than three minutes. I mean, ideally depending on what the product is and how much in-depth you’ve got to go but I’d say you know around the one to two-minute mark is fine.
And I would have a copy above it as well. But you know, like I just see time and time again like people try and get too clever by half you know, and really like the end of the day.
People don’t Want to be sold to, but they like to buy, right? So if you can kind of put your ad in front of the right person, so you nail your targeting, which I’m sure you’re doing.
But number two is, is just the clarity on what it is and what problem you’re solving. And as I said, simulate that experience for people that you know what it looks like the front and the back and try it on.
And here’s how you use it. And bla bla bla, and just really basic actually, it actually I interviewed someone recently on my podcast, who I don’t know that episode number off the top of my head.
He sort of was sharing his experiences about selling a men’s wallet, which is a leather wallet that’s converted from baseball gloves, old baseball glove leather that’s been then converted into a wallet.
And he said by far yeah, really cool. And you can check out the episode. It will be a couple of days before this one I did, as I said, the number off the top of my head.
And he was saying exactly that, actually. So his experiences the same as mine that they had a video had that was super simple as a face to camera video, a guy sitting at a desk, and it was Yeah, the lighting was set up nicely, it was all very kind of, I guess, for lack of a better word manly, it was in a man cave, and there’s leather around him, you know, it sort of had that nice, you know, scene, the scene was set.
But literally, the video and I’ve seen this video ad actually is just a man holding the product, holds it up to the camera, so you can really see the fine stitching of it. He sort of goes through what it looks like with cards in what it looks like, with cards out the front, the back is simulating that experience.
So if you were picking it up and feeling it and looking at it in a shop, what would you want to see, you know, none of this clever jingle kind of, you know, like, classic kind of advertisement. It’s, this is the product, and this is the story behind it, etc. So anyway.
All right. I will.
I guess all I’m saying is in my experience for eCommerce video ads can be incredible. And if you have found that video ads don’t work, perhaps it’s the video. Rather than that video ads don’t work for my industry, which they may not. And I’m not saying that they definitely will.
But I persist with testing different videos, because well, let me tell you when you find that right video, it is the gift that keeps on giving.
And isn’t it great when you do find the combination that works? Yeah, there’s a bit of a Whoa, you know, and you just don’t want to touch it just for fear of changing something.
Well, that’s exactly right. And I’ve spoken to so many people over the years, who say, Oh, you know, I’ve spoken to other people, and they say it’s going to take us 60 days to get results is like no, no, like, if something’s gonna work, it’s actually going to work really quickly.
And if something’s not gonna work, it’s also not quickly,
What timeframe should we be looking at for something to work?
In my experience, like, if you don’t, if you’re not getting if we’re talking Facebook or Google, right? If you’ve got a very well seasoned, let’s say, Facebook ad account where you got enough traffic coming through your site, Facebook knows who you want, you know, your audiences, right?
I reckon you should be able to get results within well, within a week, you’ll you will know like, in fact, it’s like night and day, like, because I’ve had such a snapshot of experience from dealing from running an agency for so long in so many different industries, like I’ve taken on clients in the past where, you know, we learned something, and I’m like, Oh, my God, what is going on in this industry because this is like crazy. And it happens quickly, you just hit on a nerve.
And for whatever reason, people are really into it. They’re passionate about the industry. One was in the pet space, and people are crazy about their pets. And the other was in the religious spaces of Christianity stuff. Actually, these people were really, really passionate. I mean, that was just two examples, where, you know, they’re just, they were hungry for it, you know, and it was, it was just like feeding a starving crowd. You know, so in my experience. Well, that’s right. It just happens really quickly. Anyway, I feel like
Yeah, no, that’s brilliant. Because I was gonna ask you what, in your experience, you know, what, what does work best for an e-commerce store? Is there anyone sort of combination of add-on, let’s say these days? Take Facebook, for instance? Is it what anyone combination of ad that kind of that you’ve seen working time and time again,
look, you know, I would say it really depends on the industry that you’re in. And yeah, like different industries behave completely differently.
But it just in my experience, if I could, a good video ad that has those elements that I’ve explained, is worth its weight in gold, put in front of the right person, and it solves a problem and it ticks all those boxes, you know, like the product sells as yours does, you know, wouldn’t be a brand new product that’s innovative that people haven’t heard of that not already buying, it’s got to kind of fit that criteria.
But getting your targeting rights easy, actually, it’s creative, and getting people pushing people off the fence to move now, and not later, is the hard part because people will inherently delay making a decision if they don’t need to. Right. Like, why would I buy this now, as opposed to?
You know, I’ll decide next week. So how big of a problem are you solving for people, your product with, you know, probably, you know, breastfeeding product is someone’s breastfeeding right now, therefore, it solves a problem for them now.
And if they can discreetly breastfeed in public, well, then, you know, as somebody who’s gone through that, that’s pretty attractive, right? So you just have to convey that and illustrate and show people why your product is different from others, and etc.
Campaigns that works for Owen
I’m curious, though, going back to the traffic strategy. Is there one campaign that just works really, really well for you? I mean, I’ve got an idea in my head of what I think it could be. But curious…
Look, with, yeah, with Facebook, especially with our look-alike, audiences work really, really well. For us. That’s actually the audience that I tested. Then, the short form, medium form long-form copy on,
I think that would be a testament to how much traffic you’ve got coming through your site, maybe from your SEO, you know, that really seasons your pixel, and therefore your audience is really good.
That’s really, that’s a really good point. On the combining, it’s kind of like you don’t do these things in a vacuum, as you know, you know, it’s like, so we also spend money on SEO.
We don’t spend a fortune on SEO, but I’ve got a great guy that I met through another, another guy, and this, this particular, SEO, Wiz. He comes from one of the larger firms, he just went out on his own.
It’s basically him and a laptop and a little remote team. And he’s just brilliant. But we don’t spend a fortune on SEO, but we’re consistently at the top. So that gets us a lot of organic traffic and combining that with the blog articles.
And in even your Google, the Google ads that just take along in the background of sending traffic through then that, as you said, that kind of seasons, the pixel on our Facebook ads, that’s the Facebook ads are kind of where we get our conversion.
So you’re right, it all just comes into this guess at one point and we get them on the Facebook ad.
I’m curious if you are retargeting on multiple platforms.
Yeah, we are retargeting, a lot of retargeting on Facebook, and we’re doing some retargeting on Google. I’m not getting as much return on my investment on Google.
So given that we’ve got a finite budget per day, I’m, I monitor it constantly. And I’m, I’m, I’m always wary about pushing that up. As opposed to putting money into Facebook and Instagram retargeting, which works really well for us. Our return on investment is huge on this stuff. So I figure if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.
Yeah, fair enough. Cool. Last question with traffic. Are you doing Google Shopping? Do you find that works?
Thoughts About Google Shopping
Well, we are doing Google Shopping. In Australia, that works really well. It got really expensive last year through COVID. Just the just overall pay-per-click advertising really shot up.
Last year, with all the activity on eCommerce, obviously, it got really expensive, but now that that works really well for us. Interestingly, though, we’ve still got our US store, which we’re going through the motions of getting it all changed at the moment to be an American-based entity. But at the moment, our US store is still using our Aussie entity as its main company, even though it’s .com, and everything’s fulfilled from the US.
So what happens there is that Google won’t ask won’t allow us to do Google Shopping over there. Because it looks at our entity and says, Oh, hang on a minute. You’re saying you’re American, but you’re actually Aussies he’s not we’re not gonna let that so we can’t do Google Shopping over there. You know, which is a bummer.
So I’m just pushing that through if you’ve ever tried to do Get something through on Google. Yeah, it’s almost impossible.
Well, especially in the time of COVID, they’ve sort of shut down a lot of their support, which seems a little crazy to me. They chose this time to shut down their support. But anyway….
Something to think about if, if any of your listeners have multi-territory stores, just be aware of that. Google doesn’t really take kindly to different entities.
I mean, it’s a possible workaround, you could create a second Google Ad account temporarily. So you could do Google Shopping.
Yeah, yeah, I think we’re on to our third one now. (laughs)
Other trials and tribulations that kind of lead me into my last question for you actually….
I’m losing my hair. So yeah. (laughs)
Past Mistakes to Learn and Benefit From
Which is, you know, what are some of the biggest mistakes that you’ve made along the way that possibly our listeners could learn from and benefit from an understanding?
Don’t get into the fashion business? (laughs)
Really? Are you being jaded?
No, no, no, no, not at all. Not at all, it is super hard. But it’s kind of a good thing because it keeps competitors away.
But it’s a very complex product, I would try and, look, one of the mistakes, I suppose, would be not starting our content marketing earlier, even earlier than we did. I would say if I was to start an ecomm business today, the first thing I do would be to basically hire a blog writer for four or $500 a month, and just get cracking with you with content.
That’s what I would do.
Right so publish once a week or something?
Absolutely, you know, if you got to spend 500 bucks a month, that’s probably one of the best things to spend it on. It’s a long game, though, you’re not going to see any benefit from it for 12 to 18 months, but you’ll see the snowball effect, and it’s massive, you know, what are the….
I would say, being too narrow-minded in what’s working, what’s not working with the pay-per-click advertising. I’m quite stubborn. You know, when it comes inside, this works, and we’re gonna do this, we’re just going to do this. I don’t really look outside too much. You know, I might try a bit of video here. When it doesn’t work. I’m like not we’re going back to this. I think that’s a mistake.
I think being a bit more open to things like that. But I don’t know, we’ve made so many mistakes. Does this really count, but we kind of survived somehow.
Sheer perseverance is really the key to success for people and that just keep putting one foot forward in front of the other. I think is definitely something I’ve learned, you know.
So yeah. And this is funny that it, it, it creates its own momentum, doesn’t it? Once you get past a certain point, it does. It’s got the momentum to it. So it’s just getting past that point.
Learn More About Owen Bolwell
Exactly. Mentally. I’m mindful of the time so I don’t want to take up too much of your day. Thank you so much for coming on and sharing your experiences, the trials and tribulations that you’ve been through, and just generally sharing your wisdom if people wanted to find out a bit more information about you and possibly other ventures you’ve got going on. Where can people find out more about you?
I would head over to GetOwen.com
That’s easy enough, isn’t it?
GetOwen.com check it out. Owen and thank you so much. And it’s been lovely chatting with you.
Great Ilana, it was brilliant.