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DTC Voice of the Customer
31 minutes | Mar 15, 2021
Nelio Leone on Brand Driven Growth
Nelio Leone is the Founder of UrbanMonks, a growth marketing agency headquartered in Dubai. Nelio started his career working for brand-driven corporate clients like L’Oreal and Chanel. Then, he left it all behind to help start what would become the “Uber” of the Middle East. Today, his goal is to drive growth through branding and storytelling. He hopped on the podcast to explain why brand is important for startups of any kind, and how his go-to framework for brand-building involves a heavy dose of customer research. Key Takeaways 1:35 - The first Saudi Arabian unicorn In three hours, Nelio decided to change his entire life and go from L’Oreal’s corporate headquarters to an app-based Dubai startup.The management in Paris sent me to the Middle East to crack one market that was very unclear for them with a lot of potential, which was Saudi Arabia...I met really an amazing guy at a conference. And he had just left McKinsey a couple of years ago to start this random app. And last thing I knew, I just left my corporate job. It took me literally three hours to make that decision to leave my corporate career and joined the company. I was among the first 15 to 20 employees maybe, so super early stage. And I was one of the first marketing guys, literally. Fast forward a couple of years, the company, like we massively scaled the company. We went from 15 employees to 3,200, and we recently got bought by Uber for $3 billion. It was the first tech unicorn of the region. 4:00 - Pivoting from corporate to startup-mode For Nelio, the biggest challenge of going from corporate to startup was the lack of structure.The transition was actually very painful for me because coming from corporate where everything is pretty much, like you have processing in place, you have a structure, you actually know what to do. And in case you don't, you have playbooks that have been used for the last like 80 years. So maybe they perfect a bit the playbook, but you don't have to figure shit out. Like it's pretty much everything is figured out...that really made me feel like very lost at the beginning is that there's no framework. It's like, there's no beaten path. 5:22 - Product-led vs. brand-led There was a stark contrast between Nelio’s old and new worlds. Corporations were driven by brand, while tech startups were driven by product.When I came up at Careem, what really shocked me is that everybody was like ‘the product!’ And it was like this creed, like the different creed: build like an amazing product and people would come. And coming from that background of branding kind of like sounded really wrong to me...What was really like for me a priority back then was to win people's hearts with a story that everybody could relate to and to build a brand around that story. So I really believe that we have to win the content/brand battle before going into crazy acquisition frameworks and crazy product or tech frameworks. And I actually wasn't that wrong, because when Uber acquired the brand Careem, they actually kept the brand, which is a pretty obvious signal that the brand is actually very valuable. 9:52 - The best brands foster community A sense of community is the hallmark of the world’s strongest brands.For me brand comes down to three things. It comes down to design, of course, it's the tip of the iceberg. It comes down to content. And it comes down to community. So the deeper you go, like basically the biggest brand and the strongest brand are the brands that create a sense of community. And if your brand can do that, create like a sort of creed, create a sort of movement. That's where your brand is really extremely strong. 14:07 - Nelio’s pre-testing framework Before any product launch, Nelio sets up a beta testing period in which the user/product interaction is tracked.The concept is that you give the product to the final user or to the target market that you're planning on to go. And then you document their experience. And by documenting their experience, you will get all their lingo. You will get all their usage. You will observe how the user interacts with the product...most of e-commerce brands, they don't do this. They start a brand. And the first thing they do, they switch on their laptop and they go into Facebook on the Facebook ads manager. What happens is that you're going to go to market without like having any mental model on really how to get to the heart of customer and how to cut through the noise and get their attention. 15:49 - Capture the Voice of Customer During a beta test, ask open-ended questions so that you can capture the voice of your customer.We really created a questionnaire of the ‘who’ and the ‘why.’ And we did it only with open-ended questions. This is a super important, pro-tip that very few follow. And then the results are really skewed. And why open-ended? Because quote-unquote you need to ‘steal’ your customers’ voice. You need to steal their lingo, their vocabulary, how they describe something. Because basically what you end up doing is just you'll end up taking their words and putting them in front of other customers. So the relevance score increases like extremely fast...And this was like a sort of quote-unquote ‘Bible’ when building ads and building any sort of marketing material. 19:58 - Leveraging user-generated content For a skincare client’s campaign, Nelio prioritized free user-generated content and inexpensive influencer marketing in lieu of a pricy ad budget.The beauty of it all is that we started to get so much user-generated content. So most of them were not like super high quality, but it was good enough to go to market with ads that look super real from ladies that were actually really like, no, they tested the product for three weeks. And now imagine, we have so much social proof that looks super organic, that when it goes through your feed, you're like, okay, this looks real.Then influencers would come on board, say, hey, can I test your product for free? And one of them just got us like more than 2,000 likes on Instagram, in a niche of like natural beauty, etc. It's very small. It's pretty big. And this is like all free...this stuff really cuts through the noise for one simple reason. It's because it's true. It's real. 28:53 - Building your marketing assets After collecting user-generated content, Nelio works on building out marketing assets before finally jumping into paid ads.We don't start scaling ad spend just yet...Now we build marketing assets, like landing pages, website, or like either the e-commerce store or the brand itself, whatever that is. And then we inject all these elements into building all these marketing assets. Once we have the marketing assets, that’s when we start like the phase where basically we start scaling up a bit, the ad spend. 31:33 - The future of brand-driven growth Nelio sees wide open space for innovation when it comes to connecting storytelling and conversions.If you see in the growth marketing spectrum, every little aspect has been like super broken down. CRO, analytics, even content to some extent, data - like pretty much everything except one thing is brand. Like there are no valid frameworks for growth marketing that are brand-driven, that are brand-led. And I believe that there is a lot of space to innovate in that and to combine data and storytelling to conversion.
39 minutes | Jan 8, 2021
Jon MacDonald Butcherbox Conversion Teardown
Turning your hard-earned website, visitors and subscribers and loyal customers is likely high on your list of marketing priorities, especially if you're investing in paid advertising. But what's the most effective way to start improving conversion on your website? In this episode, I'm joined by John McDonald for a special part two of the Why I Bought This series on ButcherBox. John is a CRO expert with more than a decade of experience, helping top brands from Nike to Red Bull improve their website conversion rates. Today, John is going to be auditing ButcherBox's existing website and applying some of the learnings from my interview in the first Why I Bought This episode with a ButcherBox customer to propose research back to ideas for conversion experiments.
31 minutes | Dec 10, 2020
Nicholas Daniel-Richards on fulfillment as a CX differentiator
Fulfillment and supply chain logistics might not be the sexiest part of the e-commerce ecosystem, but it's impact on the overall customer experience is undeniable. I'm joined by ShipHero founder Nicholas Daniel-Richards to dive deep into how he's expecting shipping and fulfillment to impact customer experience this holiday season. 01:44 - eCommerce brands no longer feel that they have to “do it all” Many brands are transitioning from running their own warehouses to outsourcing them to services like ShipHero. “So there are a lot of e-commerce brands, e-commerce merchants, if you will, that they are moving away or do not have their own warehouse...So we're seeing a growing number of brands, especially in the response to e-commerce growth, where they would much rather outsource that warehouse bit. So not using our software, they can use our fulfillment as a service. They just send us product and we're actually doing the fulfillment. We have the warehouses that have the inventory and do the shipping out.” 03:59 - Individual shipments have replaced bulk shipments Before, brands were moving huge chunks of product around the country. Now, it’s all about small individual shipments. “So you see those kinds of brands that have huge infrastructure. They can't just throw away that infrastructure, or they're just more capable from a logistics perspective. And what they are having to do is move away from big pallets of things coming into the warehouse, and then those pallets leave the warehouse and go to retail stores. Now they're having to break down those pallets and fulfill orders individually.” 08:39 - Amazon has set the gold standard for shipping Customers expectations are higher than ever thanks to Amazon Prime. “Amazon has really set the expectation as far as how we, as consumers purchase and then have a delivery experience. And what I mean by that delivery experience is, oh yeah, it's going to be here in a couple of days. Which is, you go back a decade, maybe not even a decade, but it's such a game changer in many ways. So I think it starts at what is the ability for you to have a resilient shipping capability.” 10:22 - If your warehouse setup isn’t working, your whole operation will suffer A domino effect of negative consequences can quickly escalate from small operational issues. “if you have some things that are not running very efficiently from your logistics perspective, whether it's ordering new product so you don't run out obviously, or you have accurate inventory counts, the way in which your pick and pack process is working - so how items are being selected for an order, put in a box, and shipped out. If there's something wrong with that, then what's going to happen is it’s just gonna create a whole chain of events that's going to cause more pain. Because things are going to be returned by unhappy customers.” 11:58 - The most important thing is to get the order right Getting the right items within a realistic time frame is all customers really want. “I think what a lot of brands are contending with right now is just get the order right. Like, that's the first step. Get the order right and make sure that it's shipped to the customer in a reasonable amount of time. There are a lot of carrier delays happening. So at the minimum, what a brand should be doing is setting those expectations on their site. And I've seen this a number of times I shop. So you'll go onto a site and they'll have a banner at the top that says, expect some delays. Which is indicative that they’re struggling a bit, or dealing with carrier delays. So I think, you know, table stakes right now is just make sure you have resilient shipping and you're getting the right things in the boxes to customers.” 14:57 - Nimble DTC brands are excelling at tech delegation The best brands are superb marketers who understand when to outsource. “you're definitely seeing a difference between those that are struggling with tech in their own operations, versus companies or DTC brands where e-commerce is in their blood, and that's what they've done. For them, fulfillment as a service is like, yeah, that's what you do. I use Shopify. I don't build the e-commerce platform myself, I use Shopify as an outsource shipping service. You're seeing this huge evolution in terms of e-commerce that's happening with these smaller brands emerging and driving volume, because they're really good at marketing and they're using services that are making them really good at logistics. They’re not trying to do it all.” 17:17 - Again: sending the wrong item is your worst mistake Not only will it disrupt other aspects of your supply chain, but unhappy customers will add up quickly. “So if the cause for the return is you're sending the wrong product or the item you sent is broken, you need to address that. I mean, obviously you need to. But that's a huge amount of work that that's going to create, because now you've got inventory that is being affected. You know, if you sent the wrong thing, you've sent something else that you could have sold that is not in the warehouse that could be now in an oversold state...at volume, that little dot of a percentage point also is resulting in unhappy customers.” 19:31 - Make your return process as easy as possible Customers will be returning items. Set up a great self-service return system. “you do have customers that are, “I'm going to order this pair of shoes. Sometimes I'm this size, sometimes I’m that size depending on the manufacturer. I'm going to order both pairs and I know I'm going to return one of them.” So that happens. So from a business perspective, and this is one of the things that we help with, and we have partners that we work with as well, to make the returns process as smooth as possible. Self service; so I can decide this item doesn't work for me, I can go online and create the return myself, print the label, someone can come and pick it up and take it away. That's fantastic.” 20:28 - Make your return process a positive experience Use returns to strengthen your customer bonds. How? Offer a future discount, grant proactive refunds, or replace the product. “Being able to quickly respond to someone, turning that return experience into an opportunity to either cross-sell something else or at least retain that customer. It's an opportunity to delight them. If they're unhappy, you can delight them by giving them a discount on something else or tell them, "Hey, you're going to return the item. We've already given you a refund, even though it hasn't arrived yet," or "We've sent another one too." So there's lots of opportunity to actually turn a return moment into a way of just further strengthening the connection with the customer.” 25:55 - Localized warehouses are a win-win Products get to customers faster, and companies save money in the process. “one of the things that we really focus on from fulfillment as a service is we have a network of warehouses. So we're essentially taking on Amazon at their own game when it comes to national distribution of fulfillment centers. And we are then moving product around that network...So when someone orders, say on the west coast, it's coming from a warehouse that's optimized for the West coast versus east coast. There's going to be a warehouse closer to that. And one of the reasons for this is it reduces shipping costs. In the U.S. we have zones which can get prohibitively expensive if you're shipping from one side to the other from coast to coast. And then the other big thing is you are not at the mercy of a major shipping carrier having a bottleneck in the main shipping hub and say Memphis, Tennessee. So by having that localized product or localized inventory, you can now rely on ground shipping, which we're optimizing for.” 29:11 - Pursue a lightning-fast fulfillment process Orders should be processed immediately in order to create a valuable shipping time buffer. “So the big part of running a good warehouse or having a good fulfillment service is the responsiveness in which those orders are being processed when they're placed by a customer. So when anorder comes in, it’s going to be processed in a couple of days. Like the order comes in and that team is just getting through them and they are responding as fast as possible. Because that's really where there's a lot of time that you can make up. Instead of that thing sitting in the warehouse for two days and then getting on a shipping carrier, you can ship it out either same day or next day. And you've bought yourself a day or two of time that can now be made in the shipping carrier process of getting something delivered.”
32 minutes | Dec 3, 2020
Matt Schlicht & Ben Parr on personalization
Personalization has been a hot topic in marketing over the last couple of years. And the expectations from consumers for brands to speak that language has never been higher. I talked to Matt Schlitt and Ben Parr, the founders of Octane AI about the impact personalization can have on an e-commerce business and how to implement personalization that delivers on the promise of actually improving the customer buying experience.
39 minutes | Nov 19, 2020
Hannah Shamji on customer research playbooks
The chances are you know customer research is a helpful tool to grow your business but when it comes to actually doing effective research it can feel intimidating and easy to deprioritize. Today I’m joined by the former head of Research at CopyHackers Hannah Shamji to chat about the research playbooks DTC brands can use to go beyond the numbers and start capturing the voice of their customers. Show Links Hannah's Survey Project Follow Hannah on Twitter Follow Stuart on Twitter Key Takeaways 00:33 - Quantitative data is sexy, but falls flat in isolation Quantitative data is tidy and attractive, but messier qualitative data can tell you how to move the needle and manipulate the current picture.“I think quant is very tangible, right? It's so easy, it's very neat and tidy and you can see a number and react to a number on a scale. It's just very accessible. And I think that makes it feel more robust. Like, "Oh, I've actually distilled all of these findings down to something." But once you have that, something, it's kind of flat. Like how do you move it? How do you, like, why is it that number and not a bigger number? … you do have to kind of like, peel back that curtain and go behind the number layer and look into like, what I'm calling, I call it like "The messy data" right? The stuff that like, might not always fit into a nice little bundle, but will actually help you change the quantitative, change the numbers.” 02:51 - Qualitative data can be distilled into something actionable The key lies into distilling qualitative data into digestible chunks, so that quant and qual eventually become two halves of the same whole. “there is tremendous value in being able to distill qualitative data into something that closely resembles quantitative. Like you can, to be able to shrink it down into something bite size. So it is meaningful. So it might be able to, not necessarily fit on a dashboard, but be easy to reference, digestible, useful, actionable. That does require you to take the messy and make it not messy...I always try to broach it in two. Like, ‘okay, well quant is half.’ So how do we get the other half?” 09:04 - Surveys are an approachable starting point for qualitative research Brands just starting on the qualitative journey should put simple surveys in place, with the final question asking if they are willing to be interviewed. “I typically like to start with surveys just because it's an easier - I think it's more comfortable if a brand is not as familiar, or used to, or hasn't done interviews. And then, at the last question of the survey, tee it up to have folks join and do an interview…you can have follow up questions in a survey, but in an interview you can explore some of your hypotheses without biasing the interview in a way that you just get a lot richer insight.” 12:49 - Survey data can help you perfect your brand messaging By collecting a baseline understanding of your customers, you can ensure that your messaging, copy, and positioning are on track. “why are folks buying, right? That's going to be your biggest bang for your buck. Get you some messaging and some clarity on like, is your value prop synching up with people? Should you optimize your copy in any particular way?... So when someone just signs up to your list, you can ask them ‘What made you sign up to the list?’ Of course, a little more nuanced than that. Like, ‘What made you sign up for, what made you look for X or X is perhaps the product or the service?’ And what that'll do is help you get a sense of who are these folks on the list. What are they looking for? What do they want? And you can use that to really start to match your messaging, understand who your reader base is.” 14:18 - Connect survey collection to key customer activity Catch customers while they are fresh off of a critical action, such as signing up, making a purchase, or cancelling.“a cancellation survey is really, really powerful. You're looking there at what made you decide against this, right? Then if something that you can fix, if it's something that's like, ‘Oh, well, why don't we just make sure we include this information up front?’ and we can eliminate or minimize a cancellation or churn.”“response rate can be really high if you put these surveys on the back of an action that they're already taking. So like, they just signed up and as you're thanking them, you ask them, ‘Hey, by the way,’ it minimizes the need to recall. You're not making the survey an entirely separate event, which can feel very similar, like work...and you get much more accurate insight cause they're not thinking about what they're doing. They're right in the action in that particular moment.” 19:08 - Keep surveys incredibly simple Keep questions short & simple, bold/capitalize important information, and write like you talk. “Do not mix two ideas in one question. Even if it is technically a compound question, so they do tie together. You want to keep it really, really simple. And if that means two questions, go for two. So one actual question that you're asking per question, really simple language, like exactly what you're saying conversationally. If you wouldn't say it out loud, maybe don't say it in the survey. You don't want people stumbling over the words. And I think sometimes, I'll be really careful of bolding or capitalizing a word that is pretty critical to the sentence.” 26:19 - Start surveys with easy questions, then give your reader the mic Initial questions should prompt the reader for simple facts, while later questions should tease out deeper insights. “if there's a decent chunk of time between the event and then you asking about the event, the survey needs to sort of act a bit like a prompt. So you start, you want to always start with like really easy questions, right? Like kind of factual, reference point. You're not getting them to think. And then over the course of the survey, they might start to remember things that you're not necessarily asking about, but that would be helpful to know, or they want to share, and that question can really be them like - it just becomes this bank of insights that you kind of just got as a bonus...people will really, really share if you give them the mic in that last question." 34:22 - How should a brand just starting out approach surveys & interviews? Set up two surveys: an initial survey and cancellation survey and keep them static. Then, dip your toes into doing interviews using that pool of survey takers. “I would have them start with those two surveys. So it could be an opt in, so either on the thank you page, or as you mentioned, the welcome email, and pop into the cancellation survey. On the end of both of those I would ask for folks to sign up if they're interested in talking more. And then I would leave them like static. I think those are really, really good placeholder surveys that you would just want to have, and be looking at the data pretty regularly. And once you get those interviews coming in and interview requests, I would start booking right away."What are those conversion points that are lower than you like, or that you really want to emphasize or focus on? And I would speak to those in the interviews. That's going to be a really good place for you to, rather than kind of getting lost in which survey at first. Just have those static pieces or static surveys, and then use them to set up these conversations.” 38:59 - It’s surprising how much people will share in an interview While an interview may start out slowly and with short answers, keep pressing. Both you and the interviewee may end up surprised by the deeper insights that emerge. “the surprising factor has been, for me, and maybe continues to be, is that if you just sort of stay with people in an interview in particular, they share a lot more than they even think they were going to share. And sometimes even I think that they were going to share in the beginning, often to the point that they will have this moment of like, ‘Oh, I didn't really think about it like that.’ or ‘I didn't realize I do that, but yeah, that's kind of what's happening.’ But it does require you to really dig and ask the follow ups and kind of chase your curiosity there.”
30 minutes | Nov 12, 2020
Lucas Walker on profit driving customer support
Customer support might not be the first place you would look to drive revenue for your store but today I’m joined by Lucas Walker from Gorgias to chat about how brands can leverage proactive customer support and a concierge shopping experiences to increase AOV and drive up loyalty through Black Friday and beyond. Show Links Try Gorgias Text Lucas at 416.388.4470 Follow Lucas on Twitter Follow Stuart on Twitter
37 minutes | Nov 5, 2020
Why I Bought This: ButcherBox
We flip the script and interview the customers of top DTC brands to understand what's going on in their lives and why they bought the products we all know and love. Today, I'm chatting with Ryann a busy mother of two from Florida about her experience with ButcherBox. There's no formal script, trick questions, or wrong answers. I just want to hear her story.Show Links Shop ButcherBox Follow ButcherBox on Twitter Follow Stuart on Twitter Key Takeaways Let’s start at the beginning. Ryann’s first thought that made her open to the idea of a meat subscription was watching a Netflix documentary on what goes into the meat you buy. This could provide an interesting opportunity to get in front of potential buyers long before they search for how to actually buy better meat with educational content similar to Patagonia's Blue Heart documentary. Once people have had the first thought to seek better quality and healthier meats, ButcherBox compares favorably to the supermarket options for healthier food at an affordable price. Compared to buying in bulk from the store, ButcherBox wins big on ease of portioning. Ryann went to through many frustrations before ButcherBox - she complained about the time and mess of preparing meat to be frozen. She even bought a cleaver!Imagine a campaign focused on ease of portioning for bulk buyers - "You aren't a part-time butcher. Why act like one? Cut out the bargain hunting & prepping. Zero in on the perfect cuts and go from delivered to frozen in minutes without the mess." We spent a lot of time talking about the before and after experience of shopping for meat. Ryann was looking for better quality meat at a price that didn’t break her budget and she even did the math to prove ButcherBox was a great option. ButcherBox not only stands up favorably when compared against buying at the supermarket but also provides convenience particularly for those who like to buy in bulk to feed a family and are looking for ways to save time and reduce errands.Boxes don't eliminate grocery shopping, but they do streamline and minimize it. Providing a simple cost comparison calculator of butcher box vs the grocery store could help highlight this differentiation along with time-related messaging like: Reduce shopping time by 2 hours a week; Less time to shop, more time to savor. The biggest gap that jumps out from this conversation is the opportunity ButcherBox is missing to provide advice around recipe suggestions specific to the contents of each box. Ryann shared that for the most part, good quality meat is perfect as-is. There isn’t any guesswork beyond simple seasoning. Whereas which sides to pair to make a full meal takes a whole lot of additional mental energy.By including a few simple tips for preparing the included meat and recipes to pair with it in the box, ButcherBox could help busy families elevate their meal times and empower them to put a fresh spin on run-of-the-mill weeknight dishes without making any fundamental changes to the product itself. Finally, let’s talk about the Event of opening the box itself - If you’re stuck at home during Covid, especially with kids any opportunity to create a fun experience can be a welcome relief. Ryann talked about the excitement of the unboxing process and how it became a family event with the kids laying out all the different meats. She also really appreciated the free surprises that were often thrown in.The delivery of new boxes has become an event and usually means a special meal that night from the box. This could become a really interesting opportunity to capture user-generated content and encourage families to share their meals from “ButcherBox night.” Especially during Covid this could be an interesting opportunity to make this delivery feel more like going to a restaurant than receiving a box of food.
28 minutes | Oct 29, 2020
Damian Soong on getting closer to customers
Being close to your customer is one of those things that is easy to say but often hand waved at in practice today I’m joined by founder and CEO of Form Nutrition Damian Soong to chat about how they bridge the gap and build meaningful relationships with customers.
30 minutes | Oct 29, 2020
Katelyn Bourgoin on safe-guarding growth
Understanding why your customers buy and what they are ultimately hoping your products can help them do, feel, and achieve is arguably the closest thing to a silver bullet that exists in marketing. Today I’m joined by Katelyn Bourgoin to chat about her experience launching a new DTC brand during Covid and the incredible insights she uncovered in customer insights.
31 minutes | Oct 29, 2020
Jordan Gal on increasing AOV with post-purchase upsells
Meeting your customers where they are and building deeper relationships with them is coming to the forefront of DTC in 2020 and today I’m joined by founder and CEO of Carthook Jordan Gal to chat about how brands can start building longer-term relationships with customers from their very first checkout experience.
1 minutes | Aug 31, 2020
Welcome to the DTC Voice of the Customer podcast
Hey, and welcome to the DTC Voice of the Customer podcast. Join me as I go behind the scenes with top DTC ecommerce operators to understand how they leverage the voice of their customers to drive sustainable growth.
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