September's here which means that it's Q4 “Winning Time.” So before we move on, let's channel our inner Lebron (circa 2016). Time to deliver the goods 📦
Is this your first time receiving the DTC Newsletter? Welcome! You're in good company with Bose, Tinker Coffee, and Latitude Beverage joining just last week.
(And if a good friend forwarded this to you, be sure to subscribe here)
Here’s what’s in store for today:
📦 The ultimate Almanack 4 Life from transcended mortal Naval Ravikant
📦 The definitive guide to building your Ambassador army (and why you MUST get started in the next 4 months).
📦 Essential Slack shortcuts to save your cognitive load
📦 Facebook Ads: are CPC, CPM, and Relevance Score dead metrics? (Not so fast!)
📦 Gorgias “Vested Interest” seeks Shark Tank loving brand owners to apply for funding.
📦 Untangling Amazon’s commingled inventory nightmare
📦 An opportunity to advertise with DTC Newsletter and Podcast
Lebron the GOAT may play ball like he’s in the matrix, but Elon’s PIG stunt proves we’ve got a while to go before Neural Link takes us there. 👉🏻Read about Musk’s underwhelming stunt at the end of this newsie!
There are few people out there who make us feel smarter than investor Naval Ravikant.
Which is why we're big fans of the 'Navalmanack' that Eric Jorgenson put together to help himself consolidate what he learns from Naval, while sharing it with others.
(In case you're wondering 👉 Almanack. Noun. A handbook, typically published annually, containing information of general interest on a pastime)
Some of our favourite Naval quotes found on the site include:
It got us thinking: who else needs to have an almanac built around their insights?
(The only other one we know of is Poor Charlie's Almanack)
Now that we're feelin' a bit smarter, let's get into the DTC goodies.
If you've ever heard of Red Bull, you know the exponential power that creating a 'brand army' can have.
From reducing acquisition costs to increasing the rate of purchase, brand ambassadors work to create a ripple effect across the entire marketing funnel.
And if you haven't gotten around to building YOUR army of connected brand ambassadors, we've got you covered in this section 😉
To answer your most burning questions about ambassador programs, we connected with Alan VanToai, founder of Crew Fire -- a one-stop-shop software to help brands build, mobilize, and reward ambassadors.
The key difference can be boiled down to one word: community.
While influencers have a community around them, ambassadors form a community around your brand.
Loyalty programs, on the other hand, don't have a community factor at all. They encourage one-to-one engagement between your brand and an individual, and that's about it.
Ambassador programs string all these features together with the powerful addition of a community.
VanToai, who started out as an ambassador for Red Bull himself, recounts how he'd travel from city to city and connect with other ambassadors:
"There was a directory of all the other ambassadors not just in the country, but around the world [...] and I was able to look up the local ambassadors and hit 'em up [...] and say, 'I'd love to connect with you, grab coffee, and by the way, my friends and I are hosting a party, could we get some product?' and they'd hook it up. Now I'm a Red Bull superfan"
Beyond the undeniable fun factor, here are 5 compelling reasons VanToai suggests building your brand army:
By enlisting your best customers and biggest fans as brand ambassadors and arming them with the right tools and assets (including referral links and coupon codes), you can reach a wider audience and bring in new customers through this creative new marketing channel.
On average, user-generated content converts at 5% higher than content produced in house. And by leveraging your ambassadors as your content creation (and distribution!) army, you can enjoy new savings by decreasing your in-house content creation spend.
With the right framework and tools in place, your ambassadors can be leveraged to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of every other marketing channel you're investing in.
From boosting conversions on paid social (by engaging with ads to increase social proof), to driving more reach on social (by engaging with your social posts), to increasing the reach of your published content (by sharing it with their networks) - ambassadors can be leveraged to drive higher ROI and ROAS across your entire marketing stack.
When you enlist a new brand ambassador into your community, you forge a deeper bond with that customer and embed your brand and products even further into that customers’ life and identity.
On average, brands are seeing a whopping 43% higher LTVs amongst their brand ambassador cohorts than their broader customer cohorts (though, to be fair, it's unclear how much of this is a result of filtering in higher-value customers to begin with).
Unlike most other social-facing initiatives like paid and organic social, with the right brand ambassador tooling, you can actually own the community that you can then leverage to further enhance your efforts across digital, social, and beyond (as discussed above).
With the right platform, you can truly own your brand ambassador community - giving you similar benefits of a thriving, engaged Facebook Group - but on a platform where you own the customer relationship - complete with phone numbers, email addresses, and messaging capabilities.
And recent iOS tracking issues
Want to build your own brand army? There are three key parts: rewards, activities, and recruitment.
Your products are part of the incentive, but there are two ways you can add sweet sweet honey to keep your ambassadors engaged:
1) Dollars 👉 Offer your ambassadors a percentage of the sales they generate.
2) Points 👉 Build a points system that acts as currency in your brand community.
Points can be exchanged for:
In order to earn those rewards, here are 5 core activities your ambassadors will engage in:
Recruiting can be as simple as tapping into your existing community of folks who already love your brand: staff, customers, fans, and partners.
With your ambassador incentives and activities in place, your community will amplify your brand's growth 🚀
Crew Fire's VanTaoi has put together additional resources to help you on your ambassador journey. PLUS don’t forget to check out our podcast with him (as a subscriber, you can get a sneak peek here).
Do you know a digital business that doesn’t run on Slack? I’ll wait.
In just a few short years, Slack has come to DOMINATE the team communication game to the point where we have no idea how we’d do what we do without it.
That doesn’t mean we don’t also hate it sometimes. 👿
It’s so easy for it to get cluttered and become a distraction that dominates your waking life as you mouse between dozens of blinking channels and private messages.
It’s important that you get a handle on the shortcuts that make all day Slack toggling a breeze and to ensure you’re using Slack as a tool, and not feeling like a tool chasing after it all day.🔧
It’s well known that most developers loathe the mouse. The classic point and click GUI gets the job done, but it requires a whole different part of your brain to grab the mouse, move it around, scroll, and type. This alone can often take you out of flow, while the endless scroll can lead to a myriad of other distractions.
Imagine if you could just think and type, hands never leaving the keys, a perfect amalgam of person and Slack.
Are you ready to take the red pill? 💊
Go to Slack’s desktop app and press command (ctrl on PC) and forward slash.
Bang, now we’re cooking with Crisco. Welcome to the wonderful world of mouse-free Slack wizardry:
Play around with a few of these simple functions and you’ll find that you no longer have to break your train of thought to mouse through an endless list of teammates or channels to find the one you need.
Command + N, K to toggle between your conversations, or start a new one.
Once you’ve integrated these, try: cmnd + shift + a 👉 to open all unread channels to quickly scan for new messages in threads or channels to see what you’ve missed without having to mouse around.
There’s no doubt that Slack has done wonders for remote teams around the world, and with a handle on these basic shortcuts, you and your team can keep it working for you as you scale your team and your business.
For a full list of Slack Shortcut wizardry, check out makeuseof.com
Last week, the Social Savannah shared her belief that three metrics should be removed from your Facebook ads dashboard:
Savannah conducted a correlation analysis of over $100 million in ad spend, looking closely at the relationship between variables. She discovered that CPC, CPM, and Relevance have no impact on the Return On Ad Spend (aka ROAS -- generally considered the most important advertising metric).
"It doesn’t matter how much it costs to get people to click over to your site from your ad, all that matters is the conversion rate and order value of the users that ad generates. If the conversion rate and average order value are proportionally as high as the cost of your traffic, you can win."
On the other hand, she suggests two metrics that DO give insight into whether an ad is driving purchase intent (and ultimately purchases): Unique Adds to Cart, and Unique Checkouts Initiated.
While Savannah makes a cogent argument, we decided to float these views by the media buying nerds at our sister agency, Pilothouse.
Here are their responses to bolster your understanding of the argument:
On mature accounts we don't, but on non-mature ones we still do. Most of our testing is on front end metrics that she says we shouldn't value at all.Looking at 1 purchase per AOV and scaling that up seems like it could be open to rogue purchases. But if CPC really doesn't matter then it makes sense.We should test this against gold-coin and the current Pilothouse method on a small account and a hot account. 3 way split and see if they all get the same results.
CPC is the go-to benchmark for small budget testing idk I find this to be a pretty hot take from Savannah. Worth testing for sure.
Jacob Says Take It "Case by Case"
Personally, CPC isn't my main benchmark for small budget testing.
I know some specific tests like gold coin are CPC focused but I typically let creative tests run long enough or with enough budget that I pay attention to ATCs, purchases, and CPA moreso than CPC.
But yeah again if your product costs like $300 that's going to take a lot of budget to test creative and may not be feasible.
Case by case haha
Definitely agree with the post to an extent. Like you said Grayson with small budgets, limited conversion data and before we’re seeing many conversions I definitely do take CPC and CTR into account, but they’re always second to purchases and CPA.
As we scale the only time CPC or CPM are really taken into account is when there is a drastic change in either direction - which usually has more to say about the audience than the creative.
I 100% agree with this sentiment. On a platform that uses machine learning to determine CPA and ROAS… CPC/CPM etc, is just a loose proxy.
Naturally, I'm all for bottom-line tracking. BUT...
One caution I have is from an attribution prospective. IMO it's situational based on campaign structure and the product being sold.
For example, if you're running a campaign structure that has cold, prospecting audiences in one campaign or ad set, with remarketing in another, this philosophy lends itself only to quick buying decisions that happen after 1 prospecting click.
Otherwise, any purchase that spans more than 1 click session will have that user moved from a prospecting audience to a remarketing audience, and thus be served DIFFERENT ADS. If they click the subsequent ad, the purchase will be attributed to the last ad.
The issue - the initial prospecting ad will appear to have failed (even if it had massive CTRs and was crushing its TOF goal), and this philosophy would have you turn it off.
Even if the account was structured such that prospecting ads were targeting remarketing audiences, if the user clicks a different ad on a subsequent click, the second ad would get the credit even though arguably the first ad did the heavy lifting and broke the ice.
Another example - Dynamic Catalog Ad retargeting is powerful. But every click-attributed purchase through them will swipe the purchase attribution away from the prospecting ad.
SO - my view is to evaluate your offer. If your strategy is based on multi-touch, recognize that the purchase attribution will go to last click, so you may need to evaluate your prospecting ads on higher-funnel outcomes.
Just my 2c.
We didn't know this was a thing, but Redditors are talking about the increasing number of fake products they're receiving from Amazon:
"Most recently, I bought a bottle of shampoo that seemed really odd and gave me a pretty serious rash on my scalp. I contacted the manufacturer, and they confirmed it was a fake. Amazon will offer to give your money back if you send it back, but that's all the protection you have as a buyer."
This is happening more and more because of a concept Amazon created called Commingled Inventory. Basically, it works like this:
As more third-party sellers enter the 'mingle', the risk of fake products obviously goes up.
Luckily for us, the answer's pretty simple: Keep going DTC 😁
Get Funded - Sponsored Content from Vested Interest
Are you an Ecommerce brand that’s looking for Venture Capital? Our partners at Gorgias are connecting investors & entrepreneurs on a pitch competition called Vested Interest.
Vested Interest is an online show where three pre-selected Ecommerce businesses are given 10 minutes to pitch their brand to three venture capital and private equity investors. Gorgias has partnered with first-rate venture capital firms like Greycroft, Swiftarc, and Rosecliff, to ensure contestants get the opportunity to connect with serious investors.
The format is very similar to Shark Tank or Dragons Den. As the Ecommerce merchant, you pitch your business's vision to investors looking for their next significant investment. Then the potential investors will ask a few questions about your costs, profits, operations, customer demographic, product, etc.
By the end of the episode, at least one of the three enterprises is awarded:
If you’re an online merchant and are ready to scale your business, (but you need a cash injection to do so), this is the show for you. It’s a wonderful opportunity to connect with high-caliber investors while gaining valuable exposure for your brand - win-win!
The event is 100% online, so it doesn't matter where you're located. Anyone from anywhere across the globe can apply and pitch their brand.
If you like the sound of appearing on Vested Interest, you’ll need to fill out this application.
If you’re selected, you’ll need to prepare a one-page summary and a 10-minute presentation. Here are a few things to consider including:
So, now that you have all the info you need to hit the ground running with Gorgias’ Vested Interest project, will you apply? Are you ready to scale your eCommerce business to the next level? If so, we wish you the best of luck!
Apply for Vested Interest now!
🐦 Value thread: Influencer content expert @taylorlegace lays out exactly how to leverage influencer ugc throughout your ad funnel (tldr: iterate and repurpose like a mf’er, and ALWAYS have captions)
✏️ Memes For Big Biz: This Digiday piece spotlights Bud Light’s foray into the world of high volume meme-making as a way to increase positive brand sentiment. They even hired their first CMO (Chief Meme Officer) to make sure Bud Light gets into the jokes, instead of being the bud of them.
♨️ Boiling it All Down: @jackbutcher boils down entrepreneurship into twelve words and about as many lines on his minimalist diagrams. 1. Find a problem, 2. Build a process that delivers a result, 2. Prove it.
🎙 Product Launch Podcast: this week at Pilothouse we’re working on some new product launches, so we revisited John Hagan’s appearance on DTC Podcast back in may. Listen to this cast for a master class on influencer backed product launches.
💁🏻♀️ Tik Tok Training: Savannah Sanchez breaks down Tik Tok’s newest platform updates that enable better ads targeting and bidding strategies for ecommerce.
🎥 Documentary: Adam Curtis’ BBC Documentary, the Trap is about how John Nash (the real Beautiful Mind mathematician) almost lost his mind, but created the decision making framework that would come to define the course of global geo-politics to this day. Game theory is a theoretical framework for conceiving social situations among competing players. In some respects, game theory is the science of strategy. Give it a watch and gain new understanding into your own competitive landscape.
🎯 Facebook Targeting Reduction: This week Facebook disabled the ability to target customers by race. We don’t normally cheer on data and targeting restrictions but this one feels right. We always target as broadly as possible, letting the algorithm make decisions about the right ads for the right people, and won’t miss this potentially divisive targeting option.
🥊 David vs. Goliath in CPG: In the food CPG space since April, upstart brands, or small manufacturers representing $100 million to $999 million in revenue have jumped up 0.7% while large CPG brands ($1B +) have dropped almost 2%. Not a monumental shift, enough to create MASSIVE opportunity for disruptive brands.
👑 Content is King: In a survey of close to 150 marketers, conducted in late February and early March 2020, nearly half (48%) said that content marketing was among the top 3 areas that would receive increased funding next year.
🎵 Music to Work By: Blondes by Swisher is already seven years old, but its experimental techno soundscapes are still as captivating and interesting as they were in 2013. Check it out if you need some deep focus electronic music.
🐖 Not Ready for the Matrix: This Next Web piece about Neural Link rips into Elon Musk who promised he would show “neurons firing in real-time. The matrix in the matrix.” on August 28. What we got instead was “pig with a brain implant that triggers a beeping noise every time it snuffles.” Neural Link is a wild concept (and salivating as an advertiser), but underwhelming stunts like this show that the hype isn’t always real and we have a while to wait before we can upload an instruction manual and say “I know kung fu.”