Going Global Podcast #2 | Brett Curry
Currencies Direct March 21st 2018 - 19 minute read
An author and regular speaker at events like Social Media Marketing World and the Content and Commerce Summit, Brett's well placed in the world of eCommerce marketing.
We talked to him about how to build effective PPC campaigns by combining multiple advertising channels as well as when you should branch out beyond Amazon Marketplace.
Duncan: Hey there, and welcome to the Going Global Podcast. My name is Duncan Malcolm and I am your host. Our mission with this podcast is really to bring you the world's best experts on how to grow your business both online, offline and internationally. This week is no exception. We're talking to Brett Curry. He's the CEO of OMG Commerce. He's been a speaker at popular events like Social Media Marketing World, and he's really a big thinker within the ad space. In this episode we've been talking to him about how to grow your business with ads, about which platforms you should be looking to use online in terms of eCommerce platforms, at what point you should be moving from using something like Amazon Marketplace to having your own eCommerce shop. And then later on through the podcast we talk about how you can build a system of marketing to really help and boost and grow your business. If you're like me and you've run a couple of ad campaigns here and there and they haven't quite worked out as you hoped, then at that point for about halfway through and we're talking about how to really pull all those different tools that are available together, should help you out. I just have to warn you. For this podcast we had a few connection issues. I thought the content was so valuable. I really wanted you to do to hear it, so we'll have to cut out one or two little bits where the audio was lost, but I hope you enjoy the podcast. I'm looking forward to hearing your comments.
Okay. Brett Curry, thank you so much for taking the time to come and speak to us today. You are CEO at OMG Commerce. You've been a speaker in a lot of interesting conferences including Social Media Marketing World, Digital Midwest Marketing Conference. You've written a book, "The Ultimate Guide to Google Shopping" and you run your own podcast which, eCommerce Evolution, which is an excellent listen. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us today.
Brett: Yeah, and I'm really excited to be here, excited about our topic as you and I were kinda talking before we started recording. It got me fired up, like, I'm excited to dive into these topics. I will say for those listening, my voice is recovering. I was yelling all weekend at a basketball tournament at some teenage boys that I coach and so I may be a little scratchy, but I feel fine. I'm ready to go. Just bear with the voice a little bit.
Duncan: Yeah, that's very interesting in terms of coaching versus building and running marketing campaigns. I guess that could be an interesting synergy between those two.
Brett: Yeah, definitely. I find some parallels between basketball and marketing or coaching a team and running a business. There's parallels there. It's pretty challenging to do both, but it's fun for sure.
Duncan: And what's your… Can you give us a bit of a run through in terms of your background? How did it come to be that you started OMG Commerce and you got a bit of a value background?
Brett: Yeah, sure. So I started a small ad agency right out of college, which is probably not the most common path to success, but I was willing to take a risk. It sounded fun. I actually put my… I paid my way through college by selling radios, so I worked for radio station. So when I launched this ad agency, it was all working with local businesses. It was radio, TV-focused, a little bit of print. I just loved solving marketing problems. I love the messaging side, the media mixed side. I just had a blast with it. In 2004, though, I had a client approach me, an eCommerce client, and they said, "Hey, do you know SEO?" And I said, "No, I have no idea how to do SEO." And they said, "We'll pay you to learn." And I said, "I'm in." So, yeah. So once I started learning SEO, I got them ranked on page one for the search term brochures pretty quickly. And so then after that I was hooked on SEO. And so then 2010 I launched OMG with a business partner. We quickly got in the eCommerce, so then we kinda launched our eCommerce division of OMG Commerce, and then I wrote the guide on Google shopping, "The Ultimate Guide to Google Shopping," then Shopify published, get to speak at Firestone's events and Digital Marketer and things like that. And so it's really all about driving the right kind of traffic and thinking about it in a way that not a lot of people are thinking about it. When you're looking at shopping funnels and how to reach people at the different stages of the funnel to really maximize your growth. And my philosophy is, "Let's leverage every tool, every technology at our disposal." It makes sense to get the right message to the right person at the right time. And so we're primarily Google, so Google Adwords, but we'll shop on YouTube, but over the last year and a half, the Amazon side of our business has grown as well, so we really kinda help with both. So if you're on Amazon and on Google, or on Amazon or have your own website, we can help grow both of those channels for you.
Duncan: I mean, Amazon has become already interesting platform over the past couple of years as it's opened up to more and more sellers and sort of just the, I guess, democratization of being able to create your own brand of products and then grow that brand. I don't think there's been any other time certainly in the last 1,500 years where you can so easily build your own brand with such a…from listening to your podcast and my podcast. There are people who just build their brands start with $500 or £500 and from there grow exponentially. It really is a huge opportunity.
Brett: Yeah, there's never been anything like it. I mean, I know some guys that I used to go to church with that I was kinda hanging out with have got various backgrounds, and they started selling on Amazon and are doing phenomenally well, and they've built their own little brands. And so we've never seen anything like it. I think it's good for the person that wants to launch a brand, or it's good for somebody that's been established selling brick and mortar or with their own store to now say, "Hey, you can't really ignore Amazon as a channel. You need to me to consider that as well." So, so much opportunity there. It is still kind of the Wild West. If you have all your eggs in the Amazon basket and then something changes, that could be pretty risky for you, but Amazon is just huge, and it's growing at a rate that's almost hard to comprehend, adding something like $7 to $9 billion in market size each quarter, something crazy like that. I may be off a little bit on the numbers, but I think Amazon grew 38% year over year in Q4 of 2017 versus Q4 2016. And when you consider how huge they are, that growth rate is just, it's hard to fathom.
Duncan: Yeah, I mean, it doesn't take a huge amount of that revenue to make any individual small business or even large business relatively successful. One of the things you mentioned I thought that was interesting, and I remember listening to a talk with the Gary Vaynerchuk, was use all the channels available to you. People who are selling on Amazon, which I think is probably the most popular kind of starting platform for Amazon or eBay. What are the other places that you see people commonly going to spread their risk a bit? Because like you said just Amazon is quite having everything there, there's some risk.
Brett: Yeah, I love that question. So I would actually back up and say, let's work to diversify Amazon just a bit. Let's talk about diversifying in the completely different channels too, I think that's an awesome topic. I would look at though, if Amazon is the driver of your business, and we have clients come to us that say, "Hey, Amazon's like 90% of my business. What should I do?" The first thing I would say is, "Are you diversified on Amazon? Meaning, are you actively working to push your organic rankings? Are you optimizing your listings, your titles, your backend keywords, your bullet points, your description, all those things? Are you maximizing reviews? Are you looking at… Are my pictures interesting?" So using an example, we've got a client that sells like backpacks and stuff. And so maybe your only picture and your listing is just a front on a picture of the backpack. Well, actually it'd be a lot more interesting if you had that plus pictures of the pockets open and maybe even like a cutaway, like a graphic design cut away, to show the material that makes the backpack. Maybe you have a picture that shows the backpack plus all the stuff you can fit in it next to the backpack, something like that, making that listing interesting. So are we doing all we can to maximize the organic listing?
Then, are we really being smart and strategic with ads on Amazon? That's another piece of Amazon, something like $4 billion I think in revenue from ads just inside of Amazon. So we're big believers in sponsored product ads, but are you diversifying there? So do you have a smart keyword approach with Amazon sponsored products? Are you building enhanced brand content where you can build out those pages a little bit better? And then that can lead to things like headline ads, where someone's typing in "backpacks for travel." Maybe you've got that headline ad that kind of appears across the top of the search that features some of your products. So I would actually start there. So if Amazon is the biggest driver of business, let's work on making that better. Okay.
But then, then I would say, "Okay, you gotta build your own store." So hopefully you've got a Shopify site or BigCommerce or something like that, maybe Magento if you're more enterprise level. But now you've got your store, so then I wanna start with, what are the sure-fire ways to grow with your own store? So the first thing I would consider is if someone found me on Amazon and now maybe they're curious like, "Oh, hey, I love this product. I wonder what else they sell." They're going to go to Google and search for you by name. So getting a branded search campaign, so a branded text ad campaign going, that's really valuable, pretty easy, pretty affordable. So doing that. And then I would move right into Google Shopping because Google Shopping is a good… If anybody doesn't know, product listing ads, so I type in a query for travel backpack, now I see all these pictures of the backpacks title price, all the… So Google Shopping can work really well, and then I would look at it re-marketing after this, and that would be kind of the next step. So branded search, Google Shopping, re-marketing to your own channel. So that's a great way to diversify. It can be pretty affordable. But again, I would look at saying, "Let's protect… If Amazon is our driver, let's protect that and grow that and really get entrenched, and then let's look at branching out into some other things."
Duncan: It's interesting the… I mean, I've got a few thoughts on that in terms of where to come back around, but we see so many of our online sellers who come and sign up with us who don't even have a brand website in terms of not even an eCommerce site, they've just got their Amazon store but there is no kind of other property outside of that. Would you say that's probably a very common mistake that you see? I mean, even just having… I would imagine that, you know, you can set up, it's very quick and easy to set up a website these days, whether you're using any of the million easy tools to go. Are there any other kind of really common mistakes that people make in terms of, they've just got their Amazon presence because that seems to me like a fairly obvious place to start?
Brett: Yeah, it is. And you know I'm a big fan of Shopify, but I love BigCommerce as well. I know the people there, it's a good platform. But yeah, if you wanna use a template, you can get a Shopify or BigCommerce and go in pretty quickly, get your SKUs there, get information about your company and about your products and put videos and things like that. One thing I think about with the Amazon storefront is, maybe you also build that out in greater detail. So I like the Amazon Basics. If you just search for Amazon Basics, you'll see Amazon's storefront. So basic functions like an eCommerce store or… Yeah. So, I like Amazon Basics as a good store for an example. So maybe you need to build out your storefront a little bit better, getting good pictures, building extra categories. And then driving external traffic to that Amazon storefront. So now maybe we're using Google Adwords with very specific targeted search queries and we're driving that traffic to our Amazon storefront. So that can work too. And so again, you're looking at, okay, if this is what we have, let's leverage it. But I think you've gotta look at, okay, let's build some kind of a store off of Amazon as well to just begin diversifying and hook up some kind of email capture platform. So if it's simple MailChimp or more advanced Klaviyo or something like that, but let's begin to capture these email address as well. So yeah, that's pretty common, a pretty common mistake being solely dependent on Amazon.
Duncan: And what do you think that kind of size is? I guess one of the biggest questions for people is gonna be, "When is it ready for me to move on to the next day to building eCommerce shop?" One of the… We interviewed a whole bunch of customers at the end of last year and one of the most common things I heard in terms of the general commentary was, "We've got an Amazon storefront. We're growing really well there. And then once we feel that we're ready there, we'll then move on and build our own shop." But we kinda typically hear the same thing no matter what their turnover is from the smallest seller up to the person who's shipping a million pounds a year. So, is there a right point or is it just a case of when you got the capacity and when you feel ready?
Brett: Yeah, I think it is a case-by-case basis and when the seller is ready based on their financial situation and based on their comfort level. I think, ideally, as soon as you feel like, "Okay, this product is gonna move. So volume is picking up. Reviews are coming in. Reviews are positive. People like this product." This is a winner. I wouldn't do it if your launch is gonna be brand new. You don't have any traction on Amazon, and maybe you wait until you see that it's actually working. But the sooner the better because you wanna start capturing. I like having assets that I control or assets that our clients control. And you don't own the customer relationship with Amazon, you don't. That belongs to Amazon. So as soon as you can financially build that external site, I would say, do it. But I don't know if there's any magic formula or any magic number of sales or anything like that. I would say just once you start saying, "Okay, volume is growing month in and month out, we're starting to get very positive reviews, returns are low, volume is picking up," then I would consider. Okay. Now, when can we financially…when can we divert the attention to build that external store?
Duncan: That makes sense. And yeah, that makes a lot of sense. One of the things that we were talking about before was your article on digital marketing. I really liked that. "The Seven Ways to Maximize your eCommerce Growth Funnel." I think one of the things, and when I've tried to run campaigns on Adwords or on Display in the past, I've always fallen into the trap that you highlighted, which was, I'll run one campaign. I'll run like an Adwords campaign, and then I'll run a Display campaign, and then I'll run a Facebook campaign. I wouldn't run them together or in any kind of coordinated manner. I'll just do one and I'll go, "Okay, that kinda worked, but it didn't work so well," and then I'll move on to the next one and look at the cost per acquisition and move down the path. What you suggested in terms of that article makes a lot of sense, but isn't really very common. Do you wanna talk a bit about that?
Brett: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. So I'll use a quick basketball analogy. Basketball is what's to blame for my voice, but I think it's a good time. So if we look at a basketball team, you get some people that are just really good at scoring. They're really good at putting the ball in the hoop. And so my favorite team is the '95, '96 Chicago Bulls. A huge Jordan fan. I don't think there will ever be another one like him. But Jordan could score the ball on anybody at any time. He could just score the ball. And yet guys like Dennis Rodman, who completely crazy as he is, was great at rebounding. He could get rebounds and then take the ball back to Jordan or somebody else for another scoring opportunity. Then you had guys like Scottie Pippen who do a little bit of everything. Toni Kuko? was an outside shooter and kinda spread the defense. And so you look at… We don't expect… We don't have a team full of Jordans. First of all, that doesn't exist. Second of all, they probably wouldn't get along. It just wouldn't work. So you wanna use each player to their strength.
And I look at campaigns the same way. And kinda back up a step. If you look at how people buy and how people convert on your site, it's very rare that someone sees one ad and then they buy. And so it's very rare that I would see, "Oh, I saw your Google Display ad for the first time. I'll buy it right now." That wouldn't work. It's more like, that's intriguing. I'll click on that ad, I'll visit the site. That's very intriguing. I'm not ready to buy yet because I just wasn't ready, but I'm browsing. So then now I need to be re-marketed, I need to be brought back. And then as I get closer to purchase, maybe now I go back to Google and say, "Oh, you know, what was that company? What was that product they offered? And now I'm searching and now I'm gonna click on a Google Shopping ad or search ad and then buy. And so the issue we fall into as marketers is we want every campaign to be Jordan, right? If this campaign doesn't convert and doesn't give me a 400% return ads, I'm cutting it right now. But maybe that campaign is what introduces people to your company and then they're gonna convert lower in the funnel. They're gonna maybe exposed to Display ads like we mentioned, or maybe a YouTube ad, [inaudible 00:18:23] that's your introduction to your company, and then later they're gonna convert through search or shopping. So then it's a matter of setting up account-wide goals. So we still wanna measure. We still wanna know, okay, I need a three times return on my money. Great. But your top funnel campaigns won't do that. Your top of funnel campaigns maybe like at a 1 or a 0.5. Your bottom of funnel campaigns maybe at like a six or seven. So you gotta get them working together to get your three return on ad spend. So we actually just did this for a company they sell sporting goods or sports equipment, and their goal is like a three, a 300% return ad spend. So they were hitting it, but they were not spending nearly enough, not getting enough sales. So in a matter of a couple of months we're able to double their spend and keep the total return the same. Now, there's a couple of campaigns that are not getting that return because they're just feeding the other campaigns. They're gonna be introduced to the brand, feeding other campaigns, and then we're able to grow it.
Duncan: It's a system, right? So it'll plug into each other, and so one is feeding into the other.
Brett: Yeah, yeah. So it's not like we're… It's not like the old brand days where we're like, "Well, let's just get your name out there." That was one of the things that I was taught in radio. They say, "Hey, you just tell people we're getting their name out there." I was like, "Okay." So it's not that generic of, "Well, we don't know if we made sales, but your name is out there." So it's not that level. We're seeing how it's all connected. But it's also not the, every campaign has to deliver from year four or try ad spend and it's not worth it. So that is a matter of looking at, okay, if someone is in, they're just now introduced to me stage, kind of the awareness stage, what does that message need to look like? What channel does that need to look like? So usually it's display or generic search, generic shopping, YouTube, things like that. Message is a little bit different. But if I'm at hardcore evaluation stage where I'm comparing this backpack to that backpack or this running shoe to that running shoe, message is a little bit different, keywords are a little bit different. And then if it's the decision phase, now it's like, I'm just looking where I'm gonna buy it. Am I gonna buy now? Am I gonna buy later? Message is different, offer is different. So yeah, it's about getting it all to kinda work together and just really allows for much greater overall growth.
Duncan: Yeah, it makes sense. I guess, within that defining a niche that you can work well with. You got the classic buyer cycle of being aware that you even have the problem. So you walk down the street. You see someone has a Ferrari. You go, "Well, I need a Ferrari. I need one of those." And then you go down and you can do some research and figure out there's also some Porsches and some expensive Mercedes out there. You do your research, a bit of information, you compare and contrast, and then you get to the buy decision. If you're me, then you kinda go, "Well, I can't have any of those." But then you have to have your, obviously marketing campaign to follow that and tie it all together. But I guess the nice thing online is that you can segment that in such a way that we don't have to have the billboards at the Super Bowl or at the rugby or the football. You can actually focus super like a laser beam exactly onto the specific small audience that you can say, "I'm gonna test this campaign in Manchester in the U.K. or in New York in the U.S. on a small audience where I know where I'll have my focus. I'm gonna get it working there, and once that it's all I know I really working perfectly and everyone that knows of my product, they're gonna slowly grow out and scale up.
Brett: Yeah, and that was brilliantly put. And actually a quick shout out to the Porsche Panamera. I was in San Diego at traffic conversion, rode with a client of mine, and his new Porsche Panamera and it was sweet. Four doors. I didn't tell my wife until like, "Hey, it's practical for the kids. Put them in the back."
Brett: I have more kids that will fit in the Porsche anyway. But I love that example. So in the past, we didn't do top of funnel because it was wasteful. Like to reach someone at the awareness stage, we just had to spend a ton of money and there was so much waste. But now and you mentioned it, audience is searching, now we can say, "Okay, someone is searching for Porsche Panamera. Is this like a 16-year-old kid who's just dreaming about the Porsche that he's gonna buy one day, or is this a dude who's 55, top 1% income earner. He's been searching for Aston Martins and Bentleys and other cars as well and he buys? Right? We know, based on his history, he buys. So if I can… That same keyword may be a waste if I'm reaching the wrong person, but it may really work if I'm reaching the right person. And really, what allows you to go top of funnel now and do it well, is audience targeting. Like we know Google knows everything about everybody. So now we can say, "Okay, if I'm gonna target someone looking for a Porsche Panamera or Ferrari, I'm going after the people that have the money to buy, not just the teenage, sweaty teenage boys dreaming of the car they're gonna buy in 30 years. I wanna get the person who's gonna buy it right now."
Duncan: I mean, with that context, I was listening to one of your recent interviews recently about…one of the points that came up was to not just have a completely random set of products within your stores or within your brand, so kind of try and theme them together. So if you were doing running products, then that running brand would all make sense because then you can target that running audience, that sport audience that you know exists, and then you can start pooling products together and thinking more like a brand manager than just saying, "Okay, well, I've got this running band that does really high margin and is gonna bring in a little revenue, and I've found some headphones that are really interesting, and then I'm gonna sell some office chairs because they are high in margin and working."
Brett: Yeah. It's much smarter to build out a tightly-grouped line and just to have kind of disparate products.
Duncan: And what do you think from what you've seen in terms of the recent campaigns? What have you found is the most effective or have you had any really interesting success stories where you didn't expect to see it?
Brett: Yeah. So it's interesting. I always recommend start at the bottom of the funnel first, like I talked about. So branded search, very focused Google shopping and remarking and later that at first. But then, if that's working, then move up the funnel. So then I'm gonna really push my Google Shopping and try to go for…by bidding higher, go for generic terms and things like that. One of the things we've seen work recently in the footwear category is keyword targeting in YouTube. We actually do this with almost all of our clients. With YouTube, you can target based on keywords. So you can say, "Hey, show me an ad for everybody that's typed in 'minimalist running shoe,' everybody that's typed in 'barefoot running shoe.'" And then you can run one of those pre-roll ads. YouTube calls them in-stream ads, those are the skippable ads you can skip after five seconds. Usually, those don't convert right away. Usually people, they're just top of funnel at that point. So they may click and explore, but they're more likely to convert later through a re-marketing ad or Google Shopping ad or something like that. But we found with one particular client, running some customer testimonial videos. So the keywords we targeted in YouTube were people looking for videos that were barefoot running shoe reviews or minimalist running reviews. And then we have these awesome testimonials of actual customers using the shoe, running on trails, splashing in puddles, jumping over logs, and then folding up the shoe and then saying, "I can put it in my pocket," or whatever. And then them saying, "This is the best running shoe I've ever had." And that's actually driving some direct conversions as well, which usually they don't. Usually, they drive the site visit and then we watch them convert through re-marketing. But some of that is actually driving direct right now conversions. It won't always happen. Some categories, it will never happen. But that was an interesting thing to us. Fairly obvious-ish, but people looking for reviews or typing in things like "best" and then "product", hit them with a testimonial video, and preferably a testimonial video that shows the product in action. So now we can see that product in use and now that's compelling video.
Duncan: Yeah, I think that's probably one of the most underused channels as well by small brands. It's so accessible and so easy to get to. I'm really into my barefoot running, but I'm also into my sailing as well. And I've recently been looking for a WiFi antenna for the boat so that we can pick up WiFi when we're not right next to the marina or the dock. These products are all relatively expensive. We're talking £300, £400, £500, £600, £700 up to £500 pounds per unit. I've yet to be targeted by any ads on YouTube, and they might have information about the products themselves it's so sparse and minimal. I spent last night two hours going through 600 posts on forums trying to tally out which ones had the most testimonial videos. And I think it's to underestimate how much people go and do reviews and research on products before they go and by them is…
Brett: They do. They do.
Duncan: It's relentless.
Brett: Yeah. And that's what we've seen. Google provides us with some research recently showing like, even people researching toothbrushes or travel pillows or deodorant, like people typing into YouTube "Best deodorant" like I wanna see… And then there's some legitimate health concerns here. People found that some of the metals and the aluminum and stuff and your traditional deodorant is pretty bad for you. So it makes sense people are researching that. But yes, especially if now you're looking at buying something that costs £500 or £600, like, you're not just gonna buy that first product you see. You're gonna research that. And someone they can provide a demo and some information and some education about that. And I bet you, so if you're listening and you sell one of those antennas, first of all, hit up Malcolm, he'll go buy, and then let's talk about your campaigns. But you could run YouTube ads very inexpensively. If you're typing in "Best antenna sailing boats for WiFi," you could get impressions on YouTube for next to nothing, and educate people. And I bet if you had seen a well-done video that would to brought you into that company's funnel, no doubt.
Duncan: It's abou