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How A Travel Brand Survived the Pandemic with Brendan Kennedy - Honest Ecommerce Ep. 179

Prior to the NxTSTOP Brendan spent his career working in enterprise technology with Accenture and then VMware. 

In 2015 he founded his first startup Fathomd to bring interactive business games into MBA coursework. 

In 2020 Brendan launched NxTSTOP to outfit world explorers with functional sustainable travel apparel and scaled it to a multimillion dollar business in just one year. 

He is a graduate of Stanford and received his MBA from MIT Sloan.

In This Conversation We Discuss: 

  • [00:00] Intro
  • [01:17] Travleisure® and the IPs of NxTSTOP
  • [01:45] What is NxTSTOP
  • [02:07] Coming up with the idea of NxTSTOP
  • [03:26] What made NxTSTOP explode
  • [05:20] Pivoting to face masks saved the business
  • [06:57] Dealing with non ideal customers
  • [08:52] Acquiring “new” customers
  • [11:52] Customer feedback is valuable
  • [13:36] Sponsor: Electric Eye electriceye.io
  • [13:56] Sponsor: Mesa apps.shopify.com/mesa
  • [14:39] Sponsor: Gorgias gorgias.grsm.io/honest
  • [16:06] Sponsor: BeProfit beprofit.co
  • [17:37] Sponsor: Klaviyo klaviyo.com/honest
  • [18:24] Being on Shopify vs being on Amazon
  • [22:04] Did Amazon produce economies of scale?
  • [23:15] Other channels that NxTSTOP uses
  • [24:38] The importance of domain authority
  • [25:38] NxTSTOP’s SEO play
  • [26:40] SEO for D2C Brands
  • [27:46] SEO has great ROI
  • [28:06] Brendan warns against agencies
  • [29:48] Chase’s perspective on Brendan’s statement
  • [30:09] Brendan clarifies to be careful of big agencies
  • [30:57] Chase’s restaurant analogy
  • [31:12] Build a “dream team”
  • [32:44] Dealing with the iOS 14 update
  • [35:22] How Chase analyzes brands for Electric Eye
  • [36:25] Brendan tries out Chase’s technique
  • [37:00] Triple Whale and other first party pixels
  • [38:33] Where to find NxTSTOP

Resources:

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 Transcript:

Chase Clymer  

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Brendan Kennedy  

Amazon has a lot of tools. We have a storefront. We have all the same products there, we have all the same... Trying to mimic based on [what] we are doing on our own website there, but you don't have a lot of ability to know the customer at all.

Chase Clymer  

Welcome to Honest Ecommerce, a podcast dedicated to cutting through the BS and finding actionable advice for online store owners. I'm your host, Chase Clymer. And I believe running a direct-to-consumer brand does not have to be complicated or a guessing game. 

On this podcast, we interview founders and experts who are putting in the work and creating  real results. 

I also share my own insights from running our top Shopify consultancy, Electric Eye. We cut the fluff in favor of facts to help you grow your Ecommerce business.

Let's get on with the show.

Hey everybody, welcome back to another episode of Honest Ecommerce. I'm your host Chase. Clymer. 

And today, welcome to the show Brendan Kennedy. He is the founder and CEO of NxTSTOP

They make sustainable Travleisure® apparel designed for commuting to work, traveling the world, and everywhere in between. 

Welcome to the show today.

Brendan Kennedy  

Great to be here. Pumped to talk about NxTSTOP.

Chase Clymer  

Oh dude, I'm pumped that I read and pronounced Travleisure on the fly correctly the first time,

Brendan Kennedy  

That's good. Well, we trademarked that. That's one of our little secrets of IP. Like the plane logo, that's also our main thing. We're able to sneak in and get registration for. So that's... 

You'll see more of it. That's all there is to say.

Chase Clymer  

Awesome. Alright, so for the unaware, I gave a little bit away of what the products are, but can you just dive in a little bit deeper for people and just lay it out, "These are the types of products that we're bringing to market."

Brendan Kennedy  

Very, very simply, our mantra is "Pack less, do more." The idea is to make the most versatile travel wear in the world and do it all sustainably-made in terms of the packaging, the production, and of course, the actual product itself. 

So if you're thinking about where you're going, you don't have to bring as many things. You can wear it in multiple situations: Dress it up, dress it down. And it just makes your suitcase lighter.

Chase Clymer  

That's rad. So take me back in time, how does one come up with an idea to build a new type of clothing item for travel like this?

Brendan Kennedy  

Yeah. So I spent my career working at least starting my career after college as a consultant. So I was doing the out Monday, back Thursday lifestyle. 

I spent 2 years straight flying JFK - LAX every single week, accumulating just close to about 500,000 miles in that time period. 

And it occurred to me, I was like, “I'm only bringing a carry on, every single time I go to the airport. I want it to be a straightforward outfit that I can wear. It's going to be super comfortable.”

“And when I get to where I'm going, I'm gonna hop off the plane, get in the car and go straight away to work or to wherever I need to go, without being able to change.” 

So, you're beating up the clothes you're wearing on the plane --which itself I think is pretty degrading-- and I just thought "There's an easier way to do this."

There should be apparel, and there should be a lifestyle around this kind of constant travel and jet setting, if you will. So that's where the idea started. 

Took me several years, though. 2015 is when the idea first started. We launched with very simple products with the plain logo. 

But it took several years for sustainability to become a core focus. And I took a lot of time to develop the product that way.

Chase Clymer  

Absolutely. So what would you say was the time between the idea to where the brand ended up and it was mature and like "This is the actual business model."

Brendan Kennedy  

It was until 2020. Very interestingly, the Travleisure idea I mentioned before we submitted in 2019 was for that mark. This idea to sustainable high-performance apparel. We were getting ready to launch our Travleisure collection right as COVID happens. 

So in March 2020, we were doing a photoshoot for all of the Travleisure apparel. And then the next day, basically, they shut down travel across the world, which was pretty much the most impactful thing you could think of. 

And what ended up happening --and I think unique to us-- was that because it was so disastrous, we were one of the first brands to take this idea of Travleisure and apply it to reusable face masks

I was out for a run one day and it was like a lightning bolt struck me in my head: "If face masks are here, travel is going to be ultra impacted. We better have one that's going to be really good that people can wear." 

And lo and behold, April 3rd, we launched with a bamboo traveler's facemask and we absolutely crushed it. In this time when nobody had them, we absolutely went bananas with the sales on the D2C site. 

Amazon came to us and brought us into the Prime program, basically at a time when they wouldn't let any other brands launch. 

They moved everything out of the way and brought us in. We launched in the USA on May 5. We launched in Canada in June, and then we subsequently launched in Mexico and the UK in the same year. 

At the same time, we also won Delta Air Lines, Avis Budget Group, NASA, a whole bunch of things that basically took this one product that we didn't even think we were going to do. 

And suddenly, it became this entry point to explode the business.

Chase Clymer  

Absolutely. And so getting that product into people's hands and just basically pivoting and capturing that moment and making that... Would you say that pretty much saved the business?

Brendan Kennedy  

Yeah. There's no doubt. I'd actually left my full time job in January 2020 to go full time into NxTSTOP. So it was a very real sense of a pivot. 

It wasn't for illusion or for the sense of saying we were making a pivot. It was literally if we didn't do something, --not just the business, but me personally-- [we were] going to be in a lot of trouble. 

So the interesting piece was that it just happened to be this mask. And lo and behold, we really do have the best one on the market in terms of travel. It continues to be important for that. 

And masks were not what we were planning to do and are not our core business, the travel apparel, --which now I'm sure we'll talk about soon-- we've launched and is going really well, is our focus. But it was a... 

And this by the way, we didn't have any money at the time. So when I ordered these masks and we went into this state, I had no money in the bank. 

And we basically put an order in for 100,000 units with no money and figured it out on the fly to bring these things to market. 

Also, when they weren't allowing people to import them. (laughs) Yeah, so it was much more than just a pivot, I think it was a little bit of a gamble. 

Chase Clymer  

A Hail Mary maybe. 

Brendan Kennedy  

A Hail Mary, but directed. We have pretty good certainty that this is going to work if we can manage to get it to physically happen.

Chase Clymer  

Absolutely. So a lot of brands in quite a few verticals, during the pandemic, did a little pivot wiggle as well. And everyone was watching masks. And something that I've seen... 

And I don't know if this is... 

I'm not trying to put words in your mouth and say, "This is what happened with NxTSTOP." But were... 

The consumers that were buying the masks weren't really the ideal customer at the end of the day. 

Did you guys face a similar situation as you started to expand the product line and go back towards the original vision? 

Chase Clymer  

Yeah, it's a mixed bag. I think the one thing that's helped is that the masks are still really tied to travel. 

So you have travelers who must have them and that's helped us cross sell for sure. I mean, especially because we have a deep product set now in bamboo, where we have bamboo shirts, which are just the softest, most breathable shirt ever. 

And people wore masks. And they're "Oh the shirts are just as good." Awesome. But it has, what we noticed is the customer segments have been much older. 

So the people who are really concerned about the masks, most of them... The pandemic, you're talking about maybe 55+ - 50+. 

Whereas our core demographic normally would be you know, 18 - 35. So, what's been interesting is we've had this huge customer list of people, and the masks have been great. 

And we definitely have been able to cross sell some but the ideal customer of the world traveler, of the digital nomad to some degree of the "more adventures" travelsphere is not... 

It's definitely not all of the people who came in from the masks. And I'd say it was not perfectly ideal. I would like it to be more, but we'll see.

Chase Clymer  

Yeah, absolutely. Just got to be smart about the segmentation with that customer data moving forward and letting the data speak for itself, basically.

Brendan Kennedy  

Yep. 100%. 

Chase Clymer  

So you're launching in a pandemic and your flagship product that you put out during the pandemic isn't literally your product. 

So how do you guys start to write the ship per se and start to introduce your actual product line and start to acquire new customers to what you were actually trying to do? 

Brendan Kennedy  

I think the one good part was that we learned from the mask because we were so hyper focused on the fabric using bamboo. Nobody else did that. 

We introduced another one later, there was this Nike Dri Fit type material called Cool Ice. And we started to notice that customers wanted very particular attributes in the fabric that were important for the travel. 

And I see people in airports wearing masks all the time. And I like to walk up to them and say, "Hey, how did you find this? What do you like?" 

And they're like, "Wow, they're the absolute most breathable thing ever." "I just love how soft and comfortable they are." or "They're super odor resistant". 

And what we noticed is we started to amass a list of needs that the customers or the traveller really thought about. 

And then as we were thinking about apparel products, we actually moved way more in thinking to the tech side of development than originally, I'd been thinking for the Travleisure piece. 

And the idea that, "Hey, if I'm going to wear this pant, I want it to be the only pant I'm going to need on my trip." "Well, why? What is it going to do?" 

"Okay, well, I can't wash my pants usually when I'm traveling, so it's got to stand up for multiple days in a row." 

"Okay, I also wanted to be odor resistant, stain resistant." 

"Because I can't... again, what am I going to do with it?" 

"Since I'm only going to have one pant and pants can be heavier, how do we make it really light?" 

"How do I make it mobile so I could stretch and move it but it's not going to look like a pant I'd wear at the gym." 

So we started to focus on what we'd heard from customers about some of these attributes like, "versatile." "What does versatile mean?" And they started to tell us. And then we designed these next pieces to make that happen. 

And what we've come to launch now and what we're still trying to refine, I think, is how you bring these use-cases to light and show these things that make it ultra compelling right now.

To give a really concrete example, our Women’s Jet Travel Skinny Pant is like the best example of this. It's the first product, I think, where we took all of this feedback. 

And we said, "Here's this pant that you could wear to the office, you could wear it on a date, you could wear on the plane. It's got 5 pockets. 

It's like a hybrid between a legging but it's a little thicker so it doesn't feel too revealing. And it has an odor resistant finish. It's made out of all sustainable materials." 

And this thing is crazy. We're selling out of them.

And it's like we can't get them fast enough because we showed women why this is super useful for travel, but also the other things that wrap around travel. 

And that came from the original learnings from the, I think, the mask but we still have to build it out more.

Chase Clymer  

No, absolutely. And you're you're doing that customer research, you're asking them why... "What is beneficial about the product?" in your own words to them, and they'll pare it back to you. 

And they'll say things in ways that you wouldn't have thought of and you wouldn't have thought were important. 

So it's a amazing tool and a tactic for anyone listening to take away is to ask your customers what they think about your product, take all those learnings back to iterate and iterate, and make the best product you can.

Brendan Kennedy  

Yeah, exactly. I wish we could do more. I mean, we tried. It's been really, really awful to put it mildly. I'd like to use some more colorful language, but I'm not sure that's (laughs) helpful on your podcast about what Facebook is doing, in particular. 

All the limitations on the data are absolutely crushing brands' ability to see into what customers want and to learn. 

A lot of times we've been learning as you put out ad creative and you see what people respond to and you go, "Oh, use wording that talks about breathability. And it talks about odor resistance. And that works. But breathability and wrinkle resistance doesn't work." 

You can't see that as clearly now because of what is happening. And even gathering the data on our own site, from things like surveys is really tough. 

So I would love to spend my day and have my customer success person spend their day where people are like, "Hey, I really wish you guys would do this thing." And I think on social, we're trying to put stuff out there where people will tell us more. 

But we have a pretty small social presence still. So I think it's... We're just a little limited. And I think that always listening to the customer is the number one thing, but it's getting more difficult to do that in certain ways where I think we took it for granted.

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Chase Clymer  

With your products, you mentioned earlier, that you launched as well in the Amazon as well on your own direct-to-consumers site.

So I was like to ask a question for brands that are doing a more like omnichannel approach or however you want to call it. 

Brendan Kennedy  

Yep.

Chase Clymer  

In your own words, like what are the pros and cons of having your own website being on Shopify versus being in a marketplace like Amazon?

Brendan Kennedy  

Yeah. Well, Amazon's a pain in the ass. That's what the drawback is. They don't care at all. 

"Oh, you got a problem? Don't care. Oh, you're..." 

They do crazy stuff where our masks are "Oh, we're gonna categorize it as a pesticidal agent." "Well, what the hell? Why?" 

But you can't get anybody in customer service. And for us, if you think about this in the beginning of the pandemic, we were selling $20,000 - $25,000 a day, sometimes as a mask on Amazon.

And if they take that product suddenly and deactivate it for god knows what reason, what do you do? And you're beholden to them because they don't care. 

On the positive side, you get so much brand awareness. We single-handedly changed the trajectory of what we were doing at that time. 

We were selling in the beginning of the pandemic, with the mask again, just give it a real concrete example $25,000 a day, on the site in the really peak periods, but that came down a little bit. 

Amazon we launched and it was like $50,000 - $75,000 a day. We did one thing to $250,000 a day on there. It's wild. 

And then when I talk to people, most of the people I see wearing our stuff, our clothes, our maks, I say, "Hey, where do you guys find us?" 

"On Amazon." 

Why? Because they go and Google things, and you still show up in the results for Amazon or people are on Amazon anyway, looking around. So the brand awareness piece is enormous for Amazon. I think the difference is... 

And Amazon has a lot of tools now where we have a storefront. We have all the same products there. We have all the same... 

[We] try to mimic basically what we do on our own website there. But you don't have a lot of ability to know the customer at all. You don't... 

You can email some people now if they follow your brand, but you really can't communicate with them. You don't know exactly... 

"Johnny bought these 5 things three months ago and he bought these new things." They basically aggregate the data, anonymize it, and give you some metrics. 

But when people come in and buy one or two things, the average order value is way smaller. On Shopify, the average order value for us is getting up towards $100. We want to exceed that. 

But we know exactly who our best customers are. We have a loyalty program that we can drive them back to us for. We can do email outreach and all sorts of specials. So I think like…

If you imagine a pyramid, right... 

I think for us, it's actually working more than... 

Amazon, to some degree, is the top of the pyramid. They find us and then maybe they come and they see us in other places, and eventually want them like living in the middle, which is maybe coming to our D2C. 

And then at the bottom of the pyramid, which we've seen happen once recently, is a customer who found us on Amazon and now wants to do wholesale with us. So it's like, there's just no bigger marketplace. 

You could be but the margins are really much rougher. Amazon's taken most of your money. And it's... I think it would... 

You could operate on Amazon way easier if you do a more gimmicky product. I think for apparel.. I think it'd be very hard to do just apparel on Amazon without any other awareness and things go into it to help you.

Chase Clymer  

Absolutely. And you're talking about the velocity that you guys were doing on Amazon when you launched the product. 

Was doing that type of business allowing you guys to hit certain economies of scale, where you were saving money and getting better deals across the supply chain?

Brendan Kennedy  

Yeah, that definitely allowed us to order bigger quantities with better price breaks, I think. Interestingly, you have other problems, though. 

And this, again, goes back to Amazon. The reason that Amazon doesn't care, is they have inventory limits. And even with certain products, we will start to sell so much. And then they go, "Oh you can't send us more inventory." 

And we're like, "What the hell? Why not? Not cool."

 "We don't care. Too bad." 

So the end of year, in this case, where you gotta be pushing them to do stuff. But for your own store. 

Again, that's why having the Shopify presence is great, because as it's growing there, then you also have better pricing and things you can do. 

And then on your own site, you're able to either run special promotions or do things that just make it more beneficial, even if in the Amazon thing you can't.

Chase Clymer  

Absolutely. Leaning in more to the owned site side of things in the tactics that you guys are approaching there. 

You already mentioned the limitations of Facebook in Post iOS 14. It's frustrating. 

But what are some of the other avenues or channels that you guys are utilizing for growth on that owned website, that Shopify experience?

Brendan Kennedy  

Yeah. I mean, social is the one we're really trying to heavily invest in, especially more on TikTok and whitelisted ads with different creators. 

I think that's the one where we've historically had a lot more to do and we're finally putting it to it, the affiliate program that was was quite large for us and continuing to want to push that. I think it's a great way to build very passively. 

But we also have an active agency, that's not just allowing all bloggers to come in, but really trying to almost do a hybrid between PR, and traditional maybe like low-effort affiliate. So to get you placements and things like People or New York Magazine, or GQ or whatnot. 

And then they're driving traffic. And you know, it's like a credible source to backlink to you and drive up your domain authority. 

So I think for us, our domain authority is the key base of the pyramid thing there. It's like...

Chase Clymer  

For someone that is, technologically dumb. I'll pretend to be... 

Brendan Kennedy  

Yeah. 

Chase Clymer  

What does domain authority mean and why does it matter?

Brendan Kennedy  

Yeah, basically, it's like, how credible does your site look in Google if Google is evaluating your site? 

And it's like, "Hey, who's NxTSTOP? Why should I care?" 

The higher the domain authority means the more links from lots of credible people that you have. And when you're starting off, as... 

So Nike probably has domain authority like 97 out of 100. Most people are going to be way at the lower end of that group. 

And you're trying to figure out how you can have as many links to reputable sources, be it through bloggers or PR, websites or partner sites that are going to help you drive that up. 

So when people go in and they search anything related to your brand, you're going to show up more.

Chase Clymer  

It sounds like an SEO play. 

Brendan Kennedy  

Yeah, 100%. So, for us, the SEO side has been... And it's a long tail thing. It's not like you do something and immediately change it overnight. But all together over time, we've been really steadily trying to push this.

Because if you think about it, if people go to Google and they're searching for something, especially if they go to Google, and they're like "best men's travel jacket", they're already in the market, trying to find you and they're doing it for free. 

So if they're searching for your thing on Google and they're clicking on your organic rank. You're getting that for free. 

And how do you have everybody do that. Whereas you know, social, we got to go pay for the creator to get made, and pay for people to clear it out, and then pay to market it more. 

So it's just way less effective in terms of efficiency. But also the most important thing to get visibility for people who don't know your brand yet enough to go and search it organically.

Chase Clymer  

Absolutely. I literally saw this thing today, a tweet by a gentleman and I don't wanna get the name wrong so I'm just gonna kind of quote him here. 

But he basically said that, the best investment you can make as a direct-to-consumer brand is like $5,000 to $10,000 a month as a straight SEO play. And then I'll even... 

What he meant by that SEO play is like, once you build your Shopify store, it's basically SEO optimized. What comes down after that is content and backlinks. That's it. That's all SEO is.

Brendan Kennedy  

Yep. Yep. I would agree. I mean, I think there's a lot of optimization you can try to do on the products themselves. 

And we can we constantly do that. We have a guy who's like a wizard at this and he sits around all day long, just thinks about all the rankings now and how can we do more things?

Chase Clymer  

But that's on the content side. It's not like a technical thing. It's like once it's built, it's fine. 

Brendan Kennedy  

Yeah exactly. But to your point, the content and the backlinks, and then taking all those important keywords and generating them and making sure they're all pointing back to is basically it. 

And I would agree, I think $5,000 to $10,000 a month, that's what you spend. And just consistently over time. 

Chase Clymer  

Yeah. You already said earlier, it's not gonna happen overnight. And I believe he even says like, if you can make that investment for... 

Just start the investment. He's like, within a couple years, that's going to result in millions of dollars a year in organic sales. 

Brendan Kennedy  

Yeah.

Chase Clymer  

So we're talking $100,000 investment a year, netting you millions of dollars a year.

Brendan Kennedy  

Yeah. And to be fair, I was, at least from what I've observed, I think you could do it for cheaper than that. We don't pay $5,000 a month. And we do... 

We used to spend $5,000 a month was an agency, which was totally a waste of time. I could go on about agencies, and there's a couple that are particularly terrible that I would advise people to stay away from. 

But the thing is, agencies are lazy. Why are agencies lazy? Because they don't give a shit. They've got tons of people who are doing this thing. 

And they're trying to get economies of scales themselves. 

So they're doing the baseline minimum things of, "Hey, you've got your Shopify store and your products have product tags and H1 titles and whatever. Okay, and we'll get you some backlinks." Cool. 

But there's a lot more that goes on underneath the surface of how you optimize those things correctly, which ones are you choosing, who were the domains you're trying to get. 

And making sure that all of the content that's made itself is truly created correctly. So we spent between $5,000 and $10,000, for six months, and saw increases. 

But then when we switch to somebody who really knew what he was doing, we pay half the price now. And it's 10 times as good. 

We're on the first page for almost all the things that we're doing now in terms of the key travel apparel. 

And it's just way more managed the way it needs to be. So it's a consistent thing. But there's also I would say, especially for SEO, there's like an art to it, as well that some people are just... 

I think going with somebody smaller who's really specialized might actually benefit you better than some big agency who's just gonna go through the motions.

Chase Clymer  

I would kind of push back on the agency thing. Obviously, I run an agency. 

But I will say this: There are agencies out there that kind of ruin things for everybody. But you hit them you hit the nail on the head right there at the end. 

It's like going with someone that's done it before. They have a proven track record of doing the exact thing you want to do.

Brendan Kennedy  

Yeah.

Chase Clymer  

Don't go with generalists. That's usually going to be a bad experience.

Brendan Kennedy  

Yeah. So this, this, this is a perfect thing. So I should have amended my thing to say we went with big agencies, right? 

Chase Clymer  

Yeah.

Brendan Kennedy  

I was, I think, tricked. I don't wanna say tricked. That's not correct. I was... I believed at the time... 

Chase Clymer  

Mm-hmm.

Brendan Kennedy  

...it was safer to go with a big agency who had tons of reputable names, and who basically... 

"Oh they had to work with all these people. That means I'm going to get like a team of people in the scope of what they can do is going to be cheaper, it's going to be faster." And it just…

It went the opposite, because we're not big enough that they would really care that much. 

And I think that now, we still work with agencies, but we work with smaller ones that are hyper focused, I think, on our category and on us. 

Chase Clymer  

A specific action. 

Brendan Kennedy  

Yes. So that...

Chase Clymer  

Yeah.

Brendan Kennedy  

And that's made a difference in just those short changes.

Chase Clymer  

The best example I have when people... And we deal with this all the time. People are like "I've been burned." 

And I'm like, Cool. "Have you ever gone to a restaurant that sucked?" And they're like, "Oh, all the time." And I'm like, "Do you not go to restaurants anymore?" 

They're like, "Well, it's not the same thing." 

It's the exact same thing. 

Brendan Kennedy  

Yeah.

Chase Clymer  

It's literally the exact same thing. (laughs)

Brendan Kennedy  

Oh, 100%. So that's the thing. It's like, we've worked... And then certain times, you also find in some of the agencies, they do certain things better. 

So we went to one, and they did a great job at affiliate. And the other things, we realized they weren't so good at. But the affiliate, they were really good. 

So we're like, "Alright, we're gonna stay with them." And then other people... Oh, email. 

They're really good at the email side. And we can get that. So I think I would recommend it for people considering this is really to really know what you need, and then be...

Chase Clymer  

Build a dream team. 

Brendan Kennedy  

Yeah, build a... Go with the person who's really going to have that specialization and the passion. 

And when you talk to them, and they're going to do a demo with your data, or they want to show you what their strategies are, definitely put them to the test. 

Say, "Hey, how do you want to do... If you have my data, I'm going to tell you what we've got, how is it you'd really run it?" and see how...

Chase Clymer  

Mm-hmm.

Brendan Kennedy  

...into the weeds they get. The guy who does our SEM for us and SEO, he got on the phone with me. 

And in 20 minutes, we opened up analytics, and we went through all these things. And he's like... (laughs) 

He's like, "I could do way better than this. You could go do this now, I'll tell you what you need to do. But all these things are missing. And let me show you how they're missing." Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. 

I was like "This guy's hired." (laughs) So anyway…

Chase Clymer  

Absolutely. Well, this is a fantastic interview. 

And I do enjoy where we got into the weeds in certain places about SEOs and dealing with agencies. I always like to hear the other side of that. 

Brendan Kennedy  

Yup.

Chase Clymer  

Is there anything I forgot to ask you about today that you think would resonate with our audience?

Brendan Kennedy  

That is a good question. I would say. I would say maybe just as I'd love to know, maybe from your side with the changes in iOS 14

But now with email and other things coming to, where do you see the next kind of major blockades come in for transparency and data and where brands should be trying to get ahead of the curve right now?

Chase Clymer  

Yeah. I was actually having a note here, I was gonna tell you this after the call but I'll tell you right now, um, I like the new technology that's coming out along the lines of first party pixels, there's a couple products out there on the market that do it. But basically the way that you can... 

Alright, I'm saying this wrong. Because I'm not the guy that works at this company.

But basically, my interpretation of what they were telling me was the issue with the tiff between Apple and Google and Facebook, and all these people that can't get along nice because they want to make an extra dollar is that you can't share that data, because you're profiting off that data and selling that data, right? 

Brendan Kennedy  

Yeah. 

Chase Clymer  

And so what these first party pixels do is they basically just recreate your Google pixel, your Facebook pixel, whatever, on your website, but you own it. 

Therefore, you can fully use that information to do whatever you want with because you're not selling it. It's your data that you're using from your customers. And so there's some cool products out there that you can implement on... 

Especially on the Shopify store, if you went back into your Shopify store. And you can actually see the overlap between your Google spend and your Facebook spend. 

Or you can literally watch the customer journey of John Doe, who saw a Google ad on this day, opened a Klaviyo email on this day and made a purchase on this day. 

There's some wild stuff going on with these pixels, where it takes all the data from all your different channels --Google, Facebook, Klaviyo, whatever-- it gets it all into one place, and then shows you what they say, and then shows you what the pixel says so you can compare and contrast all that data.

I think that's really insightful from a marketing perspective and from a performance perspective of how to make more informed decisions. So I think that's really cool. 

And then I just think that it is something that a lot of brands aren't focused on enough is making an extremely fast website. Everything's going mobile. And if you have... The more apps you have installed on your store, the slower your website is. And...

Brendan Kennedy  

It's so funny, we're literally looking at this right now. We're working with a group that has like a specialized theme that's optimized to basically not have any of these apps where they have some built in functions. 

And to be ultra, ultra fast, I could not agree more. I think that is a killer. If your site is slow, you are dead in the water.

Chase Clymer  

Yeah, so one of my favorite things to do when we're analyzing brands, and like just looking for opportunity is you just jump into the backend of Shopify... And I said this for a few times. 

So you go into analytics. And then on the right hand side, you scroll down and you go to Sessions by Device, I'm not looking at the camera, cuz I'm trying to remember how to do this in my head. 

Brendan Kennedy  

Yeah. 

Chase Clymer  

So you go. And on the right hand side, you can see Sessions by Device, and then you click View More. 

I always look in the Last 30 days just to get a better sample size. And then you can click on the drop down and do Sessions by... 

So you're in the view of sessions by device, and then you click on the drop down and you go to Conversion Rate. And you can see the difference in conversion rate between mobile and desktop. 

Sometimes those numbers are way further apart than you want them to be. Desktop will always be higher, usually. 

But sometimes you'll see a really big discrepancy there. And then that just calls out there like, "Hey, there's something going on with your mobile experience." 

Oftentimes, your customer journey doesn't make sense, because it's usability of the how your website is built.

Is your website actually built mobile first, or is it just responsive? Those are 2 different answers. 

Brendan Kennedy  

Yeah. 

Chase Clymer  

And then is it fast enough? Because people are using their phone out and about on a 3G tower in a cornfield, you got to make sure that your website is snappy.

Brendan Kennedy  

Yeah, so you said Sessions by Device, View More. I'm gonna do this right now. Because I'm very curious.

Chase Clymer  

So you just go back into your Analytics view on Shopify. On the right hand side, there's a box, it's like the third box down all the way on the right, and it says, Sessions by Device, 

Brendan Kennedy  

By device type. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Chase Clymer  

And then you click on that. And then you can…There's like an “add a something” or other. It's like on the right corner above the main... 

Brendan Kennedy  

Edit columns. Yeah.

Chase Clymer  

Edit columns. You have the conversion rate there. So you'll see a discrepancy, but it's... 

Is it a big enough one to be important to look into? Is it something there? 

Brendan Kennedy  

Interesting.

Chase Clymer  

Thanks for putting me on the spot there. That's 

Brendan Kennedy  

No. This is super... If I have 10 More seconds, I'd ask you this first party pixel. 

Chase Clymer  

Yeah.

Brendan Kennedy  

Do you have any recommendations on the Shopify ones to use that would work with that

Chase Clymer  

We are partners with a pixel called Triple Whale. They're based out here in Columbus, Ohio, where I am as well. That's not the reason. Their product works really well. 

We use that product on every marketing client that we have. That one's really good. But to give you one,I know that there's some other solutions out there, too. I've heard things about... 

I've heard that Northbeam is comparable in the quality of stuff that it does, as well. And then, I also have a discount code for triple Wale. 

So if you guys want access to it, if you want to bring in anyone listening, just drop me an email, and I'll give you a discount code.

Brendan Kennedy  

I would be very curious. I've been talking to Scott, my head of paid media, because he's like... (laughing) He's like walking through the edge of a cliff every day, because he's like "Facebook is just not showing me the data." (laughs)

Chase Clymer  

Right after this, and for everyone listening, so I did… I literally did some content with Triple Whale, a few weeks ago, it's on our YouTube channel. It was a bonus episode. When this comes back out it's gonna be 30 episodes back probably. 

But it's how we and Ryan, specifically our performance marketing guy, how Ryan uses Triple Whale at an agency and like what we're looking for and why it's cool. So I'll share that with you right after the call.

Brendan Kennedy  

Awesome. Thank you so much. It'll be totally helpful.

Chase Clymer  

Yeah, this was a really fun one. We just went totally off the rails at the end. But I bet everyone's gonna love it.

Brendan Kennedy  

(laughs) It was good. It was fun. As you could tell this stuff is close to my heart. And especially when you run a business. It's just like that's the way it is. But... 

Chase Clymer  

Once you get into the nerdy stuff, it's fun. 

Brendan Kennedy  

Yeah. Now we've... We're rolling with this. So that's all good. It's all good. 

Chase Clymer  

Yeah. So we've been talking a lot about the product and you're very passionate about it. So if you've piqued anyone's interest about the product, where do they go?

Chase Clymer  

Yeah. So you can... Obviously, we mentioned Amazon, but I prefer us to go to www.thenxtstop.com. NxTSTOP is like n-x-t-s-t-o-p.com. Yeah, you can find our stuff there.

Chase Clymer  

Awesome. Thank you so much for coming on the show today.

Brendan Kennedy  

Okay, thanks so much. Really appreciate it.

Chase Clymer  

Alright. I can't thank our guests enough for coming on the show and sharing their knowledge and journey with us. 

We've got a lot to think about and potentially add into our own business. You can find all the links in the show notes. 

Make sure you head over to honestecommerce.co to check out all the other amazing content that we have.
Make sure you subscribe, leave a review. And obviously if you're thinking about growing your business, check out our agency at electriceye.io. Until next time.