Reza Khadjavi is the CEO and co-founder of Motion, a visual analysis tool for marketers and media buyers to identify which creatives perform best and why.
On a mission to improve the creative analysis workflow efficiency between brand and performance marketing teams, he is passionate about helping marketers identify specific attributes behind what makes creatives click to drive revenue.
Reza previously co-founded Shoelace, a full-funnel marketing agency focused on helping DTC brands scale.
In This Conversation We Discuss:
- [00:00] Intro
- [01:31] Reza’s Shopify background and journey
- [03:59] The evolution of Shoelace
- [05:49] The conception of Motion
- [10:01] How Shoelace operates
- [11:48] Where does Motion help in content creation?
- [15:03] Test out even unpopular ideas
- [16:26] The balance between creative and objective
- [18:06] Sponsor: Electric Eye electriceye.io
- [18:26] Sponsor: Mesa apps.shopify.com/mesa
- [19:11] Sponsor: Gorgias gorgias.grsm.io/honest
- [20:37] Sponsor: Rewind rewind.io/honest
- [21:10] Sponsor: Klaviyo klaviyo.com/honest
- [21:57] 3 content systems to build out
- [23:49] Creative production and creative strategies
- [25:13] Directing influencers for more value
- [26:23] Using UGC as a guide
- [27:03] Low-level testing vs high-level concepts
- [30:30] Video ad editing tips using Motion
- [32:29] The importance of naming conventions
- [35:10] Where to find Shoelace, Motion, and Reza
- Creative reporting for Facebook Ads Manager motionapp.com
- Be precise with your ads using customer journey marketing shoelace.com
- Why naming conventions are important motionapp.com/blog/facebook-naming-conventions
- Connect with Reza @rezakhadjavi firstname.lastname@example.org
- Scale your business with electriceye.io
- Download Mesa at the Shopify App Store apps.shopify.com/mesa
- Level up your customer support gorgias.grsm.io/honest
- Respond to any of Rewind’s welcome emails and mention HONEST ECOMMERCE to get 1 month free rewind.io/honest
- Get started with a free account at klaviyo.com/honest
If you’re enjoying the show, we’d love it if you left Honest Ecommerce a review on Apple Podcasts. It makes a huge impact on the success of the podcast, and we love reading every one of your reviews!
[Do] not build something based on a really cool idea that [you] have. Build something that has a real need for people. It's solving a real pain point.
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, welcoming back to the show... I don't believe you're the first time that we've had the same guest twice.
But I do believe you're the... It's the first time we've had a guest back of the show that was a twice founder, talking about 2 different apps. Even though this is good... Whatever. Reza, welcome to the show. (laughs)
Thanks, Chase. It's great to be here. Good to catch up again.
It's always good. Reza is one of the first people I met when I dove into the Ecommerce community full force 5 years ago.
So it's been awesome to watch your journey with things.
But if someone hasn't listened to the podcast for the last 3 years, I know you were in probably the first couple, maybe the first dozen episodes, I think, you were on the podcast back then.
What [do] people know [about] your background and your journey and where your street smarts are?
Sure. Yeah. So we stumbled into the Shopify ecosystem at probably the most perfect time you could imagine... We didn't do it intentionally.
It was sort of accidental like many people, I think, who didn't really fully understand what the hell was about to happen. And Shopify is a growth journey.
So it was like the end of 2015. And my 2 co-founders and I were just thinking about problems that we wanted to solve.
And we were talking to different business owners asking them about their problems. I'm not giving you the full journey now.
But basically, we spoke to this one guy, he owned a maid service company. And on the side, he also had this Ecommerce business. He was selling Faberge eggs or something super niche.
And so at the time, we were asking about his challenges that he was having as a company in that made maid service business.
And he told us about his Ecommerce store and we kind of... That's sort of what led us into seeing what's happening with Shopify and there's an app store there and there's all these merchants, and there's so much momentum.
There's so many missing holes and so it was a lot of excitement. It was very clear that that was an exciting place to be if you're looking to solve problems. And so we got sucked right into it, we worked on a number of different problems at first.
What we wanted to build with Shoelace was very simple. Facebook had just launched their own Pixel. And so prior to that, you couldn't even do any retargeting with Facebook Pixel. It was like some exchange partner program.
You had to go to a third party vendor to do retargeting through Facebook. But right around that time they launched the Pixel, they launched dynamic ads. And for merchants, to set that up was like a nightmare.
All that stuff was very, very complicated. And so we built a pretty simple app that would automate all that.
And it sort of took off and it was very popular in the first couple of years. But then, as it got easier and easier to just set up your own dynamic ads through Shopify directly, the utility of an app like that sort started to go away.
And we had this really exciting idea that "Okay, now that it's become easy for everybody to do retargeting, it's annoying as hell for everybody." And that's a lot of what we talked about in the last... On the last podcast.
How do you make retargeting ads more like a Klaviyo experience or segmented, personalized, feels a bit more like a story, like you understand where somebody is in their buying journey and you talk to them according to that and it evolves...
And so basically we wanted to build the Klaviyo for advertising. It was like the idea that we had.
But unfortunately it was like a really phenomenal idea. People loved it.
A lot of people were rooting for us to see that come to life because it was [obviously a much better] experience than just hitting people over with the same ads but we were going against the grain in a number of ways.
Facebook was going more and more towards like consolidated when it comes to segmentation as opposed to like microtargeting individual, small audiences. So that was challenging.
It's always really difficult to build a piece of software on top of a native ads platform. And so it was just for whatever reason there was...
The market was just not there to build a software tool that would build customer journey advertising.
But the demand for strategies like that were very much there. And over the years, we had a number of clients who would ask us to help them with implementing those marketing strategies.
And so over time, the natural evolution for Shoelace was to lean more into becoming a marketing services business and help those clients implement these strategies, versus trying to force a technology into the world that wasn't sort of meant to be there.
And so we made that a part of the Shoelace strategy a couple of years ago and started adding additional services. And so that was the Shoelace story.
And I've always been fascinated by building stuff and products. And technology is sort of what gets me very excited.
And so about a year and a half ago, I just started to spend a lot of time thinking about what I wanted to work on next, interesting problems that I was intrigued by.
And I just went and spoke to all of the best marketers that I really respected in... Friends and acquaintances we, we built up over the years and just ask them, "What are your biggest pain points? What are your biggest challenges?"
[What] we wanted to do this time around is not build something based on a really cool idea that we have. Build something that there's a real need for people.
It's like solving a real pain point, which is an important lesson no matter what kind of entrepreneur you are. That's like...
That's what makes the difference between a business growing really fast versus not. So anyway, we went and spoke to the smartest teams we could find and just asked them, "What are your biggest pain points?"
And if we transcribed all those conversations and we had this word cloud of the most common word that bubbled up every single time.
It was without a doubt "creative." Just every single time. "Creative. Creative. Creative." would come up as the biggest topic on people's minds.
Something they're thinking a lot about. And we started to dig into that and understand like, "What's going on here? Why is creative, all of a sudden, something so top of mind for people?"
And the more we pull that, the more we realize that there's an interesting problem to be solved here. And mainly, the issue is that over time, as Facebook became more and more competitive, more and more ad dollars poured into the system.
A lot more advertisers are trying to get the attention of consumers in their feeds. And so the platform matures and so does the content.
So it no longer works to just throw a couple of images into Facebook's algorithm and then scale that to the moon, which was possible in like 2015 - 2016.
We'd be surprised with the quality of creative that you would look at on some of the stores. It's like "How on earth is this working?" And it would work very profitable... Often that first transaction was highly profitable. They didn't even need to repeat business models like...
So all of that really changed. And things got more more competitive.
And so one of the dimensions that was on people's mind is that like, we need to be better at producing content, and figuring out what's working and what's not working and being a lot more intentional with our creative.
At the same time, a lot of the points that I was mentioning earlier on Facebook pushing towards more consolidation meant that a lot of the edge that media buyers would have around figuring out how to do bidding and targeting and a lot of that sort of thing started to just become "Well, just let Facebook do its thing and it'll be able to get to the right people."
And so a lot of people start going more broad with the way that they approach their advertising. And it just sort of means that creative becomes this really important frontier.
Obviously, [it's] not the only thing that matters. There are still very many things that go into successful paid social strategies but creative is most certainly high up on that list.
And so anyway, long story short, we've been working on a product to help with this problem, particularly to try to bridge the gap between the creative team and the performance marketing team to create a really good feedback loop between these 2 teams.
Because if the creative team is not powered by the data and the insights on what's working and why, then they're just guessing and you have this siloed effect where the performance marketing team is sitting on all these phenomenal insights around what might be working.
And unless there's a really good way to feed that back to the creative team, then you're not really taking advantage of an interesting feedback loop that can be built there.
And so that goes into a lot of other problems that we've noticed and how a lot of really good teams have been solving that and where Motion can help.
But that's sort of the Shoelace journey and the Motion journey all summarized. Sorry for the rant.
Absolutely. So now Shoelace still exists and it only... Well, not "only". Sorry. But it has expanded its offering and it's now both a technology...
What's the best way to describe it, a technology-driven service business? Or what's the way you guys like to phrase it?
Yeah the best way to think... So Shoelace now is run by a general manager named Justin Porter, a really great guy that we actually --the three co-founders-- used to work together with Justin at our previous job before we quit, to start Shoelace.
It's awesome to work with Justin and have them leading the reins over there and has started to put together a great leadership team.
Justin is over there with a guy named Brent Stirling, who was running performance marketing at Shopify. And he's the head of growth on the Shoelace side.
So like Justin's doing a really great job putting together a great team there. The best way to think of it is your marketing...
An extension of your marketing team, sort of like an agency that you would hire to help you run your campaigns. And there's a lot of tech that we built over the years.
At this point there's a lot of mostly just under the hood stuff that would help data move around an admin dashboard that would help our account managers do things a bit more efficiently. We still have our own product catalog software.
So for anything, any product feed ads that we run are all powered by Shoelace tech. So there's a lot of that still lurking around.
But yeah, Shoelace is there to help merchants directly with their marketing campaigns through the talented account strategist that we have on the team.
Now with Motion and then just content in general... So I can't stress how much content comes up on our side of things when...
From being a consultant and speaking with brands all day long, one of the number one questions that we have, as we start to strategize on things like "Cool, how often are you producing content?" How are you... What types of content are you producing?"
And it's definitely like a sticking point to growth in many ways because when brands are tackling... They move out of the product-market fit phase, they find that they're no longer testing an idea, their idea works, there's an audience...
And when they move into that scaling phase, one of the biggest issues that they usually have is creating content.
With Motion, my assumption is, you're not helping people create content, but you're reporting on which content resonates with their audience.
Yeah, that's exactly right. I think you described it perfectly where people have... People have this challenge curve where... In the beginning, it's usually around "I need a better way, a better system to create more content."
And once that starts to fall into a rhythm, it's like, "Okay, I either have a creative studio that I work with or the the paid social team that I work with also handles creative..."
Or they start to source some through UGC platforms, or whatever the case is. And they start to find a rhythm of producing content.
Then the question starts to be, "Okay, what are we producing and why?" Because it's not cheap to produce, no matter how you set it up. It's timely.
And so the question becomes, "What are we making? What video are we shooting?" And then it's like, "Okay. Well, what worked? We did a bunch of stuff and how did they do? Which ones... What are some of the elements that worked in the past things that we did?" And a lot of times, what we've...
What we noticed prior to building Motion was that the teams that were doing a really great job at this would take a lot of their data out of Ads Manager and start looking at it in a spreadsheet, looking at it in Data Studio, just starting [to] sift through the data, see what they can find, see what kind of patterns they can uncover.
And then once they noticed some things, then it's like "Ah! Okay, this is an interesting insight. Let me bring this to my next meeting with the team and we can come up with a hypothesis together."
But A, sifting through that data is not easy. Not everybody is a spreadsheet nerd. And it can be very time consuming to put those insights together.
So Motion helps with that, streamlining the... Sifting through the data part to get to insights a lot quicker.
But more importantly, and where I think Motion helps a lot is... Okay, now we've discovered some insights... I would think of them more as like data-driven hypotheses, then "Ooh, definitively this is what is working the best."
It's like, the data can help inform a hypothesis that you go to a subsequent meeting with and say, "Okay, it seems like this direction could be working. Let's double down on that this week and see if the data holds", for example.
And so like facilitating that conversation around... Coming to a meeting with visual insights, does a really great job at helping the team become more data-driven.
So otherwise, it's like, "I have an idea." "And I have an idea." And with creative, everybody has an idea. And everybody thinks their idea is going to work.
And usually nobody's idea works. It's the one that nobody thought it was going to work well that works the best.
And so because of this counterintuitive nature of what actually works, when the data is there in a meeting --and usually that's how people are using Motion.
They'll pull it up in a team meeting and someone goes like, "Oh, the ads that we did like this, they're all working.
And then someone else pulls it up and says, "No, actually. Look, they're not compared to these other things." And it gets people to the truth a lot quicker or like...
...using more informed decision making. So that's really the process that it helps... That collaboration process is based on data.
Yeah, there's some... So one thing I really want to pull out of that is... We glossed over it, but it's this whole thing of...
You will be surprised at the performance of some creative that everyone doesn't think is going to work well.
And so what I want to implore any listeners to do is test everything. Just because you don't think it's going to work, you could be leaving a lot of money on the table.
100%. Yeah. It's like not leaving ideas that could work out just because somebody doesn't like it.
No, there's something to be said about ensuring every piece of content meets a certain bar when it comes to brand identity and that's a challenge where the more performance-driven folks are like "Who cares about anything brand? Let's just get that conversion."
And that's I think there was some balance there. But often, it's not about that. It's just like, "I prefer this over that. I'm fine with both, but I just.. I like this one more." And that's certainly not the right approach.
[You] should test it and see what the data says and then use those past insights... The best conversations I've seen are... It's based on prior insights.
That's like, "We know that such and such is working. And we know that this time of year has this sort of impact on our business. So we're going to put together these different findings and come up with a strategy for the next month or the next quarter or something."
And so it's like, including that in the piece of the strategizing puzzle. And that kind of brings the role of the creative strategist that I think is becoming really important.
Somebody needs to pull all that together. Somebody needs to look at the data, but also have a bit of a creative eye.
And this is not the person who's buying the ads, necessarily. Not the person who is creating the content.
But somebody in there should be thinking about that creative strategy based on the insights but also based on the subjective, creative elements.
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So what we've established here is when you've got the content and you're testing it, and now you've got a tool that you can use to take that and help inform the direction of future content creation...
Let's go back to that first sticking point of getting to a point where you have this content to test.
I don't know about you, but we like to tell clients or prospects or people listening to the show, there's 3 systems that you should probably try to work out as you're building your business.
And so the first system with content creation is you need to own and have some sort of cadence internally within your organization that you're constantly producing content in whatever way that is easiest for you to get what you want; Lifestyle photography or videography...
Maybe it's on flat, [if] that's what you guys are good at or whatever. You guys need to build a system out like that, and some SOPs and a cadence of getting that done.
And then you need to double down on that by hiring somebody or partnering with somebody to do basically the same thing, but with their creative visual element behind it.
I would also argue, if you're doing... [If] on flat is your whole thing that you do internally, maybe hire a lifestyle photographer to augment what you're doing.
So you got one system you're doing internally, one system that you're doing externally with a partner. You could also figure this out with influencers as well.
That's a whole other avenue that you could do with building this partnership angle to get more content in.
And then the third one, which everyone really overlooks, is ask your customers for content. Get that user generated content going.
That one is where you're going to get some really surprising results, when you plug that into an application like Motion to see what the data is going on.
But other than those 3 angles of how to try to get creative injected into an Ecommerce business, is there anything I forgot to mention or any anything else that you've seen people do?
I think that's really great. I really like the... I really like the baseline of creative production owned at the brand level. And then other partners are there to simply supplement that.
I think that also helps instill a culture of content production at that brand. So when they're working with those partners, they're able to have better relationships, because they are going into the weeds a little bit in terms of content creation.
So I really love that even if a brand is working with partners, having some amount of that in-house seems like a really great idea. I think the only other thing that comes to mind... You touched on influencers.
And I think that's... It's a really interesting category for content creation. There's obviously a lot of influencers out there that can help.
And you're almost seeing this evolution also to where a lot of people would think about influencer marketing as an interesting channel where you can work with an influencer to have a new acquisition channel access to their audience, let's say.
But a lot of value can be had just by using influencers for their content, and not necessarily needing to post anything and having them to help produce content that you're going to use in your own campaigns, your own advertising. And so that's one thing.
The other is... I think a lot of times when a brand owner... And this again touches back to that creative strategist role.
If you go to an influencer and you send them your product, and you say, "Hey, you're creative. Do something cool."
And you leave it up to them to come back with something interesting... Every single creator is going to have to go through the entire learning curve of what works for your business and for your audience. It's, it's a very inefficient way to do that.
Whereas if it's a little bit more scripted, a little bit more like, "Hey, we think the first few seconds should be like this. Really zoom into this part of our product. And then close out with something like this. And then maybe in the middle, just be authentic and do whatever you think makes sense." Like some sort of guidance there on talented content creators.
Putting them in the right direction, I think, adds a lot of value versus just leaving it entirely up to them. The customer bit is interesting, though, because I can't necessarily tell them (laughs) exactly how to...
Yeah. You can't tell them how the sausage is made like, "Hey, this is how we sold it to you." (laughs)
Yeah. Yeah. And that'll be... If it's authentic, you want it to be authentic anyway. That's great.
But if you're going to send it to an influencer, might as well direct them and get the best outcome.
You know, you could... Okay, so now that you said that, I'm like, "Ah, you could probably do it."
So if you were trying to drive up your user generated content, asking for that stuff through your emails, and whatever... Socials.
You could probably position it in a way of like, "Here are some examples of great content we've gotten from other customers".
And that could probably be the most highest performing ones to then inspire people to maybe try to replicate that. I think you could be a little more on the nose with influencers.
Be like, "Here's a bunch of data. These are the things that perform well. Please keep these in mind when you're creating."
Yeah. And the key to that is knowing those things, right? Oftentimes the issue is that the brand teams or the media buying team, no one really knows...
No one really knows what is working that well and so there's a lot of confusion around like "Okay, what's the right way to... What's the right way to test?''
And what I always find really fascinating is that, when people think about this topic, they're always thinking about microtests like, "Oh, should the background be this color? Should the background be that color ?" And like these...
For whatever reason like that, that's always the example that comes to mind when people think about creative testing. But to me, it's like...
First you want to start at the high-level concepts like, is this an unboxing theme? Is this a customer testimonial? Is this like...
What are the highest level themes that we can bucket these different concepts into, and let's have an understanding at that level of "Hey, it looks like this type of content works well at the top of the funnel. This type of content works well, at the bottom of the funnel."
Most teams, I would say, don't even have that level of awareness around just high-level concepts. And they get caught up in very, very kind of micro-detailed testing. And you can get very lost in that very, very quickly.
And most people don't even have the audience sizes to make those micro differences, statistically significant anyway.
And so I think that's a big sort of thing to watch out for there. Start high-level. Start with concepts. Ad format is a really, really interesting one. Some people…
Some people will take for granted and be like, "Oh, video is the best... It's the best content type for Facebook and Instagram." That's like, not necessarily.
If you look at the data, and just compare format types, you might see... I've bumped into this a number of times where for certain apparel brands, carousel does better every single time. It feels like a shopping experience.
They'll discover a feed of products on their social feed and they'll kind of skim through it. Or in many cases, images [are] way outperforming video.
And those are really interesting, because videos can be very, very time consuming to do.
And if you're operating under this assumption that videos are always performing better, you might be losing an opportunity there. So I think starting at the high-level... What are the...
At the basic ad format, which one is doing better? And slowly going down...
And we've probably spoken to 200 or 300 teams at this point, really looked at their process and I would say very few if not nobody was at the level where they had those like high-level concepts nailed.
And now they're just mastering the micro test of background is red versus background is blue.
That right there is the reason people listen to the podcast.
Yeah. You need to make it very simple and high level [at the] top of the funnel, middle of the funnel, bottom of the funnel.
Test broad concepts in each of them and see what works. Then start to drill down into them.
Yeah, if you start in the minutiae, you're hoping... It's a shotgun spray, you're just hoping that you pick the right one to test at the beginning.
Exactly, yeah. And there's something else I really. Maybe your listeners will enjoy it. I know some people already do this. And others, whenever they come across it, it's like...
People really love it. But it's a very common analysis that you could do. It's very, very effective, particularly for video ads.
Because they're so time consuming sometimes the best thing to do with videos is just chop them up and move this part here and change the beginning. And so the analysis is to look at the thumb stop ratio of the video.
So that's basically the first 3-second plays divided by the impressions. So it gives you the conversion rate of people who stopped their scroll and watched the first 3 seconds of the video. And so obviously, the higher that percentage, the better.
I think a decent benchmark for that is 25% - 30%. It's a good goal that... That's what a video should shoot for, stopping at least 25% - 30% of scrolls. And so then you...
This is the sort of analysis of Motion that makes it very, very visual. You can look at your top spending videos for the week and organize them by the highest thumb stop ratio. And you look at all the ads that had the best thumb stop ratio.
So the first 3 seconds are working really well. And you pair that against the conversion rate. So their click-to-purchase ratio.
And very quickly, you could see "Ooh, there's an ad here that is doing a phenomenal job converting people. But there's an ad here that's doing a really great job at stopping the scroll."
So you might take the first three seconds of this video and just like pop it to the front end of that piece of creative that was doing really well or get inspired by that.
And those things can be really, really interesting and fun. And teams really enjoy that where you have a winner in the first 3 seconds.
And it does even better, because you're feeding even more people into that funnel of a high performing creative.
Oh that's amazing advice. Is there anything else that I forgot to ask you about that you think would resonate with our audience today?
Naming conventions. That's always an important one on this topic. So naming conventions, this idea of what are you naming your ads? I think [it's] a really important part of the process.
I think for people who are just starting out, wanting to build a good habit and good culture around using data in their creative process, I wouldn't be too worried about at the start.
Because a lot of people can go overboard with like, "Okay, I need to go back and look at every single ad that we've run since the beginning of time and go and like update my ad name so that it contains the variables I care about." So that's probably overkill.
But going forward, if you look at all of your ads, a good rule of thumb is that like, "Can you see a level of organization there?" It's a good thing to shoot for.
And even some of the best teams have it where they're moving fast and things aren't fully organized and that's okay.
But it's something to move towards of how do we get to a structure where on first glance, you look at the ad names and you're like, "Hey, there's some structure here and you can tell it's organized." It's a good thing to shoot for.
And then it's like, "Okay, what do we actually put in these ad names?" You want to put at least 3, 4, or 5 variables that are important.
We talked about those high-level concepts, that's the extent to which they should be included in the ad names. If it's important enough that makes for a high-level theme/high-level concept, it should be included in the ad name.
Because that way you can whether you're using a spreadsheet or a tool like Motion, you can very easily pull up analysis that that you care about.
And I just think it's... What I've seen is once a team gets everyone together, implements a good naming convention structure and everyone sticks to it.
It has a really important cultural effect where, "Okay, we're now serious about data and data analysis." Because if...
It's almost like a sign. "If the ad names are not very clean, it's probably because we're not looking at the data. Well, we should probably be looking at the data. Therefore, the ad names should be cleaned."
And so I think that's a good habit to instill on a team. And it can really help on all aspects of implementing a good process here.
Oh, yeah. That's fantastic. Reza, I can't thank you enough for coming on the show.
And I'm sure I'll have you on again in the next couple of months and we'll just drill down into that strategy of like, "These are the things to test at these different levels."
I think that conversation will be super, super fun. If people are curious about Shoelace or Motion, where should they head [to]?
Sure. Yeah. Shoelace is on Shoelace.com. We were unable to get the full .com promotion yet but one day.
Motionapp.com is where you can find that.
And yeah. Great to chat with you, Chase and look forward to catching up again soon.
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.
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