On this bonus episode, I chatted with one of the leading Ecommerce retail consultants today, Amy Biddle. We talked about why commodities would not work in direct-to-consumer, the solutions that Amy provides to her clients like the Ad Group System, and so much more!
Amy Biddle helps Shopify Ecommerce store owners sell more products and grow revenue without risking giving over control to ad agencies.
She has over 30 years of business experience, and has audited and worked in over 10,000 businesses. She is an author, podcast host, and millionaire-maker, and founder of the eCommerce Traffic Handler Program.
In This Conversation We Discuss:
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Please don't beat people up with the, 'Shop Now! Shop Now! Shop Now!' and be a lot more interesting than just, 'Here, buy my stuff.'
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.
Today, I am lucky to be chatting with one of the leading Ecommerce retail consultants in the industry today, Amy Biddle.
Welcome to the show.
Thanks so much, Chase. Good to talk with you.
Oh it's always a pleasure. So we're gonna dive in today we're gonna be talking a little bit about cold traffic messaging, just how to make more sales
But first, I guess, just [tell people] why should people listen to you? Let's get a little bit of your rap sheet. What have you been up to? How did you get where you are?
Because I said so. Because I said so. That's why. Listen to me because…
When you know what people in my group have said, “Listen to Amy” was a hashtag for a while. Just do what Amy Says and they make money.
So sometimes it's just little things like, how's your schema, what's your structured data doing? It's little techy stuff that you don't really think about, you don't want to think about.
Because the store owner wants to think about their product and their customers. Well, it's more than that. Always looking at the lists and offers.
That's my great Obsession in life; It's lists and offers and how to use those to improve business for Ecommerce store owners.
Can you explain that a little more? What does a list and offer
Yeah. So your list is your people and that's suspects: People who don't know anything about you; Prospects: people who perhaps have been to your site perhaps have some product awareness of your thing whatever your thing is whether it's yours or not; And then customers.
And then how do you speak to these people? What do you say? How do you know what to say? Are you…
If it's a coffee date, are you being inappropriate and just going too far on the first date or are you really saying something that's going to be interesting and engaging and say, “Hey, you want to have a second date?” That's messaging 101.
So that's where the crossover of list and offers is. But the offer is what are you selling and how do you talk about what you're selling?
These are really key things to really get targeted down into… We don't have 3 hours but that's a 3-hour talk right there.
Absolutely. So with some of those statements that you're making your list and then the offer that you're presenting to basically your list, sounds like the types of merchants you're working with are a little bit further along than startups or is that making an assumption?
Well, it's never too early to start thinking about lists and offers. Even if you just started your store…
I'm working primarily with Shopify store owners but we do Bigcommerce, too. So it's really never too early to start thinking about these things. Because as you develop a list, people will remember. “Oh, I like this person. I don't know why.”
They see you come up… Please, please have them see you come up in their email account. If you're not, that's… I wrote a book. It's on Amazon. Go get that.
And then how you're talking to them, what you're saying to them… Please don't beat people up with the, 'Shop Now! Shop Now! Shop Now!' and be a lot more interesting than just, 'Here, buy my stuff.' Nobody wants to get beaten up all the time. So start there.
But yes we do work with the advanced brands, also. They're at $1 million a year, they're $2 million a year. And to my way of thinking, that's a great place to keep growing from. But you have to get there first.
So really, they're 2 segments that I'm working with.
Absolutely. And then I like how you're talking about “Don't beat people up” and using that analogy. And it just makes me think of uh Gary Vee's Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook book.
It distills down into one sentence really which is provide valuable content and don't ask for the
sale every time. That's the basis of that book which is what you're repeating here.
And yeah. It's a lot like that. I read that book when it came out and [it was] good…
So I don't talk like Gary Vee. I'm not tough and exciting and know all the stuff that he does but really the idea is the same.
I like what my father-in-law says. All Jewish men from Brooklyn. He says “Be a mensch.” Be the person that people want to be around. Be a decent human being.
And you bring that into your marketing, that's where your brand grows from. And that's organic brand growth.
Absolutely. so we're talking about providing valuable content to your list.
And most of this is getting in their inbox, and giving them content that they enjoy, and not asking for the sale every time.
And I feel like this is a problem that a lot of merchants have. They're just like, “Well, what is that content? What should I do?” And obviously it depends on what product you're selling and what niche you're in.
But do you have any advice for people that are struggling to figure out how to just come up with a content system within their business and have stuff to talk about?
Yes. Absolutely. So there are really good brands to emulate.
Jay Peterman catalog. I think they're 45 years in business now. They used to just be a paper catalog. They went out of business for a while. Now they're back. They're online. Get on their email list.
Most people listening are not going to buy their stuff. I don't buy their stuff. It's like old people's clothing.
But what they're really good at is they sell clothing with drawings. They just do... You can't even see a photograph of the thing that you're buying until you're really digging into that product page.
And the other thing is they tell stories. So my chances of going out to the Safari are less than zero, but their stories are about “This is what you wear on the Safari.” And the stories are brilliant. So that's one. And another one is Spyder.
They sell ski and snowboarding equipment. And [they have] young, hip, cool, really, really awesome emails. They tell stories.
They have a lot more content and words on their emails about Olympians, about people who use their stuff… And every single email is still selling.
I'm not saying don't sell. I'm saying use content to develop the relationship with your customers, and prospects, and suspects, to really be a human being first. [It] opens doors.
Absolutely. And I think that's a big hack for a lot of people. You can get inspiration for content from…
It doesn't have to be your competitors or people even in your industry. Just go jump on some email list, follow some brands, and see what they're doing. And you'll be surprised at just how much repetition there is in the industry.
Here's another thing that I've realized a lot lately: You can say the same thing multiple times and recycle that content way more than you truly believed which is something that you only notice if you're actually paying attention
Yes. Right. Right. So I'm on [an] email list where I read every single email that comes through.
And people are recycling content just across a few months. “Oh I got this email a few months ago.” And I had to mind that [someone] collects this marketing stuff.
So I'm on lists that have nothing to do with anything that I do. I didn't even buy products in this industry. I don't even… I'm not even..
Politics, and religion, and products and all kinds of stuff and I'm not into their thing. But I'm watching what they're doing because I want to take from another industry and use it over here with the brands that I'm working with.
And yeah. And content recycling, absolutely.
So one day, a brilliant marketer sent in the postal mail to me, an email I had received a week before. Who's doing that? I love that.
Oh yeah there's I actually interviewed, a few weeks ago, someone that… It's a direct integration with Shopify that allows you to do direct mail retargeting like you would through your email automation software but with actual physical mail.
It's pretty interesting software.
Yep and that's one of the things that I offer. I offer an ID graph, [an] identity resolution tool that allows you to capture not just your customers and mail to them, but prospects also.
So that's one of the things that people who work with me get.
Well can you explain a little bit more what that is?
Yeah, absolutely. We install a widget on the website, just a little script, and it sits on the website and it connects to the ID graph which if you ever look…
I look at this thing all day and I can't think of what it's called. Pixel Helper.
You look in Pixel Helper and you look there and then you see one of the lines that they are talking about is graph. Well, Facebook has a graph which is how they collect data, but that's third party data.
You're not allowed to use third-party data anymore which is why Facebook is having the issues that they're having right now for marketing and everything.
So what we have is a way of creating first -party data, collecting your visitor data that it taps into an ID graph that pulls emails, phone numbers, postal addresses, and then enables that store owner to mail letters, postcards, whatever to people who did not opt in and built retargeting audiences that you then upload to your ad platforms.
All the ad platforms: Google, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Pinterest, Snapchat… You upload those with a list that does not die from the attribution window. Cool stuff.
Yeah that's fantastic. So with your merchants that you work with, are there any particular verticals or industries that you find more success with?
You know, It's interesting. I've worked with everything from food, to clothing, to beauty, to supplements, to apparel… In a lot of ways it's the same thing.
And one of the things that I really like is just within the niche, the broader industry of Ecommerce, you can do…
If you're doing something with food, you can do the same thing selling shirts. But I do want to warn everyone: Don't be a commodity. Don't be selling eggs, milk, gasoline…
Those are commodity products. Unless of course you're selling pasture-raised eggs. Okay, that's a premium product.
So pasture-raised eggs are a way of differentiating in a commodity market. Pasture-raised chickens, that's $8 dozen at least where I live because I don't live in New York City anymore
So that's $8 dollars a dozen versus $3.12 a dozen for the commodity eggs with the inhumane whatever.
So the way to do that in any market is [to] be different. How [would] you be different? Well, you don't have to be different in front of the whole world. You just have to be different for your people.
So what other ideas… How can you give more? And now we're back to offers. So we're thinking about, “Alright if I could give…”
This is the classic business question: “If I could give anything, everything to my customers and to my prospects, how could I give the most?”
“The Sun, the moon, and the stars, I want to give them everything.” And then you figure out…
I think Alex Hormozi walks through this in the 100 Million book.
It's right next to me.
Awesome. Great book. Good. I love that book.
And so that's how you put together the offer. And then figure out, “Okay, here's what I want to give.”
And sometimes I get up at 3 or 4 in the morning and just scribble this out. “What do I want to give? How much can I give in value?”
And then that turns into new products over time or it turns into bundles.
Speaking of bundles, please raise your average order value yesterday because [it’s] money in the bank.
Yeah. Give more, be different.
So you skirted by a very, very important point there which is if you are building a direct-to-consumer business which if you're building something on Shopify --that's probably what you're building-- you're selling a product to an end consumer. That's a direct consumer business. One-on-one.
If you're going to do that, you need to have a product that is more on the luxury scale.
It needs to have a fat margin because cost for acquisition and shipping --which everyone expects to be free these days-- eats into your margin So you cannot do that with a commodity product.
And so one thing that I kind of noticed in the past couple years is brands that are successful on their own website ,they lean more towards this luxury thing.
They have a bit more of a price point, they are extremely differentiated by a way of either materials, or process, or mission or etc.
They aren't commoditized and they win on their own website whereas you will see people that build arguably the same product but they put it out through Amazon with no differentiation.
They're still winning. Don't get me wrong but it is an economy of scale and it is a volume play which is more overhead and headache if you actually look at stuff at the end of the day
Not saying one is better than the other one is just a little bit less work in my opinion and it's just an interesting thing.
So if you're going to get into it, and you want to own your customer data, and you want to build lifetime value, and want to build an asset where you actually have that customer information, you want to do that on your own platform like a Shopify or something like that,make sure that you have a fat margin and make sure your product has a reason to exist.
Oh. Everything you just said, yes. Mic drop. Huge. Right. exactly.
I think the coffee just kicked in.
Yeah. Awesome. I love that. This is coffee 2.0 right here this morning. So yeah.
So the Amazon thing. Be on Amazon because there are shoppers on Amazon. So if you drop your car keys… I hope you drop them under a street light because it's easier to find them. But if you didn't, you have to go looking in the dark corners for your car keys.
But do both. Why not do both? If you have the capacity to be on Amazon, be on Amazon. It's a whole different animal. [It’s] difficult to manage, you don't own your customers, you don't own your list, but you can move a lot of products.
So yes if you have the margins and you can handle the fees, the FBA, blah blah blah, yes do all that.
Have a Shopify store because in my Retailers Email Playbook, I have a graph. It's just an x & y, one line up, one line off to the right and you want both kinds of control over your business.
You want control. You want the assets, the properties that you own; that's Shopify; And you want to sell where the people are; that's Amazon. And you want to do both sorts of things.
Now do you start there? No! Master one. Get good at one and then go to the other.
So if you like Amazon more, start there. If you like Shopify more, start there. But start. Do start.
Absolutely. and you just mentioned something about a playbook. What's that? Can you tell me a little bit more?
Yeah. Retailers Email Playbook.
So I was having a lot of questions from clients about how to improve their email marketing campaigns and game overall, so I wrote a book. It's on Amazon. It's called the Retailers Email Playbook
And it's basically 67 points to win at email [marketing]. Stuff you can start right away. [It’s] quick and easy read. I think it's only 90 pages. It's short, it's not a huge tome.
Absolutely. I find that some of the longer books are just reiterating the point a little bit too much (laughs).
Yeah. You hit about a certain page and then it kind of falls off a cliff.
Absolutely. Awesome. So is there anything that I didn't ask you about today that you think would resonate with our audience?
I'm excited about our ID graph product. It's called the ads group system. I will send you the link to the explainer video. If you can share that with people, that's great. It just explains how this thing works in this current day and age of the loss of third-party data.
Facebook used to buy data from Axiom, credit card companies. They're not doing that anymore. And so they're running from their own graph which is getting smaller and smaller, and they can't capture the Apple audiences anymore. They lose them.
And after one to seven days, they don't know if they can get those people back. So what do you do? Well, you need to own your data. You need to own your list. You already own your customer list which hopefully you're uploading to your ad platforms.
But now you can upload a prospect list, too. And that just gives you even more control and that's a list that grows that you own. So I'll make sure you have the information about that as well
Absolutely. We'll put it in the show notes, as well.
So if someone's listening to this, they're picking up what you're putting down, how do they get a hold of you? Where you at?
Amybiddle.me That's too simple but that's it.
I know. It works! Awesome. Amy,thank you so much for coming on the show today.
Chase, thanks for having me. Good to see you.
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.
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