Honest Ecommerce

Bonus Episode: Why You Should Provide Budget Flexibility For Agencies with Andrew Maff

Episode Summary

On this bonus episode of Honest Ecommerce, we talk about how Bluetuskr approaches omnichannel strategy, why they prioritize to see the working channels first before settling into a website, the big gap in perspectives between Amazon and your own website, and so much more!

Episode Notes

As a marketing expert with over 15 years of experience in Ecommerce, Andrew Maffettone (Maff) has not only owned and managed multiple marketing companies in the Ecommerce space but has also worked in-house at multiple online selling companies, driving brands to new heights.

In This Conversation We Discuss: 


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Episode Transcription

Andrew Maff  

Let's not jump into a large project of creating you a website if you think that it's gonna go live and start converting right away because it will not.

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. 

The host of the E-Comm Show podcast, Andrew Maff. He's the founder and CEO of BlueTuskr, a full service digital marketing company for Ecommerce sellers. 

You can go find my episode [on] his show in the show notes. Everyone, go check that out. 

Andrew, welcome to the show.

Andrew Maff  

What's up, buddy? Good to see you again.

Chase Clymer  

Absolutely. I always like talking to other podcast hosts because they just know how to carry a tune. So I'm excited to get into it. 

Andrew Maff  

Oh, I get to sing on this? Thank God. No one ever lets me sing. (laughs)

Chase Clymer  

I didn't know that was one of your talents. Other than the digital marketing realm. 

Andrew Maff  

It's not. (laughs)

Chase Clymer  

Awesome. Alright, so let's dive in. Let's... I think that everybody's childhood dream is to grow up and be an Ecommerce consultant. So how'd you end up here?

Andrew Maff  

(laughs). Ah man, so that... Actually 15 years ago, in a month, I actually got my first job in Ecommerce, which is nuts when I tell people that because they're like, "I don't even know Ecommerce is around that long." 

My dad had actually acquired a company that was all retail. He took it online and they sold like shocks and suspension and stuff for cars. And so I was always really interested in marketing and I wanted an opportunity. 

So he said, "If you work in the warehouse for a little bit, I'll give you some insight." So I was almost like an intern at my dad's own place. And I was there, helped out with email and stuff like that. 

Here is my favorite story with him. He was actually one of the first companies to be offered to sell something other than books on Amazon. And he turned it down, which is hilarious. And I love picking on him for it. It just still drives him crazy to this day. 

But after that, I started... 

I stayed in the industry for the most part in and out of Ecommerce. Started my own agency in college, ended up partnering with a family member which, fun fact, don't do that. 

So then I left there, went in-house at Ecommerce for a little while. And then about 7 or 8 years ago, started an agency with a partner of mine. We exited late 2019. 

Early 2020, I Started BlueTuskr. 

And as of today, I get to be on awesome podcasts like this.

Chase Clymer  

That's fantastic. You know, it's funny is you... I'd never brought this up on the show. I actually was a... 

I worked for an Ecommerce company back when I was 15 or 16 now that I'm thinking about this. And basically what my job was, is I was supposed to take these Excel line items and import them into the store. It was like a dropshipping thing before drop shipping was a thing. Like this is... 

Andrew Maff  


Chase Clymer  

...16 years ago. And I figured out how to automate it and then I got... I automated myself out of a job. (laughs)

Andrew Maff  

That's the worst part. (laughs)

Chase Clymer  

Yeah. It's funny though. That guy, he liked me and I actually... We crossed paths on LinkedIn a couple years ago and he was like, "Wow, I never thought you'd end up in Ecommerce." 

I was like, "Neither did I."

Andrew Maff  

I reached out, too. My dad ended up exiting that place. Or well, he sold it back to his partners. His partner owned the full amount of it. 

And I reached out to him a couple of times because I want to help them so badly because it's just horrible, what they're doing. But he did the same thing. 

He's like, "Well, I didn't think you'd stay in E commerce." And like, I finally sat down and talked to him. 

And I was like, "I can't. I can't help you. You're..." He's a character. 

Chase Clymer  

Well, that's the thing because you can't help people that don't want to help themselves. 

Andrew Maff  


Chase Clymer  

We could go off on a complete tangent about how to vet prospects and red flags. But that's not what this show is about. 

We're not here to help other agency owners. We're here to help Ecommerce entrepreneurs. 

Andrew Maff  

That's a different podcast. 

Chase Clymer  

Exactly. So where do you want to dive in? What's been keeping you up at night? How have you been helping your clients?

Andrew Maff  

Oh, man, we're gonna start. Been heavy on SEO lately. That's definitely one of the things that a lot of people are catering to. 

There's also, as of this recording, we're potentially in a recession. Ton of inflation right now. So that's kind of figuring out which direction we go there. 

And then I would also say a lot of omnichannel/cross-marketing strategies to help Amazon or have Amazon help their website or Walmart or whichever way. 

So you tell me man, what are you...Where would you like to start?

Chase Clymer  

Let's dive in there with helping people [implement] the omnichannel strategy. So as a full service firm, you guys are... Your goal is just to move the needle for the brand, correct? And so... 

Andrew Maff  


Chase Clymer  

...you're helping them with both. They're on site. I either own [the] website be that on Shopify or whatever and all the channels that connect to it?

Andrew Maff  

Yep. So essentially, we tend to focus on either someone that is already in multiple marketplaces, as well as their own website or it tends to be they're on a marketplace and are now ready to take the jump to building their own site and going that direction. 

And one of the things that I've learned over the years is [that] the customer journey is so fluid. And even now with the iOS change, it's a nightmare to track. 

And we actually just did this test with this big account we were working with. We had a $25,000 credit given to us from Facebook to run this test. And they wanted to test in-app purchases. So the ability to check out within Instagram. 

We were like, "Alright. Free money. Whatever. We'll do it". What I wanted to do was I wanted to see how this is going to affect the rest of the business besides just the obvious.  And the craziest thing was... 

I've always said this and I've run some small tests. This was a larger scale where I was able to prove this out where the amount of revenue that they increased on their website from that test was not 100% to that spend.

So they spent $25k, let's say they're getting a 4x return, they did not get $100k on their website. 

They basically got about $70 or $80k and then their Amazon actually increased. And so collectively, when I looked at it as a blended, basically, return that they got, they actually…

It actually worked completely across the board. And that's one of the problems I always talk about. 

I was like, "You can't look at just how Facebook is doing towards your website because you're not counting about the branding, and wherever else you might be available." 

So we try to focus on, A, from a reporting standpoint, looking at the business collectively --the entire thing-- and then narrowing down. 

"So okay, where do we want to press the gas and slow down?" But then we also start to think about how [we can] leverage these marketplaces to improve this strategy. 

So Amazon actually just released a... Well, it's in beta, but it's called... 

It's the "Buy with Prime" button. And so essentially, it's like a JavaScript code that you throw on your website that you throw on your website and it takes you directly to the Amazon listing. 

Now, a lot of people when I talk to them about this, they get so upset. They're like, "I don't want to give Amazon more of my money or my margins. Bah, blah, blah." 

And it's like, look, they're 100% right. There's no argument to that. 

But when I think about taking a page out of Amazon's book, the best thing to do a business or the best thing a business can do is put their customer first and just allow them to be as most... 

I'm going to completely fall over my words this entire time. 

Basically, letting them just be more comfortable shopping wherever they want. So by doing that, you are letting them go to Amazon. 

And we A/B tested before they came out with this Buy with Prime button. We used to do an "Available on Amazon" button and we would just Photoshop it and create it that way. And what we used to do is we would actually track who would click it and go over to Amazon. 

We would take into account their conversion rate on their Amazon listing and assume how many people actually converted, because we can't be a true judgment on that. 

About a year or two ago, they allowed sellers to actually do their own affiliate programs and basically double dip. So then we were able to actually see who was converting. But we could also track who was clicking that button. 

And so what we would do is we would actually run different ads to people by the button that they had clicked. So we just made that its own event in Facebook or in Google. We would run different ads to them. 

And essentially, we would either, A, incentivize them higher to come back to the site and convert. 

So that's basically like, "Hey, we saw you went to Amazon. Now you can come back to the site. Here's 20% off." Something like that. 

Or we would actually do it the other way and just be like, "Alright, this is our Amazon audience, let's just send them to Amazon." So we've actually run ads to them to go back to Amazon. 

And if you're an Amazon seller, you know that that helps you with your organic ranking. And so obviously, your traffic starts to go up, things look better. 

So what we really try to do is think about "What are all the cards that we have to play?" 

And "Let's not think about the way that people traditionally do this. Let's think about everything that we have available to us.” 

“How can we do something where we're going to make the most money from our customers without narrowing ourselves down to what everyone else is doing and just copying them." 

And that's that's the approach. 

Chase Clymer  

The one thing that you really highlighted there is you need to let your customers shop how they want to shop. and if it's a product that does well on Amazon trying to wrangle them into your Shopify funnel, you're probably doing more work than you should. 

Where you could just let them do what they naturally want to do, double down on it, and find the efficiencies within that funnel.

Andrew Maff  

Yeah. Let's say you haven't done the smart thing, which is hiring a company, let's say, an Electric Eye to convert your site, to make sure your site's all cleared up. That's CRO services out there. 

If you haven't done that... Plug. (laughs) 

If you haven't done that you're risking that you're driving all this traffic to the site and it's not going to convert as well as you want. 

So if you give your customer the option to go check it out, let them do that. And really one of the things too is, especially with new products or even new brands, it's great for them because you haven't collected all those reviews on your site. 

You don't have the social proof. You're a relatively new brand. But if you have a ton of reviews on Amazon, let them go check it out there. You'll eventually get the site going.

And then you start A/B testing getting rid of the button. Or you put a ton of different features of "Your first order is X percent off." or something like that. 

You do all the different stuff to convince them to stay on the site. But if they do go there, let them go and then start A/B testing [to get] rid of it.

Chase Clymer  

Absolutely. So there's something that you mentioned earlier. 

And this is something that we experimented with, when we were a younger agency and just stopped offering it as well because I went into this whole thing where we need data to be able to do what we do at the agency. 

So there was this big influx of people as Amazon was raising their rates that they wanted to build their own experience on Shopify or whatever platform that they wanted to build it on. 

So we had all these leads coming in. And we could never really properly set expectations to these clients that are so used to the velocity of Amazon. 

Andrew Maff  


Chase Clymer  

How shitty their website is going to perform, even though we know we're doing as far as design, development and having this thing ready, it's set up ready to go. 

There's just the difference of traffic that you get from Amazon versus building your own experiences is such a giant gap. 

Andrew Maff  


Chase Clymer  

And setting the proper expectations was pretty hard. So with that whole story, do you see similarities to what we experienced?

Andrew Maff  

Oh yeah.

Chase Clymer  

Or were we just flat out not doing it right? And you guys are like "This is how you do it?"

Andrew Maff  

(laughs) Both now, so. So basically, that was definitely the case for the longest time. We would have... 

This was actually... 

When I started doing this whole approach, this was actually 4 or 5 years ago. 

But what we had was an influx of people who kept getting randomly suspended on Amazon, they would get people who get suspended, because they should have been suspended.

But you also get people that are like "I changed my credit card, and they won't redo it. And it just doesn't make any sense." And so they just get frustrated, and they want to leave Amazon. 

And so they come to us. And we're like, "Oh we want a website." 

Okay, let's not jump into a large project of creating you a website if you think that it's going to go live and start converting right away because it will not. 

"How do you think we should market this?" 

So then we go through the strategy, we go through who are you targeting, who's your audience... That's the biggest problem with Amazon sellers. They don't know. They have no idea. So you don't realize you're basically starting a completely different business out here. 

You've proven the concept on Amazon. Now you've got to take it off and actually test it out. So we try to figure out like, "Okay, here's who we think your audience is, here's where most of them are at, here's what we're doing... blah, blah, blah." 

And so then from there, what we'll try to map out is like... Let's say, okay, most of your audience is on Instagram. 

We try to find a way to baby step them into their own website before they just jump into it. And so one of the things that we would actually do is we would build out a custom storefront on Amazon and actually structure it similar to how we think we would want to structure the website. 

And what we would actually start doing is create their social profiles and start driving traffic to their Amazon storefront. 

And then if the storefront converted, we knew that we could drive traffic from Amazon and get sales. 

So we could send them to not the listing, but send them to the storefront, have them convert there, have it all be branded, keep the competitors out of the way, and start to build a bit of an audience on Instagram. 

So now we've started to essentially build out that community that's getting a little bit more familiar with the brand once we start to get to that point. 

And now we're like, "Okay, we know Instagram can work." then it kind of comes into Alright, maybe there's also a Google aspect, maybe this is a product that's being constantly searched. Do the same thing. Run some Google ads, send them to a storefront. Once we see that that's converting... 

Because you have a custom source URL on the back end of your Amazon storefront so you can see where the traffic is coming from and actually just judge it that way. 

So even if we had multiple channels, you can see it from there. And so what we would do is like "Alright, cool. Now we've got Google Ads working too. So we've got two different channels, one that we can retarget with really well from the Google traffic and another one that actually we can introduce the brand to. 

“So we've got a very top of funnel strategy, we've got a middle of funnel strategy, we should be good here." 

Now depending on how much that's, how well it's converting, things like that, we start to ramp up spend, make sure that they can really afford the project. 

And now the next step is to go into the website. I'm a huge fan of not half-assing a website. That is the biggest problem.

 I always basically say, "Here's the approach we're going to take, you're not going to do this website until we've proven out any of these channels. But this is what the website is going to cost you once that time comes." 

Because the last thing I want them to do is be like, "Alright, great, let's do the website." 

And then they're just like, "I'm not paying that. I'd rather just get a theme and throw some stuff up there and do it that way." 

But that's because these Amazon sellers are so used to launching a product and getting it done in 10 minutes, as opposed to a website where you have to build a home base. 

You have to be like, "This is your brand. This is your home now." And so to half-ass, that's just amazing to me that anyone even bothers. 

So what we do is we show them like, "Alright, here's what the website's gonna cost. Don't worry about it now because we're gonna prove out the market first. Then we'll do the website." 

Then with the website, that's when we add in those buttons, still let people go to Amazon to cater to what works for you. 

But then as time goes on, you start getting enough sales, you're a little bit happier with what's going on on your website, then you cut that button out and see how things are going. 

So that's how we helped baby step them into the approach instead of just taking the jump into your own website.

Chase Clymer  

Yeah, absolutely. And I think that one of the reasons why we weren't good at it and why we stopped entertaining it completely is that we'd never touched Amazon. 

We were always staying in our lane, being good at one thing. And we still believe that. And we've since narrowed down further and further as we keep evolving the agency. 

But no, I think that's a fantastic approach. It's iterative. 

And baby steps are always going to be a better result than a shotgun and see what happens. 

Andrew Maff  

Mm-hmm. I agree.

Chase Clymer  

The one thing that was I was curious about as you were telling me how you're doing this and sending traffic in places. 

It's really hard to track these data points across multiple platforms. By really hard, impossible. 

So how do you help explain how these things are working to your clients and know where to push and pull on levers and budgets?

Andrew Maff  

You'll know this just as much as I do. When you're working in an agency, you really start to realize , "I'm really more of an educator than I am actually an executor." 

I spend more time explaining what I'm doing than actually doing it. And that tends to be the biggest problem. And this is easily the biggest thing that I'm always talking about. And even from an agency perspective. 

And I'll just vent for a second. Even people that you explain it to, you got to explain it to them every couple months, it's like they completely forget, and you gotta go through it. 

It's the same concept with the customer funnel. It's so fluid now. They shop wherever they want. 

It's the same thing from a paid ads perspective. You get a lot of people that will see an ad on Facebook and won't click, won't touch it, but they'll go and google you. 

And then they'll see a Google ad and then they'll click on that. And now the Google ad will take the credit for it. 

And possibly the Facebook ad will if they did it within that day. Or if the iOS just that they chose not to track, it's not going to track it at all. 

So Facebook won't get the credit even though Facebook is the one that actually started the process. 

Then you look at the same thing, you have the retargeting, or you have the opposite issue, which is someone sees a Facebook ad, goes in and googles you, clicks on your organic listing, and you're showing it as organic sale. 

So there's so many different ways that just attribution just doesn't work as well as you want it to. And there's a lot of companies out there that have different tracking and have their own Pixels. 

And you can do things like that and track it that way, which in some cases I've seen definitely alleviates some of the pressure of trying to figure it out. 

But at the end of the day, I look at: How much are you spending? What are you making? From there, why does it matter? Who cares? 

It doesn't matter if I'm putting half of it on Facebook, half into Google, and I'm given half to a friend to buy your stuff. 

As long as you're making the money and you're profitable and you're continuously growing, I want to look at spend holistically, and then revenue holistically. And then leave it to me to figure out where we're going to push and pull. Because I know that Facebook... 

Certain Facebook ads, certain Instagram ads, certain TikTok ads are very top of the funnel and probably won't convert immediate sales. 

And we have clients that want to get  really into each individual audience that we're running. "This one's not getting any sales. Why isn't it working?" 

"Well, you're just looking at the audience name. Look at the way this is setup. It's not meant to bring in sales." 

And then they go "Well, why are we doing anything that's not meant to bring in sales?" 

"Well you have to... It's the rule seven touches and I don't want to force them into something right away. It's a baby step with them there." 

“Now we have to set up different retargeting. I have to let the retargeting do a lot of the work now because of the way that Facebook works, they don't have enough data to be able to target purchases like you used to." 

So you want to do traffic now and do a little bit of retargeting. So it's this whole process of trying to explain how that works. 

But at the end of the day, I still am a firm believer of "I wanna know how much you're making online? And I want to know how much you're spending online." 

And that is the most important thing because outside of that, why does it matter? You're making your money. You're being profitable. You're continuing to grow.

Chase Clymer  

Yeah, that's the MER: Marketing Efficiency Ratio, right? 

Andrew Maff  

Yeah. Mm-hmm.

Chase Clymer  

Yeah, that's been the one that's really come out, which was... 

It was a KPI that was definitely there for a while, but Return on Ad Spend was king for the longest time, mostly because everybody is victim to just the clamor of direct response

You're like, "I made money off this thing." which is human nature. You like to see things happen quickly. And no one has patience. 

Both you and I, we both will fall victim to this at times when we know things are working. 

But you are correct, the more holistic view; You got to take step back, you gotta look at longer windows, you gotta look at longer, larger spends, and just be like, "Alright, if we're spending $200,000 a month and we're making $500,000 in sales; if we spend $300,000, are we gonna make $750,000? "

Andrew Maff  


Chase Clymer  

 That's the thought process. And you have to experiment from there.

Andrew Maff  

Exactly. I'm a firm believer of "Whatever you want your budget to be, please allow me to push and pull where I think is most necessary." Because we... 

I'll take the budget away from one channel and move it into another. 

Too many agencies, I think they'll focus on one channel, "I have X amount of budget allocated to each channel." 

And I don't think that's the way to do that at all. Why wouldn't you cater to whatever is working best?

Chase Clymer  

Yeah. No, you double down on what's working. 

Andrew Maff  

Yeah, exactly. And so by doing that, it kind of allows me to keep stuff fluid and keep stuff moving and cater to whatever the market is telling me to do. It's like an orchestra, you almost have to like, figure out what's working and what's not, and tell people what to do when. 

But if you keep it so laned, like your... 

I don't know if "laned" [is] a word, but now I'm using it, so (laughs). So basically, if you stay in... 

If you keep it where you got to stay in your lane, you're never going to be able to scale it from there, because you're gonna constantly be fighting the same channel.

Chase Clymer  

Yeah. And that was the super fun part about when we were a full service agency, we could really steer the ship and lead the direction in some crazy results. 

And we still have some of those case studies on the website. It was a lot of fun to do that. 

Andrew, you've shared so much today, I really enjoyed the insights about how to deal with having a brand that needs to exist on both Amazon and Shopify. That was super awesome. 

Is there anything I didn't ask you about today that you want to share with our audience?

Andrew Maff  

Nah, man. We're good. I appreciate it. E-Comm Show. Check that out. (laughs)

Chase Clymer  

This is where you plug yourself, Andrew. Tell the people where to go. 

Andrew Maff  

Yeah, well check out your episode in the E-Comm Show. You're putting the studio notes, right? You got it. Well, it'd be in there. Check out the show notes. 

Chase Clymer  


Andrew Maff  

Great episode. Awesome. A lot of insight. And then anything BlueTuskr, anything @andrewmaff

Just tweet me. DM me. I don't care what you do. I love just helping. It's fun. So I'm more than happy to answer any questions anybody's got.

Chase Clymer  

Awesome. Thank you so much, Andrew.

Andrew Maff  

Yeah, thank you.

Chase Clymer  

We 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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Lastly, if you're a store owner looking for an amazing partner to help get your Shopify store to the next level, reach out to Electric Eye at electriceye.io/connect.

Until next time!