Welcome to The eCommerce Experience - the podcast that turns YOU into an eCommerce expert. Your host, Andrew Rogencamp, shares his wealth of B2B and B2C business experience to take you on an eCommerce adventure.

Each month you'll hear from industry experts and meet people just like you - looking to take their business to new heights online.


 

Andrew: Hi there and welcome to the second episode of The eCommerce Experience. My name's Andrew Rogencamp and I've been working in eCommerce, both B2B and B2C, for over 20 years. 

And we're bringing you this podcast to hopefully help you travel your way through the eCommerce world and give you the experience that we've had over that 20 years. 

So, since in our first podcast, hasn’t the world changed. We're right in the middle of this Covid-19 pandemic, and I think eCommerce is even more important than it was last month. 

And I've seen customers that are doing some great things with eCommerce, changing their business models to allow them to deal with the public where they maybe wouldn't have dealt with the public before touchless, Click & Collect models and things like that. 

So, I think it's even more important now that eCommerce is at the center of everybody's thoughts while they try and survive through this difficult time. 

 


 

This week we're talking to Jason Anderson. And Jason is also based here in Brisbane, and he is from a company called Andzen (That’s spelt A-N-D-Z-E-N) and they are email marketing specialists. So, Jason, thanks for coming along. 

Jason: Now, all right. Thanks for having me. 

Andrew: Maybe as a start, you could give us a bit of background on where you've been, what you've been doing and what your company does.

Jason: Yeah, sure. So, Andzen is a email marketing agency based in Brisbane. Like you said, we've got offices in L.A. as well. 

So, we actually started out life as an email marketing platform. And almost 10 years ago now, that platform was sold to GoDaddy. And in the process of that, we started the agency Andzen to do take all that knowledge from email marketing where we had that platform and offer that as a consultative service. 

Andrew: Okay. 

Jason: So, we've been doing Andzen email marketing consulting for the better part of eight years now.

Andrew: Okay. So, you really go and help customers make the most out of their email marketing platform that either you've recommended to them or they've chosen independently.

Jason: Yeah, exactly. So, a lot of people will come to us with their problem and it's our job to advise on how can we achieve that maybe with the email platform they're using currently or what email platforms can we suggest that we could use? 

Andrew: Yeah. 

Jason: We also do a lot with SMS and Messenger marketing and things like that as well. So, it's really that direct messaging, one-to-one messaging. That's the space we play in. 

Andrew: And that's both in the B2B and B2C world? 

Jason: Yeah, that's right. So, when we initially built the email platform, we did a lot of B2B; B2B was the main thing. 

Andrew: Yeah, okay. 

Jason: That platform was founded on was 20 years ago. So, you can imagine your eCommerce wasn't what it was today, of course. 

Andrew: Yea, that’s when we started our B2B eCommerce company and there weren't many people doing it back then. 

Jason: Absolutely. So, B2B is, I guess, where we sort of grew up. But what we found is that when we built that platform, we had a very much a focus on automation. And what that led to is obviously a really streamlined process that you could take to eCommerce that just worked so well. 

And then in the last couple of years, we've really moved our focus where the majority of our clients now are eCommerce merchants who are on the larger side, they have their B2B offering in their B2C offering. And on the more medium sides, it's just the direct to consumer offering.

Andrew: Yeah. So, how do you how important do you think email marketing is in today's eCommerce world?

Jason: I still think that it probably is, particularly for a larger organisation, probably still is one of the, if not the, most important marketing channel. There's a few reasons for that. And I guess it depends on how you look at marketing channels. 

But I think ultimately, email is still that central thing that every customer has. As soon as you create your persona on the Internet, the first thing you do is create an email address so that you can get on social media so that you can do everything you need to do. That email address really is like your physical mailbox in your house. And for as long as having an email address, is that central to your existence online, email is going to be that primary channel. 

But it just allows you to do so many other things when it comes to tracking and managing the data that you hold on a client, having that assigned back to a unique identifier, it's almost always email. 

Andrew: Yeah. 

Jason: When you talk about ROI, most email platforms are affordable compared to what you would need to spend to have a really strong type of funnel ad strategy. And so, the sales that you make off email quite often have the strongest ROI. 

So, it doesn't really matter how you cut the importance of a marketing channel in terms of if it's ROI or data or what's most important to you, email almost always comes out on top. 

Andrew: Yeah, in terms of bang for buck. 

Jason: Absolutely. 

Andrew: Yeah. Okay, sounds good. So, if you were to look at a company, I guess there's three types of companies were looking at; one that's not doing any email marketing versus one that's doing email marketing, but not effectively versus one that's really got it down pat. What are the outcome differences that you typically see in those companies?

Andrew: Usually, what we would find is those companies that really have a strong email marketing strategy generally have a really strong repeat purchase and return customer focus, and they're getting a lot out of that. And that's what those first two types of businesses are usually missing. 

For those people that have no strategy at all, often if they've grown large enough, they've overcome that in another way. But when you dig under the surface, what you find is that's usually quite an expensive way. They've probably had to really invest in remarketing, they've maybe got a really strong strategy around how they use social media and audiences and custom audiences to really target their existing customers, which is all fantastic. And I would never suggest replacing that with an email marketing strategy. 

But what you need to think about when you're spending ad budget is how do I actually make that budget work for me the hardest? And email is one of those channels that is quite cost effective, but really puts the runners on and runs up that mountain for you when it comes to another form of messaging, another reminder, a way to automate things and something that can actually take your topple funnel strategy and make sure that you're converting the most amount of people that are seeing those ads once they actually land on the site.

Andrew: Okay. So, I've heard a lot of our customers say, “I just want to be emailing customers every day.” More isn't always better, is it?

Jason: It's not. But to be honest, I would advocate for emailing your customers every day, just not every single one of your customers, every day. 

Andrew: Right, okay. Yeah, okay. 

Jason: And that's what the beauty of automation does. Automation allows you to engage with your customers frequently with highly personalized content, but also on their own terms. 

So, if you think about that person who's seen an ad for the first time or been told by a friend and come to your website, they see the pop up, they sign up, they get that first email from you, maybe with a discount code, and then maybe over that first three or four days, they're getting an email every day or every other day with a different aspect of your value proposition to try and get that first sale. 

And then once they've made that sale, you know, within the next couple of days, they're getting their order confirmation, they're getting their shipping notification, they're getting maybe an email to say, “Your product should have arrived. We're really excited for you”, their review email and then the cross-sell and promotions and eventually win back emails. You might find that via automation, a client's hearing from you at least once a week.

Andrew: And it's all to do often with a transaction that’s created for you. 

Jason: That's right. 

Andrew: It's not just getting blasted with email. 

Jason: Exactly. And you can use these days, email platforms that we have are so intelligent, so powerful, that in every one of those, I guess, critical emails from a transactional point of view and a journey stage, you can be injecting dynamic product recommendations. 

Andrew: Yeah. 

Jason: That's actually looking at, “Okay, this client bought X, Y and Z” 

Andrew: And using artificial intelligence. 

Jason: Exactly, based on what they purchased there, they're going to be most likely to purchase these products. So, let's put in -- Leave a review and we'll give you five percent off your next order. By the way, here, our top picks for what that next order might be. 

And then someone, all of a sudden, isn't just thinking, “Oh, I have to go live a review now”, what they're thinking is, “Oh, that looks amazing and would pair perfectly with that top that I bought. I want to get that five percent discount, so I can buy that.”

Andrew: Yeah, sure. So, what commerce vision you guys have both B2B and B2C customers. And actually, the podcast I did last week was actually breaking B2B. We see B2B as there's two different types of B2B; the B2B that are dealing with what we call manufacturing distribution. So, they're selling to customers that are going to on sell to other customers. Too often they're selling to retailers. And then you've got that B2B, which is where B2B for business use. 

So, typically, little things like stationary supplies and stuff like that. So, they're supplying to businesses, but the businesses are using those products in their business. And then, of course, you've got B2C. So, we sort of see three main strains of eCommerce, and I'm sure you'd see that with your customers. 

Jason: Absolutely. 

Andrew: Are there completely different types of strategies for those types of businesses?

Jason: I would say that they're completely different. Certainly, the messaging is different. But when you're thinking about your approach, it's relatively the same in terms of what we're really looking to do is understand the customer and their buying lifecycle and their needs. 

And we might be grouping those customers into subsections to say, these are customers that have a MVP product that they always order from us. And we would love to cross-sell more of our products into them. And then maybe we've got another subset; these are our real VIP customers that are just we wish every one of our customers look like this. And then you might have your more either prospecting or every now and again customers that sort of come for different products here and there, but we'd love to get them going from one order a year to four orders a year, something like that.

And it might even be informational, but they've bought this type of product in a B2B environment and you're providing them, not necessarily trying to resell them stuff, but you're actually providing them with value information that those businesses can use. 

Jason: Exactly. Yeah. And what we find in B2B is that's usually one of the most effective strategies, is not just saying, “Hey, you bought this, now buy that.”. Yeah, what it is saying, “Now that you've bought this, here are all the ways to make it last longer, keep it effective, train your staff and how to use it effectively.” All of those things that's going to make that buying manager or procurement officer in that business sit back and think, “Oh, man, I love this brand. They just make my job so much easier.” 

Andrew: Yeah, that's right.

Jason: Yeah. 

Andrew: And that's part of what we see with B2B is if you make that that journey and that customer experience between the buyer and you, the merchant, the seller, a lot easier, you'll get a lot more stickiness with that.

Andrew: That's right. Yeah, and those customers, particularly in B2B, inevitably word of mouth, is really powerful in B2B. A lot of these people are networking quite often and going and speaking with other people in their industry. 

And so, if you're providing that quality of service, you'll find often that that VIP subset of your clients will grow quite rapidly, which is what you want.

Andrew: Yeah. So, talking about clients, what we sometimes see is manufacturers and distributors. So, they're the brands out there, are trying to talk directly to their customers’ customers. So, they're not selling the products to the customer, they're selling them through retail chains like Bunnings and things like that. But they're trying to create a dialogue with the actual end consumer. You're seeing a lot of that? 

Jason: Yeah, absolutely. Like we've got some merchants that are direct-to-consumer, but we've got some that also have quite a strong or very focused wholesale channels. 

Andrew: Yeah. 

Jason: And there's still a lot that you can do to make email really effective in those areas. For example, you might have a lot of people signing up for their warranties. And that's actually a quite powerful information for you as a manufacturer to try and drive people into store when you can see a warranty period is maybe coming up. If you have the local postcode information, you can build quite an effective automation to say, “Your warranty is expiring. Here is a local dealer that you can speak to.” 

Or if you've got that warranty information, you should also have that history of what products they own. So, that will actually give you quite good insight if you're going to be having a promotion or whatever it might be. If you're doing a cash back offer with a dealer and you know that they've got a really good spread of stores, then you can use that information you have around warranty to send out to say, “Hey, by the way, this weekend at Bunnings, if you buy this, you'll get a $50 gift card or you'll get this extra product for free” or whatever it might be. 

And through those channels, you can not only build really good relationships with your customers, the actual end customer who feels like the brands taking care of them, but obviously you build really strong partnerships with your customer, which is actually that wholesaler.

Andrew: Yeah. So, that's what I was going to ask is, do those retailers get their nose out of joint that you're talking directly, you know, that the manufacturer is talking directly to their customers, or do they see it as a, I guess, some -- there's going to be a bit of both, but the smart ones see it as an advantage.

Jason: Look, yeah, I think ultimately, anyone who runs a business is -- we all love free marketing a lot. So, I think as long as you're intelligent about your offering and you're doing it on a case-by-case basis, most merchants are working quite closely with their wholesale providers anyhow on pricing, on offers and things like that, the strategy with how it's actually going to be positioned on the store shelves. 

So, in my experience, it generally goes over quite well, as long as you're being transparent about what you're trying to achieve. You're obviously not undercutting them with promotions that you're running on the website that are very different to what you're allowing them to offer in stores, for example. 

You know, there are key periods of the year where it can get very challenging; like if you're trying to create a direct-to-consumer offering and it's Black Friday, of course, you want to really come out with a strong offer which may cause some conflict. 

But if that's the case, usually what that means is just providing that wholesaler with a strong offer that they can use themselves. And then in your marketing, having some aspect of that marketing that is also saying, “Buy on the website or visit your local store.” 

Andrew: Yes, that omnichannel talking environment.

Jason: Yeah. 

Andrew: So, we see and a lot of what you've been talking to those about personalization of those emails. And we're seeing a lot of personalization on the eCommerce front. 

Emails today are way more than just sending out a blast email to every customer on the same thing, isn't it? If you really want to be doing it effectively, you've got to look at the personalization part of it.

Jason: That's right. And I guess what we would call a campaign or a one of those emails to your larger database, they still have a place, but there's ways to do them more effectively. 

Five years ago, automation was I put their first name in the email, which was a great start. 

Andrew: Yeah, okay. That was it. 

Jason: Yeah, but that's not even what personalization is these days really. What personalization is about now is the content is personalised, the time that you receive the email is personalised, maybe even the tone or the structure of the email might even be personalized, based on the device that the person is using on. There's a lot of factors that go into personalization these days. 

A lot of platforms are doing a really great job of having actually AI engines now that just optimise for send time. 

Andrew: Yeah. 

Jason: So, they'll actually give you the option to say, “Send it this time in my users’ local time” or “Look at all of my customers that have opened an email and understand that customer A always open the email around 6 PM at night. So, send it at 6 PM. Customer B opens at 6 AM. So, send their own at 6 AM.” 

Andrew: Yeah. And so, they can pick up on when that customer's previously opened emails and get tuned to it. 

Jason: That's right, yeah. There are some platforms that have that offering now; it's very personalized to the customer. But otherwise, simple things like by time zone is still quite effective. 

And then obviously, having a strategy around, “Look, if we send this email on Tuesday at 6 PM to everyone, let's wait three or four days. And then on Thursday or Friday, let's end it at 6 AM to everyone who didn't open that email to get a bit of extra coverage, but still keep it local to that time zone.”

Andrew: And I think sometimes what we see our customers do is spread the load of sending that email so that their websites just don't get smashed in the first five minutes of sending that email out that they can spread that load.

Jason: Yeah, and often, if you just say, “Send to the user in their local time zone”, that's going to do that for you. 

Andrew: Do that anyway. 

Jason: Yeah, that's right.

Sounds good. Yeah. So, based on all that personalization, especially around the stores that have got retail, you must be seeing a lot more integration of ERP and point of sale systems, obviously, as well as the eCommerce systems into these mail applications. 

Jason: Definitely. 

Andrew: So, that you're not just getting the view from the web, you're getting that full view as to what that customer did when they walked in the store and --

Jason: Yeah, that's right. So, the customer journey is what we look at how that ends. And that's very top of mind for us, that if you've got a website where you're saying there's a loyalty program and when you make a purchase, you'll get X number of points per dollar spent, that has to translate to your experience in the store as well. 

And everyone has to be on the same page about making sure that customer's experience is really consistent and they feel like, you know, no one wants to go to the counter and ask for a discount and feel like the person behind the counter doesn’t know what they're talking about or whatever. 

You want it to be a really smooth experience where you go in and you scan your loyalty card and they say, “Hey, thanks for being a gold member with us. By the way, you've got this discount. And hey, here's the gift that comes with that” or whatever it might be. 

So, definitely, a lot of what we do, if that doesn't exist out of the box, we have developers that can push integrations. 

But a lot of the platforms are getting smarter and smarter now and building these integrations themselves because they understand that bricks and mortar is not going away. 

Andrew: No. 

Jason: What it is, is just finding a way to create a consistency between that experience so that whether you're online or offline, the customer is always having the best experience possible. 

Andrew: Yeah, yeah. I think {indistinct 17:48)} do that really well; you can buy online (I know my wife does it all the time) buys online and then if she doesn't want it, she can take it back to {indistinct 17:55} and it's as easy as that. 

And that draws people to buying through retailers, because they know that they've got that bricks and mortar that they can come back to.

Jason: Yeah, I mean, a lot of people were talking about the {indistinct 18:05} recently that was is shutting down a lot of these stores. And a lot of the criticism there isn't that they weren't a good brand, it's that they didn't actually update that in-store bricks and mortar experience, so that it was in line with that website experience. 

Which is really what we're talking about. If you want to have an omni channel strategy, it really has to be how we’re effectively training everyone so that the person manning the Help Desk chat bot button on the website is talking in the same language that the cashier behind the counter in store is talking. 

Andrew: Yeah. And that the person behind the counter isn't saying, “Well, the website has got nothing to do with us” sort of thing.

Jason: That's right. 

Andrew: So, yeah, that it's all the same sort of channel. So, it sounds like email marketing is not just about getting one of these tools. There's a lot of strategy and thought that goes behind it. Is that right?

Jason: Definitely. I think it's a big part of what we do initially when we work with someone is we'll do a big audit. And before we've even really had an engagement, we would come back with recommendations around platforms and the pros and cons. No platform these days does everything, right? Brands have such unique needs. But some platforms are better than others at doing what they can to facilitate that and having the right APIs and things available, so that you can build on top of their platforms to really have a customized, personalized experience.

Andrew: Yeah, okay. So, there's a lot of or it's probably not as much as it used to be, but when GDPA first came out, which is, you know the acronym it stands for? 

Jason: Oh, gosh. I actually cant remember the G now. General Data Privacy Act, I believe.

Andrew: Yeah. So, this is something that's coming out in Europe and there's a whole lot of regulations about what information you've got to allow people to know that you've got on their behalf and expose all of that. 

Is that affecting any of your Australian customers or are we really exempt from that? Without giving any legal advice, of course. You know, there's a disclaimer here. 

Jason: Yeah, I definitely am not a lawyer. I have read Reddit several times. It's interesting, I think, on the larger scale, Australia is such an interesting market. As a brand, to really be successful, sooner or later you end up having to expand internationally because our market is a size that it is. 

So, there are a fair few Australian brands that we've worked with that have strong offerings in the United Kingdom or in mainland Europe. And so, they have to have strong policies when it comes to GDPA. But there was a lot of miscommunication and a lot of misinterpretation. 

Andrew: The scaremongering. 

Jason: A lot of brands were sending emails out to say before GDPA, you have to opt back into the mailing list; that was never required. 

Andrew: Right. 

Jason: If you had been marketing to someone previously and they hadn’t unsubscribed and had accepted that marketing, there was actually a reasonable expectation that this person has been on your list and they're accepting marketing now. So, they don’t have to re-accent. 

Andrew: It's common sense in a lot of cases. 

Jason: That's exactly it. And this is the big thing with any sort of -- you talk about can’t spam in the US and GDPA and Europe and Australia trying to strengthen our laws and America are working on newer laws and some of the states actually have their own laws as well that can go even further.

But at the end of the day, none of this is about necessarily restricting marketing. What it's about is respecting your customers. And I think if you're building a brand, if at the centre of that your focus is the customer experience, then you're really not going to engage in any sort of marketing practices that's going to upset the customer. 

Andrew: Yeah, that’s right. You're not going to sell their usernames to other people. 

Jason: Yeah, exactly. And so, I think at the end of the day, as long as that customer experience is at the centre of your thinking, you'll probably find that everything that you're doing is erring on the right side of the law anyway. 

Andrew: Yeah, okay. 

Jason: The only real additive that GDPA brings to it is the right to be forgotten, which is something that we don't have anywhere else, which is when someone can contact you to say, “Not only do I want to unsubscribe, but I want you to delete any old data you've ever had on me”, which is obviously a much more detailed and extra step that you've taken. 

And that's really the big thing that I tell people to be aware of. You should be asking people to opt in when they fill out a form anyway. 

Andrew: Anyway, we've had that for years. 

Jason: Yeah. You should, when someone clicks unsubscribe, they should genuinely be unsubscribed; all of those sorts of things. But yeah, I think the right to be forgotten is probably the big thing that’s a culture shift.

Andrew: That would be the next step up, I think, for Australia, because then all the applications are going to need to support that sort of thing. It'll be like that. 

Jason: That's right. 

Andrew: When the GST was introduced or the year 2000 come around, you're young to remember that, but I certainly did. 

Jason: Not quite; I definitely remember Y2K. Yeah. 

Andrew: So, I mean, there's lots of applications out there. We haven't spoken of any specific ones. Which ones do you mainly deal with? 

Jason: On the email side? 

Andrew: Yeah. 

Jason: We do a lot of work with Clavier. 

Andrew: Yeah. 

Jason: So, they're very, very strong in these eCommerce specific -- Their platform is probably, for me, the best bang for your buck when it comes to feature set and what you get for their fees. 

We also do a lot of work with Dot Digital; also a really great platform. Probably on the large side; a little bit more expensive. 

Andrew: A bit more enterprise? 

Jason: Yeah, that's right. And you probably need a bit more of a sophisticated team to implement Dot Digital.

Andrew: I think it's important to remember that you can go and get one of these great packages and get somebody to give you, like yourself, to give you a strategy, but you really need somebody internally that's driving that on a day-to-day basis.

Jason: Yeah, that's right. 

Andrew: It’s not just going to magically happen. 

Jason: Yeah. And I think really and when it comes to the eCommerce space, those two are probably the most effective when it comes to bang for your buck. They also have very strong APIs. So, even if you're using a solution like Commerce Vision, it's really not going to break the bank to get your data connected and start getting the most out of these automation platforms.

Andrew: Yeah, that's good. Great advice. Well, Jason, that's all I've got for today. I really appreciate your time coming in today and having a chat with us and hopefully, helping some of our customers understand where that email piece is. 

Do you want to just give you a contact detail or something?

Jason: Yeah, of course. So, if you're interested in reaching out to us, you can jump on our website and andzen.co. There's plenty of information there in terms of our blogs and case studies, if you want to do some of your own research on how you can do some of what we do yourself. We're very open with our strategies and what we do. 

But of course, if you'd like to chat to us, feel free to send an enquiry and we'll get in touch with you. We do free audits. So, we'll happily jump in and go through a consultative process and try and find a solution that works for you, before really engaging on anything. 

Andrew: Yeah. Sounds good. No risk. 

Jason: Exactly. That's right. You know, I think we are quite fortunate in that we've been around for a long time. We have very strong strategies. And that means that we can jump in and do audits and things like that free because we're very confident that we will show ROI. 

Andrew: We're the same. When we get a prospect in, we'll do a scoping study. And sometimes we charge for it, but most times we won't because we're pretty confident that we can achieve what we want to achieve.

Jason: Yeah, that's fine. And ROI is really our focus. So, we're very much looking at, from an analytical point of view, if we can take your {indistinct 25:08} from five percent conversion rates to 12 percent conversion rate and times that by your average north value. You know, this is how much we should be able to make. 

Andrew: It’s a no brainer. 

Jason: Exactly, yeah. 

Andrew: Okay, Jason, thanks for your time today.

Jason: Thank you. 

Andrew: See ya. 

Jason: Bye. 

Andrew: Well, I hope you found that chat with Jason really interesting. He certainly provides a great deal of insight into the email marketing aspects of eCommerce. And, as he said, it's a really good bang for buck way to get to your customers. 

But you need to be careful about the way you market to customers; that you're not smashing them with emails all the time. And it seems to be that there's a lot of tools around today that allow you to really personalize that information and those emails going to your customers.

So, you may find Andzen then a little bit hard to understand what it is there. In terms of the spelling, it’s A-N-D-Z-E-N and their website is andzen.co (A-N-D-Z-E-N.co). I'm sure Jason will be happy to have a chat to you. 

As I said, a changed world since we last spoke to you last month. We hope all is going well for you and your business and that you're seeing your way through these difficult times. 

We'll be back next month with a new podcast and we'll see what the situation looks like then. All the best. See ya.

 



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