Shopify Conversion Tips with Elevar CEO Brad Redding

Jun 22, 2022 | PODCAST

In this episode we have our first podcast guest… we’re excited to welcome Founder & CEO of Elevar, Brad Redding.

Brad has specialized in eCommerce and analytics since 2008 when he launched his first SaaS company that was a marketplace matching shoppers and independent local retailers through dynamic personalization.

He’s helped build analytics and tracking foundations for brands like Rothys, Rebecca Minkoff, and Autodesk.

In 2017, Brad founded Elevar which automates data collection and server-side conversion tracking for thousands of Shopify brands. You can find Brad sharing his knowledge on Youtube, the Elevar blog (getelevar.com), and his Conversion Tracking Playbook podcast.

 

Listen In to Hear About:

  • Elevar’s expertise on conversion tracking for Shopify brands
  • Google’s upcoming transition to GA 4
  • Changes to tracking on Facebook, TikTok, Snapchat, etc. and how that will affect marketing reporting and strategy
  • Trends and predictions to the ecommerce landscape in 2022 and 2023

 

Resources mentioned in this episode:

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Read the full transcript from today’s episode below.

Shopify Conversion Tips with Elevar CEO Brad Redding

J: Welcome to Conversion Path, a MarTech podcast about data and growth for your online and mobile business, by Digital Dames. We gather here every week to talk about how to amplify your product, service, or message. I’m Jaclyn Hawtin.

M: I’m Mani O’Brien. In this episode, we have our very first podcast guest. We are excited to welcome the founder and CEO of Elevar, Brad Redding. Hi, Brad. Thanks so much for being here.

B: The first podcast guest. That’s a tall order to live up to.

J: Lots of pressure.

M: Well, the bar is low. Brad, we’re so excited to have you. We feel like we know you. To introduce you to our podcast listeners, Brad has specialized in ecommerce and analytics since 2008 when he launched his first SaaS Company, which was a marketplace, matching shoppers and independent local retailers through dynamic personalization. He helped build analytics and tracking foundations for brands like Rothy’s, Rebecca Minkoff, and Autodesk. Very, very impressive.

In 2017, Brad founded Elevar, which is a tool we love here at Digital Dames. Elevar helps automate data collection and server-side conversion tracking for thousands of Shopify brands. You can find Brad, sharing his knowledge on YouTube and the Elevar blog, which is on www.getelevar.com. Brad also has a podcast called Conversion Tracking Playbook.

B: Most interesting and boring podcast ever. Who wants to listen to a podcast talking about tracking?

J: We do.

M: This is such a great match-up, we’re huge fans of your product, Brad, and also the Conversion Tracking Playbook. We even have matching brand colors on our pods. I hope our listeners probably have them overlap.

B: Our podcast cover was really deep research. Went to Canva, found a template, swopped out one picture and it was done. Do we have crossover brand colors as well? Your actual company brand colors?

M: Oh, maybe, we have a lot of purple.

J: The purple is similar, but we also have green in ours, so there is a difference.

M: We’re so excited to talk to you, Brad. So, the focus of our podcasts is on helping customers grow their online and mobile businesses. Conversion optimization is at the core of our services. We knew you’d be such a wonderful resource, not only having so much experience, specifically around ecommerce but also, of course, the owner and founder of a SaaS company. But we’ve never really focused on Shopify. So, we’re so excited to have you. Now to start, we thought we’d ask you just a little bit about your background first. I saw that you went to college for Kinesiology, but here you are in data tracking. Tell us a little bit about that journey in your career.

B: Going back to college. I just turned 40, so I’m having a little complex with my age.

J: Yeah, not to take it all the way back, but you have such an interesting background in retail and ecommerce and the blending. So, just curious a little bit about your career.

B: It was a couple of years out of college, honestly, I had a couple of friends that started a SaaS business and it was exhilarating to see them just always talking about that problem. I don’t think I’ve ever shared this story, but I had a dream in the middle of the night and it was about a business. I woke up in the middle of the night and just started writing down notes because I knew I would forget about it. I continued down that path and started that business and I learned a lot of learning lessons. I learned through failing personally versus reading a book. I love reading books. I read a ton of books.

But that was a start and it was in retail. My current wife but back then, love to shop and knowing that there are always different boutiques around the world and country that if you live – we lived in Washington DC at that time – in order to go visit those boutiques in New York, you have to go take the train or drive or go to Chicago or LA or whatever it might be. So, that concept was bringing – it was 2008/2009 – so bringing boutiques, independent brands, boutiques, retailers, etc. bringing their merchandise online and then having shoppers that could sign up and we asked a few questions to personalize what boutique we’d match them to and then they have their curated custom feed of products and boutiques from around the world that they could shop from.

That was about five years. I white labeled it to one company, and ultimately, it was shut down at some point. I won’t remember the years, but five or so years after that, I moved to Charleston and worked at a small ecom dev agency, where I am currently. And we designed, built, and optimized sites for mid-scale brands. So, it was primarily a Magento enterprise back then, Demandware. That’s where I got exposed to Rebecca Minkoff and worked with them for many years, Alex Anani, and so many amazing brands.

And I found a different problem at that point where we… part of our value proposition back then was we don’t just design and Dev, what we all are experts at is focused on optimization as well, pull optimization into your design and Dev services. And part of that requires doing data analysis and putting together reports and presenting them to brands and ideating on and strategizing. By the time you go through that process, that data is old, you’re making decisions 30 days later. So, I felt like there was a better way to solve that. And that was the initial startup. Elevar was our— there’s got to be a way to automate running the same reports and analytics and looking for the same thing. We built a small prototype, charged 50 bucks, where we just ingested the data from the GA API and had a bunch of algorithms, it was like a pass/fail report card type style.

What I learned from that was that we would hear from customers, this is great, but we don’t trust our data. We know it has issues, so I really can’t trust the insights that you’re spitting out, even though it looks amazing. I think it could be helpful. And that led us down the path of, if this product is ever going to work, we need to solve the data accuracy. So, we had a separate Shopify app at that time, which was just a GTM data layer install. And it was just literally meant to just solve this problem. So people liked this product better, liked our core better.

And as the world of tracking continues to get more crazy, we would just hear customers just say, “Hey, I will pay you $500 every month for the rest of my life if my tracking never breaks.” That’s essentially the core value prop that we have today is, we obsess over ensuring that tracking is accurate. And that’s not easy. We certainly aren’t perfect and things change. But that’s the only problem that we focus on is we want to ensure that data collection is accurate. Channels can perform and are optimized, ultimately, so customers have more time to spend on CRO strategy, design, innovation, etc., versus worrying about pixels and everything like that. So, that’s the background in summary and brings me to 2022.

J: Quite a journey.

M: That’s great. I feel like your original app would do well today. Even as the landscape changes and everyone is sick of being over-emailed from retailers and social ads and taking a hit that…

B: It exists, www.shoptix.com. And the ultimate irony, I think about last year at the agency here that I work at in Charleston, last year Shoptix was in the sales pipeline to become a customer. I was like, you gotta be kidding me.

M: Full circle.

B: They’ve been around for quite a while. But yeah, they do pretty much exactly that. As a boutique, you create a store, upload your products, and then customers can shop and buy across the world.

M: Wow. And this was your dream? Divine intervention?

B: Yeah. That was another one where I somewhat stumbled into just focusing on the brand and retail experience. It started out as something a little bit different or all-encompassing. But yeah, that was the evolution of listening to your customers and demand. It was a two-sided marketplace. But what do people want? And what are people reacting to? And then just continue doing more of that, similar to how I described Elevar.

M: Nice. That’s cool. It’s pretty exciting. You mentioned being 40. We’re around the same age and it’s like, I have loved being the age we are just the technology, just like the bunny trail for a second. It’s such an exciting time to have had the opportunities we’ve had and to come up in the age that we have where we’re really at the forefront of how technology can be used and Jaclyn and I always spitball on that. So cool hearing your story, thank you. We love Elevar. Thank you for that background. We wanted to know a little bit about your day-to-day life right now. What does your day-to-day look like when it comes to interacting directly with your Shopify customers? And what problems do you generally try to solve for your customers?

B: Day-to-day from Elevar or day-to-day personal, just in general?

M: I want to know both. You are a SaaS owner, you have a remote team, we’re living in this pandemic life, remote work life. Just curious about what your day-to-day looks like just as a founder.

B: Yeah, a fully remote team almost on every continent. I have two young boys, a two-year-old and a three-year-old. I typically start my day around 5 AM-ish, sometimes a little bit earlier, sometimes a little bit later. Typically, five out of seven days a week, I’m going to get a workout and get a couple of hours of work in before it gets a little bit noisier in my house because I also work at home. From there, I would say in the day-to-day with Elevar, I tend to default, focusing more of my time on being close to customers. We were joking around before, was it really you and responding to HubSpot email tickets?

It is me because I know that our business is going to – not to be too harsh, but – live or die based on customers and part of our flywheels in our company that we have in our strategic plan is word of mouth is very critical to us and delivering six-star customer experiences is very critical to us and building a world-class team. My day-to-day, obviously, I’ve structured days where certain days, I’ll focus on marketing or operations, things like that. But usually at the beginning and end of the day, I am trying to insert myself where I can without my team getting frustrated with me.

But trying to insert myself to be a backup and help assist with tickets, any escalation that might be complex problems, or just trying to help backfill where we might be overloaded. But in general, I want to support the people on the team, support our partners like you and support our customers. So, I can’t do that at 40 hours a week or eight hours a day. But I certainly try to spend as much time as I can there. Honestly, I think most business owners know this, but that’s how your product is going to drive your business.

The way I look at it, it’s a blessing and I’m grateful if somebody that is paying us money wants to take time out of their day to share feedback on what’s going well, what’s not going well, or what their pain is. So, if they want to share what their pain is, then that’s gold to me, because that’s going to tell us where to focus our time and our energy and our product. That’s a little bit of a different perspective on how I look at being in the weeds, so to speak on customers.

M: That’s so powerful. Not all business owners do that. It’s very easy to get disconnected from your core customers, that’s wonderful that you do that. And that has definitely been our experience working with Elevar. Sometimes we’re like, “Oh, really. Brad.” Not just replying, but it gives so much credibility to your product and then obviously, stay close to as you’re saying what the customers need.

J: That’s one of the reasons that obviously, we continue to work with your product. I have sent lots and lots of tickets through your system, but you guys were always so patient with me and really took the time to break the issue down. It was obvious how much energy you were putting into that, how much care you were putting into that. We felt that and appreciated it. You guys are doing it right.

B: Thank you.

M: All right, so let’s talk about the actual problems that you help solve for customers. Brad, I know it’s hard to cover everything in a single podcast, but you serve Shopify customers, primarily serving ecommerce brands. So, what would you say are some of the top issues that business owners are facing in 2022 when it comes to data and tracking?

B: The two primary value propositions are, number one, we maximize the amount of data that is sent to every single channel or analytics platform, in our case, Google Analytics 99% of the time. And number two is that data has the maximum amount of product data, order data, customer data, and attribution-based data. By that I mean cookie values, UTM parameters, click ID parameters, etc. Those two things combined, if we can do that for every customer and every channel that they have connected through Elevar, then we’re doing our job in helping solve the problems that bring customers to us, which is they don’t trust their data, they are lacking conversions in their different platforms.

So, let’s use Google ads where they’re spending $10,000 a day. And they feel like they’re missing 30% of their conversions. And they know that that is not only going to impact their ability to trust to keep scaling that campaign or set up campaigns. But it’s also going to limit the platform from being able to go find more customers to show ads to. This is more of Facebook and things like that. But usually, that’s what it boils down to, there are nuances of people around re-chart or other third-party checkouts, or they just want the Facebook conversion API or their head list and they need help getting that set up, or they need GA4 because Google dropped that surprise and everyone that they are shutting down the UA in a year. So, there are some nuances. But again, at the end of the day, they all boil down to those two main problems. Every platform needs all the data, and they need all that data to have all the things associated with it like product IDs, customer emails, etc.

M: It’s so easy to say.

B: That’s why there’s an entire podcast just dedicated to sharing. This is all the change and pain and everything that’s going on and tracking, so it’s not as easy as maybe we make it sound in other areas on our own marketing messaging.

J: I have a quick question on the GA 4 transition. I haven’t looked into this in-depth yet, but do you know what Shopify’s plan is for rolling out new analytics infrastructure to prepare for the GA 4 transition and how that will affect you guys?

B: I don’t know other than I know they’re going to roll… Actually, I don’t for certain, they may not. But it’s not as easy of a change, especially if they want to run in parallel. I am just going to assume they’ll have to have their own GA 4 property setup. I don’t know when that time is going to go out. How it impacts us is going to be Shopify obviously has Universal Analytics, where you plug in the ID, and that works amazing for 90% of companies on Shopify, you don’t need Elevar, you don’t need other apps, just plug it in, you’re done.

But for brands that don’t solve an issue, like they want to have control over the data, because they’re pulling that data into a data warehouse or doing other things or you want to fix certain gaps that do exist, the native setup, that’s likely I’m assuming it’s going to be the same thing with GA 4. Because GA 4 is much more robust in the way that the event and user property data is structured. So, it’s not always just page view driven. And honestly, it’s more explicit versus implicit. Implicit as to what we’ve lived in and tracking over the forever, since web 2.0 started, where you drop in a piece of JavaScript and it sets a cookie and that cookie grabs a bunch of data from your browser, and does the magic fingerprinting passing it back. That’s not going to be the future. The future is going to be very explicit. Here’s a tracker, here’s the data that this tracker needs to collect. Is there consent? Yes or no. etc., etc. I would imagine that’s probably an onion that they are peeling back with their GA 4 transition.

J: Yes, I can imagine how challenging it would be, it is just so totally different approach to data structures. But in my mind, the key-value pair event-based approach, it makes more sense to me, logically, why didn’t we start with that way back in the day?

B: Yeah, so we’ll see what they come out with. But I would imagine brands that are a certain size, they’re probably going to want to stay with a Google Tag Manager or some other app or platform that gives them more control to do what they want with their data.

J: Sure. That makes sense.

M: What are your tips, Brad, around planning and strategy? We find that the agency that it’s not that the tools aren’t available for clients, it’s that from the jump, there’s a lot of sometimes lack of ownership, lack of documentation within the organization so that everyone has a clear sense of what is being tracked and how things are being triggered. I’m curious about how you approach that with your clients.

B: I think about our Chrome extension, our Chrome extension can make it very easy to tag your entire site and track everything. But that doesn’t always lead to the best end result, because you still need to process that data, and analyze and extract insights. So, one thing that we would do for anybody that’s going through our paid onboarding process is to ask, what are the top five questions that you were trying to get out of your Google Analytics data? And just try to solve for that first because, just in my experience, there’s going to be things where it’s a Wednesday afternoon at 2 PM and someone asks you a question about a particular conversion rate for a product and the variant and how this funnel is working through a question page, or whatever it might be.

I would probably not worry too much about that, because those are very, in the moment types of questions, what’s the real impact going to be? And I would focus more on those five questions that you want to get answered out of your analytics data consistently and ensure that you build tracking around that and maintain it. And what we call our user journey report is, that’s the default. If anyone is just looking for something like, well, what do you recommend? And we just say, well, we feel like this report is the best because that’s what customers have gotten the most value.

And the user journey report is very simple, it’s essentially goal-based. How many people sign up for an email? If you have videos that are in your funnel, how many people watch, watch the video, how many people added to the cart, viewed a product page, initiated checkouts, were on site, and scrolled more than x percent, which is an engaged session? But you have your core events, like your product view, add to cart, initiate checkout, etc. But then you find the other three to five key interactions with your site that you would consider part of your journey in a funnel, you set up event tracking for those, and you create goals in Google Analytics, so you can get the percentage-based like a session conversion rate for what percentage of people sign up for email or watch the video.

Then you just build a simple report, you just build a custom report where you can do about a landing page by source medium, you can do your heat map overtop of it. And that way you can look at okay, by channel, what channels are driving more top-of-funnel activities? Facebook, paid social, how is it doing driving email, signups? How is it doing getting people to view a product and then you look at your bottom of the funnel channels, you expect SMS to have a very high conversion rate or initiate checkout conversion rate? Is it doing that? That’s an example we’re, again, just using that best practice strategy. Start there, start those three to five questions, create a report that can summarize that in one view, and then worry about the other nuanced questions later.

J: Is this type of consulting helping the client get those events tracked and set up across Google Tag Manager and Google Analytics? Is that a part of the service that you provide on your higher-level package? And you do it for the client, right?

B: Yeah.

J: That’s awesome.

M: I love that. Just paring it down. Even though I would say three, I’d love that you just said three to five, just pick three that have the biggest impact and don’t get overwhelmed by the rest. There’s so much data and you’re providing such a service, making sure the data is accurate.

B: That is a plug for GA 4. GA 4, one use case we do use today is the funnel builder. We used to have a custom funnel builder, where you could go in and define step one, step two, and step x, for event data, it was our most popular feature and we had to shut it down because the data we’re getting back from the API was just wrong. It was being heavily sampled and just wrong. So, we had to shut it down. The reason why that was our most popular feature for our product was because it allowed someone to have that Wednesday at 2 PM, I need to answer this question. I can’t get it in GA goals right now because goals are not retroactive. I need to build a funnel to see how many people are doing this thing.

GA 4, you can do that now. The funnel builder was only available in GA 360, which was $150,000 a year plus. You can do that in GA 4 now. So, doing that in GA 4, that’s that “I need to answer this question in five minutes” or potentially 15 minutes if you’re new to GA 4 trying to learn how to use the funnel builder, but that is really cool.

J: So fantastic that they’ve released that and are now accessible outside of 360.

B: The pathing report, there are some other pretty cool utilities, there’s a lot of cool new utilities. But the default reaction that we have, and we joke about what you typically see on social media, is the reports that everyone is used to using in the UA, “show me my source medium report, show me my landing page report, show me my shopping funnel.” They don’t exist as default reports the exact same way that we’re used to seeing them in Universal Analytics.

J: The reporting is challenging in GA 4, it is a learning process.

M: I know right now, it’s interesting working with clients who come in for consulting and they’re on universal, and you’re like, “Well, you can fix this, this, and this. And also, you’re not going to use this in a year, so don’t do that, do this instead.” It’s an interesting time. Speaking of data and ongoing maintenance, there’s a perception that you can set your tracking and it’s like a set it and forget it situation. And we always like to compare data more like a living breathing, like a plant you have to water. What’s your perspective on that in terms of ongoing care for your data and tracking?

B: You are 100% right. It’s ongoing, you need to water it, not every day, but every week. And yeah, because things change in minutes. If you’re just talking about Google Analytics, there probably aren’t as many changes, while GA 4 does change that. But historically, Universal Analytics, they weren’t rolling out massive changes to their platform every week, every month, or every year. But with all of your marketing, tracking, Facebook, TikTok, Snapchat, etc., that’s changing every week, literally, there are changes happening and requirements changing every single week.

For example, TikTok, deprecated page views, 99.9% of people using TikTok don’t know that. And that creates a bunch of urgency or concern that page views aren’t working. Well, they deprecated it. Klaviyo is changing the way you can adjust user property data. Snapchat, we went back and forth with their technical support trying to get them to help get their conversion API to a point that was acceptable for ecom, where they didn’t have rate limiting for accepting data. So, that was a massive change that rolled out for them where previously you really couldn’t use the conversion API, if you were an ecommerce site doing more than a million dollars a year.

Think about Facebook, all the changes with post iOS and their conversion API were like every month, there was a new requirement, where there was always a different parameter that they’re adding in that you have to collect and send if you don’t have a set it and forget it type of app or tool to do that. So, that’s where it becomes important just to stay on top of it.

J: I’m curious, how does your organization approach keeping up on all of those new releases, all of those changes? Do you have a check-in every day, you have some feeds coming through into a single place where you’re reviewing that? And obviously, you have some partnerships. It’s a lot of information to keep up on?

B: Yes, we follow change logs closely. When we get the companies that are that big, like the Snapchats and Facebook, Facebook shut down their technical marketing… I forgot the acronym they called it, but they shut that down a year or two ago, which was a bummer because that’s how we were able to stay ahead in a lot of the changes. But we follow change logs, we have customer success and daily sync that anyone in the company can drop in a technical challenge question that comes up from customers.

And a lot of it is from being in the weeds with our customers where they have a unique use case of consent mode using X, Y, and Z tools and wanting a mix of client-side and server-side tracking and that sends us down the path of we got to figure out what’s going on and we discover oh this doesn’t work. It’s not documented. I wish we had a single dashboard that showed us everything, pulling it in. But fortunately, we find a lot of undocumented or miss documented changes around tracking. And we see this with different Shopify APIs as well.

M: Well, nice to have you at the forefront.

J: Thank you for doing that.

B: I appreciate it.

M: I’m curious about some really tangible technical tools and recommendations. Do you have some favorite go-to Shopify themes, plugins, analytics, and tools that are complementary to your offering?

B: Yeah, I’m biased towards the analytics tools. But Enquire Labs is one that we probably have an 80% customer crossover. We push data, something about what we do versus what other attribution solutions like the Triple Wails, North Beam, Rocker Box, etc. Elevar, we push data, we collect data from the site and we push it wherever the merchant wants that data to go. And then you have these other platforms where they pull data in. They’re pulling data, and they’re pulling data in from Facebook, Cost Data, Google AdWords, Cost Data, etc.

The Enquirer Labs for qualitative survey data, that’s part of pushing data. Every brand needs to collect first-party data and zero-party data, which is direct from consumer type of data. So, that’s one that we see a lot of customers use. And it’s not just for attribution, either. I had Matt on my podcast, and we’re talking about different use cases, really trying to get in the weeds like you are. I want to hear real use cases. I don’t want to hear philosophy. They had a customer that they were asking, “What are you using the product for?” And they thought they were selling – I’m going to get this wrong – but they thought they were selling their product was cleaning dirt bikes. That’s what all their advertising was for.

But their post-purchase survey was, “Oh, we’re using it for ATVs.” Then the brand just changed all of their creativity to just ATVs and they just took off. That was a pretty cool use case that came up with Matt’s podcast. Audacity, that’s another one. There are a lot of people using it, if you’re selling on Amazon, eBay, other marketplaces, need merchandising insights, need inventory forecasting, things like that. That’s one that we see a lot of customers use and speak very highly of. Ribeye is another one for personalization.

I used to work a lot with Dynamic Yield, even pre-Elevar. Ribeye is a similar type of product where you plug them in, and they’re going to serve up product recommendations. There’s a ton I’m missing out on a lot, but what do you think? Are you familiar with any of those, like Facebook Messenger marketing?

M: Yeah, those are good. I always love asking about very specific tech tools, like, what are the go-to tools that everyone is using today? Future looking, how do you think business owners can prepare themselves for the next five years? Which I know is a wild question, especially with Web 3.0. I don’t know how quickly the blockchain really affects ecommerce customers, seems like quite a while out. But what are you thinking about as an organization? And what do you think business owners should be thinking about to prepare for the future?

B: Good question. My approach is from a business owner’s perspective, which is, to have your strategic plan. So have a one-page strategic plan that has your 10-year vision, your three-year plan, one-year, quarterly rocks and plan against that. I can’t predict what’s going to happen in five years. Nobody really can. We can try but we’re going to be wrong and most of those. But having that tangible plan, where this is where I want to be in 10 years or this is where we want to be in three years. This is how I think we’re going to do it, and this is our brand, this is our marketing, this is the flywheel we’re going to create and focus on that.

Control the controllable versus the things that are outside of our control, like potentially economic, headwinds, things like that. I know it’s kind of a cop-out answer, but if you’re familiar with traction or any of those EOS type of frameworks, it really starts with a business plan of understanding, if you’re trying to be a billion-dollar brand, or sell for a billion dollars, whatever it might be, that is going to dictate what you need to be doing, today, next year, three years from now. If you were looking for a lifestyle business, that you want to pull out X number of dollars in profit per year, whatever that might be, that also is a different decision making, a different avenue that you need to take and plan for that. Did that help or was that a cop-out answer?

M: Well, now I’m going to ask a specific question. No, that was a really good answer. Who of your customers do you think are doing things right? I’m curious, who are the funniest businesses to work with, in your experience at Elevar? Do you have specific industries that you enjoy working with or personality types?

B: I’m afraid to name names because I don’t want to be called out for not naming the names that I should be naming. I’ll share a couple. So, one, Brevity, Backpack, everyday Backpacks, camera Backpacks. I’ve known Dylan and Elliot – there are three brothers. When Dylan, I think he’s been a customer for four years now. He came in searching like, “How do I fix my Facebook pixel?” or something like that. Landed on our blog post and followed GTM and set up. Many do this, and not a knock on Dylan, but you get stuck, you’re like, “Holy cow. This is taking a lot longer than I think it would” and then he signed up and has been a customer since then.

But what’s unique about them is that they’re bootstrapped. And Elliot shared on LinkedIn recently, we knew this was going on behind the scenes, but his LinkedIn post went viral and he just shared, they just cut off Facebook, they just stopped spending all their dollars on Facebook. He shared what happened business-wise, between revenue and profit changes and what they thought might be true about their business, and some of that proved right and wrong. But any case that just created this, “Holy cow, we’ve done the same thing. You’re so smart. And holy cow, you guys are idiots, do you not think about X, Y, and Z?” And so it’s really interesting seeing the banter back and forth.

That’s something that I’ve appreciated about them is they’ve gone on to do new markets. I know a couple of years ago, their factories had some major issues and they had to spend like six months over there finding a new factory, and I can’t remember exactly, it wasn’t China, it was another country. But anyway, it’s just been interesting following along with their story and all the different challenges that you face when you’re trying to build a business and grow a business, so that’s one. I have others. But did anything stand out from a couple of those stories?

M: It’s fun hearing and seeing customers grow over time, especially bootstrap business. That must be enjoyable to see organizations grow. That’s what I love about our working in businesses, personally, so that’s cool.

B: We still have some customers like Nirav from Anada. Do you know Anada?

M: I don’t know Anada. What is that?

B: Design, development, and growth agency. I’m getting his tagline completely wrong. But he signed up when we first launched our beta product. He was customer number two. I remember chatting with him through Live Chat, it was pretty cool. He’s still there’s still a customer today with other brands of theirs. But it’s always good to see someone that’s been with us really since day one—literally, day one.

M: Wow, that’s really cool. That’s awesome.

J: Have you noticed a lot of your clients stopping Ad spend on Facebook or decreasing it over time? We have started noticing that trend and you mentioned it with the Backpacking Company?

B: It’s been pretty rare that I’ve seen people and brands just completely cut it off. Brevity is one, we’ve seen a couple, or I’ve heard of a couple. Obviously, we don’t know what everyone is doing per se, but diversifying spending is definitely something we’ve seen since last year. I think what we’re starting to see is people moving back to Facebook. So, if they pull spend, decreased spend 6 to 12 months ago, some of them are seeing that… even though Facebook isn’t reporting that it’s performing, it’s not like overnight that performance is going to go away. A lot of nuances with targeting and what they’re able to do. But in general, I think we’re starting to see and hear of people moving to spend back to Facebook, because…

M: Probably less competitive now, because everyone flew away.

B: The top of the funnel, so you lose out on that top of the TOFU awareness of, you need to hit people up 20 times before they buy. Facebook never was… prospecting was for most was never going to be someone sees an Ad and then they buy right away. So, if you lose that ability to prospect and hit hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people, you need to find those and you need to build awareness somehow. If you’re not building awareness at scale through your Facebook, obviously then everyone is moving to Tik Tok, but Tik Tok also has its challenges with their Ad platform and reporting is several years behind.

The need to create and maintain the content, so the creative aspect is very time-intensive. Brevity started doing organic Tik Tok a long time ago, they’re pretty early. I wouldn’t be surprised six months from now if you start seeing people go back to normal of moving budget back to Facebook. I could be wrong. I’m wrong more than I’m right.

M: We’ll see if your trend forecast is right. That is interesting, I’m sure you get to see the forefront of the Ads platforms everyone is dabbling in, because then you have to figure out the data. Well, let’s see what else? I’m curious for you, let’s say you decided to get back into ecommerce tomorrow. Like if you started your ecommerce Store, do you ever have ideas for things because you get exposure to so many types of brands? I’m just curious if you wake up in the middle of the night with your ecommerce idea?

B: Oh, yeah, I already have it.

M: Nice. Oh, do you? Are you willing to share?

B: Yeah, I’m not doing anything with it. And it’s not really that unique. The brand was called Float. It was going to be… this is too big, but think about a cup if you’re in a pool or at the beach, or the lake or whatever. I live in Charleston, so we’re on the water, it’s very top of mind for me. You want a floating koozie… it is just audio, so those just listen or hear it, but where it’s always stable. So, your drink is always staying straight up and not spilling. If you’re in a pool – I have two kids – and someone jumps in and the wave happens, and your drink or whatever spills.

M: Yeah, I’m in Arizona, we live in the pool, too. And that would be very useful. They have some out there that are for the 99-cent store a little floaty, but it’s not industrial.

B: There’s way too much math and science to go into it. But originally, I was like, that’s out of my league.

M: Maybe one day?

B: Growing an ecom brand is hard. It is really hard and it’s getting harder.

M: It is hard. It’s complex. As we were saying before, just like with production, and all of the variables that go into it, it’s hard to really even get a sense of margins. And then obviously, the competition is just so high. Do you see success in brands that niche down and sell socks? Or do you have any sense of what you feel is going to be successful when you connect with ecommerce brands?

B: The riches are in the niches, so I think that still holds true for ecommerce as well. And so you start niching down on one product or one category and then start building out from there. Rothy’s is an obvious easy example where they’ve expanded out from their original core product. But we have a lot of brands that I’ve personally worked with, known with, or have just seen come through that probably the trend is you’d crush one product or one category and then expand out from there. Cut’s Clothing is another one, a men’s brand of just amazing T-shirts. They are going to make the best fitting T-shirt and then that has continued to grow and expand. There are probably a ton of examples like that.

M: Yeah, it’s hard to do. Everyone wants to be there for everyone, they’re like “My customer is everybody”. Even still, it’s tricky, but the niche is the way to go. I love Rothy’s, by the way.

B: Cool quality. I don’t know if you all were like this, but when I started to shop more on Amazon, you just get exposed to bad quality, where it’s just a crappy product. And I’d rather pay a little bit more for something that’s going to last longer versus having to buy something that’s poor quality that I’m going to have to replace shortly after. There’s probably no data out there to validate that, but I’m sure for a certain segment or cohort of consumers, that is real legitimate thought psychology of, “Okay, I’m sick of getting a bunch of crap from Amazon vendors for these products, I want to find something that’s quality. I’m willing to pay a little bit more for quality.” And that’s where a lot of the direct consumer brands that have focused on that have done really well. And that’s why they’ve grown because people want something quality, you don’t want a T-shirt that’s going to fall apart after a week or two.

J: But it’s also more sustainable and better for the planet-building for the long term.

B: Yeah, exactly.

J: Yeah, that’s a really good final thought, it doesn’t matter how much data magic you can wave, you could have the best data structure and at the end of the day, if you don’t have a quality product, then there’s no data magic there to help you out. A good thing to keep in mind as business owners.

M: Cool. Well, I think that’s probably a great way to end the show today, unless Jaclyn, are there any other questions we had for Brad?

J: I did have one question we didn’t go over, I don’t think, when we’re talking about data tracking, from the beginning. Do you have any templates or anything that you provide to your customers to help them go through that process?

B: This would be the coming up with what questions to answer or the actual template of tracking?

J: Kind of both, like, okay, let’s figure out what you need to do. And then how do we put it down on paper for us to build this thing?

B: We have a few articles on our blog that will go through that user journey type of report, or how to pull in survey data and the GA, things like that. The template for the three to five questions you want to get out of GA, we don’t have a template or something that walks through specifically that, we probably should. We have internal docs on that. But a scattershot of different articles on our blog about that. There’s one article, Event Tracking for CRO or How to Use Event Tracking to Drive CRO, that’s probably the closest one that I am thinking of. And one of the episodes of my podcast, The Conversion Tracking Playbook… I can’t remember the title, but it’s My Five-Step Process to CRO or tracking. Again, I can’t remember the exact name.

But that was probably a good example of a step or framework that I would go through starting a little bit more at the end in terms of looking at analytics to pick out low-hanging fruit, focusing on a page-by-page funnel performance, and then going a few steps further but. That would be on the analytics side in terms of tracking, as a template for tracking, that’s where a product is, you click the Data Layer installed, which installs everything that you need to populate the data layer using GTM. And for those that want to go server-side tracking, now it’s all in our app, you don’t need to do anything with Google Cloud or anything like that. You just click Install, you enter your pixel IDs and select what channels you want to send to: Facebook, GA, etc., and then you are live.

Then we have all the prebuilt tag templates for GTM for client-side tracking. So, if you need to implement any marketing channel, you can just go to our pre-built template library, enter your pixel ID, and down it.

J: Perfect. We’ll be sure to include those links in the show notes to your podcast with the five steps and then the sections on your website with examples of those tracking templates. Awesome. Thank you.

M: Yeah, resource. How about you, Brad, any parting takeaways? I know we had a meandering conversation. But is there anything that you feel like you’d like to share with the business owners of the world, and mobile app owners of the world?

B: Yeah. What’s your five-year vision? Where do you see the industry in five years?

M: Well, we have done a few episodes on blockchain and cryptocurrency. I am really interested and I know right now, there’s a lot of controversy around what’s going on with NFTs. But I think that the foundations of the blockchain are so fascinating and such game-changing shift, it’s hard to even really imagine. Then, of course, all the building out of Metaverse and all that stuff. So, maybe not in the next five years, but there are going to be so many changes in the coming years around data, the way data is tracked, ownership of data on an individual level made possible by the blockchain, that’s going to impact all of us on this call.

J: I also think that this whole new no-code movement, and all of the updates, in terms of capabilities of technological platforms are going to continue to simplify things for end-users that are not going to require as complex of engineering teams to do these complicated implementations. There’s going to be a lot more access to like people in marketing that don’t necessarily have a technical background to start doing this type of work, which I think is going to become really, really powerful, and very exciting and provide the opportunity for teams to spend more time on the creative stuff and the experimental side because people aren’t freaking out about why this API connection isn’t pulling data from this API connection anymore. So, I think it’s going to get fun, personally.

M: Yeah, fewer band-aids.

B: Yeah, spot on. No code movement for everything. Site building, analytics, tracking, blockchain, everything.

M: Yeah, we’ll have to connect in another six months, we’ll see where everyone’s at.

B: Hopefully, in six months, this market pressure and everything starts to subside, as some of the leading indicators are looking good.

M: Yes, let’s hope. Well, Brad, thank you so much for being on Digital Dames.

B: Thanks for having me on.

M: Awesome, I appreciate it.

J: Thanks for listening. You’re listening to Jaclyn, Director of Technology and my cohost is Mani O’Brien, Director of Marketing. We are the founding partners of Digital Dames. We’re so grateful for our team. Our podcast project manager is Laura Kurtenbach. Our show producer is Alyssa Holderbine. Our show art is designed by Maria Salonga. Our audio engineer is JC Caerphilly. And most of all, today we’d like to thank Shay Baird and of course, our guest, Brad Redding, founder of Elevar.

M: You can find Brad sharing his knowledge on YouTube, The Elevar Blog, which is www.getelevar.com, and his Conversion Tracking Playbook podcast. He’s also on LinkedIn, just search Brad Redding at Elevar, spelled ELEVAR, and he’s on Twitter @iambradredding. We at Digital Dames, we’d love to hear your thoughts and we welcome your questions and feedback. You can email us anytime at [email protected] Keep up with us across the web. Our social media handles are @digitaldames on Instagram, Tik Tok, and LinkedIn and we’d love for you to leave us a review and subscribe to us on Apple, Spotify, and wherever you listen to podcasts. Until next time, thanks so much.

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Post Contributors

Jaclyn Hawtin

Jaclyn Hawtin

Senior Data Architect

Over a decade of experience in product management, devops, startups, and agile methodologies. Track record of simplifying complex technical processes for cross-functional teams. Proficient in user centered design, UX, IX, UI, IA, user research and data analytics for responsive web, mobile and tablet applications. Incredibly adaptable, fluent with both people and machines.

Mani O'Brien

Mani O'Brien

Conversion optimization manager

Mani is a senior marketing manager with roots in storytelling. She nerds out on everything data, technology, human behavior and design. Chat with her about UX/UI, marketing funnels, conversion and goal tracking, marketing experimentation and astrology (she’s a Virgo Sun, Aries Rising).

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