AfterShokz Marketing Director and Agency Share How Innovative Headphone Company is Driving Breakout Growth

Episode 14 February 06, 2020 00:52:47
AfterShokz Marketing Director and Agency Share How Innovative Headphone Company is Driving Breakout Growth
The Breakout Growth Podcast
AfterShokz Marketing Director and Agency Share How Innovative Headphone Company is Driving Breakout Growth

Feb 06 2020 | 00:52:47

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Show Notes

In this episode of The Breakout Growth Podcast, Sean Ellis interviews Aryal Smith, Marketing Director at AfterShokz, makers of innovative headphones that are ideal for athletes who need to stay aware of their surroundings. Joining Aryal for the interview is Jeff Goldenberg, co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer at Abacus, a leading performance digital agency that has been working with AfterShokz for over two years. Since 2015, AfterShokz’s annual revenue has grown by 2000% and its monthly output of headphones now exceeds 200,000 units. AfterShokz headphones use bone conduction technology which enables them to offer situational awareness and a great listening experience. 

In the interview, Aryal and Jeff share their insights into what is driving AfterShokz breakout growth.  They cover a broad range of topics including:

See detailed growth studies on companies interviewed for the Breakout Growth Podcast at https://growthhackers.com/growth-studies

Learn more about Aryal Smite at https://www.linkedin.com/in/aryal-smith-8a552770/

Learn more about Jeff Goldenberg at https://www.linkedin.com/in/goldenbergjeff/

Learn more about AfterShokz at www.aftershokz.com

Learn more about Sean Ellis at www.seanellis.me

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Episode Transcript

Speaker 0 00:00 <inaudible> Speaker 1 00:03 <inaudible> Speaker 2 00:08 come to the breakout growth podcast where Sean Ellis, interviews leaders from the world's fastest growing companies to get to the heart of what's really driving their growth. And now here's your host, Sean Ellis. Speaker 3 00:23 In this episode, we'll look at aftershocks, a fast growing company that creates innovative headphones that are ideal for athletes who need to stay aware of their surroundings. So I'm speaking with the marketing director there, R I L Smith and Jeff Goldenberg, who's the chief strategy officer and cofounder at their digital agency Abacus. So we're going to dig into the key growth drivers. And there are some really interesting insights here. So it's gonna be the first time that I'm looking at a physical product. So they're an innovative physical product, which comes with a whole different set of growth challenges. So we'll dig into those. We're also going to get the perspective of both an internal team lead and an agency. So how, how do they think about growth on those two levels? How do they integrate together? And then we'll talk about some of the challenges of a multichannel approach to growth. So let's get started. Speaker 3 01:20 Hey L and Jeff, welcome to the breakout growth podcast. Hey, thanks for having us. Great to be here. Yes, super excited to have you guys on as a pretty different a growth story than I'm used to having a physical product here. So I'm excited to dig into it and hear how you guys are approaching growth. So why don't we start with you R I L a U it looks like you've been at aftershocks for about three and a half years and I read on LinkedIn that um, revenue growth during that time or since about 2015 has been around 2000%. So that's, that's crazy. Good growth. What initially attracted you to the opportunity? Speaker 5 01:57 Well, to be candid, I had no idea how successful the brand would become, but I was initially attracted to it because it is within the tech industry. I started my education at attack Institute, so I've always been interested in that area. Um, and then the position in particular was a blends between graphic design and marketing. Um, and I had studied both in college and really enjoyed both. And, um, even though it was a small company, I was really excited to try my hand at marketing and hit the ground running. So Speaker 3 02:30 well that's great. And it looks like you actually joined right out of college. So that's a good job on spotting a rocket ship to become a part of. Cause I've, I've always found that's the best, best opportunity for personal advancement is that, uh, you have an opportunity to prove yourself and, and um, you know, not all people can do it. So congratulations on doing it and picking a good, a good rocket ship to climb onto. Well, thank you. I appreciate it. And Jeff, um, when did you guys get involved as an agency and what to you got you guys to the opportunity? Speaker 6 03:01 Yeah, Ryan and I were just talking about it. It's been a, I think over two years now. I think at the end of 2018, we started with a pilot project, which was testing direct to consumer social paid social advertising in Canada. And then based on some early success, we started working more integrated in the beginning of the year. So what attracted me was a very cool product that understood what it was and what it wasn't, understood its value proposition and had so many different segments or personas or use cases or however you want to think about it, that it kind of aligned perfectly with how we were viewing sort of multi-dimensional creative that marries with the paid media. So we love when we can do DTC direct to consumer. And it was a perfect opportunity. Speaker 3 03:53 And had you done hardware products before? Speaker 6 03:56 We have, I'm struggling to think of a specific case in our three and a half years, but we have, we have a lot of experience with direct to consumer or performance, even if it's not DTC, uh, you know, insurance companies that are looking for lower price cost per leads or um, financial companies that are looking to originate credit cards. So we've always been that type of marketer, but applying it to a product, um, using creative when social was just awesome. Speaker 3 04:26 And then how did you guys get connected? Speaker 5 04:30 That isn't, I know, well, we were looking to, um, find a new agency and I'm, I'm honestly not sure. It must've been through your great Google ads, I guess, or something, something of that sort that we discovered Abacus. But I think it was all through online. Speaker 3 04:54 Well that's great. And it sounds like that just even the fact that you started with a test, um, it's, it's pretty low risk to just make sure they can deliver the goods and, and you've now been working together a couple of years, so clearly that initial pilot worked out well. Absolutely. Speaker 6 05:10 And this great, perfect example of, um, the perfect partnership really does depend on both sides. We've had plenty of products that haven't been good products come to us and we haven't been able to turn water into wine and that doesn't necessarily mean we're a bad agency. And the other, the other times has happened, like we've failed to get traction and that doesn't mean it's a bad product, but in this case it was such a nice fit between, uh, I guess like true partnership. Speaker 3 05:41 Yep. Whether you're joining a company full time or coming on as a consultant or as an agency, you're really only as good as the product potentially. And, um, and that it really, every engagement you're going to do is either going to help build your reputation or it's going to hurt your reputation. So picking, picking the right product is really important. Yeah. Yeah. So speaking of product arrival, can you give us a quick introduction to what aftershocks is all about? Speaker 5 06:14 Yeah, so aftershocks is a super unique headphone. Um, we're a tech company mainly in the fitness space. So the way that our headphones are different is they actually sit over your ear and rest on your cheekbones and they use patented bone conduction technology to transmit the sound. So you're actually not putting anything in your ear or on top of your ear. And this has been really great for the fitness community specifically because you're able to receive audio and still remain aware of your surroundings. So it's extremely safe for runners like lists, outdoor enthusiasts, um, and it's a lot more comfortable as well. Speaker 4 06:54 Okay. Speaker 3 06:54 Yeah. And I also noticed, so, so as I was doing research for the podcast, I actually started thinking maybe I'll check out some of the, especially when I saw the price, it didn't seem too bad. And I, uh, so I went and picked up a pair. And I think in addition to what you mentioned as the benefits for, for, uh, as an athlete, then it's also just the fact that like, if you compare it to like earbuds, um, that, that they fall out of your ear sometimes when you're, when you're running or you know, like I like to go and kick a soccer ball around and, um, or even like on my sailboat, like I'll be cruising around and I'm, I'm always worried that they're gonna fall out of my ears and then into the water. So I think that's another advantage for athletes. Speaker 5 07:33 Absolutely. They'll stay in place. We have yogis that will wear them. We have, um, people who are gymnasts who will wear them. So, um, it's, it's been a really cool product to work with. Speaker 3 07:45 And then I, I assume it's pretty straight forward in terms of how you guys make money. It's just a, you're just, you're selling the, the earphones and, uh, in making a margin on each, each one. Speaker 5 07:54 Yep. So obviously we sell direct to consumer, so.com and Amazon. Um, we're also in big box stores and, um, our incredible retail partners, big and small, they're amazing as well. We have, um, a ton of independent specialty stores that we work with. Speaker 3 08:12 Excellent. Well, so as I mentioned, aftershocks is the first physical product that I've had on the podcast. So I'm assuming that your growth engine is pretty different from the other kind of purely digital products that have been on here. Um, what do you guys, um, both Jeff and or aisle believe that are the most important factors in the breakout growth that you've had? To date? Speaker 5 08:34 We've found huge success and taking a grassroots approach, especially in the initial stages as we've tried to, um, increase brand awareness, um, our growth engine is really all about touching people, getting headphones on heads because just explaining the product, it's difficult to understand or even through an advertisement at first, not everyone gets the full picture. So, so moving product to people has been bulbar. The, um, the biggest area of growth I think. Speaker 3 09:07 Yeah. Jeff, would you add anything else to that? Speaker 6 09:10 Yeah, I mean not to belabor the point, but it's an awesome product with a clear value proposition that's easy to communicate. So it's a marketer's dream. I'm obviously we're going to talk about a creative because that's what we do. And with this we had a lot of creative to make because it needed to work in a lot of places. But I think what makes us a little bit different is when we attack creative, we start mobile first and then adapt it for other uses where a lot of people are still using broadcast first and then adapting it to other uses, including social and mobile. So, um, we needed to create a lot of content. We needed, we were thinking we need months and months of content and we figure if we shoot, if we do a shoot with the idea of months and months of content in mind, and then we create a design system, which is basically how we're going to use that content and what it's going to look like at various funnel stages and for various use cases or segments. Then we could basically map out a user flow and see all the places we're going to need creative for. Um, and that way, you know, we could have a long form that involves all the sports, but once we know you're a cyclist, why don't we just give you a whole bunch of cycling instead of CrossFit and yoga and cycling. So from that standpoint, the Ivy, the idea of like trying to have as close to a one-to-one conversation, this is such a perfect example of, Speaker 3 10:31 and did you guys do much with video? Speaker 5 10:35 Video has been such a game changer for us because you're able to see how the products fit, um, because it's such a unique fit and also the benefits, um, because it's, it's difficult to communicate safety and situational awareness and a tag line or in a photo. So that has been a huge game changer. Speaker 3 10:57 Yeah, that makes sense. And fitness itself is so much all about movement that that's pretty hard to capture in an image, but pretty easy to capture it. Speaker 5 11:04 Right. And you can show the cyclist, you know, waiting at a stop stoplight working at traffic before, you know, approaching the road. And those moments like that one that I'm really communicate the value of our product. Speaker 3 11:17 I mentioned this is the first physical product I've had on the podcast. The other part is, it's the first time that I've had both a, uh, you know, agency and their client on the podcast together. So it's, it's pretty, it's pretty interesting in terms of how you guys integrate together to, to approach growth. So I wanted to dig in a little bit into that. Um, so why don't we start with you, Jeff, and maybe you can, you can help me understand or help the listeners understand how, how your agency fits into the overall growth approach at aftershocks and how often you guys collaborate and how you collaborate. Speaker 6 11:50 Sure. And completely frankly, I learned growth hacking from you. So I feel like I'm just going to be giving back. You're learning right back to you. But like here we go. I haven't done it as an agency, so I'm sure I'm going to learn a lot from you as well. Well, thank you for all the, all the great writing over the years. Um, so how do we collaborate? Um, the first thing we do is we unite around like a, a metric North star that's going to clearly ensure that we both understand what success looks like. And that comes down to measuring as, as far down in the funnel as you can, agreeing on attribution models. So that's not an issue down the road. And you can come up with the best attribution model possible. And, and that's one of the unsung benefits of growth marketing is it's easier to integrate when you're integrating around real metrics and real things that, you know, make a difference when you're up at the top of the funnel. Speaker 6 12:46 And it's very, very foggy. It's really hard to integrate teams around that because people might not even believe in the success or what their North star is, or worse, they don't even have a North star. So when we're thinking, Oh, there's so much gaming that happens around just, you know, replacing cookies and other, especially like in the affiliate world that, um, when you, when you're actually getting down to the results, it makes a lot more sense that it's easier to align around that. Totally. Um, if we, if we have a great Roaz return on ad spend, then, um, we're probably doing good things and as we grow that, um, you know, there's a lot of stuff going on in the background, but it just means it's just a perfect sign of the overall health of the campaigns. So it really starts, as you said, getting aligned upfront in terms of results, in terms of um, how you drive those results. Speaker 6 13:35 And then what does the ongoing collaboration look like coming up with a strategy and a media plan? So one of the things that's really weird is that, um, agencies that aren't like focused on, on this type of stuff, they've separated creative and media and like we literally don't understand how, how that works, how, how these two things, which are clearly different sides of the same coin can be separated. So what we do is we come up with a strategy and a user flow and then media can go off and create their user journeys and their, their media maps and creative can go understanding what the strategy is, what's the concept, and what are all the buckets of content that they're going to have to fill. In. This specific example, the most recent campaigns we did with aftershocks the campaign was, um, experience life was sound on. Speaker 6 14:25 And that was actually a contextual double entente between the fact that the headphones allow you to have sound on and that social ads don't start with sound on. And the idea was that people saw experience life with sound on, they clicked the sound on and then based on the, the um, the creative, we came up for the, for the video, it was all like, um, syncopated noises that all the athletes were making. So they kinda got like delighted if they invited the sound on. And that's something that I talk about all the time, like the hardest thing to get right as context. But it's also the hardest thing to explain. But I think this campaign really understood the context and the conditions under which the people were going to be consuming the media. Speaker 3 15:08 Yeah, no, I love that. <inaudible> I think from my short experience with the, with, with the product that, uh, it, it is that blending of, you know, a lot of times simply put on noise canceling headphones. You're, you're completely escaping from, from life. And it's that integration of being able to actually understand and absorb your surroundings while at the same time get the entertainment of some music or whatever it is that you're listening. It's Speaker 6 15:33 kind of like augmented reality versus virtual reality. Speaker 3 15:36 Right. Exactly. Um, so Araya what, uh, when, when you look at your role as the marketing director, um, how does that fit in and what you sort of, what's the scope of your responsibility? Speaker 5 15:48 As Jeff was talking about, what's so great about Abacus is that we're able to do all of the creatives with them and then translate those into ads. Um, so normally I would, you know, work with our design team to find a videographer and, um, you know, have that whole process completed and then bring it over to our ad agencies. So the fact that we were able to do it all in one, um, that has been a huge benefit for sure because they're able to spot things that a videographer or photographer may not be experience to spot. But in terms of my role. So, um, I oversee the day to day marketing initiatives and then I work closely with our CMO and our VP of marketing on long term strategy as well. Um, I'm fairly new at this particular position. Most of my experience at aftershocks has been in social media and influencer marketing as well as content creation. So I'm still very much learning. But, um, thankfully I've worked, uh, aftershocks for, um, from the time we were, I think we had like 10 employees in North America, um, to now with, I think we're at between 40 and 50. Um, so that has, so I've played a role in many areas of marketing as well as outside of marketing. So, um, not all new. Speaker 3 17:11 So I'm sure the organization has changed a lot in that with that kind of growth. What, um, how, how has the organization around growth and marketing evolved during that time? It has Speaker 5 17:21 completely transforms. I mean, I remember being so surprised when I would find out that someone had heard about aftershocks. And now I feel like everywhere I go from the airport to the gym to a restaurant, I'm seeing the products everywhere, which has been, I think, the biggest transformation for me. Um, so that's been really cool. Um, we've also moved to the company, we were headquartered in Syracuse, New York since the star in 2015 but, um, we recently relocated Austin taxes. It's just been such a great fit because it fitness focused community and Speaker 3 17:59 right. Anna and a pretty good tech hub as well. Yeah, Speaker 5 18:02 exactly. So that has also been a major change and one that I've quite enjoyed. Speaker 3 18:08 Yeah, I can imagine, especially in the middle of winter, Austin's probably quite a bit more comfortable. Speaker 5 18:16 Yes. The food has been a great plus. Speaker 3 18:20 Uh, I'm like you making me want barbecue right now. So again, physical goods are going to be so different than a lot of other products. I mean, I gotta assume that there's certain people that are out developing channels and, and other roles within the business. So what, what does that, the rest of kind of the organization look like that, that touches growth or affects growth? Speaker 5 18:43 Oh, well marketing and sales works. Um, they work very closely together. As I mentioned before, we are obviously on, we have our website and Amazon channels, which are super important, but, um, retail presence is also extremely certainly important because, um, people really need to experience the product. Um, so making sure that we have a place where people can stop in nearby and try on the products, um, with a point of purchase display, um, has been super beneficial as well. Um, we also attend a ton of events throughout the year, um, which goes back to the grassroots efforts that I was talking about earlier. But, um, that has been a really cool experience because we're able to interact with consumers, um, face to face and really get their feedback on the product and then bring it back to our product development team. Obviously, um, this is more of a startup approach or a grassroots approach, but, um, that has been a really cool experience and way, um, to kind of expand the brand as well. Speaker 3 19:50 You know, one of the things that Jeff you were talking about was that just even kicking off in the beginning and, and having clarity around what are the metrics that we're trying to drive and what does success actually look like, how much of that collaboration and alignment are you doing with, with other groups in the company? And did, did, did other groups in the company a attend that session for example, with the agency? Speaker 5 20:14 So one of the things that we do is we focus on the customer experience first. So we work really closely with our customer happiness team. Speaker 3 20:22 That's kind of tie back a little bit to what your, what you've already said is how important experience is to your marketing efforts. And then that experience doesn't just start and the customer acquisition it goes all the way through. So collaborating with your customer, customer happiness team must be really important to that, Speaker 5 20:38 right? And understanding the customer journey as well and how we can improve each area of the customer's journey. That has been, um, really beneficial for us as well. Um, you know, once someone goes and makes a purchase, their experience with our brand isn't over and we understand that. So that idea kind of goes across all departments of the company. So we know that the more that we engage with customers, the more that they'll engage back. Um, they'll ask more questions if they know they'll get an answer quickly. Um, and we've also made changes to our product based on customer feedback. Um, so it will go all the way to the development stage, which is really cool to see. Speaker 3 21:22 Yeah, that's, that's fantastic. I mean, one of the things that I found even in that, that I really liked with the product was just, even, even the like, uh, I'm not sure what if you'd call it a silicone bag or a rubber bag or whatever that comes with the earphones as super high quality and neat and you just see it's a nice surprise when you open the packaging and you don't expect to find that in there. Speaker 5 21:43 Yes, definitely. Um, and that's, and that's another example of that is that we found that so many customers lose their charger. Um, which I mean I lose my charters all the time. So our new lip bottles, we've actually, um, added a second charger in there for customers. So just little changes like that, um, to really improve the customer experience from start to finish. Speaker 3 22:07 <inaudible> Oh, that's, that's fantastic. And anything, Jeff, that you've seen that, that they're doing to drive collaboration that, uh, surprised you? Speaker 6 22:16 Well, they have a, they have a particular challenge being both so international and so multichannel. Uh, but because they're a tech companies, they're smart enough to understand that this direct to consumer is probably not going away and as a result are willing to commit to it. What I see most of the time is older companies that can't do what they need to do at fear of alienating the people who got them to where they are. And, um, it's debilitating. So what's amazing about aftershocks is the team's really courageous and smart and understand that the closer they can be to the customer, the better the product's going to be, the better the ads are going to be, the better everything's going to be. Um, and it's a rare skill. That sounds basic but um, believe me, it's, it's not something we come across often. Our accounts team and our creative team and our performance team, we're all raving about these guys aftershocks for like months and months at the beginning and I was fine. Speaker 6 23:13 Okay, tell me what they're doing. That's so amazing. And that was, that was the beginning. So it's just been awesome from the start and there are rare company in that, um, you know, they trust us and they understand our process and as a result we're able to deliver pretty good stuff that because what often happens is stuff gets either diluted because it needs to work on a whole bunch of different channels and they're not taking a channel by channel approach or it gets diluted because too many people weigh in on it and they treat the feedback as additive, which always dilutes the message. And that hasn't been the case at all here. We've been able to create really authentic content that that clearly works. Speaker 4 24:06 Okay. Speaker 6 24:12 On the marketing side or do you mean overall? Speaker 4 24:16 <inaudible> Speaker 5 24:23 well, this is actually a question I brought up to our CMO and um, we, to be candid, we had never heard of, or at least I hadn't heard of a North star metric. So that is something that we need to nail down. But in terms of, um, ad revenue and growth, I'm sure that Jeff has, um, some experience in that to talk to <inaudible> Speaker 6 24:47 totally. Because Sean told me that if you want to grow, you should spend one third of your net LTV on your acquisition costs. I'm like a huge rule of thumb person and that just stuck with me forever. So I know what good looks like and I know where things need to go and I don't have to question it because I trust Sean. So like with that in mind, it's, it's that family of numbers that's the most important because it's going to determine how much you make, how much capital you have to put back into ads, everything, Speaker 3 25:20 right? So just having those guide rails of, of what are the allowable acquisition costs that you're, that, you know, and then you run as hard as you can within those as opposed to, uh, you know, grow at any cost kind of thing. So I think for a lot of companies, for what it's worth, you know, obviously revenue is what most companies are gauging success on longterm. And ideally revenue is going to correlate pretty closely with, with impact that you're making on customers. And so that impact is probably more, more a function of the number of units that you're, you're selling in any given period of time. And so that, you know, as you've talked about, uh, experience experiencing these headphones is a big part of, uh, how someone falls in love with them and gets the benefit of, uh, of, of being able to be aware of their surroundings, whether, whether they're, uh, having fitness activities. Speaker 3 26:10 And so, um, you know, having a single North star metric can be pretty powerful and Unimog not surprised that you're, you're not using one, uh, up to this point because again, I think, um, physical goods sit outside of some of what you see in, in SAS and a lot of online products. But I think it's a pretty powerful concept because that ultimately revenue is a super important metric in a business or profits even more important. But at the end of the day, people tend to be more motivated by, by mission and customer impact. And that if you're driving a lot of customer impact and customer value, that the sustainability of revenue and profit growth over time is going to be a lot better. So I'm not surprising that you haven't kind of narrowed down on a North star metric yet. And in fact, I just published a, a gross study on a company called Rezi where the CEO attended a workshop. Speaker 3 27:04 And that was one of the big takeaways that they had is that, um, they, they said, gosh, we need to come up with the North star metric that that can really help align our team. And, um, so I, I, that's, that's a, that's a common situation. And, um, but I, I did have one question that sort of relates to that and it's, it's around the mission of the business, uh, arrival. You've been there since, since the very early days. Was it, did it initially start with, with more of, um, this is some neat technology and let's find, let's find the use case that it works best in? Or was it, um, was it more focused on, okay, we've, there's, there's athletes that want to have a comfortable yeah. Earphones that, um, allow them to take in their surroundings and let's build the right thing. Or how, how did you guys kind of come to where you are today and, and was the, as the mission evolved over time or has it been pretty clear right from the beginning? Speaker 5 27:59 Definitely. So, um, I think we've had a pretty clear mission when it has come to product. And that's something that our CTO talks about quite a bit. Um, so if we were to talk about a North star metric that's overarching, it may be, um, just our product development will only design and develop concepts that truly bring value to people's lives. Um, so I would like to say that, but the technology itself, bone conduction technology has been around for, I mean for forever basically. Um, but, um, the owners of the company saw a need for it and the consumer channel and just realized that it hadn't successfully been brought to, um, a consumer good yet Speaker 3 28:47 applied it in that against that need as you, as you touched on there. Uh, so let's, let's step back and just, you know, really kind of this last section and kind of dig into what that growth engine looks like. Because again, I think that's where it's probably the most different from a lot of, uh, purely digital products. And we've got some pretty good indications already of what this looks like. But maybe, maybe kind of fill in the gaps a bit from uh, looking at the whole picture from how someone initially discovers aftershocks to when they become a raving fan, who's recommending it to other people? What would that journey typically look like? Either one of you can take that question. Speaker 6 29:28 Um, like I talked about it from a marketing, from a marketing acquisition standpoint. So what we do and how we think about the, the creative needed to drive performance is that if you had a matrix which your personas along the top and whatever funnel stage your funnel system you're using on the left, on low the rows, you basically need a different campaign for every single cell of that matrix. You need persona three needs different content at the top of the funnel. Then persona six needs, you're only supposed to use five persona five needs at the bottom of the funnel. So that's a really interesting way of collecting your thoughts and putting yourself in the, um, in the advertiser's shoes to figure out. Like, if I'd never heard of this brand, what's going to get me to stop? On top of that, we have all the science behind how people consume content on social and non-mobile. Speaker 6 30:23 So what's changing and making everyone uncomfortable is that every second of a of a, uh, an advertisement now needs to do different things than it needed to do in the past. Moving from a 32nd narrative to an eight second narrative moving from the message up front because most people are skimming versus the message at the end, like a big surprise. And what this is causing is huge disruption in the industry where the TV guys are still pumping out big massive pieces and the performance teams are like, dude, this isn't what I need. I need like such a different idea of what of what we're going to need. So when you think about the matrix, like we kind of create a little bit of, um, an acquisition path or a user journey that we're hoping people can go through. Because when you think about it, we have so much power to nurture and retarget people long before they even click. Speaker 6 31:13 To the website where like 10 years ago we were thinking about retargeting people post-click to the website. So the mechanics of retargeting two second video views as opposed to $2 page views or, or landing page views is such a massive like accelerant. So that's what we do. We set up our own, um, funnels by use, use case, and if we can garner any information from the people as they go through it to figure out more what they do. Like if we figure out that they're really into the biking stuff, then we can adjust it on the fly and make sure that they get re-targeted. Um, with, with biking stuff, when a lot of people do performance, they just shoved the same ad over and over and over and over again. And then if you don't buy, they retarget you with like basically the same ad. Speaker 6 31:59 And when you think about the psychology behind it, um, each one of those campaigns needs to do a completely different thing. One needs to get you to stop scrolling and get your attention. The other needs to tell you really quickly whether there's something in it for you, a series of educational posts or ads to like, you know, we had three key messaging pillars we were working with on aftershocks and then more direct ads that that start to talk about free shipping and discounts or deals or product variations. Then if we get them to the website, we want to retarget them with different messages too because we struck out on the first message if we're still retargeting them. So we need to hit them with newer that understand. So it's so easy to just say it's strategy, it's not tactic, but it really is like if you understand how to create these systems and you segment properly and then all you do is create content for those segments instead of giving everyone the same one or two pieces, you're like 80% of the way there. Speaker 3 32:58 <inaudible> is it? So is it typically, um, a pretty impulsive sale? That's, I mean, it's not really that expensive. So is it something that um, people can typically, yeah, they see it once they get it, they can, they make a decision and buy it pretty quickly. Kind of like I did where I didn't even want to wait for an Amazon delivery. I, I went and picked it up at, at, uh, one of the stores here after, after I ordered it. So, um, is that, is that pretty typical or somebody sort of see it and they think about it for a few days or weeks and then, and then ended up buying it? Speaker 5 33:31 It can be, it can be impulsive. Um, and sometimes it's not impulsive, but, um, I think what really makes a difference, um, and if a customer is, you know, just a fan or raving fan is that now I can moment, um, so our headphones with our headphones, they have now I can run with music. I couldn't pour because of the safety risk or now I can hear my favorite song, um, because maybe they had hearing loss. Um, and with our technology they can now hear music or, yeah, which is not, it doesn't work for everyone. But when the hearing loss, but it is a solution for some people, which has been really cool. Um, or now, like now I can wear headphones and I couldn't before because, um, the size of my ears or the shape of my ears and that has been, um, a really cool experience to see consumers go through that and, um, find a product that is really a solution for them. Speaker 3 34:32 Hey, just a quick side note question. You know, I know like a lot of the kids will listen to their earphones really loud and probably create ear damage. Is it safer for when someone uses this type of technology? Speaker 5 34:46 You're still hearing? Um, so you're hearing what the different part of your ear, it's actually not going to your ear drum, it's going to your cochlea. Um, so you're still hearing with it and um, so your hearing should still be affected by it. Um, Speaker 3 35:03 so you bet you could, you could create damage of, you still turn it up too high with this type of technology. Speaker 5 35:08 Yeah, we haven't done, um, the research to back up that it is better for your hearing. So we can't hold that claim. Um, but the way that I understand it is if the volume exceeded a certain point, then it could, um, create damage. But it's all about, um, the volume where you're listening. Speaker 3 35:26 Yeah. Okay. So that's probably probably kind of <inaudible> Speaker 5 35:29 or over time as well. Um, which, which is the same for all hearing loss. Speaker 3 35:34 Right. So, so one of the, I mean, I really like on the activation, how you're talking about the, the now I can't can moment. Um, one of the things that I found in particular was, um, and I went in and picked up the, the earphones at best buy and went to a, a field with a soccer ball and something. I like to listen to music and kick a soccer ball around anyway. And with the EarPods, a lot of times it'll be falling out and it's kind of a kind of pain in the bud as I'm doing that. But, um, what I found when I first started using it was I, I thought I must be putting them on wrong. I thought, you know, it was, it was one of those things that like, Oh, I think I'm doing something wrong. And it wasn't until I looked at the picture and went to the mirror and okay, no, this is right. This is how it's supposed to be. But how, how do you get, is that, is that typical for people or how do you get them past that? And once I realized that I was wearing them right then, I liked it a lot better. And, and you know, for all the benefits that we've talked about, but is that, is, is there the kind of a learning curve there for most people? Speaker 5 36:32 Absolutely. I think with any new technology there's a learning curve for sure. Um, and because our headphones are so different in the design and the technology, um, we get that question all the time. Am I wearing these very, are these fitting correctly? Are these big? Um, so I think, Speaker 3 36:49 yeah, I thought maybe like I had a giant head or something and it worked for me. Speaker 5 36:53 No, you're not alone. We've had, um, we've had people put them upside down or, um, but as we were talking about earlier, it's all about the marketing behind it. So making sure that we have some really strong creative to, um, to show that whether it's, you know, if you're seeing it through an advertisement and, um, or if you're trying them on at a store, making sure that we have a point of purchase display that has the photo or the video, um, displayed so consumers can experience that and also have a long Speaker 3 37:24 yeah, for what it's worth. Like at best buy for me there, you know, it was just a, a box on the shelf among, you know, hundreds that seem like of other different types of headphones. Um, so just even standing out in that, that clutter probably would be pretty tough. But then, um, but then yeah, I mean I like there obviously is a picture on the box, but I'm just curious if, if you guys have done any sort of, uh, testing or, I mean it's, I know it's hard when it's packaging, you can't like rapidly iterate like in digital, but, um, in terms of that unboxing where, where it's something like, yeah, having an insert that says earphones not fitting. Right. Question Mark. And then being able to <inaudible> you know, address some of those or if there's other kinds of like unboxing AR or onboarding things that you've, you've tried and if you are doing some of those things, um, what team would be responsible for that? Is that part of marketing? Is that considered a part of product? Is it considered part of that customer success group? I love Speaker 5 38:20 the idea of, first of all, of having a card inside. Um, we, I guess what we've done that is most similar to that situation is we have an email flow for obviously people who purchase on our website. Um, so, you know, you get your shipping confirmation, et cetera, et cetera. And then once you receive your products, um, we'll walk you through, here's everything you need to know how, here's how to pair your headphones, um, here's how the headphones fit. Um, you know, need to exchange your headphones. Here are the policies on that, et cetera. Um, so I think that has been really helpful. And um, to answer your question about whose responsibility that would be, oftentimes, oftentimes that is collaborative. Um, so we'll be sending in a room with, um, our customer happiness director and um, someone from sales and someone from marketing and um, maybe even someone from logistics or the warehouse. Um, and we'll talk through that process. Um, we've sat down before and we've gone through the customer journey map or, um, we've talked through like customer feedback that we've received about the unboxing experience or about a certain campaign or a sale and having, um, different groups of people have really helped those conversations. Um, Speaker 3 39:46 cool. And then the last kind of question in terms of the growth engine, obviously I could ask a lot of questions in that area, but want to want to try to stay within the time limit that we've, we've set for ourselves. But, um, Speaker 5 39:58 yeah, Speaker 3 39:58 how important is, is word of mouth and referral to the business? Speaker 5 40:03 It's extremely important. Um, word of mouth is our largest channel. Um, in terms of how our customers have heard about us, it's actually at 31% big box and Amazon are close contenders. Um, knowing this, our team largely focuses on this, um, in ways that we can improve it. Um, so like I was talking about earlier, customer happiness has really taught us to have a customer first approach. Um, we respond to everyone. So whether it's a customer happiness inquiry or someone just engaging with us on social media, or it's a review on our website or Amazon, um, we know that our customers really value when we listen to them, when we talk with them, when we develop relationship with them. And we're also making changes in our product to show that we're listening. Um, so we're, we're doing things to build trust and in turn I think, you know, we have some of the happiest customers and biggest fans out there, which has been really cool. Um, we also even, we even went as far as creating an ambassador program to kind of reward, um, those Regal bands as, as the mental earlier. So that, that has been really cool too. Speaker 3 41:18 Well, I mean, and you, you talked about that, uh, experience is a big part of how someone is going to even, uh, kind of get at what these are about. And, um, so that's, that's the benefit on referral side is it? Yeah. And, and even, even more the benefit is that when someone sees someone wearing it, then they say, what the heck are those? It's a good prompt to be able to have that conversation. And then unlike other earphones, I know for myself, I'm a lot more comfortable letting someone try these ones on rather than something that's jammed inside their ear. And, um, you know, it just doesn't feel as sanitary for, for other ones. So, I know I mentioned that I had my wife try them on and she quickly said, Oh, you know, I've had some ear problems, so these would be really good for me. And you know, the light bulb. Okay. Add that to the Christmas list. So, um, but I think, I think that yeah, it seems like these are really prime for referral. And um, Jeff, it sounded like you had a comment there as well. Speaker 6 42:13 I just think those moments, those micro moments and those discovery moments are really like the ultimate hack for Facebook. Um, everyone talks about like one and a half seconds to get someone to stop scrolling. Um, and it seems like a ridiculous short amount of time and old school creative directors go crazy. But I was reading recently that like the mind can interpret an image and point in 13 milliseconds. So like using that example, that arrival used earlier, there's a guy jogging and he like pulls up abruptly at a stop sign and a car blows by him and he doesn't get killed, which is a pretty good moment. So that's one of the moments of discovery where it's like, I get it. Yep. I get it. And what people don't understand because humans aren't great with like bigger small numbers is like if you can create those images, people get it right away in a way that like millions of dollars of ads won't create. If you don't combine that with the fact that people on social want to discover stuff, I. E. headphones that you don't need a jam in your ear holes versus be shoved stuff I. E. here's a pair of beats by Dre for the 18,000 at the time. I think that's a really, really, really interesting and understudied sort of area. Speaker 3 43:24 <inaudible> well that's great. And I just think even because they look cool and different that it's just, it's just such a good sort of prompt to have a conversation about them. Totally. So why don't, before we wrap up, uh, a question that I like to end my podcast interviews with is just asking, um, each of you something that you feel like you understand about growth now that you may not have understood even just a couple of years ago. So Jeff, why don't we start with you on that one. Speaker 6 43:51 I could talk for a really long time on this. So it's a matter of picking something. Um, got to pick one. Okay, let, let's, let's do two. The first thing is patients, um, patients is the antithesis to what people think growth marketing is, but it's the missing ingredient. People bail too quickly. People don't understand statistical significance. People are just in a rush to get from zero to 60. When typically it doesn't really go like that. It goes like you're a kid and you're twisting the puzzle piece to see if you can get it to fit into the puzzle. And finally it fits and you can move on to the next one. From my experience, it's more an up and down than a, than a silver bullet. And I feel a lot of growth marketers don't have patients. And what we're going to see in the next 10 years is you're going to see tech companies, brand advertising, think Shopify, think Uber. Speaker 6 44:43 They're going to do global brand advertising, which is the antithesis of what they've done to date to get where they are. But it's the only way that they can sort of get past that next ultimate hurdle. So I think the idea of pay, I think patients should be the fifth P of marketing because I think too many people don't have it. The other look to short term for results or they don't understand how to think about what the world might look like in two or three years and then reverse engineer their way back from that, which obviously takes patience. Speaker 3 45:14 Yeah. I'm always hearing when when people say, this didn't work when I tried, it always hits me. You try 50,000 things there or did you try one and give up or 1000 bucks Speaker 6 45:26 Facebook and it didn't work. Or, and the form stocks or I've seen one person shut their, um, shut their campaigns down as soon as it hits the first time, the CPA that they're looking for. So like it could hit it in the first $5 and they'll like shut it down and they don't understand like every time you shut down a campaign, you're basically starting from scratch. So even if you were right, you're wrong. So yeah, I want to go with patients. I think it's the missing thing right now. Speaker 3 45:53 Perfect. No, I like that. Do you want to hit your second one or do we just leave it with patients and move on? Speaker 6 46:00 One is even more important and it's that creative is an exponential benefit. Um, we came up with a couple of years ago at advocates the bed mass, remember that from school, the order of operations of Facebook advertising and creative was on the top. But then about a year later with all that experience, I was like, Holy shit. Do you know what? It's not just at the top, but it might be an exponent above number two. And as a result, like when we do creative with aftershocks, like the results were crazy, like tripling, um, Roaz right off the bat, saving back half the production money so we could actually learn something and then go back and fix up everything that we did, which got us another turn of row as if I'm reading these numbers correctly for the last month or so, we're operating around eight, which is incredible. So creative is advertising is marketing, there isn't enough button turning and look alike liking that you can do in the background to make up for it. Because the fact of the matter is the more you turn the buttons, the more your CPM goes up and whatever you're doing as a result needs to increase at a better rate than your CPMs going up. You see all these like crazy lookalikes and exclusions and the people are at like 30 $40 CPMs and their conversion rates would have to increase like 10 fold to make up just for the CPM increase. So that's a nerdy way of saying people aren't paying enough attention to creative than they should. Speaker 3 47:23 Right. And then just to, just to reiterate, you had mentioned what it stands for earlier, but row S a return on ad spend. Um, and, and just being able to use the creativity of, especially with something like aftershocks to where, where there's a little bit of, it's something that that's unique that you need to communicate to people. And if you communicate it in a creative way, you can make a huge difference in people getting it. Yeah. Speaker 6 47:50 Quickly and responding to it so that, that makes a ton of sense. There's a new, there's a new thought going around that PR that performance marketing has taken creative too far away and now find the balance. And when we started Abacus and started thinking about it around 2015 I imagined 2020, which is crazy, we're pretty close. Um, where there wasn't gonna be performance and brand, there wasn't going to be non measurable and measurable and that all these things would have to be like rowing in the same direction on the same boat. And I think we're seeing that now with a lot of companies struggling with how do we link the brand with the performance and why are performance testing everything 200,000 times and brand is going with a whole bunch of money. Like they're both right, but we have to bring it to her and that's what I think the next five years are going to be really challenging. Speaker 3 48:37 Yeah, I've definitely had the conversation where someone talks about we just need a super analytical person. It's like you can't analyze your way into success. You need to have both creativity and analysis to find your way to a <inaudible> Speaker 6 48:51 better way of doing things. And so Facebook is probably hands off, like the algorithm is so much smarter than anyone who's telling it what or what not to do that really to some degree it's like put a lot of money through love telling it what to target. Speaker 3 49:07 Yeah. But that's, it's not going to come up with that creativity for you. So just then feeding that engine with, with different types. Speaker 6 49:12 But on the harvesting side, it's got millions of data points where the advertisers have dozens. So like telling it what age you think it is because that was written up on a board. It's the wrong thing to do. You have to trust it. Exactly. Just put a whole lot of data through it Speaker 3 49:26 now. It makes a lot of sense. So <inaudible> what about you? Is there, is there something you feel like you understand today so much better than just a couple of years ago in terms of growth? Speaker 5 49:34 I think growth is this balance of pushing forward and being courageous enough to keep going and keep trying new things and keep pushing the envelope, but also being flexible at the same time. So understanding when things aren't working and you need to move, um, in a different direction or try something new or take a step back, um, and reassess the situation. So it's, you know, pushing forward and staying steady, but not letting that debilitate yourself either having the ability to course correct along the way. And there's a lot of course correcting even with the growth. I'm sure there are. We can all agree with that. Speaker 3 50:16 Definitely. Well, I appreciate it so much you guys, uh, sharing the, the growth story of aftershocks and what you're doing. Um, I just, a couple of things as, as that I'm getting through this conversation is, um, you know, with, with a physical grit good in particular, um, I think experience is not probably just something for you guys, but it's something for, um, probably most physical goods is that T to really get it, you need to experience it on some levels. So, uh, Jeff has, you talked about videos, probably the best way to kind of demonstrate that experience without actually experience it, experiencing it. So being able to, to really leverage video a lot on the creative side and then, um, the grassroots and the events and, and you know, that, that Arielle, um, ha has talked about that, uh, you, that, that ultimately, I, I know from my own, um, my own path with aftershocks is that it, I was intrigued when I read about it, but once I experienced it, then I started showing my family and everyone wanted to try it. And, and it, it, it's a very discussion where the product, so it makes sense that experience would be important there. Speaker 6 51:25 Yeah, for sure. I mean, people don't even not really understand how the noise is getting where it's going. So it's got like a physical, um, it's got, it's almost like a conversation piece or a show piece right off the bat. But what they've done so good is they've made it look as good as other or better than other headphones. So it's kind of like nerdy technology meets something that you're not like I'm ashamed to be seen in public with. But you're right. I mean it's, it's got sort of, what did you call it? Engineering is marketing. It's sort of got like the talking in the marketing built into the product because people are like, yo, how are you hearing anything? Speaker 3 52:01 Yeah, absolutely. So, well that's awesome. I'm, I'm uh, excited to see where you guys continue to take aftershocks and I know I will be enjoying mine for the, for the foreseeable future and uh, until the next great technology comes along probably from you guys. So, uh, thanks again for the time. And to everyone listening. Thanks for tuning in. Thanks so much, John. Thanks for having us. It was great. Speaker 1 52:26 <inaudible> Speaker 2 52:31 thanks for listening to the breakout growth podcast. Please take a moment to leave us a review on your favorite podcast platform, and while you're at it, subscribe. So you never miss a show until next week. Speaker 1 52:43 <inaudible>.

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