E288: Getting a High-Touch Business Back on the Growth Train

When you’ve achieved success as an online entrepreneur, it can be tempting to sit back and take your foot off the pedal. 

In an industry as dynamic as ecommerce, that isn’t really an option. You need to constantly think of ways for your brand to grow and evolve.

But what to do when you slip up and lose that top 1 first-page ranking on Google? 

My friend JP is facing the conundrum of getting a high-touch business out of coasting mode and back into full-on growth mode. He owns and runs Pro Teeth Guard, a 7-figure business that creates custom-fitted professional-quality dental mouth guards for people who have bruxism (teeth grinding).

Before going into actual problem-solving mode, here’s how JP started with the business (3:58) and how those mouth guards are actually made (5:28).

He also shed light on what led to the business’s downward curve (9:09) and what his goal is for the business moving forward (11:51).

In this episode, we identify key areas he can explore and work on to achieve the goals he has for Pro Teeth Guard.

  • Diversifying into Amazon (13:41)
  • Working on that SEO (17:58)
  • Getting a brand expert onboard (24:12)
  • Leveraging longevity through email (26:13)
  • Increasing average order value (34:02)
  • Retargeting Facebook ads (37:23)

Other Resources Mentioned:

E159: 3 Key Email Marketing Sequences for Your Ecommerce Business

Order a copy of our Amazon book today! 

Thanks for listening to this episode of the EcomCrew Podcast. I hope you’ve gleaned insights that you could implement on your own business. 

If you enjoyed this episode, please leave us a review on iTunes. And use the comment section on the bottom of the page to ask us a question. 

Till next time, happy selling!

Full Audio Transcript

Mike: The Ecomcrew podcast is the best content of any e-commerce podcast. It's great info you can actually use to improve your e-commerce businesses. No hype. Just down to earth. Solid advice and a knowledgeable guest. Thanks for the review, Dave. And now on with the show.

Mike: This is Mike. And welcome to Episode 288 of the Ecomcrew podcast. And hello from Escondido, California. Still hanging out here for a few more weeks, recording some podcast, getting some stuff done in the office, hanging out with friends and family, just enjoying Southern California life for a couple weeks before heading out east to visit family out there and then heading out to Asia this winter. So today we have a really good treat on tap for you. My good buddy JP from Pro Teeth Mouthguard is on the show. It's funny we start out the episode. I'm not sure if it's a road show or an under the hood or me just hanging out, and having a good time with him. But I've known JP for a couple of years and man, it was fun hanging out with him in his business. So he has a really cool business. I don't want to get too much into it, repeating myself and what's in the episode. So I’ll cut to the chase. Think it's gonna be a really good episode, you guys are going to enjoy it. Before getting into that head over to Ecomcrew.com/book. Get a copy of our Amazon domination book for free. Just pay the shipping and handling.

Mike: It's the same strategy that we use, I talk about this all the time, to build ColorIt into a multi-million dollar business relatively quickly. I'm pretty proud of what we were able to do there in such a short amount of time and free plus shipping offers, lead magnet type offers, those types of things, as we built our list, really helped that and we're continuing to do that with Ecomcrew here. We continue to get more, and more listeners for the podcast. We're getting more people on our email list and more people in our premium community and it all kind of stems from offers like this. So the idea is that we put in a ton of work creating free content on the podcast. Doing this book and our free webinars and some percentage of those people are going to convert into premium. So there is no tricks behind it.

It's just, develop a relationship with people and some percentage of them will convert. It's just a numbers game. And I think you guys are gonna really enjoy the book. We put a lot of effort into it. It's just paying the shipping and handling. And the hope is that as you go through it, you get some ideas on how to launch Amazon listings in a way that is white-hat, that is lower risk and less stressful. So Ecomcrew.com/book for that. And now on with the show with today's guest JP from Pro Teeth Mouthguard.

Mike: Hey, JP, welcome to the Ecomcrew podcast.

JP: Thanks, Mike. I’ve been a longtime listener and yeah, very excited to be on the show.

Mike: It's cool to have you here. It’s always fun having a friend on the podcast. We've known each other for a while. We met through another mutual friend and you live here in San Diego. I feel like, kind of like a homecoming cause I’ve been out of town for a while and came back and you’ve been having some struggles with your business that we’re going to talk about today.

This is kind of a modified Ecomcrew Roadshow that we’re doing but its not a roadshow  because I’m not quite on the road, but I kind of am. I don’t know. It’s kind of, kind of a weird little spot, but it definitely was cool to hang out and as we were hanging out, I was like, man, this would make an amazing podcast. Because you have a really cool business, something that we haven’t talked about before on the podcast. So again, for everyone listening, this is kind of a–, bit of an Ecomcrew Roadshow.

We spent the entire day discussing the business, suggestions and things of that nature so we’ll get into all that after JP maybe spends a couple of minutes just telling everyone what the business is, and how you started it, when you started it, all that good stuff.

JP: Okay, sure. Yeah, so the business is Pro Teeth Mouth Guard. We make custom-fitted and professional Dental Mouth Guards for people who grind their teeth when they sleep. So the business started when–, it started in 2012, and what happened was my mom actually started a dental lab a while ago, a while before that and I had some experience with Ecommerce. I had started–, my first Ecommerce kind of, sandbox project with a high school buddy of mine called TopCondomsCanada.com, so that was my first venture into Ecommerce.

I learnt a bunch about SEO and then saw this product, this custom-fitted mouthguard for teeth grinding, kind of a niche and thought that it was a niche that we could kind of provide a solution for online. And we already had the professional quality manufacturing figured out. So we launched the website in 2012 and then SEO was that early and successful channel for us and then, from there, we grew it to just over seven figures.

Mike: Very cool. And I think immediately what I loved about the business as I like, walked in the door, it’s just like the defence-ability of it because you know, anyone else can do it, but not easily. You’re not going to go buy these mouth guards off of AliBaba. You need to have someone with dental certifications and background to be able to do it. You also have part of the manufacturing done in China.

The thing that was crazy as we were talking about how the business works, I kind of wrote down some notes here. I want to go through real quick which I think that the complexity is the opportunity part. And so, the way that the whole thing works is you send a customer an impression kit, which has like a little thing for the gel to go into and they bite down on it and it takes an impression of their teeth and then they have to then send that back and you do some QC on it, want to make sure that the impression was made correctly and that gets like, sanitized and then sent off to China. And even though you have the capability of making the mouthguard here in California, it’s significantly more economical to actually pay the shipping and get it sent over to China.

They manufacture it, then it comes back to your office here in California and you do some QC stuff on it, then it goes back to the customer and hopefully, they like it. You said about 80% of people, when they get it at that point are happy and then, you have the other 20% where there’s another back and forth of tweaking it or fixing it, which is incredible.

JP: Right. Yeah. We provide free adjustments and everything. So it’s a very high touch process. People mess up their impressions and there’s probably I think, quite a few touch points. It’s not a simple Ecommerce business where they make a purchase, we ship it out and they leave a review, hopefully.

Mike: Right. Yeah, and again, I think that the complexity is the opportunity, because even though I wouldn’t want to go through all that, I kind of am like a moth to a flame to have a business like that in some ways, because I know that moving forward, it’s like what is—where’s the opportunity lanes? So is it like, what is Amazon themselves not going to do? As someone’s that’s been selling on Amazon now for a while, and then it had Amazon make competing products that look exactly like mine against me.

They can’t do that in this aspect, right? I mean, in this situation, because they’re not going to make a lab to make teeth guards. They’re looking to make high volume, low touch point products, so they can just source easily from China. And so, I think that that’s a great opportunity moving forward for people. Like obviously not specifically in making teeth guards, but in other things where you need to have manufacturing or some other complexity in your environment. The thing that I’ve been looking a lot lately, and I think that has a really good, long-term opportunity, is customization.

JP: Yeah.

Mike: So things that like get custom printing. In your case, you have a customization product, right? It’s a customized thing for somebody, custom fit. So I think that anything that’s got custom to it where people are willing to pay a lot more because they’re getting something that’s just for them or they’re getting a one-off, unique product, even if it’s something that’s printed relatively quickly in a mass factory. It’s still something that’s made just for them and I think that that’s a lane that will remain open for quite a while in Ecommerce, because again, it makes things to the point where someone has to have a facility to make that stuff happen. So yeah, definitely really interesting stuff.

Mike: So you said that you started this business back in 2012 and you got it to a million dollars, which is awesome, but just like any other business, it's never a straight-up line or always you're going up the mountain, then down the mountain, up the mountain, down the mountain.

Mike: And the reason that we got together is because you were struggling a little bit. And I think that that happened for a number of reasons. And a couple of those things I really want to dig into on today's podcast, because it's so funny how entrepreneurs find themselves in this same situation, no matter who they are, no matter what business they are, to matter how many times they've been through it, where your money makers become boring and you start coasting, as I think it was the word you were using, and eventually that comes back to kind of haunt you. So before we really dig into that, let's kind of circle back for just a second. Let's talk about, you know, from 2012 to the peak and then what kind of made the things kind of start to curve downwards a little bit.

JP: Yeah so in 2015, we had done some early SEO work. We were ranking from a lot of our keywords. You know, revenue was good. We had processes for customer service and operations. And that was the year I actually took some time away from the business. I went to learn software engineering and worked at a tech startup. So the business was essentially on autopilot, but we hadn't really put in any processes for marketing. So we were essentially coasting on our early SEO work and it worked for a while like traffic, I think, year over year was up from 2016 or even 2017. And then we started to see, I think it was a combination of there were more competitors coming into the space as well. Other sites starting to target the same keywords. For example, there's a large like, there are large affiliate sites that are centered around like products around sleep and then, yeah.

And also, you know, Google's metrics for like ranking signals are also being refreshed all the time. And we were just not keeping on top of it. And our content was old. So we saw slow declines. But most significantly, it was in June of this year that we saw like a big, big kind of decline based on an update that put us like 60% down year over year versus the previous year. So that was a real big wakeup call. But we had essentially gotten too comfortable and haven't put enough. That's how coasting works, right? You put some momentum into something and it can like float along for a while, but eventually, it's going to come down like you need to continue to push it forward.

Mike: Yeah. And in the meantime, I think you were off working on some other non-related stuff because you said you did some software engineering and that was something that you took an interest in. You've been working on something completely unrelated to Pro Teeth Guard, right?

JP: Yeah. I've been working on a software product that's– yeah, that's unrelated to this business at all.

Mike: So now you're kind of at this crossroads of you're interested in something else. That's really where your passion is right now. But the money train's kind of– the spigot is turning off a little bit. So you're kind of forced to kind of circle back to Pro Teeth Guard and one of the things that we talked about yesterday, and I think that there's no right or wrong answer to this, is what's the goal? Like what's the goal for Pro Teeth Guard? As you see it for, let's say, 2020 and 2021. I mean, are you trying to get it back to just simply to where it was a couple years ago and you're happy with that? Are you looking to produce some long term growth and really take this thing to mid seven figures or high seven figures or even eight figures?

JP: Yeah, that's a great question. And I think I'd love to see it at mid seven figures or eight-figures. But like, what is the amount of investment and what is the I mean, there's always some sort of risk versus like reward of doing that. What I believe is quite achievable and realistic is like we have some years of history with great products and great customer kind of satisfaction. I think we need to essentially just– I think I would be happy if we're able to continue our current level of success, maybe not like double or triple or quadruple it, but grow at a reasonable rate like 20% a year or 30% a year and something like that and maintain the level of quality and the level of profitability in the business. And yeah, I do that with obviously by putting more effort into the business, but not like taking huge risks that could end up one way or another.

Mike: And we talked about things on all ends of the spectrum yesterday. We talked about some like the low hanging fruit stuff. We also talked about some pretty crazy ideas. I mean, there was a competitor that does kind of what you do, but on a monthly recurring revenue model where they're shipping–  you're shipping– your model basically is provide a really high quality product that's going to last for many years. And so your repeat business is relatively low because that you do give people that– one of my favorite things I saw yesterday, you had a wall of customers who had their dog eat their mouthguard.

JP: Yeah. Happens more than you think.

Mike: So that's an interesting way to get repeat business. But for the most part, you know, unless someone loses it or they need a second one for travel or they just want it in a different spot, the product is good for 3 to 5 years and you don't really need to sell them another one.

So it was interesting cause the other business model that those guys had was like this monthly recurring revenue model where it's a monthly payment plan and they get a new one every three months. So that was one extreme of what we talked about. And some of the other stuff we talked about on the lower hanging fruit stuff was simply just improving Amazon listings, you know, optimizing for that, which I think is a relatively low hanging fruit thing.

JP: Yeah, I– Actually, the Amazon opportunity before you pointed out. I just had no idea that, you know, our competitors were doing that kind of volume.

Mike: Yeah.

JP: So that was kind of eye-opener for sure.

Mike: Yeah. So, I mean, just in terms of so people can have a reference point. I mean, you're selling about 40 units per month or so on Amazon of your main SKU and they were at like 1400 units per month. So it's an order of magnitude higher. 30-40x. And the thing that's crazy is they're not even really optimized either. I think they were at the right place at the right time and they're getting those sales. I think that it's an amazing opportunity for you. And the thing that I also like about that for you is it helps diversify your business a little bit. It's interesting that we're talking about Amazon being the diversification for you when normally it's– people that come on the podcast and all the people that– a lot of people in our orbit are trying to diversify off Amazon.

There's this opportunity for you to diversify to Amazon, which I'm excited for you. Because realistically, as much as I have this love-hate relationship with Amazon, somedays it really feels like a hate relationship.

The reality is, is that those sales are easier than any other sale. You know, they take care of all of the work. They're dealing with the fulfilment, so you don't have to. You just ship in a pallet of your products and they deal with all that and the creation of that and most of the customer service. And obviously, it's a little bit different with your product. You still have to get involved with the customer. It's a really unique situation cause you're shipping them from Amazon, a kit so they can do the impressions and then get that back to you.

So it's definitely a unique situation, but it's definitely a way to diversify away from if Google gives you another slap on the wrist that you still have had this other opportunity in your business.

JP: Right, yeah.

Mike: And then, you know, some of the other things that we talked about were trying not to stick a square peg in a round hole. You know, I think that there's a lot of people doing a lot of stuff out there. You see things working really well. Facebook ads is a great example. You know, people constantly talk about how they make all this money from Facebook ads. But some things just don't respond well to Facebook ads. And you had tried that a little bit and we went through and looked. You had an agency that was doing some of that and it just wasn't getting any traction with the exception of some of the remarketing stuff.

JP: Yeah, I think there is an inherent challenge in this thing, not having people who need this product, not having very clear signals on Facebook maybe right? Like hog interests or anything like that to target with. So we're basically looking at lookalike audiences for broader audiences just to try to get them to engage. So that was part of the challenge. The other part of the challenge is also, I mean, I talked to a lot of e-commerce store owners who kind of go through the whole like agency, like love– actually, I don't know if you love.

Mike: Hate, yeah. Lots of hate.

JP: Mostly indifferent/hate relationship. And obviously this is not true for all agencies.

There are successful e-commerce stores who work with agencies, but especially for the smaller size, right. Our spend was not at a stage where it garnered the top level attention of the people in the agency. So I think what happened was we ended up with a fairly junior person and we got, kind of, maybe not the best talents on the project. So the creative kind of strategy and the targeting wasn't as good as it could be. But even then, of the tests that we did, the cold traffic cost per acquisition was just so astronomically above what our target was. You can slash that cost per acquisition by half, by all of the strategies used. But I don't know if it would have worked. It was pretty far off the target. And yeah, it was not a success for us.

Mike: Yeah, cool. So, alright, let's shift a little bit here, because we talked about so much. We only have maybe like a half an hour for the podcast. So I want to narrow in on the suggestions that came out yesterday, just so people can kind of hear about from my perspective, outsider looking in. What are the things for JP to go back and like work on Monday morning and move the needle in this business? And so the first thing that came up is and I mentioned this to you as well, SEO, which is really focusing on the things that, like, helped make you successful to begin with and often times, what ends up happening is when people start to try to expand or people start to struggle with their business, you end up looking at everything else except for what made the business successful to begin with.

So it's like why try to change this magic formula that like you happened to stumble upon something, finding a way to make money in business is tough. Why try to make it even more difficult by trying to go find some other business model to apply to your business? And so for me, I was looking at the entire body of work of Pro Teeth Guard, very clearly SEO was like that basic building block of what made you guys successful. And I love SEO for you because it really is a product of intention-based marketing versus interruption marketing, meaning that, you know, people have this problem and you need to solve it for people who want it to be solved at that moment.

So they're looking for like custom teeth guard, grinding your teeth, you know, things that they're having this issue with versus like interrupting them in a Facebook feed. And when you're doing that, because you can't target this particular condition, now you're interrupting people that don't have the problem at all or aren't prepared to spend 200 bucks today to fix the problem versus targeted people who have the problem and are trying to solve it right that moment. So SEO is a perfect opportunity for that and it shows in the fact that all of your sales seem to really, at least right now, come from SEO. As soon as your rankings dropped, your revenue dropped by a commensurate amount. And so this is where the coasting thing kind of came in and where I think that this is not a low hanging fruit in terms of it's really easy to go do it tomorrow, but it's a great opportunity where you already have previous rankings, you have pages that have shown the ability to rank. And now it's going to be going back and setting a new bar for all of your content right now. Admittedly, it was like reading for robots, right? It's a lot of keyword spam and doesn't really get to the heart of the problem and answer the customer's questions. So I went over and showed you some of the stuff that we're doing with content and also some of the procedures that we've written for our internal team on how to write content.

And I think that this is going to be a focus for you. I'm curious now that you've had a little bit time to think about it, like what's going to be your approach on how to tackle this mountain of content that you have to write because you don't have the time to write it yourself.

JP: Right. Yeah, so I'm totally onboard with you in terms of setting a high bar and having a process to really deliver on that, I think it's really cool that when you show me the process, you're like, oh, my person on my team wrote this process, actually. And it was very well-written. So you weren't even involved in the writing of the process.

Mike: Shout out to Kristiana back in the office.

JP: Yeah so that's really impressive. So let's rewind a little bit and we had this conversation about the e-commerce business being kind of like a symphony right?

And all the different parts need to kind of work together to make the whole thing work. And, you know, we're not exactly like a solopreneur level. We have a couple of employees. But on the marketing side, it's never been well established, like for us to have clear processes.

So I feel like I'm a guy with the guitar kind of busking on the street right? And we're trying to make the transition from like a busker on the street to having a fully coordinated symphony.

And that just seems like a lot of different steps in the way because that's obviously sounds great to have a team and have someone who can write actually the processes and update them and then have the people to implement them. So how do we get from a busker on the street kind of mentality to or situation to that? And we talked about this issue and we're recording the podcast today. So I've been sleeping on it a bit, I think, for me, first of all, I think establishing the initial processes is still important because even when you showed me you had one version of processes that you had written at some time and then your employee actually went and updated it and made it better with a newer version. And then having an onboarding process for the writers so that like they have great examples of what good content should look like that they can not imitate, but like just understand where the bar is at. A great onboarding process and a great like selection process and hiring process.

You've spent and invested a lot of time into hiring in the Philippines, and that's obviously worked out really great. I'm wondering if that's– I'm certainly considering it, but I don't know if that's like too long of a timeline to be able to get it up and running. But if we have a good process for onboarding and training people, we can hire someone here and then we can work on hiring someone also in the Philippines and build up that team over time, hopefully.

Mike: Yeah. And I mean, it's going to be particularly difficult for your subject because it's such a specialized thing. You're not going to find someone really out there that has the knowledge of teeth grinding. I mean, it might be a problem they've experienced themselves, but they also have to have some almost like medical or formal training background, to be able to also write about certain particular certain subjects within that niche as well.

So it'll be an interesting challenge. But the reality is, is that this is how you're going to grow the business moving forward and get off the coasting train and back onto the growth train because. Again, I mean, you're still ranking it isn't like you've gone like off the first page or to page 12 or something. Its just, you're not number one any longer. So it's just a retooling of those articles probably relatively quickly once you repost them, will get you quick gains. And I think that it'll be infectious, like once you kind of see one or two of them producing good results, it'll drive you to want to do more of them.

But you're right. I mean, the thing that you mentioned as well is that whole symphony thing and I always talk about the ecosystem or the symphony or whatever, and you can't have the ecosystem that we have in nature without the grasshopper and without the spider. And, you know, all these and then the little marmot and you know, you take something out of the food chain and the whole thing kind of collapses. And I think e-commerce particularly when you're doing it on your own store, kind of falls in that category. And some of the other stuff that we talked about that I think that falls along with that is just like just the overall impression and the branding that you guys have.

It's kind of, I think, dated to 2012 and things move so quickly in technology. And so one of the things that we also talked about in terms of things to work on is just getting a brand expert in, and you know, you don't have to like, go hire an international agency and spend a hundred thousand dollars here or a million dollars or something crazy to do rebranding. But we were looking at small direct club, for instance, which is kind of a closet competitor. They're looking at aligning teeth and you're in grinding, but it's a similar thing where they're sending out impression kits and those types of things. And I had brought that up.

And it happened to be that you just happen to have one at the office. And so it made it easy to compare JP's product versus small directs' product. And I think that like getting to that level was important just from a customer experience because of things we talked about yesterday or just particularly because it's like a medical type product, something you're sticking in your mouth. You want to make sure that you have this level of professionalism that coincides with that. And even apart from that, I mean, I look at what we did with ColorIt and this is not a medical product, this is not something that people need to see really high-quality packaging or something to give a great first impression.

But even there, it worked wonders. I think that it was one of the biggest catalysts for ColorIt's success was just the look and feel of our products and just like had this ultra high-end kind of feel to it. And the thing that's like great for you, for ColorIt, it was a struggle because we were spending an extra dollar or $2 on packaging on a product that cost us $10 and sold for $30. And so this was like a 20% increase in our cost of goods in some cases. But for you, it's an extra dollar or two on a $200 product. So you're talking about a 1% increase. And so I think that that can go a long way as well.

JP: Yeah, I agree. You know, I recognize good branding when I see it. It's something that is not some super– that comes naturally. But we also have the conversation of like just because, you know, you're inherently interested in a bunch of stuff, that doesn't mean that's going to move your business further. Right. Like the furthest. Those are not necessarily the highest leverage points. You have to roll up your sleeves and do the things that are going to move the needle. And yeah, I agree. I think our branding needs an update.

Mike: Yeah, cool. And one of the other things we talked about was, was e-mail marketing and you're already in process of doing this anyway, you've been working with our friend X over at Essence of Email. He was on one of the podcast episodes. We'll link that in the show notes. Awesome guy. And so you're in the process of migrating from Mailchimp to Klaviyo. And so we talked about a bunch of things regarding e-mail cause what X had helped with was just some basic, just get the thing set up and you haven't really implemented a lot of the flows and stuff yet.

But email actually is already 15% of your revenue right now. And so we talked about a whole bunch of ideas on how to get that to 30%. And I think that's really achievable, like basically doubling your revenue from email. Right now, you're almost accidentally getting 15% of revenue through e-mail because it wasn't really a big focus. So it kind of comes down to imagine what could happen if you really did focus on email. So some other things that came up with that was e-mailing people satisfaction surveys and just kind of constantly having, you know, good touchpoints, asking them if they need a second one for travel coming back to them after three, six or twelve months about reordering another one just kind of being top of mind, e-mailing about a referral program, just having a lot more touchpoints with people through that process and also trying to convert some people that are on the initial e-mail list and things of that nature.

So going through in and using some testimonials and other things that people have already, I mean, I think that's actually one of the best things about your brand is the longevity. I mean, you've been around since 2012. You have thousands and thousands of satisfied customers. You have this awesome board in your office of all these people that you sold these amazing things. That's right next to the dog board. So it's like really kind of cool. But leveraging all that through email, which doesn't really increase cost. I mean, there's initial cost to set it up. But I love Klaviyo for it to kind of set it and forget it with flows. And I think that that's another really amazing opportunity for you.

JP: Yeah, I think we stuck with Mailchimp probably for too long and it did not– Yeah, the metrics were very clear, so that was like one thing that was hard to track and then also the like flexibility in the flows and triggers wasn't quite there. So yeah, we didn't really put all the effort into it, but all of the ideas we came up with email. I think that's very actionable, right, like setting up an extra flow in Klaviyo takes not that much time. And if it's a flow, it's going to continue to produce revenue, if its a flow that works.

Mike: Yeah, cool and then the other thing that we have here on the list. We really kind of talked about it briefly. But just want to mention again, is the Amazon opportunity. I mean, it is again interesting the ability to diversify away from your own store to Amazon versus the other way around. But there is, again, 1400 sales a month ish of people, there's probably actually more than that overall, probably 2000 sales total per month happening on Amazon in this niche, the number one competitor is at like 1400. You're at 40. So the ability there to go in and optimize your listings, I mean better photography, better enhanced brand content. And we kind of went over some examples of where the bar needs to be. I think that the reality is on Amazon just as much as it is with Google. If you look at– your site's, such a great example of this where what was good enough once upon a time to rank for something on Google is no longer good enough to rank on Google. And the same thing goes for Amazon.

You know, if you were starting in 2012 on Amazon selling teeth guards, you could have had a picture of a trashcan on the listing and still probably sold a teeth guard because it was just like the only option that's there. But now, like, you've got to be better than everybody else. And same thing goes with content on Google. Like if you're going to rank, you know, what I tell our team is we need to put the best piece of content that's ever been written on the Internet out there and be exponentially better than if possible, you know like that much better. So when someone comes to our article after they search for something, they have no need whatsoever to like click the back button, go anywhere else to find the information.

The same thing is similar with Amazon. So there's a lot of room for opportunity for you there because, you know, on a scale of 1 to 10, you're probably like a 3 like quality of listing. And it's not a 1. I mean, there's more than one picture there and the written content is relatively good. But I think the visual content is the most important thing, getting really good enhanced brand content up there. Having a video is a part of that and coming off, the thing that's awesome we talked about yesterday, that's awesome about the Internet, is you can look to be as big or better than small direct club, which is a 3 billion dollar public company because it's the Internet, no one knows what's happening behind the scenes, right?

And so for relatively low costs, you can come off with an image that's almost or as good, maybe even better than what they produced and certainly better than anybody else on Amazon. So I think that that's a really good opportunity for you.

JP: Right, yeah. I think we definitely left that opportunity, like they started after us, I'm pretty sure. They just really focused on Amazon as a channel where we didn't have our eye on the ball. And also, I think it was eye opening just to see the volume, because on another tool I had, I was like getting estimates of the volume and it was an order of magnitude different.

I was like, “Oh, they're not really doing that much volume on Amazon. Maybe I shouldn't bother.”

Mike: It's interesting how inaccurate some of these tools can be, right? And so I think you were– not to throw Sellics under the bus cause we're always talking pretty positively about Sellics, it's something we use every day. But it estimated something way off from what Jungle Scout or Helium 10. They all had different numbers, but we had a leg up because I happened to sell in the same category. And so by looking at the BSR, I mean, for the most part, a lower BSR number– so the closer you are to #1, the more volume you're selling on Amazon. And we've done a study in years past that just because it doesn't necessarily mean that the 100th rank thing is selling more than the 101st rank thing because there isn't a 100% direct correlation, but it's pretty close. I mean, in general, the 1000th rank thing is selling way more than the 2000th versus 3000th, et cetera.

And so it happens to be that the #1 competitor in the mouthguard space has a product that's ranked within 500 points of a product that we sell in the same niche. And I was like, look, I can tell you pretty definitively that there's somewhere between 40 and 50 per day because we had something that's ranked similar. And so we can justify those numbers and know that the opportunity is actually there, which is pretty cool. I mean, it just happens to be of all– we sell ice packs. So it's like, it just happens to be another health and household product. And so that was pretty cool because there's very few opportunities. I mean, we sell stuff in sports and outdoors and like health. And it just happens to be the one thing that you did so that was pretty cool to know that that opportunity is there for you. I mean, if I was in your shoes, I'd be super fired up on Monday. Go back and really attack Amazon because it's this pool of sales are happening that you're missing out on.

JP: Yeah. I mean, yeah, they're doing more on Amazon than we're doing on our whole store.

Mike: Right and so that's pretty inspiring. That's everything I had on my notes here, did we missed anything else? It feels like talked about so much, it's always weird when you kind of go back and recap these things, but were there any other big takeaways for you?

JP: I think just the– like, one of the things is the level of just focus on getting everything dialed in. Times have changed, like in the early days of e-commerce, you get one channel right and you kind of like there were a handful of competitors. If you picked a nice niche for yourself and you kind of just hone in on that. But right now, like we talked about before, like Amazon is a huge channel. Like you need to be very good at getting your product on Amazon and getting that to convert and then email, getting that right. And then anything you can do about conversions and upping. Oh, actually, we had some ideas for upping the average order value as well.

Mike: Forgot about that, yeah. I think that that's actually a great opportunity for you as well because right now your business basically is sell them a mouth guard and you're done. But yeah, so I mean there was a really cool opportunity for you, for increasing your average order value. And so one of the things that was interesting to me is that your model basically has been to just sell one kind of product and done. We went back and looked, you were actually surprised that the reorder rate was as high as it was. It was 20% over a three year period that about one in five customers do come back and reorder. My suggestion was look, like you got to be super aggressive about increasing your average order value. So you're on big commerce so the app that we use, which is One Click Upsell, which is Ezra Firestone's Zipify app, you can go to ecomcrew.com/zipify to find out more about that.

But there's some other big commerce ones out there but as soon as someone's checked out, they've already given you their credit card. They've already trusted you. What can you do to increase the cart value? Buy a second one for 50% off today only! Like we're gonna make it at the same time or 40% or whatever the number is. You have a good story of why they would want a second one. If you lose the first one, you want to keep one in your car, one in your travel bag or one in your, you know, whatever. And just having another one around is good. We talked about even just a $10 upsell of Sterilization tablets or something, cleaning tablets, something that you might pay 50c for and sell for $10, really high margin value.

And so the thing was explaining there was that you could sell this thing for $10. It's not real sexy, but it adds like $9 in margin to your order, which actually increases your margin on that order by 20%. And it's way easier to add this particular thing there and get more margin there than going out and getting another sale, which is gonna be much more difficult. And so there was a bunch of stuff we talked about in that, we talked about financing to help with either getting the average order value up or making the conversion rate go higher because the average American doesn't have $400 for an emergency expense. There was a study that came out about that earlier this year.

So your product being $200 is probably without outside the reach of what the average person has in their bank account that has this problem. So making this to something where it's $10 or $15 a month through one of these financing platforms offering some sort of affiliate offer like in the cart where you get zero percent financing on this, like use this balance transfer card or something, a credit card where like there's a hundred dollar CPA for sending someone over to get that, to take care of that offer. So there's lots of things that were fun as we're kind of bouncing around ideas on ways to extract more money out of the customer, the point of sale.

JP: Right, and that helps not only the bottom line, but also it allows you to do more things. You know, maybe you can get bid a little bit higher, for a visitor.

Mike: Yeah, that stuff's super important, especially as the cost of advertising continues to go up. You got to get more, and more creative in ways to increase your average order value, improve your margins, because if you get in this coasting mode, one thing's for sure is that that's going to get narrrower and narrower. Like your costs are never going to go down just because you've been doing it longer, the Chinese factories are not going to call you one day and say, “You know what, we're gonna make this cheaper for you now.”.

And the post office isn't gonna call you and say, “Oh, we're gonna lower the cost of shipping” and the credit card processing company's not going to say, “Oh, you know, we'll take one point less”, etc., etc.. And so you've got to continue to get more, more creative just to stay where you are a lot of times. I think that just because this is something that you haven't looked at yet, it's a really good opportunity to move the needle.

JP: Mm hmm. Yeah. And then finally, one thing that we didn't touch on that we talked about yesterday was also strategically using retargeting in Facebook ads to achieve the ROI that is there for that channel. So basically, we, you know, had very broad retargeting. Anyone who visited the site in the last three days, you know, they were shown this ad. So Mike's suggestion was to section out the pages, like some pages maybe about this particular problem. Some pages might be about like teeth grinding. Some pages might be specifically about these products and having that strategy around the retargeting ads so that it's more focused and more like topic relevant.

Mike: Yeap. I'm excited for you with this because the way the agency had set it up was just like these, like you said, blanket ads. And I think that the reality is, is that traffic that comes in through a SEO can be hyper valuable.

You know, someone's typing in like “best custom mouthguard”, super valuable traffic right? They're looking to buy high intent at that point. Someone's like searching about TMJ, which is one of things you had on your site. They might not be looking to solve the problem. They might be reading about it for someone else, their significant other or they're just hearing about it for the first time and they don't really know what the heck they're looking for yet.

And so you're going to want to target/retarget those people differently based on the pages that they're at. And so we had suggested setting up a few different categories. You don't need to get granular down to every single page on the site, but putting it in a few different buckets of high intention traffic versus not such a high intention traffic and also targeting specific conditions or things because people are coming and looking at different things. And so, having an ad that’s specifically about TMJ, for the people looking at that vs. teeth grinding, vs. the other couple words that are in this field that I couldn’t even pronounce, and you’re like that’s— I’m not even going to try and butcher it again, but I think that there’s an interesting opportunity for that as well.

JP: Yeah, totally makes sense.

Mike: Cool. Alright, so I want to end this by shifting gears completely back to something we touched on for just a minute, but obviously I think a lot of entrepreneurs are listening to the podcast and I throw myself under the bus all the time just to help people realize that they're not alone. And I don't know, maybe because you have the same problem. I think we're the same type of entrepreneur. What is it about us that has us take focus away from the thing that makes the most money, like the whole idea is you set up the business, you do it to make money, you know?

So it's like obviously the number one objective of the business. And for me, like making money isn't like really– the money part of it. Yeah, it's important. But it to me, it's almost like a video game. It's like that's the score. Like, you know, I'm trying to get the high score in Galaga back when I was a kid or Pole Position or Centipede, all these Atari games I used to play and you know, it's similar to that. And so the money thing does help there.

But at some point, when I feel like I've gotten the business to– I have the same problem coming up right now with IceWraps. You know, it's this business that makes us a really good amount of money. It pays all of our bills and keeps all the lights on for all of our employees and expenses. But it's boring now because, like, there's really not anything I can do to move the needle anywhere from where it is. Like we can get small incremental growth. But the thing that's really exciting for me is, is the high growth phase and the tackling all these problems that I have no idea how to do. And what makes the most logical sense is once you figured all this stuff out and you can reap all the rewards of that effort, it should be the time that you really get the most out of your business. That's exactly the same time I'm like, meh, yeah, whatever. So you're kinda feeling that same thing with Pro Teeth Guard. Why are we so sick and twisted?

JP: I mean, I think we're just human. Maybe a specific type of– it's like the hierarchy of needs right? Like when you're not worried about meeting, like keeping the lights on and paying the bills and things are going pretty well. You want to be like, oh, what is the most engaging or impactful thing? Or like what really, like, do I love working on that makes me feel super alive right? and that kind of thing. And it's a double edged sword. So the downside is sometimes it makes you take your eye off the ball and a business that's coasting will eventually crash and burn if you're not paying attention to it. But the upside of that is not everybody has the opportunity to really take time and pursue the things that they really want to do. Like, for example, Ecomcrew is a good example.

It seems like you love to do this content and, you know, just engage with people and maybe it's not as profitable as one of your e-commerce businesses, but you have the freedom to do it because you have those that income coming in. Isn't that part of what the benefit of being an entrepreneur is, is being able to choose how you want to spend your time, even if it's not just purely related to monetary income?

Mike: Yeah, I mean, it's actually a really good example to bring up because– so Ecomcrew aside, whatever. Like I have way more fun hanging out with you yesterday, talking about your business and going through all this like nerdy e-commerce stuff than spending the same amount of time working on IceWraps, right?  Because just like, to me it's like new and exciting. It's like all these cool things and I see all this opportunity. I'm like, oh my gosh, like JP, I'm so excited for you and went through all this stuff.

And in a certain respect and we talked about this a little bit yesterday as well, it's like for me, like I just enjoy like seeing other people reap the rewards in the ways that I've been able to. And so it's cool and everyone's different with different personalities. But for me, it's definitely a rewarding thing and the fun thing and yeah, it's a great example. I mean, the same thing has happened in multiple other businesses I've had. And we'll see where things go from here. It's interesting.

JP: Well, let me just say, I'm thankful that you find that interesting to help other people, because I've definitely found it super valuable. So, you know, I have a whole list of things. It's a little overwhelming, to be honest. I think every time Mike comes in and probably does one of these roadshows or, you know, kind of suggestion and break things apart episodes. There's just a huge list of action items. I gotta figure out a step by step plan to implement everything.

Mike: Right. And you can't do everything. You can't do everything at once. So that's, I think, another key takeaway from this for everyone out there, because you got to be within your lane. As you said, you have some staff. Everyone's at a different stage, if you're a solopreneur doing everything, you only have so much time to work on one of the other things. In your case, you have operations completely covered. You have a staff that does operations, but you're the sole artist over on the e-commerce side of the business. So if you try to do all this stuff, like you'll be in a worse spot than, you know, all of it at once. You'll be in a worse spot than you are now because like nothing will get done. It's too overwhelming.

So you got to– you know, everyone should kind of wake up every day and pick the thing that they're– the one thing that they're going to go work on and actually complete that and finish that and pick the thing that's going to move the needle the most. I try to always remind people we have 12 people back in the office, the Philippines office, and a COO here in California that does all this stuff so I can focus on just the mad scientist thing. And there was certainly a time when I wasn't in a position and you had to pick and choose the one or two things you're going to work on. So just another reminder for everyone out there, you know, not to try to go do everything, you hear all these things that we're talking about. Don't try to do all of it at once. It'll crush you so.

Mike: Alright, let's end it there. I think that's a good spot to to end. Go pick the one thing, go work on it. JP, it was awesome having you. Good hanging out. Hopefully we'll see each other again before I head out of Southern California and go to other parts of the world. And until next time, everybody, happy selling and we'll talk to you soon.

Mike: All right, guys, that's going to wrap it up for today's episode. Hope you guys enjoyed it. Again, don't forget to go over to Ecomcrew.com/book to grab Amazon Domination. And if you have a chance, go over to iTunes and leave us a review. It really helps out the Ecomcrew podcast. I know we say it all the time. We appreciate those of you who have done it. And imagine me with a pouty face if I was in the room. If you haven't left a review, please go leave a review. It really does help. I really appreciate it. Alright, guys, that's going to do it for today's episode. I hope you enjoyed this episode with JP, I want to thank him again for coming on the show. And until next week, happy selling and we'll talk to you soon.

Outro: We hope you enjoyed this episode of the Ecomcrew podcast. If you haven't done so already, please head over to iTunes and leave us a review. It helps more than you know. Did you know that Ecomcrew has a ton of free content, including e-commerce courses? Head over to Ecomcrew.com/free to check it out today. That's going to do it for this episode of the Ecomcrew podcast. Until the next one, happy selling and we'll talk to you soon.

Michael Jackness

Michael started his first business when he was 18 and is a serial entrepreneur. He got his start in the online world way back in 2004 as an affiliate marketer. From there he grew as an SEO expert and has transitioned into ecommerce, running several sites that bring in a total of 7-figures of revenue each year.
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