EcomCrew Podcast

E523: How To Regain Campaign Targeting Power for 2024

Check out our sponsor, Portless, today! 

Today we're joined by fellow creative and entrepreneur, Nicole Barnes from Marrow.

Nicole Barnes is a 3 time ecommerce founder with awards from Shopify as Fastest Growing Company, along with international distribution of her product and partnerships with major brands. 

Nicole now takes what she's learnt to help serve other founders through her creative strategy agency, Marrow, where she helps D2C brands thrive on paid socials and teaches founders how to regain campaign targeting power after the infamous iOS 14 update. 

We've spoken to other guests and made several articles about iOS' Privacy Changes before when they were freshly announced, but this will be the first look back after 3 years. Read about them here: 

Video Timestamps: 

  • 0:00 – Introduction
  • 0:31 – Looking Back at iOS 14's Effect on Ecommerce
  • 1:56 – Nicole Barnes' Background
  • 8:55 – How Nicole Built a Million Dollar Bike Empire from $1,000 
  • 13:01 – How iOS 14's Update Changed Ecommerce After 3 years
  • 22:25 – How To Regain Campaign Targeting Power for 2024 and Beyond 
  • 25:01 – What Should Struggling Brands Do? 
  • 27:09 – How Do You Lower Ad Costs? 
  • 33:21 – Best Practices for Creative Strategy 
  • 36:22 – Find Out More About Nicole Barnes and Marrow Marketing! 

Audio Timestamps: 

  • 0:00 – Introduction
  • 0:59 – Looking Back at iOS 14's Effect on Ecommerce
  • 2:20 – Nicole Barnes' Background 
  • 9:03 – How Nicole Built a Million Dollar Bike Empire from $1,000
  • 13:06 – How iOS 14's Update Changed Ecommerce After 3 years 
  • 22:00 – How To Regain Campaign Targeting Power for 2024 and Beyond 
  • 24:32 – What Should Struggling Brands Do? 
  • 26:35 – How Do You Lower Ad Costs?
  • 32:21 – Best Practices for Creative Strategy 
  • 35:00 – Find Out More About Nicole Barnes and Marrow Marketing! 

Nicole, thank you again for coming on the podcast and giving listeners an idea on how they can up their creative strategies in advertising. 

If you'd like to learn more about Nicole Barnes and Marrow Marketing, check her out on her LinkedIn page, and Marrow's Website

As always, if you have any questions or anything that you need help with, reach out to us at if you're interested. 

Don’t forget to leave us a review on iTunes if you enjoy our content. If you have any questions, send us an email at We'd love to help you in any way we can. 

Thanks for listening!

Until next time, happy selling! 

Full Audio Transcript

Mike Jackness (00:01.716)
Hey Nicole, welcome to the EcomCrew podcast.

Nicole (00:04.906)
Hey Mike, it's great to be here.

Mike Jackness (00:06.888)
Yeah, it's great to have you. We were just chatting for a minute before the podcast recorded. You're over in Australia. I'm over here in the US. It doesn't seem fair. There's a big time disparity. So thank you for you for waking up early. I've already had my coffee, my lunch, my afternoon coffee again, and just now doing a podcast. So yeah, thank you for getting up early.

Nicole (00:26.73)
No, it's a pleasure. I'm excited to dive in.

Mike Jackness (00:28.752)
Yeah, and we're talking about everyone's favorite topic, how iOS 14 has changed the advertising landscape. It's been a while now, so I think it'll be cool to kind of be able to look back and talk kind of from your perspective of what you've seen and what I've heard, what I've seen, because it is a different world out there these days. I miss the good old days from when we were building ColorIt and before the iOS 14 update, and it seemed like it was like shooting fish in a barrel and things have gotten much more difficult these days.

Nicole (01:00.042)
I think it's interesting, Mike, how often those changes, I mean, that was one change in the midst of COVID, but for e-commerce owners, there were so many changes. There was just challenges erupted everywhere from supply chain to logistics to the change and not being able to target the way that we used to. But I think there's a really interesting point there, which is obviously going to be part of our conversation today of like, OK, well, how do we accomplish that same means through and the answer being creative strategy?

Mike Jackness (01:08.4)

Nicole (01:29.456)
It's been pretty cool to be part of the e-commerce community. And entrepreneurs are my favorite breed of people because they have to be so resilient. And you're actually kind of at the best place to overcome all of those challenges. We just mentioned that erupted in the last three years because you are daily putting out fires. And so building that mindset of like, where's the opportunity here? And I'm excited to get into that today.

Mike Jackness (01:37.981)

Mike Jackness (01:52.988)
Yeah, absolutely. Before we get too deep into it, I think it's always good for people who haven't heard of you or your company or anything, like what you've been up to, kind of what you bring to the table in terms of expertise while they should be listening today.

Nicole (02:07.722)
Yeah, great. Well, my background is in e-commerce myself. So before starting Marrow, which is my creative strategy, creative first e-commerce growth agency, I actually have owned and operated three of my own e-commerce companies. So I could tell you a bit about that. It includes getting cease and desist letters from competitors in Europe and… Yeah.

Mike Jackness (02:28.396)
Oh, you haven't run a business until you've had a C&D, so congratulations. Yeah.

Nicole (02:34.862)
Thank you very much for recognizing that. I think everyone listening who's experienced anything in the legal domain will know what it feels like literally. It's like a visceral response. It feels like a punch in the stomach when you get those legal notices.

Mike Jackness (02:45.36)
Yeah, it does. Especially when you haven't done anything wrong. It's one thing when you kind of got caught doing something that you maybe shouldn't have been doing, but when you've done nothing wrong and you realize that the legal system in this country can be weaponized to basically be whoever has more money wins, whether you're wrong or you're right. That's a pretty…

Nicole (03:00.322)
Thank you.

Mike Jackness (03:06.088)
bad feeling, you know, especially the first time you go through it. Because I sure didn't know any better. I always thought that right and wrong would prevail, but it turns out money and who has more of it kind of prevails in a lot of cases.

Nicole (03:17.342)
Yeah, exactly. There's a bit of strategy involved. So yeah, it can be an adventure for sure. But yeah, when I left school, I actually went backpacking for a year, just was adventure seeking, was running with the bulls and hitchhiking in Europe and went to China to go work at orphanages and was hunting in South Africa. I was just out for all different kinds of adventures. And that actually led me back when I came back to Australia, where I'm from, to enroll in Arabic and philosophy.

Mike Jackness (03:19.598)

Mike Jackness (03:28.615)
Very cool.

Nicole (03:48.136)
And the reason I say that, Mike, is because I think that gravitation towards philosophy, I really have such an admiration and a passion for entrepreneurs and for business leaders who are pulling together organizational design and who need the support in all the different departments to do that successfully at scale. Because I think that you are constantly in that challenge solving mode. And so those tool sets of learning logic and how to structure arguments and how to find a way forward amidst ambiguity served me really well.

when I started my first company with one of my brothers. And we actually, that was that introduced me to the concepts of LTV, CAC and Shopify because we started a cat litter company. I'm allergic to cats by the way. But we started a cat litter company. So it was a subscription play where we had these.

Mike Jackness (04:22.994)

Mike Jackness (04:32.701)

Nicole (04:40.322)
pet litter boxes that were all sustainable that kind of arrived like a pizza box and then you'd pop it up and you get four a month and you could recycle them. So that was in my early 20s and I just grasped onto the concept of e-commerce and just loved it and we were doing all the modeling of how do we do this at scale, running our own Facebook ads, dealing with getting set up with 3PLs, et cetera. So that was a kind of a baptism by fire. And that company, we were actually one of the fastest growing Shopify companies that

in Australia. And so we shifted out that I left the business with my brother and I went on to continue traveling and then I started I got a call when I was in America to come back to Australia and start a company called Husky Cup which is a reasonable coffee cup made from waste. That company's done really well they've had partnerships with major brands all around the world. We launched

Nicole (05:40.776)
within the campaign and reached the initial goals in the first 24 hours, which is insane, and tapped into distribution. Yeah, it was really cool. The great thing, Mike, was we met so many great people through that campaign that ended up being distributors in the UK, and we were in South Korea, and all of these amazing places. So…

Mike Jackness (05:45.428)

Mike Jackness (06:00.464)
You said that was a coffee cup that was made out of like recycle material that you could, it was like just a reusable cup or like a disposable cup.

Nicole (06:06.934)
Yeah, yeah, I'll share my screen with you. Is that all right if I do that?

Mike Jackness (06:11.376)
Yeah, so anybody who's on YouTube, you'll be able to see the screen share. If you're listening on the audio version of the podcast, I'll help explain it, but this sounds interesting. I mean, it's kind of like the perfect product for, for Kickstarter. Like I think these types of things. Um, and so Husky, uh, very interesting.

Nicole (06:28.778)
Yeah, so H-U-S-K-E for anyone out there listening, it's a dovetailing of the two words, coffee and husk, which is the shell of the bean. So we took the shell of the bean and this is the original range and we took the shell of the bean and we created a bio polymer basically. And what that did was create this really resilient, beautiful cup that's just won all these design awards around the world basically. And that plugged into a swap and go system as well.

Mike Jackness (06:35.77)

Mike Jackness (06:56.128)

Nicole (06:58.832)
So we built an app. So I was general manager there and we scaled up to a team of about 20 people in three different countries and distribution in about 40 countries. And we had product recalls and the whole shebang, Mike. So really, yeah, coming back to that legal space, it's a…

Mike Jackness (07:12.3)
Interesting. And I take it that you're talking about using the shell of the coffee bean, so this is like kind of the waste of the coffee making process, and so this was just, okay, interesting. Really interesting. And what's interesting is, again, if you're watching YouTube, you're already seeing this, but some of the…

Nicole (07:22.638)

Mike Jackness (07:30.696)
the glasses and the coasters or the plates are translucent, which I was not expecting to see the images that were at the very top. The others are solid, but definitely pretty neat. And so these are, I mean, these are like machine washable or dishwasher washable and everything as well. So they're just like any other glassware, but they're made out of coffee bean shells. Well.

Nicole (07:39.232)

Nicole (07:54.162)
Correct. Interestingly enough, when we get to the meat of the conversation on the creative strategy side for meta and TikTok advertising, we just ran through Maro a messaging test for Husky on part of our onboarding process so we can really target people post iOS 14 for this product. And we found that dishwasher friendly had the highest outbound click through rates, which is typically our leading metric during that messaging test phase to generate the results. So we've just done some UGC stuff.

Mike Jackness (08:10.702)

Mike Jackness (08:20.628)

Nicole (08:23.559)
around that.

Mike Jackness (08:24.452)
Interesting. Yeah, I want to set this aside for just a second because I want you to be able to finish your because we're still kind of doing the intro here, but I have all kinds of questions of how you go to market with this type of product

and convince people basically in a Facebook ad and a tik-tok ad and an Instagram ad whatever That I need to go click on this and buy this when they weren't thinking I had never heard of such a thing So I'm sure most people hadn't either so it'll be fun to talk about that But you have one more company because we're only at if my account is right. We're at two of three So what was the third thing you did?

Nicole (08:57.587)
Good job for keeping track. Yeah, so the third one was wacky, Mike. I basically found myself in hotel quarantine in the midst of COVID. So Sydney had major response, Australia had a major response and we locked all the borders down. I think everyone heard that.

Mike Jackness (09:06.409)

Mm-hmm. I was in Australia when COVID started. I got just in time. Yeah, I was there in January. At the end of, well, I was there.

Nicole (09:14.351)
Oh, no way.

Mike Jackness (09:17.84)
in January of 2020 and we left on January 30th, 2020, because I remember the date that I escaped. And I'm pretty sure that I had COVID while I was there because we had come from Singapore. I didn't know what it was, but you know, at the time, because no one was really talking about it yet, but I had all the symptoms of COVID. And by the time we finally got back to the US, we got diagnosed with pneumonia because they still weren't testing people for COVID yet. So I probably got people sick on the airplane and in Australia.

Nicole (09:24.718)
Wow. Lucky you.

Mike Jackness (09:47.774)
the Australian Open, I'm sure the poor people that were sick, I just didn't know any better. You know, just at the time, we all came from this world of if you're sick, you just push through and you know, whatever. And now you think about things a lot differently. But yeah, it was my time in Australia wasn't as pleasant as it could have been, but still had an awesome time.

Nicole (10:07.662)
Amazing. Yeah, well, that's a that's your public confession there, Mike.

Mike Jackness (10:11.48)
It is. The Australian government's probably mad at me now. I'm probably patient zero. And I got you stuck in a hotel in Australia. So how did that go?

Nicole (10:20.798)
Yeah, so it was two weeks in isolation, not allowed to open the window or anything. They've got security guards outside the outside the door. Yeah, you can't even open the window.

Mike Jackness (10:26.236)
You can't open the window. Who's coming up with these rules? I swear some of these things that we will look back at them and be like that's just absolutely crazy. Yeah.

Nicole (10:33.407)
I know.

Absurd, absurd. So it felt it was a really intense mental experience, but what they did, Mike, was that they let you rent fitness gear inside the hotel. And so I rented a spin bike and you can see, you can actually watch, I made a really fun creative video about how I turned a thousand dollars into a million dollar bike empire. Because at this point I had been traveling again and so I'd whittled my way down to a thousand dollar savings again. And I just sat in this hotel

Mike Jackness (10:44.529)

Mike Jackness (10:54.194)

Nicole (11:04.72)
this is my final.

grand on a spin bike to make it through these two weeks basically. And then I was like, what did this cost these guys to buy? And it was $300. And so I thought, oh my goodness, the math's on this. And so I set up a Shopify store inside Hotel Quarantine. I found a supplier. I took a loan through a payment processor to get two grand to get my first six bikes. And then I just ran some Google Ads and scaled the company through partnerships with all the hotels.

to a run rate of a million dollars a year.

Mike Jackness (11:39.785)

Yeah, I mean, that's definitely one of those right places at the right time type of things, because, you know, I have friends that were in fitness equipment and everybody all of a sudden, I couldn't go to the gym or they made like this New Year's resolution or I guess, you know, one third of the year resolution or whatever, because it was about a third of the year done. I'm going to get in shape while I'm stuck at home and a lot of people bought home gyms and or some sort of fitness equipment. And yeah, I mean, that's really interesting. So I mean, it was always interesting about this stuff, because I had similar success

Nicole (12:01.987)

Mike Jackness (12:10.438)
first company in the poker space. You know, it's something that you're personally involved in. It's a pain point for you first or something that you enjoy first and it makes it so much easier to communicate that message or understand your buyers or put together ad creatives or put the messaging together because it's something that you're involved in versus just doing it because the math, you're talking about the math and this, but like just because you know, the stats or the math makes sense, it's not just that. It's something, you know,

Nicole (12:25.102)

Mike Jackness (12:40.258)
hotel room, you're probably going store crazy, like the only way to burn off steam is to have this bike, and then from that it's like, well everyone else should have a bike, and so it makes a lot of sense.

Nicole (12:43.367)

Nicole (12:50.954)
Yep, exactly. It makes it a thousand times easier when it's really a problem that you yourself have faced.

Mike Jackness (12:57.894)

Cool, so let's shift gears a little bit. I wanna talk just about some of like the macro stuff for a minute about like what you've been seeing with the iOS update. I guess either luckily or unluckily, I don't really know exactly how to look at it from my perspective. Partially luckily because I sold the company where we spent a million dollars in Facebook ads. It was all pre-LA, I was 14. And it seemed very easy at the time looking back at it. Targeting was super easy, attribution was easy. We were the first ones.

niche to be advertising so like again right place at the right time all those things added up really well for us and I say unluckily because I really miss it like I miss spending a lot of money on Facebook ads I love that process but man I talked to my friends and it's got in

so much more difficult. The average I'm kind of hearing is 3X more difficult. So if you were converting a sale at $10, it could be 30 now. And you may or may not even have the margin to deal with that. And so at a high level, for those who have been hiding under a rock, what was the fundamental change and why the change?

Nicole (14:08.746)
Yeah, so I think there's probably actually a couple of forces at work that have led to that, that those changes you just described, Mike, of the new challenges and new costs for businesses advertising on these social platforms. One of them definitely was iOS 14, which has just basically Apple gave, uses the option to opt out of data sharing. So that was that they, they switched from a default of to actually allowing the customer to control their own privacy.

that data for targeting. So that used to be the old way that media buyers and advertisers on these social platforms would target. And so that was a huge change and it led to changes even in how data gets modeled on the platform. And so people had to adapt to cope with that. You know the other force at work was an influx of people onto these platforms as advertisers during

COVID when everyone started to sell online and need to sell online to survive as a business and people having career changes. The whole world was in our people and competition became fierce. So that's driven up the cost of advertising. So it's probably a couple of forces there that have led to that real heyday of Facebook marketing where you could throw up an ad and acquire a customer for two bucks.

Mike Jackness (15:12.991)

Mike Jackness (15:32.276)
Yeah, yeah, it was fun when it lasted. So, yeah, yeah.

Nicole (15:35.639)
I can imagine. Yeah, yeah, yeah. We, we, I didn't actually at these businesses, we didn't tap into that dynamic fully, but I know I have friends who have and, um.

And it's definitely different. But I think it's just important to be aware of what those macro factors are around us so that we can reorient to the new landscape and take it in and then adapt. And so being aware that there is more competition. So in terms of choosing your business model and creating your brand, really finding an edge that sets you apart that actually doesn't make you just one in a million is the antidote there.

which I'm excited to talk about. You know, the other.

The other factor, Mike, is that these platforms like Meta, ironically, I believe, actually have more data at their fingertips than they ever did before. They just can't share it with us as advertisers because of these new consumer privacy laws. So what's the solution? The solution is that we leave the targeting side on the media buying to the algorithm, and we lean in to the deep intelligence it has, which has actually grown to our advantage,

Mike Jackness (16:30.889)

Nicole (16:48.72)
hand, which is put all of that effort into a creative strategy and testing plan.

Mike Jackness (16:56.08)
Yeah, I mean, I want to definitely dig into that more, but I want to get my piece out of the, you know, in the world of things I don't understand. Cause there's, you know, when I look at these large companies, I think in general they've become pretty evil. You know, I mean, like it's a something like out of a Simpsons episode. And so anything that can be done to curtail them, I'm usually very much for, but when I look at something like ads, like, I mean, wherever I'm at, if I'm on Facebook, if I'm on Instagram, if I'm on Amazon, I'm watching YouTube.

TV, there's going to be ad units, right? Like the number of ad units are going to continue to increase. That's been something that's been pervasive through history. I mean, like when you think about newspapers, there are more and more ads until they kind of just became a little bit irrelevant. But we went from an error of the ads were very loosely targeted to highly targeted. So it's like if I'm…

watching any of those platforms or consuming those platforms. I'd rather get an ad that's at least tailored to me, that makes sense rather than something that's for a female who's like 70. Because you're watching TV at night, that's kind of the ad you would get, or it would be somebody that just is completely not in your market versus, I almost kind of enjoyed my Facebook feed and the hyper-targeted ads and some of the stuff I would get is like, well, how'd they know? And then you go buy it.

Nicole (18:17.118)
I'm just listening. Mm.

Mike Jackness (18:19.154)
experience, I don't know why we would want to get away from that. It seems weird that data is not being shared. It doesn't seem like it's manipulative or causing harm to the person looking at the ads. They're going to be looking at some ad, like I said, one way or the other, and wouldn't it be better if they were getting something that was more hyper-focused?

Nicole (18:44.426)
Yeah, I mean, I'm totally with you, Mike. I love it when I've been talking with a friend about a product and then, you know, a discount for that product or a competitor that I didn't know about pops up in my feed. Like I see that as being to my own personal advantage. It's weird. You get used to it.

Mike Jackness (18:50.24)

Mike Jackness (18:55.845)
It is spooky, but it's, you know, yeah, yeah.

Nicole (19:01.67)
But I think the war there with iOS 14 was much more principles-based than perks-based. And I think it was, you know, do consumers have ownership over their own data or not? And I believe that's worth supporting. I'm not against that in any way. I'm only here to speak to e-commerce owners about how they can adapt to still be able to target like they used to just through different means and practices, which is obviously all about what

Mike Jackness (19:07.036)

Mike Jackness (19:25.466)

Nicole (19:31.085)
in that way.

Mike Jackness (19:32.undefined)
Definitely. And it really is just a good time to kind of break into that part of the conversation because the only thing constant has changed and the reality is this.

we're at where we're at, right? Where this data is not being shared with us. The number of people on these platforms continues, the hours consumed continues to increase. They're not going anywhere. And more and more sales are shifting to online. More and more people are figuring out how to sell online. So the competition for e-commerce sellers is increasing because there's more people that are flocking to get those same number of impressions. And if you're in a DTC world

out, you probably are going to go out of business or struggle mightily. And so, you know, when you think about 2023 and 2024 and beyond, what can people be doing to kind of shift the pendulum back in their favor?

Nicole (20:26.506)
Yeah, no, that's an amazing question. I think, you know, in terms of approaching the problem from first principles, beginning with a brand and a product that really solves the problem and that has margins that are, that are going to work for you as the business owner. And that stands out, you know, if you, if you start with those raw materials, you have a brand that has a purpose actually solves the problem. You've got profitability and product margins. And you're helping, you're helping people, real people with real problems. That's.

have to have those building blocks. And so I actually, I love the fact that kind of these drop shipping models and some of those things that had created less value, it's kind of the invitation to those people to actually, you know, lean into another degree of creativity and risk and actually try to create something that, um, that is unique and is, um, and is truly solving something in a new way. So starting from that foundation, and if you already have that, you know, you'll know, and that's that, that should give you great confidence because now it's just about tactics. And so I think Mike, what e-commerce?

owners need to be doing over the next, now, right away over the next few years, is really looking at their holistic digital strategy. So from landing pages to creative testing to actually getting really close with their numbers. I speak to a lot of business owners who don't even know yet what their break even ROAS is. So they're just putting money into these machines, into these different platforms and dah, dah. And they don't even know.

Mike Jackness (21:47.228)

Nicole (21:56.34)
vision of what success looks like and what it means on a metric level. So I think it's an opportunity to drill down and get clear with your numbers of what is it what's my break even role as how do I increase my customer how do I get people buying more through retention marketing so how do I increase the value out of the customer base I've already paid to acquire and how do I how do I make the cost of acquisition cheaper. Those are really the two the two levers on the

Nicole (22:26.18)
having more product or better retention marketing, and then finding ways to reduce the cost to acquire the customer, which landing pages come into play, offers come into play, and obviously, we're all about creative, and that's crucial in that piece of low-end cost of acquisition.

Mike Jackness (22:42.676)
Mm-hmm. So I got I got two questions there

very polar opposite of each other. The first one is, what is a brand to do that doesn't quite check all the boxes you just mentioned? They don't really have a great brand story, they don't really have the great margin, they don't really have the differentiation. You know, they're a band that's been around five, six, seven, 10 years, whatever. They used to do phenomenally in the old world, but now, because of margin compression, because there's so much competition, because it's really kind of a commoditized product,

Nicole (23:15.478)

Mike Jackness (23:16.338)
to just kind of give up on this strategy completely and move on to something else? Or do you think there's still room for them to be successful?

Nicole (23:25.782)
Yo, I think the key there, Mike, is if that brand's been around for six or seven years, they're obviously onto something. So something they're doing is working and something that they're doing is resonating with the user base. So in that case, my recommendation would be to take a step back. And I know this is incredibly hard for founders to do because they're just typically so swamped as people and their schedules are crazy. But ironically, sometimes taking a step back is the most strategic thing you can.

allowing that if you've got six or seven years of rich data of customer reviews and customer contact, you know, like details, you could reach out to and actually find out why did you buy from us and what do you love and starting to map out and actually, you know, have a listening ear. That's always how we begin our creative strategy anyway, is actually not just with our imagination, but with a listening ear to reviews, reviews of us, of the brand that we're helping in that instance.

editors, positive and negative reviews, listen to all of it and just collect that information and you probably will find in that case, example you just mentioned Mike, that there are some resounding values that they're delivering to that customer base that they could really start to wrap their brand around in a more intentional way.

Mike Jackness (24:49.656)
Interesting. And what's going to be interesting is the answer to my second question, which is a very different question, might have a lot of the same components, which is that you're kind of tossing all the buzzwords and, you know…

when I think about their nirvana or like the hopes and dreams of like what I want when I advertise, which is like I'm going to put up a better creative or put up better landing pages and they're going to do so well that my eye costs are going to actually come down. Like in practice that's like really hard. So I mean like as someone that's like running an agency and has seen like real world results where that's actually happened, you know, how are you going about doing that? And again I think you know some of the things you just mentioned probably are contributors but what are you know the actual like if someone's listening to this and they maybe can't quite

afford to hire an agency, what are some great steps that they can go do to start pulling those levers and seeing their ad costs go down, their CPA go down?

Nicole (25:36.686)

Nicole (25:45.514)
Yeah, absolutely. I think that's great. And if I was able to speak to someone who was in that position of wanting to do this themselves, you know, I think you've got to see it as there's two elements here to a digital marketing plan that works. One is what's your process and the second is how well do you execute. So on the process side, you know, what you really want to be doing is just finding the language that sells.

And so a great place to start, as I mentioned, is in reviews and in a competitor research, watch your competitors ads, um, you know, start to see what, what be, be honest. It's going to be hard to swallow that pill of watching your competitive ads. Be like, Oh, that's a great angle. I didn't think about that. Or we're not doing that and try that, you know, um, you don't have to create everything from, from zero or from scratch, you can borrow great ideas. So, um, watch your competitive ads, um, read your own reviews, both positive and negatives, read your, your.

competitors reviews, both positive and negative, jump on chat GPT and have a play with tapping into that of what would be the main 20 reasons that this would be bought and what would be the, you know, start to have a conversation on that level. And then you'll pull together, this is what our team does, but we will pull together essentially a range of themes and values that could be the main things that would sell your product.

And from there, you want to actually test that. So now you're going to have your favorite ones that you think will work, but you want to actually put that out and test and work with a media buyer, even if that's in-house, to run a creative that's the same, except for that message that's different, and then run them all inside the same ad set, and you'll get some great data. We get data from our onboarding tests like that, that actually can inform landing pages, it can inform email copy,

and can inform billboards or real world marketing because you're actually testing a huge range of messages and you're seeing what hooks and what gets the best click throughs and the best response.

Mike Jackness (27:54.515)

Very interesting and getting great advice. You're bringing it around full circle. I was thinking about the coffee cup company, the coffee bean shell cup company. You know, and how you maybe went about that in terms of advertising, and you already mentioned dishwasher safe was one of the things that you kind of found in your research. But, you know, how did you go about doing that? Like, how did you find that to be the thing? And what were some, you know, changes that you made to create that brought cost down as you were going through that process? Like, you know, just actual real examples that we can use to get people some,

Nicole (28:03.708)
Yes, sir. Thank you.

Mike Jackness (28:25.058)
their memory of or their ideas, not their memory, jogging some creative juices of how they can apply that to their own business.

Nicole (28:31.85)
Yeah, no, absolutely. So we actually, we were rebooting the account. So we weren't really necessarily trying to reduce the cost of advertising. When you came on, on this level, we were just trying to gauge and set them up in a new territory on Metop. So that was it. That was the same, Mike. What we did was just plow those reviews, plow Reddit, jump on Amazon, jump on the client's website. Um, it feels weird to say that cause I helped build the business, but now they're a client.

Mike Jackness (28:57.972)
Hm. Right. Heh heh heh.

Nicole (29:02.744)
Jump on the competitors, ads, Facebook ads manager. For those who don't know, you can actually go on Facebook ads library and you can actually type in any brand and see the ads that they're running. TikTok now has the same as well. But we just watched and we just listened and we just read and we pulled together a list of 20, 30 ideas, dishwasher safe being one of them. And we ran them on the same creative. You really want to control variables when you're doing a test.

You don't want to get one image of the light colored cup and run it with one message and an image of the dark colored cup. We'll run dishwasher safe on this image and we'll run a recyclable at end of life on this image. You don't know if you change the font size, if you change the image, what actually changed that result. So the best thing you want to do is standardize all other aspects of that creative and just have that messaging test because really what you're doing when you're building creatives is

got a message that's the core material and then you're massaging that message through a format. And that format, you know, could be a sketch, it could be a TikTok comedic sketch, or it could be a classic problem solution UGC, or it could be a static, or it could be a GIF, but you're selling your, there's a message underneath that that's universal and that's what you're trying to discover when you're doing that initial test.

Mike Jackness (30:07.945)

Mike Jackness (30:24.816)
Yeah, and it's all short form content these days, so the message has to be clear and concise.

be like a message and not like trying to hit 12 different things because you're going to lose people in their focus through that. So it's important to just be, you know, hit home with one thing. If that, if it's the dishwasher safe thing, great. If it's the, our planet like throws away. However, many trillions of tons of coffee bean shells every year. And we've now recycled them. This is better for the planet. You can go target other people with that messaging, but not everybody cares about that. Maybe people just care. I can throw these things in the dishwasher and they're not going to melt like the wizard of Oz or something.

Nicole (30:56.606)
Mm-hmm. Okay. Just open your mouth.

Mike Jackness (30:59.554)
So cool, we're already over time, but I love to ask one question at the end. So I want to leave a little bit more time for that because I feel like, you know, as I'm talking to people and interviewing, the conversation goes where it goes. And I always like end up not asking like a really important question that I should have asked. So to close things out, what's one question I should have asked you today that I didn't and what's the answer to it?

Nicole (31:24.922)
Ooh, that's a great way of doing it, Mike. You've just outsold it. Yeah, I just outsold it, yeah. You know, I think, I think…

Mike Jackness (31:27.74)
It makes it easy for me. You know, it's like, you know, it's the ultimate cheat at the end of the, at the end of the interview.

Nicole (31:37.69)
something I'd love to provide some value in is just, you know, what are some best practices for healthy creatives? So if you are looking to move your creative strategy, to actually implement a creative strategy and then how to do that successfully, what's the best practice for healthy creatives, we've covered off a few of those elements but there's a couple more pieces I'd love to provide, you know, the listener base with.

Mike Jackness (31:43.945)

Mike Jackness (32:02.804)
Sure, so what are some great best practices for your creatives? That's brilliant!

Nicole (32:06.25)
Me, Mike, that's such a good question.

Nicole (32:11.163)
So after that research process and the messaging test, there's a couple of things that ecommerce owners can be doing to really make their creatives healthy. One is to have a clear naming system. And this sounds boring, this sounds like housekeeping, but similar to having a clear inbox folder system, it just lets you think clearly. And so actually developing a standardized naming system for your creatives where you

the name of the talent that you used, the name of the angle you were testing, whether it was a GIF or a static, that's going to let you run reports in the future and down the line that will let you recognize trends more easily. So that's a bit of a boring one. It's kind of like floss your teeth, but it really works.

The other tips would just be test copy as well as your CTAs. So just always be testing something and always be testing in a controlled way. So control the variables and know what variables you're actually looking to learn from in that exercise. And don't forget to use your copy surrounding the ad as well as the call to action and where you're sending the traffic to. And then the other thing would be the two second rule. So, you know, as you mentioned,

mic, attention spans are decreasing and we've got to tap into that. And so we have our video editors make sure that something's changing on the screen every two seconds or less. I mean, some people even say now that the hook rate isn't even the first three seconds, it's the first one second. That's when you need to be hooking people and measuring because that's attention span.

Mike Jackness (33:45.176)
Yeah. I mean, that's literally just like one, two. And if you haven't gotten by them, they've already scrolled past you. It's insane to really think about because it, I don't think that people really register how quickly that happens, but it's that fast and you paid for that impression.

Mike Jackness (34:02.952)
Very cool. So if people want to find out more about you and your marketing company and reach out, what's the best way for them to do that?

Nicole (34:11.462)
Our website is, M-A-R-R-O-W, like bone marrow. So you can reach out there, book a time with one of our team. We'd love to chat.

Mike Jackness (34:22.96)
and if they want to get you on social or emails or go away from them to do that.

Nicole (34:27.51)
Yeah, I'm Nicole at and on LinkedIn at Nicole Barnes.

Mike Jackness (34:30.612)

Awesome. So why Marrow Marketing as a closing?

Nicole (34:38.366)
Great, I love that question too. We like to spend time creatively incubating ideas and marrow is the essence of something. And so we like to find the essence of a brand and kind of stew on that and then create from that place.

Mike Jackness (34:52.52)
Very cool. Excellent. Well, Nicole, thank you so much for your time. Sorry for running a little bit over. Hopefully everybody got a lot of value out of this today. I think it was a fun, interesting conversation and best luck with everything you're working on.

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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