D&C – EP 046 The Traffic Balancing Act (WP Featured Image)

Drive and Convert (Ep. 046): The Traffic Balancing Act

In this episode, Ryan and Jon talk about the need for balance across multiple traffic channels, how to know when you're over/underinvested in a particular channel, and what the proper resource allocation is for most brands.

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About This Episode:

It’s not uncommon to hear the phrase “work/life balance” thrown around in a business setting. It’s usually brought up by well-meaning managers who want to make sure their team is protecting the time and the space to be successful outside of the office as well.

In this episode, Ryan and Jon talk about how work/life balance doesn’t always translate to a true 50/50 split. Instead, it usually requires investing heavily in one area of life (Ex: Career) for a period of time, and then slowing down to focus more time and energy elsewhere (Ex: Family) to get back toward a more “balanced” position.

Similarly, a brand’s allocation of resources across multiple traffic generation channels can (and should) ebb and flow over time. For example, if you continue to hammer on paid search long enough, you’ll eventually run headfirst into diminishing returns. The world’s most successful brands acknowledge this, and take a more balanced approach to driving leads to their site – and Ryan’s here to help us understand how they do it.

Listen to the full episode if you want to learn:

  1. Why balancing your traffic generation efforts is important
  2. The different types of channels you should consider investing in
  3. What a healthy allocation looks like for most brands
  4. How to know when you’re over/underinvested in a specific channel

If you have questions, ideas, or feedback to share, hit us up on Twitter. We’re @jonmacdonald and @ryangarrow.

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Episode Transcript:

Announcer:
You’re listening to Drive and Convert, a podcast about helping online brands to build a better e-commerce growth engine with Jon MacDonald and Ryan Garrow.

Jon:
Hey, Ryan. So, you just got back from vacation in Hawaii, sidebar, I’m very jealous. And if you’re anything like me on vacation, you probably spend a lot of time thinking about balance and the challenges of business in life, and actually having a moment to think about everything. So right now, we’re in the middle of holiday. Things are crazy from our marketing and traffic driving perspective, but somehow they really need to hear about the need for balance and balancing their traffic. So, tell me while you were in Hawaii, what were you thinking about? And let’s dive into that today.

Ryan:
Everybody should probably just stop what they’re doing now and just go off to Hawaii. Let’s flood Hawaii, stop eCommerce.

Jon:
Sold.

Ryan:
Yeah, let’s do it. Yeah. My wife and I, we have four small kids and we decided, hey, it’s our 10 year anniversary. We need 10 days in paradise with no kids. And my mother-in-law is a saint. I don’t think she listens to this podcast because she could care less about e-commerce, but if she’s listening, you’re amazing and I owe you a lot.

Jon:
I’m sure your mom is your best supporter. She’s leaving you all the podcast reviews.

Ryan:
Yes. Yeah. We’ve got two, five star reviews for my mother and mother-in-law.

Jon:
Okay.

Ryan:
But it was great. We actually fully unplugged my wife’s demands on a trip like that, as you will not be able to check your email for any business whatsoever, so help me, God. I’m like, okay, we will do that. So, it was fun because often as intense as I am, I do get way out of balance. And I read this cool article while I was there about the myth of balancing work in life. It was this wonderful woman. I forget what she’s the CEO of, she’s one of the most influential women on this board that she was speaking on about, as a woman CEO, there’s a lot of difficulties that we as men don’t actually experience and the work life balance where she has kids and all this.
And she said, there is no work life balance. It’s always going to be out of balance. But what you have, is you have basically these buckets or levers that you’re taking out of or filling back up. And at some point you’re going to be focusing more on work and less on family. And then maybe the marriage or friends, everything is going to be ignored while you’re focusing on one area. And she says, what you have to get to do as a business leader accept that, that there’s certain areas that are going to be ignored for a period of time. But if you’re aware of that, you can say, all right, I’m spending more time at work right now. And my marriage and family, you’re getting ignored a little bit. I prepared my wife and kids, it’s okay. But soon as this season of work or this period of the sprint that we’re involved in gets done, I can go focus back on that and work gets pushed down a little bit.
I loved hearing it because I always feel guilty in some form or rather like I’m focusing too much on family, not enough on work or more on work, not enough on family and marriage. And so it’s, I think if I’m able to adopt this, it’ll be freeing to a degree personally. So, I’m hoping to be able to get to that. And I’ve got a lot of business friends that can challenge me and people like Jon that can talk to me about my out of whack. But I started also thinking about it. I do think about work on vacation even if I’m not checking email, but a lot of times the traffic going to a site, it’s the same thing. Every company has limited resources. Some companies have a lot more to their limited resources than others, but no company can ever do 100% of all traffic period going to sites or wherever they’re sending traffic.
And so, you’re going to be ignoring or doing less in some traffic channels, you look at analytics, than other ones. And I think it’s difficult to understand how and when to be pivoting from one channel to another, as you’re driving traffic. And I obviously talk a lot about paid search. It’s a big important channel and we had logic position to a lot of that, but I also like it because it’s a good leader for other channels. You wouldn’t invest a bunch in SEO until you’ve seen that, that term makes sense from my paid search perspective that, hey, we know how many people are searching it. We know what the conversion rate is when they come to this page. Great. Let’s optimize that page to go move up the SEO rankings for that term, so we can capture more of that traffic.
So, I like it for that reason, but I also know that it doesn’t make sense to continually push, push, push on paid search because there’s diminishing returns. I’ve talked a lot about it. Most of my speaking engagements, I’ll talk about the supply demand curve when it comes to paid search. And you keep pushing in that margin, utility that next dollar you’re spending is much lower than the one you spent $10,000 ago this month. So, I want to really try to help people come away from this podcast, understand it’s okay that not all your channels are doing great on your website or to wherever you’re sending traffic.
But also try to figure out how do you know when it’s time to maybe start looking at other channels. If maybe you need to start investing more in this channel because this one’s doing this, and I think each channel has kind of a canary in the coal mine almost that tells you, okay, we need to start looking at different areas based on this. And so, we’ll start probably, I mean the paid search equation, right? How do you know when you should stop investing in Google Ads or pull back your investment in Google Ads and find other ways to drive new user to a website. I think it’s a pretty common question. And a lot of business probably have more room to run when it comes to paid search.

Jon:
It’s interesting because first of all, I love the analogy of the buckets and how you took a life lesson, and brought it back to paid search if you will, or traffic generation. I think some of the best lessons come from looking at outside source of is like that. So, that’s great to hear. I agree. The number one thing that I’m hearing right now from brands we work with is, Facebook just basically crapped a bed overnight, for lack of a better term.

Ryan:
Yeah.

Jon:
And they’re seeing half of the traffic and then they relied on email a little more, but then iOS 15 came out and now their email metrics are all messed up. So, they have no idea what’s working, what’s not. And I’m finding it really interesting because folks are not… They keep talking about diversifying, but it seems like their only option is to go to Tic Tac or excuse me, TikTok.

Ryan:
I like Tic Tac’s though.

Jon:
Hey, can you tell I’m on the edge of not millennial? I think it’s interesting that they’re all going to these other platforms and they are really not seeing the results that they’re used to having. And I think part of that is because they haven’t been doing the work to diversify for a while. They just started once Facebook kind of stopped producing the results they wanted. So, I know that you and your team at Logical Position really focus a lot on paid search, right? So, what are the other traffic sources that people should be thinking about?

Ryan:
It’s all of it. And I think most companies need to put their traffic sources in a funnel. And I like doing the visualization within your team and say, all right, we’re going to get on this blackboard whiteboard, do it on zoom. However, you’re doing it with your team now. You have to start with hypothesis of where these traffic sources are going to fall in the conversion funnel path. You start at the very bottom with branded search. That’s going to convert at the highest rate. It’s a low search volume. And as you gradually get more search volumes, you go of branded terms. Now, there’s Facebook, there’s Pinterest, there’s TikTok. I mean, you name a social platform. It’s a source of traffic. You have any search engine out there is a source of traffic for you. People can search for your products or services and find you on those search engines.
Apps can be good for that. That’s one I want to talk about a little later. Email is a source of traffic, SMS is a source of traffic and there’s countless other ones that are going to be specific to certain industries. And that aren’t going to apply at scale. And LinkedIn is a social platform that I think a lot of B2B companies haven’t quite figured out what they’re going to do with it yet. But I think it’s very valuable and probably underutilized and expensive, because there’s limited ad inventory there. YouTube is a platform that a lot of people forget about. It’s massive and it’s inexpensive, but it’s also very difficult to harness traffic at a rate that makes sense from a conversion standpoint. And so, yeah.

Jon:
And you have to put some effort into the medium that most people aren’t used to.

Ryan:
[crosstalk 00:08:16] and part of the problem, everybody’s looking at TikTok and it’s a great buzzy word right now and I’m getting constantly bombarded with let’s get on TikTok, let’s get on TikTok. I’m like, okay, first of all, TikTok is not figured out necessarily how to get people to think about purchasing when they’re on TikTok. They’re on TikTok to be entertained and to see things. The analogy I use with them is think about Instagram six years ago, there were ads there. We knew eyeballs were there, but people were not clicking ads on Instagram and coming to websites, you can look at everybody’s analytics. Instagram was not a channel coming to the website for conversions six years ago. But over time they built it up and the ads started becoming more appropriate and better. And there was more investment from a brand perspective in connecting with their customers there.
TikTok at this point, there’s very few brands that have established quality TikTok channels because it takes a lot more to create video than it does just still images like on Instagram. And so, there’s a barrier to entry actually being present. Similar to Pinterest, if you’re just going to start throwing Pinterest ads up, or you don’t have a Pinterest boards or you haven’t created content, good luck. Snapchat, I mean. And when you’re looking at these channels, it’s similar to paid search and SEO on Google. You kind of need both operating together, but if you’re going to go out and just try to blast ads without creating content or trying to engage authentically, I think users are going to see through that.

Jon:
Yeah. I mean, Google enforces that with their ad scores, right? They’re a little more advanced and have been mature in that marketplace. So, they have kind of figured out, Hey, to be successful, we need to make sure the content aligns pretty well with the actual ad copy. But there’s no guardrail like that on these other platforms that I’m aware of.

Ryan:
No. I mean, I think, Amazon probably has some symbols of quality scores that we’ve… Again, it’s very black box and all these systems that Google’s been very good about being transparent. And other platforms have yet to do that. Because I think they’re still trying to figure out, because it’s a moving target of what’s relevant and how we going to score this. Because once people figure it out, they game it and then they have to pivot again almost as the platform to try to make sure that the content is relevant and not abusing users almost. I believe, at least I want to believe that the platforms like Pinterest and TikTok are going to evolve quicker than the Instagram did, that took six years. We seen that the adoption rate probably accelerate from an ad perspective.

Jon:
Do you feel like the Instagram has kind of lined the yellow brick road for everyone else to follow? And can help them to really just say, Hey, this is how you monetize. I mean, I would think if I was TikTok, I would just look at how Instagram did it and copy that because it seems to work well.

Ryan:
Yeah. You just hire a bunch of people from Instagram.

Jon:
Well.

Ryan:
I think that’s actually what happens, is that Google built a phenomenal teams, Bing hired some of them away, Amazon hired some of them away, Facebook hired some. I mean, it’s this very talented group of people that can probably jump platforms and help get them going. And so, it’s can Instagram and hold onto their people by paying them more or whatever it takes to hold onto those engineers that really understand the process of moving an ad platform forward.

Jon:
Right.

Ryan:
I think it’s going to happen. But as of now, it’s very rare that Pinterest and TikTok are going to produce even close to similar results that Facebook and Google perform for most brands.

Jon:
So, knowing that, how do you know when to pivot to these other channels? Or just decide you’re going to double down on one that’s already been working for you.

Ryan:
So, on Google ads, it’s somewhat easy to see the numbers. When you start seeing the return on ad spend drop and your impression share going up, you realize, okay, I’m really starting to push the limits of the traffic I can get from this channel. And rather than investing the next five, $10000 on Google, where can I put that to either get similar return on ad spend or find new users that I can’t get on Google? If you can get people on TikTok before they go search Google, that’s a huge win. Because a lot of times TikTok clicks can be cheaper, but again, they’re going to convert often at a lower rate because the lack of intent that I wasn’t thinking about buying this until I saw it on TikTok and Ooh, maybe I am.
And I think there’s also a price point consideration when you’re going to move to a different platform. As of now I’m sure it’ll change. TikTok is more of an impulse buy. Like you’re not going to go on TikTok, see a video… And I’m not on TikTok by the way, so I am a bad example of what I think is going to happen on TikTok as a user.

Jon:
You need to do some research.

Ryan:
The data I see.

Jon:
I can see you have that in air quotes.

Ryan:
Yeah. I’m using air quotes on a podcast. You’re going to see a lot of $500 Canada Goose jacket purchases on an impulse off of TikTok. At least I haven’t seen the data yet and I don’t do the marketing for Canada Goose, so maybe there’s somebody that does it, they can tell me, I’m going crazy. Feel free to email me and tell me. But we do have a client that sells $20 USB blenders and they actually do a job on TikTok. It’s not a huge volume. It’s still very small compared to all the other social channels they have. And they’ve invested a lot of time in creating a valuable TikTok channel. And I think that’s the first thing that has to go. You can’t just jump into TikTok with ads. I haven’t seen it yet at least, but once you have a solid channel there that people can go to and see, oh, they’ve been interacting with fans for a while.
They’ve got at 15,000 or so followers there and they can see that, oh, ads are now going to be more effective. And so, once you start seeing the diminishing returns on Google, there are some basics I would look at like, okay, Google’s a search engine. So, it’s working well that you’re driving people to your site that have an intent. And so, the first thing I would look at is are you maximizing Bing and Yahoo as the other main search engines out there? If you’re not, go maximize those, like push some levers on Bing, a lot of companies, especially smaller companies ignore Bing. They just think there’s not enough search volume and there’s not a ton there, but it’s really qualified traffic often. It’s rare that I see Bing traffic and analytics converting at a lower rate than Google. Almost always it’s converting higher. It seems Bingers are just click buy people. They don’t do as much research. I know my parents do some Binging and they have relatively high income and don’t have to do a lot of research. They’re like, yeah, I’m going to buy that.

Jon:
Yeah. I was going to ask you, is that a demographic thing? I think there’s a correlation there.

Ryan:
Yeah. I’m on the commuter all day, but I probably don’t research enough on price points because I just get sick of looking. I’m like just buy out. I mean, I could spend another 20 minutes looking to save $3, but I’m not going to. My wife…

Jon:
Right? Yeah. It’s like people who drive 10 miles to a gas station to save pennies and you’re like really, it costs you more to drive to that gas station than it did to just pay the extra price up the street.

Ryan:
Especially of an expedition, like I do where it driving anything further it’s like, no, just take it. It’s going to be fine. Don’t drive off the freeway further than you need to. So, it’s understanding the two things you have to look at when you’re looking at pivoting traffic. Number one is, what are the numbers telling me right now? And then what are the numbers telling me as a trend? So, Facebook, CPCs been going up lately, going into holiday. People are getting more aggressive. The ad inventory is probably not changed. Everybody’s involved on Facebook. They’re still going there, still looking Instagram. But the volume of advertisers is kicking up trying to get people to buy now because we’ve all heard that if you don’t buy now, you’re not going to get it. If you haven’t done your holiday shopping by this podcast, you may be giving gift cards. Just because the supply. All the supply chain issues we know about. It’s not news to any of us at this point.
So, looking at the past saying, okay, we’re seeing a downward trend. It’s continuing. And we haven’t seen lot of optimization reasons for the decline. We didn’t flip agencies or lose an employee that would be causing this decline. So, we can relatively assume that the market has changed a little bit and it’s time to start seeing if there’s a new place to go. Ideally, you’re always out there with testing budgets. I think we’ve talked about this multiple times. You should always be testing the ABT, always be testing and seeing where the new platforms are going to be. If brands are expecting easy buttons on new platforms, they’re going to be disappointed. So you have to go into it, knowing that I’m going to have to put some effort into this platform or this new traffic channel.
There’s not going to be an agency at this point that exists that if anybody tells you they are experts in TikTok there lying because nobody’s been doing in TikTok ads or building brands on TikTok long enough for them to say, I am an expert at this. You may have figured it out, you may have some successful brands, but until you failed enough on TikTok, I’m going to not going to believe that you know what you’re doing. There’s going to be a lot of learning within that platform and understanding, does it actually continue the momentum it has or is Instagram able to get enough people looking at videos on Instagram that TikTok starts going down? Snapchat was a big platform and I don’t know how big it is now. I’m not a Snapchater either, but I know that Instagram was able to copy a lot of the things that people thought were cool on Snapchat and kept a lot of those people from jumping.

Jon:
Right.

Ryan:
So, yeah.

Jon:
It’s interesting. Okay. So, are you ever thinking about things like influencers or those other type of channels? Have you seen any success in that? I know LP doesn’t do a lot with influencers, at least to my knowledge, but there’s a lot of ways to get in front of influencers and that seems to be the play on TikTok for the most part. Is that something you would recommend taking a look at?

Ryan:
I think every brand should be trying to figure out how to leverage influencers appropriately. There’s not a brand out there that sells online, trying to sell to consumers that shouldn’t try to get influencers. The smaller you are, the more difficult it’s going to be. And so, you kind of have chicken and egg, but you really got to do a lot of work. Almost maybe every other day, I’ll get an introduction from one of our partners to a small company that doesn’t qualify for whatever they’re trying to do that needs traffic like, oh, go talk to Ryan and help you with traffic. And a lot of these brands just think that, oh, you really know online marketing. So, it’s just easy. You’re going to to grow my brand.

Jon:
Right.

Ryan:
It’s not that easy. You can’t, like this last lady I talked to yesterday, sells jewelry, great jewelry. She’s been doing it kind of traveling around to different kind of bizarre type environments. And she’s like, “Yeah, I just want to start advertising.” I’m like, “Okay, well, you have 400 followers on Instagram. You have 300 on for Facebook and you have an email list of 300. Just bidding on terms for jewelry is not going to make sense for you on Google. It’s going to be too expensive. Facebook, you don’t have enough of an audience to leverage Instagram or Facebook to start finding lookalikes at scale.” I was like, “So, really what you need to be doing because you have a limited budget is you have to go find people that are willing to take your jewelry as payment for posting about it.”
And so like, “Hey, they have five to 10,000 followers. They’re going to feel honored to get an outreach, hopefully.” And you can say, “Look, it looks like your followers are engaged.” I told her how to look at a page on Instagram or Facebook and find that they’re engaged with their followers and then say, “Hey, just reach out.” And it’s going to take some people are going to turn you down, some people are going to say yes. But know that your cost of jewelry is going to be more effective than putting an ad out. If it’s a $50 piece of jewelry that costs you 20 bucks to make, it’s 20 bucks to send that out, whereas you might not get the press from $20 of ad clicks, that would be as effective. And so, however you’re going to find influencers. We like a couple platforms #paid and Impact or a couple that we recommend to clients as being ways that larger brands can at scale pay money to go have influencers do some stuff for them.
If you’re in the beauty or fashion space, if you’re going to launch the company, have somebody launch it with you. I recommended on, I think it was yesterday as well. I had a couple of these conversations. I was like, give up some of the equity to an influencer in your brain.

Jon:
Yeah.

Ryan:
If you don’t know the social space well or you don’t have the following, give them an upside and find an influencer that really believes in what you do or what you’re making that has a following. And I think that can be a big help.

Jon:
It seems to work really well. That’s been a great game plan for a lot of brands that are DTC lately, right? Those online only direct to consumer brands that are getting their footing and they’re seeing high evaluations. So, it makes sense influencers to get a very small percentage and as a brand owner, it’s better to have, at least in my view, a smaller piece of a big pie than all the pie that’s tiny.

Ryan:
Oh yeah.

Jon:
So, it’s worth dividing that up a little bit.

Announcer:
You’re listening to Drive and Convert, the podcast focused on e-commerce growth. Your hosts are Jon MacDonald, founder of The Good, a conversion rate optimization agency that works with e-commerce brands to help convert more of their visitors into buyers. And Ryan Garrow of Logical Position, a digital marketing agency offering pay per click management, search engine optimization and website design services to brands of all sizes. If you find this podcast helpful, please help us out by leaving a review on Apple Podcasts and sharing it with a friend or colleague. Thank you.

Jon:
Okay. We’ve talked a little bit about influencers. A lot of the other usuals, are there new platforms that companies need to look at to find traffic that maybe you and I have never addressed? I mean, is there something that I don’t know about? It’s very possible.

Ryan:
I think, there are some things, if you’re a direct consumer brand selling on your website. I think, many brands don’t realize the power of retailers. Joyful Dirt has a lot of retailers, they’re great. And they sell a good volume of product. I take a smaller margin on the product by letting them make money as well. But I look at it as a marketing channel for me. [crosstalk 00:21:43]. Yeah, the more people that see it in a store, the more likely they are to have that recognition when they’re out shopping somewhere else or online looking for plant food. I mean, as many retailers as wanted to carry my product, I’m going to be fine. Even online only retailers we signed up.

Jon:
Yeah. That’s actually great. One of my good friends who runs a brand called CROSSNET, which is basically volleyball and Foursquare combined. And they’ve been blowing up and I said, “What’s your split?” And he said, “85% online.” And I said, “But you talk about retail all the time for 15% of revenue.” And he said, “Jon, I’m in all these retails because I give them a display that they will put up in their aisle, that people see it. And then they know the brand and then they buy the product, and then maybe they start talking at it, they post it on social. And it’s done really, really well. Even though it’s less of their revenue makeup, a lot of those people end up going online and buying it because they remember it.” They’re like, “Oh, that’s not cool, when summer comes around or whatever, we’ll go and get that for our family, we’re taking that big trip.”
And talk about influencers. They’ve had a huge rush with the NIL. The NCAA name and image likeness, where now you can get college athletes. Yeah. So, they have like 500 athletes that they basically gave a free setup to and said, “You have to for six months post something every week.” And they’re getting huge influence on TikTok through that. And they haven’t had to buy any ads on TikTok. It’s all been that organic play from these folks who are in their target market. So, there’s a lot of ways to do this. I think that that they’ve had to do without going to Facebook, which was their major channel. Right? So, there’s a lot of those type of things to be thinking about.

Ryan:
Yep. And I think that those that are trying to get into retail, it’s not as complex as a lot of people want to make it out to be. You can go through distributors if you want, but even I tested on [Fair 00:23:40], we started putting our product on Fair, and Fair is man, they are doing awesome. They are a great platform. I think they are going to take over the world for small business and helping them find product to sell. I think it’s way better than like Alibaba dropshipping. Like, Hey, go buy some product. You can test some things real easy on your online storefront without a lot of risk. For some of you B2B companies out there, there are unique platforms to what you sell potentially. Like one of my business partners, he’s helping set up what they’re calling the Amazon of B2B chemical purchasing.
And so, a lot of people buy chemicals for products and it’s not an easy way to find out who’s selling what chemical or who has inventory. And so, we’re trying to connect buyers and sellers in their Amazon type platform. So, those are always going to be popping up depending on your industry. And so, you’ll know better where people are trying to, but if there’s not one for your industry, go make it. I mean, there’s nothing inhibiting you from putting up a site and trying to connect buyers and sellers. If you need that resource.

Jon:
They’re basically free to start. And you’re solving the business game that’s on both ends, right? Because you need the sellers and the buyers, but if you can get enough influence going from either of those two sides and then get the other side to start following on, you will have demand and be that broker, and basically getting in the way of money. Right? And so, you just take a percentage and for helping make the connection. And that can scale very quickly, even in a small niche.

Ryan:
For sure. I mean, if you’re going to be the entire pie, it’s still going to be pretty lucrative depending on the market you’re in. And so, I would challenge a lot of companies really to start look… you have to be planning. And I think that small businesses really lack the foresight in saying, “Hey, I’m going to sit down, take the time away from the business.” You don’t have to go to Hawaii. Maybe you just need to take a weekend where you’re turning everything off. I’m going to plan and say, “Okay, what is my next, even, just months out for your SEO, for example, takes planning. You can’t just flip a switch on SEO and then have traffic next month, but you need to be doing that saying, okay, where’s my next source of traffic going to come from? If I see the writing on the wall, that Google ads has a cap basically looks like it’s going to be hitting maybe three or four months.
I need to start now supplementing that with SEO, that I can find certain terms that make sense. Everybody should be doing SEO all the time, but the smaller you are against bigger competitors. Like I compete with some of the biggest companies on the planet as a small business, I have to be creative. I can’t just go head to head, brute for strength on paid search or Facebook, Instagram. I have to be thinking outside… You have to be doing things like NIO like, hey, send product to athletes that can now accept it without breaking the rules. That’s a massive opportunity that didn’t exist six months ago. I mean, I just saw an article that was a high school quarterback that just signed a $1.4 million endorsement deal. What? The kids in high school. I mean, Jon, you were going to play college ball. Could you imagine if somebody dropped a million dollars in your lap in high school?

Jon:
Well, back then, I mean, I was only allowed $15 a day in meals from the school. The rules were so tight and archaic. It was just like, I’m working for the school, basically, playing basketball. Right? And it’s affecting my education and yeah, I’m getting a severely discounted and, or free education out of it. But the reality is that when you break that down on the hourly cost, I was making less a minimum wage by far to get my butt out of bed at six in the morning and start running lines. Right?

Ryan:
And as a basketball player, $15, I mean, yeah. Maybe $15 at taco bell would’ve worked, but $15 is [crosstalk 00:27:14].

Jon:
That was the maximum benefit per meal. And normally when we traveled, we got one meal because it was like, you’d leave after lunch and get on the bus to drive to the game. And you would eat dinner on the way home. And so, it was just, yeah. I don’t know.

Ryan:
Wow.

Jon:
It’s come a long way. And I mean, I hear things like that and I’m like, you know what? It’s about time.

Ryan:
Yeah. I agree.

Jon:
[crosstalk 00:27:38].

Ryan:
I just think I would’ve been the biggest idiot. You gave me a million dollars at 18. Oh man. 18 year old Ryan would’ve just been…

Jon:
You’d be like LeBron James and own Hummer.

Ryan:
Yeah. He handled it well. He had a lot of people in place, I think to help it. I think most people don’t like, I would’ve been.

Jon:
Well, he almost screwed it up with that Hummer but yeah. He turned it around and he has done. A remarkable job from the outside looking in anyways. Yeah. Okay. So anything else we didn’t, we didn’t touch on?

Ryan:
The final point that I think a lot of companies aren’t aware of yet is I think the value of owning an app and being able to own your following and control it better. We’re launching our own app with Joyful Dirt in the next couple weeks. And not because I think the app is the coolest thing, but if you have… I think we have 5500 followers right now on Instagram and we make a post and I think maybe 250, 300 people see it. It’s not a massive amount of our followers. I can boost it and get them there. But if I have 5,500 people on app, they all get to see it. I can do notifications if they’ve allowed those. You can do a lot more control of your audience if you were all around an app. So, I think apps are going to be a next, the next iteration of social and if you’ve built a following of a million followers on Instagram, that’s awesome. But those are also, those are Instagram clients. Instagram’s not looking at them as your clients. They’re not your followers.
You can try to move them they won’t all move with you to somewhere else. So again, I think the game is going to be around control, like who owns that first party data. And that’s what you’re missing on a lot of these platforms now that you will own on an app, hopefully. So, at least I’m testing it.

Jon:
That’s awesome. That’s a really great angle. Definitely share the link with me. I’d love to check out the app and see where that goes. But I do think at the same time that this first party data is really where brands are figuring out they need to play. And a lot of brands it’s really, really late. They should have been figuring that out a year ago that Facebook owns that audience. And if something happens at Facebook, then your audience isn’t there. I mean, just a couple weeks ago when Facebook went down for a day or whatever. The whole world was freaking out. And I thought it was interesting that all these brands who hadn’t been doing anything on Twitter started going on Twitter and having a lot of fun again on Twitter. And it blew up, there was this one thread that Twitter posted something about Facebook being down like, oh, Hey everybody, good to see you again. It’s been a while. Right?
And then every single brand started chiming in about, basically wink, wink, making fun of Facebook for being down. And I just thought it was sad to some degree, I laughed at it and I thought it was enjoyable. But at the same time, it’s like, wow, where have these brands been with this wit and everything else. They could have been on Twitter and at least spread the love a little bit, right across multiple channels. But at the same time, they really still need to be building their own channels with that first party day data. And the best way to do that is to drive people back to either your email list or your app, or anything that you can own. And outside of that, you’re going to be falling behind because Facebook won’t be here forever. It really won’t. As much as we like to think it’s a blink of the eye. And in internet terms, even though internet hasn’t been around that long, still has not been here that long, even looking at the timeline of the internet.

Ryan:
Yeah.

Jon:
And it’s already starting to decline pretty rapidly. So, I do wonder what the next thing is going to be. Everybody’s talking about TikTok being it, but the reality is that you need to get people back to your own site and claim and own that experience. I’m a firm believer in that.

Ryan:
I am as well. And I think there’s a lot of companies that are going to be left out because they haven’t focused on owning data and owning audiences. And the big companies that do that are really going to be in a position to create a monopoly. And it’s going to be sad because of what I see happening within Google and they’re focus on automation within the e-commerce in particular, in two years, starting a company is going to be astronomically more difficult than it is right now. Because I think in the e-commerce terms or in online terms, that rich are going to get richer. The more data you have, the more customers you have right now that like you and believe in your brand, the more you’re going to be able to insulate yourself from external change. And so for my brands, it’s like pedal to the metal, get as much as we can now.
We don’t need to focus on profit right now. Thankfully, we don’t have to as a business, but even if we did, I would say minimize profit. We’re going to eat beans for a while because we have to get big enough to be able to insulate us with our own data and our own customers, so that we don’t have to rely on continuing to push against a Google algorithm that is determining who wins and who loses. I don’t want somebody else telling me I’m a winner or a loser. I want to determine that myself. The writing on the wall right now says that’s where we’re going to be in a couple years.

Jon:
Well, Ryan, you’re a winner in my book and I appreciate you sharing all of this with me today. I’ve learned a lot. Hopefully, everyone listening has as well. I’m glad you found some clarity in Hawaii, both personally and professionally, it sounds like. And you got 10 days away without the kids. I hope I can convince my wife to do the same at some point.

Ryan:
It was great though, I would say the reentry though, with a thousand emails waiting for me was not the greatest [crosstalk 00:33:05] that problem.

Jon:
I’m sorry to have added to that. But that is called email bankruptcy, select all archive. If they need me, they’ll get back to me.

Ryan:
Yes. I probably need to figure that out on Monday. Thanks, Jon, I appreciate your time.

Jon:
Have a good one.

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About the Author

James Sowers

James Sowers is the Director of Marketing at The Good. He has more than a decade of experience helping software and ecommerce companies accelerate their growth and improve their customer experience.