The podcast for marketers, by marketers — the Empowered Marketer explores real-world tactics and techniques to grow your ecommerce business.
Host Cara Hogan interviews top ecommerce marketers, B2C growth marketers, and marketing agency leaders to explore how real marketers captivate their audience, convert new buyers, and drive long-term customer loyalty. If you’re looking for vague, inspirational ramblings — go elsewhere. If you’re looking for actionable strategies to up your ecommerce marketing game, get more creative, and be empowered to drive revenue, you’ve come to the right place.
Tappan is an online gallery that sells collections from emerging artists to modern buyers in a way that’s far more accessible and less pretentious.
But convincing ecommerce consumers to spend hundreds of dollars on a painting or portrait isn’t always. Longer buying cycles and high price points for luxury goods mean that marketers like Tappan Director of Brand Marketing Megan Laber have to strategize around storytelling, brand, and customer experience.
OWYN is beloved by health enthusiasts, Instagram influencers, and fitness aficionados alike. But there’s more to this plant-based brand than meets the tongue. Amid a confusing health food and beverage market crowded with buzzwords, OWYN CMO Mark Olivieri has found that marketing a successful beverage brand comes down to knowing your customer, and using data to inform decisions.
Lalo is the modern baby and toddler company that’s simplifying the process for millennial parents-to-be by offering just two products -- The Daily Stroller and The Chair. And Lalo Co-founder, President, and CMO Michael Wider isn’t trying to to recreate the traditional big box retail experience when it comes to baby gear. Instead, he’s focused on pairing a great product with an unbeatable customer experience.
When Maurice Tebele and Martin Hoffstein were out for a drink, they noticed the same thing when looking at the bar -- all of the bottles were bland, boring, and not very colorful. So they decided to do something about it.
The duo crafted JAJA (pronounced ha-ha), a tequila brand inspired by their trip to Jalisco, Mexico that doesn’t take itself too seriously. JAJA Tequila has only been around for a year, but the silver and gold spirits are already sold in 28 states in over 2,000 locations across the US.
As a Graduate Gemologist and fourth-generation jeweler, Olivia Landau has always had a passion for diamonds -- they are a girl’s best friend after all.
She started The Clear Cut as an educational platform where she provided guidance to friends on how to buy diamonds and pick out engagement rings. But with her extensive experience in the industry, it was a natural progression from content into the world of ecommerce. Now, Olivia has cracked the code on reaching modern, luxury buyers in the ways that are most accessible to them and has even sold engagement rings over Instagram DM!
How do you make food and beverage products stand out, both online and on store shelves?
With consumer’s tastes and preferences changing constantly, you always have to keep up with the latest trends to help your clients succeed. Luckily, David Lemley has been in ecommerce since its inception, which means that he’s also seen the space evolve in the last few years.
Because of his passion for natural food and beverage, David founded his own marketing agency, Retail Voodoo. He’s known for helping natural and organic brands like KIND, Essentia Water, and Sahale succeed both online and on shelves.
He focuses on building brand longevity that transcends the trends. But it’s not always easy to make a snack or beverage stand out when there are so many others fighting for consumers’ attention.
Launching a new brand from scratch is incredibly challenging. No one knows who you are; no one knows the value of your products; and you have to acquire an entirely new audience of buyers. But it can be done, and done well.
We’ve all seen the digitally native vertical brands appear out of nowhere and dominate the market. But what does it look like when one of those brands is just getting started? Tracey Wallace has been in the ecommerce world for nearly a decade, but she’s a first-time founder. She launched Doris Sleep, an ethically-made pillow company, just last year while still working at her previous role at Big Commerce. But she had years of experience working at Naturally Curly, an early content and commerce haircare company, as well as Shoptiques, a YCombinator fashion company.
Despite that, Doris Sleep was a whole new ballgame. However, Tracey explains that the business was really in her blood.
As surprising as it may seem, some industries still haven’t fully adapted to the digital world. There are still industries where purchases are made via signed contracts, not through a smooth ecommerce checkout process. But that is changing. Veronica Armstrong is personally looking to infiltrate the wedding industry with an ecommerce mindset. She is the head of marketing at Mayflower Venues, an online marketplace that helps you discover and book unique wedding venues. And Veronica is no stranger to building a brand from the ground up. As employee #4 at Lovepop cards, she saw that brand go from unknown to Sharktank to dominating the specialty card market.
Customer research is the core of every good marketing strategy. Finding product-market fit is nearly impossible if you don’t talk to a ton of people about your product, test it out, and find the audience who truly loves it.
This is exactly the method that helped Josh Zloof find the right customers for Sudden Coffee. He faced what seemed like an insurmountable challenge -- how do you change the bad reputation of instant coffee? To most people, it’s seen as cheap, fast, and pretty tasteless. In comparison, Sudden Coffee offers coffee snobs everywhere a fast and delicious cup that you can buy today on Amazon or at Whole Foods.
But it wasn’t an easy path to get there! After working at Groupon, Josh was determined to start a company in the food space, but couldn’t settle on the right idea. It took him tons of experimentation, a lot of customer research, and a complete re-brand before Sudden found its identity and core market.
Amazon is a behemoth. So much so, that sales on Amazon accounted for a staggering 68% of all ecommerce sales in 2018. And a large portion of Amazon’s massive sales go through third-party sellers that are Fulfilled by Amazon, or FBA sellers. This is exactly the market that Brandon Hendrix focuses on. He’s the VP of Marketing at Thras.io, a fast-growing acquirer of Amazon FBA businesses. Formerly head of acquisition at LovePop, he's now focused entirely on the wild world of Amazon.
Marketplaces everywhere always have a two-sided challenge. You have to both engage your target audience of buyers, and find and engage the right sellers who are a good fit for your specific market. It’s far from easy! Even if what you’re selling is as delicious as food from Uber Eats. Jessica van Rooyen is the Regional Marketing Lead for Uber Eats Canada, the massively successful offshoot of Uber that delivers food to your door. She’s tasked with growing the service not only into new markets, but also with new restaurant partners.
The Empowered Marketer was at Shoptalk 2019 in Las Vegas, along with more than 8,000 smart retailers and eCommerce experts. We were there with an eye out for trends, interesting new marketing ideas, and original observations. Whether you attended or just wish you could have made it, this very special episode of The Empowered Marketer is all Shoptalk, all the time.
Charlie Hustle did something incredibly difficult: they created a t-shirt that became the symbol of a city. Specifically, Kansas City.
The shirt with a simple KC heart design went viral when the Royals won the World Series in 2014, but the brand hasn’t slowed down since. Greg Moore, the Chief Operating Officer at Charlie Hustle, explained that one mega success is not enough for a sustainable business. So today, the vintage-style sports clothing brand puts out a new product every two weeks, expanding into college gear, exclusive licensing deals with pro athletes like Patrick Mahomes, and much more. And Greg is there helping the brand grow and scale.
If you’ve ever dreamed of turning your favorite hobby or passion project into a full-time job, you’re not alone.
That’s what drove Brian Lim, the CEO and Founder of The Emazing Group, to start three massively successful ecommerce brands -- Emazing Lights, iHeartRaves and INTO THE AM. The brands collectively gross over $20M per year and Brian was on season 6 of ABC’s Shark Tank, where he received offers from all five sharks.
But Brian didn’t just have a good idea for a business out of nowhere -- he was a huge fan of the rave scene and he was able to transition for a hobby to a powerhouse business in just a few years.
Consumers can be fickle. But if you build a powerful, loyal community of buyers, it can sustain your brand for years to come. That’s exactly what Griffin Thall has done. He’s the Co-Founder and CEO of Pura Vida Bracelets, which offers colorful, handmade layered bracelets and other jewelry. Griffin and his co-founder bootstrapped the business eight years ago and it’s grown rapidly to more than 650 people spanning four countries. Pura Vida’s success lies in the massive fanbase they’ve built, with 1.4 million followers on Instagram and dedicated audience who show up by the hundreds in-person to their Insta-meetups. Pura Vida is the rare brand that is able to translate an online following into a vibrant, real-world community.
Nearly a year after launching The Empowered Marketer, it's time to reflect back on the many fascinating and insightful B2C marketers we were lucky enough to interview in 2018. Here are some of the very best, including:
Melanie Travis, CEO and Founder of Andie Swim
Dominic Coryell, the Growth Advisor at Glambot
Aneesha Rao, Strategy & Digital Marketing Manager for Need Supply and Totokaelo
Yosef "Joe" Martin, CEO, of Boxycharm
Aaron Orendorff, Editor in Chief for Shopify Plus
When a digital native brand makes the move from Instagram ads to TV ads, it’s a milestone of mainstream success. Shane Pittson is the Head of Marketing for quip, and recently led the digital native brand make the big leap to traditional media. You’ve probably heard of quip already: they make the sleek electric toothbrushes with a subscription. They’re an NYC-based brand looking to make the boring dental industry cool with better design, better customer experience, and even better marketing.
Last week, The Empowered Marketer went to a very special event: the Maker’s Mixer in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Unlike big ecommerce events we’ve attended in the past, this was an intimate event with some really exciting brands all based in the New England area. In this special episode, we talk to the owners and marketers at niche brands like Grain Surfboards and Tributary Brewing that grew from their basements and backyards into full-fledged businesses.
Branding is tough for any B2C business, but is even more so for the fast-growing cannabis industry. Newly legal in Canada and a few states in the US, this space is facing a unique branding challenge. This is exactly what interests Dino H. Carter. He is the owner and chief strategist at D Branding, helping brands discover unique identities. With more than 20 years in marketing, he’s worked with brands like Levi’s, Alfa Romeo, and National Geographic. Now, Dino is turning his eye to cannabis branding.
Some of the most successful ecommerce brands have moved from offering products online only to in-person showrooms, pop-ups, and events. Dormify is one of the digital-native brands that realizes stores aren't dead. The one-stop-shop for small space decorating and inspiration started with college dorms, but has grown from there. Caren Sinclair-Kay, Dormify’s President, helped the company expand beyond ecommerce with showrooms in New York, Chicago, and Maryland, and grew the brand past college dorms.
We’re taking a break from our regularly scheduled interviews for The Empowered Marketer to tell you about an exciting new series we think you’ll love: Marketing Unboxed. It’s a video series from Zaius that pulls back the curtain on how today’s top ecommerce brands are marketing to their customers. For each episode, we’ll be buying a fun product, unboxing it, and then analyzing every marketing touchpoint along the way. Learn more at www.zaius.com/marketingunboxed.
Subscription boxes are everywhere you look. There are boxes for everything from foods to wines to clothes to makeup. Consumers love them because they’re a great way to discover new products and ecommerce leaders love them because of the reliable monthly recurring revenue. But because it's such a successful business model, the market has gotten far more competitive. This is exactly why CEO Yosef “Joe” Martin decided to get directly involved in the marketing for his beauty subscription box company, Boxy
High fashion is a highly competitive space. Between powerful legacy brands and upstart ecommerce companies, it can be hard to reach picky, high-end customers. But Aneesha Rao has fashion buyers down to a science. She’s the Strategy & Digital Marketing Manager for two different high-fashion online retailers: Need Supply and Totokaelo. Both brands curate the best products from a mix of well-known brands and up-and-coming independent designers. The challenge is appealing to buyers with very different styles.
If you have just 9 months to reach your target buyer, how do you not only do it quickly, but also thoughtfully?
This is the exact challenge Ryan Beren faces every day. As the Senior Ecommerce Manager for the maternity brand Ingrid and Isabel, he’s working within an incredibly specific customer lifecycle. He explained that a limited timeline has forced him to become more creative and pay careful attention to the signals customers share.
Recently, thousands of retailers converged on Boston for Etail East 2018 to network and learn about everything on the cutting edge of ecommerce. Of course, The Empowered Marketer had to be there. We went to tons of sessions, took even more notes, and talked with some really interesting marketers from innovative brands, including Framebridge, ASICS, and Reebok. Whether you couldn’t attend the conference yourself, or you couldn’t get to every session you wanted to while you were there, we’ve got you cov
What’s coming next in ecommerce? Aaron Orendorff is uniquely positioned to say. As the Editor in Chief for Shopify Plus, Aaron has deep insights into the rapidly changing world of ecommerce -- especially how new brands are building audiences of loyal and engaged customers. He’s keeping an eye on everything from augmented reality to China’s mobile-first ecomm infrastructure to the top brands killing it today -- and has an opinion on it all.
Growing your customer base takes far more than an effective A/B test. You have to create a growth strategy that is sustainable and repeatable, connecting with buyers on an emotional level -- not just getting a click. In ecommerce, that’s the real difference between spammy “growth hackers” and true growth marketers. Jon Corwin is the real deal. As the Director of Growth Marketing for One Click, the team grows three separate eyewear brands: Readers.com, Sunglass Warehouse, and felix + iris.
Writing is a key and powerful part of marketing, no matter what product you’re selling -- something that Kaleigh Moore knows well. She is the co-founder of Lumen Ventures, a marketing agency that offers crafted content and copywriting to B2B ecommerce brands like BigCommerce, Get Feedback, SnapApp, and more. But wait, B2B? How does that help you as a B2C marketer? At the end of the day, all good marketing matters, and Kaleigh shares how you can appeal to any buyer with creative and interesting content.
If you’re exhausted after years of constant trend stories about Millennials, you’re not alone. Millennials are Killing Diamonds! Millennials are Killing Cars! And now that Gen Z is almost of age, get ready for more trend stories. It may be tiring, but for B2C brands that sell to that exact demographic, it’s vital to understand younger buyers. No one knows that better than MaryLeigh Bliss, the Chief Content Officer of Ypulse, a youth market research company that helps brands understand Gen Y and Gen Z.
Content is one of the most underutilized marketing tactics in B2C and ecommerce today -- but that’s changing quickly. More marketers are creating content to rank on Google and attract a stream of qualified traffic to their ecommerce site. However, content marketing takes a lot of patience, according to Nat Eliason, the Founder of Growth Machine, a content and SEO agency that works with ecommerce sites to surpass 100,000 visitors a month. The problem is unreasonable expectations about content marketing.
Do one thing, and do it well. This advice is a little clichéd, but like most clichés, it has some truth to it -- especially in business. Andie Swim has taken that maxim to heart and is keeping things super simple by selling one fantastic product. The brand offers classic, luxury one-piece bathing suits for women, in just 3 simple styles. And that’s it! You might imagine selling one type of product is limiting, but it’s actually the opposite, according to Melanie Travis, the CEO and Founder of Andie Sw
B2C marketing can be almost anything -- an Instagram story, an in-depth interview, or a short film -- but it can’t be boring. Unfortunately, many brands spend too much time talking about product specifications, and not enough time creating compelling content people truly want to engage with. Output is different. The company creates software and gear for musicians and producers, and their marketing is anything but boring. The brand has a serious cool factor driven by Joey Ng, the VP of Marketing at Outpu
Is your B2C brand shifting to direct to consumer? If so, you’re not alone. As the retail apocalypse continues, many CPG brands realized traditional retail is not the most reliable. Today’s customers want options, which is exactly what John Ryan is working on. John is the Director of Enterprise Ecommerce and Digital Marketing for Combe, the personal care company that owns brands like Just for Men. He’s helping Combe deliver more personal products directly to customers at home.
You’ve probably stories of celebrities paid millions to endorse products and thought, ‘There’s no way I can afford that for my B2C brand!’ But with the right strategy, influencers can drive serious revenue for your brand. Jack Meredith is the Director of Marketing at Kettle & Fire, an organic bone broth company that recently hit shelves at Whole Foods. Jack helped the brand build early traction with a powerful influencer marketing program targeting health and fitness. So how did he do it?
The Empowered Marketer was in Las Vegas last week for Shoptalk 2018, the world’s largest conference for retail, B2C, and ecommerce. Instead of our usual in-depth interview with one smart marketer, we're mixing it up. We attended as many sessions as possible at Shoptalk and interviewed speakers and B2C leaders live at the event. Even if you couldn't make it yourself, this Shoptalk-powered episode will make you feel like you were there. Brought to you by Zaius, the B2C CRM.
Minimum advertised price. It’s not something we talk about often, but it can be a sticking point for B2C brands and retailers alike.
By setting a minimum price for your product, it’s one way that small brands can maintain their value when selling through an online marketplace like Amazon. But MAP policy is just one of the many ways you can build a high-value brand, according to George Mikhail, the Co-Founder and President of DYODE, an ecommerce consultancy.
Brought to you by Zaius, the B2C CRM.
Do you follow a strict ecommerce playbook? Maybe you always run the same few ads, send the same series of emails, and follow the same exact steps to market new products. While it can be useful to create a reliable marketing process, it can also get stale if you never change it up.
That’s exactly why Jurgen Nebelung experiments with new marketing tactics so often. As the VP of Ecommerce and Digital at Tea Forte, he’s always thinking of new ways to turn occasional tea drinkers into loyal customers
When it comes to ecommerce success metrics, customer retention is the only thing that matters to Dominic Coryell. Coryell is the Growth Advisor at Glambot, a site for makeup lovers to buy and sell used makeup. Because the company is offering something new to customers, it can be challenging to convert new buyers. It’s Coryell’s job to make sure the company not only converts new customers, but keeps existing buyers coming back again and again.
Brought to you by Zaius, the B2C CRM.
Is your ecommerce website heart-stoppingly beautiful, or merely functional? If you’re like most marketers, you likely have a long list of site improvements to make, A/B tests to run, and designs to update.
Ross Beyeler wants to help make your B2C website more beautiful AND more effective at converting visitors to customers. He is the founder of Growth Spark, a Shopify-plus agency that helps ecommerce businesses make more money.
Brought to you by Zaius, the B2C CRM.
Ecommerce marketers everywhere have the same fear: that their product becomes a commodity. A commodity is low in value, easily replaced, and can only compete with low prices. The goal of nearly every ecommerce marketer is to build a brand that is so valuable, their product can never be a commodity. This is exactly what Kenny Smithnanic aims to do at Mobovida, an ecommerce company that offers fashion, mobile and travel accessories direct to consumer.
Brought to you by Zaius, the CRM for B2C marketers.