Search Interviews:

Samir Balwani 3:10

Yeah, that’s a great question. And you know, honestly, American Express is an awesome place to work at. So if you are looking for a place to work at please go apply there. You know, I would say an american express my role, I was senior manager of brand strategy, I got to work on some really amazing brand campaigns, everything from sponsoring the US Open to running digital ad campaigns for an open forum at the time. And I really, it was fantastic. And one of the key things that I learned and one of the things that makes Amex such an amazing place to work at is how intentional they are on hiring people management and growth. And I think that that a lot of small businesses, and a lot of agencies especially forget that their people are their most important asset. And in the day to day management of clients, we forget to take care of our people. And so I was very intentional about that when I started Korea as well. You know, we’re 15 people and we have a full time HR person, it was one of the number one most important things that I wanted to make sure that we had, you know, we’ve always had 360 reviews, growth plans, doing annual reviews, these are, you know, for me, these were all non negotiables because I wanted to make sure that the people I work with, and the people on the team are happy, passionate excited. Because we work in a creative world. We’re not just cogs in a wheel. And if you don’t love what you do, you don’t feel like what you do is impactful. You’re just not going to do it right. Burnout is very real. It doesn’t always mean that you’re burnt out because you were working too hard. Sometimes you may Have you working really hard and just no one noticed. And that will lead to burnout too. So I wanted to make sure that there was always an opportunity for us to notice and recognize and give people an opportunity to be heard, which is something I definitely learned from AmEx and then something that they’ve done just incredibly well.

Jeremy Weisz 5:18

What else does it ah, I find that really insightful. What else does the HR person in in you help incorporate? You mentioned 360 reviews, the growth plans, what else?

Samir Balwani 5:28

So Avery’s our HR person and she didn’t manage our people and culture, and she does everything from talent acquisition. So actually going out and finding people to join our team and making sure they’re the right fit for us. All of the internal culture, events, everything from our virtual happy hours, because we are a fully remote team, to managing and planning our annual retreats where we all get together, we’re actually going to Nashville this year, I will have a chance to all get together and spend some time together. And those retreats are 15% business. And the rest of it is really just for us to be able to do all of the watercooler talk in this short period of time and be able to actually know who we work with outside of work. Because I think that that’s a really important aspect that’s been tough to replicate in a remote agency.

Jeremy Weisz 6:22

Do you have staff outside the US International?

Samir Balwani 6:25

Now? Everyone needs space? Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Well, that was a strategic decision, because it is it adds a whole level of complexity, that we’re still a little small to try and to manage against.

Jeremy Weisz 6:38

What else did you learn from American Express? So obviously, the importance of, you know, training, and, you know, being there for the team? What else did you bring into QRY?

Samir Balwani 6:51

Yeah, I think some people will call it bureaucracy. And I think that there’s a fine balance between bureaucracy and process driven thinking. And I think that that’s the really good thing that Alex has done. And obviously it ebbs and flows. And they’re constantly trying to figure out how to make sure process doesn’t get in the way of innovation. But really understanding what needs to be done, how it needs to be done, what actually moves the needle, training people on those things. And then building cross functional teams around it. So I think that that has been a really key learning for us of okay, we, you know, we do one thing really well, we’ve created this framework and methodology for growth, but how do we actually train people on it? How do we do it consistently over time? And how do we also give it enough of a fuzzy exterior, that we cannot, we can change it for some of our clients, you know, there are things that need to be adapted on a client by client basis. So creating that has been a really fun learning, and just something that’s really been helpful from my American Express days. I think that that has been great. And then the other thing that I learned from having fantastic leaders at Max was, what it means to be a people leader, and how you can create an environment where people can make mistakes. And obviously, you have your line in the sand of do not make mistakes past this. But how do you create those internal processes or opportunities where people can help have mistakes, make mistakes be celebrated for the mistakes I men made? Because it means they’re being innovative or trying something new? And so that was another really insightful thing that I brought into Korea as well.

Jeremy Weisz 8:50

Is there an example you could think of Samir of like a celebrated mistake?

Samir Balwani 8:58

You know, I probably take an example from, to from our company, you know, we’ve made mistakes, we make mistakes pretty regularly, because it usually means we’re pushing the envelope, but it’ll be everything from you, and everything from naming something different in how we run campaigns, and then realizing, Oh, wait, that naming convention actually worked out better in our favor. And so while you would think, no, it broke things along the way, because the name is tied to a lot of systems that we have internally, but at the end of the day, we look back on it and go Wait, okay, that actually makes sense. So it’s hard because we don’t look at mistakes as mistakes, but really just what did we learn from it? How can it be adapted and in this instance, it actually did adapt and it refined our process and we ended up moving forward from it. So yeah, it’s hard to kind of pinpoint any singular mistake that was like a true mistake.

Jeremy Weisz 9:55

When you were talking bureaucracy. I thought you were gonna say management layers. Yeah. have right now, how do you you came from a company? There’s a lot of different layers. And they’re in there for a reason. How did you incorporate that into your agency?

Samir Balwani 10:10

Yeah, yeah. It’s interesting that you asked that. So I feel like when I started query, everybody was all about flat structure. And it was everybody’s the same. There are no layers. And candidly, I think that that’s a mistake, I think, layers and organizational structure is important. It allows people to have someone to lean on that has more experience than them, it gives you an opportunity to actually celebrate people and empower people that have more experience. So we do not have a flat structure, we actually do have a layered structure, we have a coordinator level, a manager, a strategist level and a director level. That’s unlocked a few elements actually, for us, our strategists are empowered to think strategically manage their own campaigns, be an expert in what they do. But they have directors to lean on when they’re not sure or need to learn or need to have a strategic long term view. It’s also allowed me to step out of day to day delivery and client management, and have a long term view for the agency and continue to grow. I think if everybody were the same level without having any kind of org structure, we’d all be on top of each other’s toes not knowing who to lean to who to go to, for things, and even at 16 People like we eat this.

Jeremy Weisz 11:40

So the different positions, because I know you probably have different positions within the company, or different categories of positions, like there’s HR, or there’s probably people managing ads and other things. Because each different kind of genre position have kind of coordinator strategist director is that only in certain positions.

Samir Balwani 11:58

And so for the most part, we’ve got coordinator roles open in every position. It really depends on workload, most of the time we see it that on coordinator needs more on our media team side, where there’s actually a lot of like, setting up ads or making edits, things like that, where it’s more in platform work, versus strategic decisions, the way the way I think about it, and I would challenge everyone else to start thinking about it this way, too, is the time horizon by which your your employees look at things will determine their seniority. So I know my coordinators are looking at things. Okay. What am I doing today, that’s going to impact next week, my strategists are looking at things on a month time horizon, what am I doing today, that’s going to impact the next month, then my directors are looking at it. Okay, what do we do this quarter, that’s going to impact the next quarter. And ultimately, our VPS will start looking at it on an annual basis. What are our clients doing this year that will impact next year? Right? As CEO, I look at the business on a two to five year plan. What are we doing this year, that’s going to set us up for success in five years. And I think that with seniority that long term view only comes with experience of this is what actually happens over time. And so that’s also where like layers has been helpful. I’ve learned that from American Express to truthfully, being able to sit in with a VPN and say, oh, yeah, you know, we’re building this out, we don’t envision this being put into market until, you know, a year and a half from now. And then the expected return is three years after that, that really long term vision is is it as a unique skill set?

Jeremy Weisz 13:40

Yeah, yes. Um, I love how you talk about putting this infrastructure in early because I think the most a lot of the companies I talked to, don’t do that. And even from the HR from the get go, you’re like, This is a non negotiable. I need this because this is what’s going to help build the team and build the culture. What was the hardest thing transitioning from American Express to your company?

Samir Balwani 14:06

I think it’s the hardest thing when transitioning from anywhere where you work, not for yourself to working for yourself. There are two things that are really hard. So one, you are responsible for every decision. There’s no one else you can’t blame anyone else. A mistake is made. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter who made the mistake that was on you. It either means that you put the wrong person in that role or you didn’t have the right process in place. Regardless, it always comes to you. The second one is and this is more of a psychological impact when you have to let go of somebody. When you have to let go of someone at a large agent and a large company or anywhere else. Your brain can shield itself and say, well, HR told me I had to do this, or the company told me I have to do this. When you’re an agency owner or any entrepreneur and you have to let go someone you are the final decision maker or you will never forget that. And so that that was definitely a really tough transition for me.

Jeremy Weisz 15:08

What made you decide to finally strike out on your own and leave American Express,

Samir Balwani 15:14

I come from a family of business owners. So it was just a matter of time. My dad owns and it step my mom and dad together on an IT staffing business, my sister has actually just taken over that business as my parents are in what I like to call semi retirement, because I don’t think entrepreneurs ever actually retire. So I always knew this was going to be the case. Interestingly enough, I actually tried to start an agency when I graduated college, and so this is actually the lifecycle of the agency world for me. So I in college, I realized, I really like advertising. And I can make a pretty penny with affiliate marketing on Facebook and Google ads. And so that was my first step into advertising. And if you Google my name, and you go back in time, you can see some of my old stuff. And it’s cringe worthy to me now, as I look back on things, but is still pretty amazing to see that how quickly and how early I started. So graduated to that 1008 recession. told my parents, I’m not gonna go find a job, I’m gonna start my own agency, my dad looked at me like I was crazy. But he said, Cool, you’ve got three months to figure it out. If you can, if you can cover rent, that we are going to charge you in three months, you can stay here and continue building your agency if not need to go get the job. Lo and behold, I tried to start the agency realize I know nothing, like literally don’t understand like anything. And so obviously failed. And when I joined another agency, I joined a company called Morpheus media at the time, which honestly, is probably one of the pivotal moments in my career and life in general, actually. So I’ve made some of my best friends actually my best man. At my wedding I met at that agency. My boss at the time is still a really good friend of mine, the owner of that agency is a mentor, who I still talk chat with and talk to regularly. And so I went into the agency knowing I wanted to learn as much as I could about what it meant to have an agency run an agency be an agency. So started that for a while, realized I wanted to also experience what it meant to be a startup at a startup. So I went to stop cast our Head of Marketing there got a chance to explore what it meant like to be in a startup, what it meant to own a p&l, what it meant to hire and fire all that.

Jeremy Weisz 17:42

Was Morpheus, a bigger agency,

Samir Balwani 17:44

midsize. So I would say midsize agencies small to midsize agencies are the best place to learn. You are absolutely asked to stretch beyond everything, there is a lot of just figure it out mentality, which I think is key. And I definitely learned a lot there. And so that was helpful in terms of setting up that mentality, I think that mentality of just figuring out is really is key stuff, faster startup life, the insanity of startups key. And then after that, I went to American Express. And I actually strategically went to American Express because I wanted to learn what it was like to work on marketing at the enterprise level, because I thought, hey, if I’m going to sell to these guys, at some point, I should understand what happens on the other end, so I can actually speak their language and understand what happens. So finally, after I felt like I learned everything I could in American Express and said, You know, I think it’s time to try again. At this point. Now I had that agency experience startup experience and fortune 500 experience. I felt like I was armed and ready to kind of start this.

Jeremy Weisz 18:55

You know, I want to talk about so people get checkout. Okay, though the website and you have a page benchmarks. Can you walk me through why you created this page? And what what’s there?

Samir Balwani 19:10

Yeah, so the benchmark phase is really awesome. So we get the pleasure of working with a lot of high growth direct to consumer econ brands, and we run all of their media, which means that we run all their advertising on paid search, social display connected TV. And in some cases, like even out of home or podcasts. So we collect a lot of data. And I think it was really important for us to share high level trends that we’re seeing in the marketplace. Because we are a data first business. We want people to recognize where they should be versus where they may be. And so the benchmarks page actually outlines out the key KPIs that we look at on a regular basis. So total revenue growth, total revenue from advertising, our CPM, so cost per million calls per Millay, that’s it CPCs all the way down to conversion rate. And I know one of the things that we always struggled with was our campaigns down because the market is down or our campaigns down because we’re doing something wrong. And so we’ve been using this data pretty internally. Obviously, we’ve done only 28 days on the benchmarks Republic, but for our team, we have annualized data that we compare and contrast against. So you know, for us, this is kind of our nexus of how we look at things and gauge on how we’re doing.

Jeremy Weisz 20:37

Yeah, so if you’re watching the video right now, I have the page up right here. You can see some of the metrics. Right here with revenue, CPM, CPC, CTR and conversion rate. As I scroll through, this is actual data. Yeah. Right. So this is live to the day. So we have revenue here. Yeah. So what does this mean? Right here?

Samir Balwani 20:59

Yeah. So we’re looking at total revenue across all of our econ stores. So our clients are down a little bit over the last 28 days, and a pretty volatile few weeks. But we’re up 35% from previous year. So on average, our clients are seeing at least a 35% growth on their their ecommerce store. Then we have total media revenue, which is actually how much we have driven from our advertising. People are up 80% from last year from their advertising. So we’ve been able to really scale a lot of our brands.

Jeremy Weisz 21:29

So now we’ll go down to CPM for a second. Yeah.

Samir Balwani 21:32

So this is the cost to advertise across all of our channels. So CPM is how much you pay for 1000 impressions. We if you are there in the media world, you’ve been talking about rising inflation in advertising costs, and you’re seeing it right here. And we were up 14%, just over the last 20 days and up 40% from last year. So costs are definitely rising. Do you see

Jeremy Weisz 21:57

you you’re talking, I said what’s top of mind? And you mentioned potential recession? Or, you know, do you think this will be affected? Income down because people will drop out of advertising? Or how do you think that will be affected in a year or two?

Samir Balwani 22:16

It’s really interesting that you asked that. So there’s a few things that will happen. And just I am not an economist by any length of it, I maybe amateur economist at best.

Jeremy Weisz 22:31

You to get your your economics degree Rocker I did a little, a little bit of street,

Samir Balwani 22:36

just enough rope to hang myself, right. So so, you know, agencies tend to be lagging indicators. So we usually when a recession happens, we tend to get hit after the fact, which is interesting, because usually media costs are cut early. But it’s not always. You know, we’re doing budgeting for next year. And so if we’re in recession right now, our budgets are going to be impacted next year, even though the recession is happening now. So here is my hope. These are my dreams. If this comes to reality, I’ll be super excited. I am hoping our recession is deep and quick. And we come right back, which means that you maybe we’re in a recessionary period this quarter, next quarter, and then are coming back in early 2023. Which means that our budgets won’t be cut as immensely as they could be if this is a long drawn out recession. So that’s, that’s our hope. If the if it is deep, yes, I expect CPM prices to drop pretty drastically. I will say that there’s another story around the CPM prices. And actually, if you scroll down, I can tell this story. So CPMs are up cost per click is up as well. That’s because the cost to actually reach someone has gone up. So then CPCs have also gone up as well. And then if you scroll down, one more, our click through rates are slightly down, which means that people are not engaging with the creative as well as they were. But then if you scroll down, bottom, are coming conversion rates are up drastically, though. And so what this tells me from a story perspective is yes, it’s more expensive to advertise to people. Yes, it’s getting more expensive to get people to our website. And yes, only a certain subsection of people are engaging with our creative, but those people are extremely valuable. And so it’s important to look at that full story. Because if you only looked at the first three metrics, you’d say, oh my god, this is all broken. This is not going to work. That last conversion rate data as well as the overarching numbers are really

Jeremy Weisz 24:50

Yeah, that’s a great point. What made you decide to share this publicly? I mean, you can just easily keep this internal with the team and talk about have a meeting about opposite trends, why share it?

Samir Balwani 25:03

Yeah. You know, it’s interesting you asked that. So similarly, what you said is, there’s a value and giving value and it same thing from our perspective, you know, from from us our vision for the agency, the thing that gets us really excited, how do we take brands and make them household names, sometimes that means working with them directly and being a partner and helping them grow. And sometimes that means just being on the sideline and being able to add to the ecosystem overall, I think this benchmark data is really important for people. Because, you know, candidly, you sit there and you’re like, oh, man, is this something I did broken? Or is the whole industry as a whole? Is there something going on in the market? We we are a marketer, subscribers, because we want to know what trends we’re seeing and forecasting and same situation, I think it’s, it’s, if we can do it, we should.

Jeremy Weisz 25:51

I want to talk them through a real world case examples. So people can kind of understand also, what you do. Yeah. query. And so talk about delsey. Yeah, so

Samir Balwani 26:04

Delsey is an awesome example. Because we signed on delsey. International luggage brand, they’re out France, they’re an amazing brand, super high quality heritage, they launched an e commerce Store in the US wanted to really scale it. And, of course, COVID hit, and no one’s traveling anymore. And

Jeremy Weisz 26:27

not to be in trouble. Yeah, not

Samir Balwani 26:29

good to be in travel. Not only was it not good to be in travel, but supply chain disruptions were insane for them, because think about it, they’re from a manufacturer and have to bring it here. So they definitely expected major struggles. But luckily, our team was able to work with them, we put together a strategic plan for them to help them scale pretty aggressively. And actually, they saw, since we ran their campaigns, they increase our revenue 142%, just in that one quarter. And I can hear people in my head because I know as I’m, as I’m a numbers guy, I’m like how you went from 10 to 100. That’s like, cool, but doesn’t really mean anything. I think the key thing is we went from 3% of their total revenue, again, large heritage, wholesale brand to 8% of the revenue. So under 42% was was a meaningful number for them. The key elements for delsey, we put together a really strategic media forecast for them using their data, we layered in information around COVID. And what our expectations were from there, and then helped coordinate with their team to really understand their supply chain issues. So what products was going to be what products were going to be in stock versus out of stock? How can we promote what needed to be in stock? How can we promote or create demand for things that would be restocked? And so we’re really strong partners on that end, we put together a full new framework, we helped coordinate with them on creative. So we don’t actually create creative, but we do full creative briefings for our clients and use the data to help them understand what’s actually going to work. And because of that, that that’s the reason why they saw such great success and were able to really scale. When they come

Jeremy Weisz 28:15

to you, Samir, just walk through the timeline for a second. So you put together kind of like a strategic media forecast, then you’re kind of analyzing that what what happens next? And before you actually turn the ads on. Yeah, so

Samir Balwani 28:31

before we get started with any of our clients, we do a full four week discovery, four to six weeks full discovery that covers everything from tell me about the brand. Who are you? What’s your vision? What’s your mission? Who’s your customer? How do you expect them to engage with you? What are your competitors doing in the market? What do we plan on doing from a marketing calendar outside immediate, you know, our benchmark is we don’t want advertising to drive more than about 40% of your total revenue, anything more than that, and that means that it’s unhealthy growth for the business. So we really want to understand what’s on your marketing calendar. What else are you doing? Where are you investing? How can we help you support those initiatives. So all of that happens in this upfront, full 12 month media forecast, every month broken out by customer set stage, broken out by all those core KPIs. You just looked at CPM click through rate CPC, because we want to use this as our diagnostic if something’s not working, we go back to the media forecast and know what’s out of whack what needs to be fixed. So that that gets done. We also put together what we call learning agenda. It’s an ad experimentation plan that says hey, because of these KPIs, this is what we want to be testing. The we’re prioritizing and based on what we think the impact will be and and our confidence level in that impact. And so that’s been really helpful for making sure that we’re constantly iterating on the campaigns and driving that incremental value over time. once that’s all done, client signs off on it, usually budget sign off is the one that takes the longest. Then our team says, okay, great, we’re gonna take over, we take over campaigns, we’ve built out campaigns into our structure and our frameworks. And we run from there. And so

Jeremy Weisz 30:18

we talked a little bit before we hit record about what it means to grow a direct to consumer brand. And, you know, with that, store, some of store, you know, actually brick and mortar, some don’t. So, how do you think about growing as a direct consumer brand now?

Samir Balwani 30:39

Yeah, you know, it’s interesting as on LinkedIn this morning, and the first thing that pops up is somebody on my feed doing VDC is dead. And obviously, it was a very, like tongue in cheek because then you open it up and he’s like, no DTC is not dead. This, these are all the reasons why it’s not dead. And, you know, I, my response was 100%, DTC is not dead. But the idea of a DTC brand, I think is going to change. And the reason why I say that is because directly consumers that channel, it’s how we reach consumers. We don’t build brands around channels, we build brands around the the need that they serve for the customer that they reach. No one would say, I’m a Facebook brand, like, Yeah, but you’re not just a Facebook brand. There are other options and other abilities. So I think that the people are starting to realize that that is the case that there’s an evolution happening in direct to consumer.

Jeremy Weisz 31:34

How do you feel brick and mortar fits into this?

Samir Balwani 31:37

You know, ultimately, I think brick and mortar and wholesale are so important. It does two things. So, you know, agencies feel this pain, right? Ability to enter into the agency world is really easy. No, there’s no nothing stopping you from spinning up an agency tomorrow. But how do you differentiate yourself from everyone else, and there are certain validations that you need to do. For retail brands, it’s really easy to validate. I’m in Nordstrom, cool, I have instant validation, I have a brick and mortar store. Great instant validation. So I think one of the things that we’re going to start to see is direct to consumer brands rethinking what it means to be a wholesale partners, what it means to have brick and mortar locations that they own and operate. Because it’s not only about how much revenue did I generate from that store? But it’s also how much brand awareness or marketing equivalents do we drive from being there that then supported my direct to consumer store? Right? I think that the idea of how everything plays together is going to start to become more and more important. And it has, it’s already really important, but I think it’s going to be a bigger question. And I think what we’re starting to see is direct to consumer going from this is what’s going to solve all of our woes to oh, this is just another tool in our toolbox. And we’re going to have to do other things as well.

Jeremy Weisz 33:07

What do you look at as a brand? To just who do you recommend people look at like when I think when you say that certain brands pop in my mind like Warby Parker that started direct to consumer and then they have, you know, retail popping up, who do you look at? And maybe, maybe we’ve heard of them, maybe it’s like, here’s a brand to look at.

Samir Balwani 33:28

You know, it’s really interesting. I don’t know that anyone’s done it. Well, across the board. I think that that’s the promise. So there is one that stands out to me, I think Harry’s did a great job. And specifically, you know, Harry’s direct to consumer and they were launched online, great story. The thing that stood out to me was when they did wholesale to target, they didn’t just wholesale all of their products, they created a wholesale, they created a specific product for target, it was their razor and target read. And I think that that is really unique because it didn’t cannibalize their direct to consumer products, if you but it did build brand awareness for their brand. And so I think the strategy of how you enter into wholesale how you enter into brick and mortar is going to need to shift the product sets how you present yourself all of that. And that’s where I think Director consumer brands are in a really unique position to when they don’t have any of the legacy baggage that retail brands have where they’ve had to already open up their entire product portfolio and say, okay, cool. You have to have all of us, you know, hey, retailer, a you have pressing control over you have discounting control over us. And so that’s where I think, direct to consumer, that leverage that they bring by having their own customer base is really valuable.

Jeremy Weisz 34:48

You also worked with Peak Design. Yeah,

Samir Balwani 34:52

they’re an awesome brand. If you if you’re into photography, if you’re into mobile phones, you want to go explore Are check them out, I can’t be more excited about working with them.

Jeremy Weisz 35:04

What do you do for Peak Design?

Samir Balwani 35:06

Yeah, so we run all their media as well. And they’re super cool brand. And our contact delicious there, it’s just awesome to super smart. What I would say is they like to run. And so we’ve had to be really good partners for them and just be available and, and help them really think through what are big things that are going to make big changes, big impacts, and, you know, bringing some of our rigor and frameworks to them has helped them unlock a lot of growth, and help them scale in a very meaningful way. Also, you know, another thing that we do, that we end up having to educate a lot of our clients on is how we look at the effectiveness of advertising, right, and what it means to be effective. So we do this in a really unique way. And a lot of times, if you are an e commerce Store owner, you’ve probably seen these ads all the time, we promise a six times return on adspend, 14 times return on ad spend, you know, we’ll show you read this case study on how so and so Brian invested $1 and made $20 back, all of those are crap. And I like it just bothers me when I see that stuff. So here are the reasons why. One, one of two things is happening. One, the agency is using what is called attributed numbers. That’s from the platform itself. So hey, Facebook, hey, I’m Facebook, I’m going to tell you that when you ran this dollar, this amount of people purchased from you. Great in you know, if you’re small, feel free to use those numbers. But as you scale, you can’t. And the reason why is because Facebook, Google, all these guys do two things, they do what’s called attribution windows. So they may do a one day view, which means I viewed the product and then purchased in that and didn’t ever engage with it, but I just purchased. So I’ll take credit for that. Or seven day click, I clicked on the ad and then within seven days I purchased fine. But here’s the problem. What if I saw a Facebook ad and then clicked a Google ad. And now who gets attribution? Well, if you just add them together, you can end up in a situation where your attributed media revenue is larger than your total ecom revenue. And we have seen that happen. And so we do not use attributed for reporting, what we do is we use last click. And obviously as brands get better, there’s data driven and modeling out there. But for an easy way of getting started, we use last click, what’s the last click? It’s in Google Analytics. What was the last channel somebody interacted with that finally led to the purchase? Right? And what that allows us to do is it D dupes, everything. So we can only have one last person. And that allows us to have a really clear view of things what the downsides of it is it over estimates Google. And under estimates, things like Facebook, all those brand awareness elements. way we solve for that is we’ve created internal benchmarks that we know, you know, Facebook is going to do XY and Z. And we want to target this benchmark, because we know that we’ll see the hill. So that’s one. The second thing that we do is we tell our clients, we’re going to work with you. Let’s figure out what your product margins are. Let’s solve for what we call your breakeven return on adspend. What is the lowest return on adspend that we can drive to that will still drive revenue for the business without losing on that product. And we know that we’ll make your margin on the halo that comes from advertising, right? Because we’re looking at last look super conservative, we’re not taking into account any view throughs or anybody that didn’t, you know, click the Google ad and then click the Google circuit. We know we’ll make that money there. What that does is it solves two things. One, it allows us to invest in real time in brand awareness and brand building audience development for the brand while growing top line revenue. So what ends up happening is we start to see brands stay at that low as well top buy while revenue continues to increase over time, because we’re building awareness, turning them into customers and our ability to spend on those remarketing conversion ads increases over time. And so that’s how we’ve been able to scale. It takes a lot of education on our clients. And it definitely is a mindset mindset shift for a lot

Jeremy Weisz 39:44

of them. Lifetime value. play into that because I could feel like with that and I love how you broke it down break even return on adspend you’re basically acquiring customers for free or you’re making money on customers but there is a life mean value of people that are going to purchase? So how does lifetime value play into that? It does.

Samir Balwani 40:07

And so you know, lifetime value is great. It’s also dangerous. And so, you know, SAS platforms love using lifetime value. I love lifetime value process platforms, I get nervous about lifetime value for consumer brands, retail brands, we use it as a secondary metric for us. And here’s the reason why LTV can get really good to be really careful about TV. When we run advertising for campaigns for clients, and this is actually Jeremy and I were talking about privacy concerns and how that impacts. So this is actually one of those areas where privacy starts to play out, I can’t clearly create a campaign that only targets net new consumers. So there is an opportunity that a purchase that I acquired is an existing customer, I just paid to advertise against them. So if I start optimizing my campaigns to lifetime value, I may end up in a situation where I’m actually losing a lot of money, because some percentage of my customers are actually not new to the business. And so we definitely use it as a secondary metric. We include it in our breakeven row as calculations when we’re when we’re able to. So we’ll do like a percentage new to file from advertising index in there. But it’s definitely something that I would recommend clients, especially in retail fashion apparel, be really careful about your SAS has it easy, you acquire the customer, once you’re rebuilding on them, you never have to pay to acquire them again. LTV makes great sense. But in retail you are you are literally paying to reacquire customers over and over again.

Jeremy Weisz 41:52

Yeah, yeah. What goes through my mind too, even with DLC as well? How many times? am I buying luggage? You know, I buy it? I don’t know if when I’m buying it again. Maybe? Like Max Yeah, you maybe never I mean? Yeah. But those say, you know, you may tell family. Oh, where’d you get that? And that may be you can’t really it’s hard to attribute. Someone just, you know, that came in from an ad. Five years later it goes, Oh, I love your luggage. Where’d you get it? I got it from delsey. And then they tell their family and they buy the luggage to write.

Samir Balwani 42:26

You know, one of the things that an understated tool that not a lot of people use that I think is actually really important. We’re trying to help our clients understand the value of is how did you find us tools? So inquire Labs is a great tool for Shopify, that we really like and they are on your Shopify checkout, they asked you like how, how did you find us and you got that in. And it helps you really quantify some of that. And obviously, it is directional, because you’re not going to be creating major plans around some of it. But it does allow you to get a better understanding of the impacts of things. And what is your word of mouth? Like we would love to see more word of mouth, that means you have a good product, right?

Jeremy Weisz 43:05

Are you finding a lot of the sites that you work with? Because you’re driving them to pages and things? Are they using Shopify?

Samir Balwani 43:14

We are 95% of our clients are on Shopify. We are big Shopify fans, I would recommend being on Shopify, the ecosystem is really fantastic. And it’s it’s rare that you’re trying to do something that Shopify can’t. Typically I honestly also, one of our core values is simplify. I think that if you are trying to do something that Shopify can’t, you may want to rethink it, because your consumer may not be able to actually really understand it. And so I think the value in some of these tools, and from a UX standpoint, I just want it to be brainless and mindless and quick and easy. The less obstacles, the better.

Jeremy Weisz 43:59

I’m gonna have two last questions. One, I want to hear about your favorite Shopify apps, right? Because the more your customer, you know, your clients incorporate these things, the you know, it helps them make more money, obviously. And before you answer that, I just want to know who’s ideal who’s an ideal client for you. someone’s listening to this. Maybe they know of a brand. Who’s who should be contacting you.

Samir Balwani 44:23

Yeah. If you want to work with us, our ideal client is an e commerce Store. 2 million in revenue, at least, most of our clients are spending at least a million in advertising a year. It’s the point at which we’re actually able to really scale you and our framework really comes to fruition. You don’t need to be quite at that level you if you have a path to that, that’s fine for us. We’ll definitely reach out to us. We also do a quick review of your core KPIs because we have an internal index that we used to really understand if we’re if we would be able to be successful. So we are very careful about the clients that we bring on. There’s a reason why we have a 30% annual revenue growth and average 80% year over year media growth so we can quickly tell who would be successful, we recommend you reach out schedule a call with our our strategist and we’ll we’ll be able to either tell you if we’ll be successful or be give you the path to them, for sure. In terms of partners that we love working with, so I am a big, big fan of inquire Labs, which you just heard about. Try now is another really cool tool that I would recommend you guys check out. The whole concept around trying before you buy has become really big, especially fashion apparel, you know, lifestyle brands as a whole. Having the ability to try things has been really cool. We’ve worked with a company called Rijkaard pretty regularly, I would check them out. And then not a Shopify app, but something that’s been super interesting. They’re called loose data. They do a lot of data sets for E commerce brands and shopping and pricing information. That’s been really helpful. So I’m trying to think who else has been naming

Jeremy Weisz 46:20

other favorite Shopify apps or, or tools in E commerce? Yeah,

Samir Balwani 46:25

I think there’s two like influencer groups that we’ve been really liking to hashtag paid and a company called Koli. I would check them out for influencer management.

Jeremy Weisz 46:38

How do you spell? Oh, I

Samir Balwani 46:40

Cohley. Oh, and I definitely check out a company called They have been super cool and being able to unlock some of our some data sets for us, which has been awesome. And I think that, that, especially as we talk privacy and cookie data going away, being able to access your own first party data in a different ways, or zero party data, as I like to call it in a different way. It’s been really awesome. So probably I can, as a follow up, I can also send you some more just to include in the show notes for sure.

Jeremy Weisz 47:24

I don’t know when you’re talking to clients, if they mentioned any their favorites. I know some stuff that’s come up in my conversation. People use yacht po what that is for, but that’s come up in conversation. And there’s so many out there, I’m sure there’s so

Samir Balwani 47:41

many I think it’s actually interesting, I think we’ll have to write it. Here’s our favorite Shopify tech stack. For sure. You know, a lot of the times so your posts break for ratings and reviews Klaviyo for email. For us, we tend to really just look at it from a media perspective, we don’t really get to see the whole picture regularly. Because it really there’s so many options out there and just so much that you can do with it. Which is why whenever someone says we’re going to do Shopify, because we couldn’t get what we needed, like I don’t think you tried everything, to be able to do it. So yeah, I think that there’s there’s a lot there’s one that I actually really, I’m going to call out and goes back to our CES our our gift back there’s a company called shopping gifts, which I would check out and they do the whole if you’ve ever been to I think like CVS and shop right and all these guys do you go and would you like to round up to donate to your local charity shopping GUIDs incorporates that into Shopify directly so people can round up on their process. So any charitable portion of your business that’s a really easy way to kind of get it front and center.

Jeremy Weisz 48:52

Shopping gives love it. So I’m here I want to be the first one to thank you everyone check out which is we Learn more, Samir, thanks so much.

Samir Balwani 49:07

Thank you so much. This is great.