I bought an eCommerce business

Hey there, welcome to my first time writing this newsletter without a filter 😎

I'll be experimenting with a few things over the next few weeks. Let me know what you think of this "late night" edition.

Earlier this week, Taylor Holiday (yes, I have a slight man crush on him) put out a good reminder about the challenges of measuring performance on a YoY basis. In it, he says that comping last year is only useful if this year's plan look like last year's plan.

It's a great point and a reminder that too much of how we define success in this industry is based on YoY comps.

But I'd like build on this thought starter...

This year is already very distinct then years past. Regardless of what you did or are currently doing.

For example, aggregate retail sales this February were down -0.1% compared to the month prior (source). A pretty big miss compared to that same MoM stat in Feb 2022 where sales grew +1.3% MoM.

And when looking into more specific categories, these declines have larger splits:

So by setting your goals based on beating last year, you're putting yourself up against insane headwinds.

Maybe you're trying to do too much at once: acquire new customers, turn a profit, launch new products, and more.

All while still trying to achieve top-line revenue growth.

I'm not saying it's not achievable. But it's going to require you doing something new. And I don't see a lot of you doing that.

Most of the recent conversations I've been having IRL and on Twitter have just been fielding complaints about Performance Max, GA4, new UI rollouts, match types, etc etc..

I swear some of you think Performance Max is a robust, secret operation to get you to spend $8 more this quarter on your branded terms.

Like that's going to save the $GOOG stock price LOL

All of the ad platforms are doing this. Even Pinterest. Calm down.

The digital ads ecosystem and the way consumers are spending their money have completely changed.

It's time to evolve. So stop complaining. Just take the time to figure it out.

I applied a few of the tactics I commonly talk about to this bird-feeder drop shipping website that hasn't been updated since 2009 and 5X'd their profits with Performance Max.

video preview

Trust me you can do it.

Here's a video showing the process I took with about 3 hours worth of work.

Put simply, I fired up a few pivot tables and Merchant Center and implemented the following:

  1. I found out which of their categories were driving the most volume
  2. Segmented those categories into their own asset groups in one Performance Max campaign
  3. Added relevant images, videos, headlines, description text, and audiences to those groups
  4. Added more relevant terms to the titles & descriptions of top performing products
  5. Uncapped budgets 🚀

That's it. No stress about branded search, seeing which search terms were working. None of it. I just leaned in to what the system wanted.

I get that you have a certain way of doing things. And that method has done really well for you.

But you sound like Blockbuster back in 2013.

Before I start in my new role, I've spent the last few days dabbling with ad channels beyond Google Ads.

I purchased a small eCommerce store to play around with and it's taught me more about eComm than I've learned in over a decade on the "support" side. Highly recommend getting your hands (and your credit card) dirty.

Here's a look at performance from the last 7 days (my Google Ads account is suspended 🤷):

As you can see in what I'm tracking above, I'm looking at an overall blended ROAS, comparing my total marketing spend with total revenue (basically Marketing Efficiency Ratio or MER).

Maybe I'm wrong here, but I don't care too much about what the Meta or TikTok ad platform says about CPA or ROAS. I just care about my bottom line.

To achieve first-order profitability, I'm solely focusing on the difference in AOV and CPA. It currently costs me $12 to fulfill an order, so over the past seven days I've made $4 in profit-per-order (AOV - CPA = $16 then subtract $12 COGS = $4 profit).

I don't think this is enough juice to pay for our nanny so I'm working on:

  • Increasing the AOV through product bundles, faster shipping options, and upsells
  • Decreasing CPA through better ads and conversion rate optimization
  • Lowering COGS by finding new suppliers and getting better shipping rates

Even though I'm currently unable to run Google Ads, I'm going to be using my branded search volume as a way to grow this business. Here's a look at organic search impressions from my Google Search Console where there's a pretty clear correlation between impression volume and ad spend.

As much as I love paid media, I would really like to build in some organic momentum here so have been cranking out GPT built blog posts and am actively looking for people to run my organic socials.

I literally got pitched by an 11th grade on Twitter who wants $2,500/month to do this. He currently runs this for 10 brands. What a world.

Lastly, my plan this week is to build out a brand new attempt at Meta ads. Largely inspired by Cody Plofker's recent banger of a newsletter. I'll report back next week on how this goes.

Thanks for reading! Reply any time, I'd love to hear from you.

Want to work together? Book a coaching or strategy session here

Hi! I'm Ben

I’m a CMO (and former Googler) helping DTC brands and online retailers make sense of the things that matter. Subscribe to my newsletter for my unique perspectives, relevant data, and ways to grow your business.

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