Arlen: Welcome to the eCommerce marketing podcast, everyone. I am your host Arlen Robinson, and today we have a very special guest, Bill Bice, serial entrepreneur since age 14. He is passionate about enabling smaller businesses to more successfully compete with their larger competitors through effective marketing. Through the years, Bill has built and invested in over 25 companies but kept finding the same flaws in marketing strategies, so as a programmer at heart, he founded Boomtime, a company that tackles marketing as a technology problem.
Bill: it’s great to be with you.
Arlen: Yeah, no problem.
Thank you for joining us today and I’m super excited to talk to you today. Of course, about, you know, using technology and using data to help dictate the specific marketing strategies for eCommerce businesses. Cause it’s definitely a hot topic. And as we all know, data is truly King these days. I want to say it used to be content is King.
I think data is King now, so I’m really excited to see. The light that you can shed on that particular subject. But before we get into all of that, why don’t you tell us a little bit more about your background and specifically how you got into what you’re doing today? Well, you
Bill: know, I started a software company when I was, when I was.
Very young at age 18 I, I, you know, I joke, I’m just like bill Gates because I started a software company in Albuquerque, New Mexico, which is actually where Microsoft was founded. You know, I dropped out of the university of New Mexico. He dropped out of Harvard. He became the world’s richest man. I, I did not, but I had a lot of fun building this company, and.
Although I thought I knew it all and therefore it, it took me a lot longer to actually figure out how to run the business. We eventually became the leader in our, in our niche, and, uh, had a good exit from the company. And that gave me the opportunity to turn around and start, uh, several more and invest in, uh, in a whole series of companies and, and find ways to make sort of every, every mistake you can make in building a business.
And you know, in marketing was just the, the key part of that because how good you are at marketing really determines how successful your company is. And the reason I’m doing boom time is cause I just got frustrated with how difficult it is to get real scale and efficiency in your marketing.
Arlen: Yeah, that’s so true.
And that’s, marketing is so very important. It’s one of the things that my business partner consistently is an advocate for telling people and especially new businesses. And. Entrepreneurs and it’s something that, you know, you really have to be on top of because without the, without the marketing, you’re, you know, you’re really, um, you know, kind of nothing.
You have to constantly be, be mindful of all of those activities. So, yeah, that’s, that’s some good stuff. And it sounds like, yeah, you definitely have got a diverse experience there. I started as a serial entrepreneur. I see at the age of 14, actually, what was the first business that you did have at the age of 14.
Bill: So that was putting on there. There’s this little sports store that was behind the high school I went to. And so I’d jump over the fence and hang out there instead of going to school. And I got to with the, with the help of the family business there, I got to start my own little business. It was putting on road races, you know, marathons and tin Ks and you know, we’d go get sponsors and put on the races.
And that was the first software I wrote to, to track all that.
Arlen: Well, thanks a lot for sharing that bill. I appreciate that. That’s really just a Testament to the fact that you’re just really never too young to be an entrepreneur. So, you know, if you have an idea, no matter what your age, you can really just go for it.
The, uh, you know, really the sky’s the limit. So that’s, that’s awesome that you, that you went forward at that age. And you know, earlier, so I had mentioned, and there’s a really a lot of talk about data. You know, there’s so much talk about data these days because it’s so readily available. Just like, you know, we’re at a time, like unlike any time before where data can be accessed by just really everyone.
There’s so many means of collecting data, customer information, and you name it, it’s, it’s out there, it’s available. You just have to. You know, kind of plug into it, but it can be a little overwhelming for business owners, eCommerce business owners specifically, as far as, you know, what do they look for? You know, so, uh, you know, to help simplify things for them.
What specific data really does need to be tracked to implement solid marketing strategies.
Bill: So what I’d like to talk about Arlyn is, is the data at, at the top of the funnel. So you certainly talked in the past, you know, about a, and there’s a lot about what, what happens once you get somebody into the purchase process.
So when we think about. The data from the marketing of getting, you know, getting somebody to our site, building a relationship with them. I think that’s a really fascinating area because that’s, that’s what’s really gonna drive the longterm success of your business is that that ability to attract more prospects.
And you know, and we’re just, as you mentioned, we’re in a completely different world now because we used to really have no idea what our marketing was doing. And now it’s almost like we, we have, we have the potential for way too much data. And the thing that I really focus on is, is engagement. What is, what is the content we’re putting out that is, that is really driving engagement.
And if we focus on that and iterate on it and create a holistic view of what the customer journey is like. From social media posts that you’re doing to LinkedIn, to interaction on your, your website to emails. Seeing that across those channels is where we really see the great insights about what is it that we’re talking about that’s really, that’s really working well.
That’s how you figure out how to just keep iterating with each new marketing campaign. Like every campaign you send out, there should be something that you’re testing and learning from that. And then if you’re doing that, you’re just constantly getting better.
Arlen: Right, right. That’s, that is so true. It’s almost like, you know, these days, business owners, because of the amount of data and the way that you can kind of put stuff out there so quickly, it’s almost like we kind of have a whole almost, you know, the internet or the world and all of these different platforms are almost just like a kind of a sandbox environment for us to just kind of try things very quickly.
And oftentimes. Spend, you know, not a whole lot of money where it’s not that it wasn’t that easy before as you mentioned. Cause you know, prior to the internet, of course, regular traditional types of advertising, you just had TV, radio and print advertising. And a lot of times you’re just kinda shooting in the dark.
Of course. Those types of publications and those types of channels had, you know, certain set of demographics that they’re dealing with. But as far as what you mentioned, engagement, it was pretty tough in those days. You know, I think they’ve kind of relied more on, you know, maybe tracking a specific fall number that they gave out for people that, that people who call in, you know, things like that.
Or offering different promotions and seeing who would take advantage of a promotion. And you know, they would know if somebody took advantage of. You know, such and such promotion, they came from this publication, but that’s, that was really hard to do. But these days, the engagement tracking is really easy to do and it can be set up so that you can truly, you know, really, like you said, iterate after you see some results and double down based on the engagement that you see on different platforms.
Now, speaking of iterating, after seeing results, what. Are some specific tools and resources that are actually required to, you know, to really make all this happen, to track all of this data and make decisions based
Bill: on it. Yes. I really like to add something to what you were just saying there, which is that, so if you’re in a, if you’re in a higher price point category where the sales cycle is longer, your first conversion should be just capturing one thing, which is their email address.
And I think sometimes there’s way too much focus on getting. Deeper into the funnel, but if, if you just get really good at that of capturing every prospect that you pull to the side and then put a drip campaign behind that so that you’re automatic, we’re following up with every prospect and tie that to the length of, of your average sales cycle.
I just say, I see so many businesses that that. That aren’t doing that really core thing and it’s, you know, it’s amazingly effective and that conversion is where everything at the top of the funnel is how we’re going to evaluate that. Did we convert them into an email address that now we get to follow up with?
Arlen: Yeah, definitely. And that’s, that is so true. Getting, it’s critical to get that email at least. And I was just thinking about. These days, many eCommerce businesses and insights these days are utilizing the communication engagement via live chat or the chat bots on the websites. And that’s another great way to pull in the email address and kind of tie it into their campaigns.
Bill: Yeah. And some, you know, sometimes the conversion rate on on Chad is just an incredible, so if you’re not doing it, you absolutely have to test it because it’s crazy how many good prospects you can get by doing that.
Arlen: Well, yeah, definitely cause people that take the time to chat with, you know, your sales or support rep and you know, going in there asking them specific questions, those are hot.
Those are hot prospects. Those are people that are. You know, really just kind of steps away from pulling the trigger, so to speak. And, um, you know, may just need a little bit of pushing. To get them to convert.
Bill: Yeah. So the tool question that you were getting to, I think the key in terms of following the data is to, is to pull all the analytics together in, in a more complete view.
So, you know, so often we go in and look at Google analytics as one thing, and we look at our mail stats is another thing. Look at our social media stats. That’s another thing, putting in the effort so that every link that you send out, the email is coded so that you can separate that traffic out in Google analytics and see how the traffic that’s coming from your email campaigns.
How are they using the site, what are, what are they finding interesting and what is engaging them? That’s the kind of thing that really is where you. Is where you get insights and, and it’s tougher for a smaller business cause you may not have the ability or have invested in the, you know, the same level analytic tools that, that make that easy.
We built our own platform to do it because that’s, that’s the thing that I always want to see is that overall customer journey across channels.
Arlen: I guess there’s the implementation and the use of these. Analytics tools? Is that something that just really kind of any, anyone can do? Let’s say you’re a solopreneur, solo, entrepreneur and running kind of a one man shop.
Do you need to really outsource it to get somebody to set this up for you? Or can these things be done effectively in
Bill: house? What is great if you have the passion and want to figure it out, but. In my experience most of the time that doesn’t happen, you know? And the same thing with what is sort of the other big challenge with us.
So what, you know, what we see being enormously effective over and over again is insight, perspective driven content. And that’s just like getting the analytics up the right way, getting that steady flow. I mean, it’s, you know, it’s easy to, easy is not the right word, but it’s very reasonable to get the marketing automation set up for, you know, abandoned shopping cart.
So not in, you know, put in the drip campaign to follow up on every email you capture, you know, if you’ve got to do, but then what really works. Is to think about, okay, what does my audience really care about and what’s the perspective I can share about that? That study content is really how you add value to your audience.
That’s how you keep pulling them back over and over again. That’s really tough to do yourself. You know? So sometimes you have, because you’re a solo and that’s your only choice, but you know, my recommendation is find a writer. That’s great back that can take your ideas and do the work for you. Cause it’s so tough to stare at a blank screen.
Arlen: Yeah. Yeah. It really is. And I think that’s where a lot of business owners kind of struggle with because they’ve all heard that, you know, you’ve got to engage your customers. You got to engage your prospects via email or various different touch points. But like you said, a lot of times they find themselves just staring at a blank screen that cause they don’t know what to put out there.
What content to write. And it can be a little daunting and overwhelming to, you know, to figure out what to do. But yeah, so it can come to the point where you, if you do need to engage a writer, someone that can kind of take your general ideas of where you want to go, that the people that you should want to reach and get it out there because you know, otherwise.
If you just kind of throwing stuff out there, if you’re just trying to promote, promote, promote, and not really giving people any value, it’s just going to go straight into the trash. And you know, I’m, it’s going to be overlooked because people these days, of course, everyone is inundated with email. And if you’re not really answering their questions or adding really valued too to them and not just kind of pushing your products or services down this ropes, then you know there it’s just going to go by the wayside.
So. That makes a lot of sense as far as you know, engaging someone to help you out with that.
Bill: Absolutely. And you know, the, the problem with with is all getting too much email. The solution for your business is you need to send more email, but the only way you can make that as for, to truly have value. And so don’t just hire a copywriter, hire somebody who knows your audience, understands what they really care about and can really write to that.
I mean, we built a network of 300 subject matter experts to be able to do exactly that because it’s just the only way to get
Arlen: there. Right. Yes, I can imagine. Um, and that’s, that’s really a great pool of resources that you can tap into and based on pools and resources. Speaking of that, kind of looking back and thinking about about your history and all of the things that you’ve done and what you’ve invested in over 25 companies, and if kind of run the gamut of, of different types of marketing strategies and things that have worked and things that haven’t, so in your experience, like what flaws have you seen companies make.
And their marketing strategies over the years that you know, anyone listening can learn from and learn what not to do.
Bill: No. The two biggest mistakes that I just see over and over again. Talking about yourself. Like if your marketing is about you and your products, people are going to turn you off is exactly what you were saying.
But it’s the biggest mistake in marketing. And so talking about what your audience cares about, you know, most companies. Their marketing’s 90% about them and 10% about, about what their audience cares about. And we got to flip that around the other way. It’s not, it’s not that you don’t talk about new products and you know, talk about the great things that are happening in your company, but the 90% of it’s gotta be about, so what, what you do, how does it help people in their careers, in their business, in their lives that makes it so much more relevant to them?
And then the second biggest problem is you’ve got to do that consistently. This is the reason so many companies don’t get a real ROI on their marketing because it’s really just doing random acts of marketing and what you’ve got to do is pick a strategy, commit to it longterm, and do the hard work of just doing it day in and day out.
Arlen: yeah, definitely. And you’re right, that is truly the biggest mistake is just talking too much about yourself and your company and your products and services. And it’s, it’s, it’s hard not to do that. And I understand where business owners are coming from because you know, they’re under the gun, they got to make sales, and they’re trying to, everything they can to reach the customer, but they have to put their, the shoes on their feet as well and figure out, okay, if I’m.
I’m the customer, what would, what would I appreciate and what would really kind of make my day w what are some things that would be, you know, a value to me? And I think that’s, that’s really where they have to step in. And, you know, it does take time. Um, you know, when you’re coming up with these campaigns and you, you’re gonna kind of be massaging these customers, you’re going to get them to know you, your brand.
You’re going to get them to trust you. And respect you, respect that maybe you’re, maybe you are a particular authority and a specific niche. And then, you know, over time, once that relationship is formed, then they can then start thinking about becoming a customer. And then you can kind of further engage them into how you can really help them.
But it is a process and it doesn’t, you know, these types of campaigns, you know, aren’t gonna win customers overnight. And that’s, I think, what a lot of. Companies do have to realize as well
Bill: that nails it. Exactly.
Arlen: And, um, you know, with, as far as all of this data that we’re gathering, once the. Company has gathered, like you said, a lot of this top of funnel type of data where people are engaging, what platforms they’re on.
You know, you mentioned a few things before as far as, uh, abandoned cart campaigns, which are really common. I know there’s a lot of other types of things that you can do such as retargeting, but are there any other specific strategies they should implement once they have kind of narrowed down where they’re getting the most engagement.
Bill: So we specialize in B2B, and one of the benefits of that is that if you get really good at three channels, you’ll do really well in B to B. You know, your website, of course is in central, but if you add email and LinkedIn to that, so you know, emails, how we, how we stay top of mind with all the audience that we’ve built.
LinkedIn is the perfect way to expand that audience and drive as much of that to email as possible. So when you’re working in that kind of high value context, the great thing about that, as you can just, you can get really focused on, on just three channels, and I would say whatever you’re doing, you’re going to be better at focusing at where, because so much of the marketing advice is you need to be everywhere all the time, right?
And that’s really difficult for a small business to do. I’d rather test. See where we’re getting the best engagement, and then really focus on that approach and be great at that, grow the business that way, and then over time add other channel that just, I think it’s so tough for a small business to be everywhere all the time.
Arlen: Yeah. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. So rather than casting such a wide net across all of these channels and then they’re already down when your, your advice is to cache a more of a narrow net and specific channels. And then see how that goes, and then kind of pivot as necessary depending on the engagement.
Arlen: Okay, great. Yeah, that’s, that’s some great advice. And a lot of times you don’t hear that because I think, you know, business owners are always taught to just. Kind of blasted out there, blasted out on all of these, these channels. And always, you know, the kind of, the new buzzword these days is the Omni channel marketing.
I’m the Omni channel approach where you’re gonna, you gotta be everywhere and just, you know, anytime you put out content, you gotta put it on all of these platforms all at once. And, you know, go, go for broke and it can be done. But the bottom line is. A lot of those efforts would be a waste of time because you could just be kind of spinning your wheels and platforms where you just really never going to get any traction.
So yeah, that you say definitely makes a lot of sense. As we prepare to wrap things up, my, my listeners are always familiar with this type of question that I ask because I’m always an advocate of gleaning. Other top brands and seeing what they do and learning from them. So I just wanted to pick your brain a little bit and see what are some examples of some top eCommerce brands that you’ve seen that have used data really well?
And I’ve implemented some successful marketing strategies. I think
Bill: there’s a lot of value in learning from, from big brands. In fact, it’s a, it’s a core principle for me in marketing, which is whatever you want to do. There’s book, there’s already somebody who spent millions of dollars testing that, and so it makes a lot more sense to learn from them, but we tend to work with a lot of.
A very nichey clients. And, uh, you know, as an example, we’ve got a manufacturing company that makes Springs industrial Springs for very specific, nichey markets. And there’s interesting challenges around that because how do you separate out from, you know, Springs that you can buy at Walmart? You know, obviously this is a very different thing.
And so that’s a great example of where. Really following the data and understanding what is actually getting you the right customer. Because just getting clicks doesn’t really mean anything if you know for not turning those into prospects. And it’s typically not just a direct, you know, click to sale.
The sales cycle is longer, and so tracking that all the way through is. It’s just absolutely crucial. And this is a great example of a, of a Google ads campaign that we took over where there’s so many companies that spend money on advertising with, with not without having the right foundation in place to leverage the leads that are going to be generated from that.
And so I want to see that foundation before spending a dollar one on, on paid advertising. And so often there’s so much growth. Just in the audience you already have if you just do a better job of capturing those leads and following up with them. And so this was just a great example of doing exactly that and taking an ad spend that that just wasn’t producing results and turning it around into a steady flow of nice leads very quickly just by doing the things where we were talking about right now.
Arlen: That’s awesome. Yeah, it’s a, you know, a lot of times it’s, it’s kind of the little things that you just need to do consistently to. To take things to the next level. A lot of times I think these brands are, you know, they’re kind of on the cusp there to kind of just about there to find out where the engagement is coming from and it’s, and like we said earlier, that the data is there.
It’s just a matter of examining it and then making it, you know, the right decision based on that. So, um, yeah, it’s, it’s good to know that, you know, all of these things are all doable no matter what’s the size of your company is. In
Bill: Ireland. I recently bought a company just so I could do marketing for it and add the commerce component
Arlen: to it because
Bill: I just love these businesses where you, you’ve done a really great job of taking care of your clients that generates referrals and, and then if you just do the kind of marketing that, you know, if you’ve already done all that hard work.
Then doing the kind of marketing that we’re talking about that really amplifies word of mouth. You know, normally we just, we get paid a subscription to do that, but the value that gets created if you do it well, it’s just tremendous. And so I just decided to buy the company because it was a perfect example of where, you know, we see this kind of great success, you know, and this way I get to actually capture the full value of the growth that we create.
And so I, you know. I really believe in what we’re doing here, because I, I see it in the, in the data, and I went as far as to buy a company just so I could
Arlen: do it. Okay, great. Yeah, that’s, that’s awesome. So it was kind of like your own, your own little experiment, I guess, if you will, you, we, um, you just kind of wanted to see what you could take it.
Bill: Yeah. I just, I love the idea of capturing the full value of. Of the growth that we are creating. And you know, and, and I had, I had the confidence to do that because I’ve seen it in the, in the data over and over again.
Arlen: That makes a lot of sense. And that’s just really kind of a great way to sum things up that based on that data, you kind of already knew what direction you could take it because it was already there.
And that’s, that’s one of the things that never lies, you know, data numbers day, they don’t lie. And so, you know, you can really. You know, honestly make solid decisions based on, on that and what you’ve seen. So. Great. Well, I appreciate you sharing that. That’s, that’s awesome. And I appreciate everything that you’ve discussed today, bill, as far as you know.
Data driven marketing decisions because I know this is really going to go a long way with our audience and I’ve taken a lot of notes myself and some of the things that I’m going to discuss with our marketing team here for sure. So I appreciate that, but I always like to close things out with, you know, kind of a little switch of gears here so that our audience can get to know you just a little bit better.
So if there’s one fun fact that you can let our audience know about you, what would it, what would it be?
Bill: I’m really lucky cause I get to live in the mountains here in New Mexico between Albuquerque and Santa Fe. And I just love to mountain bike. So I’m surrounded by trails and, uh, I’ve been working at home for a little while now or like, you know, the whole world is kind of catching up to that at the, at the moment.
And, uh, so perfectly escaped to go out for a little little mountain bike ride in the afternoon.
Arlen: Okay. That’s, that’s great. And, uh, I’m, I’m right there with you. I’m here in the Orlando area somewhere right outside of Orlando, and we have some awesome trails here. And because it’s, uh, we haven’t hit the. The peak summer weather here in Florida.
It’s not super high. It’s super humid. It’s, it’s great for, for mountain biking song. I’m right there with you just on the other side of the other part of the country. So that’s, that’s great. Yeah. Like mountain biking is, it’s a great activity where you can kind of just escape, get out on a trail. And, um.
You know, get some great exercise. So great. Yeah, I really appreciate you sharing that as well. And, uh, you know, uh, if, uh, any of our listeners want to pick your brain anymore about data driven marketing decisions or just anything e-commerce marketing in general, what is the best way for them to get in touch with you?
Bill: Yeah. So you, you can reach out directly to [email protected] and of course that, that’s also our website at dot com go to LinkedIn and look me up and, and you’ll, you’ll see us doing exactly what we recommend you do in terms of this, uh, you know, insight, perspective driven approach to your marketing.
Arlen: Well. That’s awesome. Well, I know our listeners will take advantage of that and reach out to you and your team, and so thank you for sharing that bill, and thank you again for joining us today on the eCommerce marketing podcast.
Founder of Boomtime