Arlen ([00:02].963)
Welcome to the Ecommerce Marketing Podcast, everyone. My name is Arlen and I am your host. And today we have a very special guest, Nigel Thomas, who is the current CEO of Alpha Inbound, a performance marketing agency that helps DTC brands find more customers through paid advertising. Having scaled 2 marketing agencies from scratch to 7 figures in the last 3 years and leading his teams to spend over $100M on ads for some of the biggest DTC brands, Nigel is a true-bred entrepreneur. With a strong personality and a growing following of over 36,000 people on LinkedIn, he’s on track to become one of the market leaders of the DTC and branding industry. Welcome to the podcast, Nigel.

Nigel Thomas [Alpha Inbound] ([01:01].424)
Wow, that’s a big introduction. Hopefully I can back it up. Pressure’s on. I’m glad to be here.

Arlen ([01:06].788)
Well, I’m sure you, I’m sure you will. Yeah, that’s, that’s quite some accomplishments there for sure. You know what you’ve been doing in the following that you’ve been able to amass as well. You know, it’s not easy to do for sure. I’ve been in the business over 20 years and yeah, my following on LinkedIn is nowhere near here. So I think I got a little bit of work to do.

Nigel Thomas [Alpha Inbound] ([01:27].396)
I’m definitely learning from you guys on the business side, don’t worry, always a student.

Arlen ([01:32].131)
Thank you, thank you, appreciate that. Well, excited to talk to you today. We’re gonna be diving deep into an area that I’m very familiar with and I know you are as well. And of course, that’s performance marketing. And you’re gonna be giving us some great actionable tips and strategies on how any e-commerce business can utilize performance marketing to of course increase their profit in sales, which is really always the bottom line.

Nigel Thomas [Alpha Inbound] ([01:44].79)

Arlen ([01:58].195)
when it comes to growing a business. But before we do get into all of that, why don’t you tell us a little bit more about your background and, you know, specifically how you got into what you’re doing today.

Nigel Thomas [Alpha Inbound] ([02:08].78)
Yeah, sure. So back in 2016, or it was actually 2018, you know, it was the rise of Facebook ads. And even though you said in the intro, true, true bread entrepreneur, 26 years old, I hadn’t realized that I was in a nine to five job, actually working as a cost manager in the construction industry. And I just, I had a feeling that it just, I just wasn’t right for that environment.

And I was just keeping myself to myself. And it was just getting to the point where I saw that the manager who was 20 years ahead of me, and I was thinking to myself, okay, so if I’m staying this job, get the promotions, I will eventually become that guy. Do I want his life? He was a pretty bitter, twisted guy. He wasn’t happy. And to be honest, a lot of people in the construction industry aren’t, it’s a very hard business, it’s very stressed. And most people are just there for the paycheck.

Arlen ([02:51].423)

Nigel Thomas [Alpha Inbound] ([03:04].992)
Now on the side, I started getting some freelance clients on Upwork because of the rise of Facebook ads, right? This was back in the day, by the way, we could slap up some images in Canva and run ads to the homepage and get a six extra turn on ad spends. The good old days. I know for any listeners, you know, it’s painful hearing that. And it’s a lot harder these days, which will get onto the new strategies. And, but yeah, basically I just got enough income to quit my job. And I took the plunge and that’s when, you know, I became an entrepreneur.

Arlen ([03:18].997)

Arlen ([03:26].089)

Nigel Thomas [Alpha Inbound] ([03:33].968)
And, you know, there were two agencies that I built and ultimately those two failed for one reason or another. Then I joined Al for Inbound in 2021. At the time the agency was doing about 5,000 a month from revenue. And I made a promise to the founder. I said to him, I’ll get this agency to a hundred thousand dollars in revenue. I didn’t know exactly how I was going to do it. I just know I wouldn’t stop until I did. And this month, you know, two years on we’ve hit.

Well, it’s actually about 124, 128,000 in revenue. So now achieve that target. So obviously that’s quite good to hit that milestone. And yeah, you know, I’ve learned a hell of a lot of work. We’ve worked with some of the best brands, spent over a hundred million on ads. And, you know, it’s, it’s a hard industry, but as I always say, and I’m sure, you know, you have the same philosophy with what you’re building is that even when the market’s hard, if we are true bred entrepreneurs.

then we should be able to problem solve. And the harder the market is, the more problems there are. So for me, I’m excited because a lot of problems are solved.

Arlen ([04:38].119)
Yeah. Yeah, for sure. For sure. Well, that’s awesome with you. Thank you for sharing that. I really appreciate that. And, you know, those accomplishments that you’ve made with the firms that you’re dealing with are, are some that aren’t easy to accomplish, you know, by a marketing agency. You know, I’ve talked, I’ve had plenty of marketing agencies on that, um, you know, don’t produce numbers anywhere near that. And so, um, yeah, it’s definitely good to hear and it’s great that you’re, you know, kind of well on your way to, uh, you know, continually exceed those numbers.

know, for sure. Um, now, um, of course today we’re gonna be talking about performance marketing. So I want to kind of start off with just kind of, if you can give a brief explanation of performance marketing and really it’s important for DTC brands today.

Nigel Thomas [Alpha Inbound] ([05:25].292)
Yeah, so obviously right now at the time recording, there’s a lot of focus on profit and retention. And this is because, you know, we’re in somewhat of a bear market. So it goes about saying we need to look at our cash and make sure, you know, we’re in the right position to continue growth. But the problem is, is that if you don’t get new customers, regardless of how much you make per customer, you’re still not going to grow as a business, right? So I think the thing is, is that.

Ultimately, it’s just, it’s a lot harder, but it is possible. You know, we’re seeing with the right strategies implemented, which I can get to stronger performance than ever on Facebook. Now, you know, a lot of things have changed since 2017, but here’s one thing I’ll say. The problem is, is that because that, like I said, it was so easy back then, just run, running random images to a homepage and getting such great returns, that was an unrealistic market condition.

But because it was unrealistic and people didn’t realize that at the time, all these new e-commerce brands that flooded the market, they built their entire unit economics and supply chains on unrealistic market conditions. So now things have reset. This is normal now. But the problem is, is they haven’t changed all of their unit economics. So obviously their margins for a lot of the brands are razor thin. You know, some of them aren’t and some of them adapted, the smart ones, and they’re now eating up more market share. But for a lot of them.

They’re fighting against the fact that, you know, they didn’t adapt fast enough. So, you know, we can talk about the numbers we look at. We can talk about the strategies, but ultimately what I’ll say is if you don’t find new customers, no matter how good your retention is, and by the way, I’m a massive believer in having a great customer experience and having a really good lifetime value, if you can’t keep your customers, you haven’t got a business. But having said that, you still need new blood, new oxygen.

to be able to grow more and eat up more market share. If you can’t figure out how to do that, and obviously performance marketing is just a way to accelerate that. That’s why we can pay for more reach on these platforms. If you can’t figure out a way to do that, you’re gonna stagnate as a business. So I think it’s just as important as it always was. It’s just fundamental as a business. You need to find new customers.

Arlen ([07:30].004)

Arlen ([07:42].791)
Yeah, yeah, exactly. You know, and it’s, um, there’s multiple things, of course, that you have to do as a business, you know, a lot of times, uh, you know, on the podcast, I’ve talked to other companies and other, uh, marketing agencies that were, we’ll say, yeah, you’re like, you say, you’re a big fan of customer experience and looking at a site, uh, an e-commerce brands current site, how are they converting once customers are there, you know, so that’s still very important, but the bottom line is, um,

You’ll have nobody to convert if you’re not bringing anybody to the site. So you’ve always got to keep that funnel going, no matter what. And then of course, secondarily, definitely, I mean, or maybe even first before you do that, you’d of course, do that to get the customer experience, your conversion rate down so that you’re getting people into your funnel and you’re converting as many as possible.

Nigel Thomas [Alpha Inbound] ([08:16].322)

Nigel Thomas [Alpha Inbound] ([08:35].136)
Yeah, I’d also say that there’s a quote from Abraham Lincoln, which I love, which is, I mean, he said this himself. If he had six hours to chop down a tree, he’d spend the first four hours sharpening his axe. And I think that’s actually the way that you should acquire customers now. A lot in the time in the past, a lot of brands just had cookie cutter strategies and just ran into it. Now you actually need to plan.

Arlen ([08:50].408)

Arlen ([09:00].905)

Nigel Thomas [Alpha Inbound] ([09:02].884)
You need to get, you know, a sharp ax and that sharp ax in this game is really good content, is a really good customer journey and is an understanding of your unit economics so you can scale not only at the start, but you can maintain that when you get diminishing returns. We can go into all of those things, but I think off the bat, it’s, there’s a lot more strategy needed now. You can’t just dive into it. You need a foundation to build upon. Otherwise you’re, you will, you’re basically gambling.

because that’s what paid advertising is if you don’t know what you’re doing. By the way, Facebook are gonna take your money all day every day, they don’t care. Exactly, they care about their business. And by the way, they care a lot more now.

Arlen ([09:41].119)
Right. Yeah, they don’t care. They don’t care about your return as long as they’re getting theirs.

Arlen ([09:50].095)
Yeah. Oh yeah. For sure. For sure. That’s really true. Yeah. Thanks for sharing that. That’s a, that’s a great quote. I hadn’t heard from Abraham Lincoln. You know, you got to spend, if you’re, if you got six hours to cut down that tree, four hours need to be sharpening that ax and the, you know, but you can relate that to just all aspects of business, meaning to life even. So, uh, yeah, excellent quote there. Um, now, you know, everybody knows in marketing that, uh, and in business that our entrepreneurs know that there’ve been a

Nigel Thomas [Alpha Inbound] ([10:09].968)
I like sharp hugs.

Arlen ([10:17].579)
ton of recent tech advancements in our world. The whole rise of AI, all of these solutions that are making it easier to generate content, you name it. There’s just a boom that’s happened this past year. Now, how have all of these rising advancements influenced the strategy that you guys have for creating this inbound and performance marketing for your customers? And where do you see these?

Nigel Thomas [Alpha Inbound] ([10:27].6)

Arlen ([10:46].955)
Future Trends Heading.

Nigel Thomas [Alpha Inbound] ([10:48].748)
Yeah, so after iOS 14, and this is the same for most agencies. I know a lot of agency owners who have experienced this in the performance marketing space to keep our clients. Really, even though we’re getting paid to run ads and create content, we were spending 50% of our time on attribution. And for a lot of companies that hasn’t changed from the conversations that I have with founders of DTC brands, they’re more confused than ever.

You know, there’s lots of great technologies. There’s also a lot of ones that aren’t so great. And there’s a lot of smoke and mirrors. And I think it’s just got to the point now where people don’t know what the truth is anymore. So I think actually my way of looking at it is focusing on the fundamentals, focusing on, like I said, the unit economics, focusing on great content, focusing on understanding your customer.

and making sure that you’re using first party data to really create customized advertising, which will speak to a specific demographic. And then obviously, the other thing, having a great product is obviously extremely important. A lot of brands don’t, and they focus on marketing and don’t have a great product. And then, of course, customer experience. So there are some great apps in terms of helping with conversion, and there’s a few of attribution. But I also think.

You know, we, we audit brands all the time. They have like 90 apps in their Shopify store and I’m asking them, so what does that do? What does that do? And they’re just like, yeah, we don’t really know, but you know, they’re paying their monthly subscription every month. And I think brands are more confused than ever, which is actually why agencies, the ones that, you know, are going to do well in these next few years, they need to come in and they need to give advice and just streamline everything.

Arlen ([12:20].947)
Yeah, right.

Nigel Thomas [Alpha Inbound] ([12:42].208)
And it’s the same, by the way, it’s the same with ad accounts. We were actually auditing a brand new the day. We’re really struggling spending anywhere between half a million to $800,000 a month on ads and they have no idea what’s going on their ad account. And when we had a look, it’s no surprise. There’s just like hundreds and hundreds of tests, no proper structure. And actually if we work with them, which we put in a proposal now, what we’re going to do is we’re just going to start a fresh ad account.

and just start the whole thing from scratch. And I think a lot of brands can take something from that. It’s you need to get more methodical and focus and just, yeah, you know, cut through the noise and focus on the fundamentals.

Arlen ([13:24].087)
Okay, awesome. Yeah, that’s so true. It just sounds like with the rise of all of these tech solutions and apps and trends, I think, yeah, like you said, it’s kind of more important than ever to not really get caught up in a lot of these because a lot of them are fleeting. You know, a lot of these trends that pop up these apps, they’re here today gone tomorrow. And I think like what you’re saying is a brand really can’t lose sight of the core fundamentals of, you know,

Nigel Thomas [Alpha Inbound] ([13:47].92)

Arlen ([13:52].627)
making sure they provide a great product, making sure they have solid content, that they’re looking in trying to reach the right audience. Because a lot of these fancy tools and apps can be a distraction. Like you say, you’ve had different businesses and clients that you’ve been dealing with where they got 90 apps tied to their store. And you’re like, all right, what is all of this for? Is it even moving the needle?

Nigel Thomas [Alpha Inbound] ([14:15].893)

Nigel Thomas [Alpha Inbound] ([14:19].84)
Yeah. And at the end of the day, you’ve got to think about, for me, I always think about things from a first, first principle perspective. You know, some great, I know some of the founders of some of these apps and they’re great people that, you know, they really do want to help the world. But ultimately, just like for the brands, those apps are incentivized themselves to make money for themselves. If you fail as the business, they carry on.

So, and I think a lot of people, you know, need to understand that. Obviously they need to help their customers out, but usually, you know, these SaaS products, they’ve got tens of thousands of customers. And there are some that, you know, really do work closely at their clients. But in a lot of cases, if you’ve not thought about how it’s helping your specific business, you know, you can just get carried away in the noise. And if we talk specifically about attribution.

The cost opportunity, and obviously this has been a big thing in the last few years, of not knowing your customer attribution to 100% accuracy is a really big thing. However, the cost opportunity of focusing all of your time and attention trying to figure out 100% accuracy and not focusing on the fundamentals of business is equally as big of a problem. And that’s what I’ve started to see. And by the way, let’s debunk one myth now.

Attribution prior to iOS 14 was never a hundred percent accurate, but guess what? People didn’t care about them because it was so easy. Now it’s a lot harder. And like I said, because of the margins and everything, people all of a sudden want to know every single thing about the attribution side, when really the truth is a Shopify sales data, and that’s really what we need to focus on. So there are some great tools out there, but again, it’s just making sure you don’t get lost in the noise and.

Yeah, focus on the fundamentals.

Arlen ([16:11].995)
Yeah. Awesome. Yeah, definitely very well said. Now, I’m always a big advocate of lessons learned, businesses learning lessons from mistakes of others. Because that’s really where you really are able to grow. Either the lessons you’re learning from the mistakes you’ve made or the mistakes of others. So what would you say are some of the common challenges in performance marketing for D2C brands? And how do you as a company at Alpha inbound?

Nigel Thomas [Alpha Inbound] ([16:37].231)

Arlen ([16:41].555)
address them with your clients.

Nigel Thomas [Alpha Inbound] ([16:44].384)
Yeah. So one of the big things was that we were just a Facebook ad agency. So a lot of the brands we worked with, we were either relying on them for their content, or we were working with, you know, an agency, another agency or third party that they’d hired to do their content. The same was said for the CRO side. So, you know, if we talk about three pillars of customer acquisition on performance marketing, you’ve got the content, which goes onto the ad platforms.

You’ve obviously got the media buying, which happens in the backend of the ad platform. And then you’ve got, you know, the site experience, the CRO conversion rate optimization. Now a lot of brands hire different third parties for all three of these different things. And the problem is, is again, we talk about being incentivized, all of those third parties and agencies are all incentivized to keep their clients and they’ve all got their own best practices.

They’ve all got their own way of doing business that they all bring to the table. So they don’t collaborate with each other. And really the incentive should be growing the brand. Now what happens there in terms of for the customer is a disjointed customer experience. So you have some content that goes out and then the media buying strategy isn’t related to that. And then when they get to the website, it isn’t related to the content they’ve just seen on the app. And obviously from the customer side of things.

They don’t have any idea that this brand’s working with all these different third parties. They just see a disjointed customer experience. And by the way, it goes even further when they get the email marketing, when they get the product packaging to themselves. If you wanna build a brand, as we know, from Robert Cialdini and his six principles of persuasion, one of the biggest things is consistency. And a lot of brands don’t have that consistency. So bearing that in mind and seeing how Facebook

With obviously the introduction of more AI and letting the algorithm do the work. If we look at, for example, the Advantage Plus campaign, where you can’t really do any targeting inside of it for brands who don’t know what that is, it’s basically just a new campaign where Facebook does all the targeting for you and you just upload the content, which is a sign of what’s to come. We saw that, you know, content really is king. We need to take control of that. So we brought the content in-house and recently we also brought parts of the CRO in-house.

Nigel Thomas [Alpha Inbound] ([19:07].756)
So now what we can do is we can work together with brands, put together a macro strategy, get rid of all the headaches of them having to talk to all these third parties, but most importantly, create a congruent experience to make sure that the customer gets that consistency of the brand. And obviously from us, we’re now making decisions across all of those pillars. So we’re not just in the ad account, just moving things around.

We’re looking at the whole funnel start to finish. And that gives us a big competitive advantage in the marketing agency space. But most importantly, it’s incentivized to help the brands.

Arlen ([19:46].191)
Yeah, yeah, for sure. Yeah, definitely. I can definitely see that gives you the kind of the broader picture to be able to make those right decisions, which kind of leads me to my next question. You know, with all of these different marketing channels that a brand that are out there for brands to kind of get out. I mean, what would you say a focus should be? Should it be a single marketing channel? Let’s say a brand is really, you know, let’s say

Nigel Thomas [Alpha Inbound] ([19:54].657)

Arlen ([20:13].967)
you know, 80, 90% of their sales are coming from Google ad campaigns, but you know, they’re getting some from other campaigns. Do they need to just wholly focus on that? Or would you say a multi-channel approach is better? And you know, as your agency, how do you guys usually tailor your strategies?

Nigel Thomas [Alpha Inbound] ([20:21].348)

Nigel Thomas [Alpha Inbound] ([20:30].368)
Yeah, so just for context, we actually focus on the health and wellness space. So, you know, supplement brands, skincare brands, we work with a few CBD brands too. And the reason why that is, is because they’ve got repeat customers, you know, by default, because people are on subscriptions to those products. So it means the unit economics are more geared towards they can break even on the front end because they know on the back end, they’re going to make up that money. And I think that the important thing.

And really want to stress this because not enough people talk about this in our industry, how these platforms work is their auction systems. So when everyone’s saying, Oh, what can we do to lower the CPA? What can we do to increase the ROAS? Actually, if you really want to win, you need to increase the CPA because then you’re going to be able to outbid your competition the way you obviously do that is backend unit economics. Now, in terms of answering your question.

It really depends on the product because for Instagram and Facebook, there’s certain products which will naturally go more viral. For example, why do people go onto Facebook? They don’t go on there to buy products. They go on there to socialize with their friends. So if I’ve got a product for dogs, for example, or pets, that’s something that naturally people are socially connected to, and they’re going to want to share out with their friends.

Compared to let’s say, I don’t know, a sofa, for example. I mean, you could be creative, but also you want to be smart. So I’d say is your product that you actually think someone would share with their friends? Cause ultimately what you need to try and do is put a strategy together that gets users to stay on the platforms longer. Because the more you do that, you’re basically playing to the rules of Facebook. Because obviously the more people stay on those platforms.

the more that, you know, they have people to advertise to, which their entire business model. So I think it really does depend on the product, but I would also take a very focused approach. I see a lot of brands and a lot of them come to me and say, Hey Nigel, we’ve got 10 K to spend on ads. Um, can we do Facebook? We do a bit of Google and a bit of TikTok. And I say to them, well, look, if you want to be successful.

Nigel Thomas [Alpha Inbound] ([22:46].828)
You need to just focus on one channel for a lot of them. It is when I say Facebook, by the way, I mean Meta, which is Facebook and Instagram. And for the sake of the sake of names, but if you want to crack Facebook, you probably need at least five to 10,000, depending on what your average order value is focused on one skew, by the way, your hero product, which has the most social proof, which has the best unit economics. And you’ve got a strong supply chain for, and then try and crack that.

And then usually what we see is a symbiosis with Google, because obviously that’ll increase search volume because Facebook ultimately is a discovery platform. And then you can start increasing your Google ads. Typically what we see is Google will be twice the return in terms of return on investment of the ad spend, but the budgets will be slightly lower because it’s less discovery. So scale from what we’ve seen, the brands we work with is still better on meta.

But again, it does somewhat depend on the product. Then TikTok, that algorithm just isn’t quite as mature. So it’s more of a complex strategy. It’s very top of funnel. A lot of brands, what they’ve tried to do is they’ve tried to take their meta strategy, dump it onto TikTok. That’s just not how that platform works at all. So what you need to do is you need to see that as topping up your awareness in the audience and then see how it impacts all the other channels. And that’s where.

Arlen ([23:45].748)

Arlen ([24:08].491)

Nigel Thomas [Alpha Inbound] ([24:12].004)
You know, we like to try and work with brands and educate them on the North Star being, you know, marketing efficiency ratio or blended return across all the channels instead of looking at channels specific. Cause the last thing I’ll say on that is a lot of brands when they look at, oh, we need to get this on Facebook row as, and then they’ll see Google being higher because obviously of what I just talked about, they don’t think about the fact that let’s just say as a customer that’s named John, he sees a product on Facebook.

For whatever reason he doesn’t buy it, he’s now got awareness. He goes to buy that product through Google ads two weeks later. And then obviously if you look at the single channel attribution, it makes sense to invest into Google. But now you’re cutting out the discovery channel, which actually brought you John in the first place. And a lot of brands don’t understand that. So you need to look at everything from a blended perspective, but at the start to get things going, you need focus.

Arlen ([24:53].663)

Nigel Thomas [Alpha Inbound] ([25:07].652)
And another reason why is because these platforms need data. And at the end of the day, I need to just say this because not enough people taught this truth, it’s pay to play. You need money to make money. And if you’re not in a position where you can invest, I mean, really, you need an average order value, it’s at least $50, let’s just get that one out there. So you need to work unit economics so you can have that.

Arlen ([25:11].604)

Arlen ([25:17].939)

Nigel Thomas [Alpha Inbound] ([25:30].828)
If, and once you’ve got that, if you’re not willing to invest at least 5,000 a month, honestly, I’d probably look at more organic strategy, potentially through influencers or through your own personal brand, you know, TikTok, there is ways to do that, but in terms of performance marketing, you need it’s pay to play. And it’s more that way now than it ever was. But once you’ve got the unit economics in place, it really is putting a machine together that really can scale fast.

And ultimately you can grow organically. What I like to say to people is you’re, you’re essentially on the highway and you’re going into the fast lane. That’s what performance marketing is. You can do it organically, but this is the way where we’re 10 X and we’re 20 X in the growth because we manipulate the numbers around and we basically pay for more reach in these platforms. So yeah, a very long winded answer, but it’s, it’s very complex and it really depends on the brand, but they’re, you know,

Arlen ([25:59].927)

Arlen ([26:22].653)
I see.

Arlen ([26:28].842)

Nigel Thomas [Alpha Inbound] ([26:29].708)
I think there’s a few realizations and they’re from conversations I’ve spoken to over a thousand owners in the last five years, and they’re the conversations that often come.

Arlen ([26:31].701)

Arlen ([26:36].827)
Right. Yeah. I can definitely see that. Yeah. I mean, it really, like you said, coming down to the, to the brand that you’re dealing with is it is complex. There’s no easy answer. You know, to that, um, you know, a lot of it also, you know, has to deal with it. And I’m glad you mentioned it. Um, with a lot of these platforms, if you’re spending, like you said, less than $5,000 in a given period.

then it’s tough. It’s really tough to see it making any sense. I mean, you may get some sales, you may get a little bit of awareness if you’re doing less than that, but I think you’re right. If you’re looking at less than 5,000, it’s best to focus just on the organic growth. Yeah, exactly, exactly. So that adds up and so, yeah, makes sense. You gotta have the budget to be able to make it work, make sense for sure.

Nigel Thomas [Alpha Inbound] ([27:20].96)
Yeah, and then you’ve got the agency fees on top of that. Yeah.

Arlen ([27:34].739)
Well, Nigel, if you get ready to wrap things up, I wanted to see if you could highlight maybe some emerging trends that you’ve seen in performance marketing and how was you as, how is your brand and your agency preparing for these trends?

Nigel Thomas [Alpha Inbound] ([27:43].138)

Nigel Thomas [Alpha Inbound] ([27:49].4)
Yeah, so obviously, you know, the hot topic in town right now is AI. And look, I think like anything, it really is a topic that’s going viral right now. And it’s obviously a bit of a bubble. So I think it will die down. And I just want to put, put it out there to all brands. Copywriters with 15, 20 years experience, that there’s still no competition versus cop like real copywriters and AI.

So sure, they can be somewhat of an assistant to help generate ideas, but if you have a really good copywriter, it’s still a massive competitive advantage. So really lean into that because that will, you know, make you stand out. But if we look at where AI is going to go in the next five, 10 years, then I think it’s more about focusing on the inputs. So let’s just say these AI models become more and more conscious to the point where they are as good as copywriters or obviously at some point they’re going to be better.

What the brands that have more data off their actual customers are the ones that are going to win. So what we’re focusing on now and what I recommend for brands is focus on first-party data capture. So, you know your surveys talking to your customers, making sure that you know your customer support team you see them as a real sales channel and every single option you have to collect customer data get it, but

Don’t just take it, actually house it in a strategic format and separate them into things. For example, you know, testimonials, the objections that your customers have around buying your products and also ask the right questions. If you’ve got a survey, by the way, you can do pre purchase surveys as well as post purchase surveys, a lot of brands don’t realize that and a lot more people will fill those out. You can ask people, why didn’t you buy more products?

what was potentially stopping you from buying this product. And if you’ve got a lot of traffic in your website and obviously you’re investing in paid advertising, that’s a lot of opportunity right there. And even if you just house it in a simple spreadsheet, in the next few years, when these AI models become more and more complex and to the point where you can literally just get all of your data again, if it’s housed correctly, you need to make sure it’s housed correctly.

Nigel Thomas [Alpha Inbound] ([30:12].992)
and dump it into an AI model, effectively, probably what’s going to happen is it will just spit out a landing page, spit out some content and spit out an entire customer journey that will literally just, you know, dominate the news feeds and be incredible for your brand. But you need the right inputs. Just as you know better than me in the software space, you know, as they say, garbage in, garbage out. So I think the way to get ahead now, whilst everyone gets caught up in the whole hype of AI…

Arlen ([30:29].771)
Mm-hmm. Yeah.

Arlen ([30:37].611)

Nigel Thomas [Alpha Inbound] ([30:42].636)
is focus on first party data. And that’s where you’ll see the biggest competitive advantage when the AI models are actually ready to go. And even by the way, forget AI for a second. If you have the best first party data, you can create the best content and you can essentially be spending or you could be a lot more efficient with your spend. And something that we do is we create customized landing pages per product.

per hero product and then split test variations within those products. And then the content we make is specific to those landing pages. So it’s all congruent. And that’s how you can become a lot more efficient. But without the research, without the first party data in the first place, you’re never gonna be able to get those kinds of outputs. So my message is first party data, collect more of it and focus more on your customers.

Arlen ([31:29].461)

Arlen ([31:35].975)
Yeah, awesome. Awesome. Yeah. Some great advice. And I definitely agree with that. Um, it’s, it’s hard not to kind of get caught up in the hype of the AI and, you know, they can still be utilized at this time, but you mentioned some key things it’s they’re still in there. It’s still in their infancy right now. You know, the chat GPT it’s early, um, barred Google’s barred, all of these different AI tools are, are very young. And, um, you know, just a few years, like you said, it is going to be at a point where, like you said,

You give it a few inputs based on the data you’ve already collected from your, you know, your touch points, um, and inputted it can create an ideal landing page, an ideal funnel flow with just prompting it with just a few data points. And so, yeah, just, it kind of, um, gets me thinking to, you know, what all brands really need to do and focus on. Just this data collection, that first party data, and then at every touch point, whether it’s customer service.

Whether it’s their initial touch point on your website, live chat, whatever it is, you gotta collect it, you gotta house it correctly. And then yeah, then you’ll be able to utilize it effectively later on once these AI tools are more mature for sure. Well, yeah, this has been an awesome conversation, Nigel. I definitely appreciate you coming on. I’ve learned a lot about performance marketing and I know our listeners have as well. And you know, it’s definitely a hot market that’s not going, hot.

marketing channel, that’s really not going anywhere. But lastly, before we do let you go, I always like to switch gears just so our listeners can and viewers can get to know you just a little bit better. So if you don’t mind sharing one closing fun fact about yourself that you think we’d be interested to know.

Nigel Thomas [Alpha Inbound] ([33:21].033)
Yeah, when is this podcast going out?

Arlen ([33:24].716)
Uh with one week from today most like oh, yeah about next week sometime the beginning of next week

Nigel Thomas [Alpha Inbound] ([33:29].696)
Okay. So yeah, one fun fact is that I’m actually starting to, I’m going to start building a community and I’ll be releasing that information on LinkedIn. And this is going to be a community, you know, I’m going to build a newsletter podcast and everything. And basically to help, you know, founders with all the information that I’ve learned over the last five years, help them be more successful. And I’ve been working a lot in the background.

And yeah, as we go into the new year, that’s going to be my full-time focus. Um, so yeah, that’s something I’m really excited about. And I’m going to be sharing more on LinkedIn as well as, you know, the other channels that I focus on. So yeah, it is, it is still business, but at the end of the day for me, I’m a very obsessive personality. So I know a lot of people talk about the work and life balance kind of relationship. For me, it’s all intertwined. So, you know,

Arlen ([34:11].477)
Oh, okay, great.

Arlen ([34:24].689)
Mm-hmm. Right, right.

Nigel Thomas [Alpha Inbound] ([34:26].06)
I live my work, I live and breathe it, and I love what I do, so I’m grateful.

Arlen ([34:28].639)
Right. Gotcha. Yeah, that’s awesome. Thank you for sharing that. And definitely, I definitely encourage people to check you out on LinkedIn and look out for this, this community that you’re going to be developing. Yeah, very timely as well. The previous podcast that we just published this week, the gentleman that was on, we talked about community led growth and the role of community. It’s really very big these days on creating that community.

and growing your brand awareness around a community that you’re supporting, that you are conscious about, where you’re not just creating it just to sell products. Of course, that’s the ultimate goal, but you’re really concerned about the community and the wellbeing of the community. And when you have that mindset, I think that’s kind of when the good things can happen to you where the karma, so to speak, will come back your way.

Nigel Thomas [Alpha Inbound] ([35:25].644)
Yeah, 100%. Whether it’s B2B or D2C, it’s all human to human, isn’t it? Let’s be honest.

Arlen ([35:29].011)
Yep. Exactly. At the end of the day. Well, Nigel, thank you for sharing that. Appreciate that. But lastly, before we let you go, aside from like LinkedIn, we mentioned, is there any other way for our listeners and viewers to get in touch with you if they want to pick your brain anymore about performance marketing?

Nigel Thomas [Alpha Inbound] ([35:46].4)
Yeah, so yeah, for sure. I mean, if you’re an e-commerce brand that is looking to scale up their paid advertising and you feel like you’re at that growth stage, you can head over to and book in a free marketing audit. Actually something we released very recently is as part of that audit. We also have a completely customized cost modeling, you know, like part of the audit where we basically get all the financials in terms of like.

financials, including profit margins, costs of goods, everything, and put them into a cost model and then see across the channels using all of the benchmarks that we have after spending all this money in advertising to see what channel is most efficient and really giving them a strategic growth roadmap, as well as analyzing their entire customer journey, giving them content, feedback on their content, and then putting together a roadmap.

a really customized strategy. So yeah,, if you want to book in a call and do that. A lot of brands, I mean, I’ll be honest, the way we were able to scale the agency to where it was is I actually interviewed, well, I jumped on a little bit sneaky, but I jumped on with a lot of the big agencies when I came to Alfa Inbound, saw their sales process and saw that gap in the market was a due diligence upfront that a lot of agencies don’t do.

Arlen ([36:47].659)
Okay, great.

Nigel Thomas [Alpha Inbound] ([37:09].272)
The reason why we were able to win a lot of business is because our discovery process is one of the best in class in the industry. So yeah, I think the brands should check it out and they’ll get a lot, a lot of value from it. But outside of that, you know, Nigel Thomas LinkedIn, I post there nearly every day and any entrepreneurs, even if you’re not founders in the DTC space, I’d love to connect with you. You know, always love having conversations with people who are passionate.

Arlen ([37:34].587)
Okay, awesome. Well, thank you for sharing that Nigel. We’ll definitely have the link to your website and the show notes so people can reach out to your website and take a look at those offerings that you have for sure. Well, again, it’s been awesome talking to you Nigel. I’ve learned a lot and we really appreciate you coming on to the e-commerce marketing podcast.

Nigel Thomas [Alpha Inbound] ([37:54].756)
I appreciate it.

Podcast Guest Info

Nigel Thomas
CEO of Alpha Inbound