Arlen: Ryan McDonald is the Owner & Operator at Shade Digital – Online Advertising Agency for Small Businesses. At Shade Digital Ryan helps small businesses increase revenues through online advertising. He also assists businesses with their entire web presence by providing done for you website building and management services.

Ryan: Yeah. Thanks Arlen.

It’s good to be here. Yeah, I’m 

Arlen: excited to talk to you because as I mentioned before we were recording we’re going to be talking about YouTube video advertising and video advertising in general because it is a Hot Topic these days as most of our listeners already know video is huge. Especially when it comes to e-commerce and so I’m really excited to pick your brain about that.

But before we get started and get into all of that, why don’t you tell our listeners a little bit about your background and specifically how you got into what you’re doing today? 

Ryan: Yeah, definitely. So I started off in a rather strange or unique place. So when I was 18 I decided I didn’t really want to go to college and follow up.

You know the normal route, you know, I really got into playing poker when I was 18. I got into the mathematics behind as I got into the psychology behind it. I got into the game theory and so I started you know, when I was so 16 17, I was playing in some bar games around where I lived, you know, I lived in kind of the sticks of Minnesota and so I could get into all the bars.

They didn’t serve me booze or anything like that, but I could get into play poker. And so I go in there and I play poker game. With some of the old farts and I’d win here and there and. Eventually built up a nice little bankroll eventually. I use that to hire an actual poker coach. It’s very similar situation to how a lot of people hire like career coaches these days or maybe a oh, I don’t know.

It’s like a coach to help with certain problems they have and so we had a pretty good setup. He would just pretty much take 25% of my monthly winnings and you know played I transition from playing live in person to playing online and. I probably in that first year made more than my my dad did you know and his job and credit it’s you know, what a middle-class living right?

I’m not talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars. I’m talking about a middle-class Living God and so I decided hey this is this beats going to you know, a factory or going to college or whatever and. So start played online poker professionally for a couple of years got a couple sponsors Minnesota Poker Tour Minnesota, poker magazine played in the World Series of Poker and then on April 15th of 2011 the Department of Justice and the FBI seized the three largest online poker sites serving the US market basically took everyone’s money and collapsed an entire industry during the worst recession since the Great Depression.

And there is a warning ahead of time is just like one day you log on and you see a giant FBI and Department of Justice seal on the website and says we’ve seized this is ours now. Yeah, it’s like, oh great. So thank you federal government, right. I definitely use that too. I think that contributed to much or a little bit of a Libertarian vented my my political mindset.

That’s for sure. Yeah, so a lot of my friends moved overseas, I decided against moving overseas and I just decided to go into the marketing. It seemed like the most exciting aspect of business enrolled in college. And as soon as I enrolled in college, I got a. Internship in the e-commerce marketing department of a large B2B company.

They actually called it the catalog marketing department at that says how old the company was and called there. They’re all mine store online catalog, 

Arlen: right? Yeah, that’s definitely dating a little bit. 

Ryan: Yeah, it takes me a bit and so ended up working there and I also had a job. I was in Fargo North Dakota at this time, and I also worked at.

North Dakota grain inspection at actually make enough money to survive because as we know internships are known for playing well, so yeah full-time students and had an internship and then I had a another job. They’re so busy time in my life, but well worth it. And yes, that’s how I got my foot in the door and got it online advertising.

Arlen: Okay? Yeah that that’s quite a story going full force right out of high school into the poker. And the online poker and then any other than the professional tournaments and things like that, that’s an awesome stuff. So he must must have been a pretty good player for sure. I can imagine and you know, it really is unfortunate.

Like you said for the just kind of the rug to be pulled from under you as far as when the government, you know, kind of sees everything and. You’re not going to take control of stuff. So I that sucks why I get if we see a lot of your friends and colleagues just to said you decided to just jump ship and then move overseas and makes sense.


Ryan: yeah, I mean, there’s some favorable laws or season in regards like in the United Kingdom. If you are a professional poker player or if you make your money from gambling you don’t pay income taxes. Oh, well, I guess it’s some weird loophole there where you don’t pay taxes on gambling winnings.

Okay. That’s all of your income. Then it’s kind of like I don’t know what your scot-free. Yeah, but 

Arlen: that’s amazing. 

Ryan: I found a very strange and almost unexpected correlational skill set between online poker and online advertising, right? There’s a lot of correlation there that one just wouldn’t think of okay and so like something like hold a manager which is analytic software used when you play poker.

Is very similar to something like a Google analytics or an adobe a critics? Okay, how do you slice and dice the data coming from your old manager is very similar to how you slice and dice the data coming from Google analytics or from say Google AdWords or whatever and so it definitely train my brain to think about data in certain ways.

Arlen: Yeah, that’s interesting. I would never have thought of that. But yeah, I mean these days of course the data and analytics is where it’s at. But yeah, so it does seem like your skill set prior to getting into the advertising space. Definitely you kind of had a jump up into it since so you had the poker background for sure.

You know now these days of course everyone is talking about by YouTube You Know YouTube is the kind of the huge Behemoth with regards to All Things video. So, you know, there’s so many businesses that are trying to get in one trying to take advantage of you, too. And YouTube advertising specifically so so once you break it down for the listeners that aren’t too familiar with it or looking just get started with YouTube advertising.

How does it work from a kind of basic level? 

Ryan: Yeah. I want to make a quick qualification of it. So a lot of people will invest their video advertising dollars and like Facebook Instagram in my opinion. It’s misguided or at least maybe not optimal great and there’s a ton of variables in that situation that determine which is the better platform, but just as a general rule of thumb.

There is no better value in the history of advertising as far as video ads. Then YouTube advertising is right now so as an example, Facebook calls, you know, what a three seconds you as a quote video view for YouTube. It’s 30 seconds or hundred percent video completion and. I’m pulled up numbers right now a specific client, but I’ve got several that that are running YouTube ads right now and this client is doing a very non-sexy sort of Industry.

They do Home Remodeling specifically aimed at elderly people. So, you know the chair lifts and you know, wheelchair ramps making bathroom safer. Grandma that sort of thing. So totally not a sexy industry and when it comes to like video ads or creative and they’re getting hundred percent video views for four sets.

Arlen: Wow, 

Ryan: four cents. That’s the type of price that you would pay on Facebook for one of those stupid 3-second video views. And by the way, I’m not Facebook’s fine and it is what it is when it comes to where I tell my clients to invest in their advertising dollars when it comes to video. YouTube comes top-of-mind the majority of the time so.

Yeah, I mean that’s just the kind of power that that it has. 

Arlen: Yeah, that’s a huge step. Yeah, I appreciate that. But yeah, that’s definitely something people for people to think about for sure just the difference and so people are at this point. I like, you know, you’ve piqued her curiosity where they get started.

Ryan: Well, I think the best place to get started is defining animal an objective. So. That’s something that a lot of people. Well I’d say a lot of new advertisers might not think about is defining an objective and being realistic. So, how do I say this? Let’s say if your price point is five thousand dollars with your sale.

It’s not going to be a single interaction to get a sale. So all things being equal when you look at price points price point is big variable in conversion rate. So if you can sell a $10 bundle socks same traffic Source same intense same platforms Etc and have you know, let’s just say 15 percent conversion rate, you do the same exact setup for say of $5,000 snowplow.

And by the way, I’ve sold stocks that’s old snow plows. I’m not going so this is coming from personal experience. Your conversion rate is going to be something like .25% So same exact setup. So price point will determine conversion rate or at least it’s a large variable within that so people need to be realistic on what they’re trying to achieve now if you want to get someone to just give you a.

Email for a webinar sign up for a webinar campaign. Oh, yeah, you can expect damn good results from a YouTube campaign. If you’re trying to sell a snowplow that’s a bit more of a cell and you got to design more of a funnel than say it just a one-off one click sort of Deal or a direct response. So design more of a funnel for something like that rather than just boom.

All I’m asking for is an email. It’s pretty much a low-friction to the conversion path. So let’s just do it, you know to find the objective and build around that there’s a lot of variables that go into it’s not just build a YouTube ads. And suddenly you have any ATM just fits money in your 

Arlen: account, right?

Definitely because I think a lot of times businesses when they see these different types of AD platforms because these days there’s a ton of different ways you can you can spend money online for advertising. So there’s a lot of options and I know a lot of times just speaking with personally I speak to a lot of e-commerce businesses.

A lot of times businesses would just try stuff haphazardly and don’t really have a clear strategy for what happens once that. Customer that potential customer comes through to their site, you know, there’s no funnel involved or anything like that. They’re just going around trying stuff because their friend or their brother said, oh, you know Facebook’s the best for the advertising, you know, you got to be on there and so, you know, a lot of times people unfortunately, you know, follow the crowd but you’ve got to have a plan together.

Like you said you want to make sure before you spend that money. You going to have an optimal strategy for you know increasing those conversions most people come through. So that’s I think that’s super critical and I’m glad you you mentioned that now you also talked about Course. Once the customer does come through from your video ad getting them through your sales funnel from the beginning to the end.

So how exactly should an e-commerce business. You know, I know it varies depending on type of business, but generally how would an e-commerce business structure their sales funnel starting from that YouTube video ad once somebody sees it. 

Ryan: Yeah, so and we’re talking about a higher price point thing and I just want to throw out a little caveat or a little statistic.

So I’m looking at a client’s AdWords account right now where we have both search and YouTube running and we’ve got a statistical significance in terms of. With ad formats. So we’ve got Google search ads we’ve been we’ve got YouTube for Action as a true view fraction as which is the direct response version of YouTube.

Their cost per lead is $44 for search their cost per lead on YouTube thirteen dollars and 82 cents. So yeah, it’s a very powerful sort of thing and then to get to your to your response there so when it comes to. And there’s a ton of variables that go into the so let’s just assume I mean we can make a lot of assumptions but when it comes to retargeting for traffic, you’ve got to make sure that you actually have a decent amount of traffic tape Even build a funnel.

There’s a lot of companies in fact outside. The majority of companies don’t have enough traffic to actually build a proper funnel you get 10 visitors a day to your website. 20 visitors a day to your website. Can you do retargeting? I mean if you pick a big enough time frame and sort of but it’s not going to be very effective, you know, gotcha.

So if you in a scenario like that, it would be best to retarget video views. Let’s say you launched a YouTube campaign, but it’s more focused on actually getting you the traffic which by the way YouTube was absolute crap for direct response advertising. Like a year and a half ago or two years ago this face of Leaps and Bounds and they’re from my conversations with Google.

I know they’re innovating further when it comes to using direct response actually drive sales. It’s only improving as a direct response advertising platform, but it wasn’t always the case. So you’re going to have to set it up. So you have a certain video running and let’s just you know, maybe that’s a top of funnel video explains what your company does those things what you’re trying to sell and you’re targeting it.

Let’s just assume well, so it gets a decent amount of views. You’re going to have to let that run long enough or at a budget high enough to where it actually makes sense to start building or retargeting funnel around that but once you do you’re going to be able to use it or at least get a high enough number of people in that.

Top of funnel to actually start to build it out. So let’s just say you get fifty thousand video views which by the way at four cents a video view lot cheaper than one might think so then let’s say you next one is retargeting them with a different video, but your goals actually send them to a landing page and you know to get them to convert.

Well now you have a list of 50,000 people that and growing all the time with new people that you can actually hit and then okay, so let’s now. Let’s let that run for a while. And now we’re seeing everyone who you’ll get some sales from that to you by the way, but I mean so many factors go into this.

I don’t want to just say it depends and now let’s just say you’re going to Target people who went to the checkout page. Or have have you a hundred percent of both videos or have viewed both videos and went to the landing page. I mean, there’s a lot of different ways. You can structure the let’s just say you take abandoned carts and then boom you hit that final offer that final video and let’s say you give them a 10% off coupon to drive that final sale or to drive urgency, or maybe you let them know about a.

XYZ product is going to be discontinued after a week or you know, whatever you want to do to drive that urgency. And then so that’s more of a proper funnel built onto YouTube and what I described as super General I know but it’s a standard way to structure a funnel on using YouTube advertising.

Arlen: Okay, great. I’m glad you broke it down like that. That was definitely clear and it sounds like as far as the funnel is. It has to be much more than just, you know, creating a one-off video talking about your company just the overview video you got to because you know these days is going to take a little bit more for you know to convince people to get that conversion.

So like you said you kind of Step them through that funnel you do the overview video then maybe you like you said you take it to the next level people that have watched that video. Baby, you you bring them into a specific feature that most of your customers or specific product that most of the your customers are getting and then you know, you have something else maybe the last part of it you tease them with some type of offer where you kind of really pull them in right at that point.

So yeah, that’s very clear and I’m glad you broke it down like that because it is a lot more than just two creating a kind of a one-off video and. To just get massive conversions, you know, you may get some conversions off the initial video, but to truly maximize the amount that you’re going to get you you really have to step them through like that with a series of videos using the retargeting and like I said the series of videos, 

Ryan: I do want to say or make a caveat in that when it comes to lead generation rather than e-comm sales and depending on the e-comm.

I mean ton of variables there if you have strong brand if you have low price point. Targeted really? Well, you can achieve a good conversion rate based on a one-off video so I don’t want to discourage because that might be right for some companies but when it comes to lead generation millat of the time I found that you can do a one or for to video sort of funnel, like I’ve seen one-offs work like that company I mentioned to you right now that is based on one Knox.

Were they had a $13 cost per lead and so for lead generation, depending on how well you target it depending on how good the video is all those other variables you hundred percent can make one offs work, but it’s not going to work all the time for everybody. 

Arlen: Yeah, that is true. So, I mean it’s definitely a good rule to think about it can may not work all the time.

For sure. Now. I’m you talked of course about the retargeting and kind of tying all of that into the video advertising is there. Just I guess some general numbers or a general amount that an e-commerce business can expect or be percentage-wise when launching a retargeting campaign as far as the results are concerned.

Once they do this what if you typically seen with the businesses that you’ve been dealing with. 

Ryan: Yeah, and the appropriate answer is really it depends on fortunately, but I will say this your remarketing is always going to convert at a higher rate than your and then your new customer acquisition.

That is a general. Song that you can you can bet the bank on now it depends how well you know, how well is the top of funnel being targeted? Let’s say I’m selling. Dog collars, which again is another product. I sold online another another client of mine. But let’s say I’m targeting people who have parakeets and cats.

They don’t want to say what is my targeting at the top of the funnel is all sorts of janky and I don’t even realize that maybe I’m just targeting something like pet callers or something like that. I don’t I don’t know but I mean there’s a ton of variables in there in terms of like how qualified is your top of funnel that you want to think about and what traffic sources.

Getting from some traffic sources are not built equally is this organic traffic is this direct traffic? Is this display ads as this tabula, you know, is this Pinterest is this Facebook referral traffic? All of those traffic sources have different values. And so when it comes to determining like a.

Remarketing conversion rate it is going to be higher than your average new customer acquisition conversion rate, but it’s very dependent on where is that top of funnel being filled at and how well is that being targeted? So yeah. 

Arlen: So yeah, I appreciate that that yeah, it definitely makes sense. As far as the remarketing is concerned because you know that those rules of thumbs are typically the case I think in a variety of different a channels not just a video ads or YouTube alone.

You know, and now as far as the YouTube video ads in general. People that are of course are on YouTube. They’re already the primed already to watch videos. So, you know, you’ve at least concurred that initially people are on there. They’re watching videos and you know, the people of course that don’t have the subscription to YouTube where they’re not watching ads, of course where they’re watching the ads.

They’re, you know, they’re used to seeing different ads. So the main thing when you’re creating these as I know, you’ve got to do something to just catch. And so in your experience, what are some tips and strategies to make a successful ad as far as it goes from a Content standpoint? What are some things that you’ve seen that have really improved conversions as far as different types of content?

Ryan: Yeah. So when it comes to content, I’m going to make a caveat and say I am not a creative. Marketer, I’m not someone who’s great at making creative. I lean on people who are good at making creative eye. I’m more of a data and Analysis person and I executed like online advertising and manage that so when it comes to like making a video don’t come to me because I’m going to I’m going to tell you to go somewhere else 

Arlen: gotcha.

Ryan: So what I’ll say I’ve seen videos that are filmed was a phone and the person is just talking. I’ve seen those work in some applications. No editing. No, nothing just a person talking about what they’re doing or talking about what they put their offering. I’ve seen those work and I’ve seen extremely well polished videos that you would think would crush it.

I’ve seen those not work and I think a lot of it has to do with your offer. A lot of that has to do with how your company’s position but also a lot of it has to do with your targeting because you could have. Coolest video in the world but if you’re targeting is off, you’re not reaching the right people and those people are going to tell you to go kick rocks I get ads once in awhile for AARP.

I’m 30 years old. I don’t care about AARP. So every time I see that I skip it. I’m sure they paid some creative agency six figures to make this video, but. They’re targeting soffits too broad. It’s too General whatever and so I just tell them the caveat that you know, I’ve seen all sorts of videos worked.

In fact, I’ve done the app campaign was just me talking on phone. Another client has done when we were just talking on his phone both of those crushed it and I’ve also had a client that got a video doctor by professional agency with paying he paid five figures for and it fell a little flat to be honest with you.

It’s it okay. It did okay, but it wasn’t like crushing it. 

Arlen: Yeah, what I’m kind of hearing is that it really sounds like especially for a small or young e-commerce business. That’s just trying to get into it. You don’t want to go big at first as far as your video production. You want to kind of test the waters with something kind of small.

I mean you can have. A good concept down but yeah, it just sounds like it doesn’t really make sense. Unless you have the budget to do it. It doesn’t make sense to put so much into the production initially until you see what type of results you’re going to get and then you know, you can always grow it.

It’s just like anything especially with advertising you’ve got to try different things and see what sticks if you’re getting the results and you’re seeing a big spike then take it up a notch and then like you said a large part of it, I think the video. You know the effectiveness of a video like you said, it’s going to be the targeting making sure you’re you’re hitting those right demographics and all of that really is going to come down to and coming back to truly understanding who your audience is and identifying your ideal customer and creating that.

Customer persona for sure. You got to really have that customer Avatar and placing in mind whenever you’re doing any advertising because otherwise your marketing your you just burn in cash you might as well take a lighter up to you to your wallet because it’s just like burning cash if like you say in your example you seeing those ARP ads when you know, you’re 30, that’s a total waste for them.

So yeah, 

Ryan: yeah. Yeah. They’re totally just burning cash right there. Yeah for sure. Exactly and it doesn’t have to yeah, I say dip your toes in the water, you know, there’s places like up work. There’s up work. It’s like kind of a freelancer site. You can get a video done a professional video done and have it looked pretty darn good.

Yeah for $1,000 $1,500 and that could be good enough and in some situations. Like I said just filming yourself talking on the phone or maybe showing off product and doing a pitch kind of. Guy, you know those old pitchman from TV infomercials. You don’t need a large budget to do something like that.

Yeah, you know, so yeah, it’s all 

Arlen: yeah. So I’d say the main thing is yeah, you just got to be creative and you don’t have to spend the whole bank and into getting a video ad for sure. Well, yeah Ryan you’ve definitely enlightened us today on video advertising and specifically dealing with you, too.

I know it’s going to go a long way with our listeners for sure and I was super excited to hear everything that you you broke down and I’ve been silly taking notes. And so I’m going to touch base with our marketing guys on our anchors. We’ve been trying some different things as far as that’s concerned.

So I definitely going to relay what you said for sure. But what I always like to do now is you don’t just switch gears and pick your brain and come on flip to a quick fun fact question and just ask you what is one fun fact something interesting that you think our audience. Would be surprised to know about you.

Ryan: Yeah before I get into that. I just want to say it’s a very cool side effect of doing YouTube advertising and as you’ll see a increase in branded searches, okay for your company and an increase in direct traffic, so everything’s going well. You’ll get more branded searches. You’ll get more direct traffic in addition to whatever traffic that ad itself.

Generates a fun fact about me. So I’m kind of a tall white dude from northern Minnesota. I married a very small I’m 6 4 my wife is 5 foot. Okay. She’s from India originally. Okay, her parents came over back in the early 80s or something like that. And so we did. When we got married we end up to a Hindu wedding.

Okay, and so we did a Hindu wedding ceremony and then an American Wedding reception and so during the wedding reception, you know, everyone gives a speech and we had maybe. 400 450 people at the reception and I would say the vast I’d probably say 80% of the guests were I mean she has a huge family like a giant family dude, it’s crazy.

And so they come from a place in India called Goodra. It’s like a state and so each of these states speak a different language or at least a lot of them. So they speak a Gujarati mom is so I actually gave a speech in front of 400 450 people in Gujarati. Wow, that’s a fun fact, and I’ve got a video of it somewhere but yes, maybe a five minute speech and could draw T.

And I did well enough to where I got laughs where I should have got laughs. Okay, you know, I got claps where I should have got claps. And so they understood me well enough and apparently they thought it was very memorable. 

Arlen: That’s awesome. Yeah. I know that was probably a little nerve-wracking I could imagine.


Ryan: Yes. 

Arlen: That’s for sure. Yeah, that’s interesting. Yeah, we had a previous. Employee here at my company how many Star and he got married in India? And I know that their weddings are a lot different. It’s a huge process it goes on for several days. If I’m not mistaken. I think it goes 

Ryan: on from this.

Arlen: Yeah at least three days or so. It’s a process and so yeah a lot different than it is here, but it was interesting. I saw video and photos from his wedding and I was yeah, I was really intrigued. I’m like man, this is really elaborate that you really go all out for sure. 

Ryan: Yeah, it’s if it’s one thing the Indians know how to do really well.

It’s like Bollywood style group dancing. They Crush that and weddings like it’s so colorful. There’s so much dancing. It’s not like just dancing at the reception. There’s dancing throughout the whole darn 

Arlen: thing. Right 

Ryan: and it’s so colorful and there’s so many flowers and different parts of the ceremony and it’s it was really I mean, it’s. If anyone ever gets a chance to go to an Indian wedding do it because it’s unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before. 

Arlen: Yeah, I could imagine I’d love to go to one. 

Ryan: Yeah. Yep. Yep. 

Arlen: For sure. Well Ryan, will the definitely appreciate you sharing that fun fact, definitely very interesting. And we also appreciate you being here on the e-commerce marketing podcast and telling us all about YouTube advertising for e-commerce businesses, but you know before we let you go if any of our listeners would like to pick your brain anymore about.

The YouTube advertising or any type of advertising. What is the best way for them to get in contact with you? 

Ryan: Yeah, so they can go to shade They’ll find our phone number on there, but they go to let’s say the online advertising page at the bottom of the page. They can book a 30 minutes or 60 Minutes strategy session where it’s free, and it’s essentially just.

Me and you learning about the business they have and kind of recommending a solution and diving into some your analytics and trying to figure out the best way to build a customer acquisition program that works for them. So that’s a hundred percent free. Just go to Shea Go to any of the service pages and you’ll see the calendar down below at the bottom of the page to book.

They can also email me at Ryan msj digital and our phone number is also on the website. So there’s a variety of ways to get a hold of me and we do offer free consultations and sometimes those consultations go for an hour an hour and a half. So it’s I feel like we’re pretty generous when it comes to giving our knowledge out very 

Arlen: Well I appreciate that. That’s some good stuff. I definitely encourage any business owners or listening. Anybody in e-commerce marketing to take advantage of those free consultations because you never know where that can lead to and I know you can definitely shed some light into people that are looking to go different directions for sure.

So thanks for sharing that Brian and we appreciate you once again being on the e-commerce marketing. 

Ryan: Yeah, thanks, man. It was a lot of fun dude. 

Podcast Guest Info

Ryan McDonaldOwner & Operator at Shade Digital