Arlen: Welcome to the eCommerce marketing podcast, everyone. I am your host Arlen Robinson, and today we have a very special guest, Stephen Kiger, who is the co-founder of plat stack, a digital declutterer that gives anyone a way to organize all of their links from Instagram,YouTube, blogs, podcasts, Facebook groups, discussion forums, and every other source of influence together in one convenient place.
Steven: Appreciate it. I’m excited to be here.
Arlen: Yeah. I’m excited to talk to you. You know, today we’re going to be discussing building customer trust and with all of the multiple channels all over the internet where you know, you have. Your direct companies are promoting themselves and you have affiliates and influencers promoting your brand.
It’s kind of difficult these days to kind of make sure everybody is on the same page with regards to promotion and how do you get potential customers to trust all of these sources of. Information and promotions. And so that’s, uh, the name of the game today. But before we get into all of that, and before we dive deep, why don’t you tell our audience a little bit about your background and specifically how you got into what you’re doing today?
Steven: Yeah, absolutely. My background specifically is mostly in graphic design, so I mostly self taught myself back in high school. Back then you actually had to go buy books at Barnes and noble to learn a new craft. So I go down to the Barnes and noble, buy a big old thick book and learn how to work on Photoshop and illustrator.
I really enjoyed the creativity of, of creating things on computers and so I self taught myself through high school. I worked in college, I ended up creating my own digital creative agency right outside of college. Worked. There for about 10 years and I got really interested in data specifically. I’d have a lot of clients where I’d build a website for them and they’d asked me, you know, Hey, what do I do now?
And I didn’t really know the question or how they answer the answer. That question specifically about, you know, how do you drive traffic to your site? And more importantly, how do you capture data, qualitative and quantitative data? To make sure that you are specifically talking to the right audience and you’re delivering a really good customer experience.
And so after that, I actually formed a company with two partners called rocket source. And rocket source is a progressive digital consultancy. And strategize. For large fortune 500 companies in regards to plat stack, we also have a company, what we call rocket source labs, and it’s an incubation company where we get to be able to create really cool products and Platt stack is one of the products outside that we’ve created from our rocket labs division.
Arlen: That’s awesome. It sounds like you, you really do have a, a diverse, uh, kind of array of experiences and, you know, you’ve been able to touch a lot of different areas and, uh, an industry. So it’s always good to have that solid background in cause I know that can definitely help you with all of the clients that you’re working with.
Steven: Absolutely. I’ve always loved working with a lot of different clients. You know, we have clients in the B2B space, B to C space. Every client’s different. Every customer is different, and it’s always really interesting to hear how companies are doing it. I remember back, geez, this was probably 10 years ago.
I worked for a company that sold, and this is crazy, but they sold like protein powder for pit bulls. It was like, do you know to bulk up your pitbulls? And they’re still around and they do fantastic. It is a great product and you know, it’s crazy. It’s like what a small niche, right? So something’s unique, but they found the audience and they kill it and they do really well.
Arlen: That’s awesome. And you, you are right. You don’t get more niche than protein powder for, yeah. I didn’t know there was such a thing, but, uh, you know, it’s a, if you can think of it and, um, there’s a market out there for it, you know, you never know. Well, you can sell, so that’s awesome. As I was saying at the beginning, a lot of what businesses and specifically eCommerce businesses need to do these days is establish themselves in the marketplace solidly just because it’s so cluttered.
There’s so many options for people when they’re looking to buy things and there’s some good things. There’s some bad things, and then there’s even some. Fraudulent thing. So there’s a mix of everything out there, and a lot of times people that are leery, especially when it comes to brands that they may never have heard of before.
And so these days, why do you think it’s really important to establish that customer trust? Initially.
Steven: Yeah, great question. I, you know, really, I think today, the customers today, and again, we deal with a lot of different companies and large, large companies and customers specifically are just, they’re so savvy and they’re so sophisticated, right?
You have your iPhone and your Android phone, you have everything at your fingertips to find and authenticates, you know, whether this is a good company or bad company. And so really for us and for companies out there and the eCommerce platforms out there, you know, trust is fleeting. And consumers are getting, they’re getting more weary about buying products that they may have never heard of.
And so, you know, really the big thing that you need to do is establish trust first of all, and then ultimately really create amazing experiences digitally and offline. But I think, uh. If you think about Netflix and Amazon is kind of the two forefronts of really good customer experience, right? On Netflix, for example, you know, I might be watching a show on my phone, I go home and I turn it on on my TV and it’s in the exact same spot that I left it.
And then I go into my bed and I turn on my iPad and it’s in the exact same spot I left from the TV. And customers are expecting that nowadays. And so if you can create really good digital experiences. Amazon is another get graded experience, right? Where you literally with one button can order something in two days or even one day it’s there.
And so how do companies compete with them? It’s about authenticity. It’s about creating really good digital experiences. And then I think most importantly is telling the why. Right? Telling the why of the business. Why did you start? I want to buy from authenticated businesses. I want to know your story. I want to know why you created X, Y, Z product.
So creating authenticity and telling your why is super important. You’re so
Arlen: right about that. And I’ve had this conversation with a lot of the other guests, and it’s really kind of a recurring theme. And a lot of times businesses don’t really realize the importance of it because here at Omni star, you know, we deal with eCommerce businesses all the time that are using our affiliate software.
So I kind of see across the board so many different types of businesses. And a lot of times, unfortunately. It’s a lot of business owners and brands. They’re kind of in a hurry to get out there and get their product out there and then just sell, sell, sell. Of course, there was a reason why they’re doing it.
Their whole vision and their product, it was birthed out of somewhere, but I think a lot of times these brands. And the business owners may not think that it’s important. They just know that they had to get out there and they got to sell. But the telling the why is, is super important. And that can definitely help build trust.
Because I know personally, when I’m, when I’m looking at different brands and, and. Especially brands that don’t have a big name and maybe new. One of the first things I always look at as a, you know, I go to the about page cause I’m always really curious as to who behind the curtain, so to speak, and why did they create the product?
What was their motivation? And just who really are they are. I mean it’s, I dunno if I’m the only one that does this, but it’s something that, it’s one of the first pages that I go through. Once I go to the homepage, it’s a new brand. I’m like, okay, really interesting product. This is a little different.
Who’s behind this? How do they create this? And that’s maybe I’m not the only person that does that, but I think it’s something a lot of people do. And it’s very important that you establish a clear why and your whole vision and mission and make it available to everyone.
Steven: Yeah. I mean, if you think about who was kind of that first company to give back.
And really take off. I, you know, Tom shoes is one that comes to my mind, right? Hey, you buy a pair of shoes and we give them back. They were really one of the first to be like, wow, this is there. Is that why? What is the reason why I created this company? Well, I wanted to create a, you know, I want to prove, I think it was Peru, and saw all these kids that didn’t have shoes on and I wanted to give back and they just took off.
And now think about every industry out there now has that same model of. You know, buy a water bottle and we’ll give water away. And it, again, it goes back to the authenticity. It goes back to the why, the core, why customers buy from an emotional stance first, right? There’s gotta be an emotional trigger before the logical side kicks in.
And that comes back to that fundamental why of why am I going to spend my money at this company versus the other one. It’s not just price. People think it’s price, but it’s not. There’s a lot of emotional side said the buying behavior as well.
Arlen: Yeah, there’s definitely the emotional side that people really, a lot of times don’t put a lot of emphasis on, but the majority of the purchases are done from an emotional decision and then something kind of a gut feeling about a particular brand or a particular product.
It’s totally so true. Now, one of the things that I alluded at at the beginning of the podcast is the fact that these days. Selling online. There’s really a lot too, and there’s so many channels that are out there where a brand is promoting their products or services. There’s all of this social media channels.
You know this, of course, we have the main ones that out. Everybody’s aware of the Facebooks, the Twitter ads, and Instagram, LinkedIn, of course, the main ones. But outside of those, there’s probably hundreds of other ancillary social networks that you have the potential of reaching customers. Through. And aside from that, then there’s also other marketing channels through whether it’s the pay per click marketing, whether it’s, you know, Google ads and all of those different channels.
And all of these things are to to reach people and to drive customers to your site so you can get traffic. Of course, one big area these days is utilizing influencers and affiliates to promote your brand. You know, you’re getting people that have a. Kind of a readymade or built in network, whether it’s somebody that has.
Just a few thousand of thousands of people that are following them, or hundreds of thousands and on upwards to a million. That’s really kind of the hot thing these days, these influencers and these affiliates that are promoting brands for a commission. The issue with that, cause you talked a lot about trust and how you gain the trust of customers.
You make sure you kind of have cohesive messaging. You establish your why, but then when you kind of. Pull things back and you’re saying, okay, we’re going to be allowing all of these influencers and affiliates to promote our brand. How do you really get customers to trust these influencers or affiliates that aren’t really a part of your company, but they’re really just promoting on behalf of your company?
Or is it even possible to get that trust when it’s coming from these outside sources?
Steven: Great question. I think the most important thing that people need to remember is authenticity. We’ve all been on Instagram, we’ve seen an ad, a paid ad from some celebrity, and they’re getting paid, and you can just tell, you can tell.
They’d have probably never used the product. They’re eating a to sell this versus if you find someone, you know, I think if I take a step back, I think. The brands out there, they need to spend the time to find influencers who are in their space. If you’re selling a camping equipment, find an influencer that is a camper and find someone who’s used your product because that you can just tell the passion is so different when someone’s really believes in the product they’re selling.
And so I would say, if anything. Get authentic voices. People that use the product, people that love the product. There’s platforms out there where, I won’t throw any names out there, but there are some really cool platforms where you can actually scrub your sales list from, let’s say Shopify. So you have, you know, let’s say a thousand people that have purchased your product.
They will actually scrub that list and look and see if they have any influence out there in the marketplace. Meaning you might have some guy that bought your product that has 100,000 followers on YouTube that you have no idea who it is. They just spent money on your product. Obviously there’s authenticity there.
Why not reach out to them and say, Hey, let’s have a chat. Why did you buy a product? We’d love to hear more. Maybe we can give you some free products. Do some more authentic messaging around it. So I think the ultimate goal with any of your brand ambassadors, affiliates are obviously a little bit different, but brand ambassadors specifically is find people that love your product.
That we’re not paid to love your product, and you’ll get such a better ROI than just randomly find someone that has 10,000 members and followers and hope for the best.
Arlen: That is so true, and I think a lot of times the brands that are out there kind of get sucked into the fact that. When they talk about influencers, they see these large numbers, like you said, the tens of thousands of followers, the hundreds of thousands of followers, and they’re like, I want this guy.
I want this guy to promote my brand or this lady to promote my brand because it’s going to just, my stuff’s going to go viral just because they share numbers. But you made a good point. That’s not necessarily the case because you could have an influencer that. Has such a huge audience, but if their audience is not really made up of people that are.
Even the halfway interested in your particular niche, it doesn’t even matter. So, you know, the example that you made of camping is a good one. So let’s say this influencer wants to promote your camping tent, but you know, he has hundreds of thousands of followers, but let’s say 80% of them, 90% of those people who’ve never even camped, are not even thinking about camping then.
I mean, you can just look at it like that. You can pretty much just automatically see what type of return you’re going to get on that. So makes a lot of sense.
Steven: Yeah, and I think to add to that, if you were to compare it to influencers, right? If you’re choosing one or the other one has 100,000 followers either closely related to your industry, but then you have a guy that has 2000 followers. But they are so niche. They’re engaged, they’re commenting all the time. They’re liking all your stuff. You’re going to get a better ROI off those 2000 because they are your niche. Those are the people that are buying your product. So don’t just look at a number. And the other thing you got to think about is Instagram and Facebook, they’re all limiting reach, right?
You got to pay for that. So even if you have 100,000 members are followers on Instagram, you might only get 2000 reach. So. Versus if you get 2000 reach from a guy that has 2000 followers that are super niche, that man, that’s such a better ROI. So, and it’s going to be cheaper.
Arlen: Yeah, definitely. So yeah, it makes a lot of sense to really just try to focus and be a little bit more targeted when you’re in, are you looking to outreach and find these influencers?
Now, another thing that I know brands are may be wondering, and this is something that I know has come up before. And my discussions with different brands that are getting influencers to promote. Cause we of course talk a lot about trust and getting these, getting customers to trust these influencers.
But what are some ways that you can get influencers to actually adhere to your promotional and brand guidelines? Because when you get these outside people promoting, you do want them to. Project a certain image, use certain guidelines, you certain graphics and those things, but you can only control people to a certain degree.
What are some things that you can do to help?
Steven: Yeah. Obviously the more information you give them, the better. The more examples you can give them what to do, what not to do from like a promotional standpoint. If you’re doing like banner ads or anything like that. There’s great sites out there to pull all the assets from, you know, once one company.
But again, I think it fully goes back to that authenticity. If you have someone that is loving your product and they want to sell it and they use it. It’s going to flow naturally versus, I mean, I think we’ve all seen these paid Instagram. People just literally copy and paste what they’re supposed to say into the ad itself, and it literally says, paste this here.
That’s just not authentic versus saying that to someone who is going to love your product. So I think the biggest thing, yeah. Again, if you can find authenticity through people that love your product, ease, obviously the easiest. If it’s someone that you’ve never connected with and they don’t really know your product.
I think the more information and the more examples you can give them, the better. For sure.
Arlen: You know? Now, as we get ready to kind of close things out, one of the things that I often see is we have all of these people that are out there outreaching for you on your behalf for your brand, and then also as a brand, you’re doing different things to gain the trust of your.
Customers. And you mentioned authenticity as being really kind of a key thing. You’re being authentic on a specific category or a specific subject. And so a lot of this has to do with, I guess what you’d be called, would be considered inbound marketing. So for instance, if you’ve got people. That are maybe subscribed to your list or follow you on the various social channels.
Obviously you want to use those as vehicles to sell your product, but at the same time, when it comes to, you know, inbound marketing, you still have to do a fair amount of education and come off as an authority and an authentic authority. So. This is something that I know a lot of brands struggle with and really how do you really find that fine line or sweet spot when it comes to the outreach and gaining your customer’s trust, but still coming off as an For, but not really coming off too salesy, not just pushing your products down people’s throat.
Steven: That’s the big thing, right? That’s the salesy side really. Ultimately, if you can provide value to those customers, so if we go back to that camping example, you know, it’d be great if you could segment out your emails to certain geo locations and send those users from Utah and from Utah.
What are the best five camping spots in Utah? What are some tips and tricks that you can do for, you know, specifically. This tent or you know, whatever product you’re selling, if you can provide value outside just the brand itself, YouTube links, articles, just things that people can do to skill up or better understand what, how to use this product that’s going to take you away from the salesy.
Like, Hey, just buy this product because it’s awesome. You know, Hey, this is what it’s going to solve. Here’s the pain points it solves, and say, Hey, we know you’re a camper and here’s some provided value that we think you’re going to like. We’ve essentially curated all this knowledge and we’ve put it into an email or you know, again, our product does out through Platt stack where you can curate knowledge and put it into a stack and send it off.
That’s going to be a huge value add to clients or to potential customers because they’re seeing a lot more value than just saying, Hey, buy our product.
Arlen: Yeah, definitely. And I think one of the things that a brand has to be cognizant of is you have to, as an a business owner or as a marketer, you have to put yourself in the shoes of your customer and kind of step away from your platform because it can be hard to do because of course.
As I’m someone that’s running a brand or marketing it, you know, you already know the ins and outs of your product, but the potential customer doesn’t. So it’s like, what are those things that are going to help them make a decision about your product or help them when they become a customer? So you, like you said, an example of camping.
Again, if you’re selling camping tents. A great, uh, resource before and even after is maybe the do’s and don’ts when selecting your campground area or, you know, the do’s and don’ts of assembling a tent. You know, that’s something that can be applicable. Not only for a specific brand, but for anybody that’s going out camping no matter what tent.
And so you’ve got to think of it like that, or what are these resources out there that are going to, you know, help empower people regardless of the fact that aren’t necessarily product specific to the brand’s product. But just more general. Knowledge type questions. And so, yeah, I think that’s
Steven: absolutely, and just one more thing I think your, hopefully your audience will love to think about is the, everyone knows the traditional sales funnel, right?
You get prospects in and they go down the funnel. We rock source. We believe you actually need to flip that on the side and imagine a bow tie where you got your pre-purchase on the left side, you got your cell in the middle, and then you got your post-purchase on the right side. There’s so much value in getting brand loyalist and people on the other side of the funnel.
Your cell doesn’t stop when they, they put their credit card in. There’s so much more opportunity to get them more engaged, to get them interested in cross promotions or even just, again, like we talked about, educating them on other things they can do. So everyone should remember, your cell doesn’t stop when they put that credit card in.
Make sure you’re communicating with them after the purchase. You want to get to the point where they’re telling their friends and family and the only way to do that is them to get really. They invested in your products and, uh, you know, really start to analyze, you know, what, you can do better to communicate to them after the purchase.
Arlen: Yeah, for sure. And, um, that spreading the word can work two ways, actually. Like you said, if they’re really satisfied with your product in your company, they’re going to spread the word, tell their friends or family and white people your way. So it’s definitely good, but people are going to do that for you to actually have some type of referral program in place.
So that’s definitely something to think about. But at the same time, what brands definitely have to realize is that. People are going to spread the word both ways. If they have a bad experience, then that’s also something that can itself people about, are they going to say, Oh, I had a terrible experience with this particular camping product, or this particular tent.
Don’t buy this, whatever you do. So, so you have to be careful because yeah, it can go two ways. Where there.
Steven: Then you definitely need to get that qualitative data as quickly as possible. Right? Again, after the purchase, send them emails. How are you doing? What can we do to help you? If they do post on social media, don’t ignore it.
You need to answer their questions and see if you can get them satisfied because just to your point, they will tell all their friends if they hate the product, they might only tell to if they love it.
Arlen: Definitely in this crazy world of social media and the internet access and all of these channels for give people the ability to express their opinion and reads the world.
Yeah. As a brand, you have to be on your toes and it does keep brands on is so I think, um, yeah, it is. It is. It definitely keeps things on the up and up for the most part. For sure. Well, I think all of this information, Stephen, that you’ve, um, enlightened us on has been awesome. And I know our listeners are going to get a lot out of it because these are things that any brand should really do no matter what size, no matter how young or old that they are gaining.
Trust is really very, very important. And now as I close things out, I always like to switch gears here at the end, just so our audience can get to know you a little bit better. So why don’t you let us know one fun fact that you can let our audience know about you.
Steven: I’m a big outdoors guy. I actually just got back from skiing, Switzerland and Italy, so I skied the Swiss Alps for the first time, which was a blast.
So I’m a huge traveler. Love to do it. Big outdoor guys play a lot of golf and um, you know, ultimately just, I, like I said, for the very beginning, I love hearing people’s unique little niches that they sell on. I love to hear the stories of some guys started. This company is just killing it. There’s nothing more satisfying than knowing if I was a little part of that, that’d be awesome.
If not, you know, I’m a huge believer in entrepreneurship. I’ve been an entrepreneur since high school and just keep killing it. I know it’s hard, but keep working at it. Don’t give up and it will come.
Arlen: Well. That’s awesome. We thank you for that. And thanks for sharing. I’m also a skier. I haven’t been skiing as much as I should because I live in Florida, so I got, it’s got to take a little trip in order to get to an area that’s the halfway decent.
But, uh, uh, I’ve heard a lot about the Swiss out. So, um, at some point I’ll probably pick your
Steven: brain on.
Arlen: Okay. Great. Yeah, I’ll have to definitely pick your brain a little bit and find out where you went and how everything worked out for sure. Well, lastly, I’m, you know, if our audience and our listeners would like to pick your brain any more about gaining customer trust and loyalty, what is the best way for them to contact
Yeah. LinkedIn is probably the best. Just my name is Steven with a V. Kager like tiger with a K, so K. I. G. E. R. you can feel free to, you know, email us. You can go to our website, rock source.co or plat stack, which is our new platform plat. It’s essentially a platform to stack your links. You can check it out.
Arlen: Right. That is awesome, Steven. Well, thank you once again for joining us today on the eCommerce marketing podcast.
Steven: No problem. Thanks Arlen. Appreciate your time.
Arlen: Thank you for listening to the eCommerce marketing podcast.
Co-Founder of Platstack