Arlen: Will Christensen is Co-Founder and Innovator at Data Automation. He enjoys tinkering with cutting-edge technology, apps, and systems, and gets a kick out of creating innovative solutions to both common and unusual problems. He applies those solutions to business and marketing, yielding a high return on investment for stakeholders, clients, and colleagues.
Will:It’s good to be here.
Arlen: All right. Awesome. Well, I’m excited to talk to you because this topic for the day, data automation is really huge. I mean, as you already know, data is really King used to say content is King, but I think data today is King and so many businesses making or making really key decisions is based on it.
So super excited to dig deep. But before we get into all of that, why don’t you give our audience and our listeners a little bit of background on yourself and specifically how you got into what you’re doing today?
Will: Yeah, absolutely. So it’s funny that you say data is King and what I often run into people and they’re like, so, uh, you know, what’s the name of your company?
And I’m like, Oh, it’s data automation. And like, so, uh. What do you guys do? And I was just smiling. See, Oh, you just left yourself. So we, we automate data
Arlen: and then I know they kind of let us sit there with their foot in their mouth.
Will: Yeah. Yeah. It’s a good time. Right? So obviously as we came across the domain name being available several years ago, we were like, Oh.
That’s totally worth it, and it’s paid dividends. It’s been a good name, a good brand, and we’re excited about it. Um, I’ll be honest, I got into the game with data automation because I was an unpaid intern who is the lowest man on the totem pole at an agency, and I was having to do 16 hours a week of copying and pasting.
It was brutal, and you’ll, if you get to know me at all, you’ll know that that was probably one of the most painful things anybody could do to me. And that pain it nothing like pain to generate innovation. That pain is what pushed me to head to that next level and discover what. Innovative solutions were out there.
So I taught myself to code, continued to automate more processes for myself and the companies I was working for. To the point where I, I was like, you know what? We really should look at this and, and I should create an automation consultancy. Or my whole job is to just help other companies automate. And learn some of this stuff.
And I just, I enjoy helping people and I really enjoy efficiency. So you know, those two passions aligned. And here I am. Great.
Arlen: That is awesome. And a, yeah, that is an awesome domain name and I am surprised that you’re able to get it. No, I don’t know. Did you guys have to pay a pretty penny for that?
Will: Oh yeah.
We for sure it did. It was one of those things where somebody was sitting on it and we negotiated hard and the investment has paid for itself, and then some,
Arlen: I can imagine.
Will: Yes. It was definitely one of those ones that was picked up by somebody and we did not pay $10. To register that domain
Arlen: name. I
Will: mean, it’s become part of our identity now.
So we love that. That is now part of who we are, so
Arlen: that’s awesome. Well, great. We had, that’s a great story, and I’ve talked to so many different. Business owners and eCommerce marketing experts on the podcast. And one of the things, as you said, has been echoed by so many others that I’ve, I’ve talked to where you said the pain is where your kind of company was, was kind of born out of we, you thought back to when you were an unpaid intern copying and pasting for 16 hours, and then, you know, you just raised sickly had.
Kind of an aha moment. And that probably started your, you on the path to thinking there’s gotta be a way to automate this stuff. There’s gotta be a better way. And yeah, some of the
Arlen: best products and services are always birthed out of kind of a real real world need railroad issue that the owner has experienced himself.
Will: Yup. That’s exactly what happened
Arlen: with regards to data automation, which is the topic for today. What are some of the main e-commerce marketing tasks? Cause that’s kind of what everybody wants to know. That should be. Automated using data automation because I’m sure that there’s listeners out there that are doing some things that they can be easily doing another way.
Will: Yup, absolutely. And there are a series of probably a hundred different things that you’re probably doing on a daily or weekly basis that that can be automated. And I’ll just go off of a couple of different ideas or different things that I’ve <iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/pxyZvzBdrMs” frameborder=”0″ allow=”accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture” allowfullscreen></iframe> for other clients. We did this one campaign where you know how you get, sometimes an order will sneak through into your system and it actually is out of stock, but you know, for some reason it wasn’t out of stock when it very first came in or it was out of stock.
And for some reason it still made it through. And so what we did for one client was we automated that. Stock level check. So the order came in and it said, Hey, you know, is this actually in stock? If it’s not in stock, preemptively send an email to . This individual saying, Hey Ben, a little mix up here. Looks like the item you ordered is actually out of stock.
We’re going to take care of you though, and I’m going to monitor this over the next six days to see what’s going on and we’ll give you some options. And then the very next day, the automation would check again to see if it was still in stock. And if it was in the stock, it would send them an email saying, Hey, good news.
It’s in stock now. You can expect normal delivery on this or it would say, Oh, you know what, I checked again on this and it is still out of stock. And then it would check again and check again and check again and check again and check again. And so you get this like customized customer service experience where people aren’t complaining to you because your preemptively telling them within 15 minutes of the order getting placed, Hey.
That thing you placed was actually out of stock.
Arlen: Right. That’s some good stuff and I can definitely attest to the fact that that that can really be a pain point for customers. You know, you’re excited about something, you purchase it, and then only to find out it’s not a stock. But yeah, to be able to preemptively get somebody that email, letting them know, you know, you’re already on top of it, you realize it was a mistake or mix up.
Here are your options. So yeah, that’s some good stuff.
Will: It’s about customer service issues that are coming up, right? So if you find a common customer service issue, start to write down that FAQ, start to define that standard operating procedure, and then. Take it a step further and create a dashboard where you categorize your tickets into those different FAQ, Oh, this is the thing I’m doing.
And then once you start to look at the , look at that across the board, across your entire company, you can say, Hey, wait a minute. That one is happening more than all of the others. Or maybe there’s a threshold. That one’s happening 10 times a week. That one’s happening five times a day. Let’s go see what we could do to preemptively message these individuals to assuage their concern.
Because let’s be honest, who likes contacting customer support?
Will: reason you contact customer support is because there’s a problem, right? And so if you can preemptively contact the customer to let them know, Hey, there’s a problem and we noticed it before you did, and we’re taking care of it. A lot of times you’re going to win an advocate where in the other situation, you’re going to have to fight to keep a customer, so that customer experience, you can just make it go up by 10 15 fold.
Arlen: That’s awesome. And I can definitely see how that can be done. You’re really resting people’s concerns before they have the opportunity to get upset. So yeah, that’s definitely awesome. Now, in the whole kind of. I guess you could say ecosystem of eCommerce transactions and purchases. Most of the listeners out there that have, you know, their own businesses are, are the only commerce companies or they’re doing marketing for eCommerce company.
They’re familiar with drip campaigns and what it takes to, you know, to kind of massage a customers so that they can. Hopefully be converted into a customer. So Messiah, somebody that’s just a visitor, and then hopefully get them to become a customer through drip campaigns. And then the big issue that plagues all eCommerce stores, which is cart abandonment, which is, there’s always a certain percentage of people that get all the way through to check out to or get to the your cart and put items in the cart and just kind of bounce away.
And I know these days there’s a whole host of ways to handle these things, but what are some ways that you recommend that you can automate drip campaigns and cart abandonment and, and really all of this in order to help convert more customers.
Will: Yeah. So one of the things I would ask yourself is, Hey, if I’m interacting with a someone who is ordered from me, what’s different from them?
The person who’s ordered from me versus everybody else in the world? And the, the, the, the answer to that question is they already trust you. They trust you enough to have ordered whatever it was that you were doing. And then you can take a step back and say, okay, well what’s the difference between the person who’s put something in a cart and the rest of the world?
Anybody who’s never put something in a cart while they trust you a little more than all of the guys who’d never put something in a cart. And so it’s all about that trust. If you can figure out how to use that trust and leverage it. So a cross sale. Automating an email. They bought a peanut butter, we’re going to sell them some jelly, so let’s find a, a cross selling product and let’s automate an email that goes out to that individual saying, Hey, notice you bought some jelly.
Have you tried our premium peanut butter? It’s a pretty easy way. To generate some of that interest cause you’ve already got them to trust you. They already put their credit card information in once, getting them to do it again, it’s not going to be as difficult as it was that first time getting people to opt into product launches.
Right. So let’s say that you. Can build a database of people who have purchased from you and they’ve, you know, let’s say that you sell electronics. I want to know everybody who’s ever sold a headset, just building a very simple trigger that listens on the automation side to this is the product that they purchased.
And then having that ability to go back and reference that database and say, okay, now I’m launching a new set of headphones, and I think all of these people are going to want. To look at. That just gives you an a huge opportunity to go back and say, Hey, you know, everybody who was interested in headphones, I’m doing a giveaway on this brand new product that we’re launching, and you guys all bought headphones before.
You might want the latest model enter to win the giveaway. And that’s a way that you can get people who you don’t necessarily know yet, but the just gathering that data yet. When they order from you when they abandoned that cart, they’ve told you a lot about what they’re interested in. Use that data appropriately to go back after them in a way that’s automated and do it manually the first time.
Go track that individual down.
Arlen: Yeah. That makes a whole lot of sense because they’ve already taken that step where they, like you said, they’ve trusted you. They’ve, for whatever reason, they, you know, they put items in the cart, but they bounced away. And I think the thing with it these days is. A lot of times, I guess businesses may not realize that part abandonment and may not necessarily be because they just lost interest and decided to go elsewhere because you know, we are in the world that we are in today where there are tons of distractions where people are.
They’re all over the place. You know, maybe they were trying to purchase on their, their mobile device. Maybe they got a call, you know, something came up, they had to do something. Their wife called them their, their job or boss called them, you know, they got pulled away. You never know.
Will: I have two beautiful distractions at home, a five year old and a two year old named Alex and Juliette.
Right? Are you kidding me? Like they’ll jump on my back. I’m in the middle of a car and I’m like, Oh crap. You know, and. Once you hit the home screen, like, Oh, I was never really on that page. So it’s common, right? Yeah. Distractions normal.
Arlen: Definitely. Definitely. And then I think when that whole term Carter band and me came about, I think businesses, you kind of automatically saying, Oh, you know, it’s not that important to follow up with these people.
They weren’t interested. I’m going to just leave that there. But I think these days, more than ever, it’s really very important that you. You take advantage of that and you have an automated process of following up with those people via some type of system because there’s a million different things that could have happened in there.
And, and, um, one of them may not be either. They just lost interest. They probably just got distracted. So definitely something that should be done and should be automated. Now with drip campaigns, card abandonment, you know, there’s so many different ways. As far as touching these potential customers and reaching back out to them.
You know, these days, of course there’s emails, of course we have even text messages. There’s so many different social media channels, you know, how do you kind of wrangle all of this together and what are some tools that you would recommend for the automation of all of this and all of these campaigns.
Will: Yup. So the first thing I would do is I would take a step back and look at where is your, what package or what software are you using, and do they support a cart abandonment? So get out your phone, start drafting an email to customer support and ask something along these lines. Do you currently have an automated way for me to follow up with individuals who abandoned the cart and what information do I have available.
Phone number, email to follow up with those individuals. Just fire off that email. You’d be surprised how many times there is automation hidden under just a layer of customer support. You just need to ask the right question. If the answer they come back with is no, don’t delay. Get out Google and start Googling cart abandonment.
Insert name of shopping cart, cart abandonment, Shopify cart abandonment. Big commerce cart abandoned. I meant whatever the name of your solution is, and you’d be shocked at how many other people are having conversations out there about this already. This is not a new concept, right? So those would be my first two pieces of advice for you.
I mean, how long does it take you to send off that email? Most of you have already hit send, and you’re going to find out here in a minute. Now, for some of you, you’re going to give up after they say no, that’s not possible. And for those of you who have given up, you’ve given up a little early. Go do a quick, you know, 10 minute Google search and discover what’s really out there and you’re going to find a lot of answers that are like, Whoa, that’s way above my head.
I have, they’re talking about coding there and that seems way out of my reach. I think you’d be shocked at if you can make yourself a little loom video. So here’s another trick, or a tip, L O m.com loom.com. Yeah, I’m an affiliate if there is, but no, I won’t get any affiliate juice. If you go there and you just purchase it, so go check out dot com Screencastify is another one.
Record a video of exactly what you’re hoping to automate. I would like it when an individual comes to this page on my shopping cart, they fill out this information. I would like to be able to capture the email address or the phone number, even if they don’t hit submit. Just make a loom video like that.
Go to Fiverr, post the loom video into Fiverr with a a short, you know, one sentence description in the request module on fiber, and you’ll be shocked at how many people can respond to you. Now. Obviously when you go to Fiverr or when you go to some of these other places, you have to proceed with caution and know that who you’re interacting with is not going to hijack your site because them getting the ability to capture some of that data could give them that ability.
So not to scare you, but remember, anytime you’re interacting with any company out there, make sure they know what they’re doing. That’s what data automation was built for, is to kind of help with some of those situations. So those are some of the things I would say as far as finding tools. That’s how I would search.
Off the top of my head. Let me throw out a couple. I would definitely look at Zapier. Zapier is a powerful tool when it comes to automating some of this, and sometimes that cart abandonment or new abandonment, it will be right there in there available.
Arlen: Yeah. That is so true. Yeah. A lot of. Business owners may not really be kind of akin to what’s already there available to them based on their, their shopping cart platform.
Like you mentioned, the Shopify, the big commerce. There’s already a lot of functionality that’s there where you may not have to get any of the app ad-ons. But aren’t just available to you with the current plan that you have. So that’s definitely, I would say number one is to, to check there and see what’s available.
And then, and then like you said, if you need to take it to the next level, maybe you need something a little bit more customizable and you want something specific to your needs, you could go to the. The sites like Fiverr and then, uh, the example of creating a loom video is awesome cause they’ll be able to see exactly what needs to be done and, uh, you know, be able to move forward with that.
Great advice there. Now when we’re talking about automation, I think a lot of times the whole term automation, when people hear that. I think the average, typical small business or even startup business can kind of tend to get a little, kind of get a little a case of the willies where, you know, when you say automation, you kind of think of high volume.
You think of a lot of visitors, you think of a lot of transactions. And so is automation something that can be done by any eCommerce business really, regardless of of size. And you know how, how does one get started with this?
Will: Absolutely. Honestly, the biggest thing that I would recommend for you is that you run a litmus test that I’ve developed to decide whether or not it’s time to start automating.
So what I tell people is if you’re spending more than 15 minutes a day, more than an hour a week, or more than an hour a month, it’s probably time to start automating. So I don’t care how big your business is, if you’re not doing the same thing over and over again, there’s not time to automate. You don’t need to go dig into that.
And so automation can help your business no matter how big or small you are. I have all sorts of ways that I qualify people to talk to me and to work with me. And one of the questions I ask is exactly that. How long is this task currently taking you? Cause I can help a one man show. One man show can find ROI and hiring an automation expert like me if they’re spending enough time on something that’s happening over and over and over again.
That’s the litmus test that I would give you is not how big is your company because that’s irrelevant. How long is that repeated task taking you? And if it’s long enough, you can find ROI in automating it.
Arlen: Right. Yeah. Gotcha. That makes a lot of sense because like you said, it’s about how long are you doing these things and as most businesses know, the time is money and that’s where a lot of the.
The cash is kind of burned when you’re doing these repeated tasks as opposed to doing something else that can help grow your business. So great piece of advice, you know. Now as we get ready to wrap things up, where do you really see the whole future of all of this data automation specifically use for eCommerce marketing?
Where do you see all of this headed?
Will: You know, I think the fascinating thing about automation is that it is ever evolving and there’s always a new product out there that’s solving that. If you really think about it, what a lot of the SAS products are doing, they’re just automation in a box. What is a Shopify store?
Oh, it’s an automated way to communicate the need for an order. And where to ship it and to collect payment. It’s an automation. All Shopify is at its core level is an automation. I mean, cause you could call someone on the phone and place that order the same way, but that takes more time from the eCommerce company.
So that’s where we started out was with very simple automations. And the longer we exist with these different problems, the more tools there are that are going to be out there in salt. The thing that I see becoming new and interesting and they’re an opportunity is there’s tons of integration platforms out there that allow you to then connect all of these different services together.
So the big thing I would say for you is if you’re adopting a new eCommerce platform, a new Shopify, a new big commerce, or just another platform, alien new platform. There are two questions that I always ask every single one of them and one is, do you guys have an API? What are your plans for creating an API?
And if you’ve never heard that term before, it’s the ability for one server to talk to another server. They do that through API APIs and those API APIs are going to allow you. To build and connect. So if you wanted to have a developer, you wanted to post on fiber and get that information, if they don’t have an API, it can be quite difficult.
We’ve developed technology that allows us to connect to websites without that. So even with no API, we can still do that. It’s a little costly, but you can do it. But that’s the first question to ask because if they can say, yes, we have an API, then the second question I ask is, do you have a Zapier integration?
Because the Zapier integration takes it out of the hands of the developers and puts it into the hands of the user. So those two questions. One, do you have an API? Two, do you have a zap? Your integration are going to allow you to reduce the cost of automation. By tenfold as they answer yes to each question.
So I mean, it just drives that down. So where do I see the future of this? I see the future of automation becoming easier and easier and easier as more people automate automation and they put these coding tools and the Wiziwig editors. I mean, you look at it today, if you’re paying somebody to go and build you a raw static HTML website, you are dumping money down the drain.
Now. There are reasons. So before anybody sends me an angry email saying why there’s this reason why you should build a custom website. Yes, there are reasons why you should still do raw custom development on a website, but there are a lot, like if you’re just building a basic eCommerce store, you should not be doing that.
I literally, in 20 minutes. Can set up a brand new eCommerce website for almost nothing using something like WordPress and woo commerce. Now, obviously there are better platforms out there depending on what you’re looking to do, but that’s the future of eCommerce and the future of automation. It’s going to become easier and easier and easier for businesses to automate and take the manual pieces of their business and put them into a box.
Arlen: Yeah. And, um, you mentioned a couple of quick key things there because of all of these changes and all of these solutions, they’d have to talk to each other, these services, and have to talk. You’ve got these systems like Zapier, which create connections for people to easily do these of themselves without having to actually have a coder to do that, which, and so I think, yeah, we’re also gonna see a lot more of those types of third party solutions that allow systems to.
To talk to each other because you have more and more and more of these apps that come out of ’em, you know, they come into existence, they’re gonna work. Everybody’s gotta communicate with each other because that’s just the name of the game. You know, if you’ve got some data in one spot, you’ve got Shopify data, maybe order data in one system, it’s going to need to go somewhere.
So, um, yeah, which is not going anywhere.
Will: And that’s key, right? So data automation has custom software solutions that we use that are outside of something like Zapier where we’ve built systems that will sync inventory between two different systems. So if you’re using a three PL or you’re using an inventory management solution that you want to keep using Shopify and you want to connect those different systems, that’s one of the things we specialize in.
So I foresee more companies out there like data automation being specialized in just moving data for you. And that becoming easier and easier and easier as businesses get out there and they’re wanting to push that back and forth. I foresee more businesses building APIs and the ones who don’t have API APIs utilizing software, like the Chrome extension we’ve built that goes around and get some of that data.
So there’s no reason why a data should be behind a closed door anymore. You should be able to get that data out, and so it’s important to ask that question before you get started.
Arlen: Yeah, yeah, for sure. My own experience dealing with that, we deal with a lot of customers here at OSI affiliate software that have different solutions.
And of course we have to talk to different systems and there’s a lot of times we’re reaching out to companies and if they have a closed system, but one of those trends that I’m seeing more of these days is that there are more and more companies that are starting to open up, open up their doors to their data.
That’s only going to just increase for sure. And uh, yeah, well, a to close things out. Well, it’s been awesome speaking with you, and I’ve learned a lot myself. I’ve, I’ve frantically taking my own notes and I hope all of our listeners have what I have as well, because yeah, this date automation is definitely not going anywhere and it’s, it’s definitely something that.
You know, the main thing is it can save your business. So there’s so much time, and of course that translates to money. But I always like to switch gears here at the end so our audience can get to know you a little bit better. So if you don’t mind, if you can share one closing fun fact about you that our audience may be interested to know fun
Will: facts I would give you for me.
In my spare time, I enjoy automating for fun. So a decent example, I actually set up my Alexa so that with one key word, I can send a text message to the family that she’s often over playing with, and it’ll shoot a text message over to them to ask her to come home. So I. Live, breathe, eat, sleep, automation.
I built a, a thing where if I pull around the corner, you know, driving home, it’ll sense the wifi network of a neighbor who I know always has their wifi network open and it’ll say, Oh, you’re close to home. I should probably open the garage door. So, I mean, just. Dumb stuff like that. I love to automate.
Arlen: Okay, great.
Well that’s, that’s awesome. Yeah, it’s amazing what you can do these days. And you got me thinking, I have three different, a Amazon that goes in my house, and so I’m going to have to pick your brain a little bit about that one and the sending of the text messages because, uh. Half of these things are just sitting around collecting dust, so might as well put them to work.
Arlen: All right, great. Well, that’s been awesome talking to you. We’ll, and we appreciate you coming onto the eCommerce marketing podcast and you know, finally, if any of our listeners want to pick your brain anymore about data automation, what is the best way for them to get into contact with you?
Will: Great question.
So you can catch me at dataautomation.com or you can shoot me an email, [email protected], we’re here to help. Happy to give you some advice on where to go and what to do with automation.
Arlen: awesome. Well, thanks for sharing that. We’ll, and uh, it’s been a pleasure speaking to you. Thank you for joining us today on the eCommerce marketing podcast.
Will: Sounds good. Thanks.
Arlen: Thank you for listening to the eCommerce marketing podcast.
Co-Founder and Innovator at Data Automation