There are many reasons to focus on increasing your average order value—you can spend less on shipping, move inventory faster, and, of course, make more with every transaction.
Offering your products as bundles is a clever way for ecommerce businesses to start seeing these larger checkouts, especially if you have a sizeable catalogue of relatively inexpensive products.
In this episode of Shopify Masters, you’ll learn from entrepreneurs who created "kits" from their existing products to build a business that now does 7 figures a month.
Krist Agakhanyan and Vahe Haroutounian run Stealth Angel Survival: the premier site to find essential outdoors, camping, hiking, adventure and survival equipment.
When we are coming up with a kit, we keep it as general possible to target as wide of an audience as possible.
You'll also learn
- How to create product kits for your own business
- How to set customer expectations when you are shipping from multiple vendors.
- How to find and evaluate writers for your store’s blog
Listen to Shopify Masters below…
- Store: Stealth Angel Survival
- Social Profiles: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram
- Recommendations: WriterAccess, ReAmaze - customer support (Shopify App), FOMO (Shopify app), Stamped.io
Kits of all sizes
Stealth Angel offers a variety of product kits comprised of items across their vast catalogue of survival gear. These kits range from $20 to over $200, catering to individuals, groups, and even families.
Felix: Hey, my name is Felix and I’m the host of Shopify Masters. Each and every week we’ll learn the keys to success from Ecommerce experts and entrepreneurs like you. In this episode, you’ll learn how to create product kits for your business, how to set customer expectations when you’re shipping from multiple vendors, and how to find and evaluate writers for your store’s blog.
Today I’m joined by Krist and Vahe from Stealth Angel Survival. Stealth Angel Survival is the premier site to find essential outdoors, camping, hiking, adventure, and survival equipment. And it was started in 2017 and is based out of Los Angeles. Welcome Krist and Vahe.
Krist: How’s it going? [inaudible 00:01:04]
Felix: Good, good, so where did this idea come from?
Krist: We have a little of background in outdoors, so we were kind of looking at different types of verticals. Looking at, you know, what we could as far as, you know, these types of products and concerns. We had kinda looked at a lot of guys out there, different types of products they’re selling. We just had a need for it ourselves, especially when it comes to someone like a package type of product or a kit type of product which is-
Vahe: Survival, emergency stuff.
Krist: Yeah, so it’s mainly like we wanted to put together kits, because a lot of people don’t really know what they need, what to purchase. So they end up piecing together things that don’t make sense.
So we came up with the idea to have some pre-made kits for people to purchase for hiking to emergency situations, to anything like that.
Felix: Yeah, you mentioned that you had experience in the outdoor space already. Was this like hobbies or did you guys work in the space already?
Krist: No, man, just hobbies, this was one were we kinda coupled the hobby with the business, really and the next level.
Felix: So you guys have started businesses in the past?
Krist: Yeah, yeah we have.
Felix: Got it. Now you mentioned that when you were looking around for something to get into, it sounded like you guys were, had time or had the energy in the all other businesses that you are creating to focus on this particular industry. What did you see in the marketplace that made you recognize that there was opportunity for you guys to get in there.
Krist: Yeah, so one of the main things we kinda saw was that a lot of the brands out there were very, kinda specific in what they were doing, you know, so we looked at some competitors. So let’s say there were survival type items or tactical gear, like people were very, very kinda specific. So either geared toward, let’s say, clothing or specifically, let’s say, hiking or-
Vahe: Or too general.
Krist: Yeah, yeah they were kind of like it’s either a big five type of competitor or somebody that’s very, very specific on something. So we were running to, say tactical clothing sites that would only do just gear, they wouldn’t provide some of the tools, or you know you would run into a general store that had just about everything that you can’t really pick what you want, what you need. So we kinda saw wide, wide variety of stuff and a lot of the products that we were researching, we didn’t see a lot of these guys carrying so that’s kinda how we got into it.
Felix: Yeah, so you guys had the hobby in this space, but it kinda spawns a couple of things, right? It sounds like there’s of course outdoors, camping, adventure, gear for people to go out on hikes and go camping, but then a big portion of it in the name of your business is around survival equipment. So tell us a little bit more about how these two different, at least to me, they are very adjacent interests, people that might be in to hiking, might also be interested in survival gear, but it’s still kind of two different demographics or interests. How did you guys know to tie these two together?
Krist: Yeah, so that kinda came about just by, just listening to our customers, really. We would have people buying you know certain gear and then asking for something complimentary, but then what we noticed was a lot people, were kinda, like you said, it’s a little bit related because if they are buying, let’s say a hiking type of product, that could also, in many cases it could be used for a survival type scenario.
So we would see the people that were really kinda prepared or were enthusiasts in hiking, or outdoors, or things like that were often prepared as well for an emergency-type situation. Off the bat it doesn’t seem like they go hand in hand, but when you think about is as far as the products are concerned they are very complimentary to each other.
Felix: Right, that that makes a lot of sense. So you guys saw that there was room in the middle, right, you recognized that other companies or other businesses were too niche. They served only one small purpose, or they’re too general and they weren’t specialized in the target mark that you were going after. So you saw room in the middle. I think that you mentioned and in my research that you guys started with just one product and grew from there, like you were saying you were listening to your customers. What was that one product that you started with?
Krist: Yeah, so the one product was the 8-in–1 Stealth Angel kit that we have and the reason why we kinda chose that to start with was number one, it was very affordable, a good starter product, but at the same time, that kit has so many unique items in it that we’ve had even the hard core enthusiasts just by it just to have, just because it’s so cheap and some much stuff in it that they can just throw around in cars or give it to people or whatever it is. It was almost like a product that covered several bases that allowed us to get off to a good start.
Felix: When you were growing the catalog and you were choosing your next products you mentioned that you’re listening to customers. So was this just kind of passively through customer service emails or nowadays, or even back then, what were you doing to make sure that you really had ear to your customers, you really understood what they wanted next?
Krist: Yeah, so man, we really, really got in to it. We were looking at, between the two of us, pretty much every single email, every single Facebook post, Instagram post, Twitter, you name it. We were just … We spent a lot of time just reading and listening. It’s like it’s one of these things you have to know what is going on especially when you launch a new product. It might be a great idea to you, but once it’s out in the marketplace you really have to keep your eyes and ears wide open to see what people are saying.
So we’ve been doing that and pretty much every single product that we have is … We’ll do our testing on our end, go through several, phases of giving it to close friends, people to test out, to use, to do all that, until we introduce it. But once we do, we really like to keep our eyes and ears open to see what’s going on.
Felix: How large, approximately, how large is your catalog today?
Krist: The catalog today, we have about a hundred different SKUs that are items that we house, ourselves, that we own the inventory to and then we also have … I don’t know the exact number, but we have quite a large selection of items that, we drop ship.
Krist: Yeah, over 400 at least, items that are drop shipped and that’s using some of the Shopify apps to link up with people in our space to basically offer their products as well, their SKUs as well.
Felix: Yeah, I like how you compliment your own products with drop ship products and some degree or, like you are saying, drop shipping has a larger or more SKUs in your entire catalog. How do you manage having both your own products and also drop ship products. Is there a work flow that has helped you guys?
Krist: Nothing too specific. It’s a little bit tough to answer that one, to be honest. We look at you know our fulfillment center, which is our own. We go through the orders, segment out what’s ours, what’s not. You have situations sometimes were a customer will buy your product coupled with the drop ship items so you have two separate shipments going to them, but yeah, the work flow is pretty basic. Our assistant manager goes through it, sees if we need to ship it or if we need to submit the order to the drop shipper to ship for us and we just kind of go from there.
Felix: How do you decide what products you should hold as your own inventory versus products that you should just continue to drop ship.
Krist: Right, so one of the ways is since we were starting it out kinda fresh some of the branded type of products. It takes a little bit of time to become a whole, retailer, or reseller of them. So we would see things that were branded and these were things that we had used or knew that brand, or had friends that have used it, or whatever the situation was and we decided to add those in our catalog through the drop shippers that were offering them. So it’s its mainly like the branded type of stuff that we started drop shipping.
Vahe: And we also order some like Livestrong, stuff like that so-
Krist: Yeah, yeah. Even with some of the branded stuff, we also hold some of that inventory ourselves. I guess to kind of summarize it is just how easy can we get a product, versus just offering one that’s out there, that’s established and might not be available to everybody.
Felix: Got it. So if it’s something that you could easily procure yourself, you’ll go with that. And if you can offer some value to a customer by presenting them with a product that you’ve found that you can drop ship, you would do that. Whatever’s essentially easiest to get to the customer.
Krist: Yeah, yeah exactly.
Felix: You mention that the both of you were spending a lot of time poring over social media, reading everything to get feedback from your customers and understand what they want next. But you can’t take everyone’s advice, right? Everyone has something that has an opinion and you just won’t be able to act on everyone’s thoughts on what you should include in your site. So how do you decide the kind of priority of what you should rank high in terms of a product that someone is mentioning, versus something that you might throw into the backlog and come back to later?
Krist: It’s kind of … I don’t know. Coming a little bit from that space, I guess part of it is just intuition. Just thinking, “Would I buy this?” if somebody’s talking about it. Does it make sense, is it a good fit for us? Can we develop something like this? Can we brand out something like this or are we just going to be chasing our tails with a random product that doesn’t really have that ring to it. I’d say a lot of it is just knowing the space a little bit and hearing from consumers and knowing what type of consumers we have to say, “Hey, I think we can sell this,” versus, “Yeah, I don’t know if this one would fly,” you know?
Felix: Yeah. Have you ever been surprised by something that you heard customers asking for and that you’d never even considered adding it to your catalogs? I’m assuming since you’re in this space and you’re selling these kinds of products, you must see a lot or must at least have an idea of all the possible things you could add to your store. But has anyone every made a suggestion that you guys were like, “Wow, I never thought about adding that.” Then it was actually successful?
Krist: No, I don’t think so, man. No [crosstalk 00:12:54]
Felix: Yeah, that makes sense. That you probably already kind of have an idea of the entire catalog, but obviously you want to be selective and go with what customers are actually demanding.
Krist: Some of the stuff, I’ll tell you, there have been certain suggestions on products that we’ve wanted to add, but we’ve just had limitations in doing so. Just based on the type of marketing we do and things like that. For example, we have a big community of people that wants everything from collector knives to switchblade type of items and things like that, and we haven’t added it to the site just because of the different avenues of our marketing spend, and where we buy, and media and all of that, kind of frown upon certain things like that. So we’ve stayed away from that just to not get caught up in accounts being bad, advertisements being bad, and things like that.
Felix: That makes sense. You guys have, you mentioned, your own inventory, you also do drop shipping and I think other entrepreneurs out there that might just do solely drop shipping. They will have, like you mentioned, you’ll have shipments coming from different vendors, right? People that are shipping, in your case, your warehouse versus the drop shipper shipping the product from there. How do you communicate this to customers to set their expectations when there are different shipping times. And they might, in their head, imagine that it’s all coming from the same business, but it’s being drop shipped in one case versus coming straight from your warehouse. Do you have to communicate this? Have you thought of good ways to communicate this to your customers?
Krist: The one way we do it is just through the email confirmations, when we can. We can’t always do that, but that’s the best way we do it. If it’s a certain drop-ship item or if we know an item is going to be delayed because of the drop ship program or a scenario like that, we’ll give them a heads up. But yeah, really we haven’t found a great way, I would say, to do that.
Felix: Do you find that customers typically care or do you … Has it been an issue?
Krist: It hasn’t been too much of an issue. But yeah, sometimes they do actually. If people are, if listeners are looking to do this, sometimes people do just because when you … Let’s say you upload a tracking number, they get an item and only part of it is delivered, the customer will think there’s an error. They’ll contact you saying, “Hey, the tracking shows delivered but I only got half my order,” or something along those lines.
The best way that I’ll tell you we do it is, because we ship our own product, in almost every circumstance we know our own product is shipped quicker than the drop shipper. What we’ll do is actually print the shipping label, the insert, we’ll notify them in that insert. So we’ll stamp that shipping label inside of the package and we’ll say this item will be shipped to you separately, or it’s coming separately, or something along those lines. At least we kind of know that if they get our product first, which is most cases, when they open it up, they’ll see the insert and they’ll say, “Hey, this part of the order was shipped separately. It should get to you pretty quickly.” Which-
Felix: Yeah, that makes sense. How are you guys able to … I can understand that you have a big customer base at a certain point to listen to understand what products add to next and that’s the best kind of market research you can get because you have so much data about how to make your business decisions. But when you’re starting off … Well, first of all, how did you kick this entire business off the ground? How were you able to get your first 100 customers?
Krist: So the first was basically, when we got the product that we kind of decided to launch, we first initially started with Facebook ad campaigns. Then slowly kind of started testing out other ad networks to see where we get traction from, where we don’t. But yeah, to answer your question, basically the first sale came from the Facebook advertisement for us.
Felix: Got it. So these were the ads featuring the 8-in–1 kit?
Krist: Yeah. The 8-in–1 kit. We made several banners, we actually photographed the product ourselves. We created videos ourselves. Really from ground up is how we got that one going. That kind of fed into all the other stuff.
Felix: Yeah. What’s your approach back then, and today too, that’s different towards how you set up your ad campaigns on Facebook?
Vahe: It’s larger.
Felix: I’d imagine.
Vahe: We made our ads a little more general. Before, we used to target more specific to people who are outdoors, and survival, and stuff like that. Then as time went on, we started going more and more general and growing it out that way.
Felix: Got it. Because at this point, you’re just trying to reach more people and to kind of [inaudible 00:18:17] your funnel to just build the brand. What’s the idea behind making the ads more general?
Vahe: It’s pretty much to build a brand. So even if they’re not interested in that one specific product, then we have our remarketing go out and pitch them other products if they weren’t interested in that one. So that’s why, pretty much, we’re going more general now that we have more products.
Felix: Right, makes sense. So this 8-in–1 kit that you guys put together, was this procured from multiple suppliers? Talk to us about how you put this kit together.
Krist: Yeah, so we had seen something similar to this in different areas that we were looking. We actually had to modify this one. So we got something that was kind of in the market and made our own modifications to it. One of the key things that we had to change with this, it goes back to what I was saying before, is it had a little switchblade type of knife that we had to take out. As we were selling it, you do need to find some of the items separately. So what we did is we kind of started with that, then we made a 9-in–1, 10-in–1. Now we’re making different ones. You need to source it from multiple areas, multiple places, depending on what you want to put in it. It started with one, kind of dumbed it down, revved it up again.
Felix: I’d imagine that this approach of creating kits makes a lot of sense. You’re doing it for different purposes. You have it for the camping, there’s survival. You can create kits for lots of different purposes for your site. So I can imagine that other businesses in other industries could take the same approach and create kits of products. How do you decide what to include in a kit? What kind of questions do you ask yourself, or do you ask customers, to decide what should be included in that kit?
Krist: Yeah, so first thing we do is pretty much come up with a scenario. Is this thing for outdoors, is it for an emergency, what is this really for? So you’ll kind of have some boundaries on what makes sense to include and what not to include. But most importantly, when we are coming up with a kit, it’s to keep it almost as general as possible to target as wide of an audience as possible. We’ve seen a lot of specialist kits out there and there are some guys in our space that kind of do monthly programs and things like that. But we figured you start with something very, very broad and then slowly come down and modify it to like an enthusiast level, you know.
Felix: Does that mean that you offer multiple kits then, or does it mean you offer a more general and then more specialized-
Krist: So for example, I’ll give you an example in the 8-in–1 kit. We developed the very first one and as we kind of went along we’ve seen some people, they want something a little bit bigger, a little more thorough, with more items in it, which leads to a higher price point. But they want a little bit more in the same kind of compactness. You get feedback from people saying, “I could use a signaling mirror. Why doesn’t the kit have it? That’s a great addition to it.” Or “I’m looking for a different type of carrying case, because I want it on me at all times.” Things like that. When you build it general, you get some of the feedback that makes it seem like “Hey, maybe we should have this version of it, or maybe we should have a more thorough one, or a more expensive one, or something a little bit less bulky.” Yeah.
Felix: I’m not sure exactly in the case of your industry, in other industries, other categories, it often seems like the highly-advanced, the people that are in this space, highly-advanced customers typically stay away from kits. They want to pick and choose and specialize and make their own choices. Do find this is similar in your business where it is more attractive towards beginners, like these kits, versus the more I guess, advanced, expert level kind of customers?
Krist: Right, right. So when it comes to the camping or outdoors types of kits, that’s true. However, at the same time, a lot of those types of customers also buy it for friends, relatives, family members, that might not be into this field as much. So we see that there, but as far as like, let’s say the emergency type of products, emergency kits and things like that, those ones we don’t get too many customers that are the enthusiasts. In that category they’re more of like the prepper type of crowd.
Felix: Do you also make the individual items available as well that can be purchased separately from the kits?
Krist: Yeah, for sure. We always do that. It’s an extra item. It’s on its own. It might be priced a little bit higher. It kind of makes the kit actually look a little bit more of a better value. But sometimes people want … You know, they get one item in the kit, they like it, like our pens are very hot. People see it and think, “Might as well pick up a few more.” Have it laying around the car or give it to a family member, or what have you.
Felix: Now that you’re building larger and larger kits with more individual items, what kind of new challenges come into play when you do start building larger kits of products?
Krist: That’s a good question, man. When you start doing that, you have to kind of go for, I guess, more of an advanced product. Which could be a little bit, sometimes, harder to source or requires a little bit more investment or something along those lines. When you start building bigger kits, it’s just more moving parts, but at the same time, still useful to have, to offer, just because you have an additional kit and you’re going to get an additional customer or somebody more advanced or somebody that wants something bigger. Just sourcing and finding the right product is what gets kind of tricky, you know.
Felix: You guys started this business only last year, in 2017, but have had a lot of success. Can you give us an idea of how successful the business has grown to today?
Krist: So the business … it grew from about, I believe we were about $20,000 a month in sales and revenue-
Vahe: The first month.
Krist: Yeah, the first month to, it’s just a little bit over the seven-figure mark in monthly revenue. Split up by … And it’s not only necessarily just the website, that’s another thing that I would kind of tell listeners to do is to look at other avenues of selling your product, whether it’s through wholesale channels or retail channels, or things like that. But that’s kind of where we stand now and it’s just continually growing.
Felix: That’s certainly tremendous growth. Can you tell us a little bit about a time where … this is kind of a two part question. Tell us a bout a time when you were most terrified during the growth, the creation of this business. And also tell us a time when you felt like you were most on-track and felt like, “We are actually doing this. We’re succeeding.”
Krist: Yeah, so I guess the first part, one of the kind of scarier times was when a lot of the disasters happened over the summer. We noticed a lot of uptick in orders. People were kind of … the atmosphere or the environment around us was kind of like people were coming to the site almost, I wouldn’t say to be saved, but to kind of stock up on things, and be prepared for the next hurricane that was coming.
This was like back-to-back-to-back you had natural disasters, so it was a little bit scary in that it’s almost as if you kind of take somebody’s mind off of being prepared by offering these types of products, but at the same time you need to be able to ship and deliver these things on time, because some of these people were really affected by what was happening. And a lot of suppliers at that time were constrained with their inventory because everyone was just in a frenzy to be prepared. So we had kits that we were shipping out that were in some cases late because they contained certain items that were kind of allocated to areas that were going through several disasters.
For example, like in our emergency kits there was a shortage of food and water in a lot of places, not necessarily because they were selling out, but just because a lot of suppliers were just kind of … They were selling, but at the same time they were helping, donating a lot of items, and this and that. I’d say that was kind of a pretty scary time, just because people are relying on you and it’s kind of up to you to make sure they get their orders on time.
Felix: Alright. What about a time when you guys, I think as an entrepreneur, you’re always feeling like you’re barely holding on, but what has been a time where you felt like things were going really well and you had that taste of success for the first time?
Krist: Yeah, I think it’s probably right after that rush died down. Anything was a little bit better than that feeling of just being scared and all that. But in all seriousness, after that rush, kind of when you saw that “Alright, we’re able to handle this,” we made out in that situation in the best way possible, didn’t have too many complaints, people were getting stuff on time, we were getting a lot of testimonials and things like that from people that actually used it and it was beneficial. That kind of made us feel a lot more solid about what we were doing.
Felix: Now this, kicking off your business and turning out $20,000 in revenue in the first month is a goal that some people want to reach in a couple years, but you guys were able to do this in the first year. This was a straight up the back of Facebook ads and video advertising on Facebook?
Krist: So this is on pretty much everywhere, man. We started with that, but kind of having businesses before and being involved in things that are similar to this, we saw that you really have to cover a lot of ground. You basically have to leave … You can’t leave any stone unturned. You have to really try to reach as far as you can. Kind of how I mentioned before, whether its online, offline, wholesale type of stuff, even offering drop shipping type stuff, affiliate type stuff. You can’t focus on one thing. If you just do one, you’re gonna be stuck. You gotta just look at it as, you have got a product to sell, now how are you going to sell it? Clear your mind and just hit every single angle that you can to sell it.
Felix: Right. And you think of the typical entrepreneur, typical store that gets created that the focus is typically on Instagram or running Facebook ads, where do you think that if you could make a suggestion, where do you think that entrepreneurs should focus their attention on where there is opportunity for them to market or get sales that you don’t see as many people taking advantage of?
Krist: Those obviously are the main ones. Another thing to kind of look at that, I think, is possibly a little bit difficult for some to do, would be a lot of like the different search platforms that are always good, especially when you’re branding a product. That’s one thing that we see some people not really taking advantage of, whether it’s paid, whether it’s natural search, whether it’s different types of articles that are kind of more like soft-selling type of stuff. Things that are not necessarily just something that’s very intuitive for somebody to do. You’d be surprised on what would bring in sales. Like just a general … Everything from consistent blog posts bring sales to email marketing is obviously another big one that is very useful. But yeah, those types of sources are always solid.
Felix: So you’re talking about, specifically, SEO for search engine like Google and you’re mentioning creating blog posts. Now, are these blog posts or the content that you’re talking about, these articles, are they being written in-house by you guys or are you guys working with contractors? How do you build up … It sounds like something that takes a lot of time or that you have to have someone that knows SEO or you have to produce a lot of content. How are you able to do this with a startup essentially?
Krist: Yeah, some of it initially, we were writing some of these articles. But yeah, eventually, you kind of come up with the idea of what you want to cover and we would outsource the writing, give them specs on what we want to cover, what it should have, what it shouldn’t have, and things like that, and just go back and forth with several different writers until you find one that you like their style, you like how they speak or come of when you read an article by them. It takes a lot of trial and error to find something.
Felix: Do you find that the outsourcing articles performed as well as the work that you guys are putting out?
Krist: Yeah, once we found the correct writer, yeah it definitely did. In the beginning, not at all, man. Cause they … You have to kind of find somebody that you’re on the same page with, so to speak. You get a lot of outsource writers that are not familiar with the terminology, that doesn’t really resonate with the reader, versus when you’ve got somebody that kind of knows the space or even better if you can find a hobbyist, an enthusiast, even do some trades with them to write stuff. I know a lot of people starting out are strapped for money, resources, that could work. Offering barter-type services, they’ll write an article, you’ll give them a product, or reviewers always contact us. We’ll send them a product to get an article in exchange. That works, too.
Felix: Yeah, an outsource writer you can find a bunch of them and I think a lot of their … because they are writers, because they make their money this way. A lot of them potentially oversell or overpromise what they can deliver in terms of their expertise or the quality of the articles. What do you do these days to see through that, to cut through that, and really understand which writers are legitimate and which ones you can pass on?
Krist: Yeah, I guess it’s kind of, you test them out and see how the article sounds. What we found that does the best is you want to read something and you want to feel like someone is just normally talking to you. Especially if that’s the intent, like a blog post, you don’t want to sell somebody on it. You just want to offer something to, whether it’s an existing customer, a potential customer, somebody who can come onto your site and get something informational that they didn’t have before without being overly sold, like you said. I guess it’s just got to kind of read well. It almost has to seem like you’re talking to a friend versus a salesman.
Felix: Do you give them like a writing project or something? How do you find out if they are going to be a good fit and good voice for your brand or not?
Krist: Man, it’s very, very difficult. You really can’t off the bat, because like you said, some of these writers do it professionally. You may be presented something or examples of writing, but really it’s all about just trial and error. You just have to eat the costs or whatever it is for an article like that and just see how you feel about it. You get a couple of sample paragraphs of something, if you can work out something like that and you’ll see if it makes sense, if it reads right, does it-
Felix: Can you give me an idea of what kind of budget we’re talking about when you want an article written? Like how many words it encompasses and how much it could potentially cost?
Vahe: Eight, nine cents a word.
Krist: Yeah, it comes out to about that much. Eight to nine cents a word, usually, for a pretty good writer, I would say.
Felix: Got it. Where are you looking these days to find writers?
Krist: We’ve tried several different sources, but I think the one we’ve had the most success with has been WriterAccess. It’s a pretty good service. We’ve had pretty good results with them so far.
Felix: Yeah. Now what kind of direction do you give once you do have a writer that you want to work with and you guys are ready to produce some content? What do you tell them? What kind of brief or what kind of information do you give them to give them a start on the content?
Krist: A lot of our posts and things like that, we kind of focus on the informational type of articles versus like a story or something like that. It’s pretty straightforward, I would say, because you’re kind of telling them … Let’s say we want to talk about the items you need to be prepared for an emergency. What are some essentials? We’ll do some research on our end if it’s something that’s a little bit more serious. For example, for our emergency kit type items we’ll do research on FEMA website, Red Cross, things like that, to see what are some essentials.
Because if you’re really putting this out there you want it to have some use as well. There’s a lot of sites you’ll see that’s just pumping out content that is kind of meaningless, almost. But once you settle on a topic, we’ll do a little bit of research ourselves and just have the do’s and don’ts. Nothing too, too specific once you find the right person. If the person is not, if you’re testing somebody out and this and that, the more specific you are with specs and things like that the better, but once you kind of have a working relationship with somebody they already know your style, your site, and things like that. It gets less and less time-consuming to work with them.
Felix: Makes sense. I think you also mentioned that today, other than SEO, one of the effective marketing channels for you is through video advertising. Can you say a little bit more about this? What platforms are you buying video ads on?
Krist: Our main video advertising we buy on is, again, Facebook and Instagram. I would say it’s one of the more challenging things that we’re dealing with now. It’s just really hard finding a good editor, a good creator of content like that. That’s probably, looking at the different sources of marketing that we do, I would say that’s probably one of the harder ones. Just because it’s really time-consuming. You have to try out different variations and things like that. So it gets pretty difficult. It’s one were we could use some help, for sure.
Felix: Can you talk to us a little about your workflow when guys sit down to create a video ad? Are you creating the raw assets yourself first and then saying to an editor … ? What’s the entire process for you guys to say, “Okay, I want to create a new video ad”? What are the next steps?
Krist: Initially what we would do is shoot the raw content ourselves and then come up with, looking at some other advertisements to see how other people are doing things, or trying to figure out what the message is we want to get across. We would develop a little bit of a, let’s say, story line, essential clips for sure that we need. Then we would look at different texts that we have been using, texts that has been performing in the actual advertisements. How to incorporate that. What kind of flow do you want for the video?
There’s a lot that’s involved in it, really. But now as we’ve kind of developed over time, we try to have the content, the raw footage shot, and then we have an in-house editor that will go through clips. We’ll do some ourselves, just to see and try out different variations to see if one is working versus the other one. It’s not. What to change. You change font styles, you change transitions, things like that. It gets very time-consuming.
Felix: So this is something you guys are going daily, where you’re creating new videos every day?
Krist: Pretty much, yeah. We’re very, very hands-on with everything that we do with this. So yeah, all day man. Coming up with new, different pitches, different content, different photos, different … Yeah it’s a daily thing, yep.
Felix: Now for a video ad, specifically, is there a recommended length that has worked well for you guys?
Krist: No, nothing recommended, but we try and stay in the 30 second or less time. But nothing too, too specific.
Felix: Do you try to get across specific points or anything, a specific kind of message in the very first five, ten seconds?
Vahe: It’s really difficult to do that.
Krist: Yeah. [crosstalk 00:41:39] I wish we could but it’s very hard to do.
Felix: Maybe you can tell us, what should you certainly include in a video ad. Obviously a video of the product itself. What other kind of details do you recommend people include in their video ads?
Krist: It’s just mainly the product itself as a whole, features of it, different types of angles of the product is always good. Showing somebody with it, holding it, using it. Things like that are always good. Especially in video, you have to do things kind of relative to the environment. So, for example, if I have a shot of our kit on the ground, let’s say, and there’s nothing else around it, somebody might think it’s a really big kit versus it not being that large in size. The more you can show people using it, it’s always good.
Felix: Got it. Have you noticed a difference between your experience on putting up video ads on Facebook versus video ads on Instagram?
Vahe: It’s the same.
Krist: Yeah, roughly the same. Roughly the same, yeah.
Felix: I want to take a look now about your site itself. Lots of things going on when I first come onto your site. You have … I see free shipping, I see ten under ten dollars, I see a banner that tells me about new products that you’ve added. What goes into the design of your page? It looks like very purposeful, right? There’s certain things, certain messages that you want to put across, certain things you want the audience or the visitor to focus on. How did you guys approach creating and designing the site?
Krist: That’s a permanent banner that any time something new is added, people can see that. And then you have to have some of the specials that we promote, so like the free shipping, the ten under ten. It’s basically different … I would call them almost campaigns that you come up with to have on the site. And then the other thing you really have to keep in mind is a lot of the users are mobile, so some of the stuff is not too, too relevant to those types of users. So some advice to people listening would be you really, really have to design for both in mind. Yeah, it’s very important.
Felix: Now when I come to the product page, the immediate reactions I get from looking at a product page is a lot of focus on trust and building that trust with the customer. Also some urgency in here as well and lots of social proof with the reviews. Again, going back to the trust, showing the number of reviews that you guys have. THere’s the money-back guarantee, online support 24/7, Better Business Bureau accredited. So these are a lot details, I think it’s a great example for someone to go and check out. The website, stealthangelsurvival.com, the examples of things you might want to include in your site.
Now what’s the through process behind the product page? How did you guys decide what to include into the product page itself?
Krist: These are, I mean, they’re kind of obvious things that you should have. You always want to have reviews, as much as you can, good or bad. You want users to see that other people have bought from them, other people like this, dislike it. You want it to come across as being real. The support, very important. People always look at, “Am I going to get continued support from these guys or are they just going to take my money and never answer.” The BBB stuff is always great and if you can have any more accreditations like that, that’s always a good thing to have.
All these improve conversions overall, from the different cards you take to secure type of site, to the shipping, the reviews, the support. They’re very, very key things that we think you absolutely need.
Felix: Right. I imagine that you have apps to help you power a lot of this. Can you talk to us a little bit about that. What kind of applications do you use to help run the business, and certainly to help run the site?
Krist: Yeah. We use several different ones. For support we’ve been using an app called Reamaze. That kind of links everything together from your Facebook posts, to Instagram stuff, so you kind of hear people across the board. Some of the other apps, I’ll let Vi kind of give some back ground on some of the stuff we use and why.
Vahe: One of them that … the FOMO one is pretty good. The one that kind of shows what other people are buying. We’ve been using that one.
Krist: Yeah, that one is kind of, to expand on it, it’s more of like the, not an accreditation type thing, but almost acts like a review type thing to where if somebody’s on your site, and they’re seeing other live users buying things, it just kind of reaffirms that other people are shopping here and this is what they’re buying, that’s what they’re buying. That’s been a pretty good Shopify app.
Vahe: For the other app, we really don’t use too many apps. That’s probably one of the only third-party apps that we actually have running on the site itself other than the review. We use [inaudible 00:47:17] for the actual review instead of Shopify’s own review plug-in, which has more features. Other than that, we really don’t use too many apps that run on the site itself.
Felix: Got it. So thank you so much for your time, Krist and Vi. So stealthangelsurvival.com is their website. What do you guys plan on, what kind of goals do you have for this year? You guys are obviously killing it and growing at a very rapid pace. What are some of the key goals you want to hit on this year?
Krist: Mainly it’s adding new products, new innovative type of products. Some of our growing out the brand a little with our own proprietary products is one key area that we’re focusing on. And then just kind of expansion into other mediums. Retail, more of a wholesale angle, those are really the two things that we really want to get done this year.
Felix: Awesome. Thank you, again, so much for your time.
Krist: Alright, thanks a lot, man.
Vahe: Thank you.
Krist: Thank you.
Felix: Here’s a sneak peak for what’s in store the next Shopify Masters’ episode.
Speaker 4: Maybe that means you experiment with some new line of products and say “I’m going to make the product more expensive so that will offset the cost of that third, free product.”
Felix: Thanks for listening to Shopify Masters. The Ecommerce marketing podcast for ambitious entrepreneurs. To start your story today, visit shopify.com/masters to claim your extended 30-day free trial. Also, for this episode’s show notes, head over to shopify.com/blog.