Welcome to our exciting new series on the AbandonAid blog: Tales from the Trenches. Each week, you’ll get to meet an online shop owner or e-commerce site manager. They will share their personal journey, tips & tricks, and advice they wish someone had given them! Catch up on the whole series here.
Name: Mike Maddox
Company: La Mav Organic Skin Science
Thanks for joining us Mike. Please, tell us a little about your business.
La Mav is Australia’s first and largest certified organic skincare and cosmetics company. La Mav’s entire Skin Care, Makeup, and Body Care range is certified organic and cruelty free, Australian made, and guaranteed free from harsh chemicals, fillers, talc, sulphates, GM ingredients, parabens, mineral oils, phthalates and artificial colors and fragrances. La Mav is also the only cosmetics company to use clinically proven Bio-Actives, which is a trademarked in-house process for preserving natural ingredients in their biologically active state, resulting in incredibly effective products.
It sounds like you have a great product line! How did you get involved with this impressive company?
I’ve been into organic products ever since I was a child, as my mom was an avid buyer of certified organic. That trend continued as I got older, and now I not only buy certified organic food, but extended to every household consumable, including skincare for my girlfriend. We had recently moved to Australia and I was on the hunt for non-toxic (and preferably certified organic) skincare and makeup for her to use. We came across La Mav in a local organic grocery store, and she absolutely loved the products. I sent them an email asking if it was available in the USA, as I have a lot of friends and sisters there who I knew would also enjoy the products. At the time I owned an online marketing agency so my email signature reflected this. La Mav (like the vast majority of businesses in the world!) needed to improve their online marketing, and the rest is history. I have since sold the agency and work for La Mav as the eCommerce Director, overseeing the online marketing team and marketing online to 12 countries.
What a great story! Where are you now on this journey? Any recent big win that you’re particularly proud of?
In June 2015 we officially partnered with Birchbox, USA’s largest online reseller, who is now carrying a curated portion of our brand and making it readily available to their customer base in the USA. We’re super excited to bring certified organic products to more and more people, as the alternatives (non-certified organic products) virtually all contain chemicals linked to cancer, hormonal, and neurological issues – not good!
Congratulations! That’s very exciting. It certainly seems like business is great. Tell us, what is a typical day-in-the-life of a successful E-Commerce Director, like yourself?
I think I’d like to start out with that I don’t do: I (barely) use email! Email is incredibly inefficient and a massive time sink, and as one of my specialties is efficient marketing systems & automation, I abhor it. However, we all need to get things done and as all of us on the e-commerce team work remotely, a solution is obviously necessary. My solution has been two project management tools, Asana and Nimble, which let us work so well that I only check my email about twice per week and we only have meetings twice per month, yet still manage to remain ahead of the competition (a new competitor opens every day!).
A typical day starts with checking Asana and responding to anything that requires my attention. I’ll also check Nimble for communication from various B2B resellers (my role has hybridized into B2B now that so many online resellers stock our brand) and from our paid advertisers, view reports from various marketing automation platforms, and browse over the content being generated by my team on our social channels, blog, and others. Things vary wildly from here depending on the day and what’s going on that given week or month.
That makes sense—I would imagine some months get much crazier than others. For example, I bet your products make very popular holiday gifts. Have you started your preparations for that season yet?
Definitely. We prepare for the holiday season about 8 months in advance due to new product launches, collaborations, etc. Products take many months to develop and about two months to properly prepare for launch, so we start preparing for the holidays almost as soon as the New Year begins.
Well between Holiday 2015 prep and the daily demands of the job, it seems like you’re very busy. What is the hardest part of managing an online business?
Probably the actual e-commerce side – there are a lot of e-commerce platforms, but none of them do everything well, and custom solutions are very expensive. Balancing cost/benefit/technological offerings with a platform can be trying, and e-commerce systems never evolve as fast as (in my opinion) they should to keep up with changes in user technology and interface.
That must be frustrating. Are there ways in which you do think the e-commerce landscape is shifting?
Everything in the online marketing world is constantly shifting. The businesses that don’t pay quality personnel for quality online marketing aren’t going to be around for very much longer, if they even still are. Beyond that, marketing automation is getting more and more powerful, and there are a lot of exciting ‘machine learning’ automation systems available for e-commerce stores now. As competition grows, these systems along with segmentation and personalization will become more and more important. And some things never change: user experience will always be very important, and is probably more so now than ever given the variety of devices visitors use to shop online now.
You certainly seem to have a handle on the competition, and a firm grasp on the e-commerce sphere in general. Is there something you wish you knew when you started out in the world of online business?
Because I’ve been in online marketing 8+ years, there weren’t many surprises for me except for this one:
The difficulty of running a full-featured e-commerce website in multiple countries and currencies without a budget in the six-figure range.
As I mentioned earlier, all ‘turnkey’ e-commerce solutions have some serious drawbacks, and custom solutions are very expensive.”
I would imagine so. Speaking of drawbacks in the e-commerce sphere, was shopping cart abandonment a big challenge for your business? How has sending abandonment emails helped tackle that challenge?
There are many cart abandonment solutions, and most turnkey e-commerce platforms also offer their own integrated “”solution””. The problem is, the majority don’t do one (or any) of three key things:
1) Capture an email address that’s entered *anywhere* on the page (not just during checkout)
2) Easy-to-use split testing
3) At-a-glance reporting
AbandonAid does all of the above, which is why I’ve been a customer for approximately two years now. This year, AbandonAid has been responsible for 8% of our total sales, at an ROI I basically choose based on how many credits I purchase. In addition, Dena and the support team are incredibly nice and go way above and beyond to ensure customer satisfaction – something I greatly appreciated working in the digital sector, where 50% of the time something is broken somewhere!
We’re so glad to hear you’ve had such great success with us! Before we part ways, what advice or final words would you give to new shop owners?
You need online marketing, and you need it in a serious way. “”Build it and they will come”” ended online years ago – if you’re not prepared mentally and financially to seriously implement online marketing, you’re better off doing something else.
The challenge with new shop owners, or even for established companies is finding qualified online marketers. This isn’t a field where one can present a piece of paper (college degree, certificate, etc) that proves “I’m qualified!” This is one of the main reasons why increasing online lead generation consistently ranks #1 when businesses are polled with the question, “What is your most pressing need for business development?” While it puts me in an excellent position, I see the pain it causes businesses of all sizes every day.
My advice to shop owners seeking online marketer(s) is twofold: stop micromanaging, and pay attention to what a potential online marketer has accomplished in the past. You’ll need to know enough about online marketing to not get fleeced by jargon, and you’ll also have to let go of any micromanaging tendencies.
Don’t expect an online marketer to show up and sit in a cubicle – the good ones aren’t going to accept anything that isn’t a telecommuting role, and with good reason: telecommuting boosts productivity and increases employee satisfaction. Online marketing is not about ‘busy work’, it’s about results. If one of my employees can accomplish everything I need them to in one hour a week, I’ll be incredibly impressed (and probably picking their brain about what system(s) they used to do so while they’re on the beach the other 39 hours/week!).