Product launches can be daunting, but can yield MASSIVE results when done right! In this episode, Ray is joined by Mariana Cimino, Senior eCommerce Strategist at Right Hook, to talk about her recent $2.6 million product launch day for a client. Mariana breaks down the steps it took and the processes she followed – hint: it all starts with delivering actual value to your customers!
Plus, Ray & Mariana discuss what passionate traffic is and how fostering that passionate traffic helps build anticipation for your product launches. This episode also looks into how to prepare for a product launch with elaborate planning & list-building, as well as organizing your sales funnel to ensure maximum profitability.
We also have a great section on how Facebook’s Instant Experiences can help with your list-building initiatives and some pretty hot tips on how to successfully do a product launch. We hope this episode helps you craft and crush your own product launch with ease!
Download your free guide Crushing 6-Figure Product Launches & Sales Campaigns here!
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If you want to learn more about us and what we do at Right Hook, visit our website: Right Hook Digital
Full episode transcript & chapter markers for this episode are available on the Growth & Greatness eCommerce Podcast Buzzsprout page!
0:00 – 0:27 – G&G eCommerce Podcast Theme
This is the Growth & Greatness eCommerce Podcast, powered by Right Hook Digital, with your hosts Scott Seward & Raymond Johnston. If you’re an eCommerce brand founder, entrepreneur, or marketer looking to accelerate profitable growth for your business, then listen in ‘cause this is the podcast for you.
0:27 – 4:14 – Introduction of guest Mariana Cimino
Ray (0:27 – 0:51) – Hey, everyone! Welcome to Episode 8 of the Growth & Greatness eCommerce Podcast. I am Ray Johnston. I gotta tell you, I’m feeling really pumped and energized right now! I just came from the Geeked Out tour and today’s guest is a great addition to it because we’re talking to one of my favorite people I love to talk to about nerding out when it comes to eCommerce and my favorite topic, product launches. Mariana, welcome to the show!
Mariana (0:51 – 0:53) – Thank you so much! I’m excited to jam and nerd out with you too, Ray!
Ray (0:54 – 1:07) – Well, before we get started, I think it’s important for people to know who you are, what’s your background? I didn’t wanna tell them what you’re doing right now ‘cause I’ll let you reserve that and explore that yourself, but please, introduce yourself. Tell us what you do.
Mariana (1:08 – 2:42) – Awesome! Okay, hey, everyone, so I think to really give you an idea of who I really am, I’m gonna take it a little bit back so you can understand a bit of why I made some of the decisions I do and some of the things that drive the strategy that I’ve created as kind of my secret sauce for winning campaign launches. I moved to the US in 2001, actually. My family won a visa lottery, believe it or not, that’s a thing. You know, the US does them every couple of years and my mom put her name in and we won green cards to the United States. So I show up here at 12 years old and I barely know English. So I jumped in, not really understanding language that well, and understanding people kind of became my survival mechanism. I didn’t quite make sense of it that way at the time, but it’s kind of what pushed me to work diligently to get rid of my accent, which I now very much regret, and ended up with me studying communications in college. I had no idea that communications would end me up in an agency or anything of marketing. I just knew that I really was interested in people. So after that happened, I bought a one-way ticket to San Diego ‘cause I like the skyline. I wanted to check out a place that was sunnier than Virginia, and I started working for start-ups. Something about, just the energy around them, the not knowing what was gonna happen, I really, really enjoyed that. Even though 2 of them miserably failed, in one of them, my boss said, ‘Here’s $10,000 dollars, go learn Facebook ads. Figure it out.’ So I was in that position back when Ads Manager was called Power Editor. I don’t know if you remember that.
Ray (2:42 – 2:45) – Oh, wow! That’s kinda dating yourself a little bit. I miss Power Editor, I gotta be honest with you. I loved it!
Mariana (2:45 – 4:14) – Yes, I loved the idea of calling it, when they made the switch, I couldn’t get over it! So, that was a thing, so that does date me, but I got the 10,000 users and I remember creating 32 ad sets. I went super complex, like really fast, with everything that I was learning. But, basically, that’s where I learned that I really like the idea of paid advertising, and it wasn’t so much, at that point, about revenue. It was more about, what gets somebody to click? So not just the science but the art of it. I was very interested in that. Fast forward, I ended up making my career, really, at the 1st agency I worked for about 5 years, and that’s where I worked with clients like Jersey Mike’s, Merit International. I also worked with an international music festival where I helped build the brand there and drove sales to the shows, and that’s where I realized that my efforts could translate to revenue. At that point, I really wanted to jump into a career that explored that a little bit more and enter Right Hook! So you guys, 2 years ago, totally perked my interest because I knew that I could work with brands that not only were interested in working with people and provided value, but also driving revenue. So, yeah, fast forward, here I am, in the last 2 years, I’ve been able to work with a lot of brands, predominantly fashion is where I found my interest, and had things happened, like a $2.6 million dollar day for 1 of my brands so it’s hard to believe that I came from Power Editor to that spot.
4:15 – 8:49 – The secret sauce – passionate traffic
Ray (4:15 – 4:41) – Yeah, humble-bragging, I think that’s okay. Now that everyone’s listening, you know she works at Right Hook. Mariana, we work really closely, obviously, like there’s, about strategies, we work really closely with other things internally, and there’s, I think looking back over the 2 years, you’ve kind of developed a secret sauce. I know, internally, we talk about this a lot and the secret sauce is something we really like talking about. Would you mind just explaining what is that secret sauce and then let’s dive into it.
Mariana (4:41 – 5:32) – Yeah. Let’s do it! You know, it’s funny that, hindsight 20/20, because you don’t realize you’ve got a secret sauce until you’re deep in cooking, but 1 of my big things, especially as they relate to people was this concept of passionate traffic. So in our industry, we talk about qualified traffic, but I go a step further in talking about the brands that create a relationship with their customers to the point that, it not only keeps them coming back, they establish this trust and 1-on-1 relationship that is kind of intangible. So, for me, the secret sauce begins there. It begins at talking to the brand owner or anybody who has a business about what value are they delivering to people, and how do we deconstruct that value to share it with the audience? In this case, it’s the online audience, which is not always the easiest to do.
Ray (5:32 – 5:40) – I wanna ask you, ‘cause I know we work with a lot of brands. I know you work with a lot of brands, not all of them have the passionate traffic. How do you spot it when someone has it?
Mariana (5:40 – 6:29) – Well, many ways. I think, first, the way that I kind of begin to spot them is I started to explore how I was using channels, how I was engaging with brands. The brands I keep coming back and buying from, now we know that’s CLTV right? The customer lifetime value. At the time, I didn’t quite realize it was happening, but usually, the way it looks in organic channels, if you’re not in the back-end of things, you’re seeing tons of comments, people being a champion for the brand. If you’ve ever seen a brand, kind of, flop or do something wrong on social, it’s when you have that traffic that defends you or they’re willing to let things go because they really believe in you and they put their money, right? That’s a huge, commending for the brand that they’re giving you their money. Yeah, that would be 1 way that I would identify that passionate traffic.
Ray (6:29 – 6:49) – I know that, you mentioned that case study where you did, was it $2.6 million in 24 hours, I know that brand specifically and this other brand we’re gonna talk about, and the result you had recently, is you can also spot on the back-end too. Would you mind explaining that? Some of the, not alcoholics, but shopaholics, and how you can spot that?
Mariana (6:49 – 7:55) – Shopaholics! Totally! Yeah, so, on the back-end, I definitely, I think, the repeat purchase rate always speaks for itself. I think when a brand has this, when you have people coming back every time that you do a sale or every time you do a collection launch, that, to me, shows that somebody is willing to give you their money over and over. That’s like, you know, as good as it gets. The other thing too is content creation, right, so when you have people posting on your behalf, being champions of your brand. Every time you see the tagged photos of those brands, it’s filled because they really believe in that product and something very interesting, on the human side of things is, when you wear that product, you’re proud of it. You wanna tell people about it. So that spurs the word-of-mouth that most brands don’t see, right? When they’re like, how did you hear about us? That’s a big intangible. I bought, I mean recently, I just bought a very high AOV product, and it was because I experienced it first at a friend’s house. So, by the time I got to the online journey, they don’t know that I started my journey there. It just seems like I went to the website and bought them, but, really, that’s passionate traffic. People who are willing to speak up for you, even when you’re not there.
Ray (7:55 – 8:04) – I didn’t mean to ask this question, but you brought up a really good point. Some people have it, and some people can spot it. Can you develop passionate traffic if you don’t have it?
Mariana (8:04 – 8:49) – Oh, absolutely! I mean, that’s really what I’ve made my career out of. I think, first off, you have to understand that not all brands are created equal. Like, you may have a product that has sold and you’ve done really well for it, but are you clear on your mission? Are you clear on your persona? Are you clear on your look and feel? You know, those kinds of inner workings and that kind of development happens, for example, with a growth partner, happens with a branding agency, happens maybe with yourself. It doesn’t have to be an expensive, out-of-the-box thing, but it happens with research and being clear on who you are as a brand and who you’re trying to attract. Because, as you know, Ray, like, your messaging gets better when you know that because you know exactly who you’re going after.
8:50 – 15:33 – Creating passionate traffic within your existing audience in preparation for launch day
Ray (8:50 – 9:18) – Yeah, and the passionate traffic piece, I think, it becomes really evident, especially when, like you mentioned the organic parts, the repeat purchase rate, but I believe it becomes really evident that you have it when you’re trying to build up for a product launch. You just had a really successful one, just recently, couple of weeks ago actually, a really big product launch. I’d love for you to dive into that now. So tie in passionate traffic, but what makes a successful launch versus ones that aren’t successful?
Mariana (9:18 – 10:43) – Yeah, totally. So let me paint a picture about this client so we can just get all the nerds on the same page of the numbers. But first thing, this is a super high AOV product. We’re talking in the 800s or 900s, which is pretty high, right? I’m always thinking, what drives, I mean talk about passion, right? You’re gonna be pulling out your wallet and making an almost $1,000 dollar purchase for that. And that was the AOV and, to be honest, their list is not that big. We’ve got about a 10,000 SMS list that they’re using, but they use SMS predominantly for these launches, and they haven’t had that many purchases. I wanna say their daily average revenue is between $2,000 and $4,000 dollars, and their top-highest day up until these last 2 weeks ago was a $22,000 dollar-day. It was the highest they’ve ever gone, that’s the Black Friday/Cyber Monday status, and through our campaign launch strategy, their top day, gosh, I can’t even believe it when I say it, it was $66,000 dollars. Throughout the 2 days of the sale, they ended up making around $80,000. So talk about blowing something out of the water and creating passionate traffic. The thing is, and I’m sure we’ll lead into this, it’s not that all those people were just sitting there, waiting for me to drop a sale. That’s not how it works. You can actually create passionate traffic within your audience leading up to those sales. That’s actually the secret sauce, right? So somebody who…
Ray (10:43 – 10:56) – Let’s go into that. That’s exciting ‘cause not everyone has built up a really big audience like the other brand we talked about, they did 2.8, 2.6 million, excuse me, so how can a person, even with a small list, build that?
Mariana (10:56 – 11:50) – Yeah, yeah. I mean, I always say, my whole philosophy is this. Just because somebody bought from you 90 days ago and we use time-stacking and we wanna throw those in to like, here’s our 25% off sale, doesn’t mean that they’re ready to buy. So the whole way that I approach the campaign launches is, kind of, four-fold, I would say. The first part of it is list-building. So, especially now with iOS, it’s more important than ever to own your data, right? You wanna create a value exchange for your audience that’s good enough for them to give you their phone number or their email. This goes back to building a really good brand. That’s a big piece of information you’re asking for. So if you’re asking for that, you better deliver on the other side. So, for this brand in particular, we knew we wanted to collect SMS so we had a banner on the side that was organic, and they were collecting at a 16% rate. So, anytime somebody went to their website, that’s pretty high.
Ray (11:50 – 11:52) – Is that a pop-up, Mariana?
Mariana (11:52 – 12:45) – No, this wasn’t. This was just a banner. So, surprisingly, their banner was doing better because we were promoting the sale that was coming up whereas the pop-up was just providing the first customer rate, which is only 10%. So, that was converting beautifully, but could we do better? That’s the 1st question. So, the 1st part about passionate traffic is, you might have people that have brought from you before that are not part of your SMS. So that’s the low-hanging fruit. Start there and start driving SMS sign-ups for warm audiences. This is where I get a little funky with it. I don’t necessarily optimize for purchase here. The top-of-funnel, I might because I’m trying to qualify a purchaser to come through and sign up, but out of warm audience? I’ll play around with landing page views, optimize for lead, and that’s where I start to get a cheaper cost per lead at that point.
Ray (12:45 – 12:55) – Is there one that’s more consistent than the other, now that we’re talking tactics? Like, conversion event lead, landing page view, and that warm audience, do you find 1 does better than the other, across many accounts, or is it specific?
Mariana (12:55 – 13:42) – No, it is kinda specific. In this particular case, we did end up doing better with add-to-cart at top-of-funnel for that lead-optimization, in air quotes here, and we ended up doing all landing page views for warm audiences. So, the whole theory there is, somebody already knows you. You might not need to optimize for the highest conversion event there is so why not try that. And to be honest, I will be completely transparent, we’ll launch three of them, optimize for add-to-cart. If I see that I can do better or I’m not sure, I’ll toggle those off halfway point through it and I’ll turn on optimize for landing page views, and then I’ll benchmark myself during those 10 days, just so I can get both learnings, that’s just kind of a split-test.
Ray (13:41 – 13:53) – Sure. What kind of destination page are they going to? Was it like a lead form, lead page, excuse me, a form on a page just to capture SMS specifically, or is it like some other destination?
Mariana (13:53 – 14:29) – Yeah, no, so this was exactly that, a form, and I will tell you, this was a pitfall that I learned when I was going through it. If you do that for top-of-funnel traffic, it’s almost like you’re gating the site. So imagine somebody’s, this goes back to people, you’re going, you see an ad, you wanna sign up for the sale, you go to a lander, but you haven’t the chance to meet the person yet. You’re kind of at this page for sign-up. We did get a few comments on that and I had to change strategy, which I can talk about the instant experience and what we did there, but that is something to consider. If you’re going top-of-funnel, you gotta make sure that the journey makes sense from a value proposition for somebody to give you their phone number.
Ray (14:29 – 14:39) – Wow, so for top-of-funnel, it was do something different, but middle-of-funnel, you’re actually just driving traffic to an opt-in page and optimizing for add-to-cart and landing page view?
Mariana (14:39 – 14:40) – Yup!
Ray (14:40 – 14:43) – Why do you think that works and why does that work more than optimizing for, like, a lead event? I’m really curious.
Mariana (14:43 – 15:33) – Yeah, so, this is my personal take, you know, after doing a lot of accounts, but I believe that Facebook optimizes differently. I mean, we know this. It optimizes differently based on the person that it thinks it can get. Sometimes, I’ve found that I have 10,000 people in an audience, for example, I’ll optimize for purchase, but only 3,000 are getting hit and the frequency is going up. So, I’m wondering to myself, what about the other 7,000? What’s going on? So I’ve found that when I optimize for other things, and that’s pretty much part of the campaign strategy is everyone’s got a different entry point into the brand. Sometimes, people just wanna come in and engage with your pretty photo. They don’t need to be sold so that’s why I run a PPE campaign parallel to all of this. It’s really a matter of me trying to find the nooks of different audiences and seeing how I can benchmark against myself essentially.
15:35 – 21:41 – How do you continue building passionate traffic for product launch?
Ray (15:35 – 15:45) – Wow, that’s really interesting. Please continue. Okay, so we talked about how you get people to sign up. How do you continue to build that passionate traffic for a launch after the initial opt-in?
Mariana (15:45 – 17:04) – Okay, so I’ve got the list-building, which we’ve covered. The 2nd part is what I like to call brand awareness slash consideration. So the other thing about passionate traffic, like we mentioned, is that people are not just ready to buy ‘cause you got something to say. I mean, hello, go to your email, like you have 20,000 emails, Memorial Day sales right now are popping off in my email. Who’s getting my attention? Who knows, probably people texting me. But I believe that, before your sale, usually, my whole time frame, if you can get 15 days or just kind of wrapping your whole head around it, that’s great. But 10 days beforehand, I go hard on brand consideration so I kind of create a mini funnel of the people that are there. They may be warm, but they bought 90 days ago, or they’re maybe completely cold, I try to shove as many people as I can to consider my product. Because I know that a higher AOV is gonna be longer for you to think about so I just inundate people, top-of-funnel, so they’re not completely inundated, but with my best testimonials, my bestsellers content, I create such a big mix to offer value to as many people as possible so that way, everyone enters however they want to. Oop, I saw it in an Instagram feed! Oh, I saw it in a Story, but they’re all different. I spend most of my time creating really good creative.
Ray (17:04 – 17:25) – Wow, in that time frame, so 10 days out where you’re just hammering these people and give them as much value as possible, you mentioned product. Can it be, like, for a new product launch or is it gonna be specific to, like, a sale period or does it change at all, your strategy, based off of what the actual objective is?
Mariana (17:25 – 18:06) – Yeah, I mean, if I’m doing a new collection, I take that opportunity to… Well, actually, let me take this back. I do not do that for brand consideration and awareness. I treat that like I’m just trying to get as many people, like passionate people, into the funnel with my best stuff, so it’s general stuff about the brand. It’s not until we get into the teaser and the anticipation that I’ll get specific to, ‘A sale’s coming, x amount is coming off!,’ or ‘A new product’s coming, here’s a teaser on what that product will look like!’ I’m just at the top part, the second prompt, I’m trying to get people to think about my product, and be interested in buying it as much as possible.
Ray (18:06 – 18:36) – Wow! So let’s keep going on this, I love this. For example, after, in that initial 10 days, ‘cause me and you talk about when it comes to launching a product, so much of it is an investment, right? Some people look at it as a cost, but really it’s an investment that I’ve never seen yet pay off when someone does this, right? I’d love to hear from your mind. When you’re laying out the strategy, what determines how hard you go in trying to build up this passionate traffic, for example? Is there, like, a Mariana strategy or, kind of, a method to your madness to bring these results?
Mariana (18:36 – 20:09) – Yeah, I mean, the 1st thing that I do, to be totally honest is, and I recommend this to anyone, get everything on paper. Everything you’ve got, get it on paper. When you think about getting the numbers right, I focus on 2 main things. The 1st one is my audiences – how big are my audiences? So I’ll say, how big is everybody in my list, newsletter but never bought, people who have bought, engagers in the last 60, engagers in the last 180, and I get a good idea of how many people I have in that bucket. Then, I take the CPMs, realistic CPMs, I’ll kinda play around to get a good average of what’s going on, and then I’ll multiply that by the frequency that I expect to touch people for that sale. That’s how I come up with my budget. So if I wanna hit 10,000 people at x CPM twice, it’s gonna cost me blank over the 10-day period, and then I divide it by 10 or whatever the period is. That’s the 1st thing that I kinda do to determine, okay, what do I got to work with here? The 2nd part is inventory. So, we’re a scaling, growth performance agency so I’m constantly seeing, that’s great that everybody loves this dress, right, but I got 5 of them so that’s not gonna help me scale. I kinda reverse-engineer what is the inventory value that we have sitting there, and then I find little nooks. Maybe we have 3 best-sellers that we have the most of, I kind of draw, you know what sizing. Is it split evenly across all of them? And that’s how I kind of start piecing, you know, when I’m gonna do it, do I have enough budget? Do I have enough inventory to support it?
Ray (20:09 – 20:40) – Wow! So it’s almost like you take audit of what’s inside the house before you go and start redecorating. How much will it change your strategy if, for example, there’s a new collection, but it’s really heavily weighted on the 1 specific, let’s call it a product, maybe, for example, let’s say, hypothetically, the brand is shoes. They have a new collection, but they have a lot more inventory in 1 shoe. Would you change your budget allocation to focus on the higher inventory, or in the other items that you’re more confident would probably sell better? Does that make sense?
Mariana (20:40 – 21:41) – Yeah, I mean, 2 schools of thoughts here. The 1st one is, I go after, ‘cause imagine this. Somebody’s scrolling, we know that we want them to come check out the brand of shoes, right? We have a lot of offerings, but we don’t have a ton of a particular one. In many cases, I’m choosing the best photo for the experience so maybe it’s not the shoe I have the most of, but I’m choosing that photo because it’s high-contrast, in-site influencer. I try to give people the best shopping experience. You don’t want to have people show up to your site and be like, well, where the heck is that shoe kind of thing? But, to that extent, I also, parallel to that, if I’m doing a campaign launch or a sale, for example, where I have more of something else, I will go after, like I will tell my client, go create some more of this content. Let’s create different variations of it because I know that people may not buy from the one, like we can’t put all our eggs in that one basket. So, yeah, I will create single-product funnels in that regard if I feel like I’m skewing for 1 thing over the other, but I’ll still have general ones to bring people in.
21:44 – 27:10 – What else can you do to continue building hype for the campaign launch date?
Ray (21:44 – 22:03) – Wow, so you, first 10 days, you’re building out the passionate traffic. What happens after those 10 days? I know, I’ve seen you do these product launches time and time again, and I’ve seen how each day that passes, sometimes, you may shift based off the data you’re seeing or you also have a specific strategy for the day of the launch. I’d love to hear about that. How do you plan that?
Mariana (22:03 – 23:30) – Yeah, so, going back to, we finished brand awareness, consideration. That’s going pretty parallel the whole time of the sale so imagine that you keep that knob on because who cares if you’re getting qualified traffic all the way through the sale? That’s cool! They’re prospects. Then, I move into that teaser, anticipation phase. So, while that’s happening, I need to be top-of-mind now so that’s the time to dangle the carrot, right? What is it that’s coming, get your cart ready! That’s actually my favorite strategy of all that we’ve seen work time and time again. I optimize for add-to-cart. I take everybody who’s been in my consideration phase, the people that I’ve just been warming up and they’ve been ready for 10 day so they’ve been looking at stuff for 10 days. I drop the bomb! I say, get ready, in 2 days, everything’s gonna be 25% off, or if it’s a launch, get ready, we have limited amount of this, get ready to buy, essentially. I optimize for add-to-cart, I tell people to add-to-cart, and that’s again, psychology side, that’s another action. I don’t want them to just look at the ad and, oh yeah, there’s a sale coming up. I’m actually encouraging that action that’s gonna make them even more passionate. They’re gonna go to the site, they’re gonna invest in that blue pair of shoes, they’re gonna put it in their cart, and, you know, on our side, we can still see the conversion value. I cannot tell you how much people put in their cart from those campaigns. And then…
Ray (23:30 – 23:34) – You probably see a big spike in the add-to-carts during the 2 days before, right?
Mariana (23:34 – 23:56) – Absolutely! So, at that point, it’s super fun because what I’m doing, the fact that they’re doing it, to me, that signifies passion, right? You’re taking time out of your day to engage with the brand, to pick something out for yourself. You’re already more connected, you know, and ready for the sale than you were if I just showed you that after you bought 90 days ago from us and you loved the dress you bought.
Ray (23:57 – 24:09) – Buy 2 days before! I know and I’ve seen you do this many times, and it always blows my mind how well it works. Is there a specific reason why you choose 2 days before, is there a reason for that?
Mariana (24:09 – 24:38) – Yeah, I mean, a little bit of it is also managing the current numbers that you’ve got going on. You don’t wanna cannibalize your current sales completely. In some cases when, for example, if you have a product launch, let’s say, and your inventory’s kinda running low, you don’t have much going on, then it’s okay if you wanna tease it for 3 days. I really wouldn’t recommend more than 4. I think it’s kind of, you wanna keep the excitement there, and I think it’s just a little drawn out. It’s like the goodbye that doesn’t end, kind of thing.
Ray (24:38 – 24:43) – It can’t be more than 7! Shopify will get rid of your cart so I agree with you on that.
Mariana (24:43 – 25:04) – Yeah, yeah, totally! I just think, great point. Yeah, I want it to be super fresh and I want them to, again, at that point, once you’ve considered it, if you put into your cart and, like, 5 days later, you have a sale, you may have forgotten about that passion that you just had, the decision you just made. Yeah, it’s a bit of not cannibalizing current sales, but also keeping it engaging and fun for the audience that’s coming through.
Ray (25:06 – 25:09) – What kind of creative do you run for that? I’d love to hear you explain that.
Mariana (25:11 – 26:17) – You just want to see me struggle through that answer! So, it’s a little bit of everything, to be honest. I‘m now getting a little bit of a secret sauce on what works in the fashion space and also for stopping the scroll and getting the click. That doesn’t change too much. I think, when it comes to the angle, I would say as explicit as possible, secure your cart, get ready for what’s coming, we have limited stock, we will sell out, if these are things that align with your brand, that’s what you’ll do, right? Driving those people to that respective site, if you do have the product app. And then, as far as the creative goes, I mean, there’s no better time to flash your product. There’s no better time and, again, it’s super important and every bucket I’ve spoken about, so list-building, brand consideration, now we’re in the teaser and the anticipation. You’ve got to keep it fresh. That’s another thing you gotta do. Way at the beginning, take inventory of your house and creatively as well. What do you have to work with? Have people already seen this? Are they gonna have banner blindness? You wanna make sure that every single step, someone is seeing something different. That’s what, I mean, we’re humans, we love entertainment.
Ray (26:17 – 26:31) – On that copy, when you said, you know, we may sell out, different things like that, we call those psychological triggers internally. Do you have a specific time when you wanna lay that down heavily, or do you kind of use it strategically when it makes sense throughout this launch?
Mariana (26:31 – 27:10) – Yeah, I mean, you wanna be, again, you wanna deliver value and you wanna be as honest and, I don’t know how to even, trust-building as possible. You don’t wanna throw that up on everything you do. That’s why it’s important to plan sales across your whole year. This is a side pitfall thought, but just because you need a cash injection now does not mean you should push through a quick campaign to get that to happen and then miss all these holes. You just really gotta make sure that you’re diligently looking at every angle before you’re launching and doing things like that.
27:11 – 31:57 – What are some strategies that can be used during actual campaign launch day?
Ray (27:11 – 27:31) – And let’s talk about, so we covered the initial teasing part, and just as a testament to what you just talked about, Mariana, I’ve seen her do this many times. And the increase and spikes in add-to-carts, it’s kind of mind-blowing the fact that something this simple works that well, and then after it launches is even more incredible! Talk to me about your strategy for the actual launch day.
Mariana (27:31 – 27:45) – Yeah, yeah. So 1 more thing I wanna add that is parallel to everything I just mentioned is list-building, consideration, and anticipation. We will also do a PPE campaign. And I called that…
Ray (27:45 – 27:46) – What is PPE real quick?
Mariana (27:46 – 27:48) – Ah, post-paid engagement.
Ray (27:48 – 27:49) – Nice!
Mariana (27:49 – 28:43) – We are optimizing for engagement on that particular post. Sometimes, I’ll do video views, I’ll optimize videos. It depends what kind of content I have. This is the part I call the top-of-mind engagement campaign. Essentially, this, for performance marketers, it’s like why would you optimize for that? Even Facebook tells you, don’t do that! But, for me, it’s all about showing you the same thing in a different way. I put that on the client to do organically, I amplify every post that’s coming through, and I show that not only to warm audiences. Sometimes, I’ll even try top-of-funnel to see if they wanna enter that way. So, that’s my last little bit of hot tip before we get to the sale part. Sale, okay, let’s get into it. At this point, this is the kind of, you’ve seen it, Ray. You’re on the edge of your seat, like, for the whole 10 days. You’re like, are they gonna buy? I’ve been doing this strategy…
Ray (28:43 – 28:49) – It’s so funny. You’re like, oh, please, let this pay off! You’ve always seen it pay off, but no matter how many times we go through it, you’re like, I hope this pays off!
Mariana (28:50 – 29:47) – No matter what! It’s just, you don’t know until you see the numbers coming in, right? You’re crossing your fingers, you’re making sure all your stuff is there, that you’ve set up your structures right. On the sale time, a lot of it is budget allocation, right? That’s the part where you really wanna flip your funnel. You’ve got 70% of it going to all these warm audiences and hot audiences that are ready to buy from you. I still keep 30% at top-of-funnel. I kinda have to gauge that based on how it does. Sometimes, people don’t care, but sometimes they do. I’ll take my best performers and do that there. Again, same concept. I am very diligent with my team to create really phenomenal creative. Different stuff that they’ve seen, I’ll take some best performers, I’ll always stick them in there if I feel like I’m not too sure on what I’m putting out there, but normally it’s entertainment. You wanna get your stuff out there and you wanna be gauging and monitoring to make sure that, out of the gate, it’s giving you the right signals.
Ray (29:47 – 29:58) – You mentioned a different style of creative to keep things fresh. So far, we’ve mentioned 4 different steps. Do you have different creatives for all these different steps?
Mariana (29:58 – 30:47) – Yes and no. I mean, I have fun with it at every stage. I always like to have a mix so, you know, I have, for the most part, here are my go-tos. It’s usually raw UGC, I do nothing to it, I don’t touch it. I’ll also have a testimonial that I’ve added subtitles to, especially if it’s been a best performer so there’ll be more consideration phase. In the middle, for the add-to-cart where I’m doing teasing, I will usually freshen up with fresh backgrounds. I’ll actually put the sale or the date that it’s launching so I will get a little bit more funky with that. And then, for the sale, fast-paced slideshows, that’s been my new secret sauce. It’s a slideshow, but instead of, like, taking a second per photo, we’re doing half a second, bam, bam, bam!
Ray (30:47 – 31:08) – You know what’s so interesting? You’re the 2nd person to tell me this. That event that I was at last week, Geek Out!, I had a marketer tell me that the thing that is working for him is taking something that’s already working, like a video, speeding it up! Now you’re telling me, for your slideshows, you actually make it faster. I think it’s because people’s attention spans are getting less and less, you have to make things faster. What do you think?
Mariana (31:08 – 31:37) – Yeah, show it to me now, quickly! So yeah, I mean, it’s a great way and, again, this all goes back to people. Not everyone is gonna be in love with the same photo you love. I know that you took a photo of it, you love the model, the light looks great, it’s the most artsy thing you’ve ever taken, but that’s, people like the mirror pic that’s kind of blurry sometimes. That’s why you can’t become attached to it. This is something I’ve had to learn throughout the years, not become. I mean, I still do, sometimes, when I build really awesome creative…
Ray (31:37 – 31:47) – Yeah, it’s hard. It is hard. And the thing that looks like crap performs better and you spent all this time on this amazing piece of content and it doesn’t perform, like what the heck! But that’s the way it goes.
Mariana (31:47 – 31:57) – Yeah, totally, totally! So, yeah, I think you’re onto something. I mean, Instant Experiences for this particular launch worked really well for us. I’m sure we’ll touch base on iOS…
31:57 – 37:15 – Facebook’s Instant Experiences for product launches
Ray (31:57 – 32:05) – Really? Let’s talk about that Instant Experience. I know we can bring that into iOS later on. Instant Experience, like, what is it? How’d you use it for this launch?
Mariana (32:05 – 32:31) – Yeah, so the best way I have to describe it and, Ray, jump in here if you have a different way is, it’s kind of like you’re creating a mini website that lives on Facebook. So you’re able to open up an experience that feels and looks like a website to any normal human, but it’s really not. It’s built on Facebook, you have the functionalities of carousels, you can put a video in there. You can put different copy. You can link it to different places on your website. That’s kind of…
Ray (32:31 – 32:49) – I think the benefit, especially from a tactics standpoint, is the fact that it loads instantly. Obviously, we know the faster something loads, the better your conversion rate is. I know, I’ve seen some of the things that you’ve made and other people on our team, it’s pretty impressive. So when you made this Instant Experience, was this for the actual day of the launch?
Mariana (32:50 – 34:03) – So this one was actually in the consideration, brand awareness space that I talked about. So, I can’t take credit for it because my designer crushed this one, but the concept itself was about… I can’t control sometimes, I don’t know how many marketers can relate to this, but what your client’s website looks like. You just can’t! So sometimes you wanna make the changes, or you wanna make a better CRO and the loading time speaks for itself, but that’s kind of where I was getting stuck. I wanted people to consider or be introduced to the brand, but I didn’t love the homepage, and I didn’t want to send you straight to products so the strategy was how do I introduce you to the brand with all the USPs, a fun introduction with a testimonial, the bestsellers, quotes from your customers. That’s really what I used and what’s interesting now that we’re coming back to launch is, I got 3 sales from the top-of-funnel Instant Experiences before the sale even happened which, as I mentioned, is a $800 AOV so it paid for itself, like, while I was doing the campaign. It was incredible! But better, I ran it to warm audiences, didn’t get any purchases. 2 days later, I do the sale. 9 purchases fell back to that Instant Experiences.
Ray (34:03 – 34:23) – Wow, that’s pretty powerful. You mentioned the fact that you can control the experiences with Instant Experiences whereas brand pages, we partner with brands and we can’t always control their back-end and their website. How much impact do you think that had on the fact that they got a better experience through your Instant Experience than they did actually on the site?
Mariana (34:23 – 35:12) – I think huge. Actually, I’m trying to find a number, but the Instant Experience actually picked up 218 SMS sign-ups and that’s because we included the same kind of thing that was on the website banner and those were buried in the bottom, just so you know. To me, I’m winning if I know that somebody is going through the whole thing, engaging, clicking, and then giving me their phone number. That’s the right value exchange. Remember how I told you guys, top-of-funnel, I try to marry someone before I took them on a date into that lander? Well, this made up for it because now I know it’s not really just about let’s collect the SMS. It’s about what experience are we giving users that compels them and inspires them to give their SMS. That’s the stuff you can’t take a shortcut on. That baby took us, like, 2 weeks to make.
Ray (35:12 – 35:22) – Wow! I think it’s a really good segway with the Instant Experiences. All this happened, what, was it 2 weeks ago that this launch happened, Mariana? Is that correct?
Mariana (35:22 – 35:24) – Yeah, May 20th so yeah.
Ray (35:24 – 35:44) – May 20th and we’re filming today, it’s May 27. This is literally after iOS14. I think it’s a great segway because a lot of people, they’ve been having some anxiety around what’s gonna happen to my brand? What’s gonna happen to the marketing? How are things gonna be impacted? I love to hear your thoughts, Mariana, on how much does iOS14 really impact your strategy?
Mariana (35:46 – 36:01) – You know, I’ve been really thinking about this a lot. We know that, right now, we don’t have the full data on opt-ins, who opted in, a lot of people haven’t even updated their phones. So we’ve got, what were we talking about, like 10% of 10% of people that have iOS?
Ray (36:01 – 36:03) – Yeah, pretty small still.
Mariana (36:03 – 37:15) – It’s pretty small. I won’t lie, it’s not great to look in the Ads Manager and see missing data and not fully see attribution, but because we have shifted to the marketing efficiency ratio, MER, as our north metric, I don’t feel like I have to make crazy jolts in my strategy because of it. I’m aware that I may not get the attribution. I’m aware that, you know, maybe I won’t get the right data to optimize real-time, but I just focus on the customer. I focus on the person and I just focus on making really good self-identifying creative, and then I watch that MER like crazy. I just say, am I profitable overall with what they’re spending all their marketing dollars and what I’m doing here? Sometimes, I can’t explain it. You’ll turn off a PPE campaign and all of a sudden, you’ll see your performance drop. Well, that PPE campaign’s not giving you attribution, but there’s a correlation, you’re seeing it, like, hey, I’m seeing this happening. It hasn’t changed my strategy per se right now, but who knows in a few months when everyone’s updated and we don’t have all the data?
37:17 – 49:43 – Hot tips to follow and pitfalls to avoid when mounting a product launch
Ray (37:17 – 37:44) – Sure, and you mentioned MER. And, again, I’ve seen you run these campaigns before. The build-up, the ad spend, the investment for the actual launch day, do you have any, I guess, any tips for anyone that is considering doing launch, like the strategy you outlined? Any pitfalls that they may run into on, just, I guess, the fact that this is an investment, and you’re not gonna see that revenue and profitability come back until you actually launch on that day?
Mariana (37:44 – 38:23) – Yeah, totally. So I’m gonna ninja hot tip the things that you have to do. So if you’ve got a pen, write it down. If you’re driving, please don’t do that and come back to this later. So here’s the hot tips, right? So, first thing for sales prep, figure out what your offer is. Figure out if it’s compelling enough. Who’s gonna care about that offer? Is it simple to understand? Don’t be trying to do, like, spend $350 and get $50 off your gift, nobody understands so don’t do that. Does it feel different enough than what you usually do? You gotta ask yourself those tactical questions, put it on paper. That’s gonna be, everything I’m saying, put it on paper.
Ray (38:24 – 38:39) – Stop, real quick, Mariana, let’s stop there. I think this ties into passionate as well, make sure it’s different. On the differentiation, for example, why is it important that, if they’re gonna do a launch that it’s different? Why is that important to the actual success of the campaign?
Mariana (38:40 – 39:29) – Yeah, again, 2 things. 1, open up your email and go check out your promotions tab, and you’ll know exactly why. 2, you don’t wanna cry wolf, right? You wanna keep it entertaining and engaging for your users all throughout the year. So you wanna build that calendar out. You wanna put, I wanna do a sale every 6 weeks, or do a product launch every 8. You wanna keep it interesting so I think when you think about an offer or a release, you really gotta put down on paper what is it that makes it compelling and who’s gonna care? Is it just, you know, if you do, like, shoes, but you sell dresses and dresses are more popular and you do a shoe sale, you can’t expect that to blow your revenue out of the park because not many people will care because your top-selling product is a dress.
Ray (39:30 – 39:34) – Okay, pitfall, so that was number 2. What was number 3?
Mariana (39:34 – 40:07) – Get your dates in order. Again, this goes back to, just because you want the cash injection now or you’re tripping right now, I guarantee you it’s better to get your dates in order. You need 6, I would say, 4 – 6, you can do it, but 6 – 8 is preferable, so be aware you’re doing that, and then work backwards from there. Other thing is, how many days will your sale last? How much time does that leave your audience for anticipation? Hey, let’s run a sale for next Friday. You’re not gonna have enough time to do all the steps I just talked about. That’s why it’s super key to get that done.
Ray (40:07 – 40:13) – Mariana, how far in advance do you prepare for a launch like this?
Mariana (40:14 – 40:31) – I wanna say, my sweet spot is probably, 4 weeks from the moment it needs to start, like the teasing, like before. Not 2 weeks of prep, and 2 weeks of doing it. 4 weeks is, I can do it, but if you’ve never done it, give yourself 6.
Ray (40:31 – 41:04) – Wow, yeah. I’ll say, for everyone listening, the bigger, not only the bigger the launch, the bigger the revenue goal, and the more media channels and/or moving parts you have, the earlier you wanna start for a launch like this. For example, the $2.6 million in 1 day, you probably started way sooner than that. They were shooting content sooner than that. They were getting their inventory in place so it’s probably on the marketing calendar way before that. Just put that into context. The bigger the ambition, the earlier you got to start.
Mariana (41:04 – 41:34) – 100%. It’s gonna save you so much stress too. I mean, there’s nothing worse than trying to be creative on a timeline. Never works out well. Okay, the next part I already talked about so I’ll graze through it, but what’s your inventory value? What’s your volume? Are you prepared and what are your margins with that discount? Consider that you might need to change what your KPIs are. If your break even’s at 1.5, and now you’re running 25% off, that break even’s not gonna be 1.5 anymore. It might be 1.7 or 1.8.
Ray (41:35 – 42:00) – Wow! And, last question, real quick, before you continue, I think it’s important that adjusting your entire goal based on the discount as well as the revenue goals. We’ve seen a lot of successful launches. We’ve seen a lot of unsuccessful launches. I love for you just to talk about pitfalls that you’ve seen oftentimes where people, they didn’t accurately understand how much inventory they had in relation to their goal?
Mariana (42:00 – 42:45) – Yeah, that one’s not fun for anyone involved. I think what can happen in that regard, let’s say that you’re investing all of this money into anticipation, consideration, and then you’re ready to uncap your sales and you cannot support, your bestsellers sell out. Now, all of that money you invested does not pay out on your sale. You actually just sunk back money. You got all these people in your consideration who don’t want to buy what you have to offer. It’s huge to know, and this goes back to the offer, right? Is it compelling enough? Who’s gonna care about this offer? I know you wanna put on discount, your sales stuff is last season, but that might not move the needle.
Ray (42:45 – 43:15) – That’s a good reminder. I’d say, just to echo off what you said is, why it’s so important to do what Mariana said is, you have to have these things and/or before you even start preparing for your launch. Because, for example, your goal is to make $500,000 dollars from your launch, for example, but you realistically don’t have the inventory for this new launch, and/or you only have $500,000 in that actual retail value. The odds of that happening are gonna be pretty slim so you have to reverse-engineer all this ahead of time to make a successful launch.
Mariana (43:15 – 43:58) – 100%. Yeah, said perfectly. The next part is what’s your messaging angle? This ties to the offer, but it’s really important for you to figure this out. This is gonna be what you work with your copywriter with or what you’re writing about. It’s important that you don’t always wanna be on sale. That’s another pitfall. If you’re always on sale, then you’re never on sale because everyone expects you to be on discount all the time. When you’re crafting your messaging angle, you wanna use something like, we never do this, that ain’t gonna fly if you’re always on sale. I think that’s a bit of a pitfall, generally speaking, when you’re planning your calendar and when you’re strategizing what that messaging angle’s gonna be.
Ray (43:58 – 44:08) – I think we’ve all seen brands where they say, this is the biggest sale we’re ever gonna have!, and then 2 weeks later, this is the biggest sale we’re gonna have! Please, market with integrity! That’s all I’m gonna say.
Mariana (44:08 – 45:10) – Exactly! Totally, totally! I mean, I know urgency and, again, the cash injection is super addicting, but you know, rewards come to those who wait, plan, and deliver value to their customer. That’s number 1, always. Alright, and the last thing, what content do you have to work with? So I always start my journey, maybe ‘cause I enjoy the creative part more, the content vetting. Just have fun in all of your libraries. What do you have? Usually, what I like to do, seems super basic, I download things from the different folders that I have and I put them in 1 Google Drive or 1 Dropbox folder. When you open it and there is that square view where you see everything next to each other, the photos start speaking to me. That’s kinda how I get my inspiration. Oh, I see the reds or I have a lot of yellows, and then that’s kind of how I start to build, okay, they haven’t seen this. Let me split this for beginning and middle. That way it’s keeping fresh the whole time, and that you need time for so again, back to the 4 – 6 weeks, you can’t rush that.
Ray (45:10 – 45:28) – For the brands that may be, they’re running the brand on a budget, or they haven’t had time to adequately prep the creative, do you have any suggestions or tips for them of how they can still make the creative or get the creative in time, but faster, and still pull this off successfully?
Mariana (45:28 – 45:43) – Yeah, maybe we can actually link it in the show notes, but I recently ordered off the Internet 1 of those, it’s like a lightbox where you can put products in it, and you can do it yourself with an iPhone.
Ray (45:42 – 45:43) – That’s kinda cool.
Mariana (45:43 – 46:29) – Yeah, it was $30 bucks. So we ordered this to play around, to see, oh, can we shoot something here? You totally can. I guess, the point I have with that is, it’s, you can do it. If you’ve got a smartphone, you can shoot that content. If you don’t feel like it, you can come up with it from your brain without anything, you’re not alone. Most people can’t. Pinterest is your best friend. Look for other brands that are your inspiration. Build a mood board, get a shot list, and shoot it. That would be, what I would say, it doesn’t have to be complex. How to shoot a flatlay on YouTube, go find that, there’s plenty of people who will teach it to you. Yeah, that shouldn’t be a stopper to not creating fresh content or thinking you have to do an elaborate photoshoot. That’s not the case at all.
Ray (46:29 – 46:50) – I’ve seen this launch with a new brand where just taking an iPhone, shoot a picture, or making a video with your iPhone or your Android, what we call UGC, performs great! Amazingly well! I’d say, just to kind of piggy back on what you said, I think value’s more important than production quality a lot of times. If it brings value to them, that should always trump the quality of it.
Mariana (46:50 – 47:49) – 100%, yeah, totally. Yeah, so I think those are the main ones I have. I guess, you know, other things related to, kind of iOS that you’ve touched on is, this is the time to challenge every assumption that you’ve had about anything so even for the naysayers of PPE or video views, this is the time. Because we don’t know if the engagement audiences is gonna become, in-app events are gonna become the custom audiences of the future, right? I think that’s why it’s also important to not stay stuck in whatever it is you think that the right way is for you. There’s always something new to learn in your next launch. In every single launch, without fail, we try something new. I’ll turn the knob, it doesn’t have to be huge, you’re not gonna change the pillars of the strategy, but I’m gonna throw in an Instant Experience, you know. I’m gonna try that out and see how it fits. I’m gonna try out a different optimization. Those are the little things that make you stronger and stronger as you go.
Ray (47:49 – 48:20) – I love that. That’s 1 thing I love about watching these product launches is that they’ve evolved overtime. You’ve been doing this for 2 years, you’ve been doing product launches for 2 years, and each time, because you’re always testing something new, and you’re applying what works from the team or from another brand that it keeps evolving and I think, if anything, I think the evolution is just as important as the strategy because if you ran the same strategy you ran 2 years ago for a brand, it would not be successful. But it’s only through that constant evolution and testing it actually makes that difference like you did 2 weeks ago.
Mariana (48:20 – 48:43) – 100%. Yeah, totally. I think that’s the name of the game now. I think it’s all transforming and I think the important thing that you and I talk about all the time is, the marketing foundations are not changing. You know, I think, the best advice that I can give anyone right now is go read direct marketing books. Go read Cashvertising. Go read something…
Ray (48:43 – 48:45) – Great book!
Mariana (48:45 – 49:15) – Yeah, go understand humans. Metrics, analytics, those are just people. They’re just people doing things at home and they’re engaging with your brand, and it’s on you to make them passionate about what you have to say, and the only way to do that is to invest the time ‘cause those are the brands that are gonna win. It’s not gonna be the one-product wonders anymore. It’s gonna be the people that invest in what they’ve got to sell and the value they give their consumers.
Ray (49:15 – 49:23) – Mariana, I’ve had an amazing time with you, as always! You’re my favorite person to talk to when it comes to this stuff. Thank you so much for attending, and where can people find you?
Mariana (49:23 – 49:37) – You know you can find me in a lot of places, but the most fun that you’re gonna get out of me is on Instagram. That’s gonna be @mariana_cimino, Cimino. I look forward to connecting, if you guys wanna nerd out, that’s a good place to do it.
Ray (49:37 – 49:39) – Great, thanks for having you!
Mariana (49:39 – 49:43) – Bye!
49:43 – 50:37 – Episode outro
Scott (49:43 – 50:37) – Thanks again for tuning to this episode of the Growth & Greatness eCommerce Podcast. We hope you got a ton of value out of this episode and if you did, we’d love for you to leave us a review on your platform of choice and help us reach as many people as we can. Now, if you’re a brand founder, an eCommerce entrepreneur, or an in-house marketing manager looking to accelerate your growth this year, reach out to us at Right Hook Digital. We’re a performance branding agency and we specialize in partnering with eCommerce brands to help them hit their growth goals with maximum ROI. Now, if this sounds like a solution that you need, check us out at righthookdigital.com and schedule a call with our client partnerships team. They’d love to have a chat with you and see how we can help you grow in 2021.