Podcast Episode 146 of the Make Each Click Count Podcast features Drew Blumenthal, the owner of the Digital Drew SEM. His company is a nearly 7-figure full-service digital marketing & advertising agency. He offers services from paid ads to web development to organic social media growth.
Listen as Drew shares his views on using AI as a powerful tool in the marketing and advertising industry. Find out how he uses it to write ad copy using different platforms. He discusses the importance of email marketing and focuses on creating engaging content that leads to resulting in more returning customers and increased customer value.
In this episode, Andy and Drew talk about how customer reviews can be a great starting point for those who are just starting their e-commerce business.
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ABOUT THE HOST:
Andy Splichal is the World's Foremost Expert on Ecommerce Growth Strategies. He is the acclaimed author of the Make Each Click Count Book Series, the Founder & Managing Partner of True Online Presence and the Founder of Make Each Click Count University. Andy was named to The Best of Los Angeles Award's Most Fascinating 100 List in both 2020 and 2021.
New episodes of the Make Each Click Count Podcast, are released each Friday and can be found on Apple Podcast, iHeart Radio, iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, Amazon Music, Google Podcasts and www.makeeachclickcount.com.
Andy Splichal:Welcome to the Make Each Click Count podcast. This is your host, Andy Splichal. We are happy to welcome this week's guest to discuss today's topic, which is using digital marketing to separate from your competition. Today's guest is the owner of a nearly seven figure full service digital marketing and advertising agency. He offers services from paid ads to web development to organic social media growth. Clients' budgets range anywhere between $1,500 a month to over 1 million in industries such as SaaS, e-commerce and home services. Known as Digital Drew, a big welcome to today's guest, Drew Blumenthal.
00:40 Drew BlumenthalHi, Drew. Hi, Andy.
00:42 Andy SplichalThank you for having me. You know, we're excited to have you. You have a great name.
00:45 Drew BlumenthalIt's like a basketball announcer, Drew Blumenthal. Yep, and Digital Drew is like the agency name. As soon as I heard it and I was like, this is exactly the name I want. I trademarked it because having a catchy name is something that definitely helps with your branding, which as a marketing and advertising person, like your branding is really important. Like for example, you're judged even harder as someone in the space with your website and your web presence and your SEO and all of that. Cause I mean, it's important for every brand, but if like you're in the space, like it has to really, really be spot on.
01:25 Andy Splichalespecially to compare with all of your competition. Right, yeah, that's a great point. So let's start with something that's on everybody's mind and that's AI. So how is AI currently affecting the marketing and advertising industry?
01:42 Drew BlumenthalI mean, it's definitely a tool just like anything else. So it's more of how do you use it and how do you take advantage of it? And for me, a lot of it comes from number one, using it to write ad copy. It is an extremely powerful ad copywriter. And as you use it and as you give it commands, it learns about the brands you're working on. So whether it's your brand or you're an agency using it for other clients, it's an extremely powerful tool because now you're able to spend a lot more time, A, testing a lot more ad copy, because as these algorithms learn, you need to test more and more copy to be able to produce good results. And then number two, it allows you to even try things that maybe you weren't even thinking of because these AIs are very, very smart, whether you use chat GPT or other tools. And then the other way to really use it is for SEO content. So I've been using a lot to write blogs. I've actually even been using it to write reviews. So like sometimes clients need more product reviews. So it's a very, very powerful copywriter AI in general. So it allows you if it's utilized properly to not have to spend so much time writing because it's a very, very time consuming process. And what I found even as well is clients are a lot happier with the ad copy that I'm providing, which now gives me more time to focus on other things, whether it be creative, whether I said do more audience testing, for example. So if it's leveraged the right way, it's not a shortcut, but it's a way to allow yourself or to allow your agency or your brand to be able to do a lot more and not be so harbored down like spend just so much time writing copy and having to rewrite and things like that.
03:45 Andy SplichalNow let's talk about the ad copy. Are you, when you're talking to ad copy, are you talking about Facebook ads? Are you talking about Google ads or are you talking about both?
03:59 Drew BlumenthalBoth. I mean, you could use it to write responsive headlines and descriptions in Google. And you can also use it to write Facebook ad copy, even with like emojis in it. So like it is amazing to watch where it's like, write this ad based on this page and this product. And if you have the even updated version of like chat GBT, you can even upload your own photos and videos and things like that. And it can leverage all of that to produce ad copy for you. And it's very, very smart.
04:29 Andy SplichalNow for Google, do you find it? Because I mean, Google also offers suggestions. For like the responsive ads. Do you find chat GPT to be, to provide better headlines?
04:42 Drew BlumenthalI mean, both are good. At the end of the day, you should look at Google score because I mean, that is actually AI written technically as well. So it's more of, I think the responsive ads are really good because with the standard old ad copy, like you didn't know what word, like there was no machine learning with it. So you can end up producing a lot higher CTRs and a lot lower CPCs if you're getting the good to excellent ad strength scores. So I think if you were smart, you would use both. So you could use chat GPT to come up with some headlines and descriptions, but I'd still put it into what Google's looking for because a lot of the time they're gonna tell you what you really need, which is your keywords in the ad copy. Like they wanna see what keywords you're bidding on on the ad copy and they wanna see good variety. So like, they don't wanna see 15 of the same headlines. They wanna see you test call to actions. They want you to test offers. Like at the end of the day, Google really does care even more than Facebook does about your engagement rate with the ads because they don't get paid unless the ad gets clicked on. So it makes sense that they'd spend so much money and time trying to give AI a boost for copy because if they can have 10 ads on the page with a 15% CTR, it would be beneficial to them because if somebody clicks on the organic listing, they don't get paid. I mean, obviously there's a reason why organic exists on the page, but if they can do ways and help advertisers be able to produce copy that's historically gonna produce higher click-through rates, they're gonna be extremely happy.
06:40 Andy SplichalYeah. Now, let me ask you about the AR. You mentioned chat GPT. Is that what you're using or have you tried any of the other AI generators?
06:46 Drew BlumenthalI mean, I've been using chat GPT since January. So I have the original one and then I upgraded to the other one. So I know there's people that use open AI. Like there's other ones that people have shown me, but for me, I'm always like if a tool works and I like it and I'm comfortable with it, I'll keep it. So like, for example, with my agency for years, I've used Asana as a project management tool. And I know so many other people that move to ClickUp and I've used it, but I'm like, if everything's already in Asana and I really, really like it and everything's already listed out, I feel like I don't, I'm not the type of person to just continuously jump systems or can jump tools just because as long as I like it and I can do exactly what I need it to do, that's just always been like my process and my thoughts.
07:45 Andy SplichalYeah, I know that makes sense. I mean, you don't want to spend time doing the learning curve if you have something that works. Now, you know, everything's changed after COVID. I mean, e-commerce has gotten a lot more competitive. There's a lot more business to be had, but what tips would you give to somebody who is starting an online e-commerce business today?
08:04 Drew BlumenthalAs you said, it's definitely gotten a lot more competitive. Number one, and I see this mistake all the time, is not having product reviews on your pages. So, for example, if someone's looking to buy the product, there's so many times where I don't see individual product reviews and it really, really hurts the brand because you're trying to sell to people who you don't know. And a lot of people just want to see those reviews to see, like, are real people buying this product? So that's definitely one thing that I always find that is, like, really important. And then number two is really trying to narrow down if you're running ads or even trying to market in general, who are you targeting? So, for example, you could target the entire United States with your ads, but if you're smart, you'll be able to see demographically, there's going to be states, there's going to be locations that you're serving ads to that aren't really producing results. So, for example, a lot of times, and I'm not trying to bash on any states or anything, but I find states like Maine and West Virginia and Montana and the Dakotas, there's not a lot of business for a lot of these brands. And by cutting out a lot of states and even cutting out audiences to, like, ages and genders and household incomes and time of day, like, most people are really not buying it two in the morning or three in the morning. And especially if you're a newer brand and the AI hasn't really learned, like, how these platforms really accelerate or how they do their magic, so to speak, whether it's Google or Facebook or even Pinterest or Snapchat or whatever, is optimizing for purchases and having the AI learn off of those purchases. But for a lot of these smaller brands that can't get the AI to learn, it's better to not guess, but know where your audience is located, know what hours of day that they're actually buying, and using the AI but not leveraging as much as a brand that's getting 50 sales a day.
10:24 Andy SplichalSo if you had a client who has a new account with a limited budget, would there be certain states that you just would never advertise to? Or is it just to really decrease the budget on those?
10:36 Drew BlumenthalI mean, it really depends on what they're selling. So for example, if you're selling $500 dresses or $1,000 boots or things that I know are luxury products, I'm gonna knock those states right off the bat. I don't wanna make wrong guesses and exclude people or exclude states that wouldn't perform, but given where the industry is, it's so fascinating when I look at hundreds of accounts and I find these common patterns where almost every e-commerce store where I find the majority of sales are like New York, Florida, Texas, California, and major cities. So it's like, especially when I know that somebody's starting out and the AI doesn't have a ton of data, those are really the areas that I'm gonna focus on. And again, I would do some exclusions knowing if I had data to support it, but I'm not gonna go in completely blind, but there are ways to leverage data to be able to kind of not show to everybody all at once if you're really trying to break into a market.
11:50 Andy SplichalNow for the established store that's already got a bunch of data history, what marketing channels have you seen provide the best results for them typically?
12:06 Drew BlumenthalI mean, Google and Facebook are still number one. I mean, yes, with the iOS opt-outs and limited data, it's harder, but it just means that you have to do more creative testing. You have to be more strategic in terms of targeting. I mean, but those two channels, if you're a larger store, should definitely work. And because you have so much of that data, you're able to really get patterns and really see what's working and really be able to scale things out strategically and be able to know, all right, this is working and this isn't, so I'm gonna make more of what's working and spend less and spend less time on what's not working. So it's a good thing when you're a larger store. Like it's easier if you know what to do with all the data.
12:53 Andy SplichalNow, how important do you consider email in your overall marketing for a company?
13:03 Drew BlumenthalI mean, email is very important. So why email is so powerful is as competition gets harder and as you're able to see less data in these platforms, email is a way to just get more juice out of the lemon, so to speak. So like, for example, with emails, there's two components. There's the email automation. So those are like abandoned cart emails. Those are upsell emails. Those are those types of emails. And then there's campaigns where you could run individual emails based on people on a segmented list and that's really how you could get a two, three, four, five X and beyond is leveraging a lot of the existing customer because it does cost a lot of money to acquire a new customer. So if you're able to get more value out of the current customers you have, that's how you make your marketing budgets work harder for you. So like email is definitely something that needs to be done, whether it's all done by the same agency or whether it's done by you or someone else, it is important to do those, especially if you're not hitting the return that you want to hit. That's kind of where these stores that are getting these massive, massive returns are very, very good at email because they know how to, as I said, get more juice out of the lemon.
14:29 Andy SplichalNow you work with email, right? That's one of the services you offer. How often do you suggest your clients that they, how frequently do you suggest they email their customers?
14:34 Drew BlumenthalIt really depends on the individual customer. It really depends on how engaged they are because you can see the unsubscribe rate, but you really just want to look to see, do I have relevant content to post? And you need to look at your open rates as well and see how many people are opening it. And for example, if you use a tool like Klaviyo, they have templates for this stuff, they give you benchmarks. They even say, is your open rate good or bad? Is your click through rate good or bad? Is your conversion rate good or bad? So you know a lot of these metrics and it's hard because if you don't send any, that's bad, but you don't want to send emails that are spamming people and get them to unsubscribe. And now it's very easy to get emails unfortunately lost in people's spam inboxes. Like email is definitely getting very, very aggressive in terms of what they're actually moving to spam, what they're moving to promotional folders. Like all of these factors make email harder. But again, if you can give emails with very good open rates and you could give emails with very high engagement, again, that's how you could get a lot more returning customers and you could get a lot more value out of a customer even after their first purchase.
16:06 Andy SplichalNow I know a lot of companies are worried about over emailing. Yes. What would you say to them? I mean, how they say, I only want to send one a month, you know, but that's hardly keep it in contact with your customers. I guess, how do you approach that with them?
16:25 Drew BlumenthalI mean, I definitely think you should do more than one email a month. It's more of what content can you produce that would be relevant to your customers. So are you releasing new products? Are you going to do a holiday promotion? Are there any specialty products? Maybe things were out of stock that came back in. Like there's lots of emails that you could do that would provide value to a customer that again, you'd have to test them and see what the open rates are. But I think just like anything else, it's kind of fear that's holding people back. And it's like, you have to get over that fear, but then also look at the data to rationalize what you're doing. Cause I agree, you don't want to piss people off, but email is one of the most used communications there are. Like people are on email and SMS as well all the time. So it's like, if you're not there, someone else is going to be there. And if your competition is there, they could steal your customers.
17:26 Andy SplichalYou know, that's an interesting point. So do you also provide SMS services texting?
17:29 Drew BlumenthalYeah. So, I mean, I use Klaviyo a lot. So Klaviyo does include SMS. I mean, again, there's often rules where on your checkout page, someone has to opt in and that SMS would be part of that list. SMS is a little bit different than email because with email, you could be a little bit more aggressive with SMS. One, I typically recommend to like start with it, only include customers on say a VIP list. So maybe you have to determine what you consider to be a VIP list, but maybe it's people that ordered more than three times or ordered more than five times and then only do it for major, major points. So it's like, if you're having friends and family, for example, that might be a good way for anyone who's opted in to do SMS to send a text message out. But if you're sending a weekly newsletter, that's not an appropriate time to be sending an email out about a newsletter because SMS is very forefront. It's very in someone's face. So if that's overutilized, like you're gonna get a huge unsubscribe rate if it's not.
18:46 Andy SplichalYeah, you know, that's where I'm curious. Do you find a higher unsubscribe rate for text messages, SMS, than you do email?
18:51 Drew BlumenthalIf you do it too aggressively, yes.
Andy SplichalNow, what do you think it takes to be successful in the digital marketing space for a company?
Drew BlumenthalOne is you need to have a good website, which a good website means that you have good product photography, you have plenty of reviews on your website. So even a few reviews per product, you need to really also, like I said, be marketing and advertising on a variety of channels. So do you have organic social media going? Do you have ads on Facebook? Do you have ads on Google? Are you using influencer marketing? Do you have email? Like those are all things that are needed. And you're not really gonna go from no sales at all to $100,000 a month. Like it does take time to build those customers up, but it's kind of, do you have benchmarks? Are you evaluating your results? Are you looking in Google Analytics and Shopify or WooCommerce or whatever you use to see our traffic going up? Is my add to cart rate staying stable or going up? Like these are all metrics that you need to consistently be monitoring if you're really gonna grow a store.
20:08 Andy SplichalYou know, you had mentioned now a couple of times the importance of customer reviews on your website. For a company who's just starting, they've just launched their website. How is, what is the most effective way to get those customer reviews when you're starting?
20:24 Drew BlumenthalYou can either ask friends or family to do it. Like people that you've given the product to or people that have bought that you already know. There are also ways where you could buy reviews. Like I even have somebody in my agency and I don't do it very often, but I have him write reviews using Chat GPT and they're pretty spot on reviews in terms of what somebody would actually say. So it's like, that's another option in terms of reviews. And I wouldn't say get all your reviews from an automated person or an automated source, but it's kind of, if it's the difference between having them and not having them, it could really make a difference until you really build it up. Another way that you could get reviews is having an automation setup in your email marketing, meaning that basically if somebody buys, you can send out an automated review email maybe a week after they get it, maybe two weeks after, a month. Like that's another way that you could get more reviews, but it really does make a difference for people who don't know the store.
21:33 Andy SplichalNow your agency, when did you launch? How long have you had it?
21:41 Drew BlumenthalSo I launched in 2017. So I worked for large ad agencies first and it wasn't the best fit for me, but I basically started, I had two clients when I started and then really built my way up from that. So I literally had my first website on Wix that I built myself. I really started from the ground up and really did accelerate, especially during COVID. So I definitely did a lot during that time as well, where I built a lot of my online presence. I did a lot more platforms and put myself on those. So digital really, I mean, obviously it's been around for years, but I mean, I was using Zoom in 2018. People are like, what the heck is Zoom? And like everyone was always polite for meetings on Zoom because they had to download it for the first time. And then all of a sudden 2020 came and then everybody was using Zoom and everybody was using digital because at that time there was really nothing else. So it was a very interesting time because there were so many businesses that were going to trade shows, were networking in person, that were doing things that all went away where digital was literally people's only option.
23:02 Andy SplichalRight, now during the time where you've been growing your business, have there been any business books that you could attribute to your journey as an entrepreneur?
23:11 Drew BlumenthalI mean, definitely I worked with a business coach, which really was helpful. It helped me to hire my first freelancer because one of my biggest fears at first was what if they mess up? What if they don't do things as good as I do? And as I did it, it just became like a muscle where it was just became second nature. So that was one thing. And then definitely doing PR was another thing that I felt like was really helpful because it didn't necessarily produce more leads, but I think what really helped with the PR was the trust aspect and the trust factor is that it forced me one to go on TV. It forced me to do more podcasts like this, where again, this is now like more second nature for me. And it also had me get like video reviews as well. So it's like by building up that proof, I definitely saw an increase in conversion rate. So I think that those two things were pretty monumental for me in terms of really making it to the next level. And I think also those two things were things that I couldn't have done on my own. So it's like one thing that I find so interesting is to get to the next level a lot of the time, it's leveraging people that know things that you don't or leveraging people that are gonna take you out of your comfort zone, because the reality is we're all stuck in some sense, but if you end up working with people or hiring people that can really break you out of that mold or break you out of that comfort zone or teach you the things that you don't know, like that's really how you're gonna grow and get to the next level, because there's probably so many people even listening to this now that are just like, I'm stuck, I don't know how to get from 20K in revenue to 30K in revenue or 50K to 100K or even zero to 2K. And it's just like a lot of the time, it's we feel sometimes embarrassed or ashamed to ask for help or receive help. And in reality, like that's what you need.
25:33 Andy SplichalSo more about your agency, we've talked about a couple of the services you offer, but what's the full list of services that you offer?
25:40 Drew BlumenthalYeah, so it's paid ads, so it's Google ads, it's Facebook ads, it can be LinkedIn, Pinterest, and then organic social media as well. So if you need help posting, creating the graphic content, it's web development, so building websites. I mean, I've built Shopify sites before. It is email marketing as we talked about, so building email flows, building campaigns, and also SEO as well. So trying to get websites to rank for keywords organically as well.
26:16 Andy SplichalAnd do you specialize? Is there a particular verticals that you prefer working with?
26:23 Drew BlumenthalI mean, we talked a lot about e-commerce today. I mean, I do a lot of e-commerce stores, especially like Shopify and WooCommerce stores, but I would say it really depends on the website, it depends on the budget, it really depends on personality fit. So those are really all things that I look for because a lot of marketing and advertising is fairly universal if it's executed properly.
26:49 Andy SplichalAnd do you have a favorite success story of a client you could share?
26:56 Drew BlumenthalYeah, so one success story that I definitely will always remember is one e-commerce client where I started working with them and they were spending around 500,000 a month. So it was a pretty good store. I mean, it was running specifically Google ads and they had a good website, they had a good product, but really being able to in six months be able to double that spend and they were getting an 8X return, but they were able to spend a million dollars in six months. And a lot of it, I mean, some of it was they were barely spending on Google shopping, but then not only scaling that Google shopping, but then moving it over to performance max. And definitely in that period, I was staying ahead of the curve and that's definitely one thing that I always recommend whether you're in marketing or you're running a store don't bury your head in the sand, but try and stay ahead. So I was learning performance max in January of last year, even before it was forced upon everybody. And now I'm doing the same thing with like GA4, Google Analytics 4 is January 1st, the reality is user analytics is completely gonna sunset, meaning all your analytics from Google is gonna be paused in the old Google analytics and you're either gonna have to upgrade the website then or like you're just not gonna have analytics in here. July, right? Yes, July 1st. Yeah. So it's like, I'm taking advantage of it and one, I've moved everyone over already, but then two, getting familiar with the interface and how to use the reporting of it and how to even look at your data the way that it is. So that way when July hits, I'm not in a panic. So we think that that's a lot of how you can also get ahead and how you could be successful on scale is not being afraid of change, but also being like anticipating the change and adapting even before a deadline is set.
29:11 Andy SplichalAnd how can an interested listener, if they'd like more information about you, contact you and get ahold of you?
29:22 Drew BlumenthalSure. You can find me on my website, digitaldrewsem.com or any of the social platforms as well and it's all at digitaldrewsem.
29:32 Andy SplichalWell, this has been great. Is there anything else you'd like to add before we wrap it up today, Drew?
Drew BlumenthalNo, I mean, thank you for having me, Andy.
Andy SplichalWell, great. Well, thanks for joining us. Yep, no problem. For listeners, remember if you liked this episode, please go to Apple Podcasts and leave us an honest review. And if you're looking for more information on connecting with Drew or his agency, Digital Drew SEM, you'll find links in the show notes below. In addition, if you're looking for more information on growing your business, check out our podcast resource center available at podcast.makeeachclickcount.com. We have compiled all of our different past guests by show topic and include each of their contact information in case you'd like more information on any of the services I've discussed during previous episodes. Well, that's it for today. Remember to stay safe, keep healthy and happy marketing. And I will talk to you in the next episode.