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Nov. 25, 2022

Why Creating A Customer Centric Brand Is Vital To Your Company’s Growth with Matt Edmundson

Why Creating A Customer Centric Brand Is Vital To Your Company’s Growth with Matt Edmundson

This episode features Matt Edmundson, the CEO of Aurion Digital. As an eCommerce entrepreneur, his sites have generated over $75m in worldwide sales. Add to that, as a Coach his clients have combined sales of over another $100m. In addition, he is the host of The eCommerce Podcast.

Matt defines what customer-centric is and why is it so vital. He shares where he sees being a customer-centric brand fitting into the whole conversion puzzle. Listen to Matt as he discusses how a website can determine its level of customer centricity and how to improve.

Matt gives advice to those who already have an online store and are not customer-centric and how to make a change, become customer-centric, to grow their company.

Episode Action Items:

To find more information about Matt, go to www.auriondigital.com

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.

ABOUT THE HOST:

Andy Splichal - Make Each Click Count PodcastAndy 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.

Transcript

Andy Splichal 0:00

Welcome to the Make Each Click Count podcast. This is your host, Andy Spkichal. We are happy to welcome this week's guest to discuss today's topic, which is why creating a customer centric brand is vital to the to your company's growth. This week's guest is the CEO of Aurion Digital and Ecommerce entrepreneur, his sites have generated over $75 million worldwide sales. Added to that is a coach's clients have combined for sales of another 100 million dollars. In addition, he is the host of the Ecommerce podcast. A big welcome to Matt Edmundson. Hi, Matt.

Matt Edmundson 0:34

Hey, how you doing, Andy?

Andy Splichal 0:37

Great. We're excited to have you today.

Matt Edmundson 0:39

But it's great to be here. Thanks for having me.

Andy Splichal 0:42

Now, let's let's jump right in and start with becoming a customer centric brand. How are you defining a customer centric and why? Why is it so vital?

Matt Edmundson 0:55

So customer centric, it's one of those things where it made a massive difference to my business, this is why it's vital I'm talking from experience is probably the best way to say if you imagine the sort of the intersection of me, the brand owner and the customer. If you imagine the sort of the intersection of where those two stories meet, if I can understand that if I can understand what's important to my customer. And the context of what's also important to me as a business that to me is like a that's a goldmine, right there, that's where you should definitely be operating your business. And so customer centric for me is understanding where those two things collide and where that where that overlap is and how I can play in it.

Andy Splichal 1:46

Now, one of my projects here in the new year is focusing extensively on on how ecommerce companies can improve their conversion, whether whether it's focusing on on developing your USC USP or, or really defining your target market. I'm curious, where do you see being a customer centric brand fitting into the whole conversion puzzle?

Matt Edmundson 2:12

So being a customer centric brand, fits in really well, with conversion in a massive way. And if you think about, Well, I tell you a story and is probably the best way a lot of stories. Yeah. Stories, right. So years ago, in 2006, we started a an e commerce website, which was selling beauty products, okay. And the website was called Jersey, and the website sold beauty products in what I call a price, price quality model. In other words, we sold quality products at a low price, we tried to be the cheapest, which meant we could do quite a lot of customer acquisition, okay. And for a couple of years, that model worked well for us. But as time started to change and evolve, we made the decision in 2012, to move from what I call the sort of the price quality model to the quality service model. So we had to deliver much better customer service, we had to be much more customer centric, in other words, and so we did this, which meant our prices went up because to be customer centric, you have to have money to sort of to be able to sort of finance the whole thing. And it meant a lot of changes in the business. If I'm honest with you, there's few things that had to change. But the net result of that change, right move into a more customer centric model meant that over the next 12 months, our sales actually fell. They didn't rise. Much to my disappointment, they fell. And I thought, goodness me what's going on here if I made the wrong choice. But we held our nerve, because I understood that actually, when it came to conversion, there are two conversions as the first time they buy from you. And then there's the second time they buy from you. And what was happening was a lot of the people that would buy from us the first time who would buy from us because we were the cheapest weren't buying anymore. And a lot of the people that were buy from as a second time because we were the cheapest weren't buying from us anymore. But the customers that actually valued the customer service were buying from us an awful lot more. And so what that meant was the first 12 months our conversions had fallen, bizarrely, why not bizarrely, it's kind of

Andy Splichal 4:40

Yeah, you're not the lowest price anymore.

Matt Edmundson 4:41

Yeah, exactly. But the second year, the increase in sales out was massively bigger than the Fallen sales the previous year. And when you looked at the data when you looked at the numbers, a big chunk of that was because of repeat purchases from customers who are x experience good customer service. So our conversion and repeat customers went up the average order value in those conversions went up massively to the point where we were actually outstripping the industry average by quite a bit. And so in the second year, when those figures started to come in, we knew we've made the right choice. So I think if you treat a customer, right, and if you treat a customer fairly, then they'll come back to you time and time again. And you can build a loyal brand with your customers. And that's actually, that's important if you want to be around in the long term. And so, for me, where does it fit in the conversion product puzzle, right smack bang in the middle of it. And if I'm honest with you

Andy Splichal 5:47

Man, you made a lot of great points. I love that story. You know, one of the points that you made in that a lot of business owners, really, it's I mean, you can't compete on price, right? If you can't, you can't be the lowest one, there's always going to be somebody lower. And if you're doing that, you're not going to have any customer loyalty, because they're really they're loyal to the price. So somebody comes along lower, they're gonna go to Amazon, they're going to do all these things, but you're not that repeat business is, is going to be missing for sure. Now, is that usual if a company switches to a customer centric model? Have you found with your coaching clients? I mean, you've you've seen a lot of people see that dip in sales initially.

Matt Edmundson 6:34

Yes, especially because it usually means a price rise. And so if you can become more customer centric, or more customer centric, and not increase prices, then you tend not to notice it as much. Although we go bizarrely in the beauty company that we had, we started to get we had a few complaining emails from people saying, you know, what I used to buy from you, but I don't appreciate this happy, Jolly sort of trying to be my friend kind of email really. Okay. And so we were like, well, fair enough, you know, his his two or three websites that may be able to help you, you know, go go buy from these guys. And so, so yes, I, I think it, it is possible that you could see a dip in sales, but I think ultimately, you see a much bigger return on on your sales, when you focus in an awful lot more on the customer. It makes a lot of sense to do that.

Andy Splichal 7:33

So how can a website determine their level of customer centricity? I guess, is it an all or nothing is there you know, and do take a look if people come to you or your rating? And on a scale of one to 10? I mean, what what are some ways that you can really measure some tools you can measure? And how can you look to improve?

Matt Edmundson 7:56

Well, in ecommerce the the easiest measurement to look at is going to be how many people buy from you a second time how many people buy from you a third time how many people buy from your fourth time now I appreciate this is going to change industry, the industry, you know, we were selling beauty products, I now have a website, which sells supplements, these are very repeatable products. If I had us, you know, a site selling, I don't know, couches, then obviously the repeat purchase rate is going to be different. So you have to you have to think it against your industry and what goes on in your industry. But if you have a customer centric sight, two things happen. Number one, your your repeat businesses, your repeat purchases go up. And number two, your refer ability goes up so you find that you get more customers from your customers who are referring you to people. And so you have what I call the RR measure that sort of the the repeatability in the refer ability. And so that there for me, they're the two quick, easy measures to look at. The other things that you can look at, which are a bit more nuanced are things like your customer service emails. So how many people are writing in what are the kinds of things they're saying in their customer service emails? What are they saying about you on social media? Are they seeing all negative things? Or are there some good things as well? You know, what's the message that they're giving out? Because that's, that's super important. And in fact, Apple, they measure something called the NPS, I don't know if you your listeners may or may not be familiar with this. It's the net present score. And they basically ask you to fill out a simple statement, which says On a scale of one to 10, how likely are you to refer us to a friend coming back to that recoverability side of things, and they're their chief concern is to keep an NPS score of eight or more. And so you can survey your clients, you can ask them on a scale of one to 10 how likely are you to refer us and you can check that scale and see where see where customers over, there's some of the easier ways to measure your customer centricity.

Andy Splichal:

Do you actively try to engage customers to refer? I know, there's like different referral programs, you can use such like that for the points. I mean, how are you doing that?

Matt Edmundson:

Yeah, I think it's a great question. And the and I think, yes, is the short answer. We actively encourage some of our customers to refer us. And we again, it's going to depend on your companies and your industry is and where you're at, but you're looking for your best customers, your your evangelists, your influences, your promoters, whatever language you use to describe them, you're looking for the people that buy from you 2, 3, 4, 5 times, they're always buying from you on a regular basis, and they're always buying more than the average cart value is. These have the potential to be your raving fans. And I think we, we would always encourage those people to refer and you can use referral systems like mentioned me, or, you know, there's a bucketload of them isn't there, where, yeah, where you can sign up to their program, and they give you special links. And, you know, if you if I refer you and uh, you get $10 off and I get a $10 voucher, next time I shop or something like that, it's quite a common thing these days. And so you're rewarding customers for referring you, which I think I don't think is a bad thing. I think that's a good strategy to use part of your marketing budget. So yeah, but I wouldn't necessarily do it with all of my customers, I think. Because our customers can get so bombarded with messages, you have to be really clear on the consumer journey, really. And so if you've got a customer who's just purchased from you for the first time, and they've purchased, under the average order value, would you want to send them educational content, you want to onboard them? To your company, to your products to your values, long before you ask them for a referral? So don't confuse them? Did you see what I mean? So? So yes, is the short answer. The long answer is focused on your, your best customers, those that are most likely to go out and refer you and shout good things from the from the rooftops about you. And if you can reward them in some way for doing that?

Andy Splichal:

What advice would you give to somebody who already has an online store? And maybe they're not customer centric? Maybe they've been doing what you were doing competing on price, competing on shipping? The things that make you a commodity? How, how important would you tell them it is to make a change, to become customer centric, to to grow in your company.

Matt Edmundson:

I think that all depends on who you are as a business, right. So to be customer centric, too, and to focus a lot more in on the customer is more than just a sales strategy. So if you're the kind of company that you're just you don't really care, it's all about getting the numbers through the door, you are selling commodities, and you're getting it out there, then becoming more customer centric is probably not going to help you because it's slightly inauthentic. And I think customers pick up on that if I'm honest with you. And so to be more customer centric, I think is a good thing in certain circumstances. And so being customer centric, for example, is good. If you are competing with Amazon, let's say you sell a product and Amazon are also selling that product. And so why would people go to you rather than Amazon because Amazon ship quicker and better and faster, and all that sort of stuff. You know, it's it's got the reputation. But what Amazon doesn't have, because Amazon's just a commodity site. So what Amazon doesn't have is the ability to deal directly with the customer that you have the ability to educate the customer to understand what their values are to get alongside them to help them to to teach them stuff that they never knew before. I mean, if I for example, I don't know pick a random product like a tennis racket. I could go to Amazon and buy a tennis racket, but if I come to your website, if you're just selling tennis rackets, you're just selling tennis rackets. But if you're wanting to be a bit more customer centric, it's going to require a bit more effort from you because what you're doing is you're creating blog posts on how to choose the right tennis racket. You've got YouTube videos showing me how to do the grip on my tennis racket so much better. You've got you know a coupon which says listen when you need to get your tennis racket restrung send it back here we do you know, free shipping both ways to help If you do that, we'll do it for you no problem. You know how to choose the right tennis ball, you know, three, three things to look out for when you're trying to find a tennis coach. So there's all this content and education that I can give you. And I can deliver that through blogs, through video through social media, through email sequences, and I can I can get you really involved in that, you know, like, short of the week emails, it's like, subscribe to our emails. And we'll we'll send you, you know, like instructions on how to do a new shot every week. You understand? I'm not a tennis coach. And I'm just totally

Andy Splichal:

right. No, no, no, yes, yeah. But no, it's a great analogy.

Matt Edmundson:

So yeah, and my apologies, if you do know, tennis, and I'm just going to butchered your sport, but judo, I mean, that's the kind of that's where you can win. But to do that requires a lot of effort takes a lot of passion. It does take passion, and it takes knowledge. And if you are a commodity website, it's hard just to manufacture that, right. And so a lot of people hear stories about this type of thing and go, that's great. So I'm going to hire this person, this person and this person. But it all falls flat, really, and it doesn't really go anywhere. And so I think going back to my original statement, you have to understand where the overlap between your business and your business story and your business values, where that overlaps with your customer story and their values. And if you can play in that gap, then you're going to do really, really well. But to play in that gap, you have to understand both things. And it has got to work for you as a business, it's got to work for the customer. And being customer centric takes energy and it takes effort, which is why your prices have to go up, you've got to pay for it. Right. So. So yeah, I don't ever think it's too late. I mean, we were five years in and we were turning over millions when we did it. So you know, it's never too late at all. But I think when you go down that road, go go down it with your eyes open and be committed to it and authentic to it. And you'll do really well.

Andy Splichal:

Do you have some examples of customer centric brands that a listener could could work to emulate?

Matt Edmundson:

Er cheese, I mean, there's lots of them, right? So and again, you probably will have come across some in your industry, or at least where you buy stuff from if you think about where you purchase your own stuff from. So I buy stuff from Amazon, because I'm just after something quick and commoditize. But there's, specifically there's a clothing brand, for example, that is called through dark. And my they they really connected well with my son through social media. And they engaged him with content with educational information that really intrigued him. And so He then started telling me about it. And lo and behold, I now buy stuff from through dark. And so for me, they're a great example of someone who's gone. This is who we are, this is what we stand for, we're going to connect with people like that. And we're going to see our brand grow accordingly. Zappos is probably the most well known customer centric brand, or at least it used to be. There's a book written by Tony Shea called delivering happy, I think that's what it's called, who was the CEO of Zappos, which was the book I read, which kind of kick started me on this whole journey, if I'm honest with you, down this sort of this whole avenue. And so yeah, check, you know, check that out, check out that post, but go to any small brand website, and you'll see, you'll see some customer centricity done very, very well.

Andy Splichal:

Now, if you had a magic ball, you could look in the future 12 to 18 months. What do you see happening with ecommerce over the next? Next bit?

Matt Edmundson:

I think for me, I mean, obviously, Amazon is around, right? So Amazon is going to sort of stay where it is. I don't think I don't I don't really see that changing. But what I do see is a lot of brands who will sell on Amazon, also trying to grow their own sites, their own brands. And to do that, I think you're going to have to tell story really, really well, is what I think is going to have to happen. And so I will see, I see brands becoming more customer centric, become better at telling story be better at drawing in their tribe. And I think we're going to see people doing that through new tools like live selling I think will be a big thing. I think that will be a massive thing. The fall in Facebook, I do wonder whether Facebook can rescue themselves, or whether we're going to find other sorts of sources. I was just chatting with a guy called Brett curry, who's the CEO of OMG commerce, they're a bigger ads agency specializing in YouTube ads predominantly. And under some of the stuff he was talking about, I'm like, Well, I can see now people moving from Facebook to YouTube. Over the next sort of 12 to 18 months, I think you'll see a sort of a chunk of that sort of happen. I think you'll see a number of businesses collapse and fold that started up in the pandemic that sort of took advantage of that. Now, we're hitting harder, sort of markets, you know, the, the UK has got a recession, the US probably got a recession, you know, there's, there's the cost of living crisis going on. There's a war in Ukraine that's impacting everything. And now it's getting a little bit tough. I wonder how many of those businesses have started up in in under lockdown in the pandemic, are going to struggle. And I think the way you create longevity, if I'm honest with you, again, is by one at one of the ways is going to be via customer centricity. So they're the kind of things that I see.

Andy Splichal:

Do you think it's possible for a company to even compete with Amazon without becoming customer centric?

Matt Edmundson:

I think everything is possible. Do I think that's the easy route to take? I think it's probably the most complicated route to take. Because I think you've either got to have something that Amazon doesn't sell, and everybody wants. Or you've got to have really big deep pockets to drive the customers to your site using paid media to buy from you. And I think that's, it's possible, it's doable, I just think there's easier ways to do it. And I think if you're prepared for a sort of a bit more investment in customer experience, and if you're prepared to play maybe a medium term game, I think it's a much better strategy.

Andy Splichal:

Now, personally, one of my favorite questions, personally, are there any business books out there that you can attribute to your journey as an entrepreneur? I know you mentioned one already delivering happy I believe, but are there are there any other books out there?

Matt Edmundson:

I read, I remember the first sort of business type books that I read that really stuck out in my mind, and I still go back to them all these years later. One was Michael Gerber, the E Myth, which I thought was an extraordinary book made me think about business in a very different way. I read that just as I was starting out, my entrepreneurial journey. There's a book called business by the book, which was super helpful. And there's even things like How to Make Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie, I just, that's the one book I've given my kids to read. Because the lessons in there are timeless. And so I'd say start with those, those three books. So they're all incredible books. But as I must read probably 3040 bucks a year. So there's a lot on my list. Andy

Andy Splichal:

now, do you have a favorite success story of a coaching client that you could share?

Matt Edmundson:

Oh, well, I remember. Sorry, I'm laughing. I remember, there was a big pharmaceutical client that I was doing some work for. And I went in was doing some did a coaching project with them. And I was on site for a week, just following everybody around shadowing everybody trying to get my head around the business, how it worked, where the holes were, etc, etc. And as I did that, I within one or two days, I quickly discovered, I discovered one or two things that I think they could implement pretty much straight away. And so I remember going into the CEOs office, and I said to him, listen. If I tell you a way where I think you can make relatively easily an extra million bucks a year without really having to change a whole great deal, would you give me 20% of that increase? The CEO, who's actually now a great friend of mine, said in no uncertain terms, he would not give me the 20% that I should tell him anyway. And so I always remember that story. And that was very simple. Just I was just walking around his warehouse where he did the distribution, and three or four things he could instantly change, you know, in terms of how they distributed, how they set out the warehouse, how to prevent picking and pack errors, and so on and so forth. And we did it took me about 30 minutes to do the calculation based on what was currently going on, and it would have made them an extra million a year just by making those changes in the warehouse. That's without getting any more customers in, you know, just an extra million in turnover. So, there's always ways in ecommerce to to increase the income but there's always ways to sort of decrease the outgoings especially as to technology increases and gets better. And so that was that was good fun. I enjoyed that.

Andy Splichal:

Now you had mentioned your coaching clients, but how what services are you offering it Aurion digital.

Matt Edmundson:

So oh gosh. So we thought first and foremost, I've run my own e commerce businesses. I'm an E commerce entrepreneur. And the, the more you do that, and the more successful you become, the more people ask you for help. So out of that, we created Oregon. And so orient us fulfillment services. It does done for you ecommerce services, there's a number of ecommerce businesses that we run on behalf of other companies. We've got something which I'm super proud of called E commerce cohort, which is a monthly membership group that people can join. And that's, that's honestly, that's, that's taken up a lot of my time, but it is just so much fun. So much fun, if anybody's in ecommerce. And they want to understand how we do the cycle. Whenever we do. Coaching, we always take clients through something called cycles that ecommerce cycles. And so we're in effect doing this online with the monthly membership group, we get experts in to come and teach on different aspects of E commerce, you get opportunities for q&a, you submit your work, and you work on your business. And it's just it's great fun. So yeah, between the coaching, the fulfillment that don't view services and cohorts were pretty busy. And I'm not gonna lie.

Andy Splichal:

That's great. And we're interested listeners find out more about that.

Matt Edmundson:

You can find out more about cohort at ecommercecohort.com. There's a just a real simple landing page there, which tells you more about e commerce cohorts. So yeah, come along, try it out, see how you get on. And then everything else just follow the links to Aurion digital which is a aurion.digital. And you can find out more information on the site there.

Andy Splichal:

Well, this has been great. Is there anything else you'd like to add before we wrap it up today?

Matt Edmundson:

These are some great questions, right about customer centricity. And I think fundamentally, my story is when you focus in on the customer, in a way that makes sense your business, right, and that's a critical statement to make. But if you can focus in on your customer in a way that makes sense for the business, and make them their hero, and deliver, you know, there's always that phrase, sell them the steak, deliver the sizzle. And I think if you always deliver more than what they expect, you'll do so so well in E commerce, you'll create a tribe of loyal people, and they will tell the world about you. And it can easily be done. You know, there's a lot of technology out there that can help you. But fundamentally, I think it's a hard thing from the business and it has to come from the founders and the leaders of the business it has to be integrated. But if you do it honestly, there's nothing else out there. I think that will have as big an impact on your business. Well, that

Andy Splichal:

is great. Those are some great tips and it'll be really good going into the new year. So for listeners remember if you liked this episode, please go to Apple podcasts leave us an honest review. And if you're looking for more information regarding connecting with Matt or orient digital, you'll find the links in the show notes below. In addition, if you're looking for more information on growing your business, check it out our podcasts Resource Center available at podcast.makeeachclickcount.com We have compiled all of our different past guests by show topic include each of the contact information in case you would like more information or 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.