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Rita McGrath

Rita McGrath

1 year ago

Flywheels and Funnels

More on Marketing

Joseph Mavericks

Joseph Mavericks

1 year ago

You Don't Have to Spend $250 on TikTok Ads Because I Did

900K impressions, 8K clicks, and $$$ orders…

Photo by Eyestetix Studio on Unsplash

I recently started dropshipping. Now that I own my business and can charge it as a business expense, it feels less like money wasted if it doesn't work. I also made t-shirts to sell. I intended to open a t-shirt store and had many designs on a hard drive. I read that Tiktok advertising had a high conversion rate and low cost because they were new. According to many, the advertising' cost/efficiency ratio would plummet and become as bad as Google or Facebook Ads. Now felt like the moment to try Tiktok marketing and dropshipping. I work in marketing for a SaaS firm and have seen how poorly ads perform. I wanted to try it alone.

I set up $250 and ran advertising for a week. Before that, I made my own products, store, and marketing. In this post, I'll show you my process and results.

Setting up the store

Dropshipping is a sort of retail business in which the manufacturer ships the product directly to the client through an online platform maintained by a seller. The seller takes orders but has no stock. The manufacturer handles all orders. This no-stock concept increases profitability and flexibility.

In my situation, I used previous t-shirt designs to make my own product. I didn't want to handle order fulfillment logistics, so I looked for a way to print my designs on demand, ship them, and handle order tracking/returns automatically. So I found Printful.

Source

I needed to connect my backend and supplier to a storefront so visitors could buy. 99% of dropshippers use Shopify, but I didn't want to master the difficult application. I wanted a one-day project. I'd previously worked with Big Cartel, so I chose them.

Source

Big Cartel doesn't collect commissions on sales, simply a monthly flat price ($9.99 to $19.99 depending on your plan).

After opening a Big Cartel account, I uploaded 21 designs and product shots, then synced each product with Printful.

Source (the store is down to 5 products because I switched back to the free plan)

Developing the ads

I mocked up my designs on cool people photographs from placeit.net, a great tool for creating product visuals when you don't have a studio, camera gear, or models to wear your t-shirts.

I opened an account on the website and had advertising visuals within 2 hours.

Source

Because my designs are simple (black design on white t-shirt), I chose happy, stylish people on plain-colored backdrops. After that, I had to develop an animated slideshow.

Because I'm a graphic designer, I chose to use Adobe Premiere to create animated Tiktok advertising.

Premiere is a fancy video editing application used for more than advertisements. Premiere is used to edit movies, not social media marketing. I wanted this experiment to be quick, so I got 3 social media ad templates from motionarray.com and threw my visuals in. All the transitions and animations were pre-made in the files, so it only took a few hours to compile. The result:

I downloaded 3 different soundtracks for the videos to determine which would convert best.

After that, I opened a Tiktok business account, uploaded my films, and inserted ad info. They went live within one hour.

The (poor) outcomes

Image by author

As a European company, I couldn't deliver ads in the US. All of my advertisements' material (title, description, and call to action) was in English, hence they continued getting rejected in Europe for countries that didn't speak English. There are a lot of them:

I lost a lot of quality traffic, but I felt that if the images were engaging, people would check out the store and buy my t-shirts. I was wrong.

  • 51,071 impressions on Day 1. 0 orders after 411 clicks

  • 114,053 impressions on Day 2. 1.004 clicks and no orders

  • Day 3: 987 clicks, 103,685 impressions, and 0 orders

  • 101,437 impressions on Day 4. 0 orders after 963 clicks

  • 115,053 impressions on Day 5. 1,050 clicks and no purchases

  • 125,799 impressions on day 6. 1,184 clicks, no purchases

  • 115,547 impressions on Day 7. 1,050 clicks and no purchases

  • 121,456 impressions on day 8. 1,083 clicks, no purchases

  • 47,586 impressions on Day 9. 419 Clicks. No orders

My overall conversion rate for video advertisements was 0.9%. TikTok's paid ad formats all result in strong engagement rates (ads average 3% to 12% CTR to site), therefore a 1 to 2% CTR should have been doable.

My one-week experiment yielded 8,151 ad clicks but no sales. Even if 0.1% of those clicks converted, I should have made 8 sales. Even companies with horrible web marketing would get one download or trial sign-up for every 8,151 clicks. I knew that because my advertising were in English, I had no impressions in the main EU markets (France, Spain, Italy, Germany), and that this impacted my conversion potential. I still couldn't believe my numbers.

I dug into the statistics and found that Tiktok's stats didn't match my store traffic data.

Looking more closely at the numbers

My ads were approved on April 26 but didn't appear until April 27. My store dashboard showed 440 visitors but 1,004 clicks on Tiktok. This happens often while tracking campaign results since different platforms handle comparable user activities (click, view) differently. In online marketing, residual data won't always match across tools.

My data gap was too large. Even if half of the 1,004 persons who clicked closed their browser or left before the store site loaded, I would have gained 502 visitors. The significant difference between Tiktok clicks and Big Cartel store visits made me suspicious. It happened all week:

  • Day 1: 440 store visits and 1004 ad clicks

  • Day 2: 482 store visits, 987 ad clicks

  • 3rd day: 963 hits on ads, 452 store visits

  • 443 store visits and 1,050 ad clicks on day 4.

  • Day 5: 459 store visits and 1,184 ad clicks

  • Day 6: 430 store visits and 1,050 ad clicks

  • Day 7: 409 store visits and 1,031 ad clicks

  • Day 8: 166 store visits and 418 ad clicks

The disparity wasn't related to residual data or data processing. The disparity between visits and clicks looked regular, but I couldn't explain it.

After the campaign concluded, I discovered all my creative assets (the videos) had a 0% CTR and a $0 expenditure in a separate dashboard. Whether it's a dashboard reporting issue or a budget allocation bug, online marketers shouldn't see this.

Image by author

Tiktok can present any stats they want on their dashboard, just like any other platform that runs advertisements to promote content to its users. I can't verify that 895,687 individuals saw and clicked on my ad. I invested $200 for what appears to be around 900K impressions, which is an excellent ROI. No one bought a t-shirt, even an unattractive one, out of 900K people?

Would I do it again?

Nope. Whether I didn't make sales because Tiktok inflated the dashboard numbers or because I'm horrible at producing advertising and items that sell, I’ll stick to writing content and making videos. If setting up a business and ads in a few days was all it took to make money online, everyone would do it.

Video advertisements and dropshipping aren't dead. As long as the internet exists, people will click ads and buy stuff. Converting ads and selling stuff takes a lot of work, and I want to focus on other things.

I had always wanted to try dropshipping and I’m happy I did, I just won’t stick to it because that’s not something I’m interested in getting better at.

If I want to sell t-shirts again, I'll avoid Tiktok advertisements and find another route.

obimy.app

obimy.app

1 year ago

How TikTok helped us grow to 6 million users

This resulted to obimy's new audience.

Hi! obimy's official account. Here, we'll teach app developers and marketers. In 2022, our downloads increased dramatically, so we'll share what we learned.

obimy is what we call a ‘senseger’. It's a new method to communicate digitally. Instead of text, obimy users connect through senses and moods. Feeling playful? Flirt with your partner, pat a pal, or dump water on a classmate. Each feeling is an interactive animation with vibration. It's a wordless app. App Store and Google Play have obimy.

We had 20,000 users in 2022. Two to five thousand of them opened the app monthly. Our DAU metric was 500.

We have 6 million users after 6 months. 500,000 individuals use obimy daily. obimy was the top lifestyle app this week in the U.S.

And TikTok helped.

TikTok fuels obimys' growth. It's why our app exploded. How and what did we learn? Our Head of Marketing, Anastasia Avramenko, knows.

our actions prior to TikTok

We wanted to achieve product-market fit through organic expansion. Quora, Reddit, Facebook Groups, Facebook Ads, Google Ads, Apple Search Ads, and social media activity were tested. Nothing worked. Our CPI was sometimes $4, so unit economics didn't work.

We studied our markets and made audience hypotheses. We promoted our goods and studied our audience through social media quizzes. Our target demographic was Americans in long-distance relationships. I designed quizzes like Test the Strength of Your Relationship to better understand the user base. After each quiz, we encouraged users to download the app to enhance their connection and bridge the distance.

One of the quizzes

We got 1,000 responses for $50. This helped us comprehend the audience's grief and coping strategies (aka our rivals). I based action items on answers given. If you can't embrace a loved one, use obimy.

We also tried Facebook and Google ads. From the start, we knew it wouldn't work.

We were desperate to discover a free way to get more users.

Our journey to TikTok

TikTok is a great venue for emerging creators. It also helped reach people. Before obimy, my TikTok videos garnered 12 million views without sponsored promotion.

We had to act. TikTok was required.

Our first TikTok videos

I wasn't a TikTok user before obimy. Initially, I uploaded promotional content. Call-to-actions appear strange next to dancing challenges and my money don't jiggle jiggle. I learned TikTok. Watch TikTok for an hour was on my to-do list. What a dream job!

Our most popular movies presented the app alongside text outlining what it does. We started promoting them in Europe and the U.S. and got a 16% CTR and $1 CPI, an improvement over our previous efforts.

Somehow, we were expanding. So we came up with new hypotheses, calls to action, and content.

Four months passed, yet we saw no organic growth.

Russia attacked Ukraine.

Our app aimed to be helpful. For now, we're focusing on our Ukrainian audience. I posted sloppy TikToks illustrating how obimy can help during shelling or air raids.

In two hours, Kostia sent me our visitor count. Our servers crashed.

Initially, we had several thousand daily users. Over 200,000 users joined obimy in a week. They posted obimy videos on TikTok, drawing additional users. We've also resumed U.S. video promotion.

We gained 2,000,000 new members with less than $100 in ads, primarily in the U.S. and U.K.

TikTok helped.

The figures

We were confident we'd chosen the ideal tool for organic growth.

  • Over 45 million people have viewed our own videos plus a ton of user-generated content with the hashtag #obimy.

  • About 375 thousand people have liked all of our individual videos.

  • The number of downloads and the virality of videos are directly correlated.

Where are we now?

TikTok fuels our organic growth. We post 56 videos every week and pay to promote viral content.

We use UGC and influencers. We worked with Universal Music Italy on Eurovision. They offered to promote us through their million-follower TikTok influencers. We thought their followers would improve our audience, but it didn't matter. Integration didn't help us. Users that share obimy videos with their followers can reach several million views, which affects our download rate.

After the dust settled, we determined our key audience was 13-18-year-olds. They want to express themselves, but it's sometimes difficult. We're searching for methods to better engage with our users. We opened a Discord server to discuss anime and video games and gather app and content feedback.

TikTok helps us test product updates and hypotheses. Example: I once thought we might raise MAU by prompting users to add strangers as friends. Instead of asking our team to construct it, I made a TikTok urging users to share invite URLs. Users share links under every video we upload, embracing people worldwide.

Key lessons

Don't direct-sell. TikTok isn't for Instagram, Facebook, or YouTube promo videos. Conventional advertisements don't fit. Most users will swipe up and watch humorous doggos.

More product videos are better. Finally. So what?

Encourage interaction. Tagging friends in comments or making videos with the app promotes it more than any marketing spend.

Be odd and risqué. A user mistakenly sent a French kiss to their mom in one of our most popular videos.

TikTok helps test hypotheses and build your user base. It also helps develop apps. In our upcoming blog, we'll guide you through obimy's design revisions based on TikTok. Follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok.

Francesca Furchtgott

Francesca Furchtgott

1 year ago

Giving customers what they want or betraying the values of the brand?

A J.Crew collaboration for fashion label Eveliina Vintage is not a paradox; it is a solution.

From J.Crew’s Eveliina Vintage capsule collection page

Eveliina Vintage's capsule collection debuted yesterday at J.Crew. This J.Crew partnership stopped me in my tracks.

Eveliina Vintage sells vintage goods. Eeva Musacchia founded the shop in Finland in the 1970s. It's recognized for its one-of-a-kind slip dresses from the 1930s and 1940s.

I wondered why a vintage brand would partner with a mass shop. Fast fashion against vintage shopping? Will Eveliina Vintages customers be turned off?

But Eveliina Vintages customers don't care about sustainability. They want Eveliina's Instagram look. Eveliina Vintage collaborated with J.Crew to give customers what they wanted: more Eveliina at a lower price.

Vintage: A Fashion Option That Is Eco-Conscious

Secondhand shopping is a trendy response to quick fashion. J.Crew releases hundreds of styles annually. Waste and environmental damage have been criticized. A pair of jeans requires 1,800 gallons of water. J.Crew's limited-time deals promote more purchases. J.Crew items are likely among those Americans wear 7 times before discarding.

Consumers and designers have emphasized sustainability in recent years. Stella McCartney and Eileen Fisher are popular eco-friendly brands. They've also flocked to ThredUp and similar sites.

Gap, Levis, and Allbirds have listened to consumer requests. They promote recycling, ethical sourcing, and secondhand shopping.

Secondhand shoppers feel good about reusing and recycling clothing that might have ended up in a landfill.

Eco-conscious fashionistas shop vintage. These shoppers enjoy the thrill of the hunt (that limited-edition Chanel bag!) and showing off a unique piece (nobody will have my look!). They also reduce their environmental impact.

Is Eveliina Vintage capitalizing on an aesthetic or is it a sustainable brand?

Eveliina Vintage emphasizes environmental responsibility. Vogue's Amanda Musacchia emphasized sustainability. Amanda, founder Eeva's daughter, is a company leader.

But Eveliina's press message doesn't address sustainability, unlike Instagram. Scarcity and fame rule.

Eveliina Vintages Instagram has see-through dresses and lace-trimmed slip dresses. Celebrities and influencers are often photographed in Eveliina's apparel, which has 53,000+ followers. Vogue appreciates Eveliina's style. Multiple publications discuss Alexa Chung's Eveliina dress.

Eveliina Vintage markets its one-of-a-kind goods. It teases future content, encouraging visitors to return. Scarcity drives demand and raises clothing prices. One dress is $1,600+, but most are $500-$1,000.

The catch: Eveliina can't monetize its expanding popularity due to exorbitant prices and limited quantity. Why?

  1. Most people struggle to pay for their clothing. But Eveliina Vintage lacks those more affordable entry-level products, in contrast to other luxury labels that sell accessories or perfume.

  2. Many people have trouble fitting into their clothing. The bodies of most women in the past were different from those for which vintage clothing was designed. Each Eveliina dress's specific measurements are mentioned alongside it. Be careful, you can fall in love with an ill-fitting dress.

  3. No matter how many people can afford it and fit into it, there is only one item to sell. To get the item before someone else does, those people must be on the Eveliina Vintage website as soon as it becomes available.

A Way for Eveliina Vintage to Make Money (and Expand) with J.Crew Its following

Eveliina Vintages' cooperation with J.Crew makes commercial sense.

This partnership spreads Eveliina's style. Slightly better pricing The $390 outfits have multicolored slips and gauzy cotton gowns. Sizes range from 00 to 24, which is wider than vintage racks.

Eveliina Vintage customers like the combination. Excited comments flood the brand's Instagram launch post. Nobody is mocking the 50-year-old vintage brand's fast-fashion partnership.

Vintage may be a sustainable fashion trend, but that's not why Eveliina's clients love the brand. They only care about the old look.

And that is a tale as old as fashion.

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Jenn Leach

Jenn Leach

1 year ago

In November, I made an effort to pitch 10 brands per day. Here's what I discovered.

Photo by Nubelson Fernandes on Unsplash

I pitched 10 brands per workday for a total of 200.

How did I do?

It was difficult.

I've never pitched so much.

What did this challenge teach me?

  • the superiority of quality over quantity

  • When you need help, outsource

  • Don't disregard burnout in order to complete a challenge because it exists.

First, pitching brands for brand deals requires quality. Find firms that align with your brand to expose to your audience.

If you associate with any company, you'll lose audience loyalty. I didn't lose sight of that, but I couldn't resist finishing the task.

Outsourcing.

Delegating work to teammates is effective.

I wish I'd done it.

Three people can pitch 200 companies a month significantly faster than one.

One person does research, one to two do outreach, and one to two do follow-up and negotiating.

Simple.

In 2022, I'll outsource everything.

Burnout.

I felt this, so I slowed down at the end of the month.

Thanksgiving week in November was slow.

I was buying and decorating for Christmas. First time putting up outdoor holiday lights was fun.

Much was happening.

I'm not perfect.

I'm being honest.

The Outcomes

Less than 50 brands pitched.

Result: A deal with 3 brands.

I hoped for 4 brands with reaching out to 200 companies, so three with under 50 is wonderful.

That’s a 6% conversion rate!

Whoo-hoo!

I needed 2%.

Here's a screenshot from one of the deals I booked.

These companies fit my company well. Each campaign is different, but I've booked $2,450 in brand work with a couple of pending transactions for December and January.

$2,450 in brand work booked!

How did I do? You tell me.

Is this something you’d try yourself?

Yogesh Rawal

Yogesh Rawal

2 years ago

Blockchain to solve growing privacy challenges

Most online activity is now public. Businesses collect, store, and use our personal data to improve sales and services.

In 2014, Uber executives and employees were accused of spying on customers using tools like maps. Another incident raised concerns about the use of ‘FaceApp'. The app was created by a small Russian company, and the photos can be used in unexpected ways. The Cambridge Analytica scandal exposed serious privacy issues. The whole incident raised questions about how governments and businesses should handle data. Modern technologies and practices also make it easier to link data to people.

As a result, governments and regulators have taken steps to protect user data. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was introduced by the EU to address data privacy issues. The law governs how businesses collect and process user data. The Data Protection Bill in India and the General Data Protection Law in Brazil are similar.
Despite the impact these regulations have made on data practices, a lot of distance is yet to cover.

Blockchain's solution

Blockchain may be able to address growing data privacy concerns. The technology protects our personal data by providing security and anonymity. The blockchain uses random strings of numbers called public and private keys to maintain privacy. These keys allow a person to be identified without revealing their identity. Blockchain may be able to ensure data privacy and security in this way. Let's dig deeper.

Financial transactions

Online payments require third-party services like PayPal or Google Pay. Using blockchain can eliminate the need to trust third parties. Users can send payments between peers using their public and private keys without providing personal information to a third-party application. Blockchain will also secure financial data.

Healthcare data

Blockchain technology can give patients more control over their data. There are benefits to doing so. Once the data is recorded on the ledger, patients can keep it secure and only allow authorized access. They can also only give the healthcare provider part of the information needed.

The major challenge

We tried to figure out how blockchain could help solve the growing data privacy issues. However, using blockchain to address privacy concerns has significant drawbacks. Blockchain is not designed for data privacy. A ‘distributed' ledger will be used to store the data. Another issue is the immutability of blockchain. Data entered into the ledger cannot be changed or deleted. It will be impossible to remove personal data from the ledger even if desired.

MIT's Enigma Project aims to solve this. Enigma's ‘Secret Network' allows nodes to process data without seeing it. Decentralized applications can use Secret Network to use encrypted data without revealing it.

Another startup, Oasis Labs, uses blockchain to address data privacy issues. They are working on a system that will allow businesses to protect their customers' data. 

Conclusion

Blockchain technology is already being used. Several governments use blockchain to eliminate centralized servers and improve data security. In this information age, it is vital to safeguard our data. How blockchain can help us in this matter is still unknown as the world explores the technology.

Karthik Rajan

Karthik Rajan

1 year ago

11 Cooking Hacks I Wish I Knew Earlier 

Quick, easy and tasty (and dollops of parenting around food).

My wife and mom are both great mothers. They're super-efficient planners. They soak and ferment food. My 104-year-old grandfather loved fermented foods.

When I'm hungry and need something fast, I waffle to the pantry. Like most people, I like to improvise. I wish I knew these 11 hacks sooner.

1. The world's best pasta sauce only has 3 ingredients.

You watch recipe videos with prepped ingredients. In reality, prepping and washing take time. The food's taste isn't guaranteed. The raw truth at a sublime level is not talked about often.

Sometimes a radical recipe comes along that's so easy and tasty, you're dumbfounded. The Classic Italian Cook Book has a pasta recipe.

One 28-ounce can of whole, peeled tomatoes, one medium peeled onion, and 5 tablespoons of butter. And salt to taste.

Combine everything in a single pot and simmer for 45 minutes, uncovered. Stir occasionally. Toss the onion halves after 45 minutes and pour the sauce over pasta. Finish!

This simple recipe fights our deepest fears.

Salt to taste! Customized to perfection, no frills.

2. Reheating rice with ice. Magical.

Most of the world eats rice. I was raised in south India. My grandfather farmed rice in the Cauvery river delta.

The problem with rice With growing kids, you can't cook just enough. Leftovers are a norm. Microwaves help most people. Ice cubes are the frosting.

Before reheating rice in the microwave, add an ice cube. The ice will steam the rice, making it fluffy and delicious again.

3. Pineapple leaf 

if it comes off easy, it is ripe enough to cut. No rethinking.

My daughter loves pineapples like her dad. One daddy task is cutting them. Sharing immediate results is therapeutic.

Timing the cut has been the most annoying part over the years. The pineapple leaf tip reveals the fruitiness inside. Always loved it.

4. Magic knife words (rolling and curling)

Cutting hand: Roll the blade's back, not its tip, to cut.

Other hand: If you can’t see your finger tips, you can’t cut them. So curl your fingers.

I dislike that schools don't teach financial literacy or cutting skills.

My wife and I used scissors differently for 25 years. We both used the thumb. My index finger, her middle. We googled the difference when I noticed it and laughed. She's right.

This video teaches knifing skills:


5. Best advice about heat

If it's done in the pan, it's overdone on the plate.

This simple advice stands out when we worry about ingredients and proportions.

6. The truth about pasta water

Pasta water should be sea-salty.

Properly seasoning food separates good from great. Salt depends is a good line.

Want delicious pasta? Well, then kind of a lot, to be perfectly honest.

7. Clean as you go

Clean blender as you go by blending water and dish soap.

I find clean as you go easier than clean afterwords. This easy tip is gold.

8. Clean as you go (bis)

Microwave a bowl of water, vinegar, and a toothpick for 5 minutes.

2 cups water, 2 tablespoons vinegar, and a toothpick to prevent overflow.

5-minute microwave. Let the steam work for another 2 minutes. Sponge-off dirt and food. Simple.

9 and 10. Tools,tools, tools

Immersion blender and pressure cooker save time and money.

Narrative: I experienced fatherly pride. My middle-schooler loves science. We discussed boiling. I spoke. Water doesn't need 100°C to boil. She looked confused. 100 degrees assume something. The world around the water is a normal room. Changing water pressure affects its boiling point. This saves energy. Pressure cooker magic.

I captivated her. She's into science and sustainable living.

Whistling is a subliminal form of self-expression when done right. Pressure cookers remind me of simple pleasures.

Your handiness depends on your home tools. Immersion blenders are great for pre- and post-cooking. It eliminates chopping and washing. Second to the dishwasher, in my opinion.

11. One pepper is plenty

A story I share with my daughters.

Once, everyone thought about spice (not spicy). More valuable than silk. One of the three mighty oceans was named after a source country. Columbus sailed the wrong way and found America. The explorer called the natives after reaching his spice destination.

It was pre-internet days. His Google wasn't working.

My younger daughter listens in awe. Strong roots. Image cast. She can contextualize one of the ocean names.

I struggle with spices in daily life. Combinations are mind-boggling. I have more spices than Columbus. Flavor explosion has repercussions. You must closely follow the recipe without guarantees. Best aha. Double down on one spice and move on. If you like it, it's great.

I naturally gravitate towards cumin soups, fennel dishes, mint rice, oregano pasta, basil thai curry and cardamom pudding.

Variety enhances life. Each of my dishes is unique.

To each their own comfort food and nostalgic memories.

Happy living!