On this episode of Shopify Masters, you'll hear from an entrepreneur who went from being a registered nurse with no business experience to the founder of a $1.4M business that was featured Shark Tank in the span of 2 years.
Melissa Gersin is the inventor of Tranquilo Mat: a portable soothing mat that mimics the womb with constant motion and sound to calm crying babies and help them sleep.
She'll share how she used Facebook Live to reach moms, build trust, get feedback, make sales, and test out marketing ideas.
The cool thing about Facebook Live is that people want to engage with you, they want to know the face behind the brand.
Tune in to learn
- How to start your first Facebook Live event
- How to partner with other content creators to scale up your Facebook Live events
- How to get your product on the gift registries
Listen to Shopify Masters below…
- Store: Tranquilo Mat
- Social Profiles: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram
- Recommendations: Facebook Pages (phone app), Rafflecopter, Privy (Shopify app), ReferralCandy (Shopify app), Product Reviews (Shopify app), MailChimp, Slack, Trello
Partnering with experts for education-based Facebook live videos
Felix: Today, I’m joined by Melissa Gersin from Tranquilo Mat. Tranquilo Mat is a portable soothing mat that mimics the womb with constant motion and sound to calm crying babies and help them to sleep. It started in 2015 and based out of Boston, Massachusetts.
Melissa: Hi, Felix. Thank you for having me.
Felix: We described a little bit about the business, about the product. Talk to us a little about the typical customer. Who is the ideal customer? Who’s your ideal demographic?
Melissa: Obviously, everyone can suffer when there’s a crying baby, even innocent bystanders, so to speak. But our customer is parents and folks who are pregnant or expecting a baby. We get a lot of first-time parents. A lot of seasoned parents purchase our product. Pretty much anyone who has a baby 0–12 months. It’s most effective for babies 0–6 months, which is when they are usually experiencing what’s sort of referred to as the fourth trimester. It’s essentially they’re missing being inside the womb. In the womb, it’s as loud as a vacuum cleaner, and they’re in constant motion because they’re suspended in water. They come out into the wide world, and we put them in a stationary crib in a silent womb, and they don’t really want to sleep.
I’m a maternity nurse, and I knew kind of the science behind keeping them calm, by using that constant motion and sound and also just came up with a product that way, and so those are our customers, our … Well, I guess in many ways, our end users are the babies, but their parents are buying it for them because they just need a little bit extra sleep.
Felix: Yeah, that makes sense. I’m actually expecting my first child. I don’t have this product yet, but I’m sure when I’m in the throes of it all, I’m going to want to get your product as soon as possible. That brings me to my point, which is that do the customers, the actual buyers, do the parents typically buy before they have the baby? Or do they typically buy when the baby’s born already? When in that kind of cycle in their life do you find that customers are coming to you?
Melissa: It’s both. I would say some parents have heard about us while they’re pregnant. Maybe they haven’t decided to buy or they put us on their registry and they don’t get the item or nobody buys it for them. But we do have parents who purchase before their baby’s born. They’re super excited. Baby’s born, they use it. And then of course, we get the parents who either have heard of us or haven’t, but now they have a baby, they have a crying baby, they have that kind of pain point, and they find us that way.
We use a lot of techniques to kind of reach those particular customers. Social media is a big referrer to our sites. Social media ads as well and things like that. That’s usually when parents are finding us is one of those two times. Is either when they’re setting up their registry and then getting it for their registry gift or when they have a new baby, and they’re experiencing the pain and trauma, so to speak, of many sleepless nights.
Felix: A couple of different I guess customers or at least a couple of different stages in their life: their life before the baby, their life after the baby, and then of course anyone that is giving a gift to new parents. Do you have to change up the messaging in any way? I know you mentioned the different ways that you do reach them through social media. But do you change up the messaging in any way to touch these potential customers at these different points in their lives?
Melissa: We’ve been every fortunate. Those who are buying as a gift are generally grandparents, so they’ve had kids before or are friends who may already have children. A lot of people that are purchasing end up being people who immediately see value in a product like ours because they’re used to taking their baby out, like let’s say a long drives or using a product maybe like a swing to keep their baby quiet. They kind of understand that babies miss the constant motion, and then when we let them know about the constant sound, they’re like, “Oh, that makes total sense. My baby would always fall asleep at a party, so it makes sense that they actually miss the noise instead of the quiet.” It’s pretty easy to actually to convert those customers because they often see the value pretty quickly, so we don’t necessarily need to change our messaging there.
I would say that new parents are often more overwhelmed with the things that are coming their way. In some cases, we have to have many more touchpoints with those folks to be able to convert them into actual customers just because they’re looking at this for their registry on a Saturday, and then they’re going back to do their own research on the various products, and they’re kind of refining their registry for their baby shower. Things like that, and so there’s … Or they just don’t know what it’s like to have a crying baby, or they think they’re going to have a baby, they’ll be, “Oh, it’ll be fine,” and they actually get into the thick of it, and they’re like, “Oh, man. This really sucks.”
I would say that our messaging kind of remains the same, but the number of touchpoints that we need with a customer might change. I will also say that on the rare occasion that we’re getting the gift buyer who doesn’t have children but is buying for a friend who’s pregnant, those folks often, a lot of the millennials these days are very tech-savvy. We consider our products, we’re based on science, the science of mimicking the womb and calming babies. A lot of people just think it’s a cool, kind of techy gadget because it’s something new that they haven’t heard of. Those the same types of people that often frequent like a Kickstarter, an Indiegogo to buy cool tech products themselves, so when they see something like ours, they’re like, “I’m going to be the coolest person at this baby shower.” That’s usually another easy kind of convert.
That’s kind of our customer, but our messaging for the most part stays similar.
Felix: It sounds like it revolves a lot around the concept of the registry. It’s either someone putting it on a registry or someone maybe bringing a gift that may or may not be on a registry. But when it is on a registry, it obviously improves the chance of someone buying it because now you exposed it so many different potential buyers that are coming to celebrate and to buy a gift for the new parents. Are there ways to make your product stand out or become more attractive to get onto a registry because obviously yours is for new parents, but I could imagine new homes or marriage or even a holiday wish list. Being on some kind of a list, I think is a great way to drive traffic and potential sales.
What have you noticed about how to get on a registry?
Melissa: When it comes to kind of the big box registries, I would consider that to be stores like Babies R Us, Buy Buy Baby. Even Target has registries. Those are often, you either have to be on their platform, which fortunately we are for Buy Buy Baby and Target these days, but you have to, often, it’s kind of pay for play to get on those registries and to be able to be more known and seen. That, as a small startup, we just don’t have that kind of cash.
We’ve been, again, utilizing more social media tactics doing kind of, there are often baby shows that crop up for parents in various big cities. Both parents will go to those to kind of scope out the baby products while their pregnant or when they’ve got a new baby, they check out new products that they might not have known about, so we really optimize on going to those as well.
But getting on a registry these days, one of the great things for us is a list called the Babylist. They allow for registries on … Essentially, you can set up a registry there, but shop at any other independent website. That’s been really helpful for us, and then of course, the thousand pound elephant in the room is Amazon. They’re kind of the fasting growing registry these days, and so we love to take advantage of linking our Amazon through our Shopify. It makes it really easy for us to, we pull in the orders directly from Amazon. They come right into Shopify, and we can just deal with everything in Shopify. All of our information goes straight to our, from our warehouse from Shopify.
So being on Amazon is another crucial piece for our business, but we do it through Shopify in a way. We find Shopify to be a much better system for us to manage all those orders and to manage those customers.
Felix: Got it. You mentioned that they are, it sounds like there are two types of registries out there. There’s the organic ones that are created by customers, by soon-to-be parents in this case, and then also these pay-for-play registries. Can you talk about those specifically? What are these pay-for-play type of registries?
Melissa: We haven’t dove too much into that, so I can’t speak that much to it, to be honest, but I will say that I know for Target, when a parent registers with them, they often either receive in the mail or receive in store a booklet that has suggested items or potential marketing information for the parents to look at different products. To be on something like that would be great because you’re getting in front of every single person that’s signing up on a registry for, let’s say Target. But you have to actually pay Target to be in … Excuse me, to be in those guides. That can be very costly for a company like ours. We’re not just talking a couple of thousands dollars. We’re talking tens of thousands of dollars each year. It’s just not something that we have at this stage, so we’re trying to find more of the organic ways to be in front of those customers. Banner ads or social media referrals that are actually driving customers either to our site or to support our channel partners like Target because we’re on Target.com.
Felix: Got it. Now, when you are focused on driving the organic registries, are these banner ads and social media content, is it saying things like, “Add this to your registry,” or do you just focus on driving them to the product and getting them potentially to buy there, or do you try to get into that intermediary, I guess step of just getting them to add it to their wish list?
Melissa: We actually try to just refer them to the website to learn about our product and to convert them that way. We have better margins on our website or on Shopify because we use Shopify, of course. So yeah, we have the best margins there, so we do drive them there.
We do find that once a customer knows about our product, it is a pretty easy step for them to want to add it to a registry. So they learn about us through other things or keeping, presented to them on their social media channels via ads and things like that.
Once a customers signs up on our website, we’ll include them on our email list, and then of course, they’re getting updates. We’re providing content to them. As a nurse, I’m providing various, like a Facebook Live video to teach them about how to calm their baby or what to expect with their first diapers or how to swaddle a baby, and then we send those out in an email blast so that we’re also educating customers. That usually keeps them engaged with us and our platform and obviously keeps our product in their mind so that they’re very likely to add it to their registry and thus covert.
At the end of the day, either when somebody buys it for them or, like I said, when they’re realizing how difficult it is on those sleepless nights, and they, it’s 3:00 in the morning and … We get quite a few orders actually, probably more than most Shopify stores at 3:00 in the morning.
Felix: I bet. Very busy customers, it sounds like, which means probably a longer sales cycle, which means more touchpoints that you need to be in front of them so they keep you top of mind. Based on all your entire funnel, what do you think is the most important piece of that funnel? What have you found to be the highest converting or the most important piece that [inaudible 00:12:13] out would have pretty large impact on your funnel?
Melissa: Interestingly enough, I mean I mentioned this a few times already is social media. It’s especially Facebook. When you look at demographics, a lot of moms spend time on Facebook. They’re actually either Facebook or Instagram, but those are kind of the main channels as opposed to like SnapChat is a different type of social media that we don’t engage with customers on because it’s not a lot of moms. It’s more for the younger set. I’m not saying no moms that we experience are on SnapChat, but it’s not something that we found to be worth our while to be on that platform, but especially Facebook and some other things, if that were to be knocked out, taking advantage, like I said, a Facebook Lives where we provide content, and we provide customers engagement. We just provide good content for them to learn about because if they’re learning about how to swaddle a baby, they’re going to think about us or think about the product when they’re swaddling that baby and then just the swaddling does work. I would definitely say that Facebook is kind of our biggest thing. Having the customers to be out there and engage with our brand in that way.
We also have been taking advantage of online influencers. Initially, it didn’t necessarily take off as expected, but then we were fortunate enough to air on Shark Tank. That kind of boosted our brand and boosted our know how. Instead of getting in front of influencers who then were suddenly more interested in our product. It was a great product before, but it gets stuck in an inbox, and so we ended up restarting that program. Now, we’ve got more blogger involvement and folks who are also just …
We have guest bloggers. Mom and fathers kind of come on our Facebook channel as well. We end up kind of using some nice cross promotions between us. Those, I would definitely say that Facebook and Instagram.
We do a lot of giveaways as well with other brands. That’s another great way for us to build our list because folks have to … If you want to win the various products, you have to sign up with our email, and then we can take advantage of, continuing to market to the folks who haven’t necessarily won, and we’ll often follow up with coupons. “Hey, sorry you didn’t win, but here’s a coupon for you.”
I would say that those, and Facebook is one of those, Facebook and Instagram are those two channels, but Facebook primarily where we’re seeing a lot more engagement, a lot more moms coming to engage with the product as well as signing up for those free giveaways and things like that.
Felix: You said a lot of great things there. Lots of great valuable information. You gave away a lot of that. I want to dive into each one of these. You mentioned first, which I think is most interesting is Facebook Live. I think that it’s great that you’re out there and representing your company and being the face of your business and talking directly to your customers. Where did this idea come from? How did you get motivated into [inaudible 00:15:19] a live video of yourself?
Melissa: I have an amazing team that I work with. It came from one of our social media gurus on the team that was like, “Hey, Facebook Live is really taking off. We should try to take advantage of this. Especially being a nurse, we should try to really promote that content because you’re an expert in a lot of different things, and so we can get in front of our customers and provide them with good content.” We also, like I said, we tried it, and that’s what we saw. We started with kind of the basics. The product is based on the five S’s, which is a very famous … It’s by Harvey … It was a famous theory-
Felix: Happiest baby on the block or something?
Melissa: Exactly. Yeah, happiest baby on the block, and so I knew those. I had taken a special crying specialist course since I was very adept in those. We stared with the Facebook Center Live. Each week, I did one overview the first week of what the five S’s were, and then I did each one, swaddling one week, and then swaying another week, which is the constant motion piece and kind of talking about it. It’s great because you can provide really great content, and then you can at least, especially on those topics, you can end up working the product right into.
And then we ended up finding sleep consultants and other doulas. In the space, doulas are kind of trained non-medical professionals that help with births. We’ve had some other experts kind of come on and provide really great content for our users.
It has been a really great way, like we end up seeing people pop on for, it comes on their feed, and they join us on the video. We’re getting them to engage by saying, “Hey, let us know where you’re joining in from.” We’ve actually had customers or people on our channel … I had a cold one week, and somebody sent me some cold remedies. They followed up after and emailed and said, “Wanted to let you know that with your colds, you could try to use different homeopathic remedies.”
A lot of times, we get people who chime in for the first time. Even though the topic isn’t necessarily about our product, they end up asking several questions about the product, and it’s great because then everyone else who’s watching can hear kind of a little bit about our pitch and our product from me. I try to have the product handy on the videos.
As a nurse, I am not a mother. A lot of my team members are mothers and moms, but I don’t often have a real baby on hand for these live videos, so I have a nice baby doll that’s weighted that kind of acts like a doll that we use at shows. So I bring … I think the baby needs a name, but I guess him or her out and kind of demo various things.
A few weeks ago, we did something on diapers. I’m going to follow up with a part two coming up shortly. We find that we get a ton of engagement, lots of hearts and shares and things like that.
We also did a really creative thing. We’re definitely going to take advantage of that in the future is Facebook Live giveaways. We had folks tune in, and we were talking about our [inaudible 00:18:21] free products. It was right before Christmas. That was just … I mean we had crazy engagement on that one. It was awesome to be able to promotes. Of course, we got involved with other brands, so then they shared our lives after the fact too with their channels. It was a just a phenomenal idea. We’re going to do that into the future.
Felix: I’m certainly going to have to follow you on Facebook right after this podcast. When you are ready to go live, I think this is pretty daunting, I guess channel for a lot of people because a lot of entrepreneurs out there like the idea of online business because you can kind of just run your entire business without never seeing your customers, right? But you’re getting out there. You’re presenting a lot of great content. You’re ready to go live for the time. Do you just push a button, and you’re live, or what kind of prep do you like to do maybe early on or these days?
Melissa: My team, we all work together. I have a blog prepped beforehand so that the blog corresponds to … The blog actually helps me get prepped for the live, so I know that I’ve got just the right amount of content. We don’t want to overload people. Sometimes, I’ll pick a particular topic, and it’ll end up being like an eight-page … the equivalent of an eight-page Word document blog. We’re like, “Okay, we got to scale that back because when I talk about it, it’s going to be an hour plus.” That’s a challenge for moms.
Baby might be crying, or you’re just going to get distracted and that, so we try to keep it shorter and sweeter to that effect, and so we have a blog prepped in advance. Then, we do a little bit of prep announcing the event with a photo and a description. Then, when I do go live, yeah, it’s a matter of, I have the Facebook, the business app. Facebook, it’s Pages on my phone. I click into there. One of the things right under our cover photo is live. I click on that. Type in the topic that I’m going to be discussing. I hit live, and you just wait for … It gives you kind of a countdown, and then you get started.
Certainly, there’s different techniques within that, but fortunately, I guess that I have some social gurus now on my team who have taught me all the tips and tricks.
The cool thing about Facebook Live is that people want to engage with you. They want to know the face behind the brand. They love it when you are like, “Where are you tuning in from?” And you say their name, and then you follow … They show up the next week, and you follow up with them. You kind of get to know them. That really makes them think twice about your brand in good and positive ways. You just want to be real and honest with them. Let them see you and see kind of your home and see the face behind the business. It’s been a really great tool for us.
I’m not camera shy, but even some of our team members who are camera shy, they actually ended up … like I said, for that giveaway, we had one of our other team members who hates cameras and interviews and press and anything like that, she participated with one of other moms on the team, and they crushed it. They knocked it out of the park because you kind of forget you’re talking to a camera. You’re talking to people. People’s names are popping up. They’re asking you questions. You’re like, “Hey, Carla. Thanks for tuning in.”
Really, is it, yeah, you’re nervous at first. I would definitely say the first Facebook Live, you feel like you’re super nervous, but you kind of get into a nice groove about it. After the first few, it’s old hat. It’s really nice to kind of talk to your customers and understand because you also get a lot of insight on what type of messaging is working for you and what isn’t, right? If you constantly say one thing about your product and your customers are engaging with that and they’re still showing up on Facebook Live to ask you the same questions over and over, you’re obviously not getting the message across the same way you think you are. So it’s a great way to really, in a way, close that gap and have a face-to-face conversation [crosstalk 00:22:23]
Felix: It’s like this instant feedback that you can take right away. There’s a loop that you created. Can you think of any examples off the top of your head that you’ve been able to close the particular gap in the messaging?
Melissa: Yeah, I would definitely say … To be fair, we’re still trying to close the gap. It’s one of those, you think you’ve closed it, and then you’re like, “Oh, I forgot about that email campaign,” or, “I forgot about that old blog post,” and you kind of have to go back and edit.
One of the things that we’re really trying to close the gap on these days is the difference between our product. We have two sizes. We have a large mat that is more for sleep settings, so it’s for cribs, bassinets, Pack ’n Plays, activity mats. I mean certainly, it’s still very portable. Roll it up, toss it in a diaper bag and go, but it is bigger, and it’s more … When parents get that size, they understand baby is supposed to lay on it, right, because it’s sized that way. But they think large, and they think it’s going to be larger than it really is, and so we’re trying to really close the gap on how big that is. The lives have helped with that because it is that live video. They’re seeing the baby doll. They’re seeing it next to me, live and in real time. They’re understanding how baby fits on it versus the small, which is much smaller.
We’re likely going to go in the direction of kind of even marketing it completely different in the sense of like changing its name and considering it an accessory as opposed to the actual product. But that’s a little ways a way because we have to change all our packaging and things like that.
In that sense, though, the small size is, it’s much smaller. It’s the size of a sheet of paper, essentially. It’s 8 by 11. It doesn’t really fit an entire baby on it. It can be used though in a car seat. It’s much more flexible in that sense. It’s just a better size for that. You can use it, you strap the baby in and place it on top of the baby, so if you’re driving around and the car stops moving and baby wants to wake up, they’re not going to because they’re going to have that consistency of using the mat.
You can also use it in baby carriers, which is a big thing these days, baby wearing. That’s something that we’re trying to close the gap on in educating the customers that there’s very … It’s very specific on which size you want, right? Most people purchase the large because of its size, versus if you’ve got a kid, there are kids like this out there who are what are called car seat screamers who just, the minute their butt hits the car seat, they just scream at the top of their lungs and hate it. Those parents are the ones who love our product for that. It ends up calming them and making four instead of a five-hour long car ride with crying the entire five hours. Or the baby wears out. They’re letting them know that our product is another kind of nice combination with the actual wearing to keep baby calm.
We’re trying to close that gap in educating those customers on those differences. I think we found that out through lives and through actually engaging with the customers and understanding how they engage with our content.
Felix: Now, to get this kind of messaging out to as many potential customers as possible, what kind of promotion do you try to get in before going live? Is there a good way to announce that you’re going to go on Facebook Live soon?
Melissa: Yes. You create an event on Facebook. I know most people have created events for parties and friends and things like that. So you create an event. We’ll also post maybe a few times on Facebook or Instagram as well because you just post a photo that has a [inaudible 00:26:05] and a little blurb, and then we may or may not push it out to our listserv as well and let people know that we’re going to be live on Facebook. We’re kind of engaging with people across multiple platforms.
Maybe we haven’t seen Grandma Jo. She might’ve purchased the product, she might not have, but she’s on our mailing list, and she … There are some grandmas who are tuning in and loving our product. I will certainly say there’s plenty who aren’t, and that’s fine too.
Felix: Now, do you wait for like quorum or like how many people do you wait to join before you get started?
Melissa: Oh, you just get started. For Facebook Live, you just go. I would say it depends on the particular topic. We’ve had anywhere from 10–20 active users, upwards of 50–75. Obviously, when you’re new to starting a Facebook Live, it might be lower and again, depending on the content, the topic. You’re learning what your customers actually want to hear about versus what they don’t. Yeah, so I would say, and you’re trying to grow that every time, and so the more people you have tune in, the more … Or the more relevant it is to your customers, Facebook is going to kind of prioritize that content. It’ll show up on people’s feeds.
Felix: Got it.
Melissa: No, you just start it. Certainly, you can wait. What you would do is be like, “Hey.” You kind of introduce yourself. You say, “If you can hear me, give me a heart or a like.” You’re kind of doing this little basic kind of prep stuff that is engaging with them, and also the more they like or give a heart or anything like that, that’s increasing your engagement as well.
Felix: [crosstalk 00:27:46]
Melissa: That’s getting in front of more customers. You can do things like that at the beginning, but you do kind of just dive in.
And then throughout the live, you’re actually reminding people, you’re asking questions to engage with them, so you’re getting more comments. Again, that’s popping that up higher on other customer’s feeds then, so that more people may join. You’re asking them to share it. “Hey, if what I said was interesting or if you’ve learned anything, don forget to share. Even if you’re tuning in afterwards, don’t forget to leave us a question. We always check back and answer questions.” Things like that to continue the engagement, which continues to snowball that ability.
Felix: I really like that idea of telling them that, “Hey, still leave a comment even if you’re watching this later,” because you’re going to check in again and answer questions anyway because I think that’s one of the, sometimes downfalls of these live videos is that once it’s done, it’s kind of dead, right? No one’s, for the most part, people assume that if the content is done, there’s no more engagement, but you really help extend that life of the video by letting people know they could still interact with the video and you’re going to come back in and still engage with them.
Melissa: Yeah. It’s important too, right? Because if you’ve touched on a particular topic, and you know, I talked about with diapers, I talked about circumcision and circumcision care. If a customer has any questions about that, if you just kind of leave it hanging, that’s not really a great way to engage with a potential customer. The more positive touchpoints they have, the more positive they’re going to think about you think about purchasing your product.
Felix: What about things like time of day? Have you found a good time, or I guess I’ll ask that first, and then a second part of that is do you keep that time consistent each week or however frequently you do the lives?
Melissa: What we ended up doing was finding when we had the most engagement in general on Facebook and kind of looking to see what … We were toying with when our posts would go, right? We tried some 3:00 a.m. posts. We would try 9:00 a.m., 3:00 p.m., etc. The various days of week. We found that Thursdays in the afternoon, so we do … It’s the afternoon on the East Coast, so it’s noon. It’s every Thursday at noon.
On occasion, we do have to skip a week because I’m traveling, and I can’t do it, or our guest drops out at the last minute because they’re sick or something like that, but we do try to keep it very consistent. We try to keep it at Thursdays at noon.
That being said, of course, I know this coming week, we will not have one. That’s because I’m traveling and nobody else could cover or fill in. But yeah, so we do try to keep it consistent. We try not to have gaps. We do try to have kind of multi-part series, so that folks …
That’s another way that you can do it. Like if you do Diapers Part One, folks are going to tune in, and then when you do Diapers Part Two, you could tell them, “Don’t forget.” Tune in for Diapers Part Two, so then you’re getting engagement across different days. And then similarly when you’re on the second part of that, you can be like, “Hey, just so you know, we’re talking about this today, but if you want to know more about x, y, and z, it was on the first part. We’re going to leave the link here,” and so then, you’re cross engaging even within post.
Felix: Having that continuity between all of the videos, I think, that’s a great way to get people to kind of binge watch a lot of what you put out there. Is there a particular length that seems to work well for these videos?
Melissa: Yeah. I would say if we can keep it, 30–45 minutes tends to be the best time for us. Occasionally, we do go longer than that, but anywhere in the 30–45 minute range. That would include question and answer, so we always provide the content, and then the Q&A kind of extends it or depending on how many questions there are out there in the audience.
Felix: You mentioned that some content it sounds like works really well for Facebook Live. Have you found that some content, it should be better suited for a written blog versus live? What have you found in terms of noticing or identifying what’s going to be a good topic for a Facebook Live?
Melissa: Yeah, I mean I think I would say anything that’s educational. We have because of the benefit of me being a nurse, I would have the tendency to see the highest engagement on those because those are things … Parents can become self-conscious about calling the pediatrician every two seconds, even though that’s, the pediatricians expect it from new parents. They appreciate that there’s additional ways to learn about things, and then they get to engage with experts and ask questions, right?
That’s something that has kind of been the best for us. But certainly, despite the topic, we try to provide a blog to go with the live, and then we link the live to the blog and vice versa, so again, you’re getting people across content. So grandma might know how to get to your website, might’ve read your blog, but she hasn’t actually seen your Facebook Live ,and then she can click right to that video after the fact.
But I mean I will say depending on the topic, like for the diapers one, I actually tried to make thick diapers that looked like actual things that you were talking about. The meconium, first baby poop and things like that, so I was actually make … it’s a very visual. We got a lot of positive feedback, but seeing the visual was really helpful for folks as opposed to just being it in a blog where if you did a visual, it’d be more pictures than anything else. For us, it’s been good. We try to have both together, but I will certainly say that the lives have a tendency to be better when they’re … to be on the Facebook Live-
Felix: For educational.
Melissa: Yeah. Yeah, to do the educational content.
Felix: Now, you mentioned too though that sometimes, there are others that are tuning in other than Nurse Melissa. Are these the people that work at the business or are they partners or content partners of yours? For Facebook Live.
Melissa: Who tune in to watch a video?
Felix: No, I think you mentioned that sometimes there are other folks there are running the Facebook Live or that provide content.
Melissa: Got it. Yeah, so we actually allow them right onto our platform. We just make them a user on Facebook’s backend so that they’re able to-
Felix: I see.
Melissa: … be on their phone for the day of the week, to be able to click live on pages for us through that. And then on occasion, there is a split screen option. I’m not terribly sure how that works, so you could have somebody almost like Skype with them almost. You’ll see a split screen, and so we’re hosting and asking them questions, and then they’re answering, but we’re in two different locations.
That doesn’t have a tendency to work so well. Something about that split screen option, Facebook kind of doesn’t promote that as well. But it is an option for us. I would say if people host for us, we either provide them the option, or in the case, like I said, one of my colleagues who is not … We had two moms on our team who did our giveaway. They were doing it for us, and they work remotely. We’re located out of Boston, but they live in New Rochester, New York, and so they were filming from there that days.
Felix: I think you mentioned that you just started with the giveaways at least on Facebook Live. Can you say a little bit more about that? How is it set up? How is it promoted? What was required for someone to participate in the Facebook Live giveaway?
Melissa: I believe they had to … See, I don’t run these. I could be wrong, and I apologize for that, but I believe they had to like our page and leave a comment about why they wanted to win. They might’ve even had to tag a friend in the link to, a friend who might need the product or something like that. But those are various ways. Regardless of that, if that’s not how we set up that particular giveaway, those are ways that we have done in the past to increase engagement in general in giveaways.
Felix: And then, when it comes to Facebook Live, do they have to tune in to hear the winner? How is that component of it tied in?
Melissa: For this particular one, they did not have to tune in. I mean they had to engage with the video at some point, ideally in the live setting, but they had to engage with it before a certain kind of cutoff, and then we announced the winner, I believe by email. And then that’s when we follow up with a, “Hey, here’s the winner,” and then, “Sorry you didn’t win, but here’s a coupon,” has been a great followup for us.
Now that I’m thinking about it, they probably not only had to like, but they had to actually enter their email because that’s another just way for us to grow our list and to be able to re-market or target these folks as well.
And then what we have thought about and we may not may not do in the future but about actually announcing the winner live. You tune in for one live, you engage with the content, but then you have to come back for the second live to be the winner or to hear who the winner is. We haven’t done that yet. But we know that every quarter, we’re going to be doing giveaways on Facebook Live.
Our first last quarter was our first, so December right before Christmas. We’ll do another one in the next month or two.
Felix: And you’re partnering with other companies too to create some kind of bundle for these giveaways. How do you identify which companies to work with?
Melissa: We work with people who are often compatible with our product in some way. We just did a giveaway with a company that does a type of wrap that’s specifically for the beach. You can take it in the water. You can get it wet. It’s lightweight. We showed photos of how our product works well with theirs.
For the Facebook Live giveaway, we worked with other … It was our favorite sleep products, and so we are a sleep product, and then we used other compatible, non-direct competitor products. We were able to reach out to them and get them to provide one free product, and then they share it, we share it. I think there were four or five different products that we used. There were four or five different companies that were engaged in this particular process, and they’re all sharing the content as well on their channel. That’s, again, increasing your engagement, increasing your customer base, getting new emails from …
If I’m a parent and I recently bought a swaddle blanket but I don’t have the Tranquilo Mat, then it’s a great way to … They’re learning about it through the swaddle blanket. They just bought it on that Facebook page, and then they want to enter to win because they need more sleep and they need the other S’s of the swaying and the sound, so they’re entering, and then we’re getting that information and being able to show them our product.
Felix: Are there specific apps or tools that you rely on to help run these giveaways?
Melissa: Yes. Rafflecopter is certainly the biggest one. We use [Privy 00:38:52] as well to, in general, just boost our subscribers on the website so folks can interact in that way. Yeah, so I mean referral can be, it’s definitely … Sorry, not referral can be. Rafflecopter is the big one. We do use Referral Candy as well to have customers be able to refer family and friends, so, “Hey, I bought a Tranquilo Mat, and if you share this and your friend buys it through the link, we provide you, you’ll get $5 off your next order,” or something like that. But for the actual giveaways, is the Rafflecopter because it’s an easier way to track how many people are engaging. Let’s say you make them go over to Instagram and like you, or they’re coming from the swaddle company’s website and they have to like your page, and so it keeps track of how customers are engaging in an easy way for us.
Felix: Got it. You also mentioned the nother partners you work with or these influencers. What platform do they usually come from? Which social media platform?
Melissa: Instagram has been one of our best, I would say referrers of influencers in that sense. There are a lot of moms out there just creating some really beautiful content. Really cute pictures of their kids. Beautiful photos. A lot of people really enjoy that site, so we’re getting a lot of influencers in that space. We’re also getting some traditional mommy bloggers, but they often also have either a very active Facebook or a very active Instagram. That’s generally how we’re engaging with those particular customers.
Again, like I said, certain platforms just aren’t, like some companies might do well with a LinkedIn. Ours is not that kind of company. We don’t see a lot of customers. We don’t get a lot of referrals through Twitter, but other companies might.
Felix: Yeah, I guess it depends on what platform works best where you look for influencers in that space. Can you say a little bit more about how the, I guess the partnerships or deals work with these influencers? Are they just looking for the product or is there more involved in a deal with an influencer?
Melissa: Yeah, I mean it very much depends on who the influencer is. Because we’re a startup, again, we try not to engage … We just don’t have the cash to engage in pay for play. There are some mommy bloggers and influencers out there who want money, the 100, 200, sometimes 500 bucks just to get a blog post out there or things like that. We really, we try not to do that at all. I don’t think we’ve done that at all in the last year or so just because we’re trying to be scrappy and save our money for the things that we really need to.
And so in those cases, we do provide free product. Again, we try to work with them in other ways. They’ll write a blog for us, and we’ll share it, or vice versa. Essentially, we have a pretty huge following on social media. You’re going to ask me the number, so you’re going to have to give me two seconds to actually look it up, but yeah, we have a pretty good following, and so we also offer essentially like, “Hey, we would love for you to try our product, review our product, and then we’ll share your handle and your information on our platform,” so that they can gain new subscribers as well. That’s a way that we try to work with influencers.
We also do two ways too sometimes with them so that their platform is going to get a free mat if they engage with their particular post or Instagram or what have you.
Felix: I like the idea of being scrappy and not just think about how much or not to resort to paying cash. You can find other ways to help mutually benefit your partners by doing things that help promote them because as they get larger, they can potentially work on bigger deals with other brands as well. There’s certainly a lot of value they can provide that doesn’t just come down to cash.
It sounds like a lot of this ties back to the email list too, right? People that sign up for the giveaway, people that come through the influencers at their website, through Privy and all these others apps you have set up is to drive people too to your email list and in your markets in that way. When a potential customer lands in your email list, are there different emails that you have funnels that you send them through, depending on how they signed up or how intricate does it get?
Melissa: We do have what’s called the welcome series email. That’s obviously, “Welcome to the family.” We follow up with, “In case you missed it,” or, “Here’s some interesting content.” Related to either the mat or calming babies, and so we do have this welcome … I think one of the things on the welcome series is a thank you from me for joining the family, so to speak.
And then once customers have purchased or if they have an abandoned cart where we have a different set of emails for the abandoned cart to remind them. We have them at set intervals for when they’re engaging with … It’s like 24 hours and then 36 hours … There’s certain timeframes. It’s not 36 hours. It’s like three days later, so we’re engaging with them at several touchpoints along an actual abandoned cart segment, so we’re trying to recoup that.
And then once you purchase, there’s also additional emails. We ask them for reviews. That’s another really great way. We use a great app on Shopify for product reviews and add-ons. Essentially they get an email x amount of days after their purchase, asking them to review, and they can attach photos. That’s been a really great thing because that just promotes like when a customer lands on that actual shop page, they can then see all those reviews. That’s part of the post purchase email series. We have several different funnels for them, I would say.
I believe it’s about three to four emails per funnel. I’m really hoping, by the way, that my marketing team is not going to beat me up [inaudible 00:45:14] with all the misinformation that I’ve given out there because they’re just such masterminds with all of this. Certainly, I’m involved in several capacities, but I don’t know the nitty gritty of a lot of those details.
Felix: No worries. It sounds like definitely at least different types of funnels that you send them through depending on what stage they’re at in their purchase, whether it’s before or whether they abandoned a cart, whether they’ve already made a purchase. When you are sending out these emails, do you know how frequently these are going out? Do you try to be conscious of what, I guess cadence works best?
Melissa: Yes. I would say that if you’re on the list, we really try to give maybe one email per … per week. Excuse me. If it’s more than that, it’s only because you’re also in, let’s say the welcome series. If you’ve been welcome to the family already, you’ve abandoned your cart once, and you’ve come back and purchased, so you’re through the post, post purchase, you’ll only see emails from us maybe once a week. They’ll often relate to the lives or the blogs or other content that’s educational for you or the giveaway. There’s other thing for you to engage in, as opposed to just like spamming you like trying to buy the product. If you receive more than maybe one email a week, it’s because you’re within one of the other funnels as well, but we do try to be very conscientious of people’s time.
We do, this is very common in marketing, A/B testing, where you’re looking at, okay, “I’m providing this picture in the email and this subject line. Does that do better or worse than this other one that’s very similar, but instead of ‘calm your crying baby to sleep in seconds,’ it’s ‘stop babies crying in seconds.’” It’s just slightly different copy and maybe one different picture, and you’re seeing which one has a better open rate, which one has better click-through rates and things like that. You’re trying to figure out what your customers and your audience appreciate and kind of what their trends are.
Felix: Is that automated or do you look at the reports afterwards and then decide, “Let’s stick with this subject line,” or, “I’ll stick with this content that seems to work better?”
Melissa: We do use MailChimp, although we … If folks out there have other suggestions, we are looking to possibly change that. So you do the A/B testing. You set it up in their system for the actual email, and then they do send out the A and the B to x number on your list, and then once they determine which one is better, it does automatically send only the remaining folks on your list, the higher opening rate one. So it is kind of an automated … I mean obviously, you have to create the content for both. That’s never going to be automated, but it does kind of market test which content will be better for a certain subset, and then it’ll send out the highest performing to the rest of your list, so that’s been a nice time saver for our team.
Felix: Any other applications or, whether they be Shopify apps or off of Shopify that you rely on to run the business?
Melissa: Yeah. Our company, like I said, we had a few team members who tune in remotely, and so we use Slack to communicate with our team. We also use Trello, which is a cool project management … It’s got different segments of the company, so you can keep track of what everyone’s working on, the various things that are due and due dates. Again, I mentioned MailChimp.
Of course, Shopify. We love Shopify. I will say that I used a different platform before the business, it was formed back in 2015, and for about a year, I struggled on a very different platform, and then we switched to Shopify, and it was like night and day. [inaudible 00:49:15] Shopify.
Like I said, we do, one of the huge things there, there’s a way to tie in, I believe this is directly through Shopify actually. You can just tie in your Amazon store through Shopify. That’s been awesome because like I said, it’s just one easy way … We track our inventory that way. We track our returns through that because everything’s coming in one platform, and we don’t have to kind of look at, “Well, how much do we owe in the sales tax?” But I have to look on Shopify and on Amazon, so it’s a good way to bring that information in one space. Those are the kind of the tools in and outside of Shopify.
And then the apps that we use. I mentioned love the product reviews and add-ons that allows customers to be able to provide photos and reviews pretty instantly through a post-purchase email. Privy is the way that we boost subscribers and get people onto our company list. Referral Candy is something that we used for customers to refer other customers. It gives them a nice discount.
And then we also have a store locator on our website. That’s kind of a newer thing because we’ve started to break into more retail channels, and so as we’re selling to other channels, we want customers to be able to find their local and national retailers for selling our product and be able to … If you have a crying baby and you want a solution, you might not be able to wait the two or three days it takes to … Even with expedited shipping sometimes, [inaudible 00:50:50] the product, so you might want to just go to the local store if it’s a couple of miles down the street. We do use the store locator, which has been very helpful. I know our channel partners really appreciate that.
Felix: Thank you so much for your time, Melissa. TranquiloMat.com is the website. That’s Tranquil with an O. M-A-T.com. Where do you want to see the business go next? What kind of big goals you have for this year?
Melissa: I mean I want to continue to grow the business. We, like I said, we aired on Shark Tank last year and just saw some really tremendous growth. We’ve opened up, like I said, a lot of new retail channels lately, so you’ll start to see our product on stores shelves. Target and Buy Buy Baby, and then a few other partners. I believe Babies R Us may or may not be … We’re looking to expand there. We’re also looking to expand into Canada and some other international channels, so we’re just going to continue to get the word out there to folks about us and get this thing into the stratosphere.
I would definitely say those are the goals, just to continue to grow. Even though we went from a small business to over a million dollars last year in sales, and we want to obviously just keep growing there from there. Let’s shoot for two million or more this year. That’s my goal. Shoot big.
Felix: Awesome. Thank you again so much for your time, Melissa.
Melissa: Thanks, Felix.
Felix: Here’s a sneak peak for what’s in store the next Shopify Masters episode.
Speaker: Again, always to service the customer versus trying to go after a certain customer.
Felix: Thanks for listening to Shopify Masters, the e-commerce marketing podcast for ambitious entrepreneurs. To start your store today, visit Shopify.com/Masters to claim your extended 30-day free trial. Also, for this episode’s show notes, head over to Shopify.com/blog.