Casey Armstrong, on growing SaaS for eCommerce (lessons from BigCommerce & ShipBob)
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Casey Armstrong, on growing SaaS for eCommerce (lessons from BigCommerce & ShipBob)


– The product is a marketing
tool and it’s a sales tool. And a lot of people don’t do that and that’s ’cause maybe
they’re not thinking about it that way or they don’t have the bandwidth or they don’t think
they have the bandwidth but it’s such a– If you’re driving anybody into the product you need to be thinking
through that experience. – There is no exact playbook for growth. – People wanna keep this secret. – For the most part
companies are successful because they manage to excel
at one or two channels. – I think a lot of times your growth is dictated by the market. – Word of mouth, though important, does not work when you
don’t have any customers. – I’m Dave and get ready to Scale or Die. What’s up, growth nation? Welcome back to Scale or Die, the show where we
uncover proven strategies from SaaS CEOs and growth experts from some of the world’s
fastest-growing startups. I’m your host Dave Rogenmoser
and today we’ve got a special guest, Casey Armstrong here. Casey is the CMO at
ShipBob and the former VP of marketing at BigCommerce. And he’s my new friend,
he bought me a coffee when I moved into Austin
(laughs) a couple months ago. And so, grateful to have you here, man. Thanks for coming on. – Thanks for having me. At 6’3″ I don’t often feel short and then when we met I was like, oh wow. – I didn’t even think you were tall. – Exactly. – I’m 6’8″. Most people that probably are
watching this don’t know that. – I had to get on my tippy-toes. (laughs)
So nice to be here. Thanks for having me.
– Yeah, totally. – This is an awesome space. – Sweet, yeah, yeah, great to have ya. So tell us a bit about
what does ShipBob do? – Yeah, so ShipBob is,
at a very high-level, trying to bring to Amazon-level shipping and fulfillment logistics to e-commerce businesses of all sizes. So whether you’re selling
shipping a few products a month to thousands of products a month, we can bring same, next,
and two-day shipping to e-commerce companies of all sizes. And we have fulfillment centers,
currently five right now. LA, San Francisco,
Dallas, Chicago, New York, and so by using these
distributed fulfillment centers we’re able to provide more cost-effective and faster shipping. Amazon’s really just made
two-day shipping a must-have. Wall Street Journal had an
interesting quip the other day, it was life, liberty,
and two-day shipping. That’s now what we expect. And so we’re really trying
to bring that to people and you don’t need to be
a trillion-dollar business to provide that level of service. You know you can use a business
like ShipBob to provide that and we’ve seen customers,
especially when they show it on their checkout process,
their top of funnels see a 30, 40, 50% increase
in conversions, so. – Very cool. – Yeah, it’s nice to
bring that to the masses. – Very cool. I wanna dive into specifically
one of the funnels. We’ve got a recurring segment of the show called Inside the Funnel. – [Casey] Perfect! – And I wanna talk through,
we’ve chatted before, about a specific funnel that was related to the people that are
using Square, right? – Yeah, we can definitely dive into this. – Sweet. Well I will let you
kind of talk through it, but essentially we’ve got
people that are listening here as well, but essentially
this funnel is Facebook ad that’s kind of specifically for
people who are using Square, goes through to a landing page that’s specific about people
that are using Square. I guess that’s kind of like
offline people, typically, is that right? Like people that are using Square– – Square actually has an
e-commerce solution as well that I think is, they’ve kind
of put on stall for awhile, but yeah, most of the people are using it for the point of sale
solution and selling offline. – Cool, okay, so Facebook
ad to landing page and then into the signup flow. But yeah, just kinda walk us through why you think certain elements work, why this specific funnel
was one that you brought up as a real successful one. – Perfect. Oh yeah, so here we are. Yeah, I don’t know how old this ad is.
– Two years old. This is the most recent one I could find. – Two years old, okay.
– We’ll assume there’s newer ones. – Yeah there are newer ones. ‘Cause let’s just say we tested this and then we would test call-outs of like, maybe stats that customers have. So this looks like a fake customer. But we’d often use a real customer, I think like, what’s her
name, RC something and other. They were a BigCommerce and Square user so we try to test that– – The company that’s using it.
– Call-out stats. It could be whatever, like
181% year over year growth. Just like what would
work better top of funnel then how could we align
that to the landing page. And so let’s just call this the standard Facebook ad.
– And would you grab a lot of people in
this funnel through Facebook or would you also have all
your channels feeding into it? – It depends and I
think we were doing some probably SEM as well and
of course trying to rank for different broad POS e-commerce terms and stuff like that. That we could pull people
in the funnel as well. I just did some interesting
tests on the blog with large CTAs at the top and stuff. So from here yeah, just bring people, and then of course it’s like, I see so many people
that just drive people in and I’ve done this in the past as well and sometimes it’s a bandwidth reason or maybe it’s just an excuse. But people just drive
people to the homepage and– – [Dave] That’s where everyone drives. – What? – Most people I’ve interviewed
here are just driving people to the homepage.
– To the homepage. – And honestly, like we do it, and it is effective, but then you get certain things like this, it really makes sense
to have a landing page. – Yeah, I guess it also depends on yeah, like how much volume are you
even driving so is it worth it? And also, Square was a very strong partner of BigCommerce’s as well and so there’s value there as well, so they see that you’re
kinda going above and beyond and it just helps to develop more rapport because certain partners can be so helpful both in the short term
and in the longterm. And so here of course
it’s 15-day free trial, we did some things here
especially with the free trial, so we test different CTAs of course. And this one’s not center
aligned like I mentioned prior. We have some others that were more center aligned that we would test. And these people were often
not really doing much, if anything, online. And so it’s definitely more of
a small business focus here. There’s nothing mind-blowing
about this page. – This is a really native integration you guys are trying to put this together. – BigCommerce did a lot
of things really well but just like the native integrations with companies like Square
or Amazon or Facebook, just really trying to take those to truly like a world-class experience. – That’s awesome. Okay, so they come, click start
your free trial on this page and they get taken into a
really clean signup flow. I was honestly impressed
as I was looking at this. You just ask for the
email address up front, start your free trial. Which I was thinking, okay, that’s all that they’re gonna ask but then you go to kind of a second form that asks a lot more information. How did you guys think
about this signup flow when they come through?
– Actually if you go back one, what’s interesting here, of course, we’re trying to reduce some
friction to get people. Maybe I was cookied when we were taking some of these screenshots. We actually did quite a bit of testing on having progress bars at the bottom and instead of saying
start your free trial, because you don’t literally start it just by putting in your email, it was like, I can’t remember what it was, like move to next step
or something like that, and actually those changes provided a pretty significant lift. – [Dave] Oh, cool. – And so just it’s just us
being more transparent or– – Or open context for right
where they are in the flow. – Exactly. ‘Cause these people, if
you’re doing e-commerce, not everybody but people are
usually somewhat tech-savvy. And so yeah, this way, how can
we capture your email address and because of GDPR we
couldn’t really email them just off of this alone, but at least we were able
to start the process. – So simple first step,
enter your email address, then move to the next step. And here’s where you’ve
got store name, password, first name, last name, phone
number, what country you’re in and what size is your online business. Why do you ask all this information? – This is really to help the sales team. Whenever you’re testing it’s like, how fast can you get
somebody through the form, versus what is, and this
is a really tough part, what is the necessary
friction you need to create so you’re actually getting quality? ‘Cause if we just ask for
email address and password, we’d probably increase our
signups by, I don’t know, 50%, but it’d be a lot of suboptimal signups. And especially if these
people are truly looking, they’re gonna fill this information out. And again, you gotta
call it pretty quickly. Instead of them just saying hey you, they’re gonna say, hey
Dave, how can I help you? – [Dave] Dave’s Burrito Shop. – Exactly, Dave’s Burrito
Shop, they were hungry. And especially with what is the size, again I don’t know if the
exact drop-downs are there, but you know, it’s– – Just getting started– – It’s probably zero to 50, 50 to 100, and then something, whatever,
10 million or 50 million plus. As that of course would help us route. And sometimes we’re actually
gonna be running soon at ShipBob is the progressive forms which Clearbit’s saying
they can help us with. – Where it auto-fills and
removes certain fields if you already have it maybe. – Exactly. And so we actually tested also, surprised it’s not on here to be honest, but we actually tested
removing country field. And the impact that that had, because we were pulling that
from your IP address anyways, and so those are interesting. – [Dave] ‘Cause that
was auto-filled already. – Yeah, perfect, so there you go. But we were just removing it
’cause it’s like why show it? But and then we use a segment
of BigCommerce as well but then also at ShipBob so it’s like how can we
kind of port this data in any direction that we want just so we can just
continuously be smarter about how we’re using all this data. – Yeah so tell me, so when you’re talking about hiding forms and
auto-filling information and enriching leads with
Clearbit or Datanyze or whatever, what are best practices? How do you think about doing that? – The reason behind it
is mostly you wanna get, for both the marketing
team and the sales team, I guess everybody, is just the most high-quality data as possible. ‘Cause especially if you have a sales team you wanna provide them with all the necessary data they
need to best provide value to the customer once they call. And the reason I phrase
it like that is, I mean, that’s the sales person’s
job is to provide value, not to sell. With the information to show, I guess that depends on each business. Maybe you’ll show these but behind the scenes you’ll be pulling in a lot of other data. So whether it be Clearbit
or something else, it can pull in based
off of the email address that they have, it can
pull in their TechStat or their estimated tech spend. And so we won’t ever show those here because most people would
find that super weird and it doesn’t provide them any value, but we would definitely show
that within the sales force lead or opportunity record for the salesperson to
be able to look through. ‘Cause if they sign up for ShipBob and they’re on Shopify versus BigCommerce, that will definitely
change the conversation. If they use things such as Acalvio or another very well-respected e-commerce tangential solution, that just
helps them kind of be, okay, they’re a little bit more sophisticated or they’re spending a good
amount of money on technology and that kinda changes the game there. – Love it, love that. Okay, then final step here
before they get kicked out into the dashboard is do you
have an existing website, what will you be selling? Kind of industry, I guess,
what you’re asking there. And what best describes how you currently sell your products? Thoughts on this last? Just to get a little bit
of information at the end? – Yeah, just get some more information, help the salespeople. If these people had some more information. They can skip it, this isn’t required. But it’s just some good,
nice to have information. I’d say the most interesting part too that a lot of companies
don’t necessarily do is the next slide. And these are some things
we’ll be testing at ShipBob quite shortly is right when you get here you get your import products from Square. This is what I talked
about at the beginning, the landing page is like,
there’s actually some flows where it does like, it’s
actually pretty slick. Even in the visualization
of the experience and how it can import stuff
from your Square store and this is just import products. And we have this for a
few other integrations and other high-impact opportunities. And so it’s not just straight one-click, but it’s pretty cool where
you can just single sign on and kind of just get everything merged. And just you know how it is, data cleanliness is so important and so any time you can
kind of remove that friction and just make it as clean as
possible is pretty helpful. And it’s just also a good first impression when they’re like, well, is
this the right solution for me? This is at the center of
my e-commerce business. And then to show them this
type of sophistication and ease of use out of the gates, it’s quite helpful.
– Yeah, that’s what I liked about it, I feel like the whole flow felt very specific to a Square user. It felt all very seamless,
you’re into the app and it’s actually like, import products from
Square was right there. It seems seamless and
I think as marketers, you can’t just dump ’em
off into the dashboard and then say your job is done. You gotta get ’em activated. – I think that’s what a lot
of people don’t think through and again I’m very glad
that our CEO at ShipBob actually kicked us off before I joined is building out a true product growth team where they actually have revenue KPIs and they’re trying to create
the most seamless experience in the product. And the product is a marketing
tool and it’s a sales tool and a lot of people don’t do that and that’s ’cause maybe they’re not thinking about it that way or they don’t have the bandwidth or they don’t think
they have the bandwidth, but it’s such a– If you’re driving anybody into the product you need to be thinking
through that experience and again, I don’t know
what the default state cool buzzword is, but if you
send people into this like… With LinkedIn, I haven’t
signed up for that in forever, but if they dumped you
into this empty profile versus asking you a couple
questions along the way, or a lot of people just
pull information from, I think Slack does this, they’ll pull if you use your Gmail address
or your business address, they’ll find profiles
you’ll have elsewhere that at least pull in the picture and your name and some other information. So at least you’re not
throwing them some blank state, what the heck do I do now? – Yeah, well I love that, I
love the whole seamlessness of that flow and how it
kicks them right into importing their products. And I could see how if
you were using Square you’d feel like this
company already knows me and this is built for me. Not like I’m trying to hack
together my situation with BC. So very cool, so I wanna talk
about team here kinda last. I think a lot of people
listening are the single marketer of their team or they got a
small team of three or four. You just moved over to
ShipBob and I think you guys have what, a team of five right now? – Yeah, it’s like five or six marketers. – Five or six marketers. How do you think about building a team? ‘Cause I think a lot of
people listening to this have a couple people on a team and they’re looking to grow that growth marketing organization. So how do you think about
putting together a team? – So fortunately I get to
oversee all partner and biz dev, so that’s like another role and then there’s an inbound sales team which is like five or
six people that currently kinda dotted line in
both marketing and sales. And then I mentioned there’s
a product growth team which at least as of today
doesn’t report in marketing but that definitely
could report in marketing in the not too distant future. And so we know that’s
marketing, that’s biz dev, that’s sales and that’s product. And so those things all, I think
as marketing evolves today, those are four functions and there’s more. They can all roll up into marketing and it would create a very seamless marketing and sales process. And especially a company like ShipBob that has a lot of salespeople. Here it was the current
team members focus on content and SEO, demand
gen, marketing automation, all of the digital channels and I don’t think I’m forgetting anything. And then some of the web dev stuff. Then there’s the product and biz dev team which works very seamlessly with them. The roles that I’m opening, which are I think just went
live yesterday or something, it’s ramping up more people
on the digital front– – What does that mean? – So the paid channels, so
SEM, possibly paid social, something like the CRO work. Or conversion optimization work. And then some partner marketing people. What’s interesting with the ShipBob is the average customer
value is pretty high. And so on a yearly basis it’s
pretty much always at least… It’s pretty close to five figures. And we can have six-figure and up to seven-figure customers per year. And so just the partnerships
can have such a big impact and so it’s both on the technology side, so that’s partnering with
the BigCommerces or Shopifies or ShipStations of the world, and on the agency front, so those are e-commerce-focused
digital agencies, end-to-end e-commerce agencies, maybe design and development agencies. And so anything we can
do with them to help us to provide value to their customer base or potential customer base and vice versa. And so anyways, back to digital, then there’s the partner side, bringing some more people on like the demand gen side helps support. And there I’m being pretty broad but that’s both creating
that demand top of funnel, but then also nurturing it. ‘Cause somebody needs to own
all of the customer marketing, what do you do when people
are in your trial process, what do you do afterwards, what do you do if they
make certain changes, is it the holiday season,
which is when e-commerce stores make 30 to 50% of their sales, so what’s the value we can provide there? There’s win-back stuff,
people that hit their trial and then drop out,
there’s peoples that turn, and so there’s just a
lot of customer marketing that has to happen there. – Do you have any designers or engineers on your team?
– So our designer/developer role is also open. We fortunately have an
amazing one at BigCommerce, he’s still there, who could also do video. He was just next level across the board. Every talent that I
wish I had that I don’t. (laughs)
He played the guitar and stuff and I’m like, I
can’t do any of that stuff. He could probably sing, I don’t know. And so yes, we’re getting that
technical function as well. And then a fast follow will
be another partner marketer that can also do content and then a marketing automation person. This is something I always
look for in people is ’cause sometimes people will
want very specific people, like you are the SEM person
and you are the SEO person, but if you can’t do, you
should be able to knock your channel and maybe
another one out of the park, but if you can’t do a handful of others at least pretty well well, I don’t really see a place for you even in a company like BigCommerce where there’s 40 plus marketers or ShipBob where there’s, let’s say, after with all these open
roles, like 10 to 12 marketers. And then here, again because
I think business development will be so impactful, we’re
opening some channel managers. And what we like with
that is they’re really sitting in between marketing
and product and sales. Because they’re bringing
in those partnerships and then they’re working
with the product team to figure out if or how
different integrations need to be built and then they’re also
needing to help provide sales collateral and
information to these partners and then hand them off to the sales team. And so those are what I’m
focused on most right now. – Love it, love it. All right, man. Well we are wrappin’ it up. We’ve come to the end,
slidin’ into home base. – Perfect. – And we’ve come to the Salty Six. – Awesome. – The Salty Six is my favorite
part of the show here. – Yeah, I thought it was the Wild Turkey but now that I think about it maybe it’s like tequila
shots or something. – Yeah, it’s more tequila-focused. No, it’s not that. – I’m on my way here, quick transit. So when I was walking down the street there was a big sign and it was
free AC with your margarita. And so that’s how they were
trying to get people in– – And that’s the market here.
– Extremely hot Austin. I was like, wow, that is pretty good. (laughs)
So. – Well this doesn’t have any
tequila but maybe after this? – Awesome, let’s go for it.
– That would be nice. So this is six intense,
rapid-fire question. – Okay.
– They aren’t that intense. But for us to get to know
you a little bit better. – Perfect.
– Sound good? All right, so first and
foremost, what do you do for fun? – Well now I have two little
boys, one’s one and one’s four, and so I get to, after trying
to be serious and professional all week or all day, I should say, I get to act like a little kid with them. – Go wrestle. – Exactly, mess around with them, swim in our pool, go on hikes. And then I need to do it more,
but I like to get outside, well I actually do a lot of
this, but get out and hike around Austin and everything. I get to travel quite a bit
and then play basketball and volleyball when I can. – Love it. What’s the best business
conference you’ve ever gone to? – Hm, business conference. So the way I view the
business conferences is, you’re getting longer answers
than you probably wanted, is the most value I’ve
ever seen from those is it’s regardless of business conference it’s how can you get the
most value for yourself or your company. And so something that
I’ve done that I enjoy is the night before a business conference, host a happy hour or something like that. And so that’s just such a
great way to meet people that you’ve always wanted to meet, and so the speakers are
often coming the night before or there’s other cool
people coming to the event, there’s friends of yours that
live in different cities. And what’s happy hour cost? Most of the time people will
just pay for stuff on their own but you spend 100, 200, $1,000
or something on a happy hour, you get 10, 20, 50 people that
you haven’t seen in awhile or have never met before
in a room that’s like– – Perfect.
– The shaking hands and meeting cool people. So regardless of event, I think that’s– – So you bring the hype to whatever conference you’re going to. – Well, I mean, sure, we’ll say that, but I don’t know that’s
the case, but at times it’s a fun thing to do.
– Cool, cool, love it. What podcasts do you listen to? – I’m blanking on what he calls it, Patrick O’Shaughnessy has a great one on finance and investing. I love trying to find things
that are kind of tangential to the world that we live in all the time and he has just some great people. He has the former GM of the Sixers that really brought the
sabermetrics movement out there. And a handful of others
that are just next level. And then I’ve recently
got sucked back into the Bill Simmons world so I listen to his. He’s had some unreal guests. I’m listening to the one he
has with Matt Damon right now. – Yeah, I almost started
that one yesterday. – It’s good. And then there’s one
with Steve Nash prior. They just get into– ‘Cause Bill will say something, and I say Bill as if I know
him, but what’s up, Bill? (laughs) – He watches this. – Yeah, I’m sure he does.
– I think he does. – So as I’m sure Steve Nash does too. He’ll have an opinion and
Steve Nash will say something like no, well, it’s actually like this, and it’s like, okay, well like,
Steve Nash knows everything about the NBA for the past 20 years, so. Okay, that’s pretty awesome. – Yeah, love it. Cool, what book are you reading right now? What’s on your nightstand? – As most people, our brains
are always running all the time and we look at the computer way too much and so I read a lot of fiction
before I try to go to bed. Some of these sound weird,
like espionage books. This guy Ross Thomas and this guy, oh, I’m blanking on his first name. I’ll think of it. McCarry is his last name. He actually used to be a deep cover guy and then he wrote fiction. And then what is– I actually just finished
this book called… Something, what was it called? Something moon, it’s
basically about how the settlers were moving West
and how some of the different Native American tribes really helped stunt that
movement West for quite awhile and so much of it centers around Texas and it’s not that long
ago, maybe 150 years ago, just like how savage we all were. And also it’s interesting
’cause they use concepts like the horse, he writes about
it in the view of like it’s, as technology and how different tribes and different settlers or
people from different countries adapted to the horse and then the gun, different types of guns differently. And so anyways, it’s kind of
a play on technology as well. – Cool, love it, sounds
like an interesting book. – It’s cool.
– It’s moon, something moon? – Something moon, we
can post in the thing. – We’ll put it in the show notes below. You seem like an NBA guy. – Yeah.
– Michael Jordan or LeBron? – Oh jeez. I mean, I was born in the ’80s
so you gotta go to Jordan. I don’t know. Plus you can’t go six
for six in the finals and pick somebody else. Even though LeBron looks pretty good. I’m from Southern California, I’m not just some crazy Lakers fan, but he looks pretty good
in the Lakers jersey so we’ll see.
– He’s definitely good in the Lakers jersey. All right, final question. What’s one person that you’d
invite to a dinner party, dead or alive? – Oh jeez.
– To have an interesting night. Um… I don’t know, that’s a good one. Gosh, I don’t know, I’ll
have to think about that. – Bill Simmons. (laughs) – I randomly met, well, he signed his book of basketball for me. I went to a Clippers game– – How cool.
– And he was signing them over there so that was pretty cool. But I don’t know, probably
someone he’s had on podcasts, not Bill even though he’s
done some cool stuff, so. (laughs) – Beautiful. Okay, well there you have it, folks. Casey, thanks for being on Scale or Die. If people wanna find out
more about what you’re doing where can they find ya? – Yeah, Twitter @CaseyA
or [email protected] Thanks a lot for having me. – You’ve got a pretty
sweet domain name actually. – Fullstackmarketer.com?
– Fullstackmarketer.com. I saw that and thought, that’s kind of a nice marketer domain. – Not too bad. I bought some similar
ones for pretty cheap and somebody offered
like five figures for one and I’m like, okay. I don’t know why he bought it. So there we go, domain name. (laughs) That’s where the money’s at,
not in crypto, domain name. – Next episode, come back
and talk about domain. – Exactly. – Cool, man, thanks for being on. – Thank you. – Yeah, yeah. All right, folks, thanks for watching. We’ll see you at the next episode. (upbeat music)

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