S3 E1: Drew Himel (FIRESIDE): Humanizing the customer experience


On this first episode of season 3, we’re joined by Drew Himel, Founder & CEO of FIRESIDE, a marketing services company based in Denver, Colorado, supporting clients across the US and around the world. For some fun stuff to chat about before getting in the thick of things, we talk about biohacking and yoga, then we dive into business strategy such as

  • making ROI positive quickly,
  • the ideal tech stack for ecommerce brands,
  • accurately communicating to your customers when a shipping issue occurs,
  • making sure inputs are correct in google analytics for accurate attribution,
  • decreasing churn & CAC,
  • and humanizing the customer experience.

Be sure to subscribe to our pod to stay up-to-date and checkout Malomo, the leading order tracking platform for Shopify brands.

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This transcript was completed by an automated system, please forgive any grammatical errors.


brands, retention, people, hubspot, clients, shopify, customers, bit, day, pcr, tools, business, week, build, rebrand, focus, customer lifetime value, fireside, big, feel


Drew Himel, Noah Rahimzadeh, Mariah Parsons

Noah Rahimzadeh 00:04

Hey retention pros. I'm Noah Raheem today and I lead partnerships here at Malomo. I'm super pumped to continue to chat with ecosystem experts alongside Mariah, who you all already know and love, say hi, Mariah.

Mariah Parsons 00:16

Hey, everyone, as you probably know, retention Chronicles likes to bring in some of the best retention focused brands in the Shopify ecosystem.

Noah Rahimzadeh 00:24

Well, we don't just feature brands, we also feature some great thought leaders in the Shopify ecosystem that serve brands.

Mariah Parsons 00:31

And because we always want these conversations to be fun, you'll hear us talk with our guests about what they're excited about and what's helped them get to where they are today.

Noah Rahimzadeh 00:39

We hope you'll stick around to learn and laugh with us retention Chronicles

Mariah Parsons 00:43

is sponsored by Malomo a shipment in order tracking platform improving the post purchase experience, be sure to subscribe and check out all of our episodes at go malomo.com.

Noah Rahimzadeh 01:00

Hey, everyone, welcome back to another ecosystem episode of retention Chronicles. Super excited for our guest today. drew him Oh, am I saying that right hemal. Probably should have asked that before. But yeah, Drew is founder and CEO of the PCR agency, which has now fireside so going through a rebrand right now, which is an just an awesome time to have him on and talk through all of the strategies and thoughts behind that and what the rebrand will mean, not just for his current customers, but for the new customers, or the new clients that he's serving, moving forward. But before we get into that, Drew would love to start by how we always do a couple of things that you're excited about in your personal life, and then we'll get to get to talk and shop.

Drew Himel 02:00

Oh, I love it. Um, personal life. So I am a very amateur little biohacker I have a cold plunge infrared sauna, red light therapy, I experiment with everything. And over the last month, I did an elimination diet. So I cut out caffeine, alcohol, sugar, beef, I was just eating essentially like fruits, vegetables, chicken and fish. And so very hard. You realize like how addicted you are to all these, whether it be caffeine or alcohol or sugar. I felt miserable for the first week. And then after that felt unbelievable. And I think that coupled with getting back into yoga, I'm doing 6am yoga in the morning. And yeah, I just feel like a million bucks. Like I just riding high. For sure. So getting through some of the hard parts, but you know, the the discipline and, and everything else has been pretty amazing. So yeah, that's probably what I'm most excited about over the last couple of weeks. Boring and in some ways, but

Noah Rahimzadeh 03:10

I was just gonna say we're gonna have to like, we're not gonna get to talk in shop for a second because I have so many questions. First and foremost, you said it's been about a month right? Yeah. Okay, what's what was the hardest thing to cut out?

Drew Himel 03:24

Coffee? Yeah, I think about six days and my girlfriend and I looked at each other. We're like, we don't know if we can do this anymore. I mean, we felt if you've ever had like a big night out and you're sitting on your couch the next day not wanting to move we had a few days of that without just felt pretty miserable. When your body's like going through this reset. So yeah, I think coffee was by far and away the hardest, but now we've reintroduced coffee so you like slowly reintroduce different foods and see how your stomach reacts and things like that to find food sensitivity. And I'm like, I have a cup of coffee and I'm that's why I'm I'm on one cup of coffee right now. And I'm like wired. I was drinking like three a day and you're just you know, overstimulated and things like that. So yeah, coffee was definitely the hardest.

Noah Rahimzadeh 04:20

Okay, that's that's very interesting. I didn't drink coffee for like a really long time. And then I don't know I don't know what what brought it back. But I think out of necessity I needed I needed more energized hours in my day. I think of all like, I love meat. So that would be everything that you said, I I can't imagine going a month without booze especially in like our line of work where we're always happy hours. And, you know, the work gatherings are oftentimes as big of a party as I'm having with my friends on a weekend. So Yeah, I would imagine that was hard. Did you do any? Did you do any, like conflict work conferences or happy hours that they that you had to, like really be on your best behavior to, to avoid it? No, I

Drew Himel 05:11

Well, I did not this time, but I always so this was like sober October kind of coordinated with that too, which was nice. But I usually do one or two months a year. And last year, I did, or this year, I did March as well. And I was at Expo West, which is for, you know, the big food and beverage, so I couldn't really sample any of the products. And I was going to all the happy hours and events and, and the app stayed strong. I didn't drink, which was challenging. It's a discipline and self control. I like to push myself and see if I can do it. Because I do love, you know, glass of red wine, or Negroni or anything else. But it's, you know, you just want to see if you can, and then once you get in a little bit of a rhythm, I also have this whoop, yeah, it's just been amazing to see. It's like, I think 29 of the last 31 days have had green recovery, where like, you know, that's your heart rate variability, just for your overall health and how much sleep my sleep quality is, like, through the roof. So all those things you realize, like alcohol or other things, the impact that it has. So

Mariah Parsons 06:21

my friends love the watch. Like, they're like, Oh my God, my recovery. Why do you want to know?

Drew Himel 06:30

There's, there's some like public shaming, or shaming, but it's honestly we give everybody on in our company at fireside a free whoop and a subscription stuff like that. Because it's also interesting to where some of my staff is like, I don't know if I want you know, in that I've had like a Tuesday I was like, fair, fair.

Mariah Parsons 06:54

That's really funny. Application of it, though, like everyone at work kind of be like, Oh, how are you like, recovering? Are you stressed all that? Yeah,

Drew Himel 07:02

yeah. I just I love talking about it. i Yeah, we could do a whole podcast on it. So you know, I want to try and give the team that same thing, because I know the impact that it has on me. So

Noah Rahimzadeh 07:13

yeah, that's awesome. I same thing where I like every one of my friends who has a whoop is like the most diehard fan, the biggest advocate. I hope that they have a referral program because if they doubt the job opportunity. Yeah, and then I'm also curious last last thing, and then we can move on I do I do yoga as well. Do you notice like a difference in that because I can definitely notice, like, if I do yoga on a Sunday after a night out, like I'm nowhere near as coordinated, as balanced as like, able to like be in the moment. And so I'm wondering if you've noticed a difference there as well.

Drew Himel 07:57

No, I mean, I so I played basketball my life. And you know, it's just really hard on your body. And I'm 38 and my knees are starting to like break down. I'm getting like elbow issues. And I finally went to a PT like physical therapists, he's like, Well, you can foam roll every single day for like, 30 minutes. I'm like, Man, I gotta be honest with you. The likelihood of me doing that is not very high. It's like well go to yoga three to five days a week and, you know, a month in elbow pain because I'm like, my, my chest and shoulders are more open and flexible. The knee pain is slowly starting to go away. I'm like, I don't want to be 56 years old and not even move. And so. Yeah, that's been and then. Yeah, if I have a luckily, I haven't had a rough night that I because I've been doing the diet along with him. But it would be interesting to see what like alcohol packed on some of the other items too. But

Noah Rahimzadeh 08:51

yeah, yeah, it is. But yeah, I love yoga for all the same reasons. And actually, I I play basketball as well. I do. Oh, cool. I played I played Tuesday night went to yoga Wednesday and like the difference there the recovery time is so much better because like even for me. I used to play like four or five times a week. Now we can only play like twice because I have recovery time that that needs to happen. But

Drew Himel 09:22

my brother tours Achilles that I saw that I I haven't played but I'm actually going out to LA next week because I have a brother who's 17 years younger than me. So he's playing in college. So the whole family's gone. He's got his season opener next week. So go and check that out. So but I used to be able to beat a one on one but now too old and slow.

Mariah Parsons 09:49

making me want to do yoga. I've like gone in and out of phases with it. But I was a rower and so like the recovery period, definitely necessary but like the phone Rolling. He's just saying like 30 minutes phone rolling. I was like,

Drew Himel 10:04

it's so good. But there's nothing. There's nothing I hate it I literally hate it. And so yoga like it's it's the flexibility the mobility, but actually the core strength and the mental aspect. I mean, my girlfriend forever I was like let's go let's go and I'm like no and then I like so a physical therapist had to tell you to do yoga now you're going I'm like

Noah Rahimzadeh 10:29

certain things you know, a doctor might be better suited you know? Then then the girlfriend that's Yeah. But yeah, we I go to the hot room in Indianapolis Mariah and it's it's it's great to have like hit classes that have been jasa they have regular younger. I'm in there all the time.

Drew Himel 10:54

Yeah, my mind's heated too, and they have the heat the room and then they have these fans. And I always like get right next to the fan and pointed at me. I'm like, if I'm gonna be in here, I want to get a sweat. So so. Yeah, so fans may get hotter or it's like a it's a like almost a convection fan. So okay, yeah, pumps out a lot of heat.

Mariah Parsons 11:16

I'm the same way that's why I asked like if I'm if I'm going to be hot and anticipating being hot. I want like the full experience. Oh, yeah.

Noah Rahimzadeh 11:22

There's also like the factor of If I'm going to spend an hour here I want it to be like as effective as Yeah. Most of this time, right?

Drew Himel 11:33

Exactly terrible for those around me because I just have a puddle of sweat all around me. Like sometimes we have to do a certain pose. My leg has to slide off the bat. I'm not good.

Noah Rahimzadeh 11:49

You know? That feeling well. Awesome. That was one of the best openers I think. connections there. Okay, let's let's shift focus. So like I said at the top, you recently rebranded I'd love to start going back even even if it's cool with you drew beyond before PCR and chat a little bit learn a little bit about your career path up until that point, and then we can sort of get into the the rebrand and dive a little bit deeper there.

Drew Himel 12:23

Yeah, no, absolutely. There's not much in the career path. Before I had a internship with the Jacksonville Jaguars, the unfortunately my hometown NFL team that has been pretty much terrible for 20 years.

Noah Rahimzadeh 12:39

The Colts every time we come there, so

Drew Himel 12:42

that's true. So a brief stint there that I went into finance for all like six months, and then just realized I was kind of like unemployable. So I decided to start my own business, taught myself web design, when I was 23. Read SEO for dummies and started an agency. I mean, to call it an agency, it was me working out of my living room couch selling, you know, air conditioning contractors and plumbers like $300 a month to get them on, you know, Google and drive leads back in. Oh, 708. So like, pretty challenging, because I started the business probably at the worst time. But maybe it was the best time to just because it was really hard. And then, yeah, that we were full service doing everything SEO, PPC, social media. And it was 100% Jack of all trades, master of none. And I was miserable. I still remember to this day a client called me on Christmas Eve and was like, if you don't show up to my office right now, I will sue you for all your worth. And I was like, Well, I'm not really worth all that much. It's not that big of a deal. But I had to drive in there. And he proceeded to yell at me for an hour and a half. And it was really hard. But after that, I was like okay, I want to focus more on like the value that we provide and what does that look like versus keyword rankings or traffic? And it was really cool. We came across HubSpot cash 1112 years ago, and I was like this is it. They focus more on like the ROI of efforts and it's more of the owner ecosystem like landing pages lead nurturing. And so we went full throttle with HubSpot. We were their fastest partner to ever reach like platinum status. I think we were one of six 4000 in their ecosystem. I spoke at their conference a bunch of times and it was just a really important shift because instead of selling the air conditioning contractor to do SEO for 500 bucks for like, what is the impact of 20 new customers if we can improve conversion from you know website traffic to sales and lead conversion from leads to customers. And when you start paying that we upsell them to like 10 15,000 a month because they're like, Oh, if you can sell us two more air conditioning units a month, like sign us up. So that was a huge shift for us. And it went really, really well. And then, you know, went from just a small local company to regional, to national, where, you know, we worked with some great accounts, we worked with Major League Baseball, we worked with lifts, we actually helped the Chargers move from San Diego to LA, LA and helped with that. Work with like standing rock, which was a really important campaign around like indigenous rights. And so, you know, it was an important shift for us. And then, about three years ago, we, we were doing a lot of work in the digital space, obviously. And we've never really done much with E commerce, we had a short stint with huckberry and 16 and 17. And they were on CLEVEO. I couldn't even pronounce it. I didn't really know what it was. We did some like basic optimizations for them. And but Dan Gilbert, who owns Quicken Loans and Rocket Mortgage and the Cleveland Cavaliers, we worked with his private equity group, and he owned a entity called fat head, which remember, as a kid, they, so we did a full like almost like transformation for them where they were, like, unprofitable. They were on like a custom EECOM. And that was like our first real foray into EECOM where we got them on Shopify Plus we got them on clay VO and did a complete turnaround. I mean, they were unprofitable. You know, I mean, they had full time people just designing emails, because they couldn't use templates. Like it was just crazy how antiquated it was. And we're like, maybe there's something here. And so we went through the same thing, we made an important decision to go full throttle into the E commerce space. And then right around that time, you know, COVID hit. And so we saw even like further mass adoption. And it just made sense, because everything we focus on is ROI and value. And in the DDC space, like that's the easiest thing to be able to, like track is, you know, how, how effective are your efforts across all these channels? And so, you know, within that we've now completed 60 Plus projects and a few years in that space. And yeah, it's just further you know, kind of enhancing our capability, we're, you know, really what we do at the end of the day is how do you drive higher customer lifetime value and decrease the cost of acquiring those customers. So we do like UX, CRO retention, marketing, you know, SMS email, and then the app ecosystem, you know, there's like 6000 Shopify apps that are out there. We help we, we help the clients figure out which ones are best and consolidate that and, and streamline and to kind of optimize the customer experience to drive more value. So

Noah Rahimzadeh 17:58

that's awesome. I didn't realize the start in the HubSpot in the HubSpot space. So when you when you went down that path, were you mostly working with b2b brands then or was a mix of both.

Drew Himel 18:14

It was a mix of both. We took those aircondition contractors and got them on HubSpot because they had like service industry kind of like technology that was pretty antiquated. So we we were able to customize HubSpot to be a little bit more custom fit for what their business model was. But then we did have a lot of, you know, b2b as well. But even the Chargers we had on HubSpot. A lot of these other you know, much larger brands to like Home Depot, we put on HubSpot, one of their subsidiaries not the main Home Depot. So, yeah, it was it was 5050. So we were we had the strategy and the process and the framework. But yeah, we would have like a b2b client over here, a sports league over there. You know, it's just and so now we exclusively only focus on, you know, digital strategy for people trying to figure out their DC e commerce business model.

Noah Rahimzadeh 19:09

And what I know, you talked about that a little bit, and what I heard was like You What attracted you to e commerce, which is really interesting is like, I think the ability to properly attribute like value based on like, inputs and outputs, and, and, yeah, properly attribute revenue and all of the other things that drive it. Is that right? And is there anything else that sort of made you think this is sort of the future of, of commerce, and it's where I need to be? Yeah,

Drew Himel 19:45

I mean, I think it was, it was very much like fundamental word like, you know, to track. I mean, we even did stuff like restaurant groups and everything else. It's just, it's very difficult to get the ROI. And so for us, it is always around like, what is the value of our efforts? And so, within econ, everything is trackable. If anything, there's like too much data for these brands, heads or tails of what's actually going on and what's effective and what's not. So that was really the main, I would say, catalyst. I did not know that, you know, we would face a global pandemic, and all these other things that people were going to buy more online and things of that nature, I would not give myself any credit towards that. And but it was like, it just made a lot of sense in terms of like the fundamentals. And you know, the shift for us to was like, SEO, it's like, oh, six to nine months, you know, and hopefully, it will get you rankings increase or social media and your deal with like, iOS updates, around performance marketing. So we feel like we kind of get the answers to the test where we could look at how much traffic you have, what's your existing conversion rate? How much revenue is coming from, you know, your ESP and email and SMS programs? What is your customer lifetime value? And then we could say, oh, we feel very confident engage us, we're going to make this ROI positive for you very quickly. So yeah,

Noah Rahimzadeh 21:04

yeah, that makes sense. It's funny, you said that the too much data thing, I was just talking to someone yesterday about a stat that I saw that was like, if you I forget exactly what it was, I'll butcher butcher it probably. But it was like, if you actually added up the attribution from all of your different tools, you'd be like six or seven times more, bringing in six or seven times more revenue than you actually are. So that that's I totally agree, I think that we it's something that we're focused on to actually internally on Malomo is like figuring out how to better attribute like Malomo attributable revenue. And I think that's a hot topic, sort of across the board. So I'd love to get your thoughts on that. And also, you know, when you started and you you put fat head on Shopify and clay VO and you also talked about how you sort of our thought leader and, you know, advisor for your merchants on what tools they should use in the broader Shopify stack. Curious how you think about what tools clients should use, if you have like a preferred stack that you'd like to work with. Or if you sort of take the approach of it's not a one size fits all thing, some tools are better suited for. Some tools are great for for client a and other tools would be great for client B. So I just threw a lot at you. But I think they're also kind of like connected. So bring them all together.

Drew Himel 22:37

Yeah, I mean, I think, you know, to the broader question around the tech stack and app ecosystem, we 100% have a point of view around like what's going to be best and we do factor in, you know, their business model, ease of use, because we don't always say clivia, we've actually on boarded a fair amount on to HubSpot, still, if they need a true CRM, we're kind of platinum partners or both. But we did this big migration with a, he's an author, Dr. Joe Dispenza, and all around like mindfulness and meditation. And, you know, he had events, he had digital merchandise, he had physical merchandise, he had a paid membership club, he had courses, it's very difficult to streamline that data strategy and like user journey, just using Klaviyo. So we use Shopify, within HubSpot to act as like the true CRM to be able to like manage all those inputs in a way that I think CLEVEO is working towards is like a true like, almost like CDP, but they're not quite there. So, you know, within that we have that point of view. And then there is the, I'd say the tech stack typically does look like you know, Shopify with Shopify Plus, you know, email and SMS we do prefer you know, kind of clay VO We love elevar for Google Analytics, like clean up and like tag management. Because we do so much with like conversion rate optimization site speed is a big topic. And people just don't realize they could have like 6070 scripts from like Pinterest tag and this tag like all these different tags, so elevar does server side tagging which is just a fancy way to say like, it doesn't unnecessarily slow down your site and helps you kind of manage that and turn it on and off if you're not advertising on Pinterest, there's no need to have a Pinterest you know, kind of tag on there. So they're great, they're we have a great relationship with them a kendo or tune up for reviews. We love both of those just depending on you know, the sophistication if it's an earlier stage brand you know, I think does a does a really good job. And then you know, no sto for some of our like, more advanced clients that are looking at more personalization search screen First Search. And then yeah, I mean, I think for, for, you know what you guys do and that's how we originally got, you know, the relationship was, you know with mud water, which is a incredible brand where you know, Shane I think is, is so driven by the customer experience and he wants to make sure every touchpoint is a opportunity to, you know, whether it's reintroduced the brand, or, you know, put something else together they've really done, you know, I think, a great job. And so with you guys, like, when they had, you know, the issue, I think more than anything, where, you know, it's what we looked at, from a audit perspective, as they were sending out like eight messages to the client, to the customer before they even received the package. And so we wanted to like streamline that, because it was coming from so many different areas. And so with Klaviyo and Malomo integration, we're able to build more of like, instead of going to a crappy like UPS tracking page, we're able to really utilize that as a as an experience because it is people are like, what is this is it actually mud or like, you know, in all these adaptogens, and I'm used to my coffee, and so you could put you know, videos on there, you could put recipes, and it became one of their top performing flows was just people tracking, you know, the shipping and the notification. So I think, you know, that's going to become more and more important, I think you guys are spot on with like, branded customer experience and taking for awhile was like take the Shopify transactional, that's like just, you know, basic prom, put those into clay VO and now it's like, oh, you know, people check their shipping, tracking fulfillment six, seven times? How do you build that into a branded experience as well. So all those various touch points. So I know it's a lot, but like, those are, you know, I'd say like the core, you know, stack when we're looking at things, and every client is gonna have some unique use cases where they want to run like, you know, you know, advanced like upsell, personalization, maybe it's a ribeye, or wiser, you know, things of that nature, too. So,

Noah Rahimzadeh 27:03

ya know, really appreciate you running through that, I think a lot of times, we don't get like really in the weeds on specific tools. So that's really not just us, but obviously to the audience as well. And a lot of those a lot of those third party apps as well, like we work really closely with. And, you know, I think there's always the idea that you remain somewhat agnostic, because a client might have a need that you, you know, you need to sort of fill in a in a flash, and it might not be the the typical preferred solution, or the one that you integrate best with from our perspective, but we still need to be able that we'll be able to serve that client. So while we certainly have like preferred partners, like it sounds like you do, we also are very agnostic, and sort of an open platform to be able to accommodate whatever the rest of our Merchant stacks look like.

Drew Himel 27:56

Yeah. I think you kind of have to, right? You got to be transparent, agnostic, do what's best for the client. I mean, we unfortunately, we do have clients that are not on Shopify. So we have to work in Bigcommerce, and Magento. And, you know, other tools as well. So you know, we always provide the recommendations. But, you know, it's more challenging for our team, because there's a lot of different technologies and nuance within them. But we ultimately do want to do what's best for the client.

Noah Rahimzadeh 28:21

Right? Exactly. I also love the mud water example, for a very specific reason. I think a lot of times when merchants come to us these days, and this was this required like educating the market. They come to us like, oh, we can turn this we can turn this cost center into a revenue channel. And that is 100% true, but that's almost like the more sophisticated or advanced value that the branded order tracking experience can bring. I think that in like just naturally the first thing that brands should actually be thinking about and that is setting their customers up for success and educating them on what to expect when that package arrives so that they can get the most bang for their buck and get that especially for first time buyers, making sure that they have a great experience with that first. That first purchase is extremely crucial and driving LTV and getting them to retain retaining them for the long term. We're doing a lot of research and writing and talking right now about the idea that like the first purchase is actually absolutely crucial but the second purchase is actually a ton more important in the sense that like no almost no brands are first purchase profitable anymore. Starting an ecommerce brand is difficult. So if you don't drive that second purchase that that first experience is not fantastic. You risk literally losing money on all the on all the inputs that you just put in not just time and resources on everything that you did to drive that person to your site and to get them to convert in the first place. So I love the mud water example that they're educating their customers on what the product is and how they what they should expect when they get it and how to best utilize it. Very similar use case with caraway. Caraway like realized early on that a lot of their new newly acquired customers were literally ruining the pants because they weren't caring for them properly. And so their tracking page experience started by just being here's what to expect when your awesome pants arrive, here's how to cook with them. And here's how to care for them so that they can get most longevity and use out of these. Not cheap, but well worth it. Right. Cooking Utensils and items. So I absolutely love that case. And that that that use case and think that it

Drew Himel 30:49

should bring up what two, I think really important points, one, you know, you want to get ahead of it. So we had a brand and won't mention a few years ago when it was like at the height of COVID and shipping delays and everything else and they kind of they hid behind it, they didn't really mess it and I think he then see the opposite of like a Nike at that time was like, Look, your product is going to be delayed, here's our best estimate. But we don't know. And here's why. And here's you know, and it was so thorough, and that was in the abandoned cart series. And like that, so they were negatively impacting conversion, so that they could because they knew the lifetime value, the customer lifetime value was so important to them, that they were willing to sacrifice a little bit of conversion. So they didn't have where, you know, the the brand that we are working with, like hid behind it, they had to like triple their customer service TAF because they weren't talking about it. So they're answering all these things around like shipping delays. And why is my product on here, because they gave no information or indicator, you know, on the front end. So I think like, over communicating and you know, and really making sure that you Yeah, the Caraway example, the mud waters of the world that I think truly care about their customers, they want to have that experience and enhance it. So they're looking in the long run. And then I think the second part is really why we focus on a lot of this is, you know, there's so many, you know, inputs and data, like we've talked about, where you know, it's really hard, we're Yeah, the cost of acquiring customers is more expensive than it's ever been. And I tell clients this, we help increase conversion, I'm like, I can increase your conversion guaranteed tomorrow, just run a 50% off sale. What is the impact of that going. And so we have to look at, we look at like 30 to 40 metrics that we feel like tell the story, and it's a lot to kind of come through. But it conversion is not the only thing and neither is like percentage of revenue or like CAC, like, unfortunately, you have to look at contribution margin, and you'd have to look at lifetime value and ao V and repeat purchase rate and all these other inputs really be able to tell the story. And I get it I like sympathize with brands like they're like, who is going to do this, like I can't afford to hire full time data analysts just to make, you know, heads or tails of these things. So yeah, those are I just that's what kind of came to my mind as you were riffing on that. I think it's, you know, incredibly relevant for these brands to do both of those things to be able to figure that out.

Noah Rahimzadeh 33:11

100% real quick question before we move on to the to the rebrand because I definitely want to get into that a little bit. Do you use any tool to measure the most important metrics that you that you feel that brands should track and relay that back to them and sort of optimize based on them? Or is that something that you've either come up with on your own and like an Excel sheet? Like, I'm just curious how you how you measure this, because of what we were talking about earlier, right? Your attribution is really hard, just in general across all the 20 apps and and platforms that are that our clients are using? So how do you think about and measure that?

Drew Himel 33:54

It's not an easy answer. For us personally, what we, you know, kind of use is there's a lot of these and I'm sure you guys have seen it, but like, you know, business intelligence, like BI tools, Data Tools, you know, Google Analytics and everything else. So there's, you know, the North beams of the World Data cities, triple oil, that I think are solving, you know, kind of aspects of it that are doing a really good job. I am a advisor and investor in a company called Bright flow that does a little bit more of like predictive cash flow analytics. And then they have like cash that they can tap into across like channels and marketplaces, which is nice. So there's like a plug there. But again, you kind of have to pull it all together. The source of truth for us still is Google Analytics, but you have to like, really understand it for the platform one, and this is what we see. Unfortunately, that's why we recommend elevar a lot of times is they don't even have it set up properly. So they might Facebook is telling them one thing Shopify is telling them another and GA is like, whoa, whoa, like no, both of these aren't actually you know, kind of accurate. So we we make sure that the end puts a right there tracking the right conversions and the right goals. And then we do every recommendation that we make. It is about 40 different kind of like metrics that help support the overall goal clients come to us and say, how do we increase our customer lifetime value? Or, you know, in the case of mud water, how do we decrease churn? Or how do we decrease customer cost of acquisition? So we have those, like overarching goals, but then we feel like there's Yeah, 30 to 40, you know, kind of indicators that are going to help build that, you know, story and really work. But ultimately, it's a little bit of a Excel sheet, Google Analytics, because there's not one tool that does everything, unfortunately for

Noah Rahimzadeh 35:40

Yeah, I'm always curious to hear how people like yourself, think about that measurement. I actually saw a very quick demo of das city this week, because I acted with their partnerships leader in Toronto for unite. And so we had a follow up call. And I'm blown away, honestly, by how much data that they're collecting and the insights they're able to, to collect. I, I haven't I talked to triple Well, early on in my tenure here. There, I didn't get as in the weeds in terms of what they have terms in terms of what their solution is, I'm sure that it's similar in terms of use case. But, and it's not something that's like a super obvious partnership. So we'll see what happens in terms of that. But either way, it was really, really cool to see.

Drew Himel 36:33

Yeah, North beams doing some stuff, I think they're mostly focused on like, paid. And I think they keep adding features to focus on a little bit more like holistically because of the attribution issues and kind of everything else. And yeah, we've on boarded a few different brands on a destiny and been really happy with them. So yeah, it's just it's hard. There's unfortunately, maybe there'll be like mergers or kind of, you know, things of that nature. But right now, I mean, some brands we have have like four or five data tools. And so even I'm like, who's using them, right? actually leveraging this data, and then they're building everything in Tableau or Looker. It's a lot just to kind of make heads or tails of what's actually going on.

Noah Rahimzadeh 37:16

So yeah, absolutely. Cool. So let's let's get into the rebrand a little bit PCI. Now fireside tell us the thought process behind that what sparked the idea to rebrand and what changes, if any, there'll be from a tactical and go to market standpoint. For your clients and for your business?

Drew Himel 37:43

Yeah, so I mean, their original name was you know, what is PCR standpoint was promote, convert, retain, it was like our strategy around like digital, and so we promote your business, we convert them and retain them, we then shifted because we didn't do the Promote anymore, with the evolution of the business and got got a little creative in terms of using our like formula where it was like profit equals conversion plus retention. So we think the best way to impact bottom line, you know, it was a little stretch, but we made it work. And, and luckily, I have a friend who's like a brilliant brand strategist. He's worked with Anheuser Busch to, you know, Nike, like all these big brands, when he was at anomaly and he's like, I just, he's like, I feel a disconnect, like you don't live and breathe, you know, PCR and everything else. And I was like, You're right. He's like, Well, let me help you. And I'm like, Well, I can't afford to pay what you'd probably normally charge fortunately, and he's like, I'll do it for you for free. I was like, that sounds great. So he went through you know, this exercise to dive deep and understand like who we are what we do our values. And you know, he started with this idea around I just feel this like hospitality element what you guys do and how a brand kind of engages in a relationship with their customers and like yes, there's like all these hard cold tools of like, you know, data and technology and everything else but like you're really using all that to unlock like the warmth of a relationship that you know the customer has with the product that customer has with the brand what you have with your clients. I was like exactly like that is so true and he's like what about fireside like, you know, it's like it goes back hundreds of years if not 1000s of years of like inviting strangers by the fire telling stories you know, kind of connecting on a deeper level and a couple days went by and I didn't say anything and then I swear to god I just maybe whenever my head I'm like I got it fireside Are you serious? Like screw up? Like, like, Oh my God. Yeah, sorry. I'm not trying to take credit but

Mariah Parsons 39:57

there's really

Drew Himel 39:59

no Luckily, he had a digital track footprints of what we actually said. And so, yeah, you know that and so, you know, for us, it's not just changing the name. I think it's a lot of it, it is our approach, like we're not we have clients come to us and said, we just need email campaigns and you know, can you and we're not we're our focus really is either high growth digitally native brands like a mud water that just we have all this data, we have all this technology, we have all this but we don't truly want to, we don't understand the customer, you know, kind of relationship and how we can leverage that more fully to do all these amazing things, to actually a lot of businesses that are like non native to the space. So think, you know, old retailers that are on like, maybe a Salesforce commerce cloud that want to get into Shopify and everything else. And, and or figure out, DTC is a more important part of their strategy to authors to media publications. So we've found like a really good niche, we build a strategic framework to leverage all these different things, the data, the tools, the relationship, the communication, to enhance that overall kind of customer experience. And we feel like those are the things that brands need to stand for, in order to weather a lot of what's going on right now. And the, you know, macroeconomic climate and and everything else. That's, that's how you start to think about, like building a moat for the business. So yeah, launched last week. Stoked, and, yeah, the last part I always kind of joke is now I don't have to say, you know, PCR not the COVID test, too. So that's an added bonus. As well, but yeah, it was a lot of fun. It was a great exercise. And I'm just really thankful for, for my buddy, you know, kind of taking us through though.

Noah Rahimzadeh 41:48

Yeah, that's, that's so cool. Do you feel it's it kind of sounds like this was just like the natural evolution? Do you feel like your clients and prospective prospective merchants that you're looking to work with? should expect a different approach from here? Or is it very similar to pre pre rebrand and more of just like, like I said, a natural evolution.

Drew Himel 42:17

I think it's, it's a little natural, but it's very, very intentional, like, I actually did the cliche, like, rented a cabin up in the woods and Blue Ridge and did like, you know, a vision board and like, what I want and what was happening a little bit, we like, fully jumped into E commerce. But then we were just like, uh, you know, just a couple people to do emails for them, or, you know, optimize their website, I'm like, I don't want to do this, I've done this for 15 years, I've never been motivated to, like, I gotta be making millions of dollars and do all this, like, what I really unlock there was like, partnership, and like, you know, and I think we used to do it, where you want us for email, or you want us for the web, or you want like a project, all that went away. And now we really are their digital partner. And we look at these big goals or challenges they're faced with and we build, you know, we do an audit, we build a framework and a roadmap, I'm like, here's what we're going to do to be able to unlock that. That's not going to fit everybody, some people just call us now. And they're like, We need someone just to optimize your email flows, right? Yeah, that's, unfortunately not us, we need to look at the whole ecosystem. Because if we don't have access to like, what customer service is doing, or what the websites doing, and just looking at things in like isolation, I don't feel like we can do right by the client and allows us to, I think, you know, my team is just, there's such like badass is that I feel like it's doing us a disservice to kind of like, come in and do checklist work, like my head of strategy was leading the E commerce strategy for Victoria's Secret for a decade. You know, she's unbelievable. We have a, you know, retention manager that was, you know, managing 2 million contacts in a database and building like crazy flows across app, push, email, SMS. And so we want to tackle tough problems, we want to tackle, you know, kind of complexity. So, all that intentions come out, and I swear, it's like, never really believed in the secret or law of attraction. But we've been so busy. Like, we're, you know, we were only nine people, but we've on boarded like, big accounts, really tough problems. And it just, it's humming, it's feeling really good. So I think, to your to your original question, you know, yes, a little organic but I think we put a line in the sand. I was like, What do I care about? What do I want to build as a team and and I think we're starting to do that and fireside just acted as a as a catalyst to further enhance that answer. Sure. Real quick. Drew,

Mariah Parsons 44:52

how long did that I'm just curious how long did that like rebranding process take?

Drew Himel 44:58

Well, I it there's Even as an entrepreneur, it's you know, everyone says your great strengths or greatest weakness, like I'm never short of ideas. So I've, I've, I'm actually notoriously very bad at naming my you'll laugh at this 15 years ago, my original business name, which is still my legal entity in Florida is Internet success Incorporated. We will make you successful on the internet. So I did that PCR and I was just never really like, you know, PCR worked for a little while, I started a separate consultancy at one point and there's a whole nother I've started an animal pet like CBD company with some like, raise money been bunched up. And I had another company called openness where I was doing consulting, and then I had the agency. So to say it's been in the works for a while it's been in the works for a while, I think it's nice to have it. ladder up to the core focus, I have a business coach, and I think the majority of what he does now is tells me don't do that don't do that don't do that just tells me I can't essentially do anything but focus on growing this business. Really smart. So yeah, you know, I'd say like, gosh, probably five, six years with left and right turns and curveballs, you know, kind of thrown in the mix.

Noah Rahimzadeh 46:20

Like, it's, that's it, it's a great, great idea to have a business coach. Like that, like just just if nothing else than to tell you to, like stay focused on the things that matter. Because I feel I feel that so much that there's so much opportunity, it's really hard, especially in our space, like 5000 apps, like that's 5000 potential partners for maybe 100 competitors at this point, like, it's really hard sometimes to stay focused. And I think that's a great, great lesson as well. And

Drew Himel 46:56

I reread Peter TEALS book zero to one. You know, like, all the time when he was at PayPal is notorious for like, people would come in, that he was managing. And he would give them like one thing to work on, you know, the one thing and then they would come in and they have a problem. He's like, so how does this help support you tackling this? The thing I gave him, he's like, Well, it doesn't, he's like, Mom, I got to talk to you. Like, you don't come to me when you actually have it. So that's like, very helpful. But yeah, the coach has been incredible just to be able to have that. And I, unfortunately, I've employees, I mean, we've been on it for 15 years, it's like, it's digital, my thing, I'm always like, Oh, I got all these shiny objects and everything else. And two of my employees have been with me for a decade plus or lecture, just please, please, please just focus on this opportunity. And I've done that over the last couple of years, and it's paid off, you know, we've, we've grown pretty substantially and, and again, not in headcount, I could care less, it's more in terms of like, overall growth, employee growth, in terms of the team and the development, you know, profitability, other things like that, that just being a little bit more to me than, you know, stroking my ego for, you know, how many people we have and stuff like that.

Noah Rahimzadeh 48:05

Now, that's great to hear. And I, I am shocked to hear that you have are doing all of this with nine employees. But I think to your point, it's like, that just means more growth for them as individuals, rather than for the owner of the agency, what you know, he's just striving to say he's got 100 employees. So

Drew Himel 48:25

yeah, and I love it. I mean, the thing I'm most proud of is, is true. And everyone always points out like culture and everything else. But like, we have an employee that's 22 years old, she's already gotten three promotions in a year, because she's just a badass, and she's growing. And she's developing and there's no like, just oh, okay, one year later, you get your 3% Raise, I'm like, you deserve it, like you are showing that. And I mean, I was shocked, she was 22. She joined us when she was 21. But it doesn't matter. Like she's doing the work and being able to develop that we do a bunch of things. But like, the smaller company wouldn't like we give round trip flights anywhere in the world on Christmas for you know, people that have been with us, even less than a year and we do health insurance, and we do the whoops, and we do all this other stuff. So I like want to keep reinvesting in the team. And again, yeah, I tell everybody in the interview process, like, you don't need to get three people under you to get this next kind of promotion, whatever, I'd rather give it to you versus giving it to us then, you know, a new person coming in. So we're very intentional with like, the team size and things like that, so that we can do more with less. So

Noah Rahimzadeh 49:33

very cool. Very cool. Okay, just a couple minutes left, we we'd be remiss to have the retention Chronicles. Talk about retention. So and I know you've you've mentioned it a couple of times, but let's let's double click for a second here. Tell us what retention means to you in the in the new format of the agency and new approach and What the most important drivers of it. And if you want to sort of take the lens of, you know, what you feel is an area that brands regularly neglect or miss out on when it comes to retention. I think that's sort of a good, good way to frame it.

Drew Himel 50:14

Yeah, I mean, I honestly, it's, it's the catalysts, and we've done it for so long. And for me, I was always like, a lot of people try and, you know, kind of play down like email, and everything else, I'm like, it still drives 30 50% of your total revenue and a lot of cases. And I think it's easier to focus on the sexy, which are like the influencers, or the content or the social media. And so retention, you know, what we really think about, I think a lot of people get lost, and, you know, clicks and opens and everything else, but and you got to realize, like, there's a real person at the other end of this communication, I think they're like, you know, it's the cliche, there's a New York New Yorker cartoon, where it's like, everyone around in a boardroom, they're like, you're telling us, every time we send an email, we make revenue, let's send an email every hour, like, this is great. And, you know, I think for us, like, we want to humanize that experience as much as possible. And I think that just gets lost. And I think it's easy to focus on, you know, all these other things that are external, but like, you don't have your house in order, it does not matter, you know, how effective your paid ads are on Facebook, or how shitty your I don't know, if we can cuss but certainly your product experiences, you're just kind of keep chasing kind of your tail a little bit. And I think that's what's unfortunately happened, we've had brands we've worked with, thought they were going to get that next round of funding for growth, and it disappeared. And so retention to me means that the warmth of that, you know, the customer relationship and building that foundation, from the product, to your website, to your communication, all those things are what is going to be that vote of confidence that the consumer has with your, your brand. And so that's like the 10,000 foot view of these from like our approach, and we really try and we do the qualitative research, you know, the survey midwater does another, you know, give them a plug, like they do an incredible job of like, why did you cancel what is wrong with you know, kind of product, and they do surveys on a regular basis, just to check in, and to see, and shame is very the founder, very passionate about that, which is so cool to see in this day and age. And I think that's why they've, they've grown so much. So you know, I think what we see happen is they're just like, Okay, check a box or two email campaigns this week, that we send out an SMS, do we do you know, whatever it may be, and they just don't map out the journey of the actual customer and understand the friction? Like, you know, have you talked to customer service? Have they answered support tickets to see what's going on? They tried to check out and make a purchase on the product and realize how hard it is like, Have I gotten the product delivered? I just purchased from a clothing brand, purchased two weeks ago, they have not confirmed my email, they have not told me that my order is on the way or when and estimated shipping. I'm like, How are you doing that? This in this day and age? You know, it just doesn't make any sense to me. So, yeah, I think there's a lot obviously, I could talk for days about it. But I think just getting back to like, who are your customers? And what are their challenges? And how are you helping them solve that? And how do you make sure that you reduce that friction as much as possible to you know, that surprise and delight all those things that you kind of hear in the conference you go to, but I just don't think brands are practicing that as a as a fundamental kind of use case for their business.

Noah Rahimzadeh 53:42

Right? Yeah, no, I think you hit on a lot of things that are always top of mind for us some new stuff as well do you with all of the you know, fundamental shifts in the in the market, in our in our specific market, but the broader like world economy as well with privacy changes and you know, GDPR, iOS updates, inflation, all of these factors that go into rising CAC, do you feel that there and also affecting retention of course, as well, especially with the increased competition and new brands popping up every day? Because it's easier for that to happen now than ever before? Do brands need to adjust their retention strategy at all for the future?

Drew Himel 54:30

I think 100% I mean, I think again, the day and age of like acquiring customers on the cheap on Facebook and everything else, it's just gone. And I think if you ever want to look at a playbook and just go through their website experience I was fortunate to like meet these guys and like hear them speak. I don't know if you've seen it but my Avi it's a collagen brand. And you know, they sell to women and their two guys and they they don't hide behind it or trying to do whatever they like they own And they have this like private Facebook group of 10s of 1000s of people they do they have ambassadors where you can get free product for life. They, anytime they're launching a new product, they say, Hey Are there you know, flavors or things and they pull their audience first. And you go through the checkout, everything is like customer obsessed, I've never seen two guys that care more about their customer and meeting them. But like, it's a it's, they do it because they know it's fundamental to the business like giving the free product is like if they're doing referrals and all this other stuff, like that's worth its weight in gold. And I, I just really resonate with that is like a tactic where they still spend the money on tick tock and Facebook and everything else. But like, they know their core customer, because the customer is telling them and they're actually having conversations they do live q&a is I think, once a week, and you can just like anybody on their Facebook group can like, chime in and like what's going on. And they just, you know, so I think it makes acquisition easier if you have the funnel and the retention engine, really, really, really humming. Because then you know, you can put people in that funnel, and then you can convert them, but they're going to stay to your point, you know, it's very difficult to be profitable in that first purchase. And to get the second the third and everything else, you just have to have those. Those fundamentals I think in place, otherwise you're gonna be you know, kind of dead in the water.

Noah Rahimzadeh 56:24

Yeah, we we recently on a podcast talked about retention as an acquisition channel. And I think that's exactly what you're getting on. Like, and I heard basically, in synopsis, I heard community basically, yeah, which is something you know, not only do we love to see our brands do, it's something that we're talking about doing at Malomo, as well as building more intentional community around our offering and reset the retention space as a whole in E commerce. So a lot of similar thoughts there couldn't agree more. Okay, we're at time. Normally, we don't get a full hour, but I knew we would spend a good amount of time up top after that was your good personal news. Close out, Drew, thanks so much for all these awesome insights. You've obviously had an amazing career so far, you've got a team that you're obviously super proud of, and doing big things, what, what do you sort of one or two things that you attribute the success to this point to any advice that you would give for, for people, whether it's in the space or just starting out in their careers or wanting to uplevel their careers, that's helped you get to where you're at today?

Drew Himel 57:35

Yeah, I mean, I think, the most fundamental, like, foundational level, it's people and it's gonna sound like the cliche, you know, kind of talking point, but like, what, when I, you know, took that step back, looked at fireside all this other stuff, it truly was, like, the relationships and it's the, in the people that we work with, you know, I have the fortune, you know, running this company, where it's like, I can choose who we hire, I can choose who we work with as clients. And I think if they're being disrespectful, you know, to my staff, like, that's just, there's no money, you know, worth it. I went through that, you know, the Christmas Eve story and getting yelled at. And I'm like, I'm fortunate now to be a little bit more like matured and progress, but like, I would go back and sacrifice that additional kind of client, or whatever the money is, to be able to do that. And I think what we have built is, it's so amazing when you get all the right people on the bus and are moving in the right direction, where it's, it's the team, and it's this ecosystem, it's our existing team. That's where it starts, you know, kind of first and foremost, and that's hard working for sure. But like, compassion, empathetic, and we just hired someone, you know, a couple of weeks countries, like, I was on zooms were like, you know, in my previous company, where, you know, it was just dead silence, no one talked, no one cared. She was like, You guys talked for like, 10 minutes before even like talk business like you really, like, like each other. And like working within, I don't think that has to be a prerequisite. But like, for me, I'm like, I want to work with people that I enjoy, you know, I've learned stuff from and that are, you know, kind of caring. And then I think the next layer out is the clients and who, you know, are they appreciating the work that we're doing and the value I mean, we we don't want them just to like us for like, and we want to deliver on the results. But you know, that mutual respect, and then I think it's guys like you and you know, the team and people where it's even the vendors in this ecosystem that can be freelancers to, you know, you know, the abs like we the last thing we want to do is have a great relationship with the staff on our team and the client and then we introduce them to a partner, and they're disrespectful or they're, you know, these different things. So I think, I don't know it's definitely long winded, but like for me, the people fuel everything, and I'm very, very constant, you know, conscientious of that, you know, with with the team and I think that has made us successful because of that coming through and every day touch point communication. You know, we do a bunch of stuff we don't have like, nickel and dime of things are out of scope. It's like, we want, you know, a deeper relationship with our, and that's what I even trained my team and account managers of like, build rapport, I mean, and because I did it 15 years ago, because that was a absolutely terrible account manager, because my results were so bad, but like, I was so, so good at rapport and building friendships, and like everything else, we're like, Drew, there's still male dominance, like, I don't really know why we're paying you to do what you do, because the results aren't really like you, we know you're gonna fix it. You know, it's all those little things that I think, you know, kind of come up to have that kind of compassion within the team and things like that, too. And then the last would just be like, the focus, like I think they've all Raava Khan, you know, the fame, kind of like angel investor, and, you know, self, you know, he's like, a little bit of a philosopher around business and our things is like, takes 10 years to build a career and anything in this day and age, just like, you know, millennials and younger, it's like, Oh, my God, I haven't gotten this promotion, or I'm not making a million dollars. And I'm like, You're 24 years old, just like, like, you know, takes a little bit of time to do these. You know, we're our grandparents, Brandon, we're like slogging away for 3040 years in a career. So I think having that patience and looking at, you know, the long term of like, what you're trying to accomplish and give yourself a little bit of grace there.

Noah Rahimzadeh 1:01:25

So yeah, absolutely love both of those. One of my closest advisors just told me like two weeks ago, never forget, like the most underrated thing in your career that you can practice is patience. That sticks like I'm so bad about it. God. It was a great reminder. And this is another good one. And then your point about people. It's why we like it's literally why we start the podcast with personal, why we end it with things that you would recommend to others in terms of growing their career, because all of the stuff in the middle is is it doesn't happen without those two things. We, you know, you think so. Thanks for sharing that drew, really having you on. Thanks for going over with us. And I know that we'll be in touch

Drew Himel 1:02:16

soon. Amazing. Yeah. Thanks so much for having me. I really enjoyed it.

Mariah Parsons 1:02:19

Yeah. Thanks, Joe. Yeah, thank you.