S3 E26: BEST OF SEASON 3: Brands


On this special episode of Malomo’s Retention Chronicles podcast, we’ve taken out some of our favorite Season 3 moments with DTC brands. Listen now to hear what leading ecommerce pros think about:

  • the Shopify ecosystem
  • customer retention and loyalty,
  • transactional emails and SMS,
  • post-purchase strategy,
  • product development,
  • finding your branding,
  • and more!

We highlight our conversations with:

  • Dave Burchett (Founder & CEO of Avance Vinyl),
  • Christina Dorr Drake (Co-Founder & CEO of Willa’s Oat Milk),
  • Nate Hodge (Co-Founder and CEO of Raaka Chocolate),
  • Megan Christian (Social Media Manager at YESCOM USA),
  • Molly Kerrigan, (Director of Retention at Shinesty),
  • Louise Fritjofsson (Founder & CEO of Martie),
  • Steph Hon, (Founder & CEO of Cadence),
  • Pooja Parikh (VP of Planning and Operations at Andie Swim),
  • Stephanie Cohen (Founder of Stephanie Cohen Home),
  • Josh Knopman (VP of Growth & Digital Product at Blueland),
  • Chuck Bowen (Founder & CEO of Mission Mercantile), and
  • Lexi Montee (Vice President of Marketing and Communications at Happiest Baby).

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

Subscribe to Retention Chronicles on Apple Podcasts


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


brand, products, episode, joins, day, ads, subscription, month, purchase, retention, experience, yelp, campaign, post, social, person, founder, people, building, ceo


Molly Kerrigan, Lexi Montee, Dave Burchett, Pooja Parikh, Stephanie Cohen, Mariah Parsons, Nate Hodge, Louise Fritjofsson, Josh Knopman, Megan Christian, Christina Dorr Drake, Stephanie Hon, Chuck Bowen

Mariah Parsons 00:04

Hi there, I'm Mariah Parsons, your host of retention Chronicles, ecommerce brands are starting to shift their strategy to focus on retention in the customer experience. And so we've decided to reach out to top DC brands and dive deeper into their tactics and challenges. But here's the thing, we love going on tangents. And so with our guests, you'll often find us talking about the latest trends, as well as any and all things in the Shopify ecosystem. So go ahead and start that workout or go on that walk and tune in as we chat with the leading minds in the space retention Chronicles 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 other episodes at go malomo.com. episode is our final episode of season three. So today we're going to be highlighting some of our favorite moments with our guests from different DTC brands enjoy. This first highlight is from Dave Burchett, founder and CEO of advanced vinyl from Episode Two.

Dave Burchett 01:23

Another thing that we do is a lot of times, you know, because we're shipping out products that people are crafting with, we're always like, you know, when it when it sends out, we see deliver some email, thank you, you know, we hope you love it pills for feel free to contact Sundback, some images of which made with it, right? What happened was the end product and people love showing off their work. So we get a lot of calls. And a lot of times we'll feature on on our Facebook page or Instagram page, and we'll see you know, these were projects that were made with our product, you know, people can see you, we give shout out to your company. So it's great for them, they get a small bit, you know, whilst you know, like one of our Facebook pages like 20,000 followers, so when we shout out somebody you know. So you know for but you passing along that recognition to the customer goes a long, long way.

Mariah Parsons 02:15

From episode four with Christina Dora Drake, co founder and CEO of Willis oatmilk.

Christina Dorr Drake 02:24

In the early days, we were so precious about how we shot content. And I quickly realized that was completely unsustainable for a small new brand of a tiny team. Right? Yeah. And so now we're constantly coming up with ideas as a team and testing them out and seeing seeing what sticks. One of the things that I think is the coolest about our content is we have had a lot of interns, college students, or people that are, you know, recent grads, and we essentially tell them, like, come up with ideas, we're pretty much open to anything, as long as you know, is in line with our brand values and align with them. And so, we get so many great ideas, both from our fans from our team. And in many ways, I had to in the early days, kind of let go of that piece and put it in the hands of people who were much better at it than I was. Which all honesty wasn't that hard because there's so much better at it.

Mariah Parsons 03:30

It makes it just a little bit easier. Yeah.

Christina Dorr Drake 03:34

Totally, I mean, the videos that they'll shoot, you know, we've had videos that I mean, we don't have the the biggest presence ever, but we'll we'll have a video of you know, iced coffee cubes with Willis poured on top, and it'll get 20,000 Organic views on Instagram. And it's like, that is amazing. It's beautifully shot was someone's iPhone. And it was just an idea somebody had, you know, on our team one day

Mariah Parsons 04:00

Nate Hodge, co founder and CEO of rocket chocolate joins us from Episode Six.

Nate Hodge 04:10

Yeah, no, I mean, it's such a fascinating, you know, it's one of the things that like, are how far we are from our food is one of the things that makes that's like beneficial to the US economy in some ways, but also what makes it like so terrifying to store and to try to like grocery shop without like, having all this anxiety about like, what's in the products that we consume? You know, I mean, it's something that really does feel like distinctly A, if not North American, like definitely distinctly something in the US that is not necessarily true in a lot of other places in the world. Do you know where there's there is more connection to, to your food? So I think that's I mean, that's, that's one of the things that drives me for sure. It's like it's like having this connection to the ingredient.

Mariah Parsons 05:16

Former Social Media Manager at yes calm USA Megan Cristian joins us from Episode Eight.

Megan Christian 05:25

When you're creating a campaign, sometimes it's really hard because you want to think like, and they're going to see parts A, B, and C, and they're going to see them in that order, and follow my thought process and understand. But what I have learned is that so often you're getting one interaction on one post and a completely different interaction on another. So you have to be thinking, not necessarily as what is this campaign? What is the overall vibe, what is the overall message, but it's, it's just as important to have, this post has this message and this purpose. And then the next day, maybe it's the same in the next day, maybe your post is different. And so long story longer. What I found is really focusing on some diversity and trying different flavors of motivations behind each post, and even if they're all going to be encompassed in the same strategy, or in the same campaign, you know, for example, leading up to Valentine's Day, we focused on our products that are health and beauty and fashion kind of theme. So we were looking at makeup cases, we were looking at massage chairs, things like that, that were like you know, it sounds amazing. Delightful. Absolutely. We'll hook you up. But looking specifically at, you know, the theme of the campaign, Valentine's Day gifts, you know, and gallon tines Day gifts, because that's my favorite holiday, right? That too. But each post can't be, um, like a sequential part of one huge painting, because there's a really good chance because of the nature of social media that someone's just going to see parts two and parts F or whatever, they're going to have to be able to pull a story or pull an idea of your brand, from just that one interaction.

Mariah Parsons 07:09

on Episode 10, we're joined by Molly Kerrigan, Director of retention at Shine ISTE.

Molly Kerrigan 07:18

For a post purchase, flow, right, like we have a couple that exists just based on like your what you purchased, right? Like, if you purchase one from us and haven't purchased again and say you just purchased an E comm or you didn't purchase a subscription or a we don't have like a ton of information on you, we're going to drop you into a flow that's kind of going to explain your options, right? Like the first, the first email that's going to come is explaining the benefits of subscription, right, we're going to like hope that they enjoyed their pair, which we have like review requests and stuff like that we do have that type of follow up. But then this is just presenting your options to buy it's like a opportunity to educate, right, we have this large catalog. So like, this is what we think would be best for you. And we usually start with subscription, right, because in our eyes, that's our best deal, it builds the excitement. Next, we're going to move into packs, right? Well, like explain that, like we have this pack options pack builder is pretty great, right, you get that experience, you get to select what you want, you don't have to like you don't have to like get a mix pack, like you get to pick every single pair and just build your pack and the more you add them larger the discount becomes and then we ship it off to you. So that would be like our second option because we believe that is a excellent way for you to purchase through our site. And then if you're just like not feeling it right now, like say you don't want to purchase just yet but like you want to stay engage with our content, we're just going to kind of start like talking to you in a way that's like, we're going to continue to just like entertain you until you're ready to make that purchase. Because everyone's kind of on a different buying cadence, right? Like maybe this was a treat for yourself and you purchased at once maybe it was a gift for somebody and you're not ready to purchase for yourself just yet. That doesn't mean like, Okay, we tried and we're done. We're gonna like move you into like our campaign flows. Or if we see like browsing on site, then we get a little more then we'll get a little more targeted and just kind of like talk to you in a way and like, show you some things that we think you might be interested in.

Mariah Parsons 09:34

On episode 10 We're joined by Molly Kerrigan, Director of retention at Shine ISTE.

Louise Fritjofsson 09:43

Since we're so young, we've had yet fairly few products in store probably five 600 At any given point of time, but it's an exciting time. You'll see now in only two weeks, we're starting to climb up to see 800 products and before end of the year, we will always be around the 1500 mark of products. So the experience will just continue relying more on, you know, good categories on search, it's a huge difference in how you build your E comm. experience when you have 500 products versus 1500. So the experience today, you know, we have many shoppers that users often to come in, and they simply like, go to shop all. And they do all their shopping, because they don't want to miss anything, and they want to see what's in store. And that's just the way for them to just absorb everything. So talk to me in a year, that experience will be, you know, very heavy to just go through everything. And hence, you know, having created an account and for us to like, make sure that we guide you to what you want to see is going to be very important. And I think at that point, the experience on the app versus online will also start being very different because of how we need to guide you and the tools that we have in an app where it's versus online. So we're definitely stepping into a new new space in the coming couple of months where the experience will start shifting to and being being just having to be more personal to your your own interests.

Mariah Parsons 11:08

Steph Hahn, founder and CEO of cadence joins us from Episode 14.

Stephanie Hon 11:17

And then the second part of your question was Why do brands lose that like feeling of loyalty from customers? I think it's because well, probably unpopular opinion. But I think it's it's a compounding impact of decisions made early on. For example, we have been really careful with one investment. We've taken most of our investments from boutique firms, the right folks, and a majority of founders, so people who are invested in building something different. Versus, of course, there are firms out there who and it's their business model, it's truly not negative, but you go into it knowing that these folks want their money back and five years. That's not how that means you cannot make decisions that are going to make an impact seven and a half 910 years down the line. Because that's not what you're building for. You're building for an immediate fast exit. That's not to say that companies cannot, you know, build a great brand and have an incredible business prospect. I mean, not at all, but it's about what the expectation is, is it about having a really successful exit while also making sure you're doing it with the right company at the right time. And with the right investors. I mean, it's all of course, not black and white, but I think brands lose it because you stop doing the thing that's gonna buy that long term experience, right? Like we we are so conscious of that. What is that? Um, you know, at New Years that non alcoholic spirits drink what? Marinelli Martin Ellie's other Yeah, always, for years had a beautiful tin foil wrapper, like a traditional champagne bottle. It's iconic. It's like what makes you feel like you're drinking this non alcoholic? That makes it feel special

Mariah Parsons 13:31

experience. Yeah, it's like it's part of why you want to get honestly.

Stephanie Hon 13:38

Exactly. And they removed it right? Because it costs a little bit more, it's more cents towards your cost of goods. But like what is Bartonella is without that you like that my moment of joy is removed. You know, it's things like that, that brands do when they're so focus on the immediate bottom line that removes the feeling of care that someone would have there are very few brands that I followed from the beginning that I still have heart for now. And it's all because of decisions and reasons like that. To end on a positive note to this. Like brands like Patagonia jewel right because I know that they're constantly investing in being better.

Mariah Parsons 14:23

This next clip is from Episode 16 With Fuji Pareek, VP of Planning and Operations at Andy swim. But in terms of ads, how are you kind of how are you deciding where those dollars are being spent?

Pooja Parikh 14:40

It's a great question and probably one that I have a different answer to every month.

Mariah Parsons 14:46

What's your answer this month?

Pooja Parikh 14:47

Yeah, exactly right now. So I think like there is always going to be a subset like paid social paid search makes up such a vast amount already have our business and paid social in particular. And that's probably going to be the theme with any real. Any DTC business, in this day and age, increasingly starting to diversify, but that's a different conversation. And when you look at the ads and creatives, it's like, especially from an acquisition standpoint, it's the people's first interaction with your brand. So how are we ensuring that we are, it's, it's a little big, it's a tall ask to say, hey, represent our, our entire brand in this small square. And and to be tasked with like how to most effectively do that can be tricky, and it's constantly changing, like I said before, so there's always going to be a subset of ads that, you know, maybe they feature our core suits, which, when we, when we see acquisition, most people are gravitating towards our best sellers, because that's like, what the brand is representing. And it's what they will most comfortably be able to convert on just because like they know what's our best seller? They know it's our core item. Yeah, so your choice for sure. Yeah, exactly. It's a safer choice. And a lot of our strong ads also shows sort of like, here's our best seller, so that they understand what the brand is representing. There's another side of things where it's like, they want to see the campaign, the imagery, the excitement, the sort of like color that we bring to our all of our collections. And we, we always like with these frequent monitors, we always ensure that we're showing these collections and these campaigns in an exciting way, using the photos that we've done through these shoots, and then continuing to test with different things like what types of text overlays are, like, maybe we want to do some sort of grid post and like show multiple images so that people are seeing more since it is their first interaction. How do we show them more angles of a theater? How do how do we show them more suits? Is it a carousel? Is it a video? So there's just like so many iterations of what you can do there. And a huge part of it in terms of advertising. And this has been a huge part of the marketing strategy for years now is like how are you working with like brand partners, ambassadors who really represent your brand? I think like a lot of people will refer to it as influencer marketing, Andy, like, we, we also tap into like our own customer base in terms of like, who we want representing the brand and, and like how they're also, you know, presenting the brand. And, like, whether that's like through our paid channels, or through their own channels, like various ways like that, but really calling it an ambassadorship and representation of the brand. So there's so many different angles that you could take there.

Mariah Parsons 18:24

This next one, we're joined by founder of Stephanie Cohen home Stephanie Cohen herself from Episode 18. I want to go into more of the branding, having a person with the, with the products with the brand. So what was that whole experience like? Because I know your social, like you are the face of obviously your brand. So how how was that like building that out? Was there like friction along the way? I mean, I would call you an influencer. I don't know if you would also call yourself that. But I would. I would nominate you so um, so what what is that process been like just seeing you know, your personality be brought into your brand?

Stephanie Cohen 19:11

Shocking. find myself very uninteresting.

Mariah Parsons 19:15

Oh, stop it. I was like, totally lost in like, your social media. You know, I had to be right. It's part of the job. Yeah.

Stephanie Cohen 19:23

It was the work of many people. So it started off. I don't like taking pictures. It has to be 7000 pictures taken until one day so I don't you know, it's not it's not something I'm so terribly comfortable with. But, and I don't think it's anything special at all in any way. But we would take pictures and then, you know, as a marketing company, they were very insistent and they were like you have to be it's very personal. Like you have to when you're saying like this is nice. You kind of have to be in it and you have to promote it. I'm like, nobody cares. Nobody cares. Look at me just it's my company, but nobody knew that much to see. And they would like not just be in it. So then we would do shots with and without the person. And it was so different. Wow. You know, I feel like also like when you're when I'm looking at something, you get tired of scenery images, you get tired of looking at tables, you look at a table after table after table after table. But then this is Japanese house. And this is the table that can Japanese house or This is Japanese new project. And so then you see the person, it just makes it a little bit more dimensional. And it makes it definitely more relatable.

Mariah Parsons 20:49

From episode 20, Josh nodemon, VP of growth in digital products at Blue land joins retention Chronicles.

Josh Knopman 20:58

Yeah, and I'll say the the other side of the balance, which is really interesting is everyone's really high repeat customer rates. And they want to see, okay, are these cohorts maturing at month three, how many customers have purchased month six, whatever. And all of these other factors affect that. So if you sell more upfront, chances are it's going to take them longer to repeat, but your initial average order value will be higher, same way kind of subscription, it's like, well, you're gonna see more spikes on certain cadences. Like for us three months is our default on that. And so, you know, the technology side is something we're working with one of our partners recharge, who powers our subscription on figuring out, it's something that we're close to, and I think should roll out this quarter. But we've also done other steps such as, you know, several months back eliminated one and two month subscriptions, because the cost of sending that, you know, every month or every two months was was quite significant. And we would much rather send you know, a little more product a little less frequent. And so send enough product, you know, and frequent enough that we're definitely on people's minds, and we're able to fulfill, you know, their refill needs, but also, you know, be cognizant of, you know, when you send so so often as well, the cost is is really astronomical. So yeah, mix of our data systems to identify how big the opportunity is, and then working with our technology partners on on rolling that out.

Mariah Parsons 22:28

Chuck Bowen, founder and CEO of mission mercantile joins us from Episode 22. Is there any, you know, like metric or what's your rationale but behind choosing what is the most important thing is that like, What can I get done the fastest that will have the most benefit or value for our team? Like how do you try and even attempt to measure that?

Chuck Bowen 22:56

That depends someone on what is the outcome you're trying to achieve? Okay, so right now, if all of a sudden my shirt caught on fire, probably the most important thing, but that thing out, pause the podcast, let's let's not, you know, burn myself, that sort of thing. So it really depends on what you're after. So I think that's the first thing to decide on your business is currently at this moment in time, what is most important and I think, I think that so many people get wrapped up into their, you know, three to five year you know, Outlook, which is really important to look at, kind of know where you're going. I'm a big step, Stephen Covey fan. So he says Begin with the end in mind, right? So where am I going to be there? But I think the sometimes the most overlooked thing is what am I going to be needing to be doing to achieve my short term six, six months, six to 12 month goals? So maybe I need to increase my bottom line profit. Okay, or maybe I need to create an expand on my brand awareness.

Mariah Parsons 24:09

From episode 24, we have our last highlight of the day with Lexi Monti, Vice President of Marketing and Communications happiest baby and I was reading some newsletter I think is the raisin bread newsletter done by marketing hire, but Instagram just released something I don't know. Um, I don't know the actual name of it, but in that release, that they're they're starting to let brands use UGC as their ads. And so, you know, I, I, I am a shopper online and use social as you know, that piece of referral or I'll go look at like comments and see what you know, who's experienced what was different products before I buy, and it's so interesting to me that you brought up that testimonials do really well on social and you've seen that. And, to me, especially I don't know, if you're on Tik Tok, I mean, it's the, it's the Gen Z and me, but seeing all the comments that people will have and be like, Oh, this was my experience, this was like, where to buy it, when to get it, blah, blah, blah, all the details that you could think of, it is so powerful if you have that community that is willing to go to bat and say, I really trust this product, because it helped me so much in this very critical time.

Lexi Montee 25:34

Work for You, you know, like taking Reddit and Amazon and all the different things together, and then they do it for you. And what I love about what you said about using UGC as an ad is like, you know, okay, here's an example. You go on Yelp? I don't I don't know, like, is he canceled or whatever happened, but Aziz Ansari had to stand up. And he was like, Was it him? I think it was him. He's like, we're the generation that like Yelp's a taco for 45 minutes before you go, right? And it's true. Like, this is hard. Like, when you're having a baby, you're especially careful, like, what are the ingredients? What is this? Is this good enough? Is it safe, like, there's so little and delicate, and you're so afraid, especially if it's your first time you don't know what you're doing. And so for the generation for like the millennials, who were the first people to have to deal with the internet, the amazingness that came, but also the information overload that comes, you know, if I am the person who maybe looks up not Yelp anymore, but like, infatuation, looks up the food for 45 minutes, like, I don't have the time to give the the good enough level of research for my baby product. And so the other thing that was interesting to me about about being of that generation is like, if, if somebody's on Yelp, or like, especially back in the day, TripAdvisor gave a review, I didn't care what they said, because they didn't have confidence that we had the same personality, or that that person had a discerning palate, right, like for cuisine and had, you know, had enough experience maybe like eating abroad or something. And so I didn't know if I could trust them. With social media, you can tap on the person's profile. And as long as they're public, you can see like, Okay, we vibe, you can figure out geographically where they live, maybe even politically how they might vote and what their morals might be. You look at their aesthetic, and you know, if you vibe, and so then you're like, cool, this person looks good enough. And unfortunately, if you see they have a bigger following, while we do especially now in I think the average consumer has become very savvy over the years. So we know that there's advertising and paid relationships or gifted product, right? On social, so maybe you take it with a grain of salt, but you also know that if they do have that large following Jusepe, you kind of take that as like, okay, they have to tell the truth, because their community will come for them, or will suffer. And so then it kind of verifies the opinion. And so all the heavy lifting is done, and especially, you know, if there's a product you've seen, and all the people you already follow, so rather than it being like random UGC, where you're doing a little digging, like that happens to be influencers you follow that made the ad. You're now just trusting them. And if you're seeing it repeatedly across different handles, you're like, Oh, hell yeah. What is this thing everyone's been doing? Right? We see that with, certainly with SNU