Growth

A Single Button Can Double Your Word-Of-Mouth Performance (with Global E-Commerce Experts)!

Sometimes the solutions are easy - A better UI for better performance.

Andy Hooper from Global E-Commerce Experts and the host of E-Commerce Expander Secrets Podcast in conversation with our CEO, Jay Gibb, discuss the importance of a good user interface and experience to drive word-of-mouth sales is for e-commerce stores today.

Via anecdotal evidence from CloudSponge customers such as Stitch Fix, Just Fab, and many more – discover just how a single button can be critical and game-changing for any e-commerce referral program.

Double the performance of your referral programs in 3 easy steps
Download our DIY Workbook today

Podcast Transcript

Andy Hooper:
Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I’m back. For those that have just come off, we’ve just come off of a live content corner and I’m now back for an even more exciting, I would like to say, E-Commerce Expander Secrets podcast. We’re live on a number of different channels so thank you for joining us wherever you are joining. I’m having absolute havoc with the lighting in this room right now, because we’ve moved, as many of you will know, and the lights we haven’t quite got the blinds and everything sorted, and I’ve got lights, I’ve got everything, but clearly they’re not doing the job.

Anyway, that is absolutely nonsense and not really what we want to hear about because we’ve got a guest whoop, whoop, we’ve got a guest. So Jay, we’ve got Jay joining us today and I’m just going to read out a very, very quick bit about that. But Jay also, before I do that, Jay say hi.

Jay Gibb:
Hello, thanks for having me, Andy.

Andy Hooper:
No problem at all. I’ve got an amazing bit of stuff that I pulled together cause today’s guest, Jay Gibb is a former software engineer and a founder and CEO of business slash company CloudSponge. Together with his team, Jay has helped thousands of E-Commerce and Shopify store owners optimize their word of mouth sales since 2010. With a unique blend of text expertise and soft skills, Jay is an expert at helping E-Commerce stores build the right features to reduce customer acquisition costs and increase sales. Welcome to the show, Jay. I love the intro. Thanks very much. That makes my life real simple and easy. Thanks for joining us. How you doing?

Jay Gibb:
Very well. Thank you very much. Thanks for having me.

Andy Hooper:
Good. So Jay, just for the benefit of everyone listening, where are you based?

Jay Gibb:
I’m in Pasadena, California.

Andy Hooper:
Oh, fantastic. And we were just discussing actually beforehand that us British like to discuss the weather and we found out that the weather’s not so great in Florida today, which given that there is sunshine coming through the window here, I’m quite grateful for. So there we go.

Jay Gibb:
Yep. Yeah, it’s a, it’s a gray and rainy day today. Just how I like them.

Andy Hooper:
Fantastic. So what we’re going to do is we going to, this is going to take our usual format. We’re going to get to know a bit about Jay, get to know a bit about what he does and a bit about what’s going on in the future because this podcast is really aimed at giving you insights, giving you information, finding out what’s going on, getting to know the characters around the E-Commerce world. When we’re expanding E-Commerce sellers into Europe, one of the key things that we are doing is working on marketplaces, but also on websites. And websites is a massive part of what we do. And we probably don’t put enough emphasis on that. So Jay coming from a WooCommerce and Shopifys, we’ve just heard, we’re going to dig into more details behind that, Jay, cause I know you are big in that area, which is great.

Jay Gibb:
That’s right. Yep.

Andy Hooper:
Fantastic. So, Jay, we know you in Florida. That’s great. So give us a little bit about perhaps where you started your career. I mean, we’ve heard you were a software engineer, where did that all begin for you?

Jay Gibb:
I guess technically when I was a kid. I mean my old man bought me a Commodore 64, so that kind of dates me a little bit. I was [crosstalk 00:03:49]

Andy Hooper:
I had one of those as well, so there’s the good news.

Jay Gibb:
Yeah. Yeah. Like in the eighties and he and I used to buy these books from the computer section of the supermarket or whatever of the department stores and just type in basic line by line one line at a time, we didn’t know what we were typing. All of it was just voodoo, but we would do it and see if it worked and run through it and see, get some typos and stuff and make little things jump across the screen and stuff, so I guess if you want to know the origin story of when I got into computers, when I was probably 10 years old or something like that.

Andy Hooper:
Fantastic. Have you still got a Commodore 64?

Jay Gibb:
Afraid not. No, didn’t make it.

Andy Hooper:
I was trying to find one the other day, because I remember the number one game from me was Leap Frogger or Frogger or something along those lines. It was this little frog that went across the road and it was like revolutionary. Your kids can’t understand, can they? You put a tape in and it takes half an hour for this thing to load only for it to crash and you have to start again.

Jay Gibb:
Yep. Yeah. Well we started with the cartridges, which loaded instantly, right? Those big plastic cartridges that would just plug into the back of the keyboard. And then we went to the five and a quarter floppy discs, which loaded faster. I never had the tape drive. I had a friend who had one, but we skipped over the tape drive in my house.

Oh, can you hear me? Looks like you’re frozen Andy or am I frozen?

Andy Hooper:
I’ve got you back. Hold on, I think we had a moment there.

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Jay Gibb:
Yeah, I got you’re frozen on my screen. Can you hear me right now?

Andy Hooper:
I can hear you. Yeah. We had a moment there, but I think we’ve got over it. It’s fine. We’re going to keep on driving forward. So, okay. Yeah. So no, I definitely had the tape version, so I never actually got the cartridge in the back. That must have been stage two. I must’ve missed that bit, but there we go. So. Okay, great. So what did you do out of, I mean, that obviously sparked an interest for you, didn’t it? So did that give you, did you then go on to college university or college in the states and do that type of thing there?

Jay Gibb:
Yeah, so we all through grade school, my dad encouraged me to take whatever computer classes were being offered in public school that I was in. And then when I finished high school, then I went into I guess you would call it a community college.

Andy Hooper:
Yes.

Jay Gibb:
So it was like basically like a trade school for the area that I lived in. All of this is happening up in Canada, in Calgary. That’s where I’m originally from.

Andy Hooper:
Okay. Great.

Jay Gibb:
So we didn’t have money, so I felt like I needed to go to school, but the university was kind of out of the question.

Andy Hooper:
Yep.

Jay Gibb:
So I sort of went halfway and I did this trade school, also probably qualifies as a community college. They had basically a two year computer programming diploma. So I went and I earned that and then I just went straight into the workforce from there.

Andy Hooper:
Oh, wow. Okay. Nice. And what was that first role then?

Jay Gibb:
First job out of school? I worked for a smart card company actually. So it’s this really small company, kind of like a family owned self-funded business and they were building payment systems that used smart cards. And so like the kind of chip cards where the money is actually on the card. If you lose the card, you lose the money. So it’s not just an ID to identify your bank account, similar to what we have now with the chips that are on Visa cards and MasterCards.

Andy Hooper:
Yes.

Jay Gibb:
These cards were, the money is actually on the card and so it was like almost like a bare instrument that was digitized.

Andy Hooper:
Yeah. That must have been quite visionary at the time.

Jay Gibb:
I mean, yeah, I think so. I mean, it’s still not really a thing that we’re seeing much of. It is useful in certain situations where cash is impractical. So for example, one implementation of this in the wild is on military vessels, like cruise ships, like aircraft carriers and stuff. Where they’ve got soldiers that need to have time off and for that time off, they’ve got little like arcades and casinos and stuff where they can go play games, but they don’t want to be dealing with coins and cash because then the arcade machines just fill up with quarters and they’ve been down that road and they don’t want to deal with it. And so in that case, it’s really useful to have something that can be totally offline that’s not necessarily connected to the internet or any kind of banking system, like a closed system, but also that’s cashless.

And so that’s an example of a situation where it’s useful still, but it’s not really practical for like wide consumer adoption, I don’t think. My role back then out of school, back to your question, was I was the software developer that was building the operating system on the smart card accepting device. So when you put a smart card into a slot there’s pins that connect to it and read from it and communicate with the card. And it was my job to write the software sort of on the operating system, on the device, in the firmware that was going to basically do the transactions on the card.

Andy Hooper:
Nice. Okay. Fantastic. And how long was you there to start off with?

Jay Gibb:
At that company or that like that industry?

Andy Hooper:
Yeah, the company. That first part of the role.

Jay Gibb:
Probably a couple years, year and a half, two years, something like that. Yeah. And then they were acquired by a company down here in California, which is how I actually ended up being able to immigrate from Canada to California. The company that I worked for was acquired by a company here in Los Angeles and they just as much as the intellectual property, they also wanted to have the staff because we had a pretty unique skillset, me and the people that I worked with, it’s not something you can just put a job posting and find somebody who knows how to write that kind of software. It’s really rare. So they acquired all us as an aqui-hire basically. And that’s how I ended up moving down to the United States.

Andy Hooper:
Fantastic. And have you left since?

Jay Gibb:
No, I’ve been here ever since. I mean, I moved around in California, went up to Silicon valley for a while and took that roller coaster ride of the dot com boom, back in 99, 2000, 2001 kind of timeframe and now I’m back down in Los Angeles raising a family.

Andy Hooper:
Fantastic. So let’s go through some of those because I don’t want to go through every single job history. It’s not an interview after all, job interview, but what I’d love to know is, is over those few years before you got to CloudSponge, what was your sort of highlights and takeaways?

What was the key things you sort of did during that journey that sort of got you to where you started CloudSponge?

Jay Gibb:
Well, I think they’re just kind of like taking on more responsibility every time it was offered. So I ended up started off as a programmer and then ended up leading some architecture work and eventually managing and hiring people and doing sales and kind of going up that chain and not boxing myself into just being a programmer. Eventually got me positioned in a way where I kind of understood how to start a business and how to do marketing and sales and build something that people actually wanted and all that kind of stuff that is outside of the engineering role. I don’t know if that’s a specific answer to what you’re looking for, but overall the theme for me has always been to say yes basically to every opportunity to expand.

Andy Hooper:
Yeah. Yeah. Fantastic. So where did the idea for CloudSponge come?

Jay Gibb:
Well, we started off building something totally different and what eventually became CloudSponge was just a feature of a bigger idea. And as we went down this path of building this specific feature, we just acknowledged that it was really hard and we noticed that there was a lot of other people that wanted it. And so we ended up just pivoting from the bigger idea that where this was just a feature to actually just launching this one thing as a company all in its own or as a product led organization. Just because, I feel like it’s a universally useful tool or a function that pretty much every website should have. And so the market for it is really wide and so we decided to just spin it off and make a company out of just this one product.

Andy Hooper:
Fantastic. The amount of people I talk to that they say, well, we didn’t start off doing this, but and off it goes in another tangent, I love that because you have this, whenever you start business, you have this pre-planned idea of, well this is what I’m going to do and this is how I’m going to do it and this is where we are going. And a year later you’re doing something completely opposite. And I’m not saying you did something completely opposite, but it’s just one of those things as you talk to business owners that so many people say, well you need a business plan when you go into the business. I get all that. I get that. The reality is you need to go in and work out what the market needs and understand the market. So I love that, that it was a spinoff and that was just how it came about. So let’s talk about it. Who does CloudSponge really sort of serve? What is it there to do and solve?

Jay Gibb:
Yeah. The easiest way to start that discussion is to try to illustrate sort of where it does our product fit in a website, because otherwise if you don’t know that, then it’s kind of hard to make sense of the rest of it. The easiest way to think about it is that it’s one button, it’s literally one button that can exist in a few different places on your site, like an E-Commerce site, for example and it’s the button that has the little address book icon. So you’ve got an icon that, or instead of an icon, maybe it says like add from address book or select from your contact or something that has to do with your address book. And when users engage with that button, when they click on it or they tap on it on their phone, it brings up a menu of the different places on the internet where people store their contacts.

it’s literally one button that can exist in a few different places on your site, like an E-Commerce site, for example and it’s the button that has the little address book icon.

So Google contacts, Yahoo mail contacts, Outlook.com contacts, Office 365 contacts, in America like AOL and then in many countries, the AOL equivalence. So our job is to integrate with all those different places and to provide a unified way for end users of people that are on your website to be able to load their contacts in the browser, on the website that they’re on and then interact with their own address book.

There’s obviously a lot more to it. I could talk for hours about all the nuances and intricacies, but that’s the way to frame it in your mind is that it’s just that one thing that you can put, let’s say you’ve already got a referral program or you’ve already got a wishlist feature, like a gift registry. And you want to let your users share that with as many people as possible.

Probably right now, if you don’t have CloudSponge, you’ve got one of two things. You’ve probably got a mail to link or just a field where you’re expecting somebody to type in email addresses, comma separated list of email addresses one by one. And both of those don’t really work very well. Both of those are probably not performing that well.

‘Mailto links’ – you kind of lose track of the user.
– You lose track of what they’re doing.
– You have no control over the message.
– It’s not convenient for sending to lots of people.

Like if you’ve got something that you’re trying to get people to share with 20 of their friends, going back and clicking that mail to link over and over again, or putting everybody into the BCC field, all these things have trade offs and they’re not great. And then obviously the other one where you’re asking somebody to type in a comma separated list of email addresses, most people you’re going to lose them. They’re not going to type them, they’re not going to have their friend’s email addresses memorized.

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So they’re going to have to go to a different tab or a different window or a different device and type it and if they’re on a mobile device, it’s even more difficult. And so our whole company is basically just focused on that one problem.

How do we make more people type in email addresses into these fields? And the answer is an address book button, add from address book, and they click it, they select the one they want, they give permission for our software to read their contacts and then they can just select check boxes, search for people. They stay right there inside the website. And then when they’re done that field is just populated with everything that they wanted from their address book and then they can move forward.

And so that’s how we earn this double the performance of your existing word of mouth features is literally by adding that one button. All the features you currently have on your site, they’re all going to at least double, maybe triple in performance.

Andy Hooper:
Wow. Okay. So as brand E-Commerce owner and presumably that could be for as little as a contact form on a website, I guess, but obviously for the people we are talking to is about E-Commerce, so wherever that be carts, all those sort of things are going to be a massive benefit, I guess, to sellers to be able to speed up the ability for people to buy quickly and the quicker people can buy, the better. Is that fair?

Jay Gibb:
Yeah. But we don’t get involved in the actual purchasing process. This is more of just for the virality and the word of mouth spreading by word of mouth.

So you’re going to be…the nice thing about it, the place where it gets really closely connected to sales, is that most of the time when you have a customer, somebody that’s on your website and they’re using their address book to spread the word, to share a coupon, or to share a gift registry with all of their guests at a party or they’re sending out a referral program thing, like a double-sided referral program of some kind.

The people on the receiving end of that are going to convert better than your ordinary Facebook acquisition channel or your Instagram acquisition channel, because they’re actually receiving a message about your store from somebody they know, and somebody they trust. It’s basically like a curated invitation to come and buy something from this store and so the conversion rate for that audience is much higher than just like cold people off of like an influencer channel or something like that.

Andy Hooper:
Do you see the ones that are doing better? Is there like tips and tricks? Like you said a couple for a minute ago, is having a coupon or a discount code a great way of introducing that, or is it just about the ability to be able to just share something easily with your contacts? That’s the most important part? Not necessarily having an offer attached to it or anything else?

Jay Gibb:
I think the offer comes first. The offer is really important. Regardless of whether or not you have a contact picker, like from CloudSponge or something else, if you don’t have an offer, then you’re kind of just relying on your user’s affection for your brand or your product. Which if you have a really great product and a good price and they know somebody that really wants that thing, you’ll probably get that share. But the offer is important. Especially if it’s the kind of product that encourages repeat purchasing, something that’s consumable or something where you’ve already got a pattern of customers that are repeat customers. Then giving them a way to earn a discount on their next purchase by referring friends is kind of important.

It’s very important. It’s pretty standard, I would say. And then the other side of it, being able to send a discount to your friends, like a coupon or something like that, is another thing to try. It doesn’t necessarily work for every store, but I think it works for most E-Commerce stores. Where you’ve got some kind of program where you can say, listen, you’ve already just purchased something from me now send a discount to as many people as you can and if anybody that buys something, we’re going to give you a discount on your next order.

Or if you get five people to buy something, then we’re going to give you something for free, which is what we refer to as a milestone referral program, where there’s a tiered list of rewards that you get for the number of referrals that you’ve successfully made. And I would say that both sides of that, it’s important to start with the offer and then once you’ve got that, you’ve kind of got that base, that foundation built and you’re using some referral program software either off the shelf or custom made, then the way to take it to the next level is to add something like the CloudSponge contact picker to make it perform better.

Andy Hooper:
Yeah. And so, a typical E-Commerce brand, what sort of results would they see? What sort of differences, they start using CloudSponge, what sort of difference will they see perhaps on day one, month three and month six or something, what does that look like?

Jay Gibb:
Yeah. So, we have some aggregated numbers. It’s hard for us to get really specific numbers from each of our customers, but we do have some aggregated numbers that I can share. And what we’ve seen is that when somebody adds that button that I described, the add from your address book button to a field, like let’s say just for example, like for a referral program, which is kind of our most common place where we live is like an accelerator for referral programs that are already working.

Of all the people that interact with that form only, five to 10% of them are going to actually click on the address book button. The majority of the people that use that form are still going to prefer to type an email address. But the five to 10 people that click that button and use their address book will generate 50% of the referrals that are sent.

Andy Hooper:
Wow. Okay.

Jay Gibb:
Because each of them is able to send five or 10 or 20. They’re able to actually conveniently select contacts from the contact picker. And the people that don’t do that, and maybe they don’t do it because they don’t understand it or they don’t trust and it’s a privacy thing and they just would never do that and there’s certain people that just won’t share their contacts, which I don’t blame them, that’s totally fine.

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And so those guys, they’ll have the patience to type in one person they know, or maybe two and there’s probably a pretty high abandonment for those people where they get to the form and they end up not actually finishing it. And so that’ll still happen. But ,those few that do it, that really want those rewards that really want to send that discount, that really want to earn to get to that next milestone and get that reward, those people who use their address books are going to generate more than half of your referrals most of the time.

Andy Hooper:
Wow. Okay. That’s great. Fantastic. So the last thing we sort of move onto is where you perhaps see E-Commerce over the next few months. What you sort of insights have you got from your data, your knowledge, your network, if you like of what’s going on right now? What do you see as the biggest issues? What other things are you seeing as possible solutions? What are you seeing as potentially trends? What’s working from a Shopify WooCommerce point of view right now? And I know we’re putting you on the spot slightly on some of that, but any insight you’ve got that would be valuable to our listeners would be super useful because I know that for some of them, this is almost the most important part. What insights are people sharing that people want to know of right now?

Jay Gibb:
One of the themes that we’ve noticed at CloudSponge, just in terms of our sales conversations that are happening and our customer success stuff, like just in general the inbound questions that we get is that there’s a theme right now, or a pattern that we’re noticing all about mailing list or newsletter referral programs where if you think most E-Commerce businesses, I don’t care what platform you’re using, Shopify or WooCommerce or BigCommerce or Magento or whatever you’re using, one of the things that you probably have, and if you don’t, you probably wish you had is a mailing list. Is basically a list of all your customers so that you can send them emails occasionally about your new products, your promos, your Black Friday stuff or whatever. Most of these E-Commerce companies have a mailing list.

And I think most of them, there’s a direct correlation between emails sent to their mailing list and sales in their store. Where they’ve got a big mailing list and they’ve blast out every Tuesday, they probably see a little uptick in sales every Tuesday. And I think everybody listening here probably relates to that. And so what we’ve noticed is people trying to use a referral program not necessarily inside their E-Commerce store, but just for the mailing list. In other words, where you’re trying to get the people that are on your mailing list to get their friends onto the mailing list. And then you know, that eventually you’ll be able to sell something to those people and so we’ve seen basically these milestone referral programs that have different kinds of perks for getting your friends on a mailing list.

So you get five of your friends to subscribe to the mailing list and we’ll send you some stickers or get 25 of your friends to subscribe to the mailing list and we’ll send you a hoodie or some something that you have a lot of that is sort of an introduction to the brand. You’re rewarding somebody for doing something that’s important to your business, but it’s a whole layer above the store itself in the funnel. And some of these guys are doing crazy rewards. Every couple times a year, they’ll offer something huge, like a $3,000 MacBook Pro. And all you need to do to win this MacBook pro is out of everybody that we have, be the one who gets the most people onto the mailing list. And then indirectly, they know that the size of their mailing list is proportional to the number of sales that their store does. So growing the mailing list ultimately helps them do more sales.

Andy Hooper:
And that’s interesting because one of the things that we have, we have a success pathway and how to expand sellers successfully or brands successfully into Europe. And one of the things we talk about on websites is about list building, dream 100, utilizing your network and all those sort things you’ve just said, which is absolutely perfect.

So for sellers that are thinking about what they’re doing, where they’re going, how to build their list, I think there’s some great tips right there. And using something like CloudSponge is going to be absolutely perfect for you. I think that all of those, your ways and abilities to build your list, build your brand are absolute critical, especially if we start thinking more holistically when we talk about we’re working on a marketplace, we’re building our brand on a website, how does the brand expand? And building a list and all those things are absolutely critical.

So that’s fantastic. That’s a great little insight that I think everyone should be able to take on and start thinking of, because that newsletter, that piece about how you build a list is absolutely critical to your success, especially when you launch a new product as well. Absolutely key.

So Jay, look, we’re coming to the end. Thank you very, very much for your time. Before we finish though., if people want to get in contact with you, last sort of pitch, if you like, around CloudSponge, because you for E-Commerce brands listening to this, I’m telling you now this is something you need. This is something that we would look at, as part of the success pathway, as being a great addition to your website, but that that’s coming from me and I’m not pitching it and I’m not selling it. So Jay, over to you, last sort of piece from you, two things: pitch about CloudSponge, why they should use it and secondly, how to get in contact with you.

Jay Gibb:
Okay. Yeah, sure. So the way to get in contact, we’re going to make a landing page for your audience on the CloudSponge site. So they’ll be able to go to cloudsponge.com/gee and that will have the pitch and the contact methods. What I suggest everybody does as a very low impact activity is just when you get to that page, download our workbook. It’s basically a checklist. It allows you to kind of do a tear down of your own E-Commerce store and evaluate your word of mouth features to make sure you’re being exhaustive and then each of the features that you do have is properly configured and optimized.

So the workbook will do that for free. And then once you get through that, you can put yourself on my calendar or the calendar of somebody from our customer success team and we’ll just work with you for half an hour and do a tear down of your site with you and almost like go through the workbook together. And look at it and make suggestions and provide some insights and opportunities for your specific situation. So that’s our gift to your audience and we’re happy to do that all day long. We love talking to people and looking at their stores and trying to find ways to help out with word of mouth.

Andy Hooper:
Fantastic. I love that. That’s great. I would definitely recommend everyone does that. That is by far the best way of doing it. When we were looking at different things and I know that some of the guys from our team I’m pretty sure downloaded that work. Got some great tips from it.

Jay Gibb:
You froze up on me, Andy. Am I still here?

Andy Hooper:
Jay, can you hear me?

Jay Gibb:
Yeah. I got your audio back now. You froze up [crosstalk 00:33:09]

Andy Hooper:
There we go. We’re back. Okay, good. So that was fantastic. Apologies. We obviously had a little blip there somewhere. Someone’s obviously moved around somewhere, interfered with the internet. Anyway, I think that’s a great opportunity for people to get involved with Jay, speak to Jay and his team about CloudSponge for your expansion, whether that be to Europe, US, but overall your expansion of your E-Commerce brand worldwide, because that’s going to be absolutely critical.

Jay, it’s been a pleasure having you on. Thank you very much for your time. We appreciate it. And we know that our listeners would’ve got a huge amount from that and people looking to expand, absolutely critical. So thank for your time, ladies and gentlemen, that’s it from us. This was the E-Commerce Expander Secrets with Jay Gibb from CloudSponge, helping sellers to expand, build their lists and get more customers on their E-Commerce stores.

Thanks very much for your time and we’ll see you on the next episode of the E-Commerce Expander Secrets very, very soon. Thank you very much.

Jay Gibb:
Bye.

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