Kicking off season four of our Hit Subscribe podcast, we chatted with David McQueen Johnston, Head of Ecommerce Technology Development at Symprove. He’s been in the ecommerce industry for decades and shared with us his takeaways on the industry’s growth and change in the last several years.
Symprove markets a water-based IBS remedy. Customers rave about the difference the drink—which is taken every day—makes in their lives. The bacteria contained in their patented product passes into the gut and helps improve health.
We’ll explore some of the lessons David has learned in the past 25 years navigating the challenges of the DTC industry and the ever-evolving world of marketing for ecommerce brands.
Utilize a variety of digital channels
As David pointed out, there are a myriad of digital channels that ecommerce brands can use to communicate with their customers. In the last few decades, new platforms have been developed and become popular—giving online stores the chance to target their customers where they are.
“Things that have changed and evolved for the better are the ways that we communicate with our customers…. We have so many digital channels where we can identify attractive customer segments or cohorts, talk to those customers, educate them, and convert them.”–David McQueen Johnston, Head of Ecommerce Technology Development, Symprove
What else has changed? Well, as David highlighted on the podcast, brands now have the tools to understand how to spend their marketing dollars in a very targeted way. Stores are able to evolve their marketing efforts much faster, so they can spend in the most effective way possible.
So, what is the takeaway for brands today?
Stay close to your data. Shift and evolve as results come in so that you can target the right customers in the right place and earn more conversions. As David pointed out, Symprove’s Performance Marketing team is constantly reviewing how their campaigns are working, then tailoring them to get the best return on investment (ROI).
Trial & error is part of the process
Trying new marketing strategies will always come with some flops. David wants to remind ecommerce brands that trial and error is an essential part of the process—no matter how big or small your online store is.
“Growth is about trial and error. You are gonna get things wrong.”–David McQueen Johnston, Head of Ecommerce Technology Development, Symprove
When he first started in DTC, David recalls printing millions of catalogs and posting them around the UK. Now, he says brands can see “within an hour or so” if their ad is going to be successful. So, brands need to experiment, iterate, and do things they love across social media platforms to really sell their products.
“Everything’s about serving the customer in the best possible way and making sure they’re excited about their purchase—because if they’re excited about their purchase, that’s the most valuable marketing we can do.”–David McQueen Johnston, Head of Ecommerce Technology Development, Symprove
The lasting power of a personal touch
No matter how technology advances and how many new forms of communication are created, personalizing your customer outreach is a timeless art. Whether that means a handwritten note in packages or personalized emails, customers will never forget the time your brand was there for them and went the extra mile.
David shared a story of a time they phoned over 100 customers after having an issue with their courier. They wanted to be sure customers were okay, so they took the time to make personal phone calls to every affected individual. With this experience, they also learned a lot from talking directly to their customers.
“It’s about going that extra mile for your customer and making sure the customer knows how important they are to us.”–David McQueen Johnston, Head of Ecommerce Technology Development, Symprove
So, where is ecommerce going?
To round up this informative podcast, we asked David to leave us with his thoughts on where ecommerce is going—something that we know is on the mind of our merchants as the landscape is rapidly changing.
Though David admits that it’s difficult to know exactly how ecommerce will evolve, he said he sees the everyday impact of subscriptions and how much room there is to grow. The principle of having everyday essentials delivered straight to your door is appealing and makes life simple for the customer. Plus, keeping an existing customer costs merchants a lot less money than finding a new one.
“The cost of recruiting a customer is so high. The [value] of recruiting a customer who stays with you for multiple months is even more profound because that customer becomes more and more valuable to you as a business.”–David McQueen Johnston, Head of Ecommerce Technology Development, Symprove
Check out the full interview with David, as well as conversations with other industry experts, on our Hit Subscribe podcast.
 Symprove’s David McQueen Johnston on the evolution of ecommerce (Hit Subscribe)