On our Season 2 kick-off, we caught up with Eli Weiss, Director of CX & Retention, and Steven Vigilante, Head of Growth Marketing at OLIPOP to talk about their hyper-focus on the customer experience. OLIPOP recently hit their 6,000 subscribers mark in under a year, and joined us to talk about the tactics they use to meet customers where they are. Listen in to learn how OLIPOP leverages ReChargeSMS for customers to manage their orders, invests in marketing and CX, and ensures the entire process is frictionless to provide the best experience for their customers.
Chase: Steven and Eli, thank you guys for joining us.
Eli: Thanks for having us.
Chase: Give us a quick intro on yourselves.
Eli: I'll start. My name is Eli Weiss. I'm Director of Customer Experience at OLIPOP. I also help on retention and SMS marketing. I spent the last couple of years in small startups, and that's a little bit about me.
Steven: I am Steven Vigilante, I'm head of growth marketing here at OLIPOPs, so acquisition, and just helping grow the pie. I've been in the consumer space for the last seven, eight years. I started out in investment banking and then worked at a venture capital fund focused on primarily CPG startups, and then wanted to try my hand as an operator. Moved to LA from San Francisco, worked at a startup that ended up going under and then met David and Ben, the founders of OLIPOP pre-launch, and I've been with them since the beginning.
Chase: The stories of failed startups are always interesting. I'm sure we could do an entire episode on those. I've got some of my own as well.
Eli: Yeah. You apply those learnings and move forward.
Eli: The magic of OLIPOP, there's a lot of failures that set the groundwork for it.
Chase: Seems like that's going to be a running theme today. So let's hop into it, why don't you give us a bit of background on OLIPOP?
Eli: Yeah, so I'll take that one. OLIPOP is, we call it a new kind of soda. It sits in this triangle between Kombucha, sparkling water, and full sugar sodas, where it's a product that looks and tastes just like a soda. It's high in fiber. So you have nine grams of digestive fiber in each can as a whole digestive health side of OLIPOP. And low in calories, low in sugar, 35 calories, two to five grams of sugar per can. And our whole thing is, it's a soda, first and foremost. It's not a sparkling water. It's not a Kombucha. And we launched about three years ago in California and sold in about 5,000 stores across the country, Whole Foods, Sprouts, Kroger, some regional grocery stores like Wegmans, and then a small but fast growing online business that we launched about a year and a half into the business.
Chase: Very cool. So I know that there's a handful of things that OLIPOP really stands for as a business, as a brand, what your ethos is. You want to dig into to some of that a little bit?
Steven: Yeah. OLIPOP was started as a brand that was, we're trying to drive a really, a really different, more human side to this whole space. Thinking about being more intentional about both the beverages people drink and about how much we care about customers. So I think that there's from my and our customer experience, I've worked with quite a few brands and I think there hasn't been any brand that kind of grasp the massive amount of growth and longevity as a brand when you care deeply about customers. We're pretty straightforward about kind of what taking care of your mental health looks like and it's something we focus on as a brand a lot as well. Yeah.
Chase: So customer experience is kind of the first piece of content I want to jump into here. So one of the things that we talked about prepping for this call was meeting customers where they are, as opposed to forcing them to kind of come meet you where you are as a brand. How does that play into your kind of acquisition strategy and how you interact with customers?
Eli: Yeah. I mean, Steven can follow up after this more on the acquisition side of things, but what we think about a lot is, brands always have a vision for what their customers should be doing and how they should be doing it. And something we think about a lot at OLIPOP is we try to let the customers lead the way and try to keep things as flexible and as easy as possible.
And customer experience for us is kind of very intertwined with retention for that matter, because of that. We see that experience really leads the way and providing a fantastic experience for our customer is what essentially leads to people promote the brand and stick around long-term. So we're kind of day one, unexperienced. Our first vision was how do we create the most seamless and flexible experience for customers.
And talking about subscription, which is now a pretty sizable part of our business. When we were thinking through it, our entire framework was, Stephen and I chatted about this very early on last year in June, we had a conversation of what would we want, what's our dream subscription and what are things that are just extremely wonky in the world of subscriptions.
In the eighties and nineties subscription was like you signed up and you got stuck in it and you had no way of leaving. So that's a huge one for us is how can we create this? On a brand side we think about MRR and we think about that gold, monthly recurring revenue, but then on a customer side it's like, how do we make that kind of like, you've made this decision to be super close to a brand. How do you gain out of it other than just this discount. How do we remove any possible friction that once you're in love with a brand you want to get closer and you don't want to feel like you're going to be kind of just somehow screwed.
And that's been our biggest focus on CX as far as retention and Steven, if you want to add anything on CX or just customer insight on acquisition, how we think about that.
Steven: Yeah, in terms of meeting people where they are, we're really trying to disrupt soda. We're not necessarily trying to be this like super premium wellness product. We want to bring people into the kind of wellness space who maybe still drink soda, still drink diet soda. And we do that with, based on who our retail partners are. We do that based on our ingredients, like OLIPOP is not an organic product.
If we were organic and sourcing organic things like organic cinnamon, organic vanilla, we'd be a $5 soda. Right now in retail we're typically a $2,49. And we promote down to two for $4, which is like arguably very accessible, much more so than maybe kombucha is, which tend to be $4 or $5.
And so we made that conscious decision from day one because we wanted to meet people where they are and know that many people are drinking soda for cost reasons and the only way you're going to get them out of that is if you have something that's closer in comparison from a cost perspective, and we've made decisions from the e-commerce perspective that have impacted this deal, we just launched on Amazon.
We weren't there for the last two and a half years, but the reality is 40% of internet shopping starts on Amazon. And we have to have this, I know a very obvious thesis that we were missing out on a whole pool of consumers who only shop on Amazon. If you're not on Amazon, you don't exist.
And so we're kind of constantly thinking and evaluating how do we meet people where they are, not shame them for what they're doing, right. It's like, it's okay to drink soda or have a candy bar. Like that's fine, but maybe there's a better way to drink a soda that's not quite so bad for you. And that's sort of where we come in.
Chase: It kind of seems like that's the blueprint for disruption. You guys used the word disrupt the beverage industry earlier. That kind of seems like the blueprint and you can't come in and be the bull in the China shop and break a bunch of stuff everywhere and hope that everyone just follows you. You kind of have to go one-to-one to meet people and talk to people and figure out, where are you, what's your soda journey like, what are you looking for? What are these things that kind of matter to them. It seems like that's kind of the route you guys took.
Eli: I think the interesting point on that is that we, to Steven's point, we see that every day, like so many of our customers will have a couple of cans of soda throughout the week and then, and then have an OLIPOP or two. And our mission is the really fun and fizzy alternatives to what people are drinking that might not necessarily be the best lifelong decision?
And in our core thesis it's like, we're not looking to shame people for what they're drinking. We're looking to create an alternative so that when people are ready to look for something different, they kind of find us. And I think that the bigger picture thing is when you pay for a can of soda, you're essentially paying for 39 grams of sugar and a large doses of phosphoric acid.
And then the rest of the beverages, people can go to Starbucks and spend $6,50 on a frappuccino. Our vision really is to create, if someone's not about having an OLIPOP twice a day, it can be a really enjoyable beverage they have on a weekend, but accessibility and kind of meeting people where they're at has been like a day one for us.
Steven: And if you look at the brands that have built real scale in the last five years in the food beverage world, and you're looking at like smart sweets and candy, with crackers. They're innovating on products that people inherently are obsessed with, right? And they know they shouldn't be eating, but they want a better mouse trap and chips, and those are sort of the brands that we try to emulate.
I think we're kind of like pioneering a new category of beverage, which is better than soda. And we look at Beyond Meat is another one, right. Products that are not really sacrificing on taste as much and are getting to what they want and just letting them feel better about it. And that's sort of the approach that we're taking with soda.
Eli: A fun thing we think about often is most of soda advertising and soda histories is around indulgence and around having the ability to kind of go off and really enjoy a beverage. And that's something we think about all the time, as far as like both on experience and brand strategies, like how can we bring those enjoyable moments and that same indulgence as like when you drink it, it's a full bodied taste and delicious.
You're still getting that sweetness you would get from a soda, it's just a less unhealthy and on the flip side, digestive health with our nine grams of fiber and plant botanicals and all that other fun stuff, it's something you drink and you feel good, both about the flavor and about what you're putting inside your body.
Chase: You should get a nine grams of fiber tattoo somewhere on your body.
Eli: I think so.
Steven: Yeah. I was going to say, you're assuming I don't have one.
Chase: It's an interesting point though, because from a consumer perspective, there's always the Coca-Cola's, the Pepsi's, whatever, the stuff that you know is inherently bad for you, but it's delicious. So when people try to come disrupt those industries, it's one of two things you usually see, it's either a direct competitor where you just say, "Hey, it's the same flavor, but it's still a ton of sugar." Or whatever it is, or you go complete opposite and you go, "It's zero calorie, it's perfect for you. It's phenomenal. You should drink this every day."
Chase: And they usually lack the flavor, or there's some sort of trade off there. So this seems like, again, kind of a blueprint of how to disrupt, you kind of pick somewhere in the middle and you create a different product rather than just a competitive product.
Steven: Yes. But drawing back to one more analogy, there was a kind of a kale chip craze like five years ago, and you don't really see kale chips anywhere anymore because they were too expensive and they didn't meet people where they are, right, like with Doritos, a customer's not going to pay four times the price for something that tastes 10% as good.
And that's just the reality. And so for us, we almost really feel like we're competing more so with like sparkling water and diet soda than anything else. It's people who want that prevents us. They want the bubbles, it's less boring than just regular water, but they're also not necessarily drinking about 40 grams of sugar Coca-Cola either.
They're like wanting a healthier alternative that also tastes good. And that's truly where we come in. We kind of made the argument like yes, diet soda is zero calories or sugar. It's also full of aspartame, which is 200 times sweeter than sugar and plays all sorts of funky tricks with your gut and your brain and is full of artificial flavors and things.
There's plenty of other issues but with zero sugar, zero calorie diet sodas, and we kind of pride ourselves on national plant-based ingredients. We use a very unrefined plant-based version of Stevia as a sweetener. And yeah, we kind of come in at 30 to 50 good, nutritious calories that come from primarily fiber and a little bit of sugar.
And so we're kind of arguing yeah, zero sugar, zero calories is what it is, but there's also plenty of bad stuff with that versus with ALIPOP you're getting true nutritional value with those 30 or 40 calories.
Chase: So you've talked a little bit about kind of the philosophy and the ethos behind this. It feels like that's kind of the marketing as well. I've seen some of the ads and they're all super creative. They're all really great to look at.
Where's the balance between kind of removing this friction and kind of letting everybody come to you versus going the other way and focusing on the benefits and focusing on, "Hey, here's why you should do this. Or you should drink this because ..." Or here's an alternative and kind of attacking it. Where's that balance between the two?
Steven: That's a good question. We don't actually generally lead with the health benefits from a marketing perspective, we've found that maybe 10 or 15% of our consumers really care about the digestive health benefits and they're generally buying it because it's cute and it tastes good.
And it's funny as a marketer, you spend so much time and effort crafting all sorts of different messages and different copy and 80% of marketing gets ignored anyway. And so we keep telling this message and keep pushing kind of the digestive health benefits, but the reality is it's cute packaging and it tastes good. And we've got a great community and I think what we've built there is really on top of the formulation.
And the fact that the product is great is we have a very, very tight knit community around the products that like pulls people in and keeps them in and keeps them feeling like part of the family.
Eli: Yeah. And then on top of that, I'd add that I think a lot of brands, what they do is, the second you look at their site, you're just immediately bored by the amount of data they're throwing at you. And most customers, not necessarily OLIPOP customers, most customers are kind of buying on a very specific hype, whether they heard about it from a friend or saw from their favorite influencer.
And when they get onto your site, they're not necessarily looking to be bombarded. They want to know that there's a place they can go to learn about it. Something we focus on at OLIPOP is we try to think when does a customer get to a stage where we can imagine they probably want to know more about the science behind the product. I got a deeper dive on what is the microbiome? Why should you have this much fiber, et cetera, et cetera. And for us, it's we think there's a lot of education repeat purchasers or specifically subscribers.
We have a unique subscription flow that goes out to subscribers, kind of like holding their hand through their journey as a subscriber with OLIPOP, where on order number one, you learn about what is this. In order number two, you're learning about why was this created. And when you get to number three, we're like, okay, maybe try a different flavor. And then for number four or five, six, seven, eight, and nine, you're learning much more about the science behind the product.
So when people choose to be as close to our product as a subscription community is, and they choose to kind of be dedicated to our brand. Now we have this probably six to 10 months that we can educate them. How do we kind of bring them even closer? So by the time they hit, we think of like, what do we want them to know after being with us for 10 months? And then how can we reverse engineer it that we kind of keep them in this learning pattern that by the time they're here for 10 months, they probably know more about fiber than I do.
And then kind of they turn into our brand promoters. And when somebody says, "Why OLIPOP?" They can explain, having this kind of fiber does to your gut health and microbiome. So that's kind of like our vision on the education component.
Chase: And they can just show them the nine grams of fiber tattoo.
Steven: That's number 11.
Chase: You're kind of approaching this exactly where I was going to go next which is kind of like a little bit of cautious optimism. You're not shoving this in everyone's face. You're just kind of assuming that you dip your toe in first, you get your first order then maybe put your foot in, you kind of see what temperature it is. And over the course of time, when you can start to really provide some information and try to lock down subscribers here. But what are more ways that you kind of make the subscription experience super seamless? Because I know that's kind of your MO.
Eli: Yeah, yeah. It's something we talk about all the time and back to what I mentioned earlier, when we were chatting about this in June of last year, we were talking about what do we absolutely hate that brands do as subscriptions? And one thing that came up day one was like, every brand sends you that email three days before you get your next order, but it always ends up in spam.
And most of the time you miss it and you're like, "Oh no." And then it ends up at your door and you're on vacation and come back, you have seven boxes. So how can we really make sure that you're alerted, but also give an action for you that you can make easy swaps and skips. And Steven came across a brand that was pretty early on called electric SMS.
That's now in transition with ReCharge where they were offering this element of, we can shoot you a text three days before your order and let you know, "Hey, we're packing your orange squeeze. You can now respond with skip, you swap, or number one, two, three, to make any changes." And on our end, we've seen that 70% or over 70% of our current active subscribers over the last 90 days have swapped, skipped or canceled and came back, but done modifications on their subscription.
And for us, it's a no brainer where in order to keep people long term, flexibility is the first thing to insert after you've removed friction. And that's kind of been a huge game changer for us. So those SMS's that get to you and you have the ability to swap a flavor. We're always pushing people to swap flavors because our dream is for somebody to find that forever, we call it the forever flavor in the first 30 or 60 days.
And it's honestly on acquisition, Stephen will talk to us about our variety pack, but it's been for us, like if you find your go-to forever flavor in the first 60 days, we have a massive leg up on making sure you're here and happy as a customer.
Steven: Yeah, Eli and I both get that 'Can I pick your brain' messages a lot about how we've gone from zero to almost 6,000 subscribers in less than a year. And I wouldn't say that was any magic to it other than like very good product, frictionless process, great CX team, treat CX as a marketing channel, not as they have just always playing defense.
And then we have a landing page on a site that kind of outlines the fact that we text you, the fact that, no questions asked, you can cancel any time. We don't really even run ads or push it in with influencers, but we've tried that. It actually doesn't work very well. We just ... The way we can optimize our PDPs and we make it really easy. And I think that's kind of the magic to it.
There's no big ... We haven't had any big wins from a marketing perspective against it. It's just kind of grown organically. And we're very lucky. We've a very high, really liked product and you can't fake that.
Eli: Yeah, I think the one thing I'd add is that we've come across brands who, you'll sign up for a subscription and they'll kind of set you up that you have to stay for X amount of time or like this and they'll come up with creative like this product is not meant to buy as a single, if you don't buy it 12 times, it's not counted and all this logic.
And for us, we see a massive percentage of people that will leave and come back in a few months just because they were blown away as to how simple it was to go. And when they go it's just, "Thank you so much for being with us and let us know if you have feedback."
And just creating brands, one of the brands that I'm tremendously inspired about, and we talk about often is Chewy, the pet food company, and something they do is if your pet passes away, they will send you a bouquet of flowers. And you think about us as a brand. You're like, that's the end of the customer life cycle, but Chewy has a much longer vision than most do. And they're like, whether or not you eventually get another pet or you tell your friends about it, that's like a moment that will kind of keep you in love with the brand forever.
And we've been inspired by a lot of that on our side where creating moments, it's something that I talk about and read about often, how can you create brand moments for customers? And sometimes it can cost $50 but it creates a moment that that keeps people for a while.
Something that we've had on our side, we had somebody a couple of months ago that was a subscriber and reached out to cancel. And we found out that the reason why she was canceling is her mom was in hospice care and would drink this root beer every day and it was like the happiest time of her day.
And her mom passed away a week ago and she was calling to cancel her subscription. And for us, obviously that's a pretty sad story, but it also kind of gave us the fact that this was a beverage that brought someone joy every day. It was something that touched us tremendously in a situation at a time that you can't eat a lot of this unhealthy stuff. And you can kind of have that same nostalgia around the root beer that you did years before.
And we sent her a bouquet of flowers with a card. And she'd been part of our family ever since, but for us, it's like these moments aren't something that we went to school for, it's us genuinely caring deeply and hiring a team of people that genuinely care deeply and are looking to do anything game changing other than really, really caring and making moments for customers.
So every time a customer reaches out to our brand or engages with our brand, whether or not they love the product or completely hate it, our goal is for them to just have a fantastic experience with the brand.
Chase: There's so much to unpack there and I was letting you guys go because that's all fantastic stuff, but I want to dig in on retention a little bit because I think what I'm pulling from all of this is that the customer experience is not linear. It's not, you start and you subscribe and then you're either a customer for lifetime or you quit after one month.
There's a lot of paths. There's a lot of twists and turns. There's a lot of different ins and outs of how this thing works. And even if someone quits, and even if someone cancels, you make it easy to come back because they may talk to their family and they talk to friends, or they may put it on social media, or they may just want to come back themselves.
But leaving those pathways open, and again, tying this all back to the beginning is meeting someone where they are, putting restrictions on them to have them come back to buy a product from you in your way on your terms doesn't seem like it makes any sense, but that's kind of how the standard works right now, but that's how a lot of brands are doing it right now.
Eli: Yeah. I think that the kind of unique thing about OLIPOP's view on retention is 95% of the brands we retention as a part of the marketing team where a customer leaves, and then we're taking the task to how do we get them back.
And it's usually a massive amount of really annoying emails and the discount goes up and up and up, whereas our theory at OLIPOP was keeping customers there is probably closest to the people that interact with the customers, which is our CX team.
So how can we continuously use data to keep on top of it and understand and catch things and keep a really tight feedback loop. And I think most of the retention as spoken about in terms of touch points and customer journeys. And the thing that we missed on a broader term is that there is no one customer journey.
Some customers, their journey ends when they cancel and other customers will cancel and come back nine times in the customer lifetime. And some people feel like we have this all the time where somebody signs up for a subscription, cancels on that same day. For most brands that would trigger them tremendously. They'd see a hundred people signed up and canceled the same day throughout a month.
And those same day cancels can eat your brain but if you have faith in your product and you have faith in your shipping delivery site experience and your customer experience, if they love the product, they have two options. Either they can buy back again at full price, or they can hop right back into that subscription. So we don't get it twisted on that. And we really do view, we obviously have our win-back emails and we play a fair game like everyone else does in terms of like lifecycle marketing and all that other fun stuff.
But when it comes to viewing customers as a single entity, and these are all people, and every person has like someone might cancel because they lost their job. And three weeks later they got a new job and we hope that the first subscription they hop back on is OLIPOP and not Spotify. So I think that's another thing we think about often, is we're not just competing with everything in your fridge, we're competing with any subscription you have.
So if somebody is paying monthly for their Apple music or their Spotify, or their Netflix or everything else, when you start thinking, "Oh, wow, I have a lot of recurring subscriptions. I should probably kind of ..." Every six months everyone has that like, "I should probably pull this back because this is like $200 a month."
And we hope that we're not the first to go. And that's kind of like, our vision is just continuously learning on customer journey. Admittedly, when I started, I thought if somebody cancels their subscription, it's over, like we can try to win them back, but they clearly don't like the product. And eventually learned that there's a thousand reasons why people can cancel and just continuously getting meeting them with grace and understanding is generally a long-term win.
And if it's not a win for us, as having them as our customer, it's a win because they tell 20 other people like, "I thought this brand was fantastic and maybe I didn't 100% love their strawberry vanilla, but the experience was awesome. And if you try it and you love it, check out their subscription."
And we know that word of mouth has been pretty massive for us as a brand over the last year.
Chase: So the point you bring up about discounts is super interesting. And that's something that I've always thought about is if you discount a subscription and people buy it the first time and cancel right away, initially for a brand that kind of triggers them a little bit and makes them think like, "Okay, they just wanted the discount on here."
But as a brand you're clearly open to offering that discount on month two and month three and month four because that's the nature of a subscription. It keeps going. So why be frustrated if they cancel after month one and they come back month five, it's the same price point there. They're just, they're going to come back eventually, they just may just need some time there.
So part of them may just be uneducation about the subscription, but it's always surprised me that it seems like that's a great way to go is, hey, you got a subscriber initially that canceled. You just do a little bit marketing. They'll end up coming back if they liked the product.
Eli: I think marketers love numbers and marketers love things that they can track. And the goal didn't kind of MRR like you see that MRR goes from 10K to 50K to 100K to 200K. And the second you kind of lose control and your MRR goes down you're like, what do I do? And we just automatically start discounting.
But if you have faith in your product and you think that the discount you're offering, I think we've learned, and Steven will talk more about this, we've learned that discounting as a brand all over the place is not helpful for long-term customer relationships, because then you just train your customers to continuously purchase at a discounted price.
So we try to think of like, how can we marry this on a brand side, like this glorious MRR with a way for customers to win all different ways as well. So we think about subscription as not just the discount. It started as just a discount. Now we're thinking early access to new flavors and this kind of like unique email that we prioritize, customer support. And just thinking through like these events that we plan on creating, like all this kind of community around the subscription, and that's kind of our theory around subscription. Create a product that's glorious enough that we don't have to constantly worry about people leaving. Yeah.
Chase: Definitely. So one final topic here, you mentioned upfront talking SMS, I know you guys use electric SMS, which was just acquired by ReCharge, which is now ReCharge SMS. Talk about how you guys are kind of leading the charge there for SMS for brands. How's the tighter overall mission. How does it tie into this idea of like conversational commerce instead of just transactional?
Steven: Yeah, it's a good question. It's become very interesting and we've mentioned it a few times, but Eli and I, it was one of the things we talked about was like, how can we use SMS to make like the entire experience with us better, not necessarily to sell more products.
I think because we've taken that approach from day one. And we were actually where the, I believe we were the first beverage brand on electric SMS, which like, I just felt personally solving an issue in my life is like crap. I had that subscription and now the thing is here and now I've got to figure out my password to cancel it. So that was like step one. It was very beginning a year ago. And then we launched the Postscript kind of two months later.
And it's funny, we probably took a solid three months, like internally planning for launching with Postscript because we intentionally did not want it to look and feel like 95% of other brands that just use it as a one too many spam engine, effectively.
And we wanted to really use it to again, engage on a human level with our customer. And so we, again, we've used it to release products. The people on our text list get new products before everybody else, which felt really novel in August last year. It's now becoming a bit more commonplace, but we also use it to ask questions, ask people how they're doing.
We don't always have a call to action on our text, which I think some people think is crazy, but we've had texts that didn't have a CTA that performed better than texts with a discount. So it kind of just goes to show people are very aware and I guess woke to the nature that SMS has gone down. And we're trying to look and feel exactly opposite of that.
Chase: So funny that you mentioned marketers love to track things and we love numbers and all those things. That SMS messages without a CTA performed better than SMS messages with a discount, that makes no sense, and that's not trackable. And there are no numbers that make any kind of logic but-
Steven: One more slide we can throw at you. We launched a flavor in December on SMS, we had about, I think 50% of the texts were read, which feels a little low for SMS, but 50% of the texts that were read converted. And when you're talking in the thousands, that's a pretty insane status. It's statistically significant. It's not like it's going out to 10 people.
And you know that any marketer will tell you a 50% conversion rate on opens is unheard of. And we're launching a new flavor middle of April, we're going to run the same playbook and we'll see what happens, but it's worked really well. And we're in a very rare position where all of our flavors look and taste very different.
And so we're able to kind of build hype around them. And then the beautiful part, and we didn't quite get into this. We're still at 60%, kind of 60, 40 retail e-commerce business. So we'll launch a flavor. And then, lo and behold, a month later, it shows up at an actual grocery store and there's been thousands of dollars and time and effort spent pushing it online. And then, oh, by the way, now you can go into your favorite grocery store and pick it up.
And for the last 50 years of the beverage industry, that was never really possible with any scale, just because beverage e-commerce really was under penetrated until last spring.
Chase: It's definitely spiking as of now. So let's do a little bit of wrap up and do some rapid fire questions. So what is a piece of advice you'd give to brands who are just starting out?
Eli: I would say that, be pretty intentional with the messaging you put out. I think brands often early on just get caught up in the like, I have to hit this amount of sales in this amount of time. And they choose short-term instead of a long-term. And I think that, that's something we see talking about SMS, it's something we see every day. The long-term games keep our lists active and keep people interested versus a quick buck.
Steven: I tell any early stage founder that I talk to, hire a graphic designer as quickly as you can. I think being able to turn out creative in house, it will save you time and money in the long-term. It took us six months to figure that out. We were running static image ads for six months last year, before we brought a designer on to help with it. The level of content and the output is they have to be a paid ads specific designer, but I think that's something that I wish I knew like a year ago, we launched online.
Chase: That's a sneaky good one. That's one that not a lot of people think about.
Eli: All right. Shout out to Amanda. She's absolutely incredible. It's super fun because I get to scroll on Instagram and find cool ads and then they'll pull pieces from here and there. And we're constantly ... It's hard, right? When you're spending significant cash on Facebook, you need to be turning out new creative every 10 to 14 days, which is not easy.
Chase: Right, a lot of agency time. All right. Flip the script to what's a piece of advice you'd give for a brand who already exists, but is trying to kind of scale and take that next step.
Eli: I think something I read a couple of days ago on Twitter was that, I think about this a lot as well, is that when you get to that kind of scale, you start thinking about using customers or getting customers into this in the scheme of things that they're ready to promote your brand, instead of doing these kind of piggyback into what I just said myself a second ago about choosing a longterm instead of a short term.
After a certain period of time, your podcast network of ads, you just kind of reach a bottleneck. So if you're looking to get from a million to 20, it's probably not about media buying and more about really doubling down to your current customers because if you're doing a million dollars a year, you've definitely got quite a few of those.
Steven: My advice without being too specific is that influencer marketing is not dead. It still works very well if you know how to do it correctly.
Chase: All right. I like it.
Steven: I thought if you'd ask this question one year ago I would've said, "Influencer marketing is completely oversaturated and doesn't work." And I was completely proven wrong.
Chase: Interesting. All right. Time to do some deep digging on social. Last but not least. What do you subscribe to?
Steven: We're both kind of ... we're both deep, I guess, in this space, but Jot Coffee, I drink Jot every single day. I love it. I love 8Greens, which is like a greens tablet that goes into water, mix it, no mess, green juice. [crosstalk 00:37:15] I've got both of the brands on electric SMS so that I could use it. And then Ritual vitamins. I'm also a subscriber. And OLIPOP of course.
Chase: Of course.
Eli: So I have a interesting answer. I am subscribed to Netflix and OLIPOP at the moment. I'm pretty lean. I'm pretty lean on subscriptions.
Steven: I'm a recent Hulu convert actually, Hulu is pretty good.
Eli: Well, we have to talk about that off chat. So it sounds like an interesting take.
Steven: People will tear down these walls.
Chase: Steven and Eli. Thank you both for joining us. Really appreciate having you here.
Eli: This has been a pleasure. Thanks for having us.
Steven: Thanks Chase.