03 April 2022 |

Sharma- 04/03/2022

By Nik Sharma

Happy Sunday!

I hope if you’re reading this, you’re feeling relaxed and cozy, and you have a Milk Bar B’Day Truffle in your hand.

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Over the last week, I’ve been thinking more and more about this topic, which is: for marketing to work today, it has to be inviting enough to where the consumer makes it their mission to learn more about what we’re selling and eventually make the conclusion on their own to buy it. Both with B2B and B2C (myself and Yas, the CMO of Pipe, spoke about it here at the Left Lane Summit).

I also don’t think this is something that ends once a customer is acquired. When I started spending on ads in 2015, everything was all about achieving KPIs directly related to customer acquisition.

  • CPM prices
  • CPC prices
  • Site traffic
  • Conversion rate
  • Video watch time

These metrics aren’t “bad” metrics to set goals on by any means, I just think there’s now much more to it that we didn’t think about earlier on — more qualitative metrics.

The lifetime value of a customer. The AOV of a customer. The category a customer buys. The number of referrals a customer can drive. The number of orders that use a coupon code vs paying full price. How many times is that customer coming back in the next 3 months, 6 months, 5 years, etc.

You could acquire customers from TapJoy at a fixed CPA all day, but only later realize that none of those customers will come back, they’ll initiate chargebacks and they’ll back up your customer service inbox. Ok, rant over. Back to the main topic — retention.

When we launched Jolie, the founder, Ryan, had a genius idea to build demand for the brand’s launch — The Jolie Water Report. People are sent to the website, they input their email & zip code, and magically they are sent an email that shows how bad the quality of the water is in their own zip code. There are no gimmicks, just showing people the straight-up problem of what their current situation is. In fact, the emails didn’t even push Jolie’s product, they were just used to make people aware that the water quality is so bad. But, it invited people to begin doing their own research. Some people even just went to Amazon to buy a shower filter.

Side note: It might seem like an “oh crap” moment when you get feedback that the problem you’re surfacing is getting people to buy from another brand or, in this case, Amazon. But just remember that the best of the best marketing/education changes behavior, whether or not someone buys the solution-oriented product from you or someone else.

The Jolie Water Report is a prime example of what I think marketing is going to shift to — creating content or building experiences that are useful to people, whether or not they ever are a paying customer to you.

As we are thinking through subscription and retention for a client of ours, I believe that an effective subscription program needs to be designed more around the customer, not around the product we are pushing. It came down to 3 things:

  • Product experience
  • Benefits
  • Content

Product Experience

This is nothing too special, but it does make sure that your product is a LEAN IN experience. I think one of my favorite examples of this is the Pill Club’s birth control subscription. They include goodies each month, and you never know what you’re gonna get, but their subscribers get excited to try it out.

It’s an easy opportunity for a brand with subscribers (read: leverage) to go to another brand and say, “Hey, let’s put samples of your product in our box,” or just see what else you want to introduce to your customers from your own catalog and add it in.

I would also argue that product experience means giving your customers beneficial pricing, which is what most subscriptions are in their entirety. 10% off is great. So is 15% or 20%. Free shipping? Cool. What about a subscriber who’s been with you for 6 months or 18 months? Find out what their favorite sports team is, or their favorite artist is and send them a pair of tickets.

The punchline here: do the unscalable for the best product/brand experience. Retention stays high and when you’re running an ad and someone talks smack in the comments, they’ll be there defending you.


There are a few startups that are beginning to tokenize brands, allowing benefits to build upon each subscription. The non-Web3 way to do this would be mainly partnerships.

One of my first clients, ever, was Speed Society. When you were a Speed Society member back in the day (mainly car enthusiasts), you’d pay $9.99/month and get access to discounts from tire companies, wheel companies, steering wheel companies, carbon fiber companies, and more. The savings you could get from anything out-weighed the $9.99/month that everyone paid.

10% off of GROSS revenue for another company, especially with good margins, is a steal when compared to their paid channel cost per order.

I’d take it one step further. When I was at Hint, I wanted to run a deal that was something along the lines of “Subscribe to 3 cases of water, and get 3 months of Spotify on us”. The hard cost to Spotify is virtually nothing since it’s a digital product (and they have label agreements for lower payouts with trials), and it essentially gave $9.99 back to our customers spending $48/month. So it was really like spending $38.

A good subscription (or even non-subscription, and just good retention) program takes care of its customers further than just its own brand.


Content is the hardest one for me to think through. When I open Klaviyo for different brands and see open rates between 20% and 35%, then to think how many of those would even care about it, it’s hard to think at what level of scale does high-quality owned content make sense.

For RedBull, sure. For a brand doing $10M a year, I’m not sure? That said, the beauty of good content is that if it works, it works. I never started this newsletter with any real intention, but we’re putting almost 10% click-through rates, which is nuts, and my audience is nowhere near a RedBull audience size.

This is where surveys and really understanding what customers want and even just asking them is really beneficial. Too many companies create content without even asking their customers if they’d care for it, and it takes 12 months of expenses to realize, “Oh, people don’t really care for this.”

I’m curious how you think about content (newsletters, YouTube videos, a “show”, etc) for your brand or company.

I haven’t fully figured this out, but I’d love to get your thoughts on it if you have any. Just hit reply and let me know.

Today’s email was one big rant of thoughts on my mind, but please hit reply and tell me what came to mind!

On to some fun stuff…

Vendor of the Week:

Route — The one-click order protection for your cart to keep customers happy.

Over 10,000 brands today, including Brightland, have Route Shipping Protection as an option when you checkout. It only costs the customer about $1 on average (or less), and it provides an AppleCare-like experience for customers who have any issues.

On the performance marketing side, Route has seen a 50% increase in purchase intent with merchants, as well as a 92% satisfaction rating with customers who added the Route protection and then needed to get an item replaced.

Consumers have no real downside to adding Route to their order because the cost is so low, and they also get the ability to track their orders in one simple app if they want to. Merchants have no downside either, as Route doesn’t charge merchants to use the service!

We are about to onboard Route to one of the biggest celebrity brands we’re working with shortly, and I highly suggest you also sign up here to get a demo for yourself.

Click here and schedule a Route demo!

Jobs of the Week:

Brand of the Week:

All Day — The simple seasoning addition that makes every meal 10x better.

If you’re like me and it drives you crazy that Emily Mariko seasons her food with nothing but salt and pepper for the last few months, then you’re going to love All Day Flavors.

All Day is a female-founded seasoning brand out of the Starday Foods holding company (their other brand is called Gooey), launching new food brands based on consumer trends data. They are like the TikTok algorithm for launching better-for-you food products.

I personally use the BOOM seasoning when cooking ground chicken and the Poppin seasoning when making breakfast.

Highly recommend checking them out. Try a trio of flavors for less than $20 here.

That’s all for this week!

I hope you’re still there. Are you there? If you are, make sure that you get your 9 hours of sleep tonight, stay hydrated, and get some form of exercise in this week!

I’ll be speaking at Ecom World in early May, and then Geekout Miami after that, so I’ll hopefully see you at one of those!

Have an incredible night!