Topic: Is your social media working for international customers?
Host: Tawnee Steinke
Guest: Rick and Vanessa Lowe
Hey everybody, Welcome to our webinar today about social media and how you can help it work for your International customers. First of all, I want to thank everybody for jumping on we are going to start right on time. So we may have a few other people at in but we’ll go ahead and get started just an FYI.
We are recording today’s session really so that we can share it with you after feel free to share it on if you want to or you can review it as well. I also am going to keep it short today. I know everybody is busy and I want to make sure that we get the most out of our time today. So it’ll be about 30 minutes and we’ll kind of go over a few different things.
Hopefully you can all see my screen. Please. Feel free to as we’re going along. There’s a Q&A section. So, please feel free to ask questions as we’re going along. I’m going to try. Review those and we’ll go over those questions. You can also ask them at the end as well. All the lines are muted though.
So you have to use that chat box to be able to message any of those questions over. So we’ll go ahead and get started the plan for today. First of all, my name is Tony stanky. I’m a sales manager here at so knows if you don’t know what someone else is. We are a software company that we help businesses take their products cross-border.
We have a lot of different products around Duty and tax and making sure that your customers experience is a world-class buying experience and help them go through that process on the webinar today though. I’m really excited because we have one of our customers on the line, which is Rick Lowe. He’s from Synergy reef and he’s going to tell us all about the things that he’s doing with his social media and how he can help how it’s helped his business grow with those International.
Customers as well. So I’m really excited to have him on the line. I want to take a couple of minutes to talk about why you should go internationally. If you’re on this call. It tells me that either number one. You have a plan to do it or number two. It’s something that you’re already doing, but you want to help increase your orders, but I’m going to spend a little time on what that looks like when it comes to the customers who are out there and the growth and the opportunity for it.
And then we’ll talk with Rick also with Vanessa’s on the line with as well and they’re going to tell us a little bit about their business and how it’s you know worked for them and then we’ll go over some questions from there if you have any that come in. Again, feel free to ask them as we’re going along.
So when it comes to International the first thing I usually like to do what I’m doing a presentation as I like to ask in the room for everyone to raise their hand if they’ve ever heard of single state since I can’t ask you guys to raise your hand. I’ll just go ahead and tell you what it is. So singles day is on November 11th.
It happens every year it started out actually as kind of an anti. Valentine’s Day Matt, if you you know didn’t have a loved one. You would celebrate it on this day. Well Ali Baba took advantage of that and they decided that they would make it a large cell state. So it’s actually the largest shopping day when it comes to e-commerce in the entire world to kind of put it in perspective last year.
So, November 11 2018. Now we’re 30 point eight billion cells done within 24 hours. That was up 20% 27% from 2017. We had they had a hundred and eighty thousand Brown Brands participate. But the cool part is even though this kind of started in China it more than forty percent of those cells were from International Brands.
So it’s an opportunity that here in the US we can still continue to grow and build our business when it comes to other countries for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Those are our biggest days of the year to kind of show you the difference. So on Black Friday, which I included Thanksgiving day because somehow we have now made it a.
Part of it. Unfortunately with that holiday, but it was up 20% with nine point nine billion. And then on Cyber Monday, they did 17 or sorry seven point nine billion. So you can see the opportunity really is from those customers outside of the US. This is kind of showing you a map of the top 10 countries when it comes to International e-commerce.
The US has we grow our growth year over year here inside the US was 14.6 but cross-border growth is 18.6 and one of the things that’s happening is. Although our for the us for our for those companies who are going cross-border the share of the market that we have when it comes to all International is actually declining and one of the issues is that a lot of us companies aren’t putting a focus on those International customers, which can be really important because 95% of the customers are outside of the US.
So if you want to grow your business, this is a great place to be able to do that. And social media is a great opportunity, you know 20 years ago. We didn’t have any way to reach these customers from other countries and being able to have platforms that are out there and being able to touch these customers you could do it on a daily basis is really powerful and helping you to grow your Ecommerce business.
So we’re going to go ahead and get started with Rick and Vanessa. I want to just start out by you guys telling us who Synergy reef is, you know, how your company came about and a little bit about you guys as well would be amazing. Okay. Can you hear us? Okay. Just want to make sure you still here.
Yep, I can really great. So Synergy Reef were a niche company. We manufacture filtration systems for aquarium systems specifically for saltwater aquariums. And in our industry, it’s called a reef aquarium. So basically live corals and saltwater fish. So it’s a really really niche market. It’s a multibillion-dollar market.
But it’s one of those things where if you were not in the hobby or in into this thing, you would not even know it existed. So how it started for us was it? I’ve been a hobbyist for over 25 years. So I’ve been you know involved with the Hobby and over time as it’s grown. I sort of saw a need for products that weren’t available to the average hobbyist, you know that were needed so.
Me being a constructive type of type person that I am I kind of took it in my own hands to develop some products and put about a market and see how they did. When I said I wanted my favorite things about you guys is that you’re two-man team being able to build an awesome business based off of something that you love.
Yeah. Great, so when it comes to social media and your International customers, what platforms are you currently using? And why did you choose them? So what we’re using our the message forums which are online message forums that different different Industries and different hobbies and. You’re going to have different web sites that cater to those specific customers or those specific hobbyists in our case.
So we use that a lot Facebook Instagram and YouTube would be the main ones that we use. We’re focusing more on YouTube and Instagram, especially for international Facebook. It’s okay for international but we found that that’s more localized just due to rules and regulations with internet and different countries.
YouTube seems to be good and Instagram definitely is one of the top players. I think that’s something that hasn’t been uncommon for a lot of businesses as we’ve seen a lot of social media moving more towards Instagram and YouTube being able to you know show videos. Do you guys when you’re using YouTube are you doing like specific product videos or what type of videos are you usually doing when it comes to YouTube?
Yeah. Well, what we focus on is specifically for our products and. Right now we’re mainly doing installation or how to use how to use videos per. Se. I’ve been doing a lot more product overviews. So actually showing the customer the actual product and going over it in detail. We used to be just a static based website so you can see photos of the of the actual product but people are moving more towards, you know video and they want to see what encompasses the product more in details.
That’s what we’ve been focusing on. We are going to start doing more installation and use you know on our own system. So we’re going to set up test systems and show people actually how the product functions so what we found is when we started out as a company growing. People that were buying our products new the new what the product did, you know, because they were usually somebody that’s been into the into the hobby for multiple years.
Now as we’re growing we’re getting into more customers that are new to the Hobby so got to do a little bit more explanation to them the kind of show them what it actually does. Yeah, absolutely. And I know Facebook and Instagram and YouTube are all platforms that were used to hearing and I know a lot of companies use them something that you mentioned that I think sets you apart is the forums you talk a little bit about how you’re using the forums to build that relationship with the customers.
Yeah. So the forums I’ve been on forums for like I said 25 years. That’s kind of how I got into the. To the Hobby of my finding the forums the forums are where people get on there and you know can communicate communicate with each other and talk about the specific thing that they’re into so whatever industry or business that you’re you’re in or trying to get into I would suggest finding the message forums that are related to that specific industry.
Once you get on their start communicating with the people that are on there, you know, most businesses like ours grow. Because it was a hobby of ours. So, you know, you can you can start a business based off a hobby and there’s thousands of businesses out there that get started that way so you want to get on there and actually communicate with the people that are into that hobby as well and see what they like and see what you know what they’re into and you want to build that relationship with them and that’s probably the easiest way because they’re going to trust you more if you’re actually using.
A product and into the hobby versus a big Corporation. That’s just trying to push something onto you. So just to clarify for somebody like me who doesn’t get on a lot of forums is it typically customers who are jumping on and asking questions that you’re answering and you ever have issues with like a language barrier when it comes to the international customers.
It’s going to be more I would say more generalized towards what country are in because a lot of them aren’t translated. So but that you will have international customers that are on there. It’s basically a community so the community grows and evolves, you know, as it gets bigger. So our forums that we’ve been part of have grown over the years, you know that just to the point to where there’s literally.
Two million people that will sign in on a daily basis, you know to read these forums. So the you know, it’s International it’s us it’s all over but most of them are translated. So at least I don’t know, you know from my point of view. They’re not maybe they are in the other country. I don’t know.
Yeah. So I you know being a small business owner, I think one of the more difficult things for people is how you actually have time to dedicate in these different forums or Facebook and Instagram. How do you manage your social media, you know your your marketing plan and are there certain resources that you’re using for it as well?
I would say like with anything you have to manage your time and you have to find something that fits what you’re doing. So for me, I usually try to set time aside at night to you know, spend some time on the message forums or Facebook or Instagram, whatever you’re doing and and you have to schedule that time with yourself and make sure you follow through with it.
It’s. It’s the one of the most important things it’s just as important as you know, building a product or creating a product and selling the product. You still have to have time set aside to actually interact with your customers, you know, and with the people out.
Have there been certain softwares that you used to help make X I know when you’re trying to post like on multiple platforms if there’s one localized area. You can go to that kind of helps you have you guys used any software’s with that? There are few few software’s out there. I would say. You would want to look.
Again, specifically at the industry that you’re in and see if there’s anything catered towards that industry just in general speaking for us. I mean, like I said, the majority of what we use is Facebook Instagram YouTube and the message forums that’s there right? There there stuff that we use every day, you know people use it personally and you can use it as a business tool as well.
And this this right here. The smartphone you have in your you have in your pocket every day. So instead of just texting take the time to communicate with your customers as well. It’s simple. Absolutely. The phone’s definitely make our lives easier for the most part. Yeah. Yeah, and it just I see so many people at with a business that don’t realize how big of a tool that is.
It’s you know, it’s a huge part of of your business and communicating with your customers. Yeah, I’m being able to respond to them quickly. I think really helps sometimes with International, you know, they’re different time zones, of course than we are that gives you a good opportunity to do that and for them to know, you know that you’re a real person and that they can go to for yeah, exactly.
And that’s that’s the key. Like I said, so. You might think that you’re going to be working 8:00 to 5:00 and communicating with people but when it comes to International customers, they’re contacting you eleven twelve o’clock at night sometimes so even just you know, an answer to them say Hey, you know a researcher question.
I’ll get back to you, you know, here’s our website. You know, I am I am here and I’m going to try to help you with it. Like you said let them know that there is a real person there usually helps that connection.
So one of the things that I think that you guys do really well is kind of show them that you’re a real person right engaging with your followers. How have you used that to be successful with International customers? Again, it’s the whole thing with communicating with them, you know responding to them in a timely manner.
Don’t make them wait two or three days and respond to response if you can if you’re up at night it takes. 30 seconds to send them a message and respond to them. If you don’t want to engage with them right then let them know, you know, we’re currently closed but I will contact you, you know, during our normal business hours, but at least send them a communication because being an international customer there you have to build a trust between the customer and the company because they’re on another continent a lot of time.
So if they don’t have that trust in your business, they’re never going to purchase from you. So establishing the trust up front. Is a big part of the you know, the communication and and the business relationship between you and your customer. So for businesses who are just getting started or maybe they have started it but they’re not seeing results.
What advice would you give them when it comes to your social media and those International customers? First thing is you have to really narrow down the focus on who your customer is. So if you don’t know who your customer is, then there’s no way that you can Target that customer. So number one is really narrow down who your customer is.
I don’t advise going out and just broad marketing like on Facebook for example and just submitting an ad to you know, people that are 18 years old to 65 years old and all over the world. You’re never going to get any hits that way. What I like to do is find who our customer is and specific product that we’re trying to Target to that customer find that age group and really use the tools that Facebook has not its integrated with Instagram actually makes it really cool because you can use those tools cross-platform, but narrow the focus down of who you’re targeting and at that point your return on investment for.
Any sort of sponsored ad is going to be you know to fold because you’re actually targeting the customer. It’s going to buy your product and not just a broad range. So you do do things country-specific, like if you saw you know that you are doing a lot more orders to Canada. Maybe, you know do something specific for Canada or Australia or depending on what it is.
Yeah. Yeah, definitely have two and again, you know. Each each country is going to be a little different. You know who you’re targeting. So that’s the nice thing again. Like Facebook allows you to really narrow it down to you know, the age groups the different tags that you can tag the different product in so yeah, and if we do see a higher rate of sales on a particular product in a particular country than we would do, you know country specific ones at that.
So again, it goes back to knowing who your customer is. Like I said, if you don’t know your customers, you’re not going to know how to Target them.
Yeah, absolutely. And I know that a lot of businesses when they get started, I think one of the bigger reasons that they may sell when it comes to social media is really making sure that they have a plan in place instead of just going out there to post, you know, a photo to say that you posted. I think it’s really important that you have an idea of what you’re going to do.
Hand it out and you’re doing post that make you look real and provide it in. Formation that you know is going to be specific and helpful to them as well. Do you feel like like there’s any tips that you have of ways that they can set up a plan Beyond, you know, once you’ve decided your customer how you go about that, you know as a video versus photos or how often do you guys use differences when it comes to the social media?
It’s going to depend on which what your product is or what your target market is again. Like I said be very specific about getting likes on your Facebook for example and Instagram be very specific about who likes your page don’t just start inviting all your friends that you know, locally. I mean, it’s fine do that.
But at the same time if they’re not into what you’re selling. You don’t need those likes on your page. So we almost have 10,000 likes on our Synergy Reef Facebook page those 10,000 people are legitimately into our products. So when you do post things you’re going to get a more organic following and a more organic feedback.
So when you look at your statistics, they’re going to be real statistics. Don’t just post something to get. A thousand likes because who cares if people like it what you want is you want to get conversion? So in order to get conversion, you have to be very specific about who is seeing your products as you’re posting them.
A mat that is a really great point because sometimes when we’re out there trying to get, you know people to like our page or follow us you sometimes look at that and say oh this person has a lot of followers, but the important part is whether they’ve actually converted them into customers which in my point is going to be.
One of the hardest things to do and do you have any examples of or like any stories of you know, somebody contacted you or how you converted them and maybe on the Forum as well? Do you have any that you can think of no, I mean there are there are some examples we could use in general. I would say.
we. Customers that will contact us that have been burned by another company. For example, they’re going to once they do find us. Like I said seeing seeing how our customers are true or our followers are true followers of our interaction with our customers on their they gain that respect for our business.
So especially International, like I said not being able to. You know, if you if you send somebody money for for a product you obviously want that product. So if somebody’s been burned internationally by a company, they’re not going to trust, you know, it’s going to be hard for them to trust a new company.
So I think again having specific customers that you do interact with and they see that. It’s you know, it’s going to be better for that customer to build that confidence in them. I mean, it’s not really an example, but it’s just kind of a broad example of why you know, you don’t want just a bunch of stuff in a bunch of likes and a bunch of comments and everything on your on your social media.
You want to keep it really really clean and really, you know slim and trimmed up to to the point. Then that way the people who are inquiring there already. They’ve already kind of made their yeah, they’ve already made their decision at that point. So you’ve already converted them. Once they have contacted you it’s pretty much a sale.
That’s what we found the most part just in our in our the way we do things how it works. I think something that you guys do well on this is just from our conversations together is you don’t look at a customer is like, you know, how am I going to get us out from this you look at a customer as you want to be able to help them which in turn makes them want to work with you guys.
So in the social media that I’ve seen from your company, I feel like that’s what you guys do really well is by showing them that you actually care about them instead of you know, we’re just trying to get a sell off of them. Yeah, and it’s you see it too many times where businesses are they will sell you anything because they want to make that sale where with us.
We would rather have will tell a customer know a lot of times because our product may not fit their needs. So you’re better off to tell that customer know and let them you know understand why your product doesn’t fit their needs because they may come back at another time, you know, and actually realize that your product does fit their needs at that point, so.
In general a lot of a lot of the larger corporations their machines so they have to sell and keep sales going where us being a smaller business. We need the sales, but at the same time people trust us a little more because we’re not going to force you to buy our product. We use everything we made.
Yeah, we use we use our product as well. So we make we make them to work for hobbyists that are going to use them. We want them to work well for the end user. So we test everything we make yeah, so the customers know at that point that you know, the product is going to function the way it is and if it’s not going to work for their needs and we’re going to tell him it’s not going to work.
Absolutely and I think that’s so important when it comes to, you know, winning and business. Yeah, just you just have to be real with the customer and they know they can see through. Yeah, absolutely. Okay, so I think we have a question come in. So we’re going to take a minute and have a couple of questions.
I think we got a message Shannon on here. Do you have a question?
No. Okay, I think we had a message but that’s okay. Alright, let’s check our QA. So one of the questions that comes on is when you’re setting your budget, have you spent money on each of the platforms or is there one that you found when you have done a paid ad that it’s been more successful. I would say.
I’m really analytical so I like to look at statistics and analytics. So for me, I look at the analytics and see where you know where our dollars are spent the best. So for me, it’s an analytical approach. So my suggestion is to use the tools that are provided and understand the tools. That’s the main thing is to understand the feedback because Facebook will give you feedback Instagrams going to give you the insights and the feedback.
So for planning a budget for that, you have to use those tools. So in the beginning you’re going to have to kind of broad range it and use all of them and see which ones you are getting the best response on. I think you have to be willing to adjust as well because as we’ve seen with social media, you know, there’s different times when different platforms are more popular and it kind of goes back and forth and I know that’s country-specific as well as you know, Today maybe Instagram is where you go.
I know Snapchats coming up and so it’s just always staying aware of the different options that are out there and making sure you’re staying on top of how your customers are using those types of social media platforms. Yeah. Yeah. That’s that’s the truth. And the other thing is too is get with the teenagers too.
Because a lot of times they they are on the up-and-up of what’s coming up. So especially, you know, if. If your your industry is, you know teenager specific or young adults. That’s definitely they know what’s happening. That is so true. And it doesn’t even have to be a teenager. My five-year-old niece taught me something about Snapchat a couple days ago.
So actually that’s definitely true. All right. Let’s see. I think we’re out of questions. Wait. We just had one posted. Hold on. So this is a specific question for you guys being a zonals customer. Can you give us just a quick overview of house? Oh, no says helps with your business when it comes to International.
That’s my department. Well, I handle all the sales inquiry. So for me when I was going back and forth with customers through email, it would be six back and forth maybe seven. Then I’d have to do shipping rates. And with de Zona knows what it’s enabled me to do is streamline that whole entire transaction.
To the point that it’s like I’m dealing with a domestic customer so that they do all the work on the site. They’re able to calculate their landed costs. Then they make the decision if they want to follow through with the sale. It comes through and I print a label just like any other. Any other any other domestic say yes that simple yeah.
I just have to enter a couple codes but I mean, it’s really nothing. It’s freed her up from having to literally spend two or three hours a day communicating with International customers and at that point you lose customer International customers without Zone OS because the capability is not get a real-time quote for shipping is detrimental because people you know how it is.
They want instant gratification most of the time so. Having that ability to get a shipping quote instantly for them, especially if it’s in the middle of night, like I said, cuz you’re not going to be there to answer it if you’re sleeping.
Absolutely, and we love you guys. So thank you so much for that. One more question just came in its what would you consider a healthy marketing budget? If you are just getting started pertaining to social media platforms. the tough question. Yeah, I mean it’s really going to be I mean some companies are started like us we started with with zero budget and it was really like I said getting on the message forums and and communicating with people that way and getting your product out there and known it’s not always I tell people it’s not always just throwing money that marketing that sells your product.
Your product has to sell your product as well. So as you get your product out there the word of mouth. Advertising is the best that you can get so. It’s hardest customers are really yeah customers are exactly the best advertisement we have so don’t throw a lot of money at marketing upfront put money into your product or your service and make sure it’s top-notch and at that point.
It’s is it? And other things that we do to is we get with other vendors in the industry and we work together to promote each other to yeah, and that just that cost time that doesn’t really cost us money. But it’s an official. Yeah, there’s other avenues than just focusing on on a budget for you know marketing because honestly at the beginning we really didn’t we didn’t do anything we didn’t do we did what we did a lot of traveling to some trade shows and stuff and.
Boots to the ground met people in the industry met customers and just kind of, you know went with our gut with yeah Galloping our business as it went because people only we’ve been doing this what six years. Yeah. Yes. It’s I mean, it depends on what your product is and you know who your customers are.
So I don’t really have an answer to say dollar-wise. You know that we always run a Facebook ad but it yeah. I mean, yeah, I don’t know. Yeah, that’s hard. I think with you guys to it’s about the time you spend in interacting with the customers on social media. That’s really going to help build that business which maybe not a marketing budget per se but your time definitely cost and you know, you want to make sure that you’re putting it in the right places exactly.
Yeah. All right, cool. Well again, thank you guys so much for jumping on and telling us a little bit about your story on that. Slide right now. I do have Rick’s contact information and their website if you guys have any additional questions also I have my info. So please feel free to reach out at any time as I stated earlier.
We are going we did record this. So we are going to send this out to everybody that you can either share it or if you want to go back and watch it as well. So again, Rick Vanessa, I just want to thank you guys for jumping on. I know you have you guys are busy and to share your story with us, you know, it’s been really helpful.
Yeah. Thank you, Tony and thanks for creating a great product. And you guys is customer service is Top Notch and tech support is top-notch. So. can’t say enough about about Zone owes. Wow, that really makes my day. So thank you for that Rick. If we have an issue or anything happens, it’s usually you guys are right there for us.
So it doesn’t happen often. But when it does you guys are there to take care of it. So we do try to take your same approach where you know, we really want to help you guys be successful. So I’m really happy to hear that. The customer success team is is taken care of you definitely. Alright, great.
Well, I’m going to go ahead and end this, but thank you everybody again for jumping on and I hope you have a great Thursday. Thanks. Thanks. Have a good weekend.