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239: How the Cereal School Grew from Zero to 7-Figures a Month in Just 1 Year

Posted by Austin Brawner on February 18, 2020


If you want to run your business successfully, you need to have a deep understanding of how everything works.

Today we’re talking with Helen Guo, co-founder of The Cereal School (now Schoolyard Snacks) about how she took her business from zero to 7 figures per month in just one year.

One of the key components of the business’ success is that Helen and her co-founder, Dylan, started by learning and running every aspect of the business themselves, before hiring agencies to take things over.

They also put a lot of initial time into building the brand organically, which made it easier to amplify with paid efforts as they’re scaling up.

Helen shares her amazing journey with us, as well as her tips for finding the right agency, and how to build a partnership that will last.


Episode Highlights

  • 6:06 Helen’s entrance into the world of entrepreneurship.
  • 9:06 The Cereal School’s insanely rapid growth.
  • 10:06 Pre-launch efforts to build an audience before the product was ready to officially launch. 
  • 13:25 How Helen built a 20,000+ person email list without running paid ads.
  • 15:29 Helen’s philosophical approach to Facebook ads and scaling up.
  • 18:58 Lessons learned from working with different advertising agencies.
  • 23:10 The importance of actually learning how to run your own marketing, and the creative approach that sets the Cereal School apart.
  • 27:57 How Helen successfully onboarded an ad agency to take over for her.
  • 31:33 Questions to ask your agency upfront to build a better relationship.
  • 32:41 Where Helen goes for new ideas and advice.
  • 34:29 How implementing email marketing helped the Cereal School go from 0% to over 25% of revenue from email.
  • 36:56 What Helen’s looking at to the future to stay ahead of the game.
  • 38:49 Apps that Helen is excited about right now.
  • 41:57 The thing about the Cereal School’s business that can’t be easily replicated.

Links And Resources

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Austin Brawner: What's up everybody. Welcome back to another episode of the ECommerce Influence podcast. My name is Austin Brawner.

Andrew Foxwell: Hey, and I'm Andrew Foxwell coming to you live from chilly Madison, Wisconsin, temperature-wise right now, so just throwing that out there.

Austin Brawner: Most of the year is actually cold up there.

Andrew Foxwell: Yes, it is. It is.

Austin Brawner: I'm not surprised.

Andrew Foxwell: Yeah, not surprised at all. But, you know, I tell you, have been continuing, and I feel like we've been saying this often, but continuing to get these emails with the phrase first time, long time making fun of the first-time caller, long-time listener thing.

I got probably the third one in a week yesterday about the podcast from all different parts of the world saying, "Hey, really enjoying it," Which is always fun. And they particularly commented on that when we cover tactical things that they can do in the first 15 minutes, that's what they really love.

That's their flash ... That's like their favorite thing or the flash runs, or when the founder comes on and is like here's something we did very quickly. Right? That they can kind of turn around and put into their own business.

Austin Brawner: For sure. And that's, I think, one of the things we've looked at is how do we bring in more people who are doing interesting things on a day-to-day basis that are really moving the needle and are in the trenches working hard actually in the arena.

One of the reasons I'm super fired up about this episode is because the person that we are interviewing is definition of in the arena. They're on there battling every day working super hard and growing quickly and building a business.

And I've had the pleasure of getting to know the guest today, Helen, over the last well, I guess five, six months and just watched how her work ethic and her determination combined with curiosity has really helped them take off and grow. And that's why I'm so excited about today's episode.

Andrew Foxwell: Yeah, I completely agree. It's clearly something that has been driven by the founders, driven in terms of product innovation, in terms of their dedication to finding the right partners to work with, in terms of failing hard, failing fast when they try new things, and trying new avenues, or apps, or partners, or any of that. So yeah, let's go ahead and welcome Helen to the show.

Austin Brawner: Super excited to have you on the show. Welcome.

Helen Guo: Hi, Austin.

Austin Brawner: It's something that I think when we met back in May when you came down to Austin, Texas to do a private workshop, I thought you know what, this is going to be, at some point, we're going to have to have Helen on the show because she's got an incredibly cool business. And you are doing some really, really cool stuff.

We've already given our listeners a little bit of a overview, but why don't you take a minute or two and tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got started as an entrepreneur?

Helen Guo: Yeah, sure. I graduated from college in 2015, so still not that long ago even though it feels like a really long time now. And actually, my partner, Dylan and I met in college our senior year, and we both knew we wanted to start a business.

After graduation, we had been thinking of opportunities, looking at different industries, we were both really health-conscious, and when we realized there was nothing really in the cereal industry that was lower in sugar, higher in protein, and lower in carbs we really felt like we could actually create a better alternative to what was out there.

And at the time, we were like wow, we can't believe nobody has done this. Honestly, we didn't really know what we were doing back then, but we started basically experimenting with all of these different ingredients. The biggest challenge is, can we actually create a product that solves a problem.

Eventually, it took us almost like a year to develop the products. That was the biggest challenge early on. And when we launched actually, we did a lot of influencer marketing very early on. We were bootstraps. We had no money. We sent out hundreds of products to influencers that we just reached out to on Instagram and just basically spammed them almost and shipped them a bunch of products. But this was before we launched, so we actually shipped them products in almost like little Ziploc bags if you will.

It was received really well so that's when we were sort of like, "Okay, we have something here. People like it. Can we actually launch a business with this?" So yeah, that was actually not that long ago because we really officially launched in March, and now it's December. Things have just been picking up since then.

Andrew Foxwell: Let's talk about that growth, right? Because I think it's been very rapid for you. I'm not asking you to give away revenue numbers, but can you give us percentage of growth and how quickly this has gone? Because that's, I think, one of the biggest and most surprising things about your business is that it's just gone so fast and it's really going well. Your product reviews are so strong. You're running really quickly, but I think there's a quality eye there that's very important to mention as well.

Helen Guo: Yeah. No, totally. This business definitely grew much faster than we expected. Basically, we were at zero, so I guess there's no real percentage since everything was just a positive from there.

But we sort of grew from zero to I guess well into the seven figures, I don't know, eight or nine months, which our goal was ... Dylan and my goal was, can we hit a million dollars this year, in our first year. That was our stretch goal for us very early on, and it was just sort of this arbitrary number we put our heads to. And I think we hit that in the second month or something. Yeah. No, it's been growing super fast.

Austin Brawner: You said you guys actually kicked things off, launched in March, but the process has taken a little bit longer than that. So you guys graduated in 2015. It took about a year it sounded like to get the product going.

When you guys say you officially launched in March, were you selling product anywhere else before that, or was it really truly like the website kicked off, ran the first ads in March, sending out in Ziplocs to influencers, sending it out there? When did that happen to actually running ads and getting things rolling?

Helen Guo: Yeah, yeah, so it was actually the March before. We officially launched in March, but the March before that, that was when we officially really started full-time working on the business.

At that point, we were at first sourcing manufacturers, developing the product, and simultaneously we basically created an Instagram page. And we were like, "Okay, can we get people to give us their emails for this product that doesn't exist?"

And our thought back then was we didn't really want to run a Kickstarter, but if we could somehow collect a lot of emails before this product launch, then we would launch the product.

So basically, I guess the March before we launched, a year before we launched, we started making all these samples in our kitchen. It wasn't even in Ziploc bags, it was in these little bags that people sell weed products in actually, which we found out later. We are dumb. But we would put in basically a taster amount of product, and we would just send it to people and people really liked that. They had early access, which was actually really cool. Nothing like it existed.

We sent product to probably like 1,000 influencers in the various niches we were targeting, so keto, low carb, etc. And we were just like, "Hey if you like it, post about it and tell people to give us their emails, and we'll let them know when we launch."

So we actually drove people to our Instagram profile which had this link that led to a landing page where we just collected emails. I think by the time we launched, we had over 20,000 emails in just a few months.

So basically, while my partner, Dylan was working, I'm getting the products ready for market on the production side. I was like, "Okay, how can we just really cheaply get a bunch of emails so that when we launch we can have a really strong start?"

So what happened was back then we honestly didn't know what we were doing on the production side. We had a very small manufacturer. So we were like, "Okay, can we just make one batch of product, only sell it to this email list that we collected and see what the feedback is?"

Basically, last fall that's what we did, we were like, "Okay, 20,000 people, we're ready." And we sold out basically of that first batch, those people, in the first 48 hours. And that's when we were like, "Okay, we definitely have something now. Let's go back to the drawing board. Let's find a large manufacturer. Let's run ads, go the whole thing." Later on, in March, that's when we officially launched.

Andrew Foxwell: You got these emails, were you using paid to get the emails early on as well?

Helen Guo: No, we weren't.

Andrew Foxwell: No. So you just were putting it out there on Instagram and building up an email list. Were you posting it in other groups, or how did you get that initial list?

Helen Guo: Yeah. The initial list was honestly a lot of manual work on my part. I was basically on Instagram 24/7 back then, essentially reaching out to influencers, being like, "Hey, would you be willing to give us a try in exchange for a post?"

And you'd be surprised the amount of people who don't charge for things like that who are just happy to help. And a lot of people go, "Yes." So essentially, what we did is we got hundreds of influencers who were just like, "Yes, we'll try your product and post about it." But when they posted about it, we would tell them a call to action was, "Hey, go to their bio and sign up for their VIP list."

You know, on our bio, we had a VIP list basically that led to our landing page that said, "Join our VIP list." And we collected emails that way. We collected over 20,000 emails that way actually.

Andrew Foxwell: That's unbelievable. I mean I think that's very cool. I think that there's a feeling that you need paid out of the gates. And I think that if you're willing to do the hard work to get it going initially ... I mean it's actually similar to ... Austin and I just interviewed Griffin from Pura Vita, it's like kind of how they started too, very manual outreach, very hustle-based relentlessness essentially. And I think and Dylan, at this point now, you're consistently breaking through barriers with ad spend.

Once you got it in production, which maybe you will go back to, and once you got, you know, you validated the product, I mean clearly, you also had some sort of ... You knew the product opportunity very clearly, right, because you put it out there and it went really well right out of the gates.

Talk about the scaling of your ads and how you've seen that because there's been challenges I know that you've faced along the way, but it's been a continued growth. And also, I think, is it something that you are just always looking for more information for what you can do better, or is it a matter of always pushing testing faster? How do you philosophically look at your ad spend and the scaling of that?

Helen Guo: Yeah. I think in terms of I guess Facebook, Instagram, which is still our primary channel, we started running ads, as I said, sort of back in March. And I ran them myself, so I think that was really important. From day one, I just learned everything myself. And I felt really strongly about needing to know who our customers were, how to acquire them, how to speak to them, what types of visual assets appeal to them.

So very early on I think because one of the two of us, you know, me and Dylan was very involved instead of just handing it off to an agency from day one, I think that was really, really crucial.

It's actually interesting because we spent all this time doing the influencer stuff, having all this data before even running ads, I think it made it a lot easier for us to know what to say in our ads.

So very early on we started maybe spending $100.00 a day. I just set up my ads according to a structure that I thought made sense from just research and reading, going on these Facebook groups like I don't know just various resources I found. And I think structurally we had a very sound methodology early on and then it was pretty easy to scale up from then. Every few days we would increase our spend, and very quickly we were able to increase our spend into the six figures.

Since then, it's been more of a focus on creatives and making sure there's not creative fatigue. So I think that's sort of been what's allowed us to be able to continue to scale is just we test a lot. We're very relentless about testing. We test maybe five to ten new creatives on any given day. And we're always coming up with new angles, new ideas, things like that, seeing what other people are doing.

Austin Brawner: I think that what you mentioned about having to go through the process of building something "organically" like reaching out to influencers, convincing them to be able to post. By the time you get to actually amplifying your posts with ad spend, yeah, you've realized it's much harder to do it organically than it is through paid, so you get that learning process.

It's the same thing that Griffin at Pura Vita talked about when we interviewed him. It was like they had done all of the organic work, so it much easier to follow up and amplify with paid.

I would love to hear your transition from initially spending $100.00 a day, and then you're scaling that up. You've had relationships with different marketing agencies, can you talk a little bit about your experience and I guess what are some of the common mistakes you feel like business owners might make with their relationship with advertising agencies?

Helen Guo: Yeah, we've made a lot of mistakes there, so it's definitely worth talking about. We actually ... So basically, as I said, I was running everything myself, even up to, Austin, you and I had our workshop in May.

For several months, I want to say maybe even five-plus months, I ran everything myself. And it got to a point where I was up at like 6:00 AM checking ads, then all day checking ads, at midnight checking ads.

And it was just like we couldn't really grow the business because I was so focused on the ads themselves. And at that point, I really needed to bring someone else on, but I didn't want to just hire someone because that felt like a slow process. I really needed someone faster. That's when I sort of went with the agency model, you know, bringing on Facebook ads agency.

And we've cycled through probably three of four different agencies at this point. And early on, I think one of the mistakes I made was just saying yes to any individual that was like, "oh yeah, I know how to run Facebook ads."

And a lot of people claim to know how to run Facebook ads, but they might not have the same philosophy as you. They might not understand your target market. They might not have a good grasp on creatives. Those are some of the things, early on, we had an agency that honestly didn't understand our products at all. Without understanding the products, you can't really come up with any creative concepts, any copy, anything like that.

And then there were certain agencies that were, I guess from a media buying perspective who were trying very crazy things. And I think for us it was like, "Hey look, we have something that's working. You don't need to prove yourself. Continue with what we've done already." So that was a big thing.

And then later on as we realized that we needed a lot more creatives, that became our biggest challenge. There are a lot of agencies out there, but there's sort of a disconnect between the creative side and the media buying side.

So a lot of agencies don't have in-house creative teams, so you're constantly supplying assets to them. At one point we became ... essentially, I was like why am I not running the ads if I'm spending multiple hours a day trying to coordinate creatives since that became the most important piece that would determine the success for our ads.

Then we decided to work with an agency that has an in-house creative team that could really ... so that there was no disconnect there where I didn't actually need to step in every single day to be like "hey, these are new creatives, try these out."

Andrew Foxwell: Yeah, I think the relentlessness of Facebook advertising, many of us are familiar with that. It's been my whole life, professional life almost.

Austin Brawner: His whole life. Actually, he came out ...

Andrew Foxwell: My whole life since birth. Since birth, yeah, I've been turning ads on and off since I was born. Yeah. I mean it feels like it. I actually kind of forget sometimes I used to work, do something different.

But I think when you and I met, one of the things that was really cool was this part of it of saying ... Well actually, let me back up. First of all, having a client that understands as in-depth as you do how things are working is very rare. And so that's one thing that I always think the best clients I've worked with are those that understand the core concepts and even go further because then it's a true partnership and you're able to speak at a higher level.

A lot of the clients we work with now, we're having them watch the courses that we do or something. They're listening to podcast episodes where right off the gates it allows a better discussion to happen, which I think is good.

And that's something that you will do better in your business and you have done better in scaling it because you have done it. And you have scaled it yourself, which is good and a good place to start. And I think people give that up a little bit too early even in some cases.

But the creative testing that you do is what, in my opinion, sets you apart on a very consistent basis, which is you talked about integrating new creatives every day in a lot of cases. I think you're really user-generated content or UGC masters.

How do you manage this? Because a lot of it is getting testimonials, getting reviews, things like that. How do you manage this process, and how have you instituted SOPs to make it easier on you instead of the manual leg work?

Helen Guo: Yeah, that's a great question. Yeah, just going back to your first point, I think it's super important to learn how to run every part of the business yourself or know how it works before handing it off to anyone else. And I think that's one of the things I still believe in doing across anything we do.

And that's made a huge difference because when speaking to agencies, even now feel like I can be a lot more helpful on our weekly calls instead of being like, "Hey, what are our CPAs looking like?" We can actually be discussing is CBO the right fit for this specific campaign and why or why not.

And I think everyone I speak too as well says that that's ... Agencies themselves say that that's much more helpful when a client is able to actually provide genuinely helpful feedback.

But yeah, going to the creatives, as I said, we test about five to ten different new creative on any given day. We're always testing. And I think a big part of it is just we plan ahead. We plan our creatives about, I want to say like a month in advance with our agencies.

So it's sort of we have meetings with our agencies and we talk about new concepts, whether it's things that we find the other brands are doing or things that we come up with ourselves. And we basically use Asana with our agency, and we come up with a list of all our ideas. We then move them into the to-do section.

We then basically, you know, our agency has a creative team, so whatever they can handle, they shoot and produce little the creatives themselves, which then it not a lot of work from us. And then anything UGC related, we consistently, I guess, share in a Dropbox with them. So we download all of our content that we get tagged in every day and we upload them so everyone across all of our partners is able to access them.

We actually, it's funny, we don't do anything to really incentivize people to share about us, but I think very early on before even developing the brand, Dylan and I decided that we needed to create a very visual brand that people would naturally share so it wouldn't be this forced "go tag us, go tag us." We would just be, "Hey, people. Open the product." And it's something that compels them to take a photo of it and share with their friends.

Austin Brawner: Sure, and it definitely, when you think about also, one aspect is the nostalgia of well, maybe I haven't had cereal for a long time, and now I'm having cereal that tastes like the cereal I grew up with but doesn't have carbs or sugars. I think it can be a powerful experience for people and they want to share that with other people, which is super cool.

Helen Guo: Totally. And also, the entire unboxing experience is something we spent months on. Just from the moment you receive it, is it something that people want to capture and share?

Austin Brawner: Sure, sure. I want to dive in a little bit more because I kind of watched you go through this experience of going from running the ads, being in there every day, checking them at 6:00 AM and midnight to having this agency that is taking a lot of the work off your plate.

But there was a period of, I think it was about a month or two months where you actually flew to New York to make sure this agency relationship was going to work. Could you talk a little bit about your involvement in going from no agency or you checking the ads to actually getting this thing on the right track and what that process looked like?

Helen Guo: Yeah, absolutely. I think one of the mistakes we made with some agencies we worked with early on was we just weren't on the same page. Jumping on calls all the time is great, but the onboarding part is the hardest part, just understanding your brand, understanding your user personas etc, etc.

So we were actually living in San Francisco at the time, Dylan and me. We'd just signed a lease, and at that point, we were like, you know, when we brought on this new agency, they were based in New York. We were on the phone for about a week back and forth, but it felt like there was a disconnect because I went from running the ads to them running the ads. I didn't want to feel like there was miscommunication. A lot of the lessons learned were sort of just in my head.

So that's one thing I was like, "Well, this is the entire business, so I don't know, should we just move to New York?" And Dylan and I basically lived out of Dylan's grandma's couch for a while in New York and just camped out at our agency's office. So I went in every single day. I was like almost an employee there. And I would just, with my account manager, walk through every single step of every action and what we were doing for almost a month. Even after that, we stayed for another month just so we could have a face-to-face meeting because I just felt like they were much more productive.

Helen Guo: And now I'm in Buenos Aires but because we had those two months of just meeting face-to-face all the time we're now on the same page. I can be anywhere and I'd feel confident that they know what to do.

Austin Brawner: That's awesome. It's not talked about enough, the amount of time. It's just like onboarding an employee. If you're going to have an employee come on to run your Facebook ads, you would do the same thing, right?

Helen Guo: Totally.

Austin Brawner: And you would dedicate the time. You'd be like hey, sit down. We're going to spend hours going through the process and learning how to access and transfer all of those learnings that you have picked up over months and months of running ads to be able to let them have success. So that's freaking awesome.

Andrew Foxwell: One thing that you said that was also huge, Helen, is like philosophy. Do they share the same way of thinking about it, right? There's different camps of direct response advertising thinking, and I think making sure you find someone that's there is huge.

I just had someone, they're a referral agency of ours, and a client that we referred to them. And the client contacted me after working with them for two weeks and they said, "You know, the agency is awesome. The thing that's hard is that they just don't seem that excited. They're not asking that many questions to really dive in." So I shared this with the agency and they flew down and spent two days with them.

But I feel like that's a mark of a good agency out of the gates is if you front-load that work to just get that philosophy and that process on the same page. And just try to learn and understand what decisions they are going to make so that you as the business owner can feel like you can take a deep breath a little bit as well, which is the whole goal of it. But it can be a train that can go down the wrong tracks very quickly.

Helen Guo: Exactly. And I think one of the other things is, we're lucky that in our agency that we work with is willing to accommodate me literally hijacking their office, but a lot of agencies would never be okay with that.

So I think upfront being like "hey, how important is this to you? If it is, are you okay with meeting X times a week? Are you okay with speaking X times a week?" And are you actually speaking to the person running the ads versus another intermediary? So a lot of agencies that I've spoken to, you weren't speaking to the actual person running the ads. And that's was just another thing that was like this is not going to work.

Just upfront I think one of the biggest things with the agency we're currently working with, I was like, "Hey, is it okay if I come in? And if that's okay, I would love to work with you guys." And they were open to it, but not everyone is.

Andrew Foxwell: Yeah, yeah, yeah. One thing that strikes me about your business, for both of you, is that you're always on this forefront of testing new ideas, and projects, and apps, I mean, obviously, email. I know Austin might get to that. Where do you get your advice? How do you crowdsource this to make sure that you're always testing and also gut checking it?

Because I know that you have some really close friends that are other eCommerce business owners, do you run things by them? How do you go through finding out new stuff and learning new stuff that maybe a lot of us don't know about?

Helen Guo: Yeah. I think I'm naturally inclined to sort of seeing what other people are doing, so one of the things I do is I follow a lot of brands on every channel possible. So I'm constantly ... I spend a few hours a week just dedicated to just seeing what everyone else is doing.

So I just go on other people's websites and go through their entire funnel. And there are brands that are constantly pushing their boundaries, much more so than we are. And I'm always coming back and thinking how can we do that, or should we do that at all? So I think that's one of the key things we do, and I made a lot of friends along this journey, other eCommerce brand owners.

And I think very early on I reached out to a lot of people who were basically a year ahead of where we were or where wanted to be in a year. So I felt like they most attuned with current things that are working instead of people who are like four or five years already very successful but maybe weren't as attuned with current strategies or tactics. That was actually really instrumental to us as well.

Austin Brawner: One of the things I want to hop into is when we met back in May, you came into Austin, Texas. We basically spent two whole days doing a workshop building emails.

I could tell right after we sat there that you guys were going to go on a really crazy ... You were already growing really fast, but the growth stretch was going to be really, really fast.

Could you talk a little bit about some of the growth you made in the channel of email since diving into it and what type of an impact that's had on the way you think about ad spend?

Helen Guo: Absolutely, yeah. Before the two of us, or me and Austin, with the workshop in Austin back in May or June, we essentially had no email program whatsoever. We didn't have any basic flows. You know, we're on Shopify and had just the Shopify abandoned cart. And I think we honestly had nothing else beyond that.

And, at that point, things were just growing so quickly, we honestly didn't have time to implement anything, so when I went to Austin, we basically had set up all these initial flows that just ended up generating a lot of revenue for us without us having to really do anything day-to-day. And then after that, we have continued to work on building out more of those flows, those triggered emails.

And now, more recently, sending out regular newsletters to our lists, and that's something that now we're working with an email agency. And we're planning out a month or two in advance all of our emails going out. Before, I was sending out an email the night before it needed to go out. I was just writing it up in Klaviyo, and we had no system whatsoever.

But now, we went from email generating basically like 0% of our revenue to over 25% of our revenue consistently. And that's been huge for us because it's consistent. It's stable. It helps drive our ROAS up, all of our ads. It makes our ads a lot more efficient.

And during times when costs are ... It's super competitive. Like right now during the holiday period, it just helps that much more to have a really solid email program. So that's something we've really doubled down on.

Andrew Foxwell: That's awesome. That's fantastic that you were able to diversify, and it's such a huge part of your revenue now.

Looking forward in your business, we've talked about agency relationships. We've talked about the way that you think about innovation and different partnerships. What are the things that you think about looking into the future that you want to make sure that you're ahead of? I think a lot of people are talking about loyalty programs. A lot of pl are talking about integrating other marketing channels as a test. What kind of things are you thinking about? Is it product innovation that's leading for you? Or maybe it's all of those things.

Helen Guo: Yeah, that's interesting. I think it's definitely a combination of a lot of those things. Product innovation is huge for us. We have a lot of success launching new flavors, new products. And that's something that continues to work for us, so that's something over the next year we've really got planned out.

Beyond that, yeah, we're constantly looking to diversify our ad spend. So we started being very heavy Facebook, Instagram but then moved on to email. Now we're looking at both prospecting and retention focused, like lifecycle marketing focus channels.

And especially on the prospecting side, it's really tough to feel like your whole business is relying on Facebook and Instagram. That, honestly, is really scary to me. I'm always trying to figure out are there other channels that are potentially profitable and scalable for us that maybe other people aren't even thinking of at this point.

Austin Brawner: I always love checking in with you and hearing what apps and things you're excited about because you dive in and you're like I'm just going to try this thing. I'm going to put this out, see if it works, and talk to the developers who created it, get feedback, and kind of ... I feel like it's a very iterative process when you install an app. You'll go and start working with the team and make sure that it's working correctly for you. What are some of the apps you've used recently that you are excited about?

Helen Guo: Yeah. We started using to running SMS with PostScript, and their team has been awesome. As Austin said, I love chatting with the teams that build the software. So very early on I jumped on calls with, I guess, Alex from PostScript. We spoke about what they're seeing working, what we could implement, things like that, and just learning. The people who make the apps know the most about what strategies are working. That's something we've been pushing heavily.

And then recently, I was just telling Austin about Enquire, which is an app that we've been using for attribution, and that's been awesome. And when I spoke to Matt from Enquire the other week, he was able to share some of the best practices for other brands, what he was seeing working, and what he had lined up. And what's really awesome about speaking to the actual developers of the apps is you never know what they're going to say and what other people are doing, but also, if they have any new features coming out, they'll put you on the beta or ahead of the list. And that way you can try out some of the new features they're launching too.

Enquire has been awesome for attribution. We're seeing over 50% survey completion rates. And it's been really helpful for us to identify or actually match up all these other attributions from each channel that's saying they're attributing something to Facebook, but whether or not it actually is, it's good to have a second pair of eyes on it.

Austin Brawner: If you guys aren't familiar with what Enquire is, it's a post-purchase survey tool that right after somebody makes a purchase on Shopify you can ask questions. And often, for attribution you can ask questions like "how did you hear about us" and people can select where they heard about you.

They have an integration with Klaviyo so they can push over the information so you can run an export. They'll give you analytics as well about how people are finding out about you and where they're learning about you, whether that's word of mouth, podcast, advertising, Facebook, Instagram. You can ask all those questions, and then you can match that up with your attribution models. So pretty cool tool.

Helen Guo: I think the other cool functionality is you get to see, for example, someone said, "I heard about you on Facebook." But you look and they actually came in through Pinterest from the last touch basis. That's interesting because maybe we should focus more on Pinterest because that might actually be working for us. Yeah, and just interesting to see what people say and where people say they actually hear from you and how that actually matches up with where they came from.

Austin Brawner: Sure. That makes sense. I've got a little out of the blue question, but I was interested. What do you think can't be replicated very easily about your guys' business?

Helen Guo: I think honestly, what can't be replicated is probably our team. I think Dylan and I have invested a lot in our own skill sets. And a lot of people, whether they come into the market or they're doing something different, they just want to outsource it very, very early on.

Sort of going back to what we were talking about earlier, but because we learned everything ourselves, we just have a really good grasp of the business and of the drivers of the business. And I think that's really hard to replicate. You can always hire people, but you don't know how good they are. And you have no method of evaluating them if you don't really know how to run things yourself.

Andrew Foxwell: Yeah, I think that's totally true. I think there's a uniqueness that you bring, and a deep dive that you bring, and an attention to detail that you have that is very rare.

Well, Helen, thank you so much for joining us. It's been a pleasure to speak with you and to get some great learnings from you. If people have questions after the podcast, what's the best way to get ahold of you?

Helen Guo: Yeah. My email is, and that's the best way to reach me.

Austin Brawner: Helen, it's been great. Thank you so much for hopping on. Enjoy the rest of your time in Buenos Aires. Thanks for taking a little break from the wine, steak, coffee, and delicious food down there to come and share some of your knowledge and what you guys are working on and a lot of fun.

Helen Guo: Yeah, absolutely. Thank you, guys, so much. This has been fun.

Austin Brawner: Hey, guys. It's Austin, and if you've been loving the podcast you've got to go check out That's where I work one-on-one with my clients to help them build faster-growing, more profitable online stores. I've got coaching programs and workshops that we host all over the world. I would love to have you come check it out.

If you're a fast-growing eCommerce business or you want to be a fast-growing eCommerce business, you've got to check it out. That's the spot for you. We go more in-depth than we do in the podcast with comprehensive trainings and coaching to help you scale up.

Check it out, See you there.

Austin Brawner: What's up everybody. Welcome back to another episode of the ECommerce Influence podcast. My name is Austin Brawner.

Andrew Foxwell: Hey, and I'm Andrew Foxwell coming to you live from chilly Madison, Wisconsin, temperature-wise right now, so just throwing that out there.


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