Resources for Buying and Selling Online Businesses

Using Outside Traffic to Amazon to Boost Rankings & Trends for 2021

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Michael Jackness

Michael Jackness is the President and CEO of Terran, an e-commerce conglomerate that owns and operates seven-figure brands and content sites. Through Terran, Michael also runs a blog, podcast, and training site called EcomCrew, which specializes in helping entrepreneurs grow e-commerce businesses.

Michael has worked for tech companies since he was 18 years old, when he started his own tech business, Discount Computer Consultants. His specialties include search engine marketing, relationship building, and adopting change.

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Joe Valley and Michael Jackness discuss how COVID-19 has impacted e-commerce businesses
  • Michael talks about his long-term SEO and marketing strategies for one of Terran’s content sites, Tactical.com
  • Should you use outside traffic to boost your Amazon rankings?
  • How Michael connects content sites to Amazon product pages to maximize profits and eliminate competitors
  • The importance of talking about your professional failures and challenges
  • Michael and Joe reveal their e-commerce predictions for 2021
  • Which platforms should you use for your e-commerce business?
  • EcomCrew Premium’s courses and why delivering value to clients is Michael’s primary professional goal

In this episode…

After juggling all of the personal and professional challenges of 2020, the prospect of starting anew in 2021 is refreshing, to say the least. The new year can hold many things: hope, health, and—fingers crossed—a great deal of growth prospects for your business. So, how can you effectively implement strategies that will help your business boom in 2021?

Many e-commerce sellers consider outside traffic to be one of the primary avenues of growth for their Amazon businesses. When used tactfully, external traffic can help you optimize SEO, weaken competitors, and boost revenue and rankings for your Amazon store. However, like any great marketing strategy, mastering outside traffic takes time, effort, and skill. Luckily, Michael Jackness has the e-commerce expertise you need to effectively expand your business and its growth prospects in the new year.

In this episode of the Quiet Light Podcast, Joe Valley sits down with Michael Jackness, the President and CEO of Terran, to discuss how to master the art of using external traffic to grow your Amazon store. Listen in as Michael shares his long-term SEO strategies for content sites, the best platforms for e-commerce businesses, and how to boost Amazon revenue and ratings through outside traffic. Stay tuned for more!

Resources Mentioned in this episode

Sponsor for this episode…

This episode is brought to you by Quiet Light Brokerage, a brokerage firm that wants to help you successfully sell your online business.

There is no wrong reason for selling your business. However, there is a right time and a right way. The team of leading entrepreneurs at Quiet Light Brokerage wants to help you discover the right time and strategy for selling your business. By providing trustworthy advice, effective strategies, and honest valuations, your Quiet Light advisor isn’t your every-day broker—they’re your partner and friend through every phase of the exit planning process.

If you’re new to the prospect of buying and selling, Quiet Light Brokerage is here to support you. Their plethora of top-notch resources will provide everything you need to know about when and how to buy or sell an online business. Quiet Light offers high-quality videos, articles, podcasts, and guides to help you make the best decision for your online business.

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Episode Transcript

Intro 0:07

Hi, folks, it’s the Quiet Light Podcast where we share relentlessly honest insights, actionable tips, and entrepreneurial stories that will help founders identify and reach their goals.

Joe Valley 0:29

Hey folks, Joe Valley here one of the hosts of the Quiet Light Podcast and a partner at Quiet Light, an online business brokerage firm as you know, I’m also a serial entrepreneur having built, bought and sold a half dozen of my own companies. And I’ve been self employed since 1997. I joined the Quiet Light team in 2012. And since then have sold nearly 100 million in transactions for Quiet Light clients. And I’m just one of 11 actually, scratch that it’s 12 advisors now we had another serial entrepreneur join us just last month. Today’s episode is brought to you by Quiet Light, a small to middle market entrepreneur led m&a firm focused on online businesses only. everyone on the team has built, bought or sold their own online business and now act as advisors to other entrepreneurs seeking and eventual exits. Now before I introduce our guest today, I would like to give a big shout out to Ecommerce Law Group if you need legal counsel. Ecommerce Law Group is a boutique law firm that specializes in assisting entrepreneurs and investor groups with buying and selling highly successful online businesses. Those include physical product, drop shipping, lead generation and SaaS businesses. They’ve been on both sides of at least a dozen Well, actually dozens of Quiet Light transactions, and not a single one has failed to close. Go to ecommlawgroup.com to learn more. Now today we’re joined by someone who has built, bought and sold his own online businesses as well. He sold one through Quiet Light in the spring of 2019. He and his partner who also sold his business to Quiet Light, it feels like a decade ago, run the EcomCrew Podcast and EcomCrew Premium. These are online communities that give you the training and mentorship you need to scale your existing brands. And they do lead by example sharing their own brand successes and the occasional failure. Today’s guest is the one and only Mike Jackness one of the good guys helping others succeed in this ever changing online world. Mr. Jackness How are you today?

Mike Jackness 2:28

I’m good man. You want not me that you quit your job in 1997 I quit mine in 2004. I don’t usually find people that have been doing it for that long, but I guess it just says that we’re old.

Joe Valley 2:39

It’s all the great shit on my hair and my temples everywhere else says that I’m old. So

Mike Jackness 2:43

it is I got it in my beard. I haven’t shaved in a few days. And that’s where you start to see it first is down there. So making me look older.

Joe Valley 2:50

I have I have photos of when I first started brokering back in 2012. And for some reason I thought it was cool to have a goatee. I had a good deal. And it was brown. If I did it now it would be complete

Mike Jackness 3:04

all grey mines mines a salt and pepper. I guess

Joe Valley 3:08

mine’s more copper than No, I guess it’s more salt. more salt? Yeah, it happens a crazy year and 2020.

Mike Jackness 3:15

Guys, it has been a crazy year. I mean, I don’t know that anyone’s like, Oh, yeah, what an awesome year or 2020 has been so it’s it’s been a challenge. You know, obviously, the thing that keeps me grounded is I’m just kind of whining, my challenges are all kind of bitching and complaining versus lots of people are having real problems, you know, they’re getting kicked out of their homes, or they lost their jobs, or they’re, they’re right on the edge of all that. And so you might my things are I can’t go out to dinner. You know, I miss going to concerts or something, or traveling or all these different types of things. And you know, so that that keeps it in perspective. And I try to keep myself grounded and realize that it could be much worse, it can always be worse, right?

Joe Valley 4:00

So yeah, there’s no well being being in the online world that we live in.

Mike Jackness 4:04

We’ve got very, very little to complain about. Of course, we we both know, people that have seen their businesses really suffer because of this pandemic. And on the flip side, we’ve seen people that have seen their businesses really scale because just the overall online focus in on online transactions. And it’s been a year of winners or losers. There’s not a lot of in between, we’re, we’re one of the few that are in between because we’re a diversified company. And so we’ve had some stuff go crazy up and some stuff go crazy down. But if I was only in one e commerce business, and it was like a travel business or something like that, it probably would be a bad year or if I was in only one business and it was like a home gym or something like that. You’re probably crushing it.

Joe Valley 4:50

So between you and Dave Brian, folks, your business partner how many how many different ecommerce businesses do you run? And I guess we can count EcomCrew and EcomCrew Premium as e commerce businesses.

Mike Jackness 5:03

So that would be five total then I have IceWraps, WildBaby and we also on Tactical.com obviously Tactical has been a big winner this year, and Dave owns Off Roading Gear. He just has the one brand. And we also run EcomCrew. And we’re in the middle of a transaction right now and due diligence that should be closing within the next couple weeks. So we’ll be taking on another brand ourselves. Starting here in a couple more weeks.

Joe Valley 5:32

Now I know when we sold ColorIt ColorIt was a big part of what you talked about on EcomCrew and how you shared your experiences with email marketing, sending traffic to Amazon from outside sources or things of that nature. Do you do that with some of the other brands that you have now? Or is that what this new purchase is going to be about?

Mike Jackness 5:52

We do we do. I mean, we were constantly very transparent about what we’re up to. IceWraps and WildBaby are kind of pretty exclusive Amazon brands, there’s not a whole lot of stuff that we’re able to really do to move the needle off of off of Amazon. You know, I’m always been a big believer in trying not to stick a square peg in a round hole. I mean, so even though we’ve been very successful email marketing, or Facebook ads, which I think are great revenue drivers, they’re not going to work for those brands. They just they don’t make sense. Tactical is a little bit different story. I mean, so we own Tactical.com. We’ve set that up as a content sites, we have 10 x star traffic this year, which is pretty exciting. And it’s starting to really move the needle for our e commerce brand. So we’re talking a lot about you getting outside traffic and in a white hat way and sending that off to Amazon, to be able to compete with the changing landscape is just going to continue to get more and more difficult.

Joe Valley 6:57

So Tactical.com is a content site and people that visited or ordering your products on Amazon.

Mike Jackness 7:06

Right,

Joe Valley 7:06

it started out as strictly a content site, you know, with affiliate revenue, was that the purpose or you always had your Amazon brand as well?

Mike Jackness 7:16

No, I mean, it was it’s a content site with affiliate revenue. And so our sister brand is called Tac 9 or that’s our Tactical brand. And so the whole idea, I mean, Tactical.com from from day one, when we started it, the idea is okay, we’re going to we’re going to create a bunch of content in the Tactical space that we niche down into just prepping and survivalism. That’s like what we’re really focusing on. And so Tactical is all about, about those, those two subsets of the Tactical space. And 90 something percent of the content is is not about gear review, or trying to sell people stuff. It’s just more about ranking and getting eyeballs and getting backlinks and having a long term SEO plan and thought process and then sprinkled in between all that is gear review stuff. So like what are the best tactical blogs, what’s the best tactical flashlight? Best fire starter these types of things that you would use as a prepper or survivalist in your bug out bag or to be prepared for things? There’s power outage and things of this nature. And so that that stuff is starting to rank as well and sending traffic off to to our Amazon listings.

Joe Valley 8:29

no shortcuts. In other words, right? You’re not just doing a product review site and hoping for traffic. you’re developing good quality content and over the long run, and Google’s hopefully going to reward you. And I haven’t like

Mike Jackness 8:41

I said we were up 10 x this year. And I think we can do it again next year. So it’s exciting.

Joe Valley 8:46

Yeah. When did the when did the rise start? Did it start in March? and April? It was it mostly because of the pandemic or a combination of, you know, the hard work you’ve been putting in over the years as well?

Mike Jackness 8:55

Yeah, it’s definitely both. I mean, the rise? Yeah, we definitely saw a rise in February, March, April, like you can go back and look at our traffic. But when we look at a Ralph’s, you know, which is a tool that helps you with SEO stuff, our rankings also are going up at the same time, or throughout the course of the year in terms of what are we ranking from certain terms. And so that obviously has helped disproportionately as well like in a good way, because we’ve gone from like number 30, to, you know, to number eight for a lot of terms, or number eight or number two or something like that, you know, so now we ranking in the top three for things like survival food or emergency food supply, things that get searched quite a bit, and so it’s bringing us a lot of traffic.

Joe Valley 9:40

Let’s let’s talk about one of the things that you you talk about a lot with your your folks that subscribe to EcomCrew Premium. It’s in alignment with what we’re talking about now, and that’s driving or using outside traffic to boost your Amazon rankings. Is that you know, it’s a tactic that I’ve heard Heard about for years. But how? How does it work? How well does it work? How long does it take to really impact revenues and traffic on the Amazon side,

Mike Jackness 10:12

or I mean, our plans a long term plan. And so we’ve been at this for about two years now working on Tactical.com. Really, this last year has been the year that we’ve put, like, all in effort into it. So the first the first year, year and a half ish or whatever, we weren’t really doing that much with that we had a content writer just kind of putzing around and putting some stuff up there. But But last year, Around this time, we were doing our 2020 goal setting and we decided we’re going to we’re going to put a lot of effort into this, we’re going to add more people we’re going to focus on we’re gonna be talking about this at all of our meetings, and it’s made made a big difference. But you know, most people are looking for something that works right now. They’re looking for a magic bullet or some magic pixie dust to shortcut things. And

Joe Valley 10:58

so what that list people should do, they should give up on that it’s not going to happen, right?

Mike Jackness 11:02

Well, I think they should give up on it. Because what they’re doing is they’re spending their time they’re spending over the course of a year. You know, they’re spending more time than we are. But they’re spending it by like reading forums or groups and looking for the, the super URL or the, you know, the search find by thing you can do, or some some type of gimmick that works right now, you know, and that gimmick is always different, like every month or every quarter, there’s some new gimmick, and at the end of the year, you spend more time you’re going in circles, you’re trying to chase this this magic thing at the end of the year, you really have nothing necessarily to show for it because the gimmick goes away. What we’re trying to create is something that’s not gimmicky, that’s never going to go away. And Google has been around for 20 years, and people have been searching the internet for an equally long amount of time, this isn’t going to go away, people are still going to be typing in queries, Google is going to continue to be number one for the foreseeable future. And if you have good content and provide good value to the people who are looking for this stuff, now you’ve built something, you got sustainable, almost like monthly recurring revenue in a way of, of inbound traffic, you’re building your email list, you’re creating assets that are worth something. And when you go to sell your business, it’s going to sell at a much higher multiple, and, and go quicker, because people love stuff like this versus a bunch of shady stuff.

Joe Valley 12:28

I couldn’t agree more, you know that, you know, I’m all about doing it the right way, you know, thing I’ve been saying lately is is you know, people want to sell their business for maximum value. And I think that that’s, that’s great. But the way to get to that is is to not think about yourself and what you’re going to get at the end of the day, you just simply build a great business that’s going to be sustainable for the long run and be taken over by a great buyer. The end result is you get maximum value for that business. So let’s talk specifically about you know, you’ve got the people that are searching for information and they go to Google, and they go to they find Tactical.com, where you’re ranking. And then somehow you’re leading them to your Amazon store for Tac 9, are you are you sending them to specific product pages? Are you sending them to the seller store? Can you talk about that a little bit and where you send them?

Mike Jackness 13:18

Yeah, we started the product pages. And so our long term strategy basically is to create an unfair advantage, right to give us an edge, anything in life where you can have an edge is good, but to do it in an ethical and whitehat way. And so what we’re doing is like we’re thinking, Okay, we might want to launch a firestarter, for instance, which is actually going to be a product we’re going to do in 2021 Well, rather than the traditional way, which we’ve always done it, which is like okay, well, let’s design this fire starter and, and launch it and kind of hope and pray that it does well. And we give ourselves maybe a 60 70% chance of success because we have a good launch strategy. And we feel like we’ll do well just because we’ve been successful in the past. With this strategy, we’ll be doing like we think, Okay, well, we might want to launch a firestarter. But instead of doing it in a way where we’re kind of taking on some risk. Let’s Let’s go by all the competitors firestarters that are out there, let’s say 10 of them. test them all out, we’ll take pictures, we’ll take some video content will will will actually test them all out and an experience for ourselves what’s good and bad about these products, what we can do to improve them and really get like an intimate knowledge of what makes a good Firestarter versus you know another one there’s actually quite a bit of little idiosyncrasies between one firestarter to another. And we learn this by actually going through and doing all this. When we do all that. Now we can produce a really great piece of content about what the Deus firestarter is. So we can put up what’s in our The term that we’re ranking for is best ferro rod, which is another word for firestarter. And now that we rank for that, well, we know now that we’re already ranking for it, we’re already getting traffic. And we’re already sending traffic off to future competitors, Amazon listings, we have affiliate links on there, we can look at our Amazon affiliate account and see what’s going on there. And we know specifically Okay, well, we’re selling X number of firestarters. Every month now, through these links, well, if we make our own and put ours up at the top of that list, will presumably will sell just as many of ours instead of our competitors. And a little bit makes a big difference here, you know, you can, you can be selling just a couple of units per day through this outside traffic. And it seems to make a huge difference compared to some of the traditional ways of doing it. And we’re just using, you know, standard Amazon affiliate link where they’re not super URLs, we’re not trying to get people to search, find buys, or any of these types of gimmicks are just standard Amazon affiliate links that you would use, if you’re just running an affiliate site, they’re not going to a store page and trying to like, stop them with keywords and all these different things. We want to do it again in a white hat way. But we find is Amazon loves outside traffic. I think that if you’re, if you’re sitting in a boardroom somewhere you’re trying to think of how am I going to fix my algorithm in a way that people can’t game the system. This is one of these ways where, you know, if you got a lot of outside traffic coming from multiple sources, to a product, and people are buying the product through those links, there’s a pretty darn good chance that that this is a product that we should rank higher than others, because there’s a lot of interest out there in the world for this product. And it seems to make a big difference.

Joe Valley 16:55

Well, just for those that are incredibly impatient in this world in which we live in, folks, how long is your process in in, you know, you say okay, firestarters, let’s go ahead and write some good quality content. Let’s buy some, you know, competitor products, do some reviews, send them traffic, let’s see what happens. While we develop our own imported, we know that’s going to take, you know, months right there. So from beginning to end, when you are thinking about these new products and going about it this slow white hat way, how many months are we generally talking about here?

Mike Jackness 17:33

Right now, or somewhere in that 12 month neighborhood? Wow. So quite a long time. But we’re, I would say, a year or two from now when we really hit our stride with this, it’ll probably be like six months, where you right now our focus. Again, we have other brands, we have other things that we’re working on. This is a long term game, we’re really working on building the authority at Tactical.com first, and you know, but we also are trying to prove through our thesis, which is working very well. We have a couple of products that are kind of runaway hits now because of the strategy. And so we we know that it’s working. But we’re still taking a slow, methodical approach to the number of products, we’re going to launch and making sure we’re doing it right. But But right now, it’s taking us the better part of a year to kind of get through the entire process. I think we can get that down to six months. So eventually we can say okay, well, here are some products, we think that we want to launch. You know, it takes a team of people to write all the articles and get the content up there. We know that we’re ranking we know we’re selling stuff. Okay.

Joe Valley 18:39

And how many products do you think you’d launch on an annual basis? Do you just do one at a time? So when you get down to six months, you’re doing two a year?

Mike Jackness 18:46

Would you right now we’re we’re looking at doing three or four next year. And so in 2021, that’s our goal, we we already have two products identified that we know we’re going to do and we think we can do a third and possibly a fourth. And so it’s it’s kind of slow going right now. And we’re not trying to add tons of new products to very different strategy that we’ve taken in years past. But the following year, I think will be the year that we that we really kind of unleash this and go a little bit crazy with it.

Joe Valley 19:15

Do you have Tactical.com And Tac 9 are under the same LLC?

Mike Jackness 19:20

We do? You do?

Joe Valley 19:22

And so you’re using the same QuickBooks account? Can you differentiate the revenue streams from Tac 9 or affiliate revenue versus Amazon revenue on tech? Niner?

Mike Jackness 19:31

We do. Yeah, we do keep track of it separately. Your thought is that, you know, when we go to sell this business, this will have to go as a pair. It’ll be very difficult to convince a buyer to buy the Tac 9 or brand without having control a Tactical and so we think that this will our strategy is to sell both at the same time. I’m going to be very upset if it doesn’t work out that way. Because you know that we’ve had commingle things before and how to break it apart. And it’s it’s a nightmare. But our thought process is that you These kind of go together, you know, it’s you’re gonna get a content site along with a brand. And that should be something that’s pretty powerful one that is in the space or that understands this, this idea of content drives revenue.

Joe Valley 20:17

Yeah, no doubt, I think that buyers will see it as a higher value because it’s less risk because you’re driving. Well, you’re you’re generating revenue from multiple revenue streams, but you’re also boosting your your Amazon traffic from the outside content source. How? How do you measure? How do you How can you tell on inside your seller account that this outside traffic is in fact boosting your organic traffic inside of Amazon and producing revenue?

Mike Jackness 20:45

There’s there’s definitely a leap of faith or like some thing from like, in your mind, we have to like kind of bridges this gap, right, because the the affiliate revenue and the number of sales that we’re seeing there don’t equate to the results that we’re getting, the results are amplified. But me, I’ve been selling on Amazon since 2015, we’ve sold 10s of millions of dollars of stuff on Amazon and tried every trick in the book. And I can tell you that under normal circumstances, we wouldn’t be able to be the second best selling Tactical glove on Amazon. Without doing this, like the things that we’ve done as far as a launch process and all the things that we’ve done. Don’t make sense, you know, it wouldn’t happen. But we rank on Google for tactical gloves, and that traffic is coming through. And we know that we’re selling some Tactical those through our, our outside traffic. And Amazon seems to really be favoring us to the point where we’ve had to raise our price substantially on the products just to try to keep them from going out of stock. Every time we we keep on coming through this we keep on struggling like right now we were just about again, it’s just really frustrating. And we’re wondering what we think are aggressive amounts. But at one point, or like I said earlier this year, just a couple weeks ago, we were the number two glove on Amazon. And I think that we had left the price where it wasn’t a momentum was going the way that it was, we were going to get that number one bestseller badge, which is kind of crazy if you think about the number of gloves that so on Amazon, how competitive this space is how many freakin tactical gloves that are out there. To be able to be like the number one, two or three glove on Amazon is a huge accomplishment. And I’m pretty certain that it’s because of our efforts with Tactical.com.

Joe Valley 22:27

Yeah, for the folks that don’t know who the hell Mike Jackness, this is, you know, I keep hearing this. I’ve known you since what 16 or 17. I can’t recall when we met it was that one of his events, I think I saw you, I had to go over and say hi, I’ve seen you speak, you talked about Klaviyo email marketing at one point color, it was driving most of its revenue from, you know, email marketing, and eventually Amazon just grew and took over, it seems like almost everything you touch. And I know that that sounds, I don’t know, make like a boost in your ego here. You know, you just it grows it flourishes. And it’s a it’s a strange thing, because so many times this stuff that you do isn’t about yourself, you’re helping others through, you know, the work that you do, and sharing your experiences and screwing up and succeeding again and showing people you’re actually doing it and then working with them, and helping them as well. But enough about that I don’t want to blow your head up too much. You’re a humble guy. So

Mike Jackness 23:32

not not everything works. Like I gotta tell you like there’s definitely things that we do that that failed miserably. And I think one of the things that makes us different is we talk about these things. Right. I mean, it’s one of the things that frustrates me about the the podcasting or the the market or space. So people are selling, you know, e commerce courses and stuff, goobers think it was worth looking for? Yeah, I mean, very rarely Will you hear any of them say that they’ve done anything wrong, or that something ever goes wrong? I mean, this is not an easy business. e commerce is not not an easy business. There’s lots of challenges, you know, just say we’re talking about how we didn’t quite get it right and didn’t have enough inventory for which really hurt you, even though we thought that we had enough. You know, and so I think that that’s the difference, the differentiator, you know, in I don’t know, I mean, I think that it’s a combination of a you know, I’m in my 40s now I’ve been through this rodeo a bit we were talking about I quit my job in 2004 you probably are similar. You don’t really have that same ego issue or feel like you have as much to prove necessarily. And I do enjoy helping people and and this is a very rare business, everything else I’ve done in the past. It’s very difficult to help someone without hurting you know, it’s kind of everyone’s going up to the same 100 jelly beans, let’s say and you want to get as many of those jelly beans as you possibly can and so to your competitors, but an e commerce I mean, how many people listening to this are selling tactical gloves, probably one, maybe none and neither one of us are ever going to sell all The world’s tactical gloves. I mean, this kind of be realistic. And so, yeah, I’m sure that in some scale somewhere that this stuff hurts. I mean, I know people have copied our products and ideas. But you know, if that’s the best you can do is just copy. And you’re probably not going to be successful anyway. And so it’s it’s a rare space where you can help people without, without hurting yourself, and it feels good at a certain point in life. I mean, you know, I don’t really need much anymore, like I’m very happy and content with with our life and what we have. And there’s definitely a satisfaction of creating stuff for others. I mean, we try to do that for our employees, we try to do that for our peers in the e commerce business.

Joe Valley 25:41

Yeah, folks go to ecomcrew.com. Check it out. I looked at the blog post this morning, former client of ours, friend of yours, friend of mine, Joe Cochran, and I were chatting last week about an issue and a challenge that he had. And lo and behold, there’s a blog article. Challenge right there. I know you work with Joe on that, and he’s part of EcomCrew. Let’s talk a little bit about, you know, the trends for 2021. I know, there’s just been so much that has changed, especially in the Amazon world with, you know, I’ve talked to folks that have just had inventory sitting waiting to be processed for, you know, three months. What, what, what’s going to happen, what, in your crystal ball looking out to 2021? Assuming that, you know, of course, vaccines get distributed, and we’ll get sort of back to normal? Do you think there’s going to be a reversal of the growth? Do you think it’s going to change dramatically? What do you what do you see coming up in 2021? Here?

Mike Jackness 26:38

Yeah, I don’t see a reversal of the growth. I think that depending on who you talk to, or what you read, there’s a there’s a variable between like how long it takes to develop a habit, you know, some people say, three weeks, some sees three months, let’s say, but but no one says three years, right. It’s always something relatively short. And so a whole nother group of people that that were late to adopting, ordering things online, have now joined the party. And this is now not the way that it is right now. But this the way that it is like people are not going to go back to let me go shop at the mall. And on top of that, I mean, the numbers are kind of staggering. With the number of small businesses right now that are that are folding, depending on what you read, the statistics are somewhere between one and four and one in five small businesses are closing 20 to 25%. I mean, it’s it’s an insane number. You know, and so even if you wanted to go back and shop at these local retailers, they’re not going to be there anymore. And so again, it just it’s going to further solidify the whole online thing. I don’t see it go. I don’t see it going backwards. I really don’t I think that it’s just going to continue to get to get bigger and bigger. It’s kind of a runaway machine at this point.

Joe Valley 28:00

Yeah, I agree. I think we’re in the right place in terms of the world that we live in, in the online world. You know, I think about curbside pickup, right? We talked about this before we started recording, I haven’t been up to dinner, I think maybe twice since March. You’re right. It’s been nine months, I’ve come to really, really love curbside pickup, I still go to my favorite restaurants, but I just drive up and they bring the food out to me. I don’t want that to go away when it’s pandemic is over. So, you know, please restaurants keep the curbside pickup because I’ve developed a habit of just wanting to pull up and have you had my food out to me and then drive home and eat my eat my living room while watching a good Netflix show or something like that. You know,

Mike Jackness 28:44

I think it’s all you know, personal I actually really missed going out to restaurants like we do a lot of curbside pickup right now as well. But it isn’t just about the food, you know, it’s the whole social thing. It’s you know, you’re going out smells is doing the dishes, but usually we go out with friends and I do miss miss that and I miss the human atmosphere, the human factor,

Joe Valley 29:03

I want to shake somebody’s hand, I want to give them a hug. Yeah, I want to give somebody a good tip and see a smile on their face. And Miss that aspect of it. And I look forward to coming back. In terms of the online space, what do you big, big picture biggest trends? What do you see coming up in the next 12 to 24 months?

Mike Jackness 29:23

I just see commerce continuing to grow. I think that some of the trends we’re going to see, I think that Amazon might slow down a little bit in terms of their growth rate. You know, that the percentage of the pie that they’re grabbing, I think that you know, they’re gonna continue to grow on a great trajectory, but they’ve been going from like, they’re 30% of e commerce to 40% now they’re like, 55% I don’t know that they’re going to go to 65% necessarily, I think that they might be capping out a little bit. I think that that some of that is just, you know, they’ve gotten a little bit cocky. You know, I think that they’ve, they’ve lost touch a little bit with what made them successful to begin with. I can tell you, you know, objectively as an Amazon shopper, I don’t buy as much stuff on Amazon any longer than I used to.

Joe Valley 30:08

Where do you shop? Where do you go? What’s Shopify stores

Mike Jackness 30:10

or whatever other other online stores, but there’s two things I won’t buy off Amazon, I will not buy, like high end electronics. So like think like an iPhone or a DJI like drone, or an Oculus, things that I’ve purchased in the last year, I’m just thinking about like, I won’t buy those off Amazon anymore, because I don’t trust that they’re authentic or brand new. And also, like supplements have been taken, you know, decent number of like health supplements. I don’t trust Amazon for that, either.

Joe Valley 30:38

Why, because of climate control things of that nature or because no seller, the seller might be

Mike Jackness 30:43

your the seller might be just you know. And so, you know, I buy those from a more reputable outlet that I know I’m getting a sealed fresh bottle, I’m not going to get something that like had someone already had their hands through it or something. I mean, Amazon will take a return of 100 pills, it’ll be 95 left in the bottle and you’ll never know or whatever. I mean, they’re just they have some some practices, I think they need to clean up.

Joe Valley 31:07

You’re scaring me because I buy my shuteye from Amazon. Every month. I’m gonna have to check the seal next time I got a bottle.

Mike Jackness 31:18

But, you know, I just that’s just me. I mean, obviously, not everyone feels this way. But I still buy a ton of stuff off Amazon. So don’t get me wrong. I just I think that I think that there’s going to be room like I think that the next good lane is, you know, Shopify stores that are that are catering to to things like this things that are catering to food or health products, maybe electronics, maybe not so much, because that’s going to be like the DJ eyes of the world. These are multi million dollar companies, or niche, like more artists and type things, or a niche, I was just thinking trying to think of one off the fly here like our buddy Andrew Darien who runs e commerce feel he had a right channel radios. And I think that that’s another he sold that a couple years ago. I think that’s the type of a site that will continue to flourish. Because it’s a very technical and nature site, there’s a lot of things that Amazon will never do or they’re never going to be able to provide the customer service and the information on their site about all these like little details about it right channel, you know, CB radio, yeah, you might still go to write on radios and get the information ultimately buy it on Amazon, I think that will continue to happen. Unfortunately, that’s kind of a part of the game. But I think that these types of sites are going to do very well. I also think that Shopify is on the cusp of having a pretty major breakthrough in terms of providing more value to to their, to their clients, basically almost making like a an Amazon S type platform where you can go and buy a variety of products that ship from a bunch of different Shopify stores. And think of the merchant first, instead of Amazon, which thinks of them first. And so you think

Joe Valley 32:59

Shopify is gonna have their own fulfillment centers, just like Amazon does they already do?

Mike Jackness 33:03

Or do you have a Shopify fulfillment, you know, they, I think they can make a platform, shop shop a shop on shopify.com, or whoever it is, that’s basically an aggregate of all of their Shopify stores. And you can go on there and buy a bunch of random stuff.

Joe Valley 33:17

So no to eBay, Target, WalMart, those are not the third party platforms that you think people should focus on after Amazon, its Amazon and then their own Shopify stores.

Mike Jackness 33:28

Well, I mean, it you know, this is kind of where it goes, it depends factor, I mean, eBay, I think is worth it, no matter what, they still continue to be like three to 5% of our sales. So you know, kind of moves the needle, it’s relatively easy. Your Walmart, I think, is it’s worth it from the perspective of they’re sinking so much money into it, and they’re trying so hard that if you can be an early adopter of something that does take off it’s probably worth at least having a presence there for at least your top selling items and we can’t ever seem to get get even a 1% of our sales through Walmart. But if they’re going to continue to sink billions of dollars into it, we’re going to continue to try to be there when it does take off you know, target I think has some some prospects as well. These are all relatively easy things to add, right? I mean, they’re they’re third party, third party selling platforms that you just kind of upload your feed and you’re you’re good to go. Shopify is a little bit more work you know, so it depends on the size of your business and you know, your fulfillment network and things like this that if it’s worth it for you to do it and so you know, take those things with a grain of salt depending on on what you’re selling and where you’re at in your in your life cycle.

Joe Valley 34:38

Shopify has become you know, a ad hoc term like jacuzzi now Is it is it really you know, when it comes to platforms to develop and host your websites? Is it your top recommendations you Shopify no WooCommerce no WordPress, nothing like this. Your your favorite for selling physical products is shop. If that’s what you’re recommending, do

Mike Jackness 35:02

I use the analogy of this is going to date me as well. But beta versus VHS? You know, beta was those things. Now, what are those things? If beta was a better technology, but VHS, right, and so I think that Shopify is in the same category, I don’t necessarily know that it is the best platform, technically, we used to use BigCommerce. In the past, we’ve used WooCommerce, as well. All of them have their advantages and disadvantages, depending on what you’re selling and the volume and a bunch of other little factors, but Shopify is where we have standardized everything that we’re doing. Because they’re clearly the market leader, every new plugin comes out for them all the support is there, all the markets focused on them, they have won this this, this battle, this war.

Joe Valley 35:50

And so so and I don’t mean to put you on the spot. Hopefully the answer is yes. So Tactical.com is a Shopify platform.

Mike Jackness 35:57

So Tactical.com is WordPress, it’s just just a content. We’re not selling anything on there. Anything that we do sell, so our free plus shipping offers and the few things that we do advertise and sell through through there are all on Shopify.

Joe Valley 36:11

Okay. Is Shopify a reasonable platform for someone that is going to do content and just blogging and building an affiliate site? Or should they really focus on WordPress in your opinion?

Mike Jackness 36:24

Yeah, this one only these like interesting things that we get all the time like, this is probably the number one question that comes up on econ crew. It’s so weird, I think because our latest course, actually, we have a course that goes through just how to do all this outside traffic stuff. And so the number one question that keeps on coming up right now is should I do my content site on WordPress, or on my Shopify store? And so what I always say is like, it again, it matters. And so for color, right, we had it on Shopify, it’s a fine platform to do it. You know, we didn’t want to have a separate content site just for for ColorIt. But for the Tactical space, we wanted a separate authority content site, just the content, and we’re never going to focus on doing content on Tac 9. It’s all the content is going to be on Tactical.com. And so depending on what you’re doing in your Outlook, the answer is definitely it depends. But if you can have if you have a pure content site that should be on WordPress, if you’re a product, first centric and focus company, then put your content on Shopify.

Joe Valley 37:31

Gotcha. What What’s the name of the course that you just mentioned?

Mike Jackness 37:36

That you it’s about? It’s called Outside Traffic, or it’s a part of the EcomCrew Premium. So with premium, it’s a subscription, you get all of our courses, we don’t usually sell our courses.

Joe Valley 37:48

How many courses do you have together, we have six right now. And this, this is the part folks where Mike’s gonna get uncomfortable, because he’s not gonna he’s not gonna talk about how good he is and what the courses are and things of that nature. He wants to give value value value, and I agree 100% so that those in the audience are learning something right now. But what I want you to learn right now is the stuff that you can get either through EcomCrew Premium, which does come at a cost or through EcomCrew, I think you’ve got some free courses as well. Right? Hmm.

Mike Jackness 38:19

Yeah, I mean, EcomCrew and all of these like long game platforms, right. I mean, we the podcast is free. I mean, so go EcomCrew Podcast episodes. I mean, we’ve got 350 something episodes as a recording those decent amount of good content, I think,

Joe Valley 38:35

and and let me just, I’m gonna den on Mike’s podcast, I’ve had him on hours, this one and when we sold ColorIt, we did a series of the process of selling ColorIt at both on the Quiet Light Podcast and on EcomCrew. And I gotta tell you, mine was so much better not kidding.

Mike Jackness 38:52

I agree

Joe Valley 38:52

with the way am I good. It was so much better. There’s there’s a you still doing under the hood on on the podcast. So under the hood is a segment where they’re diving into somebody’s business and talking about it for the audience to hear, which I think is fantastic. And of course dive into your own products as well. Yeah, so you’ve got EComCrew, which is a free platform, listen to the podcast. Again, it’s somebody that’s been there, done that and lots of people that are in the same space talking about their direct experiences. And then just after two or three years of that, maybe three years, you decided to go with EcomCrew Premium, which was the next level right?

Mike Jackness 39:30

Yep. And so the premiums like are we started launching like one course at a time and we are charging per course, which makes you can just tell I’m not really I’m not a salesy guy. I don’t like trying to sell people and you know, the the conversation EcomCrew, unlike our ecommerce sites, or e commerce sites, we literally think how can we extract as much money from a customer as possible, like I don’t think that that’s really dirty to be thinking I mean, we want to increase our average order value, we want to do it obviously, ethically, but with the EcomCrew Premium, it feels weird because it feels like it’s my peers, and You know, we didn’t want to just keep on selling them another course another course another course. So we just went to a subscription model, you pay one flat fee, you get all of our courses that we have, every time we launch a new course, which is usually once or twice a year, you get that as well, you get unlimited email support. So whatever questions you have, we do two monthly webinars, you get access access to everything in the Facebook group, it all comes together. Everything else that we have is free. And so what we find is that people are typically kind of following us for one to three years before they sign up for premium, which is fine. Again, it’s a long term thing, when you feel like you need additional help, or there, I would just encourage people to go check out all the free content between the podcast and the blog itself, but ecomcrew.com. And when you’re on there, depending on what article you’re on, there’s like always a lead magnet for for free courses that we have, we have a free course on developing products and selling on Amazon. there’s a there’s a third one that I’m not thinking of top my head. But you know, hopefully what basically happens, and I recommend people do this with all aspects of their life. And especially in e commerce. If you can develop a relationship with people and not worry about getting a sale right this minute. You know, it’s where we had all our success. And that was how we built ColorIt you know, this multimillion dollar company that we built from scratch and sold within just a couple of years, was all built on, give value first and we give away. Like over a million free downloads, or maybe even millions of free drawings and content and you gave a bunch of value to customers potential future customers for free for for a very long time, a lot of times before they ever bought anything from us. And over time, this starts to snowball, because you as you, let’s say it’s a three year process or two year process to do this stuff. On average, once you kind of hit the two year mark, it just it just starts to build on itself and build on itself and build on itself. And that’s one of the reasons we were able to build that that’s how we built EcomCrew.

Joe Valley 42:00

Yeah, and in the sale of ColorIt, it’s you know, you just built a great business that grow over time you your philosophy worked, right, we know Matt is doing great with him, that’s the buyer of the business. And Mike and I are still in touch with him on a regular basis. And it’s just doing tremendously well, which, you know, some people that sell their business could think, oh, gee, I should have held on to it for longer. But the goal is to sell it at a certain point for a good value for both you and the owner of the new owner of the business. And so it’s worked out very well for both parties. And as you can tell Mike’s got another business or five other businesses now. You know, one that’s, you know, increased traffic 10 times so far this year,

Mike Jackness 42:42

I wouldn’t want to sell the business and then hear that it imploded. feel awful. And so I’m glad that they’ve they’ve more than doubled since we sold it.

Joe Valley 42:50

So it’s an interesting philosophy that those that are just starting out in this e commerce world, I really want you to listen to because what Mike is doing, and what the people that are best at what they do is helping first whether it’s in Mike situation with the podcast, giving away free content, helping people sharing his experience, or in the business itself of exempli just gave of ColorIt there’s a way for you in your own business to do the same thing and give more to your customers with expecting nothing in return. You’re going to get something in return. The more people you help, the more people are going to think about you when they decide to buy a product in our case with quiet like the more people we help the more people we reach the more people have better businesses with a better exit someday. And guess what they’ll probably think of Quiet Light when it comes to that. Mike does the same thing with EcomCrew EcomCrew Premium with a podcast and with every brand that he owns. So check it out. Mike how do we how do we Is it is it remind me it’s ecomcrew.com? Yep, links there to premium to the podcast to the blog post to the courses to just about everything that somebody could possibly need. Right?

Mike Jackness 44:06

Yep. And it’s EcomCrew. Now one thing I regret. I never thought that people would think of spelling with two M’s, but I get a lot as EcommCrew MM. Like no no, it’s easy.

Joe Valley 44:19

Yeah, one m so it’s funny because at the beginning you heard me mention Ecomm Law Group and Ecomm Law Group is with two M’s

Mike Jackness 44:26

Is that right?

Joe Valley 44:28

Ecom is with one m so it’s done however you want to look at Mike Jackness you come through you’ll eventually find them

Mike Jackness 44:34

it goes against one of the things that like I’m really adamant about when like naming a business is never make it so it’s complicated or tough for people to remember using ColorIt can’t screw that up WildBaby you know very difficult to screw up Tactical.com like that’s like hard to mess up. IceWraps you know, again, just one easy where we own treadmills.com before that, you know, these are all things that are very easy to remember an EcomCrew. We kind of screwed up and I realize now that it isn’t guaranteed to be with just one M. And we don’t. I don’t I think we do it with the two M version and it redirects though.

Joe Valley 45:07

So I can type in either then so can you folks go to ecomcrew.com? Check out the podcast, the blog posts, all this good stuff? And I think is is the EcomCrew Premium open for membership right now? Or is there a waiting room sort of thing a waiting list?

Mike Jackness 45:24

Yeah, it actually isn’t open right now, you can just get on the list. When you click on premium get on list, or you can email [email protected] Honestly, like when people email us and ask, we usually figure out a way to get them in. But the main idea is that we launch it once a quarter, there’s a couple different reasons why, first of all, just from a marketing standpoint, we found that whenever there’s scarcity, things do better, you know, just being completely transparent and honest about that. But also, it helps Dave and I prepare for the flood. And typically, when someone signs up, there’s there’s just much more demand. And we were finding that throughout the course of the year, there was just never really a break in that which, you know, as business owners is tough, you got other things going on, you want to provide good service, you go on vacations, or whatever. And so we coordinate our schedules, and we know, okay, we’re going to launch premium at this particular time. And so for you know, the next couple of weeks, we need to be all hands on deck and prepared to deal with more more questions now than than typical, you know, what we see a very steep drop off and support requests for after someone’s a new member, they ask all their initial questions, and then then they kind of trickling after that. So

Joe Valley 46:37

anyway, that’s what we do it that way. makes total sense. You need to take care of those that join, because there’s going to be a lot of questions. You don’t want to be overwhelmed. Yeah, I think folks, the most successful entrepreneurs I’ve seen over the last decade in this space, you know, back in, back in my day, I sold mine in 2010. These things didn’t exist. We didn’t have forums, Facebook groups, you know, premium memberships, things of that nature. For the most part, it was me and my developer, and all we did was yell at each other, he wanted me to spend a lot of money, right? Oh, thanks. And I really didn’t want to do it. So we all need each other. He’s a good guy, we survived. We got through it, and I sold my business and he’s still doing great. But today, the most successful entrepreneurs that I know our memberships have the numbers of something like this, whether it’s you mentioned ecommerce fuel, earlier with Andrew, you Darien I always like to say it to to rein in but you know, or other memberships. Join something, folks, because you know, if you’ve got people to reach out to that are in the space that you can share your experiences with. It’s going to help you grow. And it’s okay, as Mike has given perfect examples of he talks about colors, he talks about technology, he talks about WildBaby, you’re, it’s okay to talk to other people about your brand and your business. There are a few snakes in the world that are certainly going to take it and try to compete with you. Don’t worry about that. focus on the positive things and growing your business. I think it will benefit you in the long run for

Mike Jackness 48:05

sure. If you’re afraid to tell the people about what you’re doing, because that happens a lot when I’m at conferences. And what do you sell? No, no, I can’t tell you like, then you don’t have a real business. Right? You’re, you’re you’re doing the thing I was talking about before, you’re like you’re doing what works right now type of thing where you found something in Jungle Scout, and you found some tricky way to get the thing to rank right now. You know, think about the longer term, you should be able to be proud of what you sell and what you do and tell him and tell the world about it. And so just another piece of advice.

Joe Valley 48:37

And we love Jungle Scout and Greg Mercer, by the way, folks, and one of the other things I saw on your blog, and we’re supposed to end this podcast and I keep talking. One of the other things I saw was, you know, a recent review of software that you subscribe to. And so again, folks, just go just go to ecomcrew.com and check it out. Michael, thank you so much for your time. I appreciate it.

Mike Jackness 48:58

Thank you, Joe. Get my friend stay safe out there.

Outro 49:03

today’s podcast was produced by Rise25 and the Quiet Light content team. If you have a suggestion for a future podcast subject or guest, email us at [email protected] Be sure to follow us on YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram and subscribe to the show wherever you get your podcasts. Thanks for listening. We’ll see you next week.

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