In our Behind the Shop series, we take a closer look into the people that have been building your favorite online stores.
The ecommerce and online shopping revolution rages on. We usually only encounter the storefronts, so we asked ourselves: who are the storebuilders behind the scenes? And what can they teach us about building the perfect online store?
This time around, we talked to Ben Zettler, an "ecommerce quarterback" and one of 16 (!) Shopify Plus Consulting Partners globally. He runs Ben Zettler Digital Media and helps build and scale ecommerce businesses.
Hi Ben! Please could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Sure. I’m a digital marketing and ecommerce consultant at the intersection of brand owner, agency and large-scale brand operator with deep knowledge across all three areas to help ecommerce businesses grow and thrive.
I have worked with over 200 businesses over the last several years from world-class athletes to companies selling luxury goods, fashion retailers, beauty products, lifestyle apparel and food/consumables.
I believe there are three foundational components to any company’s ecommerce strategy:
- Their websites
- How they acquire customers
- How they build relationships with/retain customers over time.
We help businesses both large and small across each of these areas.
What’s the biggest agency challenge you struggled with recently?
The effects on advertising following the iOS 14.5 update have greatly affected how brands approach performance marketing.
While some businesses have been impacted more than others, for most, approaches to the structure of advertising content and the makeup of targeted audiences have had to change.
The last few months since the launch of iOS 14.5 have meant helping merchants we work with navigate through the “new normal” of online advertising, across all platforms, but Facebook and Instagram ads in particular.
And what steps did you take to overcome this challenge?
I have had countless conversations with clients lately about viewing these recent changes with advertising performance as an opportunity. An opportunity to refocus efforts and iterating on new pieces of creative to use for ads. Not letting things get “stale” is super important.
But, frankly, this time has also served as a really good reminder that as a brand if you don’t have a “full funnel” strategy across owned marketing channels, your business is going to suffer. Now more than ever, the importance of channels like email and text are vital to the success of any online business.
Sometimes I connect with merchants to potentially work with who are not on a platform like Klaviyo. Who do not have a series of automated flows across email and text to drive purchases. Then that’s the first place we’ll start.
More about Ben Zettler Digital Media. Why do people come to your service and how can you help them?
I have a fairly unique set of experience. I started my own business on Shopify in 2013. It was store number ~41,000 on the platform - Brooktide Sunglasses, a company that was acquired in 2018.
Prior to taking my consulting work full-time, I also spent 5.5 years at Steiner Sports, the largest autographed sports memorabilia company of its kind in the world, where I was the company’s first full-time hire dedicated to social and digital marketing and where I finished as Director of Ecommerce.
On top of that, I have been a Shopify Partner since 2014, a Shopify Expert since 2017 and I was part of an inaugural group of Shopify Plus Consulting Partners in the Spring of 2020. I am also a Klaviyo “Platinum” Partner and Facebook Marketing Partner.
Congratulations on being one of the first Shopify Plus Consulting Partners! On that note: why should store owners choose Shopify Plus?
I always tell prospective clients, whether they choose to work with me or not, that any business - whether they are starting a company out of their parents’ basement or are already doing 8-figures per year online - should absolutely be on Shopify.
The platform’s powerful app and partner ecosystem, the in-built capabilities of what can be achieved from a day-to-day management perspective and ultimately so many other reasons are things to consider Shopify for.
When it comes to Plus, there are a number of Plus-specific features that help enterprise level merchants scale more efficiently.
What are you doing to stay relevant to Ben Zettler Digital Media, personally? And what’s Ben Zettler Digital Media doing to stay relevant to its customers?
Adapting is the name of the game. When changes come - like the iOS 14.5/15 updates or new Shopify features just announced at Shopify Unite (like Online Store 2.0 a.k.a. “Sections everywhere”) - you have to be ready.
Ready to cater to the ever-changing needs of merchants. Because they are adapting to the every-changing needs of the customers they serve.
What are your sources of inspiration. Are there any other ecom experts you look up to?
The performance marketing and Shopify communities are flush with amazing creators and thought leaders. I have had the privilege to build a really strong network with so many different folks across various areas.
Whether you are a marketer, business owner, part of an agency, etc., if you’re looking for inspiration, consider the areas where you would like to improve and find the founders and operators in prominent roles at companies that are at the top of their field.
Network with them - connect on LinkedIn, give a follow on Twitter, join a Facebook or Slack group.
Last question: every day, there are thousands of people venturing into ecommerce. What’s your biggest piece of advice?
Find a niche. Deliver something unique to customers. Pay attention to core foundational marketing best practices.
And, go! Don’t get hamstrung by thinking everything has to be “perfect.” Launch, test, iterate, adjust. You’re always going to be better than yesterday if you are willing to learn.
Interested in participating in our Behind the Shop series? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.