Learn from Fast Growing 7-8 Figure Online Retailers and eCommerce Experts

EPISODE 247 71 mins

How Manly Bands is Transforming the Way Men Buy Wedding Rings

About the guests

Johnathan Ruggiero

Kunle Campbell

John Ruggiero is a founder and co-CEO of Manly Bands, one of the fastest-growing DTC brands in men’s wedding retail. John and his wife Michelle started the company using their combined marketing and business development experience following their own wedding ring fiasco. Now, they run one of the up-and-coming leaders of the men’s wedding ring industry through novel UX strategies and spectacular designs to transform a formerly conservative industry.

On today’s episode you’re going to learn about how a non-traditional strategy helped this bootstrapped 8-figure direct-to-consumer brand disrupt the traditional men’s wedding ring vertical.

Johnathan Ruggiero is the co-CEO of Manly Bands, a DTC brand that is redefining the wedding industry for men. He shares with us the strategies his team used to transform his Manly Bands from zero to an 8-figure business in just three years.

In this episode, join Kunle and Johnathan as they discuss customer acquisition strategies at varying growth phases of the business; $0 – $1m, $1-10m and their current $10m+

They currently utilize multiple marketing channels including native advertising, SEO, Google Ads, Facebook Ads, Content marketing and display advertising.

Jonathan attributes the success of Manly Bands to the team of experts that run the brand behind the scenes and their ability to form a healthy, positive corporate culture.


Covered Topics:

On today’s interview, Kunle and Johnathan talks about,

  • Inventory Management and Forecasting
  • Working with 3PL Providers
  • Customer Acquisition Strategy
  • Retention Strategies
  • Search Engine Optimisation
  • Native Marketing
  • Managing and Balancing CPA
  • Display Advertising
  • Google Ads, Facebook Ads, and other Acquisition Channels
  • Their tech stack
  • Building Culture and Managing Teams
  • What It Takes to Grow an 8-Figure Business

Podcast Show Notes:

  • 01:47 – What to Expect from this episode
    • Brief Background about Manly Bands
    • Over $10,000,000 USD in revenue
    • Over 100 unique products with names and stories behind them
  • 04:05 – Our Sponsors
  • 05:27 – Easily Grow Your Business With A Powerful Marketing Automation Platform! Check out Klaviyo
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  • 07:55 – Introducing Manly Bands
    • 3-year 8-figure International DTC brand
    • Affordable and unique tungsten wedding bands exclusive for men
    • Employed acquisition channels such as Google and Facebook Ads
  • 09:27 – Jonathan Ruggiero, CEO of Manly Bands
  • 10:13 – The Manly Bands Story
    • Solving the problem of men not having much variety for wedding rings
    • Common things to consider: material, style, design, and price point
    • Redefining the men’s wedding band purchasing experience by offering:
      • Unique designs and styles
      • Good price point, a much more affordable option
        a wide variety of options (over 300 designs)
      • Used creativity to stand out from the traditional strategies
    • Used creativity to stand out from the traditional strategies
  • 15:05 – Coming with the MVP (Minimum Viable Product)
    • Started with 60 designs
    • Reiterated product designs with surveys and customer feedback
      • What would the market like?
      • What materials to incorporate?
      • What will make it unique?
    • Maintain a relationship with customers by sending online surveys and emails
  • 17:30 – Inventory Management and Forecasting
    • Bootstrapped the business in the beginning
    • Watched and followed purchase trends to see the bell curve in sizes
      • Find the right window for the sizes (On average it is between 10 and 13)
      • 30% of all types of rings are on hand; 70% are made-to-order
      • During purchase inventory and forecasting, apply the logic in the forecasting model
  • 20:30: Biggest challenge: How to handle sizing?
    • Developed a ring sizer box
      • Encouraged customers to order ahead of time
      • Made it a requirement for made-to-order rings
    • 15-20% of ready to ship rings come back for size exchange
  • 22:54 – Returns and Exchanges: Are they free?
    • Manly Bands offer free shipping both ways
    • Utilise your customer service team well
  • 23:35 – Tips on getting a good 3PL provider
    • 3PL needs to be an extension of your team
    • Maintain daily communication with your 3PL company
    • Make sure the 3PL company prioritises you
    • A collaborative effort is important
  • 27:52 – Relying on a fast and reliable eCommerce platform: Shopify Plus
  • 28:26 – Customisations in Checkout
    • Data Analytics
    • CRO testing
    • Shopify Plus allows pop-ups and free offers
    • Hired a developer to customise the scripts to fit their needs and get rid of non-essential apps
  • 29:54 – Manly Bands’ Tech Stack: Must-have App Recommendations
    • Loop Returns – having an automated system that saves customer service time
    • Okendo 32+ – for reviews management
    • Power BI – data exporters to get data tracked
    • Zapier – using it to connect different bits of data from Google spreadsheets or email automation
    • Listrak – for email automation, can write scripts to create pop-ups
  • 34:24 – Evolution of Customer Acquisition Strategy
    • Started with the paid media route (Facebook and Google Ads)
    • From FB Ads and Google Ads to heavy retargeting and Display, Pinterest and native marketing
    • Created an internal team to expand
    • Explore different options as you grow
    • It is important to diversify
  • 36:54 – Easily Grow Your Business With A Powerful Marketing Automation Platform! Check out Klaviyo
  • 38:25 – Brand Name Search and SEO
    • Highly invest in SEO because organic traffic from a holistic overall marketing perspective reduces advertising costs significantly.
    • A significant amount of traffic leads to a significant amount of sales.
  • 40:10: Managing and Balancing CPA (Cost per Acquisition)
    • Make a holistic approach and sort out attribution models
    • Total Paid Ads Spent + Total Sales divided by blended CPA
    • Average CPA: less than $100
  • 42:24 – Experience on Verizon Media Native App
    • Hire experts to work on an internal team to handle Native Marketing
    • Native marketing is very much a content play.
    • Invest heavily on produced content and video content.
      • Content that can be repurposed for the other channels
      • Content that can drive traffic to landing channels
      • Make sure your product will stand out
  • 44:16 – Identifying the Most Important Elements to Native
    • The headline and the hero image are the most important driving factors in capturing the audience.
  • 45:18 – Display Advertising
    • Google as the main platform
    • It’s very much about the content and how the customers connect with the image or video
  • 45:56 – Insights on Facebook Ads Strategy
    • “We’ve discovered that in the way we name our rings and we write the description, it really is about connecting with your customers.”
    • Connect with customers with a driving emotional response
    • Make sure that the whole experience follows through for advertising
    • Make use of the power of the (1) copywriter and (2) the power of personalisation
  • 48:27 – Payment Plan Platforms (Bread)
    • Payment Plan Platforms increase conversions by helping customers split their payments (3 mos., 6 mos., 12 mos.)
    • Led to an increase in conversions for more expensive SKUs
    • Use of third-party payment apps
    • Have a lot of payment options – Amazon, Paypal
  • 51:26 – Insights on the Product Pages
    • Give each product a personality (persona) and an easy-to-digest narrative
    • Well-written content has massive SEO value
    • A seamless customer review process
  • 53:35  – Phone calls
    • Make sure your customers see you as a real company
    • Average phone calls a day: 50 – 100
    • Average Call Duration: 3 – 5minutes
    • Half of the calls are pre-purchases, others are exchanges
    • Gorgias: Customer Service ticketing system
    • On-site chat works by reducing customer service friction
    • Why are people motivated to use site chats?
      • Mainly used for customer-related requests
  • 57:25 – Establishing Brand Image
  • 59:03 – Tips for E-tailers Looking to hit the 8-figure mark
    • “As we cross the six-figure line, the seven-figure line, I think the biggest thing that we’ve started to learn is the importance of a solid team.”
    • It is critically important to hire people who are experts in their field and who just really understand the brand and how you wanted to grow.
    • Be able to delegate people and identify their expertise.
  • 1:01:24 – Culture
    • It’s important that your team feels that the business also represents them in a certain way.
    • It’s also important to recognize that your employees are people too. They need to feel fulfilled and be able to contribute ideas.
  • 1:03:11 – Go-to resources for Business Strategies and Tactical Standpoint
    • Collaborating with advisors
    • Reaching out to external advisors for ideas and strategies
  • 1:05:08 – Work Ethic
  • 1:06:27 – Lightning Round
    • What advice would you give to yourself 5 years ago?
      • Delegate and learn.
    • Are you a morning person?
      • In the middle. I can work by 9.
    • Do you have a daily morning routine?
      • No.
    • What two things can’t you live without?
      • Phone and my wife.
    • What book are you currently reading?
    • What’s been your biggest mistake to date? A setback that has given you the biggest feedback.
      • Putting too many eggs in one basket. We had an issue with Facebook and the CPA was getting higher and it hurt our bottom line.
    • If you could choose a single book or resource that has made the highest impact on how you build a business, which one would it be?
  • 1:10:11 – Join the 2xEcommerce Facebook Group

Topic Takeaways:

  • Focus on connecting with your customers.
  • Native marketing is very much a content play.
  • The headline and the hero image are the most important driving factors in capturing the audience.
  • Highly invest in SEO because organic traffic from a holistic overall marketing perspective will reduce your advertising costs significantly and more traffic translates to more conversions.
  • Building a solid team who are experts in their own fields and who understands the brand and how you wanted to grow is really what’s going to take you to the next level.
  • It’s also important to recognize that your employees are people too. They need to feel fulfilled and be able to contribute ideas.

Tweetable Quotes:

“Make sure your company sees you as a real company.”

It’s important that your team feels that the business also represents them in a certain way.”

Facebook Group • Continue the Conversation

The eCommerce GrowthAccelerator Mastermind Facebook Group has just launched.
It is a community…

✔️ for founders and experts passionately involved in eCommerce
✔️ for the truly ambitious wanting to make an impact in the markets they serve
✔️ for those willing and open to help and share with other members

Here is where to apply to join the Facebook group



This episode is brought to you by:


This episode is brought to you by Klaviyo – a growth marketing platform that powers over 25,000 online businesses.
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About the host:

Kunle Campbell

An ecommerce advisor to ambitious, agile online retailers and funded ecommerce startups seeking exponentially sales growth through scalable customer acquisition, retention, conversion optimisation, product/market fit optimisation and customer referrals.

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