On today’s episode, Kunle is joined by Zach Schubert, Founder of Qerā Marketing, an eCommerce agency creating solutions for brands having trouble with optimization and marketing.
Growing up in a Christian family, Zach was taught early on and became passionate about helping people. Thinking that nonprofits would be the answer to his calling, he went and worked in nonprofits but the environment was not great for him. When the pandemic started, he worked as a freelancer on Upwork. He knew he lacked skills in being an operator so he outsourced the work to experts while he looked for clients they could work with. Thus, his idea for Agency Domain was conceived.
Agency Domain is an agency that is doing lead generation for different businesses. Only a few months from their start, Agency Domain grew from 10 to 100 employees. Zach’s sister, who is now the COO of the agency, helped it grow after her sister decided to retire from the army. With discipline and genuine belief in the agency’s mission, the siblings continue to grow the agency while also sharing with other people their strategies.
It’s a compelling episode as you’d hear Kunle and Zach talk more about lead generation, the Agency Domain’s processes and strategic funnels, Zach’s experience in Upwork, and the Capital Club mastermind.
Here is a summary of some of the most important points made:
On today’s interview, Kunle and Charlotte discuss:
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Zach, a warm welcome to the 2X eCommerce podcast. It’s been a long time coming. I’ve wanted to jump into this conversation with you. A warm welcome. I appreciate your presence here on the pod.
Thank you so much. I appreciate your time.
You’re in the SEO, conversion rates, optimization, and Amazon marketing space. Before we jump into that world, which everybody’s looking forward to learning about, I wanted to get your backstory. Track back to the core defining moments that have made you do what you do today. You can go as far back as you want to or as close as you want to. We want to get some context as to who Zach is.
Funny enough, I grew up in a Christian family. From a young age, my parents always taught me to help people, help others, and benefit the world in some way. When I was young, I lived in California in the US so I would always go down to Mexico to help on what we would call little mission trips where we would go and build houses, work in orphanages, and different things like that. From a young age, in high school, that was something that was heavily implanted in me.
When I was 17, when I graduated high school, I went immediately to Argentina to learn Spanish and to continue expanding my skills in the nonprofit world. My goal for my life is to be able to help people and to be able to work in the world of nonprofits. Long story short, going through that journey, and working in a ton of different nonprofits, I got frustrated easily by my lack of ability to have a big impact and the lack of control that you have as well.
One of the things with the nonprofit world, if you’re familiar with it at all, is you’re at will of what the donor wants from you. It’s like, “Do you want to go build a well over here?” They’re like, “No I want you to go build a school over here.” If they’re the ones donating to the project, you’re at will to do whatever they want.
Also, for the marketing aspect of the nonprofit world, which is what I was mostly involved in, you’re spending the whole time thinking of angles of how to get more donors and how to get more people in the door. I was like, “What about all this good work that we can show people that we’re doing and all the people that we can help by doing this social media?” It was always focused and everyone always had this, to me, toxic mentality, like, “How can we get more money? How can we get more donors?”
The end goal was to help people but it was not a great environment for me. I then went to try and start a business and start a social enterprise if you’ve heard of those where the business helped people but we also made money through that. Long story short, it didn’t work out because I had no idea what I was doing. I fell into this depression, like, “I know that I should be doing good and I know that I should be helping people, I have no idea how to do it, and I have no idea how to get there.”
Through that process, I had a struggle with drugs in high school so it was a relapse for me in that time when I got back into this drug addiction. I was still living in Peru and South America at that time. I got into some crazy debt and got into a hard situation that was consuming for me. I never got to the point where I had suicidal thoughts or anything like that. I always knew that there was something in my life that I had to do that would help people and it would be selfish of me if I did that if that makes sense.
I had this deep overwhelming sense of not wanting to do anything, like, “Boohoo, me, my life sucks, whatever.” After a while, I was like, “I don’t know what I’m going to do. I don’t know how it’s going to do and how it’s going to be.” I decided that I was going to go back to the original place, the original nonprofit that I went to when I was 17. For me, it was comfortable because I had been there before, I knew the people there, and it was going to be something easy for me to do.
COVID hit so then I got stuck not being able to move back to Argentina and I was like, “Let me try this freelancing thing. By the time this whole COVID thing is over, I can make some money for myself. Through that, I’ll be able to go out and work and volunteer in whatever nonprofit that I want to. I didn’t need to worry about the funds coming in for me because I’d be able to earn it elsewhere.” COVID lasted longer than we all expected.
As I was building this freelancing business up, building websites, and spending way too much time on things that don’t matter like logos, websites, and stuff like that, I built up the skill of SEO. I then went to work for an agency that did SEO, I worked there for a few months to learn how it all works and learn how everything functions. I then decided, “Why would I just be a freelancer? Why can’t I hire some people under me and then I can dedicate 100% of my time?” That’s the process that I went to.
When COVID was over, I still was anti-capitalist, anti-make money, “All the money that I’m going to make is going to go towards what I’m doing.” I went to this mastermind in Mexico from a close friend of mine whose name is Luke Belmar. I went to a mastermind with him and I was talking to him, “I have all these things that I want to do. I want to build this nonprofit. I want to do this. I want to do that. The thing that’s holding me back the most is the money aspect.”
He looked at me and was like, “Why don’t you go build a self-sustaining business? With all the money that you make from that, you can fund all the projects and all the stuff that you’d like to do.” It seems obvious but for me, that’s the moment where I clicked, I was like, “I can build a business that will then fund all the nonprofits that I want to make rather than having to go out and look for donors or working for someone else.” That’s when I started building.
This was in 2021. That’s when I sat down and started building. Two years later, this April 2023, we were a seven-figure agency, we have over a hundred employees. What we’ve been doing is donating a percentage, doing marketing training and marketing services for nonprofits in third world countries. Now, we’re in the process of raising funds and building my dream and my nonprofit, which is an education program for kids in South America. That’s my journey from all the way to living in a third-world country in the middle of nowhere, in debt, and all this crazy, stuff to being able to get to where I am today.
It’s a phenomenal story and that’s why I wanted to have you on, 2 years, and 100 employees. More importantly, it’s the core, your drive, the energy, and your fuel source that got you to the mastermind in the first place speaking to your mate who sparked the idea for you to build an agency and you going with it. You had that energy. There was a huge why. It was not just to go and buy a Ferrari, it was to help. Kudos to you, Zach, on that. Out of curiosity, with your freelance gigs, when you started as a freelancer prior to setting up an agency, how did you get your first few clients? What did you do?
That’s one of the things that I talk about quite extensively for people who are starting their agency from zero. I’m not necessarily a huge fan of starting from zero and then going to someone and saying, “I’ll work for you for free, a case study, a discount, or a trial.” The best way to start is the way that I did it and I still encourage people to do it.
The reason that I say that is because, generally, if you’re telling someone, “I’ll do it for a trial,” or, “I will do it for free for a case study,” even all referral business that comes in from that person is generally going to see you in a different light of someone that’s not necessarily a professional and someone that’s just trying to get by.
It makes you look weaker in the mind of the business owner, like, “I can have my way with them.” Whereas if you come up with an approach of business with strength and say, “This is what I’m doing. This is what it costs.” They then see you more as an authority and someone who knows what’s going on. The way that I did it is I went on to Upwork. I was a freelancer for a short time, it didn’t last many months because I discovered quickly that I’m a terrible operator and I wasn’t good at managing clients either.
One of the things that I’ll talk about after that mastermind is I went to look for an operator quickly. What I would do is I would go out onto Upwork, generally, and I would look for someone that needed SEO services and then I would just submit my application like any freelancer. Once I discovered after the first client that I wasn’t a huge fan of doing the work and maintaining client relations and all that stuff, I was like, “How can I still maintain this client and then go out and find more clients and then continue to grow this so that I don’t have to do the work?”
I knew, in my head, I was like, “If I’m the one doing the work, I’m not leveraging anybody, and I’m having to do 100% of everything. Eventually, I’m going to hit the top of how much I can do.” I would go out on Upwork and I’d find freelancers that did SEO and I’d say, “Would you like to partner up? How much does it cost to do for you to manage a client every single month?” They would come back to me and they’d be like, “It’s $1,000. I would love for you to send me referrals, partnerships, or whatever.” I was like, “Great.”
They’d charged $1,000 and I was like, “Do you have any case studies?” This is where I would get case studies from. I was like, “Do you have any case studies that I can showcase to people to show the work that you’ve done? I’m going to go out and get leads for us.” They’d be like, “Yeah, here are my case studies. Here are my reviews. Here’s the work that I’ve done. Here’s an explanation of what you can tell people that I’ve done.” I would grab that, I would make it look pretty because I knew that I was good at sales, I knew that I was good at selling, I would make it look pretty, and then I would go out to people who wanted SEO and I’d say, “I charged $2,000 a month.”
On Upwork or offline?
The same on Upwork. I’d find the people on Upwork that did the work and then I’d find the people in Upwork that wanted the work. I’d go back and forth. I’d be the middleman of talking to this person. It’s almost like glorified affiliate marketing except I was somewhat managing the client.
Apart from Arbitrage. That’s interesting. It’s nostalgic for me. It brings some memories for me. I enjoyed selling, I enjoyed closing, and I was like, “I’m going to make so much money,” when I used to consult. My heart was heavy when I had to reckon with the responsibility of managing that client. I listen to rap music and I remember there’s this bar, which is, “What are the pros and cons of this check? I’ve got a check.” You’ve got to weigh it as an individual whether it’s going to weigh you down from a time perspective. You have mentioned something, which I found interesting, self-mastery. You knew you were a terrible operator and so you’ve gone on to find an operator. Do you want to speak to that point? I found that interesting.
I went to my network to try and look for an operator because I knew that I didn’t want to manage people and that I wanted to focus on the marketing aspect of positioning us and working on my personal brand figuring out how to get leads. I knew that if we were going to grow at a rapid rate there would be someone who needs to dedicate themselves specifically to creating and getting customers and then someone who needs to fulfill them to help them and grow the team.
I also know that people have certain certain skills. Operators and marketers are completely different types of humans so trying to run an agency and do both at the same time is a difficult thing to do. Not saying that it’s impossible but it divides yourself instead of you being able to focus on one thing. I went around in my network. I had quite a few failures of operators that I brought in that didn’t end up working out. In the end, I got lucky after about a year of doing this.
Interestingly enough, there was a growth of up to 100 employees in April but that didn’t start happening until January. I was at about ten employees in January and that’s when I got lucky. My sister had retired from the army and she was like, “Do you need any help with anything?” I was like, “Sure, you can appointment set for me or whatever.” Eventually, she got more and more involved.
She’s incredibly competent and I noticed that she was getting more involved and I was like, “Do you want to partner up with me and you can run the whole team?” She understood how it was working. She worked as an account manager for a while. She was like, “Yeah, sure. Let’s do this.” We were small at that time so she had no idea of what it was going to go to and neither did I. We were like, “Let’s run it up and see what happens.”
From January until April, that’s when we grew from 10 to 100 employees in that short amount of time. The fact of the matter is I got lucky because I’m related to her and we work well, which doesn’t always work with siblings. She is an incredible operator. I would be able to go and focus 100% of my attention on, “How do we get more clients?” That’s when I was able to come up with the strategy that we did that helped us grow quickly.
To clarify right now to the audience, my idea of this conversation was that we’re going to go down and speak about SEO, PPC, and Amazon. For our eCommerce agency audience, this is your lucky day. We’re going to speak about how to build out an eCommerce agency or an agency that serves the eCommerce market. Are you okay with that, Zach?
Yeah, let’s jump into it.
You’re a bit humble with the comments you made about your sister. First, you were searching for an operator, you had failures, and then you found what you’re looking for. You’re lucky that she’s your sibling, fair enough, and you can work with her. The army or military precision, I can’t imagine, how did she create a structure for you? Did she lend some military principles in operating and taking care of clients, putting things where they should be, and having that self-accountability? That’s what the military is all about, self-accountability, and discipline.
She was a captain in the army so she had hundreds of people under her while she was in the army. She’s an overachiever like me. She always goes above and beyond, which is a quality that I look for in employees of not just doing what you’re told, but also, like, “What else can I do? This needs to be done, let me go do it.”
She was one of those people as well that came in for an appointment setting but then she was like, “Can I do this also? I see that this needs to be done.” I was like, “Not only is she more invested in it and not just trying to lend a hand and help me out as a good sister but she’s interested in the business.” She then was able to bring that order and discipline to the employees as well as the team and that structure of being like, “We show up on time. We do things the best that we possibly can. Especially, since we’re a completely remote company, you’re responsible for your time but you answer with results.”
I feel like that’s very similar to the army, especially when you’re going out on different missions and different things like that. That was a huge role in it. To this day, we still look for veterans and people who used to be in the army to work in our company because they tend to have that self-determining drive, like, “I don’t need anyone to push me. I’m here to do my work and I’m going to be able to do it.”
In a span of 16 to 17 months, you grew 10X from a headcount standpoint. That in of itself poses a lot of challenges from your org chart. How has the chain of command changed at this point in time? Your entire workforce is remote and distributed. Are all your members or staff based in the US or are they worldwide? I’m keen to find out.
Tons of people in the US so mostly the US. We do have a lot of our clients that come from Australia and Europe so we have quite a few people there as well so that they can work on their time zone.
How’s the chain of command changed? With ten, you know everybody’s name. With 100, I don’t think you know every employee’s name. Your sister is the COO, the operator. Anybody under her? She’s certainly not managing 100 people directly, I know she used to in the army but business is slightly different.
She has her directors. We have the director of Amazon and the director of SEO. Below the directors, they have their assistants that help them out but then we also have account managers. The account managers are the ones that are responsible for that same arbitrage technique that I would use where they’re the ones managing, talking to the clients, and telling them everything that’s being done but then they’re communicating with the people that are doing the work. They’re still being a middleman for us.
When you arbitrage, do you have your own standard operating procedures with the people you outsource work with must adhere to or do you rely on outcomes? “This is what we want. We don’t care how you do it just deliver,” or do you say, “This is what we want and this is how we do it.”
A little bit of both. We have figured out the systems and acquirers to get the results that we get. One of the things that we were able to grow, the reasons that we were able to grow is that we came up and figured out how to do SEO faster. Amazon is something relatively new, we just acquired that agency recently. With SEO, that’s what we grew with.
The reason that we were able to figure it out is that we figured out how to do it faster than anyone else. If you google, “How long does SEO take?” The internet will tell you, “It takes 6 to 12 months to get results.” We have a three-month guarantee with our service. The reason that we were able to figure that out is because SEO is more or less all about manpower nowadays, it’s about getting social proof, getting backlinks, creating content, and all that stuff. We can dive into that a little bit.
Mostly, if you have tons of people working on it simultaneously and quickly, you can get it done faster so that’s what we were able to figure out. We know the systems, what goes, and what has to go in order of, “When someone comes on, this is the checklist of everything that needs to be done.” We also expect results from the account managers.
If those things might not necessarily cut it, yes, they are required to go above and beyond or expected to go above and beyond because it’s also the bonus structure that we have and how many clients we’re giving them as well. If we’re seeing that they’re not performing as well, we won’t assign them as many clients. That’s one of the things that’s a big motivator for them.
It’s not commissioned strictly but we pay them per account that they manage. If they’re managing ten accounts, they make X amount of dollars. If they’re managing twenty accounts, they make twice as much. That helps to keep them motivated as far as like, “I’m going to do the best work possible so that I can get as many clients as I can.” Also, if we see that they’re not doing well, we can take clients away from them and then they’re like, “I need to get my crap together and get working.”
I like this because you’ve multiplied yourself in a hierarchical manner where it’s ground up with all the account managers being you years ago. Fascinating stuff. All of this would not be possible in terms of the operations and running this number of people if you are not bringing in the leads, which is the toughest part of agency work.
There’s so much noise out there. A lot of people are fighting for attention. You just need to go to Twitter, for instance, and see the DTC hashtag. There’s so much noise. People are having their case studies. Even X founders who’ve exited for eight figures are still trying to be relevant. How do you set yourself apart, cut across that noise, gain attention, gain trust, get leads, and convert the leads? Your funnel must be interesting. Do you want to shed some light on that, please?
Absolutely. This is the step that I generally recommend people take, taking that Upwork approach all the way until you’re at around $10,000 MRR at least so you have some cash in the bank. What I did from there is I went to Instagram on my personal profile and I began to build out content. I’m terrible at short-form content so I quit it a long time ago. I started off building out content but I never got any traction or following from it. All of the following that I have right now is from paid ads and then through my network.
The process that I would recommend people to go to after they have about $10,000 in the bank and they have some extra money is, what we would do, we would go out and we would do cold DMs. We wouldn’t do cold DMs like people do now. What we do is that everything would be personalized. If I was looking for a beef jerky brand that we wanted to do marketing for, whether it was SEO, social media, marketing, paid ads, Amazon, or whatever it was.
You can also do this on LinkedIn, Twitter, or wherever you’d like. What we would do is we would go and start and try and build conversations with these people. We would message them, “I noticed that you had a new photo shoot with your newest flavor. How did that go?” It’s building a conversation with them. Whereas most cold DMs nowadays, if you’re on LinkedIn or Instagram, you’re getting cold DMs right away that is, “This is my service. This is what I do. Hire me.”
Even people will go, “I’ve been watching your content, it’s the best content I’ve ever seen. Would you like me to do this for you?” They’re always pitching their stuff immediately. What we would try and do is we would build rapport with them. We would build this rapport of having a basic conversation, not tricking them and thinking that we’re going to buy their product, but building this relationship, like, “Do you ship internationally? How long have you been in business for? What have been your biggest bottlenecks?”
At the end of this conversation, we’d be like, “I’ve looked through whatever you’re doing,” for us, it was website, “I’ve looked through your website and I’ve noticed a bunch of different things with your SEO. I’d love to jump on a call and give you a free audit of everything that we see.” We would tell them, “There’s not going to be any awkward sales pauses. This is something that we can do 100% for free because we make money on the front end with our marketing agency and we would just like to help out brands.” They’d be like, “Fantastic. Let’s jump on a call.” They would schedule a call with us.
We then have them in front of us on a Zoom call and we’re able to walk through every single part of their website, what’s missing, what isn’t good, and what needs improvement. We even tell them how they can do it themselves. One of the kickers with SEO though is that you need tons of people to do it if you want it to be done correctly. We would go through it all and then 80% of the people at the end of this extensive audit call, which would be about an hour long, would ask us, “Great, how much does this cost for you to do it for me?”
The reason that they would ask this is that we’ve told them all the issues that they have on their site and then we’ve made ourselves the authority because we told them what was wrong, and we also told them how to fix it. Big business owners are thinking, “I don’t have time to do this. You’re sitting in front of me, you do know how to do this, and you’re already on a call with me.” We then would be like, “Here’s our pricing. This is how we can do it for you.” That’s how we got all the way up to around $50,000 MRR, more or less. That’s the process that we went through in the baby steps.
During this time, I was also creating content. What I recommend people to do on their Instagram if they’re not good at short-form content or they don’t like doing it is I recommend people create your page as if it’s a landing page. Maybe only have twelve posts on there but having, like, “This is who I am. This is the service that I do.” It’s as if you’re going onto your website or a landing page to be able to showcase your work and who you are. That’s what I generally recommend people to do now if they don’t want to do the content game.
I do not like creating short-form content so that’s the model that I shifted to after about a year of doing content. That’s the cold way to start off and get cash in. After that, what I recommend people do once they have some cash in the bank is to pivot to paid ads. This is where our bread and butter came where we were able to 10X incredibly quickly through this page strategy.
Now that we have our Instagram laid out as a landing page and now that we have some rapport with businesses, case studies, and different things like that, you’re posting stories consistently so people see who you are, and they’re able to identify you. This is all on your personal Instagram. This is not a company Instagram. You’re posting stories so people can see your lifestyle and the things that you’re into so that they can identify with you so that you can build that community inside your stories.
From there, what we do is run DM ads on Facebook. We’re only running ads to direct messages and the reason that we’re doing that is that I’m not a fan of the VSL model, it’s harder to do. There are a lot of variables that go into it and then it’s more expensive from a Facebook point of view because you’re paying Facebook to take them off their platform. Whereas if you’re doing DM ads, they’re cheaper because everything stays inside of Facebook’s ecosystem and they’re happy with that.
Also, the other reason is that as marketers, we know that everyone has a cookie-cutter solution. When I bring a client in, we have a checklist that we go through, and once we do that, everyone’s successful. People, especially business owners, think that their problems are unique and that they require a unique solution. I like the DM ads as well because that gives us a chance to build rapport with them, ask them about their business, and then position ourselves as the solution for their issue.
As we go deeper into the funnel, we’re creating these DM ads. One of the things that I didn’t like at the beginning is I didn’t want to be the face of all the ads and I didn’t want them to be like this video style of me talking through case studies or whatever. In that case, the business would rely on me for growth and rely on me to have to make all those creatives and test all those creatives. What we started doing is testing static images instead.
What we run to this day after lots of trial and error and spending a lot of money and what our ads consist of now is a Shopify screenshot of the dashboard with text laid over it from the Instagram editor, nothing professional. The reason that we don’t want it to look professional is that our hook is the Shopify screenshot.
Anyone who’s an eCommerce brand owner looks at that screenshot every single morning when they wake up so they immediately recognize it. We use the Instagram story texts so that they look native to the platform and that people don’t immediately click away thinking it’s an ad. They read through our texts and at the bottom, it gives them a call to action to send us a DM. That’s how we’re getting all of our leads currently.
That’s a lot to take in. You started with speaking to the hand-to-hand combat. You had to undertake to move your agency from $10,000 to $50,000, which, to me, is still a blue ocean. Did you find the founders of these agencies or did you just go to the Facebook and IG pages for the brands? Were you speaking to the brand or were you speaking to the brand founder?
We would try and find brand founders but, on Instagram, that’s harder so we would mostly speak to brands. A benefit of doing LinkedIn is that it is easier to find the founders.
What was the takeoff rate? I don’t look at the IG DMs in the brands that we manage, only when stuff has been brought to my attention. How do you cut through those gatekeepers, so to speak, on Instagram?
The one thing was that we were building rapport with them, asking questions about their business, and they trusted us more. We were then offering something for free that there were no strings attached to so they’re like, “Sure, I’ll ask my boss if he’s interested in this.” It did require a lot of DMs. That’s why I do recommend people once they have money for ads, inbound is so much easier when you have people coming to you asking for help. It’s so much easier and we don’t even do the audits anymore because of that.
Inbound is significantly easier because then we’re getting people coming in and asking us for help. When you’re doing outbound, it’s a ton of reps so that’s when I would hire appointment setters who would make money based on commission. That’s where I was able to get mass volume. I have four appointment setters that work 24/7 on my Instagram account. What they would go out and do is send out DMs every time they would find someone and it would all be customized and they’d be chatting with them and they’d be having conversations. That disconnected me from the process of going out and finding these leads and I was just doing the audit calls at that time. Eventually, I got someone to do the audit calls also.
Over the last 30 minutes of speaking with you, what I’ve gathered is your relentless means of leveraging other people’s skills to get the outcome of your cause, whatever you’re trying to achieve, which a lot of people don’t do. A lot of us are control freaks, we want to manage and see and do everything in the process and the system. It’s a system for that reason because you plug people and processes in. That’s super interesting. Another question I had is has the typical profile of your ideal client changed over time from your $10,000 days to your $50,000 days? What’s your MRR, which is monthly recurring revenue?
How the profile changed of which clients we were going after, we were looking at the beginning for anything. We were going after whatever. That has its pros and cons. The pro is you need to get cash in the bank and you need to get things rocking but the con is that you end up working with people that you don’t necessarily want to.
Every agency owner needs to go through that because you don’t know who you should work with until you’ve worked with them. Everyone has their own profile, “Every time I see this client, I know that it’s never going to work.” As a qualifier, we’re only working with brands that are doing over $1 million a year or $2 million, it has to be somewhere over that. We also want to identify with the brand and like what they’re doing so it has to align with our morals, our mission, and our vision.
We’re not just going to go after any brand that sells anything just because it makes money. I’ll give you an example of that. One of the things that I’m obviously against is marijuana consumption because of part of my history. One of the things that we never worked with in SEO was dispensaries, which are huge in the US, and the only way that they can market is through SEO. It has to align with your morals, obviously, and that changes for everyone and what you’re interested in doing or what your standards are.
From there, the other thing that we’re looking for is things that are good in SEO. For example, a clothing brand is not great in SEO unless they have some specific niche. You’re not going to rank for a t-shirt. We’re not going to go after generic clothing brands or different things like that, that have keywords that are generic and competition is too high.
Running shoes are almost impossible to rank for. You’re not going to get past Adidas, Nike, Fila, and all these different companies so there’s no point doing SEO for certain companies like that. That’s one of the things that we look for. We’re able to be more picky and choosy. In the beginning, it’s one of those things where you’re like, “I need cash in the bank and I need to also figure out what my ideal client profile is.” You don’t know what that is until you have a bunch of clients that you don’t like.
That makes a lot of sense. That chimes in with my journey. Initially, I told you earlier on that I was in search early on in my career. I was doing it for any and everybody. It was lead gen, there were those eCommerce and someone even with a website hosting company. First of all, I was more appreciated by eCommerce clients and so I gravitated towards eCommerce and it was good at the time so it’s a good decision. It’s all well and good.
You have this system. I now understand the way you generate leads and the way you convert. Is this applicable to other agencies? You’re in a blue ocean right now whereby not many agencies are using Instagram DMs, advertising exclusively via Instagram DMs like you are. Now that you’re seeing it out in public, a lot of 2X eCommerce readers who are on agencies are going to do just that. What happens? How do you distinguish yourself? How do you create a niche? How would you suggest people differentiate themselves? It could be like WhatsApp messaging or what have you.
There are a lot of people that are using this strategy. I’m not worried about it getting saturated because I know that not many people are doing it for SEO specifically. I have a community of about 2,000 agencies that are testing out this strategy and I’ve spoken at events teaching this exact framework. There are a lot of people out there who are using it but I’m not worried just because I know that I have a robust team that’s doing it.
I have two different media buyers, people who are creating all their creatives, and we’re testing hundreds and hundreds of creatives and we’re testing thousands of dollars a day. if people are doing it, that’s perfectly fine but you’re competing against me. You’re not competing against, “I’m going to be able to outspend you. I’m going to be able to create more creatives than you are.” It’s going to be different for me.
I don’t mind giving out the strategy and helping people because I also think that there are millions of people who are using old DMs on Instagram and they’re using cold DMs on LinkedIn and they’re doing cold email but everyone’s still making money with it. For me, it’s not like, “I’m going to lose a piece of my pie.” The pie is billions of people and I’m happy with a few million of it. I don’t have that issue and it would be the information that I wish that I had when I started so I have no problem giving it out too.
You mentioned you acquired an Amazon agency, do you want to speak about why you did it and how you came about doing the acquisition?
I went through that process because I was looking for something that was trendier and that got results quicker. If you know about SEO, SEO generally takes some time, and we talked about that a little bit, it takes some time to get results for people. Because of that, some people don’t always understand the vision of why to do SEO. Our churn rate can be faster sometimes for certain clients. Whereas if you have an ads agency, Google ads, Facebook ads, Amazon, or whatever, you’re able to bring a good amount of money into the business quickly and then they see your value quicker.
The other reason is that it was a compliment to what we’re doing on SEO. For a lot of our clients, when we rank them for competitive keywords, we always notice that, along with our client’s website, Amazon is always there. Amazon is always ranking for those keywords. We’re like, “Instead of trying to compete against Amazon, we could do Amazon as well.” We’re then able to absorb 100% of the traffic rather than the 50% that we’d be able to absorb before.
More than 50% of eCommerce purchases happen on Google but 50% of people in America in 2022 bought things on Amazon. Everyone’s going to Google to search but more than half of those people are going to Amazon to do the purchasing. For us, it was a no-brainer, “Let’s try and get all the traffic that we possibly can for our clients and make sure that we’re not missing any of it.”
Amazon is around to stay for a long time and it’s something that brands don’t necessarily know how to do and it’s not a super saturated niche right now as far as marketing agencies go. It’s valuable for brands to be on Amazon and if they don’t know how to do it, then that’s what we’re here for, being able to get people on there and being able to help them with their marketing. It’s foolish not to be on a platform where more than half of every purchase on the internet is happening on that platform.
The founder of Capital Club is Luke Belmar, who has been my friend since I was 17. I met him when he was about 15 in Argentina so I’ve known him forever. That was the mastermind that I went to originally. I went to his first mastermind in Mexico, there were just twelve of us, it was a small and intimate mastermind, and it was right when he was getting started. I have been with that group from the beginning.
One of the most important things that I attest to my success and the thing that I always tell people is that the way that you can become successful faster is your network, the people that you’re with, that you’re able to identify with, and that you’re able to grow with, but then also the access to the information that you have. The thing, for me, is Capital Club was access to an incredible network, which made me privy to the right information that I needed to grow my business.
Besides the fact that I’m good friends with Luke, I’ve been a supporter from day one because it was something that helped me immensely in creating my business and taking it from zero to the seven-figure mark that we’re at now. I’m now part of the leadership of Capital Club, I’m a partner with them, and I’m in charge of the agency, it has every single niche inside of it. It has a niche for eComm, drop shipping, SaaS, and info products. I’m in charge of the agency side of it once it launches here, which we’re coming to the end of that. I also speak at all of the events.
What’s the membership like? Is it typically North American or is it global?
Global. I would say more than half are European even. It is incredibly global. The membership, there hasn’t been an opportunity for open enrollment as far as anyone in the world can join, not until the end of the summer of 2023. Once it opens, the platform and the community will be $1 a day. It’ll be $369 a year.
Previously, the only access that people had to it was the masterminds and the masterminds were $15,000 and there were only about 50 people that were allowed at the mastermind. it’s a much smaller group for those who are current members. There are probably only about 300 in total. Once the community opens, we currently have a waiting list of over 100,000 people who are going to come out into the platform.
It’s also a filtering mechanism when you price a mastermind at certain price points because it brings a certain caliber of net worth. I was looking at YouTube, it’s blown up, and I watched a few interviews on there. It’s good stuff. Before we depart or we close this off, I have some rapid-fire questions for you and they’re not my standard rapid-fire questions. Ready when you are.
Go for it. I’m ready.
How do you rank a store on Google in three months or less?
The way that we do that is we break SEO up into three different pillars. The first pillar is onsite so it’s all optimizing your code, meta-text, meta tags, your image optimization if you have videos on there, etc., making your page speed faster. Those are the things that Google asks you in their algorithm in order to appease Google’s algorithm.
Back in the day, especially when you were doing search, that would be the only thing you’d need to do to rank but nowadays, it doesn’t have much of an influence and the reason for that being is the rise in social media. The two most important things, which are also the last two pillars are content creation, which is landing pages, blogs, etc., and then backlinking. Backlinking is virtually when another site mentions your site and hyperlinks you on their blogs. If you have a mom’s blog that talks about snacks to bring to a park, I would try and get my client who sells beef jerky on that snack page so that he would be mentioned there.
That doesn’t necessarily bring you the traffic from there but it shows Google that people are talking about you. The more people talk about you, the more Google says, “You have what we call domain authority or social proof, what I call it. It’s that social proof that people are conversing about you and talking about you. The more social proof you have, the higher you’re going to rank on Google for the keywords that you’re putting inside the content that you’re writing. The main idea of how we do it quickly is manpower. We have seven people working on a website simultaneously so we’re able to do that faster than anyone else.
How do you increase conversion rates on an Amazon listing?
On an Amazon listing, the best thing that you can do and the first thing that everyone should do is their front image. The first image that you see is the most impactful image for creating conversions and increasing conversions on a page. If you go up in the pictures bland, they need to be descriptive as well. For example, if you’re selling a supplement and it’s a three-pack, it needs to say on the image that it’s a three-pack, it needs to display the three flavors, and it needs to be descriptive because a lot of people are just scrolling through Amazon looking at those pictures.
We’ve had clients that have come in and had us change their front image and then we increased their conversion by over 150% immediately because of just changing that front image. There are also other things that you can do with the bullet points and through the description of the item and creating and adding videos here and there. The most impactful thing that we constantly see as far as conversion rate goes is that front image.
Marketing or branding? Choose one and why.
That’s a saucy one. Marketing or branding, you can’t live without both. I am a marketer so I would pick marketing. Branding isn’t my expertise. Branding has its value because if you’re able to brand something correctly, then you travel via word of mouth. Word of mouth, at least what I’ve learned from agencies, is that it peters out pretty quickly. You can only get as far as I’ve seen the biggest agencies that I’ve seen that have grown from word of mouth generally plateau a little bit where they stop their growth. I would say marketing because even if you have a bad brand, you can market it to a high level if you do it well.
Who has been your most meaningful business contact in the last five years?
Finally, what’s been your best mistake to date? By that, I mean a setback that’s given you the biggest feedback.
The biggest setback that I’ve had is the realization that if you want to have an impact on the world and if you want to be able to help people, you need to be good yourself. The reason that I say this is because you can’t fill up someone else’s cup if your cup is empty. Working on your personal development and working on your health and working on your mental health are something that’s incredibly important to do because an empty cup can’t fill anyone and it can’t help anyone. You can’t impact people if you are not right.
One of the biggest setbacks for me was not being good because that limited the amount of impact that I could have on other people and the amount of personal growth and therefore professional growth that I could have. That’s the biggest lesson that I learned early on even before scaling my agency. The year that I spent looking for a partner and looking for an operator, I also spent optimizing my health, optimizing my mental health, and learning.
I didn’t want to end up like one of those entrepreneurs who discovered success, they were 35 losing their hair, overweight, out of shape, their mental health was a disaster, and they were going to therapy. I saw a lot of my friends or a lot of peers that were like that after they had sold their agency or whatever they had sold or whatever success they’d achieved.
I told myself, “Why don’t I optimize my health now in order to be able to get to that side or that level?” I saw myself previously in depression and in drug use and different things like that where I was not able to help people and not able to fill people up. One of the biggest things is when I saw myself empty, I saw myself unable to fill other people. Something that’s always important for me to do is make sure that I am full so that I can fill up other people.
Wise words. You’ve got to be selfish to be selfless. I always say first thing in the morning, do something that benefits you in the positive. I’m not talking about just eating, I’m talking about whether it’s something spiritual, whether it’s something physical, get optimal before you can help others. It’s just so important. Zach Schubert, it’s been an absolute pleasure having you on the podcast. For people who want to find out more about all you’re doing in Qerā Marketing, Capital Club, I’m going to link it to your agency on the show notes. Are you active on any social media platforms?
They can find me on Instagram. I’m active on Instagram. I’m starting up Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube as well so they can find me as well by searching my name. On Instagram, I’m probably the most active as far as personal life and different things like that. For Qerā Marketing, that’s where you’re going to find help if you have an eComm brand. Either with Amazon or SEO, I’d love to do an audit for you and help you out and see what we can do. If you’re an agency, I have an agency community called The Agency Domain and you can find the link inside my bio. Eventually, once Capital Club launches, you’ll be able to get access to that as well through a link in my bio.
Thank you so much. I thoroughly enjoyed this conversation, I didn’t know where it was going. It was unscripted and I like that. Cheers.
Awesome. Thank you so much for your time.