The Jerky of ecommerce
Written by Franco Varriano.
A few of us in the ecommerce world have the opportunity to work closely with one of the coolest company in world. From JackTheCEO to its amazing products, JerkyXP has managed to take over the gaming world by storm thanks to its branding strategy, fast shipping and marketing activities. In this article, we are chatting with JerkyXP’s CEO, Zach Zitney, to understand the secret behind the online store and the tools they use to power their growth.
An “Idle Customer” is a Customer Segment that’s automatically generated by Rare.io for you. Based on your store and customer data, we automatically create a few segments like:
2. The Interview
Ned: Zach, JerkyXP is well known in the gaming world as one of the coolest company around. How did you get started?
Zach: My twin brother, Max and I started JerkyXP during our sophomore year at Ohio State. We had this jerky company with no direction, name or branding and didn’t know what to do with it. There were boxes of jerky in our apartment at Ohio State, we were playing Call of Duty and eating so much jerky that we basically lived on it for months. While playing video games, we were brainstorming what to do with the obscene amount of jerky in our apartment and knew that we wanted to use social media and ecommerce to sell a product. It clicked right then, we loved eating jerky and playing video games and thought “I bet others love playing video games and eating jerky” so we started brainstorming a name and it only took a few hours to come up with the JerkyXP name, incorporating the XP (Experience Points) you earn in many video games to the name. We worked with a friend on the branding and built the website. Everything after that was history and we haven’t looked back since.
Ned: Can you share the challenges you faced when launching the online store and how you managed to overcome them?
Zach: We were new to the entire world of ecommerce but we learned by doing and through trial and error. We had to learn how to price a product, keep inventory, and ship orders. We had very little knowledge of these things prior to launching, but we learned from others online, then over time we started to master the entire process ourselves. We messed up a lot, we did many things wrong but we wouldn’t be where we are today without taking the leap in the beginning. We knew that we didn’t know everything about what we were diving into but we knew that we could learn. One of the hardest things was figuring out how to get website traffic from the niche that we were targeting. We tried a lot of different methods but in the end we used twitter as our main driver of traffic to our website, by finding the people who were talking about beef jerky we were able to create conversations with them. It turns out gamers love beef jerky and we were lead right into the realm of the gamers on twitter (there are millions).
Ned: JerkyXP uses Rare.io to handle email marketing activities, how would you define your email marketing strategy?
Zach: We have a very loyal fan base who loves when we interact with them. One way we do this is through emails. One of our biggest emails is a Monday Motivation email where it is written by JackTheCEO and he gives insightful tips on life and also leaves an unknown fact at the end of each email. These email are a combination of both marketing a sale and interacting with our customers. We also use the predictive delivery in the Rare.io system to send out special deals throughout the week. We find this very effective.
Ned: You have an open rate of 49.5% and a 10% click through rate. What is the secret behind such an above average engagement rate?
Zach: Just as I stated above we have a very loyal customer base, they love the way we use JackTheCEO to do the emails. Our customers don’t want to feel like all we are doing is milking them to purchase jerky. We make the emails fun, one of the main things is adding a GIF at the bottom of each email, people will just open the email to see what GIF JackTheCEO picked out for that email. People like to be treated like people and we have really hit the nail on the head with seeing eye to eye with them on a personal level while commingling business in there somewhere.
Ned: What have you learned about email marketing since you implemented it at JerkyXP?
Zach: Email marketing is single-handedly one of the best tools to engage customers in new deals and information about what is going on. We have learned that people are very keen to their email inbox and they love opening emails at a certain time. Using Rare.io, we were able to capitalize on this fact.
Ned: The team at JerkyXP also launched an order fulfillment company called Ships-a-Lot to enable every Shopify store to boost their order fulfillment. Can you share the vision behind it?
Zach: Since day one of JerkyXP, our biggest problem was figuring out how we were going to get our product to our customers in the fastest way possible. We wanted our customers to be notified as soon as they ordered that their order was processed and already on a truck to them. We handled this manually for a year and a half and obtained an incredible turnaround time for every order, people were blown away with how fast orders were shipped out. Shipping is the step between someone paying for your product and finally getting to enjoy it, which is a huge step that can’t be overlooked. If the customer doesn’t get their product in a certain amount of time they will already be complaining before they even get to try the actual product, which many times is hard to recover from (buyer remorse). So we took our manual process a step further and built a state-of-the-art order fulfillment center that could handle 10’s of thousands of orders a day with 99.999% accuracy. We built such a robust process that we were shipping jerky so fast that we ended up with free time after JerkyXP shipments went out. So Max Zitney, Zach Lukaszek and myself set out on a new venture and formed the order fulfillment company Ships-a-Lot.com to help other ecommerce entrepreneurs with their order fulfillment. Since we have worked through the entire process of building an ecommerce business we are able to relate directly with each client and give them peace of mind that we will work with them through every step to ensure their satisfaction. We pride ourselves on have the most transparent pricing model and fastest customer service in the industry. We also love working with fellow Shopify store owners.
Ned: Based on the JerkyXP account, you ship orders in a lighting speed. Is Ships-a-Lot the secret sauce behind it?
Zach: Ships-a-Lot.com is the powerhouse behind the lightning fast shipping time of JerkXP. Ships-a-Lot also works with many top Shopify stores to increase their shipping speed and increase their custom satisfaction.
Ned: In a world where Ships-a-Lot achieves its mission, how is the ecommerce for entrepreneurs and how fast customers should expect their package?
Zach: We guarantee a 24 hour turnaround time on all orders. We achieve between a 5-8 hour turnaround time on average and we are always improving this with the latest technology of warehouse management. After a package leaves our warehouse it takes between 1 and 4 business days on average for a package to arrive to your customer.
Ned: If you could start a new store today, what are the top 5 apps you would install on your store and why?
Zach: The top 5 apps I would have on my store are, Rare.io (obviously) for the best predictive email marketing, Recharge for recurring subscriptions and the recurring income that it provides, SEO Manager to help beat out the competition when it comes to being found on the internet, Product Reviews because if there is one thing that helps sway a persons purchasing decision it is reading another persons experience of the product and Smile.io to ensure customers keep coming back to your store.
Ned: The word “jerky” is highly competitive for search engine optimization. How are you standing out from the crowd?
Zach: Jerky is definitely a tough market to rank high in search engines but we have achieved success alongside our organic traffic using the SEO Manager app in Shopify and making sure that the keywords people are searching for are on our site in some fashion. Creating descriptions for each product based on these keywords was a big help. I give a lot of thanks to SEO Manager for helping us achieve this.
Ned: I’m a big fan of JackTheCEO. Who came up with the clever idea of using Jack as a brand ambassador?
Zach: This is by far the most asked question about JerkyXP. We really did not know what we were getting ourselves into but early on in the company we randomly posted a picture of Jack on twitter when he was a a few months old. Every comment from then on was people asking if Jack was the CEO of our company. We responded with of course he is, why wouldn’t a dog be the CEO of a jerky company. Jack has single handedly become a star solely through his napping lifestyle that is well documents on all social media sites. Jack has made it easier for us to communicate with our customers and they love interacting with him. Jack has been all over the country in cars, boats and planes and has met thousands of fans and helped sell tons of jerky. He is by far the best part of JerkyXP along side of the awesome jerky. He truly is our CEO and quite possibly one of the greatest CEO’s in the world.
Ned: What is your best advice for entrepreneurs looking to start an online store?
Zach: JUST DO IT. Seriously, the startup costs are extremely low and the knowledge you learn from the real deal of business can’t be found in a classroom. You can’t be taught the emotions that you will go through from starting something that is all yours and learning from all of the crazy situations that come up (yes there will be many). This is the prime time to take the leap of faith and invest in starting an ecommerce store.
Checkout this case study for real ecommerce email marketing examples and our analysis on what’s working, and what the store can do better (P.S. We recommend viewing this in full screen mode):
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