Cheapest Way to Get High Converting Emails with Adam Robinson from Retention.com Part 2

David 0:00
Are you looking to grow your sales on Amazon? Chances are if you’re not selling on Amazon’s international marketplaces, you are leaving some serious money on the table. What keeps a lot of people from selling internationally are all the confusing hoops you have to jump through to get started. That is why we worked with Kevin Sanderson from maximizing ecommerce on our international expansion. Kevin and his team take care of the details and guide you through the process of expanding so that you can grow your sales and reach new customers. If you’d like to find out if working with Kevin and his team is right for you head over to https://maximizingecommerce.com/fire, once again, that is https://maximizingecommerce.com/fire.

Adam Robinson 0:46
Rather than comparing it with an industry, I like to compare it with what you’re doing right now. You know, like look at our welcome series versus your existing one. It shockingly, it should not look that out of line, not measuring your success by the amount of people that are sitting around. I mean, it’s just a total philosophical like you’re looking the other way. Like there’s one way to like measure how well a company is doing. And that is the venture way and like mine fails every one of their metrics except for the fact that I’m just growing faster than their

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300 Email Marketing Tips: Critical Advice And Strategy To Turn Subscribers Into Buyers & Grow A Six-Figure Business With Email
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Intro 1:17
Welcome everyone to the Firing the Man podcast a show for anyone who wants to be their own boss. If you sit in a cubicle every day and know you were capable of more than join us, this show will help you build a business and grow your passive income streams in just a few short hours per day. And now your host serial entrepreneurs David Schomer and Ken Wilson.

David 1:41
Welcome everyone to the Firing the Man podcast on today’s episode, we are joined by Adam Robinson. This is part two of our interview with Adam. So if you have tuned into last week, I would definitely suggest that you tune into that because there’s tons of nuggets of good information. On today’s episode, we’re going to be continuing our conversation on email marketing for E commerce, and seeing what services retention.com Has that can help you with your E commerce business. To your clients that are ecommerce customers, they capture these emails, and then what are the next steps? How are they using these to increase revenue.

Adam Robinson 2:17
So strictly speaking on that product, onboarding, it is very simple. Like assuming you guys are in the Amazon world, which is, can’t do it on Amazon, they won’t let you. But if you have your own website off Amazon, we have people doing it that day. So you would put the pixel on, you would integrate it with your email service provider, then let’s say you have a welcome series in clay VO, you literally just copy it, paste the welcome series change the subject line in the welcome series to Thanks for stopping by the site. Let it run. I mean, if there’s any nuanced language, that wouldn’t make sense, unless you change that, change that but let it run, what we see. And this is like, you know, two and three quarters years in is the ongoing act of retargeting these people over email is what converts, it almost, it’s like, of course, the first email is going to make the most money. But if you were the sum of every point of contact, after the welcome series is like 75% of the total P&L, the program, the welcome series is only like 25, if that makes sense. So just hitting these people with newsletters over and over again, is what converts over time, it makes sense. You need seven, eight brand impressions to buy. People come back as repeat customers, of course, it’s going to be backward loaded. We have this other product for you know, like Shopify type store. It’s called reclaim, which I don’t know how or why it took so long to sort of realize this. But here’s the idea with reclaim with the same identity capability. So here’s something that almost no one knows, for Shopify store, in order for that person to get an abandoned cart email sent to them, they actually have to be logged in to your Shopify store. Because wherever that now if they’re not logged in, there is no way to associate the behavior of that session to an actual person in an email address. Because how would you you know what I mean? It’s just you’re anonymous. Yeah. So what is the next thing that comes to your mind? Wow, if someone had a great identity graph, that could literally identify all this on this traffic, then you could enable all of these hard abandonment emails to go out. So the first product we weren’t sending down the funnel email, it’s just enabling a newsletter, you know, the welcome series in the newsletter. Reclaim is the same business, same idea. It’s just for the bottom of the funnel stuff. So cart abandonment, product abandonment, category abandonment, and It works phenomenally well also, I’m sure you’re not surprised if you just send out more of the most lucrative email that exists, you make more money. So, so yeah, that is the that is the bulk of what ecommerce companies do. And the implementation on that one’s not bad either. It’s just, if you know, it’s wherever you have these abandoned cart pixels on your site, I mean, Amazon is obviously different. But if you’re running your own store, you just we have a pixel you put next to it, and runs all the events through us, whoever we can identify, we send to your ESP, where you have forked your abandoned cart flow. And it’s basically like, there’s the old fork in our four, and it’s very easy to see the net new messages we enabled, which turned into net new revenue for you, you’re gonna change anything other than, like, set up the logic, you know,

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Ken 5:46
yeah, this mirrored out in branches. So that’s awesome. So I want to move into a little bit more of time value. It’s kind of a metric that we’re tracking and kind of figuring out how to capture this and really measure it. So how can you touch on a little bit earlier, you had mentioned the seven, eight touches to kind of get a sale as the average. So how do you properly calculate the value of an email address? And then how long does that take? Is it like, depends on the product, like if it’s a, you know, something consumers use every week or every month, or maybe once a year? Can you speak to that a little bit,

Adam Robinson 6:18
every business is different. And there’s a whole field called attribution, that does mental masturbation about this topic, left you right now, where this is my view. And you could call it self serving. But this is my view for how you would have to look at what we’re doing. I think that the only logical way to calculate the ROI of the emails that you’re giving us is to pick a point in the future, draw a line in the sand, download the list with all of the customer lifetime values next to it at that point, and look at what you paid us until that point. And compare the numbers. Now, some people are like, well, what if they would have subscribed on their own later? What if they would have so a lot, you know, super anal smart brands. And I would say this is like, with the type of person we’re selling to this is like 1%. At this point, I think if we moved upmarket, from where we are, it would be higher. But you can do a holdout test. You can say, I’ll take this segment. And I won’t have the pixel fire. And I’ll track that segments over the course of this period that we just discussed. And then I’ll use retention.com. On this other segment, and then I’ll compare. And I’ll see, you know, retention.com is saying they got me 8x. But if the emails would have all signed up and converted anyway, on their own, they’re not really giving me 8x. Right. Does that make sense? Sure. So that’s what a holdout test would do. What is annoying for us is like, none of the email service provided no, or Google Analytics or anything. All of these platforms are campaign based attribution, rather than list based attribution. So they will tell you that your welcome series generated $1,000, they won’t tell you what happened to those emails, over the next 12 months, they’ll only tell you what happened to them over that campaign, they’ll tell you what happens. If you were to take this list and send to only it once a week, forever, you could then sum but if it’s like part of all the rest of the campaigns you’re sending, which is the only practical way to do this, I think you would have to do it the way we tell people to do it, which is just, we gave you the email address, go see how much they bought from you. You know, like, yeah, and we got, we have a dashboard, we have a revenue script, we, you know, people check that check our numbers versus, you know, doing what I just described, you know, going to clay VO and adding up or whatever. So, and then, you know, you mentioned different types of businesses and their, every business is so different. It has been very, I don’t have someone spending time on this, like, kind of when you’re in the phase we are with the resources we are, it’s like, we’re just drowning in activity. And like, you know, like, I would love to know the answers to those questions based upon verticals and stuff. I have seen people with very high LTV do incredibly well, with this law. I’m talking like, numbers that don’t even make sense, like 100 like total is like 168x ROI on these emails, but they sell a $4,000 gym, you know? Sure. So but yeah, you know, when you come in our sales funnel, we generally say, we think in 60 days, if you’re not like two to 3x we want to change something, you know, and then people who use it, because there’s this, you know, the repeat purchase effect And the, this is a difficult concept for me to articulate clearly. But when you measure, after 60 days, you just paid us for emails that probably didn’t buy, and you just paid us half of the total that you paid us. So half of what you paid us is essentially worthless. But you’re still using that in the calculation. If you go three years, it’s 136, of what you paid us is the useless emails, and you have three years of people repeat purchasing. So anybody who’s made it over a year, you go look at their dashboards, it’s just stupid. It’s like 25x, ROI, or like, 20, whatever. But like, unfortunately, we haven’t figured out how to articulate that message to people, it’s just so much easier to be like, you know, here’s the, you know, here’s the quick hit, like, it’s super easy to do, I’ll show you the ROI or whatever. But the real, you know, this is just the best way to own an audience that you don’t have to pay for media to access. So the power of that is in contacting it over and over again. Right? Yeah. So absolutely. So

Ken 11:10
just so I’m just to kind of recap that in my mind, like, depending on and like you said, you know, you touched on it, every business is different, every sales cycle is different. And so if you just pick, let’s just say 12 months, hey, I’m gonna run these 12 months to look back. And then you’re right, like 112 of those are just new, you they haven’t even hit the seven or eight touch points yet. And so you take that, that data from the last 12 months and analyze that say, Hey, where did these emails come from? Take your whole list where which ones are from, you know, from retention, and then look at the revenue on there versus what paid retention? Simple, simple concept. I mean, lots of ways to get out of the weeds and like,

Adam Robinson 11:46
that’s exactly like for most Exactly. Yeah. Now, I probably should have just answered it that way. But I decided to get really technical.

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Ken 11:55
Yeah, no, I appreciate that. We’re digging in the weeds today. So adding tons of value now. That’s awesome. So, David, over to you.

David 12:02
Yes. So for our listeners that have active campaigns, because I seems like getting emails is step one. But step two is having effective sequences on the back end. And so what is kind of the industry standard for open rates, click through rates, conversions. And just so some of our listeners are running campaigns, like, are they on par with the industry? Are they doing better? Do they have room for improvement? What are your thoughts there? I,

Adam Robinson 12:28
especially after this apple thing, I hear stuff that’s all over the map based upon people’s sources of traffic, you know, so if like your source of traffic is mostly mobile Safari or something like your open rate is going to be higher? Because it’s like an apple open. Like, there was a fake open? You don’t I mean, so. Yeah. The I like to just rather than comparing it with an industry, I like to compare it with what you’re doing right now. You know, like, look at our welcome series versus your existing one. It shockingly, it should not look that out of line, right? Like opens clicks, conversions, like these are less content than someone who gave you an opt in, I would expect for there to be slight, you know, a slightly lower click through rates, a slightly lower conversion rate. But when you look at the cost of generating a lead other any other way that like more than I mean, it’s the just the best way to do it. So yeah, that that is rather than, you know, the statement, this will work as well as your house list seems to assuage people’s concern, or at least get them to try it, you know, I always say, don’t have to believe me, there’s a size that you could try this on, where it would be impossible to hurt you, and just try it. And then when you see the results, scale it up. And if you don’t cancel it,

David 13:49
you know. So in terms of if someone wanted to dip their toe in the water, and like give it a try, what would they be looking at in terms of pricing and emails? And how long do you need to engage with platform before you can kind of prove out that concept? Yeah,

Adam Robinson 14:04
so so like I was saying a couple answers ago, the real results come after doing it for a long time, because you’re just accumulating so much more of a first party audience than you get any other way. And it takes a while to warm them up, and they purchase repeat purchases, I think you can see what you need to see in 60 days. We got to plan for 500 bucks. I don’t know how many emails it is I forgot, but it’s enough, you know, whatever, 2500 a month or something, it’s enough to see it and then you can you know, choose your own adventure from there. Cool. So, we really liked the

Ken 14:38
Pareto Principle 8020. And so if you had to say if I only have X amount of hours, which flows am I going to run it to make the most revenue and ecommerce what in your experience? What have you seen the flows that are like the top three flows that are moneymakers?

Adam Robinson 14:53
So I think everybody has, who’s not an amateur. Everybody’s got their own store. Like Klaviyo is one that market and they force you to set up an abandoned cart. When you create the account, which is wonderful. It’s the best flow, our product helps you get out some multiple of what you’re going to send otherwise, adding an SMS collection and message before that flow hits for anybody you have a phone number for and then waiting in that flow to see if they converted from the SMS is a wonderful move. And that to me is like a pretty low hanging fruit. CLIPPY has gotten SMS platform right now, the second low hanging fruit related to abandonment is, I think, based upon people that I’ve talked to, everybody has cart abandonment setup, maybe 25% of people have product abandonment setup, meaning you’re browsing around, you’re looking at a product, they didn’t put it in the cart, but they bailed. Those are phenomenally high performing emails, there’s something about the timing and the personalization, and whatever those are amazing. So and we can also grow the audience of who those go to as well. So unrelated to our products, if you never want to go to retention.com. Again, I would say, if you’re not doing those two things, adding a card a bit, you know, collecting SMS, collecting phone numbers, somehow, then adding an SMS touch point to your cart abandonment, and then adding SMS. And adding a product abandonment and putting out some ads on that to those will print money, and then related to our products may assess the effectiveness of this original get emails tool is incredible. You know, it’s just you just grow your email list so much faster than any other way. And it’s, you know, the data will show you it’s people who actually care, yeah, they will be a little bit slower for them to purchase than other people. But in that flow is just the welcome series. So. And one thing I would add is I would, after a few emails, I would call people who don’t engage. That makes sense, if they don’t like her open in three, call them. And then for Apple users, if they don’t like click in like 30 cents or something like that, just pull them because, you know, like, there’s this idea in email that like, the more aggressive you get, the more discipline you have to deal with pruning people off of your list. You know, the whole active engaged body that you’re sending to is what enables, you know, a higher concentration of lower intent emails. That makes sense? Yeah, absolutely.

Ken 17:34
It’s yeah, like an ecosystem, you definitely need to have a healthy list to get into that inbox and not find the promotions or spam or whatever else. So awesome.

David 17:44
Sorry to interrupt the episode, you may have heard Ken and I talking recently about a new tool that we’re using for Amazon refunds. Now I have used other refund tools like this. However, I can tell you in the first seven days, they scrubbed it, the back end of my Amazon account going back 18 months, and found $5,000 of refunds. And the nice thing about this is, it’s my money, Amazon made a mistake, and they are just auditing my account. The other thing I really like about this tool is there is no monthly fee. They only charge a commission if they are successful in getting you your money. Go to github.com GE T ID a and enter promo code ft m for Firing the Man FTM 400. This is an awesome tool. I can’t say enough good things about it. Now back to the episode. Yeah, I would like to ask some questions about bootstrapping a business in some way. Oh,

Adam Robinson 18:41
man, I love this topic. Yeah, like, this is one that I like talking about more than email. But you know,

David 18:49
yeah, any pro tips on living the cash poor life when growth is exploding?

Adam Robinson 18:54
Well, so my first experience sucked, like, you know that it was like a low dollar price. So, you know, I had made some money trading, my brother had made some money. So when like, we’d come out of college, and we were like literally starting from nothing. But it wasn’t like we went out and raised a bunch of money there. It was like a weird hybrid boos, almost Bootstrap. That was terrible. But we were able to it was actually kind of a nice cash flow business by the time we started this one. And it was sort of the vehicle that allowed us to get this off the ground. But in reading about how to build good SAS businesses, I mean, if like, there’s this blog called Sastre, I’m not sure if you guys ever heard of it. Like basically the sum of everything that God says you need to sell a higher price SAS products, like it’s like 10,000 articles say the same thing. So I have been obsessed with trying to come up with a way to sell like, you know, a maybe like a $5,000 month high velocity SAS product. And I just thought, if you could do that, you know Have any cache problems. And this didn’t start that way, like we had a $19 plan and a $99 plan or whatever, but like now, like anybody that our salespeople talk to you, they’re like doing 123 $5,000 deals, and they’re closing them in 30 minutes. And when you have that dynamic going on, and I, you know, I have waited way too long to like, ramp the staff up, which there’s a lot of reasons for it, which, but I’m doing it now. But this experience has actually been like a wildly cashflow positive deal for us, like, the whole time. But you know, from like, there was like a hurdle of like, you know, I had six people that day that we launched it, basically, it was getting paid for by the other company. And there was like a number there was like, I don’t even remember, what, 60 grand a month, 70 grand a month that like, everybody was getting salaries, and all our expenses were paid. And somehow he got there and like, four months or five months, or something like that, it was insane. It’s been growing very fast, you know, it’s just been growing like crazy ever since. And, you know, we’re not really doing any market. So So yeah, but even though it wasn’t like eating ramen, the experience, I still think it’s so different than having venture capital, it being your own money, and like working towards capital efficiency and, like, want this lean operation, you know, and like not measuring your success by the amount of people that are sitting around. I mean, it’s just a total philosophical, like you’re looking the other way. Like, there’s one way to like, measure how well a company is doing. And that is the venture way and like, mine fails every one of their metrics, except for the fact that I’m just growing faster than they’re, you know, with, like, 1/100 of the resources, you know, but I think, where I’ve landed on this, so I read a lot of like the 37 signals, guys like remote rework, the Lean Startup books like that, before I started my last company, and coming from Wall Street, the appeal of having a remote, very lean, cashflow positive, very slow growth software company, where you can like, live at a ski mountain, and work with your friends. And like work four hours a day, like that is like it calls you like religiously, almost, you know, that got boring for me. And I started reading a lot of why combinators stuff, and I just like love there, I think it applies to e commerce to like, their attitude about product market fit, you know, and this idea that until you really have it, you shouldn’t do anything else other than try to get it. And like, I know, we have it at this company, because you don’t grow like we’re growing with six people and no marketing. Unless you do our last company, we certainly never did, we just like had this one channel. And I think trying to have the discipline in the ways that Y Combinator evaluates successful companies. So like, they want to look at weekly growth rate, and like things like product market fit, you know, stuff like that. And also add in the capital efficient lead component is like a very interesting approach, which is where I’ve landed now, you know, like, that’s how I want to run my company, I don’t want it to be venture backed, but I like love these, this, you know, product lead growth, if you want to call it that, which I think if you’re an entrepreneur, you know, in sales in your in product design, that’s it, like, then maybe an experienced design around that product, and then company designed to fulfill all of that right? No matter what you’re doing. So, you know, I love not answering to anybody, I love not having cash problems, like I have friends that are raising their next round, like that’s their job, you know, over 10 years. And yeah, I think it’s, I think it’s a really interesting way to do it that, you know, once if you get if you were able to get the product, right, and Bootstrap, you know, don’t see a better option. You know, very nice man creating products. Like, it took me three from the first one, which kind of was not the best product to like this one, which has evolved in something I think is good agrees. Very good. You know, long, long road, getting there, like, my podcasts that I’m starting, it’s called 10 years in the making. And I’m just going to interview our customers all these like, you know, e commerce studs or whatever, like, just be like, tell me about your 10 years in the making, you know, like, yeah, good thing. Take time. That’s

David 24:21
for sure. So all right, well, let’s turn it over to Ken for the fire round. Our Yeah, for sure.

Ken 24:27
Yeah, before we get into fire round, so Adam retention.com. For our listeners, What features does it offer? Who is it a good fit for if they’re interested in getting more emails and find that a little

Adam Robinson 24:37
bit? So our perfect customer has a Shopify Plus store, meaning you have enough traction where you’re spending $2,000 a month on your Shopify instance. I would say to put it in revenue terms. Five to 50 million a year is absolutely perfect, and there’s like a high 90% chance that it’s going to work excellently for you One to 5 million in revenue, take it down to like a 70%. It’s going to work. I don’t know why it doesn’t work. For some people, it’s just below a million in revenue. The reason I think people don’t see as much success is because either their traffic or their email program is not dialed to the point where we can resolve enough or give them emails at any price that would convert, right if you’re not converting your email at a higher rate than buying leads, isn’t what you should be doing. It should be dialing your email down, dialing your product down, whatever. So people that have made it to that Shopify Plus level, their businesses are great. They already have product market fit. Like they have a ton of traffic, they figure that out, they probably crack the email thing. And it just like works for them. So that we have Amazon sellers that have their own stores that have their own websites that that use it for sure. It’s just not who we spend our time prospecting, if that makes sense. So yeah.

Ken 25:55
Awesome. So let’s Yeah, let’s go. So on every episode, we have a fire round that we we run everybody. So the ringer, are you ready? I’m ready. What is your favorite book?

Adam Robinson 26:05
So I mentioned the Y Combinator blog posts. They’re not a book. I think they’re great for any entrepreneur in any sort of field. I think that in terms of building a software company, Four Steps to the Epiphany is amazing. I think it’s good for econ to this guy has this philosophy about customer development and how that’s equally as important as product development. And you need to be doing both at the same time, rather than just making this product first, and then hoping that there’s an audience for it. Great, but Four Steps to the Epiphany. Check it out. What are your hobbies? I live in Austin, and I got a boat a couple of years ago, and I really love wake surfing in my free time. Yeah, I just had a kid seven weeks ago. So that is the definition of a hobby is what is taking up your time. My seven week old daughter is my hobby as well. Yeah,

Ken 26:54
that’s definitely awesome. What is one thing that you do not miss about working for the man?

Adam Robinson 27:01
Oh, my God. So like, back when I was doing that job. We were showing up to the desk before the financial crisis at 5:45am. And I’m the type of person I didn’t do it this morning. And I was yawning. When I got here. I like working out or running before I work every day. Now I do it at six. I was running there were no gyms open around me, I was running across the Brooklyn Bridge from Tribeca and back 365 days a year at 4:45am. Not on the weekends. But like, middle of the winter snow on the ground. I was like running across the Brooklyn Bridge and back. You know, that alarm would go off at 440. That sound? Mean? I can’t even describe it. So when I reinvented myself, one of the things that I one of the governing principles for my new life was I will never hear an alarm go off again, unless it’s for an airplane to go somewhere. So that has I’ve, that has not been a part of my life since 2011, when I decided to refinance alarms. So that is the thing.

Ken 28:01
That’s awesome. Last one, what do you think sets apart successful entrepreneurs from those who give up fail or never get started?

Adam Robinson 28:08
Oh, and I think my view on that this is it’s probably the some of it is luck favors the prepared, you know. And it’s not like, I definitely believe that not everybody has the sort of internal, I don’t even know what you want to call it like risk loving or tenacity or stupidity, whatever you want to call it. Like the actual disposition to like handle the turbulence, or maybe situationally in your life, like you literally just cannot take the financial risks, like you just started, you know, there are reasons why people can’t do it. But I believe that it is a craft. I believe that I’m a student of the game. And I believe that I am a lot better at this game than I was when I started it 10 years ago. So like, at this all summed up, and like, I think that like luck favors the prepared. And if you are the type of person that has like an overabundance of curiosity, and you have a very long timeline, and you sort of have a quality of yours as you and you figure systems out and how to sort of, you know, arbitrage them or optimize them, however you want to call it like, like, and you’re just willing to sit there and do that for the rest of your life. And that’s exciting to you. Like, I think that’s a good set of characteristics to enter the game with, you know, yeah,

Ken 29:37
that’s awesome. I really liked that answer. That’s really cool. So definitely really appreciate you coming on the show. Adam, great chat. I could talk for hours on email. So I’ll turn it over to David to close out the show.

David 29:48
You bet Adam, if people are interested in checking out retention of the best way.

Adam Robinson 29:54
So go to retention.com if you sort of you know if you’re in that wheelhouse. that I mentioned for a customer book a demo, say that you saw us on this pod pod. We’ll give you 25% off first three months. All right.

David 30:10
Sounds good. Sounds good. And we’ll post links to all that in the show notes. Adam want to thank you for being a guest on the Firing the Man podcast and looking forward to staying in touch. Thank you. Thank you everyone for tuning in to today’s Firing the Man podcast. If you liked this episode, head on over to firingtheman.com And check out our resource library for exclusive Firing the Man discounts on popular ecommerce subscription services that is firingtheman.com/resource, you can also find a comprehensive library of over 50 books that Ken and I have read in the last few years that have made a meaningful impact on our business, or that head on over to www.firingtheman.com/library. Lastly, check us out on social media at Firing the Man in on YouTube at firingtheman for exclusive content. This is David Schomer

Ken 30:59
and Ken Wilson. We’re out

David 31:15
before you go fun fact for all you Amazon sellers out there when you start selling in international marketplaces, all of your reviews come with you. At the beginning of this year, Ken and I sat down and talked of ways that we could double our businesses in size and landed on international expansion as our number one initiative this year. We partnered up with Kevin Sanderson from maximizing e commerce and he has made the process an absolute breeze walking us step by step through the process. If you want to grow your revenue and reach new customers head on over to https://maximizingecommerce.com/fire and connect with Kevin Sanderson today. Now back to the show.