Justin is a graduate from one of Canada’s premier business and economic program at theUniversity of Western Ontario. Coming from a long line of entrepreneurs and investors, from an early age Justin worked retail in his family’s businesses, rising to managerial and buying positions.
Understanding sales, forecasting, team management, and learning from others are what continue to drive him. Justin is an avid traveler, investor, knowledge seeker and a family man. He is also a Scotch enthusiast.
Justin with his team owns and manages a large portfolio of websites and businesses. These fall into the B2B, B2C, and consumer content spaces.
With his extreme knowledge of everything internet and past experience in start-ups to exits, Justin’s current focus as his mature business flourish is taking the leap back into start-up culture with Needls.com.
More about Needls in this episode:
00:12 Stephen Esketzis: Hey guys, Stephen Esketzis here from Marketing on the Move, and I’ve got Justin from Needls with me today. How you going Justin?
00:19 Justin Hartzman: I’m doing very well. Thanks for calling me again today.
00:23 SE: Yeah. It’s been interesting. Hopefully, your Marketing on the Move listeners remember that we had Justin on probably over six months ago probably closer to 12 months now, that he was on talking about Needls and this is the first follow-up podcasts we’ve done. So it’s great to have you back and looking forward to hearing all about the changes and where the company’s heading.
00:41 JH: Yeah. It’s been a super exciting ride. A lot of amazing things have happened. Great stories to tell along the way, so I can’t wait to have that conversation with you.
00:49 SE: Awesome. So, yeah. Tell us like a little bit of a background of where you were when we last spoke, where you are now, and what was the biggest hurdle or biggest shift that you guys saw to make you get to where you are now?
01:03 JH: Yeah. That’s a very good question. So, what we started out was a lead delivery system where we use social media to identify purchase intent and find a lead. So when someone said, “I need a plumber,” we sent that lead to a plumber and they were able to service that customer. But over time as we gained more customers and traction was growing, a part of what we do is we wanna talk to our customers, understand their needs and their wants, and we looked at it said, “We can offer more,” And they asked for more. So what we have done is taken that premise and overlaid an ad platform for these people. And it’s a really interesting fact, because there’s 40 million small businesses on Facebook alone, but only two million of them are using the Facebook advertising platform. So with that said, there’s a huge gap of 38 million people who aren’t using it and the question was why. And we found out that the status quo options, one being do it yourself was too difficult. The very first question on Facebook has 10 possible answers that they have no idea about. Or going to an agency is just far too costly for someone, $5,000 set up, $1,500 for creatives and then 18% to 25% of every dollar they spend.
02:14 SE: Yeah, it’s crazy.
02:15 JH: So what we wanna do is give them a white glove easy service for all these people, and what we do in six questions is know who they are? Where they wanna send their traffic? The budget they wanna spend and everything about their product and service. And then we automatically create between 80 and 1,000 ads for them in real time. We deliver them to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and then we do our targeting. We do that purchase intent targeting where we find that customer for you who needs your product or service right then. Do an advertisement for it, but what we’re doing constantly, 24/7, is we call ourself, we set up a new whole level for what we’re doing, it’s called Robo Agency. So we have 150 plus methods of optimizing, A/B testing, time of day, day parted, it goes on and on. And our systems are constantly optimizing, checking and trying new ways to reduce your cost per click and increase your ROI. So it’s a very interesting play giving people the ability to have things they’ve never had before, at a price that they can afford which is really awesome.
03:15 JH: So we did something great for our users and got what they were looking for and it’s really helped us to grow. But we also do some stuff on the backend for us on the business side allowing our customers to have a higher revenue per user, and stay on for a longer term value. So it’s something that really worked well for everybody.
03:30 SE: Yeah. That’s really awesome. I mean there’s some bumps there which I really want to ask you about as well. I guess, number one, on your end, it makes the customer super sticky. So, like it sticks with you guys, the churn goes down, all of that sort of cool stuff happens. But yeah, on the user side, I mean like there’s some awesome things there, like the split testing all of that automatically happening. So let’s start there. I mean with your… If someone’s putting an ad out and they don’t have to split test it anymore, they don’t need an agency, they don’t need a human full stop, they’re using all these algorithms, what’s the success you guys have seen with that sort of advertising? So, have you guys used it for your own business and saying, “Alright. Maybe looking… I’m looking for a Facebook ad platform or advertising account.” And have you guys used your own software to get out there?
04:13 JH: So what I was saying, I apologize about that.
04:17 SE: It’s alright.
04:18 JH: Is that we found that when we were doing testing against our own campaign, so manually doing it through… We have a lot of knowledge and we’ve been doing this for a long time and manually doing it on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, that will be applied to all of our roadways and all the tools and trick and tips and medium are at work. They found that we still had 30% reduction in costs per acquisition. And our ROI obviously goes up because of that. So, I’m talking, we’re obviously saving hundreds of hours a month by the system doing it constantly.
04:49 JH: The one thing that we gotta talk about, Twitter doesn’t even allow you to do day parting. Day parting is one of the most important pieces of online advertising. So if you’re only around, and you only want leads between 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM in the afternoon, you physically have to have somebody, you have to have a person there to turn them on and off or they’d be gonna working all night defending your dollar. What we can do is obviously eliminate participants into the APRs, turn them on and off when we want it and how we want it. So it’s actually a very big big advantage for us and we do a very good job for our customers.
05:21 SE: Yeah, that’s really cool. I mean the fact that you can employ all of these things automatically is… I mean, that’s, obviously, where the asset is in your company, the equity is all in this. I guess the data signs. I remember when we spoke last time, you saying that you’re bringing in all these scientists for these algorithms and things like that that were happening and obviously, that’s the IP of Needls itself. So now that you can deliver that to the Facebook and to the Twitter advertising platforms, you can deliver something which is unparalleled I guess.
05:48 JH: Absolutely, you go ahead. So this is what makes us stand out. We’re blazing a trail on the runway. You can see we’re the first one of it’s kind. We want people, in the future they’d be using it for a bunch of different topics. And we just wanna make sure that we are giving the ultimate user experience and the ultimate ease so that they can actually just grow their business and do what they’re good at. Go be a plumber, be a dentist, a photographer, whatever it may be. Let’s make sure we find new customers and do it in a very efficient and easy way.
06:17 JH: What we’ve also done, because we know that we can do a really good job, but if someone has an old site that’s not mobile or responsive, we’ve actually partnered up with LeadPages.net where we have the ability to create a landing page on the fly for you, where we make sure it is responsive and we can go ahead and make sure we send customers to you that we’re doing a good job of helping capture them as lead. So, that’s also a benefit of our new system.
06:42 SE: That’s cool. So, we covered before about the split testing and everything and how you guys are using that and making that easy for people. Tell us a little bit about the company and how that’s changed since we last spoke. What’s… Have you guys had new funding I think you mentioned and where’s the company direction heading now?
06:58 JH: Yeah, that’s a great question. We actually, we left everything behind here, we’re in Toronto, Canada and we got an opportunity to become part of the generator accelerator. It’s one of the top 10 in the United States, and we just thought it was an amazing opportunity to read the right people and do the right things, so we left everything behind for three months and we went, left the staff in the office, and three founders went down there. It was an awesome opportunity. We met some great mentors who’ve helped us along the way, given us great ideas and support and it really went a long way for us. And then at the end, we actually, and it’s something that we’ll talk about maybe a little later when we have an update because it’s not fully public yet, but we did raise our first round of outside money, quite significant dollars and it’s something that we’re gonna announce soon, so it’s super exciting for us right now.
07:45 SE: That’s awesome. So, what made you guys look for outside money? Is it that you wanted, you had a growth path, you guys are definitely sure you want to head down and you needed that funding? Or did that just come about through your accelerator?
07:57 JH: A little bit of both. So, we wanted to make sure we could accelerate our path. We self-funded the company, I think we talked about that last time, so we put every dollar into it. The fact is if we could grow and bring on more staff, and the PR marketing development side of things, we felt we’d hit our goal sooner and get to the next level. So, it just made a lot of sense for us and we found the right partners, the strategic partners, who offer more than just money but expertise and the space, whether it’s advertising or SaaS model, ad tech, or anything of the sort. So it was very helpful, built a great board, and all the stuff we’ll be announcing very shortly. So it was a combination of everything, and just good timing and the right people.
08:37 SE: Yeah, that’s awesome. I think that’s kind of the best way to go. Once you find everything sort of clicking, everything sort of working, that’s probably the best time for, I guess, you guys weren’t specifically looking and looking and looking, it sort of just came together I’m guessing.
08:49 JH: That’s right. It was an opportunity to go to the accelerator that put us in front of the right people, and we just felt that at the end of the day we’ve had some successes in the past and it’s been a lot of fun, but if we knew everything we’d be retired by now. So we went and found the right people to help us and point us in the direction to give us the opportunities that we didn’t have previously, put us in front of huge companies that can become channel partners for us, walking us indoors and finding us mentors. It was just something that made a lot of sense as a founder of the company and the CEO, what I was missing personally and you read all these books, and you talk to other fellow CEOs of successful startups. They always have a mentor, someone to talk to outside of their founding team to pass off ideas, ask personal questions, talk about things that you might not wanna speak to another one about. And I never had that, so I felt it was a good opportunity for myself to go and find those people and I was fortunate enough to find not one but almost five or so who offer different views and different opinions for me on different topics. So it was something that was really personal journey that I wanted to bring to this as well.
10:00 SE: Yeah. So, where do you see Needls going, I guess, from here? Seems like you’ve got all your ducks in a row, you’ve got the funding coming up, you’ve got the right direction, you’ve over led that ad platform now. So where do you see going in the future? Is this looking like something you want to build up to massive proportions and then sell off one day? Or is this something that you just want to keep pushing to see how far it’ll go?
10:18 JH: Well, always the answer, and I come from an M&A world of selling two businesses before and owning a sizeable internet broker is the first in the world, so that’s the industry I’ve come from and know very well, so that’s where we eventually want to go is sell the business. But it’s not the short-term, starry-eyed situation. We’re looking to grow a big company, bring on the right staff, bring on the right culture, and grow something we’re very proud of and we can look back and say, “We did that.” And it’s something that we’re gonna work our butts off and earn goals for the next award which is customer acquisition, and making sure we are providing the best possible service for every single client that we have. We’re helping the small business grow, and that middle-class small business is what runs Canada, United States, most countries around the world. We would think that if we can help them be successful, we’ll continue to be successful and it’s something that we really strive for.
11:11 SE: Yeah. That’s awesome. And would you guys ever look to expand, I guess, outside of, so right now you’re covering Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram advertising, is that right?
11:20 JH: Correct.
11:21 SE: Yeah, so how’s that compare, I guess, when you’ve got local companies, let’s say plumbers and things, they look for things like AdWords as well, search advertising. Is that ever something you guys will look at to bring in to the system? Or do you guys really wanna capitalise on what you’ve already got?
11:35 JH: Well, first of all, we’re gonna stay laser focused on what we’re doing right now, but with that said, there’s a huge opportunity for us to do a very good job when we’re in, stealth testing on that on Google right now, using the data science and natural language processing and all that AI, deep learning stuff that we do that makes us stand out, helps us really really do a better job than any individual or human could do on Google. So we’re just seeing how that fits in. The issue that we look at, is a customer, the clientele that we’re really focused on right now needs to have enough budget that it makes sense to go across multiple networks, then adding Google is another step up. So it would be something that was for people with larger budgets where we can do a lot more testing, spend time and really going through.
12:19 SE: But it’s an interesting thing, we’re always in the lab trying to figure out the best absolute product and other networks to go to. So we’re, we look at things like the new platform that may come out from WeChat or from Snapchat, they’re advertising platform how can we overlay and get into there and use those markets, so we’re always innovating.
12:39 SE: Yeah. That’s awesome. I think it’s cool that you guys can sort of now, once you’ve built the framework, you can sort of apply to any network, I mean you’ve got all the native advertising as well. There’s so much you can hit. So many opportunities which is really exciting.
12:52 JH: And then on the other side of it is also different types of advertising within each of these platforms. Optimizing different campaign for different reasons whether building fan groups, video ads all that sort of stuff is in the pipeline.
13:05 SE: Yeah. That’s super cool. So with you’ve already got now, where have you seen the most success? Is there a certain industry that you guys have seen the most success come from?
13:16 JH: No, because it’s different in every different industry and it depends on what people are looking for. Is it the cheapest click or is it the cheapest conversion? But depending on the industry and how we’re going after it, the pricing is so different and the competition between other people who are doing it themselves or using an agency. So it’s a very individual basis and that’s what we try and do. We give our customers, now here we are, here’s our baseline. It’s been running for two, three weeks. We’re doing a really good job for you based on industry standards or what we see other people in the industry doing, and then we let them know when we decide, we’re changing into mostly male now not female because we know it’s doing better for you. We let them know that we’re doing that. Or if we find that it’s working better in the morning on Facebook we tell them that, and let them know that we’re going there. So it’s all about giving the winds and telling them where we’re going, showing the track record of what we’re doing. And it’s always different based on each customer so that’s a really tough question to answer but at the end of the day what we’re trying to do is get someone the cheapest conversion to a new customer. That’s our ultimate goal in everything that we’re doing.
14:20 SE: Yeah. So, a conversion could mean a lead. A conversion could mean a sale. A conversion could really mean anything.
14:25 JH: That’s exactly it. So some of the people who do landing pages through affiliate companies or straight through to Amazon, they were looking for a sale on it, we’re different than from a work from home opportunist who has an ability to go out there and bring people on and work with them, they’re looking for enough people to talk to so that they find the right people to work with. So it’s always different as you’re saying.
14:50 SE: Yeah… So, how does that work? ‘Cause I’m from a really sales kind of a background so my world’s all about the funnel. How does it work with, obviously you guys are dominating the traffic side of things. What if they’ve got a funnel which sucks. So essentially they’ve got a landing page which doesn’t do well, or their follow-up sequence doesn’t do well. And they find that they might be getting a lot of clicks, but they’re not getting many conversions on the lead or the sale. What do you tell people that suffer from those problems?
15:14 JH: Well, so what we’re trying to do is integrate vertical tools to help with that or partner with the companies that we feel do a very good job on it, so that’s kind of why we have the, not kind of that is the exact reason why we have the LeadPages.net integration and partnership with us. But it’s all, as your saying, it is all about the funnel. We can be at the head of that. We can drive really great traffic but if you have no way to handle it on the other end, it becomes a waste of money. So it’s a lot about education, passing of to the right partners and over time building the right tools for them to have and integrate the entire funnel with them.
15:46 SE: Awesome. Yeah that’s definitely the right thing. I mean it’s all that education. I think one way or another people sort of want the magic bullet but there’s no magic bullet, you’ve gotta sort of do your side of the work which is building the funnel, knowing your customers, having the right offer, the right angle all of that sort of thing and then integrating that across which is cool.
16:03 JH: And that comes down to education, right? The fact is that everyone does think there’s a magic bullet, but it doesn’t exist. So we have to make sure we let our customers, who might be new to the market, everyone’s heard “Oh you wanna grow your business? You should be doing social media advertising.” But they don’t know what that means, so a big job of what we do is make it not only easy to do which wasn’t before, but educate them the reasons why and what it takes to be successful with it. So it’s all part of our user experience.
16:29 SE: Yeah. That’s cool. What about things like retargeting? Do you guys sort of use that as well?
16:36 JH: It’s a sensitive topic for us. I’ll talk personally, I don’t love retargeting for a number of reasons. You speak to people and I think for the most part we’ll agree. If I went into Zappos to buy a pair a shoes, and I decided not to buy them or I bought them somewhere else, I don’t want to see that same ad for two weeks in a row. It’s not gonna get me to buy them. So we don’t do retargeting. Ours is all time of need, so when someone says “Looking for a great pair of shoes to go running or I train for a marathon.” That’s when we show them an advertisement to a shoe store and that single say ‘they want to buy’ is the ultimate chance of them actually clicking and converting.
17:14 SE: Yeah. I think that’s kind of more… Which is, it is really interesting, I mean that’s kind of, “Yeah. Exactly right on that time of purchase sort of need which is interesting.” ‘Cause I think that is very similar to search advertising as well. Kind of looking for a plumber and then the first things that come up are plumbers. So it’s kind of that same thing but you bring it to the social and the display sort of networks which is cool.
17:34 JH: That’s right. And the ideas that these people, when they should or could or are going to Google to look for it, realising that when they are out looking for something and it comes to them it’s a bonus for them and it’s something that they like to see.
17:47 SE: Yeah. So, with having that said I mean, do you guys have work. I think we spoke last time you worked with big corporate companies as well. Do they literally just pass on all their agency work to you and let you guys run with it? Is that something you guys have seen or do they still have some agencies usually that they work with? Because obviously with this in mind, if there is that much volume out there then you wouldn’t really need another alternative.
18:10 JH: That’s right. This is only one side of the answer to this. We’re just building in our agency platform for this new version. So what we are doing is, we have channel partners who come to us and say, “I have 200 clients that we do SCM for paid advertising and we really just can’t handle spending time where we don’t have the account managers, what if we just plot them into your platform?” And that works very well and we work on a partnership with them.
18:37 JH: Also, on the side of big companies and enterprises, we don’t ask them to take away your marketing teams and your creatives and your advertising agencies. What we want to do is we work with them on a data play, so that’s another big piece of what we do. Us understanding who their current customers are by working with them or by who their customers will be at time of need, is something that they want to know, so if we can pass that information, give it to them in a way that really works for them, they can now pass that down the chain that they have to the people who are already in place. And that data is obviously something that’s very valuable, it only happens as we continue to collect more and more and more and our customer base grows. And that’s something we have an advantage of because we’re using purchasing those versus sentiment analysis or any of those other things out there that happen. So it’s a much different piece.
19:27 JH: What we can do is go to a company and say, “Give us access to your Facebook page or send us 10,000 of your customer’s emails.” And we actually can reverse our system and go out there and go, “This is who your customers are.” So if we wanted to know, a lot of companies out there go, “Well we have sales but I don’t really know who my customers are. What age they are, when they’re online, what their interests are.” We can back it out and give it to them so we can say, “Hey guys, you know your customer, you know they spend on average $500 a year with you, that’s really a female, ages 25 to 29, with two children, who’s mostly online between eight and nine in the morning, right when they drop their kids off at school or three or four at night, when they have, in the afternoon when they have a couple minutes to breathe, and they love this TV show and this website and that stuff.”
20:13 JH: So them knowing that time of day or what their likes are they can go, “Let’s build a campaign around that time of day, what whatever television show they like and get to the right customers.” So they’re finding that very useful and we’re just doing some beta tests with some large companies on that now and we’re getting a lot of value for them out of it.
20:32 SE: Yeah, that’s awesome. I know Facebook audience insights kind of does that as well, probably a more basic level that what you guys do where you can literally…
20:40 JH: Absolutely.
20:40 SE: Upload a custom audience and then it will map out what they like, what pages, what they follow, all their age and things like that which is really…
20:47 JH: But, it really only allows you to do it on the network and they don’t give you a ton of data for it.
20:53 SE: Exactly, yeah.
20:54 JH: Let’s build a look alike and let us do it. Where we’re providing much more in depth to these companies where they want to do it on a national TV campaign per se. It doesn’t have to be online. It’s knowing who their customers are.
21:05 SE: Yeah. What kind of fees do you guys charge for that sort of thing. Is that something you’re going to look to solidify going forward?
21:12 JH: Yeah, absolutely. We’re just beta testing, making sure it’s working, we’re providing the right things in the right ways, security, all that sort of stuff and we’re working on a pricing plan for that right now. It’s something we’ll know in the near future.
21:22 SE: Yeah, and is that something you’re looking to work with the small businesses on as well, or is that only for your really big corporates and the companies that don’t really wanna get into the platform and want something bigger?
21:33 JH: Yeah, it’s the medium to large companies and enterprises that we will be looking to sell this data too and provide it too.
21:38 SE: Yeah, see that’s really cool, I think…
21:39 JH: You…
21:40 SE: Go on.
21:42 JH: No, I was just saying, they need to have the other pieces in place, whether it’s the ad agency or the marketing firm and the programmatic buying platforms, so then utilize this in the best way, so they need to have that in place for it to work.
21:53 SE: Yeah, yeah, for sure. I think that’s really interesting. I know that a lot of businesses and obviously yours included, that selling that big data can be so valuable and can take up such a big chunk of revenue as well, especially when you’re working with massive corporates that have all that in place.
22:08 JH: Absolutely.
22:09 SE: That’s sort of the double edged sword where people don’t really find that, “Alright, cool, so there’s an awesome SaaS company which just brought out,” whatever they do. But then also, the data that comes along with it on the backend, which they can now sell to another company sort of might double or triple the total revenue. So it’s just crazy, how much is ingrained, how much value can come out of that IP obviously that you’re building in the company and then how you can take it in so many different directions.
22:35 JH: You’re absolutely right. Over time, we see it being a large percentage, it might even dwarf some other of our monetisation methods over the long haul. But we’ll see. It’s all a matter of time and making sure our focus is first, and without this is our customers, our small business customers, ’cause without that data and without that learning, none of this other stuff can occur. So it’s really, that’s where we keep our eyes on the prize and make sure we do our best for them.
23:00 SE: Yeah, so what’s your plan moving forward? Where are you guys looking to go from now? Obviously, you’ve got all this in place, you’re looking to now grow that small medium size business on the platform, get them actually using things. What’s your game plan to get people on the platform and how are you guys looking to move forward? Are you looking to get, obviously, using your own ad platform to get in front of them or work with the events or work with JVs and partnerships? Where are you guys looking to move?
23:24 JH: It’s a little bit of all of the above, with our experience in the past. We’re going to use our system to obviously identify our own customers and that’s a story that we are gonna tell over a long period of time like how… Where we started, how it grew our company, and it has, it’s already been working for us. It’s something that we will be exciting to tell. But, we’re also working with channel partners. Whether that’s hosting companies or other software systems that are for small businesses. People who wanna look to increase their revenue per user and give the head of the funnel and a product that doesn’t exist out there. So by working with these people, we’re seeing our customer acquisition costs go down, and increase our level of customers way faster than we anticipated. So it’s something we’re heavily focused on, and we’ll be spending a lot of time on in the near future.
24:12 SE: Yeah, that’s awesome, that you can do that sort of… You give value for value, I guess, with all those supplementary products. You’ve got your hosting, your whatever else. Probably design, websites, and everything else which essentially covers the same user base you have, which is interesting.
24:27 JH: Exactly. You talk to a hosting company, the only reason people have a website… We’ve spoken to a lot of them and we’re working with them. The only reason they have a website is to gain customers. Well, if there’s no one coming to them, why are they continuing to pay for hosting and/or a domain name? So if we can continue to help them grow the business, and get their revenue per user up, whether we can get it… In some cases because hosting is so cheap now, we can actually get their revenue per user up 100% or 200%, it becomes a no-brainer for them.
24:57 SE: Yeah.
24:58 JH: ‘Cause we do all the support, we… The sale is easy, it’s a hands-off scenario for them, so they really, really are taking to it and it’s something that we’ll spend a lot of time and energy on. As well as the traditional methods which we know work so well, using our own system.
25:12 SE: Yeah, and how high, on the volume side of things, can you push Needls until… Does it ever break? Or do you just keep going until there’s so much volume out there on the internet, on Facebook, on Twitter, that you can just keep increasing the limit of spending, keep bringing leads in until… As much as you want, I guess? Can you ever break it? [chuckle]
25:31 JH: Yeah, like I said its actually how much you need. You can do $50, or 500,000 a week. It’s all a function of doing the same thing and testing and re-working, and constantly doing that. Not stopping when you think you’re at a solution that works. There’s still testing to be done. I don’t think there’s a way that we find that it breaks. I hope we don’t find that out. But it’d be a good problem we have if we do.
25:55 SE: Yeah, ’cause the only reason that I asked, is ’cause I’ve worked as well with other affiliate marketers, and these guys essentially are hardcore cost of dollars in, dollars out, so they know exactly how much money comes in, and for that money, how much will come out. And then they’ll just keep pounding Facebook. And I’m sure you guys have run into a lot of these kinda guys as well. And they literally just go. They could go up to even a couple of $100,000 a day, or $50,000 a day, or whatever it might be, just ’cause they know their numbers so well. Are they the sort of people that you might end up working with as well? Who sell leads that they’ve obviously received from your platform?
26:26 JH: Yeah, it’s something that we look to over time. And we work with them now to make our platform better and work for them. So it’s something that we’re constantly doing. I’d say our focus right now is the person who doesn’t really… Hasn’t had the opportunity to use it before, or doesn’t have the knowledge. We’ll bring that to them, so they don’t have to have it. So I’d say it’s a little bit of both. But as we move on we’ll be including some, what we call “Pro-mode”. Where these people go in and give us more data that they know that worked for them in the past. Integrate it with our system so we’re doing an even better job for them.
27:00 SE: Yeah, yeah. That’s awesome. And I guess that it’s just going to be interesting way to see over the next few months. You’ll have to release some case studies and things that people use in the platform, and the numbers they’ve gotten, and I think that would be really beneficial for people looking in and seeing how it all works.
27:13 JH: Yeah, for sure. And we’re… I actually just sat down with somebody today. We’re thinking about doing a video series about following someone further than… Four different people in different industries for the next three to six months. Us starting from scratch, where their business is now, to where the business is after they’ve done this and integrated it. So it’s something that we’re always looking for, to make sure we show the right testimonials and make sure people know that it works.
27:36 JH: You know that our biggest complaint… It’s kinda funny… That we get, is that it’s too simple. They don’t know enough is going on. So we’re always about being a little more clear with them, providing more emails of changes that we make and making sure they’re part of the process. ‘Cause they do wanna be a part of it.
27:54 SE: Yeah. So with that, obviously, I’m guessing that part of the process would be during that optimization phase, and obviously at the beginning as well, when you first set up an ad. So walk us through setting up your very first ad, I guess, ’cause I haven’t checked the new platform myself, first hand. I’m keen to do it as soon as we jump off this call, but walk me through the actual process of… Once I answer… So you said you’d go through, you answer those first six questions, you find out what people are after, what their target market is… Well, you can probably explain it better than I can.
28:22 JH: Yeah yeah. Six questions and that’s it, Said it, forget it sorta thing. Simply, name your campaign, where’s your traffic you wanna go, the dates and times that you want to run, for whether it’s indefinite or for… If you’re doing a Christmas campaign, just for that time of the year. And then we ask for, “Where do you wanna send your traffic?” I may have said that already. And the last thing is, “Please give us five keywords or key phrases that describe your business, product or service.”
28:52 JH: And then using data science, we take from those five keywords up to 500, that we work very, very, hard, and this is part of our IP, to make sure that we’re going and using what they’re telling us. Learning from it, expanding it, and then going to search the social networks to do it. So they’re done, they can upload a couple of pictures of the things specific that they like, or a logo. Give us a sample title, or comment that they want, and then we go and produce them for ’em. So it’s very, very simple. I know what I’m doing. I can do a campaign in under 10 seconds. Someone who’s never done it before can do it in five minutes. It’s very, very simple.
29:28 SE: Yeah. And is there any on-going work for the person after that? So let’s say, for example, you put it at 10 dollars a day, or 15 dollars a day. You starting small. Or 20 dollars a day. Then what happens going forward? Is there any touch point between the user and the software? Or does it optimize as it goes forward and you just wait for leads.
29:45 JH: Yeah. You just wait for it to come to your site, and for the phone calls to ring. We’re… Our whole idea is we wanna be that white glove service. We don’t want you to have to interact. There’s other great platforms out there, I’ll never talk bad about them, but they’re glorified dashboards.
30:00 JH: You still have to know how to split test or set up rules. And you can automate those rules, don’t get me wrong, you can say, “If this, then that,” And do this constantly between this time, but our customers have no clue of what that is or how to do that, so that’s what we’re doing for them in the background, so all of this is set up for them, and the only touch points they need to have is checking their emails and their stats and that’s about it, it’s very simple.
30:22 SE: Yeah. So obviously… I know ’cause you guys sort of want to make as simple as possible, so I’m on the more of… Obviously knows what’s going on, but with the pixels and everything, how do you work out cost per layer, or do you guys focus on cost per clicks and things like that? Like if I’m a company looking for leads as a plumber and I’ll send him to a landing page and everything like that, do I need to be the one that works out my cost per lead or does that happen on your end?
30:46 JH: No, we do it on our end, as long as they have the ability to place those pixels, which most of our customers do not, but those that do, they go and put it in and we track it and do all that for them. But also, we can build it in to our partners on lead pages so that it’s already there, and overtime we’ll be able to track it even better. So we’re creating tools to help them, but no matter which way you look at, someone still has to know how to login to an FTP, or get to a file login to their wordpress and put in the right place, and most people out there of that thirty million gap I talked about just won’t do that.
31:21 JH: So we are building those tools into our partners so that when we use our partners or they choose to use our partners, it’s there and we can do a job of tracking conversions, but the thing is, most of our customers don’t even know what that means. They want to know that some people are coming to their website and filling out a form, or their phone calls are coming and they’re gaining new appointments or new customers, and that’s what our priority is right now. We’ll have the more advanced pieces as we move forward down the road.
31:50 SE: Two things on that, number one, isn’t it interesting that so many people I guess… I don’t know if it’s their fault, but it’s just surprising how many people don’t know that they need, they should know their numbers, it constantly surprises me that you’d think there’s so many businesses out there that literally just want the phone to ring, they don’t care exactly how often or how much they’re spending, they just want the phone to ring, it just surprises me.
32:13 JH: It doesn’t surprise me, because that plumber is good at plumbing, not at internet marketing, and that’s why we’re creating the solution for them. The people who are killing it on Google or Facebook or twitter that are lead generators for plumbing, what they’re good at is lead generation for other plumbers, so we have to just say, “These people are good at what they do, and we gotta give them time to do that. Let’s do the best possible we can to help them increase that.”
32:38 SE: That is true actually, that’s a great point, I do agree with that as well, I mean it’s just sort of… I guess going into business, I think that’s the biggest change when you decide to go into business, many people don’t expect that these are some of the things that you need to know, whether you’re going into plumbing, or whether you’re going into building or whatever it is that these are some of the things that you actually have to think about, everyone is sort of focused at what they’re amazing at.
33:00 JH: That’s true, in today’s day and age, we’re in a much different place in just setting up a business or store front before the skill sets you need as a business person include your online advertising and marketing and content, it’s just part of everyday life now.
33:15 SE: That’s awesome. I think it’s gonna be a big service that you guys are gonna provide, and I hope it keeps getting out there and it helps the everyday plumber and people that aren’t familiar, because it’ll just be such an easy service to pick up and use and start mastering, and a couple last questions before we start winding things up is, with localised lead generation, so obviously if you go through my city specifically, and I only want leads for Melbourne, Australia, how localised can I get it to where I realistically see leads on an ongoing basis? ‘Cause obviously I’ve to sell a population size.
33:47 JH: We go… Depending on the country and where we are, we go down to either the city county, and some places we go right down to a zip code, or a set of zip codes, and over time we will go to everyone down to a set of zip codes. So if you are part of a franchise or something like that and you can only do these places, we accommodate that.
34:06 SE: That’s awesome, and obviously it’s just based on volume. So if no one’s talking about it… But if the lead volume is low, has it been quite successful in your experience that you can get to that specific in that zip code and still be seeing leads on an ongoing basis? Or do you guys have tips that you need to give people if they’re getting that specific?
34:30 JH: I guess it’s again a double edged sword, when they get very specific obviously the amount of data we get does down, doesn’t mean we can’t do our job, it just may take longer for us to actually provide all the value that we could if we had more data. So the idea is, we say, “We expanded to the largest area that you possible can, now let’s hone it down afterwards if you need to get there.” So we look at that and it’s something that again, the systems do it. The whole process does not include any human interaction, our account managers are only there for if someone calls in and has a question, and/or we have a flag system so we’re a reactive account management, if we see that you’re spending too fast or too quickly, or you’re spending above what we see the industry spending, we’ll have a flag that goes off in our system and our account manager will then look at it, but everything, from creating the ads, targeting and optimization, is all done through our robo agency systems.
35:25 SE: Yeah, that’s really exciting, that’s really cool. I think that’s kind of new age agency, you obviously already know that, to me that’s really cool, I think it’s only gonna get more interesting from there. So one last question before we start wrapping up. We spoke about obviously the search, Google search and ad words and things like that. How does the cost per lead obviously compare to something like search? You can jump into Google K-Word planning and can see roughly what a cost per click is in that industry. Have you guys seen that it’s been much cheaper to do that with obviously… With what you’re providing?
36:00 JH: Yes so evolutionary it changes weekly, monthly as we keep going along. But typically we see it at about 35% to 40% on social side, the cost it would have cost on search engine.
36:13 SE: Wow.
36:14 JH: But that changes it just depends. And what we try and do is actually move the market. If we have some people in the same market and we know they’re bidding against each other well let’s just down bid all of them to make sure they’re spending less for it. So it’s things that we constantly look at in search. The search engine leads… Sorry. Social media leads are quite less expensive than search engine are. Typically that’s not for every industry.
36:38 SE: Yeah. Yeah. No. Yeah, of course. So obviously it fluctuates here and there. That’s interesting. No. I think that like… It’s really interesting especially in the areas which aren’t using a system like yours which jump on it first. I think they’ll have a really big advantage over the people that don’t because they’ve got this technology behind them that can start optimizing and doing all of this work without having to do it manually and people who do it manually can obviously miss things, they won’t test things and all of that together. So obviously those first adopters that have a massive edge over the people that don’t.
37:09 JH: Yeah. And to that point you’re right. And to that point. A bunch of what we do is use tools that the networks provide for us and well that work very well that people just have no idea how to use or even they are there or how to implement them. So by using those and then all of our own methods it becomes something very very powerful but we start right on network level because they know what they’re doing and know what they’re talking about.
37:31 SE: Yeah. That’s awesome. One thing which I’ll be curious to see obviously it’s going to fluctuate. There’s no right or wrong but with an agency, a physical agency versus your software. I’m curious as to see the results and what sort of actions an agency will take what sort of actions the software will take and see the results that’ll come from that. I think that would be pretty cool. That might be something to think about or you guys have probably have already done it but it’d be sorta cool to weigh out the numbers.
37:57 JH: Absolutely and it’s something that we continuously do so to just give ourselves our own spot check and we employ an agency to do that, but I’ll put it this way. And I’ll say it very lightly. People come to work from nine to five. They take lunch breaks, they sit on Facebook, they get text messages.
38:16 SE: They’re not perfect. [chuckle]
38:17 JH: They’re not perfect and they’re not analyzing one move versus the next move. Our computer systems do that. So it’s just the advantage of having things that can do that and it doesn’t take… You know, a person’s brain is obviously the best way to do it and we try to program all of those things that we know well. We get people to come in and help us with but if we can analyze what we did on every move and see if it worked better than the last one or worse than the next one we can actually do a much better job in the long run with anyone. It’s the reality of the matter.
38:49 SE: Yeah. It’s just that data doesn’t lie and you can keep optimizing and making it better and better which is the way it’ll happen in the future. Which is kinda scary but It’s kinda cool at the same time. Hopefully. I think. You know what’ll happen. I think this will sort of what you guys are doing with social over here is going to happen across the board with a whole lot of other things in life. Putting it broadly. Where it’s all going to be dialogue driven. Whether that be. I don’t know. I can sorta see this sorta trend moving forward to make it a lot more white glove service and less technical. So I can imagine your back end with all of your developers must be really crazy. And you guys have a lot of scientists and code and all that sort of stuff going on.
39:27 SE: Just one last question actually. How was that process getting to where you are now on the development side of things? Because people want to start businesses, SaaS companies every single day. Like what type of advice your you give them if they want to start a company like yours, which is very code heavy and they want to make it simple for the front-end user.
39:46 JH: It’s not easy. I’ll put it that way. Technical challenges obviously. The most… The hardest that you’re gonna have to face, finding the right technical staff in crowded markets. You have to be innovative. It is difficult. So at the end of the day it’s going to take longer than you ever think it is and take a lot more money than you ever think it is, but if you have a product that has legs and you have a product that’s going to help people and do things you’re going to be successful and it all comes down to implementation, keeping your eye on the prize, making sure every single day you’re getting closer to it and keeping organised. Would be my advice that I give people.
40:21 SE: Yeah. Do you have a Technical Founder?
40:23 JH: No. To be honest with you, we don’t have a Technical Founder. All three Founders have been in the tech business and sold tech companies in the past. But none of us are programmers so we have a very good team, which is unusual, and it’s always the… Also when you’re going to funding…
40:40 SE: That’s right. Yeah. That was my next question. Usually the venture capitalist is out there. Did you run into trouble at all saying that? Where they say, “Look you don’t have a Technical Founder, I don’t know if this is going to succeed.”?
40:53 JH: There’s obviously some. You’re going to get a lot of No’s before you get yes’s obviously. So there were some that wouldn’t just do it because it’s part of their investment thesis and others who understood that we have 15 years of development experience in building products that are very complex and our track record was there and those were the right partners who could help us. And if we’re missing something the right partners are the ones that are going to help us to fill those gaps but we went in, very cognizant that this was the case and we built a very good core team behind us that are very loyal and they filled those gaps. So that was something that we were excited about. We have some data scientist who are award winners. You know, they won the Cagle Award on multiple times in different categories and we have people. Our Lead Developer comes from 10 years in the advertising programming industry. We have the right people behind us.
41:44 SE: That’s awesome. Well Justin I wish you all the best with Needls moving forward. This is going to be a monstrous task. I think that you guys are definitely on the right track to making sure that it’s all going to work and come together well. So I wish you all the very best with that and we’ll have to do a part 3 follow up series once you guys keep moving, I’m sure there’ll be a lot of changes in another six to 12 months time.
42:05 JH: Absolutely. Well, I appreciate your time and as I always say to everyone, “Well, it might be a monstrous task. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.”
42:12 SE: That’s it.
42:12 JH: So, that’s why we’ve gotta go for the hard things and just keep our eyes on the prize.
42:16 SE: Well hopefully in the next, oh I don’t know, it’ll be the next few years. But one day you’ll be saying, “Look, remember Needls when we started that company?” You can say, “We just sold it to Apple or Google or some huge monstrous tech company.” And then, we’ll be calling you from, I don’t know, a nice really cool island where you’ll be chilling back in a mansion or something.
42:34 JH: Well, I hope that’s certainly the case, but I’m willing to put the work in to get there.
42:37 SE: Yeah.
42:38 JH: So, let’s do that.
42:38 SE: Let’s do it. Awesome. Thank you Justin, and I’ll speak to you soon.
42:42 JH: Thank you so much.