Today, I’m launching SavvyRevenue.com (US) and relaunching PPCProfit.dk (Denmark/Scandinavia). This is the story about everything that led up to the decision to start over from scratch after building a 200-person agency that generated millions of dollars in annual revenue. Feel free to scroll to the bottom if you’re just interested in reading about my new venture.
My First Big Company
It all started in 2010 when Gary (one of my partners in my previous agency) called and asked if I had ever thought of living abroad. As I was asked this question, I had actually just moved to Malta a couple of months earlier.
Despite having been working for myself since 21 years old (and launching “side-businesses” since I was 18), White Shark Media was my first big company.
My journey with White Shark Media was a memorable one, and one I will cherish forever:
PS. The A.D.I. inscription on the watch stands for Andrew Did It. It was an inside joke I used to say whenever I helped solve a problem with a client account. Whenever it happened, I’d say ADI (or some would shout it out). I never thought it caught on, but I guess it must have caught on just a little (even though they would never admit it).
Exponential Growth, People, Management, and Scaling a Business
With White Shark Media, we experienced exponential growth. From 2013 to 2016, we were so frequent visitors to Google Premier Partner events that we were called the “old guys” by other attendees.
We hired dozens and dozens of people and had multiple rounds of +20 new hires through the year.
We really started feeling like we were on to something big when we became a Google Premier SMB Partner as one of the fastest agencies ever and the other accolades started rolling in:
- 2014: Became a Google Premier SMB Partner (the previous, hand-picked program)
- 2015: Ranked 724 on the Inc 5000 list
- 2016: Ranked 527 on the Inc 5000 list
- 2016: Achieved $10,000,000 in annual revenue, 250 employees, and 1,500 clients.
For me personally, the six years at White Shark Media meant a lot of learning and changing positions as we grew. As a founder, you move into spaces that need to be filled. No matter if they’re a perfect fit or not.
I started out as a typical producer, managing our first 100 clients’ AdWords campaigns, to managing a PPC department of ~20 people, to starting our Web department, to growing our marketing department, to finally leading our product/service department with ~100 employees.
During 2016, I kept finding myself working on things outside my area of expertise (general management, career planning, HR, administration, etc.). As an owner, you’re “passionate” about anything that’s put in front of you (at least I am), and looking back then I think I made myself be passionate about all those things even though those activities didn’t speak to my strengths nor my interests.
At the same time, I had an idea for another type of digital marketing agency – similar to White Shark Media, but smaller and with a different purpose. I’ve always had an immense passion for the ecommerce space. But first, a little backstory:
White Shark Media is a bootstrapped company that to this day has never taken any outside investments. This means that for the first four to five years, no partners took a salary, despite having a “7-figure business”. It was all about growth and reinvesting every penny back into the company.
One of the ways I was able to do this was through offering PPC management to a select group of advertisers in Denmark. These were typically mid-to-large ecommerce stores. I loved it!
In order to tackle both managing a small agency in Denmark and keeping up with my responsibilities at White Shark Media, managing my Danish clients were my 5 am and Saturday tasks. I would primarily work on these tasks from 5 am to 7 am and then again a couple of hours every Saturday.
Looking back, then I’ve never had an easier time getting to work early than during those days:
However, in January 2016 I shut the additional consulting down. There wasn’t a need for the consulting fees, and I could keep my skills sharp by working directly with White Shark Media clients.
Something inside me though missed the direct client work. I liked what I was doing when I was working with clients, creating results out of thin air. I started working with digital marketing for a reason. I loved the work and discovered that I still do.
So I decided to start from scratch. Again…
Introducing SavvyRevenue: Digital Marketing Exclusively for Ecommerce Stores
With SavvyRevenue, the goals are smaller, but the vision is just as big. I still aim to create an agency that can help a lot of advertisers, but I want to do it while still working with clients.
I got to where I am today because I’m good at digital marketing. Not because I’m good at balancing finances or the other intricacies of running a company. How all that will end up being solved is a task for future-Andrew. For now, I’m just focused on getting back in the trenches working on paid search campaigns.
Therefor, SavvyRevenue is starting out with just me, a couple of freelancers, and a couple of long-term clients I reached out to early in 2017.
I will focus exclusively on serving ecommerce stores in the USA and Scandinavia (primarily Denmark). I was born and raised in Denmark, but have lived 90% of my adult life outside of Denmark. I’ve always had a great connection to the country, so I’ll run a SavvyRevenue division called PPCProfit in Denmark.
For the US market, the clients that will get the most out of my help will be mid-sized ecommerce stores selling common goods while having a typical digital marketing spend between $20,000 and $200,000 per month (spend is different in Denmark, so the numbers there are slightly different).
When I think of common goods I think of beds, toys, gas grills, magnets, iPhone accessories, etc. No big-ticket ($10,000 plus) cranes or Boeing 747s.
My Clients Typically Struggle with Scaling Their Paid Search Programs While Remaining Profitable
When trying to define what I actually wanted to work with, I talked with a lot of ecommerce people. A lot of them seemed to run into the same challenges when it came to their paid search program:
- Scaling their paid search program profitably
- Figuring out the right attribution model (last click is so 2009)
- Maintaining solid data feeds to use across Google Shopping and other marketplaces
- Tailoring strategies through the year’s seasons (V-Day, Back to School, Black Friday, etc.)
- How to monetize mobile traffic
- Expanding into new channels and exploiting advantages
So that’s what I’ll focus to begin with. It’s what I’m good at, it’s what I love doing, and it’s where I can deliver a lot of value.
In the future, the vision is to move into other areas of growing profitable ecommerce businesses like email marketing, conversion rate optimization, overall digital strategy, and others.
Most Ecommerce Stores Focus Too Much on Last-Click Attribution
I feel that ecommerce stores today leave a lot of money on the table because there’s such a strong desire for “last click sales”.
Focusing too much on monetizing/converting visitors the first time they visit your store is a shallow and limiting strategy. Depending on your industry, few sales actually happen directly following a single interaction with your brand.
In this example, only 21% of transactions happened after one interaction:
Some of the best partnerships I’ve had with clients over the last six years have been with clients that saw the potential in targeting consumers at the early stages of the buyer’s journey:
Running a Successful Ecommerce Store is Getting Harder
There once was a time where by simply putting your products online you more or less had an overnight business success. Add a couple of easy AdWords campaigns, send an email blast once in awhile, and you’d be outperforming almost everyone.
Those days are gone.
Nobody can ignore the Goliath in the ecommerce industry that is Amazon. Even the “small” competitors Amazon is leaving in its dust are behemoths (look at Walmart, amongst others). The sophistication with which Amazon operates is beyond comparison, and many ecommerce stores see themselves unable to compete with Amazon.
There are those who say all other ecommerce stores might as well raise the white flag and call it quits. Amazon will win.
There are a lot of success to be had as an ecommerce store, BUT the standard is higher than ever. It’s not enough just to have a catalog online anymore.
You need to build relationships.
You need to educate your customers.
You need to help your customers find the right product for them.
You need to get in the trenches.
You need to go where Amazon can’t go and do what they can’t do.
I love Amazon and think they’re the best thing since sliced bread. But do I have a personal connection with them? No. Do I go here if I need help choosing a product? No. Do I subscribe to their email lists? No.
Amazon is for one set of customers in certain situations. Other ecommerce stores are there for connecting and building relationships with customers.
With SavvyRevenue, my vision is to help you connect with your customers better, grow your business more profitably, and help put your mark on the ecommerce industry.
In-Depth Content with the SavvyRevenue Blog
At White Shark Media, we saw great success with our blog, and over the span of two years my team and I drove nearly 400,000 visitors to our blog. This is something I’m excited to get started again and it’ll be a key driver in me connecting with the ecommerce community.
You’ll start seeing a lot of in-depth content that’s specifically written for marketing teams and owners at ecommerce businesses. We will cover some of the trickiest subjects that ecommerce stores face today within paid search and provide actionable, comprehensive guides to overcome them. These will be taken straight out of our playbook.
We will also develop tools that can help you work better and be more efficient. These are rough tools I use today, but that everyone can benefit from. I just need to clean up the interfaces a bit, and they’ll get shared right here on SavvyRevenue.com.
Subscribe to the blog if you’re interested in being notified when we launch these comprehensive guides and tools.
For Now, I’m Just Happy
At the moment, I’m just excited about getting back in business. When I left the day-to-day operations at WSM I had the idea of taking the first quarter of 2017 for myself and taking a break. It didn’t quite pan out this way, as I realized if I wanted to launch the new agency in April, we’d need to have content ready, website ready, the business incorporated, and all the other fun stuff that goes with starting a new business.
So, I’ve been working nonstop for the last 2.5 months getting ready for this moment. For now, I’m just happy to be live with the new agency and start sharing with the world again.