Boosting Ecommerce for an Outdoor Gear Brand

In this episode of Ecom Experiences, Samir Balwani invites Ashlee Anderson, the former Director of Ecommerce and Performance Marketing at Rumpl, to talk about adapting marketing strategies for ecommerce businesses.

Ashlee Anderson is the Director of Ecommerce and Performance Marketing at DECKED, a truck bed storage solutions company. She previously served as the Director of Ecommerce and Performance Marketing at Rumpl, an outdoor gear brand known for its performance material blankets. In this role, Ashlee oversaw the ecommerce journey on DTC and Amazon, balancing paid advertising with retention marketing strategies. She has experience in the digital consumer journey, including paid search and social, CTV, affiliate, email and SMS marketing, and display.

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • [1:09] How Rumpl transforms the outdoor blanket category with sustainability at its core
  • [4:12] The benefits and challenges of integrating AI into your marketing strategy
  • [8:37] Leveraging first-party data to navigate a cookieless future
  • [13:07] Why customer journey mapping is crucial for adapting to a changing advertising landscape
  • [17:42] Ashlee Anderson shares tech stack innovations for enhancing marketing performance and data clarity
  • [21:21] Top advice for new marketing leaders in their first 90 days

In this episode…

Ecommerce is not just about selling products; it's about revolutionizing how consumers interact with brands. With traditional cookie-based targeting becoming obsolete, companies are left wondering how to connect with their customers authentically and efficiently. Facing a world of endless possibilities, how can you navigate the complexities of marketing in a cookieless environment?

Innovative marketer Ashlee Anderson emphasizes the need for holistic customer journeys that transcend traditional marketing silos and the growing reliance on first-party data amid privacy changes. You can utilize AI and machine learning for precise data collection and audience targeting. In your marketing efforts, focus on creating a consistent brand experience across all channels, leveraging content creators to convey a comprehensive narrative. With each strategy, Ashlee says to embrace continuous testing and learning to encourage innovation and prevent stagnancy. 

In this episode of Ecom Experiences, Samir Balwani invites Ashlee Anderson, the former Director of Ecommerce and Performance Marketing at Rumpl, to talk about adapting marketing strategies for ecommerce businesses. Ashlee shares her insights on the importance of not settling for the status quo and AI's potential to transform how brands engage with their audiences.

Where to listen:

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Quotable Moments:

  • "We use the same materials found in a puffy jacket. So it keeps you warm. It's also durable."
  • "The technology within the ecommerce space and marketing space is changing drastically every day."
  • "You have to be talking about those things effectively — a paid ad that's focused on top of the funnel."
  • "AI is going to be part of the future, and so we're always looking into where we can test that out."
  • "Don't just feel like the status quo has to be what it is; test and learn."

Action Steps:

  1. Perform rigorous tech stack audits: It streamlines the efficiency of marketing tools, ensuring data cleanliness and learnings for strategic decisions.
  2. Explore and adopt AI and machine learning technologies: This can enhance targeting precision and campaign efficacy by leveraging predictive analytics.
  3. Create compelling visual content: Utilizing content creators can offer social proof, broaden audience reach, and strengthen brand storytelling, offering a competitive edge in the visual landscape.
  4. Continuously map the customer journey: Tailor experiences to reflect shifting consumer behavior and improve satisfaction across broad and niche markets.
  5. Stay adaptive and willing to challenge established practices: In an ever-changing market, adopting an innovative mindset is essential for delivering impactful marketing strategies and staying relevant.

Episode Transcript

Intro 0:00

Hey welcome to another episode of Ecom Experiences a podcast where ecommerce marketing leaders who want to grow and scale their brands faster. Join us as we interview some of the smartest brand founders and marketing leaders in the industry. Explore the lessons they learned discover the keys to their success, discuss what excites them most about the future.

Samir Balwani 0:23

I had Samir Balwani here hosted Ecom Experiences where we talk to brand founders and marketing leaders about their experiences growing brands. This episode is brought to you by QRY QRY is a paid media agency that helps brands balanced brand awareness and performance marketing to drive predictable and profitable growth. To learn more about how we can help you visit Weareqry.com. Today, I have Ashlee Anderson, the director of economic performance marketing at Rumpl, I'm so excited to have you here. I'm actually a big fan of the brand. So thank you so much for joining us. Yes,

Ashlee Anderson 1:01

thank you for having me. I'm super excited to chat with you today.

Samir Balwani 1:04

So let's get started. Tell us about the brand and what it is.

Ashlee Anderson 1:09

Yeah, so Rumpl is a performance materials outdoor gear blank, or gear brand that focuses are more majority of our categories around blankets. And so we're really revolutionizing the outdoor blanket category. I mean, you can't take the blanket that you purchase that you use on your couch outside, because it's gonna get dirty, it's not durable. So we really revolutionize that we use the same materials found in a puffy jacket. So it keeps you warm. It's also durable. And then a lot of our brand is founded on sustainability and durability. So we are partners with 1% for the planet. Climate Neutral, we're all just a B Corp certified. And then most of our blankets are actually made from 100% recycled material. So water bottles, which is awesome. So we are not only giving you things to go outdoors, but we're trying to make the outdoors a better place as well.

Samir Balwani 2:03

Oh, wow. That's so well said. So, Ashley, tell me about your role at the brand. How long have you been there? And what do you do?

Ashlee Anderson 2:10

Yeah, so I have been at Rumpl for about two and a half years, I, as you noted, was the director or is the director of ecommerce and performance marketing. And I my brand, or my team is really focused on ecommerce journey on rebel.com. And Amazon, from the website to the paid advertising to the retention marketing. So we're really working to build a journey so that when you get a paid ad, you're following that same experience on Rumpl.com. And you're really able to learn about the band brand and glow grow. Our website is kind of our centralization. So we really want people whether they're at an REI or they're on Amazon, if they come through unboiled.com they can really learn about us and what we're working on and the awesome things that the brand is doing. Yeah, so I kind of look at that entire ecosystem and strategy and how we're building that out.

Samir Balwani 3:00

While as a huge role, so has a lot to cover. So what's your favorite part about the role?

Ashlee Anderson 3:06

My favorite part is really focusing on kind of what we talked about before. Like, I love how all of it works together, I feel like there's, there's so much opportunity to a lot of people treat those things as silos, you know, paid marketing as its own silo paid search is just its own thing. Retention marketing is its own thing, but the consumer doesn't see it that way. They really see it as your brand holistically. And so you have to be talking about those things, effectively, a paid ad that's focused on top of funnel, we need to make sure we have an email capture that's set up to bring those consumers in. So that's what really excites me is like tying the loose ends between those areas. It's much easier said than done. But it is really that's I think what excites me the most and then I'll get my second answer is the technology within the ecommerce space. And marketing space is changing drastically every day, which is an excitement and a challenge. But there's so much more that you can do than you used to be able to do to really enhance that experience with your consumer. Yeah,

Samir Balwani 4:12

I love the conversation around the customer journey because it used to be you could do an entire customer journey on meta and it'd be fine. Right? Like you were in brand awareness and consideration conversion right through that. And that has changed so drastically now that you're like, Okay, well, what does it look like an REI and how do I make sure that that still is consistent throughout the entire journey even as we comes through to conversion on our end? So yeah, I think that that is you know, we talked about it about it being like a puzzle. And but like the puzzle keeps shifting, and you're not really sure what it is. And so I think that that's really cool. The technology side that you talked about, and I'm going to ask you, you know, the million dollar question that everyone's asking right now is, does technology include AI? And if so, how are you guys using rad.

Ashlee Anderson 5:00

Yeah, we've tested a bunch of different things with AI. So I think that anytime you're on LinkedIn, you'll see people talking about how you have to be using chat GPT to change your business. And I do agree to an extent and we have been using it to, you know, help fill, we're a smaller company or a smaller team. And so like copywriting is a really interesting piece of of chat, GBT. We also are utilizing a couple tools such as stack adapt, which has been kind of on the forefront of machine learning and AI for a while to really hold out display through contextual targeting. And then we have partnered in the past with kind of audience segmentation. So Black CRO is one that we've worked with. And then we're always on the forefront of like, RCTV provider mountain there, they've launched a new AI, predictive audience segment. And so we're always testing those things. I would say some of them work, some of them don't, some of them require additional things that aren't necessarily the status quo for what works for performance marketing. And so we're always changing, always adjusting. But we are, you know, AI is going to be part of the future. And so we're always looking into where we can test that

Samir Balwani 6:12

out. Yeah, that's awesome. I feel like that is the big question mark in that it can do so much. But where can it do things better than what you're doing right now? And where can it do it faster to and being a small team? I'm sure there's a lot of efficiency questions, because you're probably making a lot of decisions around, hey, this would be a nice to do. But I've got this many priorities that I have to work on today. So have you seen AI unlock any of those things? Or are you still is it still too early to tell right now?

Ashlee Anderson 6:44

I'd say it's still too early to tell right now. It's really just making our can't I think we are more tapping into the ability to target our audiences better. But I wouldn't say that it's necessarily more efficient at this point. It's more widening that gap. That's a really good question, though.

Samir Balwani 7:00

That's awesome.

Ashlee Anderson 7:02

You're at a bigger company, it's probably a little bit different because you have more data. And so I think it kind of depends at your level where

Samir Balwani 7:10

you are. Yeah, yeah. It's interesting. So if people have listened to this podcast before, we'll hear I talked about this, from time to time around, I think that, like a brand historian is going to start to become a really important thing. Because the more data the worst is, when you look back and you go, Oh, man, what promotion? Did we run on this date? And like, what did we do at that time, because if you as a person don't know it, and you don't give it to AI, it's not going to do as well, without all that information. So I think we'll start to see that data collection and historical knowledge becoming more and more valuable than ever before, for sure.

Ashlee Anderson 7:47

I like that that is so true. I mean, we were just doing some forecasting recently. You're like, why was March hired? And you know, there's, it's that piece of like history that you can look at trends and be like, Oh, well, I'm trending up. So I should forecast up. But maybe there was just some blip in the radar that you can't predict in the future. So that is a very insightful idea. I don't know what that looks like.

Samir Balwani 8:13

I have no idea what that looks like, either. yet. I know it's important. So that's, that's how it starts. That's awesome. So so I know, you're a small team really fast growing brand, though, I'm sure that that leads to all kinds of challenges. So let's talk about what are like the biggest challenges you're dealing with? How are you overcoming them? How are you even just thinking about them? Yeah,

Ashlee Anderson 8:37

I think the biggest challenges that we're kind of trying to overcome right now is around the paid space, especially with metta and Google changing so drastically in the cookieless world that's approaching us. And so we're really focused on how do we better you kind of alluded to it earlier, but you used to be able to target very specific people on meta and tell that full consumer journey, and you really can't as much anymore, and they're really, you know, the meta wraps are really recommending run as broad as possible, let the creative do the targeting, until it really is hard to kind of tell that entire storytelling. And so we're looking for innovative ways to kind of test that out. For our brand, you know, one, we have a pretty decent return rate for our past consumers. And so we're actually trying to figure out the best way to talk to our past consumers a little bit different than new consumers. Utilizing meta utilizing Google, in the audience data is that data that we can, while also giving, you know, Facebook, meta enough data to optimize on that's, that's a big challenge for us right now is like how do we take those audiences take those learnings and really grow them out? And we are also, you know, the cookieless world, as I noted is approaching and so we're trying to think about how we're going to impact that in first part data is going to become very, very important. And so the retention team is actually kind of like at the forefront of this fight. And so it's making retention marketers think a little bit different than they ever have in the past about how do we email capture? And what are we doing with that data? And how are we building that out? And so I'm, you know, really prioritizing the retention marketing team on how do we think about it? And how are we adjusting that so that when we do become a cookie, this world, we're not just losing everything, and we can actually still talk to our consumer in the right way? Yeah.

Samir Balwani 10:33

And it's interesting, because it's also then like adding on to your first party data. So how do you actually enrich the data that you now that you have, so that you can better understand like birthdays, age, family status, like all of those kinds of things, so we can build those different audience sets and segmentations?

Ashlee Anderson 10:51

Oh, overwhelming your consumer and not asking them to fill out 100 Page survey?

Samir Balwani 10:56

Yeah, well, the question also is like, can you buy some of that data, instead of having to do it all internal, right? And then we talked about this pretty regularly to have, what's this first party data even look like? Is it just email on SMS? Or is it email, SMS and app download? Right? Like, What? What? How do you actually engage with that? Someone was asking me today, the question I got asked was a smear. Are you nervous that it's an election year? Like, what are you guys thinking about for q4 holiday, and they said, the one channel that is probably gonna take the biggest beating is SMS, because the total amount of election text messages you get during, like, during the election year, and then the people that get frustrated are also not going to want to buy EECOM stuff, because they're not going to want to talk to it. So how do you reach people when you know that that channel is going to take a beating? So is it email? Is it app downloads that are you how are you thinking about that? So? Yeah, I think the challenge that you have shown is so much bigger than people realize. And it's great that you're thinking about it ahead of time. Yeah,

Ashlee Anderson 12:03

because I mean, as you noted, the noise, especially I mean, it's not even election in general is going to create so much noise within the channels, but the Olympics are coming up. So it's going to be more costly to advertise. And it is going to be a influx of advertising this summer. And so this year in itself is very challenging, especially on top of like an already challenging macro environment that we're working with. So I think, you know, that's a really great call out on the SMS piece of like, people are going to be bombarded with things for quite a bit this year. Yeah.

Samir Balwani 12:38

And it's, it's interesting, because it's not only the cost, it's the attention also, there's only so much you can pay attention to. So what do you do in that instance? So I love that you are you said something around looking for? How you're testing creative and how that kind of fits into your meta eco ecosystem. So how have you started looking at Creative testing? And where have you started down that journey? or what have you seen work so far? Yeah,

Ashlee Anderson 13:07

so we're working on a lot of journey mapping right now. And thinking about, you know, that as you we've kind of talked about, like the, the consumer isn't as, it's not the same as it used to be where you could very easily say top of funnel, mid funnel and bottom of funnel because advantage Plus is a really good example of, its everyone. And so we're building creative out into those pieces that were kind of thinking through, okay, if we're targeting, if we really want to target this consumer that's focused on this seasonality, how are we building that into the creative rather than in the past, saying, Okay, well, I want to target a surfer. Let me go to interspace, surfing and target that it's basically how do we build that into creative. So that's one way the other way that we have really, in the past almost two years, really prioritizes content creators and whitelisting, our brand is very visual, we also have acknowledged that it's a higher price point. And so you need a little bit more social proof to make that purchase. And so content creators, we're very, you know, stringent about who we work with, when we have some really great content creators that we have in our pipeline that really helped tell our brand story in a way that you understand like this use case is so versatile, that it's not just I need to climb the highest mountain and I'm taking around boy bands, I can sit out on my back patio, or I can go to a brewery or I can do that hike. And then I'm going to sit down at the end and I'm going to put my rub blot and I'm going to feel this moment of like relief and Rumpls a part of that. And so we're finding a lot of visualization with content creators that we're not necessarily able to get, you know, with static creative. And we have been I always use this example we have this incredible content creator, her name's Tegan Matic very niche content creator, and she did a polar plunge and then she wrapped up afterwards, and it was just such a great way to showcase like, this product kept me warm after I did something really cold and badass. And so that's how we're thinking about creative is one, we're journey mapping a little bit different than we had in the past. And we're kind of constantly journey mapping where before it was like, we can just write a journey map, and it was more applicable over time, whereas now we need to be thinking about it differently. I'm in content creators.

Samir Balwani 15:26

Now, that's really interesting. I am so curious about when you guys are exploring audiences. So you talked about surfers, and you know, Tegan being kind of this niche Creator as well. How do you identify with audiences? And are you still thinking about it as like interest level almost, and then building creative around them? So, you know, I've got a hiking segment, I've got a surfer segment, or are you saying? Or do you just think about it more as like the outdoor segment, trying to understand like how niche you guys are exploring versus how broad you go?

Ashlee Anderson 16:02

Yeah, we do both. So we do in our broad campaigns, we're more focused on like that general outdoorsman, and building value props off of that. So if some, you know, what are the use cases that somebody who goes outdoors is generally looking at? And then what is the also the aspiration that may be somebody who doesn't get outside as much as they want? But what does get, you know, wants to go outside? What are they? What are they really looking for in this product? We are constantly, they were almost a category creator. So we're kind of building a category around outdoor blankets, because blankets in itself has been around for a long time. But there hasn't always been somebody focused on like, this blanket is meant to go outdoors. And so we're telling story there, then we do seasonality interest based audiences. So that's where like, the surfing comes in, where if so, so we don't talk to surfers all year round. But we do talk to them, you know, when it's very applicable to them as a person. And then similarly, like we have, we kind of we just kind of play around with audiences a lot based on product is if we have a new collaboration, and we kind of think about, like, who we want to target and who this could fit with. And then we, we test those different pieces pretty frequently. That's

Samir Balwani 17:18

really cool. Amazing. So I know, we talked about obstacles, I'd love to talk about things that you're really excited about for the future. So kind of as we're looking ahead for the year, you know, I know, performance media and AI are there. And they're the election and Olympics are all obstacles for us. So what are the things that you're looking forward to as we kind of go through the year?

Ashlee Anderson 17:42

Yeah, um, I am really looking forward to improving our tech stack. I kind of something that we have on and off done for the past few years. And we are like, really, in q1, we took a deep audit of our tech stack, and where the efficiencies were and what we wanted our tools to do. And then could our current tools do that? For example, we just migrated our review platform on Rumpl.com, because our prior tool wasn't allowing us to do UGC. And as I noted with content creators, like we're seeing success with social proof. And so we wanted to be able to allow consumers to see and post their blankets if they wanted to, we weren't able to do that before. So I'm really excited about tech stack, especially kind of going back to this cookie this world as I think that there's a lot of tools out there that are going to be able to help us kind of migrate and get through this a little bit. And so I'm excited to start exploring those. And thinking about like, where, where does the opportunity live, but it's really across the board. I mean, it's audiences, it's creative. It's site development, and all that fun stuff. That's

Samir Balwani 18:50

awesome. It's funny, because I feel like tech stack is always a conversation that's happening. And it's because it's really easy to end up with like a million tools, and then having to revisit them and say, Alright, well they actually fulfill. And the worst is when you look at it, too. And you're like I'm using this one small piece, and like none of this other piece that they do. And so really understanding, oh, do I need the rest of it? What's the value of that small piece and kind of going around it? So I have a feeling that you are not alone in doing tech stack audits for yourself for the year, especially as you know, brands are really looking for profitability. And tech stocks are a really easy way to leak. dollars. That could be true. Just hit the bottom line for sure. Yeah,

Ashlee Anderson 19:39

you have, you know, especially on Shopify, you have all these apps that do incredible things, but you might have 50 of them that cost $50 A month and it's noted you're using them for one thing, and could you be utilizing another app for the same thing and it's combined and it does multiple things. So that is definitely something we are prioritizing as like how do we consolidate tech stack to because we want that data to be clean. And we want to actually get learnings from it. And so having, you know, the back in the day when you used to have three SMS tools that technically probably weren't compliant, and doing automated flows and campaigns sends, and then, you know, a email capture SMS capture tool, it's like, those aren't talking to each other effectively, like, how do we bring those together and think about them? And again, be compliant? Because that's what?

Samir Balwani 20:32

Yeah, well, it also goes back to that brand historian piece, right? If it's no different platforms, then trying to kind of comb through everything to even figure out what you guys did last year, versus where you are this year becomes that much harder. So

Ashlee Anderson 20:49

export your GA, view, your, your Universal Analytics, because you're

Samir Balwani 20:54

you got about three or four months left.

Ashlee Anderson 20:57

Brand historian. Yes. Yay.

Samir Balwani 21:01

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. This is awesome. Thank you so much. So I have one final question for you. As you know, in your role as a marketing leader, what advice would you give a new marketing leader for their first 90 days? What would you tell them is the most important thing they need to start doing?

Ashlee Anderson 21:21

Yeah, um, I would say that, and this has been kind of applicable across all my roles is, don't just feel like the status quo has to be what it is, there are so many tools out there, there are so many channels out there. So test and learn. I mean, very quickly, at my time, at Rumpl, we on boarded RCTV platform mountain, and it made an incredible impact during holiday. And if I waited 90 days, we wouldn't have been on boarded. And we wouldn't been able to see those results. And so I think my recommendation is just like, as an export expert in the field, like, make decisions, test things out, don't just go with the status quo of this is what they've been doing in the past. I don't want to rock the boat. Because that's why they hired you. And there's, there's so much you can be doing. And there's so many tools that come out every day. And so yeah, I would say like, Challenge Challenge what your challenge is, that's why you're there.

Samir Balwani 22:22

I love that. I love that. Thank you so much, Ashley for joining us. If someone wants to find you online. Where can people go to learn more about you?

Ashlee Anderson 22:30

Yeah, LinkedIn. Ashley Anderson, I think by handles Anderson ash three. So yeah, follow me. I love connecting with people. I love networking. And I feel like there's so much we can all learn from each other. So thank you.

Samir Balwani 22:45

I love it. Thank you again so much for coming on. Thank you

Outro 22:55

Thanks for joining us. If you liked it, remember to subscribe so you'll be notified of new episodes. And if you know someone who would enjoy the show, don't forget to share and leave a review. It all helps us impact more brands. If you're looking to improve your paid media go to weareqry.com and schedule a consultation. We're always happy to chat. See you for the next one. Bye.

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