Preparing for the Growth Marketing Landscape in 2024

Cameron Aroz is the Director of Growth at Fellow, a product design company selling kettles, grinders, french presses, mugs, and specialty coffee. With over a decade of experience managing and scaling successful growth marketing programs, he focuses on user acquisition. Cameron specializes in building frameworks to help brands understand the value of their marketing investments.

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

  • Cameron Aroz talks about his role as Growth Director at Fellow
  • How Cameron prioritizes business growth initiatives 
  • Measuring brand awareness and top-of-funnel investments 
  • Emerging marketing challenges in 2024 
  • Generative AI’s potential and limitations in creative campaigns
  • Advice for up-and-coming marketing directors

In this episode…

With a looming economic recession, demand has declined, consumer behavior has shifted, and marketing data has become increasingly difficult to forecast. With so much uncertainty in the market, how can you profit from your marketing efforts?

As a growth marketer, Cameron Aroz understands how to shift marketing efforts from cost centers to profitable growth drivers. When measuring campaigns, he advises identifying your campaign goals, the corresponding channels, ideal messaging, and measurement methods. By correlating your measurements with your desired efforts, you can assess engagement and awareness at the top of the marketing funnel and validate your investments. 

On today’s episode of Ecom Experiences, Samir Balwani welcomes his first guest, Cameron Aroz, the Director of Growth at Fellow, for a discussion about growth marketing. Cameron talks about how he prioritizes growth initiatives, how new marketing directors can prepare for the 2024 landscape, and generative AI’s potential and limitations in creative campaigns.

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Resources mentioned in this episode:

Episode Transcript

Intro 0:04

Welcome to another episode of Ecom Experiences a podcast for 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

Hi, it's Samir Balwani. Here host of Ecom Experiences where we talk to brand founders and marketing leaders about the experiences growing brands. This episode is brought to you by QRY QRY's a paid media agency helping brands balanced brand awareness and performance marketing to really drive predictable, profitable and sustainable growth. To learn more about how we can help you visit Today, I'm really excited. I have Cameron Aroz from Fellow He's the director of growth. He's an awesome strategic marketer, super fun to talk to has so much to share. Great background and experience. I'm so excited to have you here today. Cameron, thank you for joining us.

Cameron Aroz 1:05

Yeah, thanks for having me. I'm happy to chat. Amazing. So

Samir Balwani 1:09

Cam, I'm so excited to chat more and kind of run into some of this stuff. So why don't we get started? Just tell us about kind of the brand new work for how you got there. What do you what brought you to into marketing? And what's going on? Oh, really? Yeah. So

Cameron Aroz 1:23

I work at Fellow AR, we sort of make like coffee gear, right? A lot of guidance for sort of like how to use our coffee, mostly for specialty coffee. Like, for example, we make like kettles, grinders, we saw a lot of trend where for that, that's sort of like, you know, our core product, I guess you could say, I'm pretty new there, like maybe, oh, geez, like, five, five months in or something like that. And I've been in growth for over a decade. And to start right there, the plan is sort of like I'll build out their growth program, basically. So that's sort of like, that's sort of where I am and who I work for. Oh,

Samir Balwani 2:04

I love it. Yeah. For anyone that doesn't know I am a huge coffee fiend and fellow has been a staple in this household. Everything from the grinders to the kettles like this is flat at Staples, so definitely worth checking it out. So can you tell me about, you know, what's your favorite part as you were chatting a little bit before and tell me more about like, what your favorite part about your role is? Because, you know, as an agency owner, the brand side is so distinct to the agency side, and there's just so much more that you guys have to handle and manage? And we'd love to just kind of get your thoughts on it. And what do you like about? What's your favorite part?

Cameron Aroz 2:47

Yeah, yeah. I mean, it's in my role as sort of the director of growth here, there's a lot of like, managing different parts of our supply growth program. So, you know, like, we courses, we advertise in meta, and Google and all those other places, right, that there's, you know, managing affiliates managing direct mail managing, sort of like an influencer relationships. And so, you know, I think part of what I said earlier is like, you know, the context switching, I think, when I first sort of took on a director role a couple of years ago, that was kind of hard to get used to, and now he's just kind of, I love it, because you're constantly trying new things. You're constantly challenging yourself and figuring out, okay, once I have this done, now, I can move on to this other area, understand how to scale it, how to grow it, how to measure it, in ways that, like, just drive value for the business. Yeah, it's

Samir Balwani 3:40

funny, because when we were talking before, it was like, it's a puzzle. But then as I was thinking about it, it's kind of a puzzle where the picture is always changing. Like, as soon as you pick one puzzle piece, it's like, oh, well, actually this other puzzle piece, and now we're going to move it around. I am so curious, like, how do you prioritize what gets, you know what goes first? What goes second?

Cameron Aroz 3:59

Yeah, I mean, the, especially thinking back to when I came in, right, it was like, what are what are the biggest movers for the business now? Right? And how do we sort of like, what what needs support or help or nurturing? And then address that? And then once you have that, then it's like, okay, well, what do I think is going to be sort of like a big lever for us in the future? In that, that sort of then funnels into sort of like, okay, well, how much work is they gonna take? Who do I have to partner with to make that happen? You know, is this feasible for businesses of our size in the first place, and what additional resources do I need? And that can sort of goes into a framework that I then sort of, like, boiled down into, basically a number of this is one through 180 or something like that, and kind of go in order, you know, being a smaller company, we're not, you know, like, we can't do everything, right. So we have to figure out what are the things that are going to be Out of the most. And you take that because you just if I had a crystal ball and you knew everything was gonna play out perfectly, it'd be easy, right? But instead, I have to sort of build these frameworks to understand what is, you know, what bed is most likely to pay off for us? Yeah,

Samir Balwani 5:16

that's really interesting. And so you're you just said, you think about everything is like a lever? Do you? I would be so curious around your thoughts around? Do you feel, you know, being at a smaller brand or startup brand? Like, what does plateau look like for you? Like, what does a channel reaching its limit look like for you? Or do you feel like that's not a problem you guys are dealing with yet? Or? Yeah, I guess we hear pretty regularly from brands like we've hit a plateau. We just can't break through this. How do you guys think about that?

Cameron Aroz 5:52

Yeah, there's two, there's two ways I think about it. There's like on the marketing side, and on the product side, right? Like, the, you know, how, you know, it starts from like, have you like, what is your total addressable market? Or your cam to begin with, right? And like, Have you truly saturated that right? Or is it just, you know, if that's the case, then it's really a product expansion thing, where you sort of have to figure out what products do I have to expand in new markets? Or what's in my roadmap to be able to get the business from, you know, this level to the next level in terms of revenue or sales? And whatever your goals are? If if you don't feel like you've saturated that market, then it's even then it could be something more like, Okay, well, like, do we just need to be make people more aware of us? Are, are we fully sort of like, taking advantage of the capabilities within that channel, where, hey, we've reached everyone, we can reach within meta, or Google or somewhere else. And that the way you get there is, so you build, like, basically measurement to sort of understand where you are, what point they occur, are you in your in your career trajectory? And so it's the ladder of marketing problem is actually much easier to solve, right? Like that, is it's hard work. It's usually a marketer do that. But that's something that's more within your control, then sort of like trying to build new products to address to expand a different market? Because that's, that's something that's a total business model.

Samir Balwani 7:27

Yeah, it's interesting, you talk about that, because like, that's something that we deal with pretty regularly is around, like, most brands have not hit their entire Tam, right? Like teams are pretty big for most people. And it's more around education and brand awareness, and then really answering the question of how are we doing that efficiently? Are the channels that I'm investing in? Actually efficient? So when you guys are looking at, you know, their brand awareness and measurement of that? How do you think about that? You know, how are you guys justifying any prospecting or top of funnel investments? From prospective?

Cameron Aroz 8:06

Yeah, that's something that's something I've been thinking about a lot for 20. More is like, it's an it's a really good question. Because it's, it's very hard to do, I think with like a high degree of fidelity in terms of your measurement, right? So, for example, for example, how we're thinking about this, and in terms of like, top of funnel or brand awareness is like, what do you want to run? If you know, you need to grow awareness? What channels do you want to run on? What sort of what's your message going to be? And then how are you going to measure it? In which case, I'm basically trying to plan out like a longitudinal analysis of this, meaning, hey, you know, we're gonna run sort of upper funnel awareness campaign, this sort of, like, always on and understand what the outcomes look like, in, you know, a three month timeframe versus a 10 month timeframe? Because I think there was a there's a study that came out, that sort of looked at I actually met talked about this, they looked at UI changes. Next, and when they change the change the sort of like, how can how the feed looks right. And they looked there, the way they bring their experiments was really on like a six to eight week timeframe. And they saw a drop off in engagement, like poor responses to UI change. And so they reverted, but they left a small percentage on about a 5% treatment. And then they measured that longitudinally, and it turns out to actually perform better, while amazing used to it, right. And so I think part of like the measurement frameworks that we haven't released, right, our 60 weeks are very short term, right? So how do we think about like, brand or something else like that and looking at it as an outcome over six months or something on Yeah, takes a lot to set out. There's a lot of measure involved in that but like, that's how I'm thinking about this. So from an awareness standpoint is like, you shouldn't be doing it. But you need to set up your systems appropriately. So you can understand outcomes, because you can't go to the CFO and say like, we did it just because we think we need to right? You have,

Samir Balwani 10:12

I'm glad you, I'm glad you brought the CFO up, because I was gonna say that, and there's like a 10 month time horizon is going to be a hard thing to sell through. But you're right. I mean, that's, that's exactly what it is. You know, it's funny, because we talk about this with our clients a lot right now is, you know, category demand and brand and consumer demand is dropping, we hear about it all the time around, you know, consumer confidence into 2024. So less people shopping, more choices, because more people started Shopify brands than ever before, it brand is going to become even more important, because he really got to stand out from the pack. So I love that you guys are thinking about your brand, and what that looks like. And, you know, I'm excited to kind of hear more about that, and, you know, kind of switches gears a little bit into 2024. So 2023 was an interesting year for most people. So, I know, there's a lot of challenges that we're gonna be dealing with in 2024. So what are the challenges that you're seeing? And kind of how are you looking at overcoming?

Cameron Aroz 11:10

Yeah, part of this is what you were alluding to as the things that just become much harder to predict. Right? Yeah, forecasting has become tougher it is. You know, it's always been a challenge. I think the forecast is number one, again, no one has a crystal ball. Yeah. But, you know, like, a good example of this, as economists have been saying are recessions coming? Like, like the last 12 months, right, like, yeah, that is, it would be if it did happen would be the most predicted recession in the history of recessions. Yeah. And so the, you know, like, so remember,

Samir Balwani 11:48

Cam, the R word is self fulfilling, if you say enough, it

Cameron Aroz 11:50

happened it Yeah, we have to be careful. But my point is, like the economic data, and the signals have become much harder to read. And that has that has made sort of, like, our job on marketing side of the finance side of work has gotten much tougher, and there's just a ton of uncertainty around that market right now. That's one and the other is a, the fragmentation of the media landscape makes it even harder to predict once you move it down to a general level. So if you're trying to edit like, forecasts, or something like that, like, that's gonna be really hard. Because not only is the macro picture very uncertain, but the micro one is, as well. And that's, that's become much, much more diverse, there's a lot more rigor than ever,

Samir Balwani 12:40

I think some of that uncertainty is also just coming from shifting consumer behavior. You know, I think some of it was people were really comfortable impulse buying things. And now, your products that are, you know, $100, which at a stage through COVID, may have been an impulse purchase, I would just like going in, it looks really cool buy it is now becoming a really considered purchase with a lot more research and a lot more touch points being required. So yeah, to your bottoms up plan, looking at things on a channel by channel basis is just not a realistic view anymore. Because it's taking so many more touches for someone to finally go purchase. And that's not just in paid media, but even across like your organic channels, and your influencer channels, and just the total number of times someone needs to see the brand before they finally turn into something is, is becoming harder, and then even retaining, you know, retention is getting harder to so yeah, I think that that's exactly right. So any other like major challenges outside of just general uncertainty that you guys are kind of hoping to tackle? Yeah,

Cameron Aroz 13:47

I think that the media fragmentation is a big one, right? Like the like What channels do we want to a good example of this is there was I think a Wall Street Journal article just the other day talking about advertising is dead long live advertising worse, the title, of course is trade. The but you know, like, Netflix, Disney plus all these all these places are coming out with with their own ads systems right now. And you know, that's going to not only is consumer behavior in terms of like how they interact with media, like just just really, really fragmented. So the platforms are increasingly becoming that as well. Like what a brand new RSI is maybe less of a problem as once you get into a brand of like, when I was at Stitch Fix or you know, Electronic Arts, right. All of a sudden you got you've got a million partners to work with. How do you tie all those together in a way that's cohesive is going to be, I think, challenging for a lot of brands.

Samir Balwani 14:54

I mean, as an agency, it's something that we're keeping a really close eye on because we have to now manage more and more partner relationships. than ever before, you know, for a long time, it was, hey, we got a Google rep and a metal rep. And that was all we really needed. And now it's we've got a rep at every platform Reddit, you've heard of Netflix, Hulu, you name it, we've got to have someone there. And that's like another relationship that we have to manage another channel that we have to keep an eye on on. So

Cameron Aroz 15:17

yeah, it's just something to sort of, like, you know, you know, like, if it if it works out, right, that's just one more thing that's in your evergreen Max. Right. Like,

Samir Balwani 15:31

yeah, and so interesting that you say about that, because I there's also the creative left of it. Because each channel needs its own create. It's the worst is when you're on tick tock, and you see what was clearly a YouTube ad, and you're like, This just doesn't fit? What are you doing? And man, luxury brands are the worst of that. They always do it. And it's, you know, there is this, like creative lift that is starting to become I am curious about your Have you guys tried AI creative? Have you looked at generative AI for creative yet? Have you explored that route at all?

Cameron Aroz 16:08

Not yet, not at that other scale? But like it is? It's something I think about a lot, especially as we move into the sort of, like, wherever if the more channels there are the more bespoke creative, you'll need to have. Right? Yeah. And that is, you know, at some point, like, your design team can only get so big. And it becomes a real challenge to sort of scale that. And there are some partners out there that will help you do that. I think AI is super interesting, and sort of the ability are being helped brands scale in a meaningful way. So that's something we've looked at, but something like that I'm keeping an eye on as we grow, and as our needs become more complex.

Samir Balwani 16:51

Yeah, it's funny, my perspective on it is I'm cautiously optimistic, but I just feel like aI never, I don't want to say never, because it can always be surprised. But the emotional aspect of creative is something I think AI will really struggle with. And it will feel very tactical versus like, it may be good for performance, right? Like ever performance, creative, maybe. But those like brand ads that you want to build a connection with. I think that's where AI will really struggle. And that's where we're seeing the largest of media fragmentation. To be honest, it's more on the top of funnel than it is on the bottom of funnel. Yeah,

Cameron Aroz 17:30

not only the, the Yeah. And I mean, you know, I'm not an AI expert, right. But like, you're probably usually you're gonna get something like, if you put an input into AI, it's gonna be, it's basically sourcing it from everything that's out there, you're gonna get something probably pretty close to the mean. Right? Yeah. And so standing out using that might be challenging. The, because if that's if that's your lever, right, it's probably not going to deviate that much from all of the things that sense sourcing its intake from.

Samir Balwani 18:06

Yeah, that's actually true to call out. So I'm curious, you know, we talked about challenges. What are you most excited about for 2020? I guess, like, what do you what are you looking forward to?

Cameron Aroz 18:18

Yeah. Okay, this is gonna sound it's gonna sound like a cop out. But the it is, like, honestly, like the fragmentation stuff. Right? Yeah. And it goes back to sort of like, the thing I like, about sort of my role, right. And sort of switching context is, I like, I like challenges. Right. And, you know, I, I don't think I don't think any sane person would be want to work in ADS. Right now. If they didn't like challenges, right. Like that is, you know, it's it's, frankly, a really fast moving business. That is not, not high stress. Right. Yeah. And, you know, so, you know, if you if you're looking for simplicity, this is not, not the one for you, especially in e-comm Yeah, exactly, though, like, I like that things are getting increasingly complex, because, one, I just find that exciting to think about, but to, like, it becomes that puzzle, right. And I like working on those. I like thinking about the strategic elements of it, how we build our business and our marketing frameworks to sort of like, address those problems. And then frankly, like, if you're if you do it, well, you have an edge. Right, you know, like that. It's a it's a moat.

Samir Balwani 19:42

For a little bit, at least, yeah. Until someone to catch up.

Cameron Aroz 19:46

I mean, it's like, it's sort of like invest, right? If you think about, like, what, like Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger, like they got good by doing a certain strategy, right? That elevated them above sort of like, you know, their peers and then their peers figured out what they were doing. And then they caught up, right? It's sort of basically how hedge funds work, right? It's not that different from sort of like us

Samir Balwani 20:09

into outside at all. That's actually how we position or like, we tell people, you know, as an agency as a paid media agency, I'm no different than your hedge fund manager or financial planner, right? Like, it's my role to find the channels and vehicles for which that you make the best returns. And so, you know, I'm with you media fragmentation means more investment vehicles for us to explore and to try. And the interesting thing about it is also that, you know, a lot of pushback that you'll get is, oh, there's, there's media fragmentation, but it's all the same consumer base. But that's not true. It's actually opening up new consumers or people that are not using different platforms. You know, meta and Tik Tok don't have as much of an overlap as people think they do. And they are iterate, they are incremental, new audiences on these channels. And so it becomes important to be on all of these channels. And so yeah, I hear you on that one. It's, it's definitely a really exciting and challenging thing all at once, hopefully.

Cameron Aroz 21:07

And I think I love the measurement part of like, let's like the closest to you can get to do you know, science as a marker, right? is like, thinking about sort of, like measurement, building experiments to run that and making sure they're properly design. And with more channels, and with more sort of like, fragmentation becomes more ability to run like, just frankly, fun, cool experiment. Yeah. And that's, that's, that's what energizes me, is obvious, one of the hardest things about what we do, but it's also like, why I love doing what I do to be on. Yeah, that's super cool.

Samir Balwani 21:45

All right. So last question for you. What advice would you give a new marketing director, so like, it's funny, because you're just in your role for five months, like, just look back and see what happened, that you'd be like, Man, you got to do this, this and this,

Cameron Aroz 21:57

I wouldn't say. I think if I had, if I had to pick just one thing, it would be just like, understanding your measurement intimately. And mostly, because like, you're gonna come in, and you're gonna have to sort of like, rebuild things probably, or, like, take things over. And obviously, an intense amount of scrutiny that comes with that. But understanding your measurement is the clearest way to prove prove value for your org, right. And if you can turn your marketing into a profit center, rather than a cost center, like you can get buy in for a lot of things. And that's, you know, so like, I would say, like, have conversations, experts learn what your options are, dig into each of them, and then sort of pick the tool that's right for your business. Like I have an obvious bias towards sir, certain frameworks for measurement, right. But you know, it's going to be highly dependent on sort of the business

Samir Balwani 22:56

you're in, but I can You can give him a shout out here. It's fine. Yeah, I'm gonna have a shout out.

Cameron Aroz 22:59

I like measure a lot. Yeah. They're my favorite. And in terms of sort of, like, the frameworks, we think about we think about incrementality is the means. And then marketing mix modeling for that longer term. The, but if you don't, if you don't understand that, it's gonna be really, really hard for you to go back to your seat, the same CFO conversation, right? Or the same CEO conversation. Those are really, really hard conversations navigate if you don't understand those systems. And

Samir Balwani 23:31

I think it's become even I think you're exactly right, but it seems to become harder, you know, post GA, gi flora, and like, the need for third party tool has never been more necessary than ever before. You know, I know you guys are big measured fans, we work with rocker box pretty regularly and measured to so we work with we are we are fairly agnostic. But I think a multi touch attribution incrementality testing. And then for a long term marketing mix, modeling is key. Like, especially if you're spending, you know, if you're spending 100k. Plus, you got to have at least a third party to 100k a month. Plus, you got to have a third party tool you can't rely on in platform metrics. And last click modeling just doesn't work anymore. So

Cameron Aroz 24:17

no, no, it I totally agree. And the NGA, it all become became much harder after iOS 14 Right when traveling and more difficult. And, you know, increasingly, that's becoming harder and harder. Google will probably go cookieless sometime in the next year or two, right? I

Samir Balwani 24:36

mean, they're doing their 1% in January, I think this is gonna be understood in January. So 1% of Chrome users will be cookieless. So they're definitely testing it and starting it and that transitions going to happen. So

Cameron Aroz 24:47

yeah, so I think yeah, so you just need you need you cannot like like last click is this not an object anymore? It never truly never really was but like the Ah, you know, you could you could sort of like, it would get you close enough where you can maybe kind of fake it like now it's just

Samir Balwani 25:07

not it's not. Yeah, yeah, we used to use it as an indicator of growth and like it's definitely directional and you helped give you guardrails. But that's not even good enough guardrails anymore. It's actually what we found is if you use elastic as guard rails, you actually cap your ability to scale because you're going back to the customer journey is changing, more people are doing product discovery on Tik Tok and meta. They're not purchasing after they're seeing those ads from those channels. But if you don't have it, you don't get discovered to even begin with. So then what your other channels all suffer. So definitely agree with you on that. Amazing cam. Thank you so much for having us. So for everyone here, we've been talking to Cameron Fellow today. Cam, where can people learn more about you? How can they get in touch?

Cameron Aroz 25:52

Yeah, I have a LinkedIn. So maybe that it's just literally my first name and last name at LinkedIn. Yeah, well, we'll

Samir Balwani 26:00

link it in the show notes for everyone so they can find you easily. Cam, thank you so much for having for joining us and being here and you're always bring so much insights and I love our conversations. Look,

Cameron Aroz 26:15

I will talk with you too. This is so much fun. Thanks for having me. This is great.

Outro 26:26

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