DTC 2: 👀 Are you testing?
May 21, 2023
Content Tag

Heyoo! Searches for the term ‘Window Swap’ skyrocketed 426% last week. Why? A new website in town, WindowSwap, lets you load up hundreds of recordings of window views from around the world.

And with the current state of travel, people are flocking to it (pun intended). Give it a try -- it’s actually pretty cool (and kind of soothing).

Here’s the view I had on while writing this letter:

Paris, France 👀

Alright, enough tom-foolery! Let’s get down to the goods. 

This week’s theme? Always Be Testing (ABT)

With our goal being to change the way you think about testing, help you get started testing, and improve how you test, here are some of the goodies you’ll find in this week’s newsletter:

📦 A GIF that shows you how to start your first A/B test NOW

📦 The compound effect of testing

📦 Where to find low-hanging fruit in your email tests (+ unconventional email marketing ideas)

📦 An easy way to hack Facebook’s ABC lookalike audience feature

📦 How to use “you” in your ads (without getting disapprovals)

📦 Vessi’s new third party brands (and our suspicion we inspired them)

Giddy up 🐎

Are You Testing? Watch this GIF to see how easy it is to test with Google Optimize

A recent survey conducted by HubSpot determined that only 17% of marketers are actively testing their landing pages to optimize conversion rates.

So if you find yourself in the 83%, here’s a GIF to inspire you by showing you how (and how EASY) it is to test for free using Google Optimize:

In his guide to A/B Testing, Julian Shapiro suggests having a test running at all times (otherwise, we’re wasting valuable insights from precious traffic).

He also says, “A/B's aren't a luxury for marketers with spare time; they’re the lifeblood of growth hacking. They're the only way to scientifically improve conversion.

So go test!

BTW, feeling lazy or want someone else to do this for you? Share this section with a dev.

Squeeze The Rag Until It’s Dry 🦴

Pilothouse co-founder, Kyle Hitchcox, shares this nugget on how and why to think about testing:

“It’s about micro changes along the whole funnel. It compounds. So if you can take your CPCs from $2 to $1, you doubled your conversion rate. Then you do that on your landing page, your cart page, your one-click upsells. Wherever you can, and it exponentially grows. You need to be squeezing this rag until it’s dry, and it’s not sunny out. And that’s how we’ve been able to smash stuff. It’s not just about the front end work. How can we break it and rebuild it?”

Want more? Have a listen to the All Killer No Filler episode on Quadrupling Conversion Rates.

Unconventional Email Marketing Ideas (that we haven’t heard before)

We recently had Julien and Brett from the Pilothouse email marketing team on the podcast, and here are some of the unconventional ideas they dropped on us:

  • 💰 Don’t forget about email. You pay a lot of money in ads to convert that traffic to leads and customers, so use this free channel to buffer your front-end costs.
  • 🏆 The email marketing golden ratio is 60:40 for valuable content to sales-driven content.
  • 💬 To build trust, begin your email relationship in a way that feels personal. For example, a message directly from the founder (without designs so that it feels like a normal email). From there, you can add design elements to spruce up your emails. 
  • 🧪 The three low-hanging fruit elements to test: who the email is from, the subject line, and the preview text.
  • 🇺🇸 Want to steal ideas from the best email marketers in the world? Go subscribe to an American political candidate’s email list now 🏃‍♂️
  • 👉 Don’t underestimate the power of a single emoji. Test it and see for yourself.

Full audio cast is here

If you want to see more of Brett’s shirt 🐆 the video is here

ABC Lookalike Audiences (+ a hack to get similar benefits, without the complicated setup)

Facebook is beta testing a new feature called ABC Lookalike Audiences -- it’s a way to build audiences off of campaigns, ad sets, and ads instead of conversion events.

Why would you want to do this? This tactic would be useful to test when you...

  • Have a fairly mature, consistent campaign (wouldn't be as effective on new accounts with limited data)...
  • Want to open more doors for horizontal scaling...
  • Are looking to test a new subset of audiences…
  • Want to target your engagers from other ad channels (e.g. Snapchat, Google, Pinterest, etc)...

Based on tests conducted by Cory Dobbin, Facebook’s ABC Lookalike audience feature shows great promise:

But if you want to get it setup, you may get a response like this from a Facebook rep:

And if Facebook needs to consult THEIR engineering team to get it setup, chances are high that even the most advanced marketers may want to wait before fully adopting the feature. 

How to hack your own ABC lookalike feature:

You can easily hack this feature if you’ve been using Facebook’s built-in UTM parameters.

Media buyer Jacob Geary shows us how to do it:

Step 1: Collect your best performing campaigns, ad sets, and ads to use as your ‘seed audiences.’

Step 2: Determine the UTM parameter(s) that engagers of those campaigns and ad sets were sent to.

Step 3: Simply build audiences off website visitors that have been to the URLs with those UTM parameter(s)

Step 4: Build lookalike audiences off of this audience.

Step 5: Enjoy running traffic to audiences who look like those who have engaged with your best performing campaigns, ad sets, and ads 👊🏽

And if you do want to beta test Facebook’s ABC Lookalike feature, you and a developer can jam out on this page 🤓 

How To Use The Word ‘You’ In Facebook Ads (without getting disapprovals)

We recently witnessed a mini quarrel between an OG direct response copywriter and the Facebook Compliance ‘Police’.

The OG copywriter had this tip to share about using the word ‘you’ in Facebook ad copy:

“Hey guys and gals, when you're writing your FB ads use "you" or "your" in the copy wherever you can. "You" is the most powerful word in” advertising. It speaks to your prospect in a more personal way.

To which FB Compliance Police retorted:

“Don't do this - flags compliance. Find ways to avoid using those two words specifically.”

So we did some digging to find a guideline that acts as the happy medium.

(Afterall, the word ‘you’ IS powerful)

How to Use ‘You’ Compliantly 👉 Ask yourself if you’re suggesting that someone’s life is deficient, insufficient or negative.

If no, use it. If yes, don’t use it.


“We wanted you to read this article on how 1000's of Americans are improving their confidence with...” ✅

“You can improve your confidence with...” ❌

(The latter example suggests that the reader isn’t confident and the ad will likely be rejected).

And there’s never any harm in, you guessed it, testing (ABT).

This Just In: Legacy CPG Giants Need Help With Their Ads

From the weird product spacing to the phantom Rice Crispy square totally obscuring the tagline, this ad has some issues. 

No one ever said the best looking ads perform best...but we expect more from the $13BN juggernaut, Kelloggs (well Kelloggs Canada). 

How would you improve this ad? Respond to this email with your idea(s). We’ll pick 3-5 of the best ideas, share them in the next newsletter, pass them on to Kellogg’s, we’ll give credit to each contributor, AND we’ll send you a DTC freebie.

Ready? Here’s the ad:

Just hit ‘reply’ and share your ideas to win 😉

Third Party Brands In The Wild 👟🦁


A few months back Tony Yu, founder of Vessi Footwear, was on our podcast talking about building out a third party brand to help him diversify and scale.

A third party brand is a content brand that allows you to sell into your products using a new domain, and high engagement tactics like quizzes, reviews, influencer sales copy and more. 

This kind of content lets you lengthen your funnel, hitting a broader audience with a fresh approach. It’s great for broad, saturated audiences, where it can earn you incremental revenue and improve your ROAS. 

On April 27, I had just bought Vessis. When they arrived (in two days!) I filmed a quick UGC video for Tony and made a post on Facebook.

When I did that, I had multiple people reach out to me about Vessi. They were wondering “are these shoes legit?” The video sold 3 pairs just in my network!

In conversation with Tony I explained how they people were worried and how this tiny doubt stopped them from buying. Seeing my post let them know that Vessi’s are the real deal.

Imagine my surprise and delight this morning when I see a new 3rd party brand pop up for Vessi shoes. “We Tried - Don’t Worry.” Basically just showing the product working. 

I can’t wait to see how it does. 

Vessi’s approach is simplified. They’re using these brands as insta accounts that click directly through to their product page. This is a very smart simplification for Insta. Think of it as a hall of mirrors all casting fresh looks at your product from different angles.  

Now, I don’t know that Vessi was inspired by my comments and by my UGC post, but it looks like it 👀 . I’m just glad to see this concept working out in the wild. 

Call it another example of the free consulting you get when you come on The DTC podcast. 😈

Have a brand? Want to jump on with me and the Pilothouse team? Email me eric@pilothouse.co and tell me what you’re all about. 

Mark Zuckerberg Lays It On Thick

We can’t blame him for playing it safe (as my mother used to say, tanned skin is damaged skin), but some of the memes of Zucks surfing on a $12,000 electric surfboard are hilarious. Check them out here.

Things We Loved This Week ❤️

🐦 Tweet: Dave Gerhardt explains why podcasts are the #1 way to grow your business (B2B or B2C)

✏️ Blog: 2PMInc shares ideas on how to create a sustainable DTC brand. TLDR: the factors are: price integrity, digital distribution, founder leadership, minimal fundraising, founder-product fit, a marketing flywheel, a digital/physical community, a clean cap table, a high cash conversion cycle, and soul. (easy right?)

🎙Podcast: My First Million: Why Tai Lopez bought Pier One Answer: Brand equity and DATA!

🐦 Tweet: @Jayvasdigital describes how GymShark is a bootstrapped rapid growth ecom company sitting on $53M in cash. Answer: Negative Cash Conversion Cycle.

📺 TV Show Not DTC related but HBO’s Perry Mason is super dope. It’s fast talkin’ 1920s lingo is going to convince a generation of viewers that they need to turn on the subtitles or get a hearing aid (new DTC brand idea?). 

✏️ Article We’ve been saying since we interviewed Supercoffee, but DTC is the next frontier for Legacy CPG brands. Forbes agrees. Why? CPG marketing expenses are already enormous, their competitors are already there (DTC) eating their cheese, and they have almost NO first party data in retail. We agree, time for a move! 

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