There is a spectrum of marketing methods required to grow a Bitcoin business, unique to this space.
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In this episode of “The Biz,” April covered a lot ground related to media buying and the spectrum of marketing methods required to grow a Bitcoin business, while Thomas details the importance of monitoring and improving the customer product experience to improve loyalty.
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John Carvalho: Welcome to The Biz with John Carvalho. The Biz is a crowdfunded podcast that covers the professional business side of Bitcoin. You can learn more and help unlock new episodes at thebiz.pro. Today I have with me, April Pollock and Thomas Mills from Bitrefill, who work on growth and marketing and advertising [00:00:30] related needs at the company. I guess I’ll give each of you a chance to maybe say what your specific job title is and what you do day-to-day at Bitrefill. April, why don’t you start? April Pollock: Sure. First off, thank you for having us on the show. Very happy to be here. My specific title is growth marketer. And really what the day-to-day looks like is managing mostly our paid side. So that includes our branded [00:01:00] and non-branded Google, YouTube, display retargeting and then paid traffic through other channels such as Reddit, Twitter, Quora, et cetera, where we’re testing multiple channels. And then also working with our non-paid side. So the organic side of things, PR, brand awareness, stuff like that pretty much. John Carvalho: Cool. How about you, Thomas? Thomas Mills: Yeah. I’m Thomas Mills. I’m our head of customer happiness here at Bitrefill. [00:01:30] Essentially what I do is try to make the customer experience the center of all the roles and areas that I get to touch. So whether that be on the marketing side or the product side, to make sure that we are putting the customer at the center of that conversation and the way that we’re communicating with them, because without our customers, we wouldn’t have jobs. That is the overarching theme of what I do [00:02:00] and that does lead into some marketing pieces as well as making sure our support and kind of every opportunity that we have to communicate or be in front of our customer is top of the line. John Carvalho: So head of customer happiness, is that like a standard job title or is that like more of a creative one? Actually this question is for both of you, what are other job titles that people typically use for the role that [00:02:30] you have? Because I know that as I deal more with recruiting and also with just applying for jobs in the past, there can be a little bit of confusion as to like what the job title is for the job a person is looking for. I am only partly joking about your job title, but what would your job title be called in other organizations or other Bitcoin businesses for both of you? Thomas Mills: Head of customer happiness, I think it’s a fun title. Most people would say it’s like the chief [00:03:00] customer experience, or director of customer services. Basically everything around the customer experience. I think that for most American companies, it typically is head of customer experience is normally what I would fall into for that. John Carvalho: How about you April, what are other names or role? April Pollock: I think director of marketing or marketing director would be probably [00:03:30] the most applicable. But it’s a lot of a blend and it combines a lot of different things. Like, for example, like I’d say, 80% of my role really is the media buy-in. And I’ve been a media buyer for a long time. Like almost like I’m like aging myself a bit. Over 10 years now. So I think internal media buyer would be an appropriate title as well. A lot of companies will outsource media buying to agencies and third parties, but specifically [00:04:00] at Bitrefill we do have internal buy-in. Whether it’s internal media buyer, whether it’s marketing director, whatever it may be, it’s all just under the umbrella of growth marketer right now. John Carvalho: I guess maybe tell me, how would you categorize or breakdown the teams at Bitrefill related to growth and customer experience? And how many people make up those teams? Thomas Mills: I think that [00:04:30] when it comes to the marketing side of it, we have about, typically, I think it was about 11 people that are on those calls for strategy and execution. A lot of things can be perceived as marketing, whether that’s marketing or communication externally to the customers. And so there’s also another team of about four people. And then, [00:05:00] April can probably speak to this a little bit too, we do have ambassadors that are specific for certain regions that we have, not necessarily full-time, a few of them are in a full-time role, but that I believe is a team of about seven folks for regions that we’re wanting to make sure that we’re not putting our American or European biases on the way that we’re communicating and interacting with those communities. April Pollock: Yeah. [00:05:30] Like specific boots on the ground in certain regions. And that would be an addition to the 11 that are on the strategy calls. Specifically on the media buying side, there’s two of us right now. Organic and content, there’s a handful that worked very well together, like such as Ricardo and Lawrence and Jerry and Mauro. Email is a little bit blended with a mix of a team of let’s say about three [00:06:00] total. Email marketing is very important to us and something that we’re working on expanding more just to increase the lifetime value of a user, specific to certain regions. And then there’s the graphic design side, which is one, sometimes two. So it’s pretty spread out. It’s pretty spread out amongst multiple niches within marketing and brand awareness and communication as well. John Carvalho: [00:06:30] Awesome. Thanks. I remember when I was at Bitrefill and we had to deal with some special things, special considerations, because of promoting Bitcoin products or Bitcoin as a payment method for products. What was the environment like these days? It’s been a couple of years and what are kind of the special considerations that both of you have to deal with, with having to promote specifically a Bitcoin business? April Pollock: [00:07:00] Are you speaking to the compliance around the platforms, such as Google and Facebook, or- John Carvalho: Let’s start with that. I guess there’ll be another dimension which would just be strategically. I guess the first dimension would just be, what are the special considerations, like limitations or this kind of thing? April Pollock: Yeah. Specifically around the platforms, we used to deal with issues with Google, as I’m sure you remember as well, with ad disapprovals. [00:07:30] But our account is pretty much white listed right now. We don’t deal with any issues. And we work very closely with our rep at Google to help us with that. That was an issue specifically on the paid side of things with search, with ads being disapproved, and we don’t deal with that anymore. When we first started advertising on YouTube, like it was impossible to get an ad approved in English. So we started with Spanish and we were able to get through their [00:08:00] bots that way. Now we don’t deal with that anymore. We have zero issues on the Google platform. Facebook’s a little bit different. It’s been frustrating on the Facebook side of things. When we first started, every now and then there would be a disapproval and you’d have to be careful what you say. This is pretty common with Facebook advertising. Your [00:08:30] account has what’s called a credit score, like a health score, and you don’t actually see that score. That’s internal to Facebook. So once you get it to a certain point, it’s nearly impossible to get ads approved. A lot of companies will go through agencies. Agencies have certain partnerships with Facebook. The premier partnership is the highest. That’s something that we’re currently in the midst of vetting is agencies with premier partnerships with Facebook that can [00:09:00] work with us with the ad disapprovals to get us white listed, essentially. But another way that people try to get around is through setting up new accounts. It’s just that Facebook watches all of that. So you have to use different business managers. You’d have to use different credit cards. So I’m getting into a little bit of the black hat side of things. So we haven’t done that, but it’s challenging. And then Facebook does have a cryptocurrency form, like an application, but it’s tilted [00:09:30] very much towards financial institutions. So because Bitrefill does not require any licensing as of right now, we don’t have any to put onto the form and it’s been disapproved. That is a bit of a headache for us. It’s something that we’re trying to solve because we know that we can reach a lot of people through Facebook, through Instagram. And right now we are paused on that channel. The other channels we don’t have issues, like Reddit, Twitter, no worries, but Facebook has been very [00:10:00] frustrating. John Carvalho: Yeah. Yeah, I remember back a couple of years ago, submitting that Facebook form probably three or four times with no success and thinking, okay, I don’t even know what they would approve. April Pollock: I know. I know. John Carvalho: It’s very frustrating. April Pollock: We’ll get targeted ads. Like we’ll be in the marketing meeting and colleagues will be like, “Well, we’re getting targeted ads.” I’m like, “Well, is it a financial institution?” And that’s usually why. And if it’s not, like if it’s like a, [00:10:30] say another Bitcoin related a company that isn’t a financial institution, usually it’s a fresh account, so they haven’t had a lot of flags yet. So they’re kind of flying under the radar for a bit until really Facebook’s bots catch it. A lot of the reason Facebook is so strict is because Dorian the big ICO craze back in 2017, all that. There were a lot of just kind of crap running through the platform. And a lot of people got scammed and that’s why Facebook is so strict about it. John Carvalho: I want [00:11:00] to talk a bit more about advertising and channels, but I want to give Thomas a chance to answer, if there are any specific Bitcoin hurdles for his role. Thomas Mills: Yeah. The hurdle is when you think about the different people that are using Bitrefill, you have a pretty big mix of some different personas that are coming into Bitrefill. You have your tech early adopters who have had Bitcoin for a long time and you can speak [00:11:30] to them about relatively complex concepts like even just explaining something such as our zero confirmation policy. That means something to someone that’s done a ton of Bitcoin transactions, but that might not mean something to someone that’s interacting with Bitcoin or Lightning for the first time in El Salvador. They might not even know what a confirmation is. I think that this doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with the compliance [00:12:00] front, but like, if you’re communicating a message to your customers or potential customers, that doesn’t mean anything to them, it’s like the tree falling in the woods, if no one’s there, does it actually matter? Well, some of the biggest hurdles that we have to work with is the language that we’re using to make sure that we’re bringing our customers along a journey of how much more they can use Bitcoin and [00:12:30] Lightning in general. And speaking in terms that actually means something to them. For us, that’s a part of finding them where they are and then thinking about where they can go on their user journey from an educational standpoint. John Carvalho: What percentage of the journey do you think most Bitrefill customers are on in regards to just being aware or understanding whatsoever, the [00:13:00] Lightning network? Thomas Mills: Yeah. I think that probably 10 to 15%, this is kind of based off of a few behaviors that we’re able to identify from our customers. I would say about 10 to 15% of our customers are very early adopters of Lightning and things like that. They might not use Lightning because right now they’re seeing [00:13:30] transactions to get confirmed or taking advantage of our zero comp policy and things like that. Just kind of based off of their own behaviors, I would say like 10 to 15% of our customers are those more advanced users that probably are running their own nodes. And if you’ve looked at their home screen on their phone, they have every single Lightning wallet that they’ve ever wanted to try out [00:14:00] and even a bunch of Lightning wallets from Testflight and things like that, if they’re on iPhone. I think that we do have some pretty advanced users, but on the communication front, I think that it is important to make sure that these first-time customers are learning about Lightning early and often. One thing that we put into place a few months ago [00:14:30] was having everyone get a welcome email from me or the ambassador for their country or Mauro or someone else on our team, if it was someone that’s a native Spanish speaker, that basically is an email that is shilling Lightning pretty hard to let them know, hey, here are the benefits using Lightning. We’re hoping that that will move the needle in a pretty big way to get people to use [00:15:00] Lightning or to know that it’s there, if the men pool gets to the point that it was a few months ago. John Carvalho: And just for clarity, why are you trying so hard to get them to use Lightning? Thomas Mills: I think that Lightning is one of the best experiences for folks when we try to estimate out … Something that we measure as a metric is our net promoter score, which is [00:15:30] basically a measure of how much our customers trust is based off of the experience that they are currently having. And we do have a fairly high net promoter score that we can measure. But in going through it, and you see the scores that come in from people that typically use Lightning for their transactions versus people that use on chain or another cryptocurrency, I would estimate that our Lightning users have a significantly [00:16:00] higher net promoter score when you try to extract that. For me, if someone is giving us a higher score because of their experience and trust us more to refer us to a family and friend, thinking that we have provided them value, then obviously our Lightning experience and the Lightning experience for people should be what we focus on for those [00:16:30] customers. I also think that when you just look at what is going on in the Lightning ecosystem, and what’s hopefully getting built, I think that that is the path for the way users are going to get onboarded onto Bitcoin in the future for certain markets such as El Salvador. John Carvalho: Yeah. I mean, when you have the kind of instant aspect and the fact that you can still hold your own keys and that you can do high frequency and the fact that it has stuff like an invoice, so you know for sure what to pay, there’s [00:17:00] no like paying the wrong amount with the wrong fee and this kind of thing. Like all of that is removed with Lightning. So I can see how I would think every merchant that is trying to focus on Bitcoin income would want to promote Lightning and support Lightning this way. It’s still somewhat early, sadly. Thomas Mills: When you say that about the invoices, that is actually one line in our welcome email that we wanted to make sure it was translated correctly. And I don’t have it in front [00:17:30] of me right now, but it’s essentially saying, with Lightning overpayments, underpayments, paying the wrong amount never happens because of the way it is. And you do see with on-chain or with other cryptocurrencies, a lot of overpayments and underpayments, which are a big pain point. And then people don’t get their products delivered to them instantly, which is always our goal. They [00:18:00] have to go through another transaction, whether that be refunding them or sending the different amount. Like I said, with Lightning, it’s very straightforward. When Lightning’s functioning, it is, again, I think it’s just a superior experience. John Carvalho: So as a segue to get back into the paid placement conversation, I’ll ask, what is the actual flow for getting customer feedback, customer [00:18:30] research from the field, or from users into say how it affects advertising. I mean, I can obviously imagine how you could get that flow to go into the product and affect features and documentation, but how, April, would you say, how do you use data? And maybe we can take this opportunity to talk a little bit about what kind of KPIs or other methods you guys use for tracking success and tools and this kind of stuff. April Pollock: [00:19:00] Yeah. To just speak a bit on our KPIs, there’s a lot of ways to look at it. When you’re looking at the funnel of just the entire user experience, digital marketers what we’ll use is top of funnel, middle of funnel, bottom of funnel. And what top of funnel is, is prospecting. Where we’re looking for brand new eyeballs, people who haven’t heard of us. Of course we can’t necessarily control that in our search campaigns. And search [00:19:30] is more of a middle to bottom of funnel effort anyways, but specifically on our prospecting. We use YouTube more for retargeting and sometimes for prospecting, but more on the Reddit side, more on the Twitter side and dabbling in core as well. And then other one-off channels that we’ll use, like paid placement with other sites. The biggest KPI that we’re looking at is really conversion metrics based on click-through rate. [00:20:00] Click-through rate shows intent. And what are the click-through rates and what are the CPCs? And then we take this data and then we put it into our middle of funnel, which is where we’re looking at, what actions did these users actually take on the site? Did they view content? Did they add certain items to their cart? And then we’re looking towards the bottom of funnel. Did they initiate a checkout? How much should it cost for that? And then did they actually convert as a first-time [00:20:30] prospect? Typically, users take about eight views to convert. Or, do we have to retarget them? And then that’s when we go into retargeting our middle of funnel and our bottom of funnel, based on what actions that these users took. The most important KPI to us, and this is something that was a little bit challenging for us to really figure out, because there’s not. There’s never going to be a perfect attribution solution for costs of acquiring a customer, [00:21:00] especially specific to our industry, because a lot of users do want to be private. So we know that it’s not always going to be perfect, but our CAC is really what we look at for growth. So how we had to solve that problem was through proprietary backend server tracking. We looked at a lot of third-party options like such as Attribution App, Kissmetrics, Everflow, and nothing was a full, reliable solution [00:21:30] just based on the business that we have. A lot of those third party tracking softwares are built more around traditional e-commerce businesses, whereas we’re a Bitcoin business. So it’s a little bit different for us. So that KPI, our cost of acquiring a customer is tracked directly through our backend. Like we’re not tracking that in Google. We’re not tracking that in Reddit. Like Google on Reddit don’t know who was a brand new customer for us. We know that based on scrubbing the email addresses [00:22:00] of users who have purchased through us. Our next important metrics is going to be our ROAS, so our return on ad spend, which is essentially just your sales volume coming through. John Carvalho: Would you cover some of the other acronyms you used. So there was a customer acquisition cost, key performance indicator, cost per click. And I think that covers it. April Pollock: Yeah. Yeah. Cost per click is going to be your CPC. Another [00:22:30] thing we’re watching too is the CPM, which is our cost per thousand impressions as well. How much is this traffic actually costing us? CPMs has gotten more expensive over the years. There’s a lot more money coming in to purchase traffic. John Carvalho: What’s the biggest chunk of cost for paid placement? April Pollock: That goes to Google, and that consists of YouTube, display retargeting and search. Google [00:23:00] Discover is something that we’re going to start testing. Those are the paid placements within the app. We haven’t tested it yet, but yeah, that’s the majority of our spend is Google. If we could get live on Facebook, that would be a comparable spend, but that’s something that we’re trying to solve. John Carvalho: Is there any channel that’s just not big enough where you wish you could put more money into it because of how well it performs? April Pollock: We’ll see. Typically when you scale [00:23:30] ad spend, it’s pretty normal to see a decrease in return on ad spend. But we’re talking like if you’re scaling to like multiple five figures into six figures a month. However, we have noticed that when we do scale Twitter and do scale Reddit, we do tend to see a decrease in return on ad spend. That’s most likely just due to optimizations that we need to make further into these channels. I don’t think we’re at an ad spend yet that we would be depleting these channels, [00:24:00] except for specific subreddits that we’re targeting, which are very niche, it’s very possible that our frequencies are high. But as for like one channel, that’s just absolutely killing it for us that we can scale more. I mean, branded search is always going to be your top channel. It’s your brand defense. It’s your brand. But it wouldn’t make sense to scale that to the moon. You can only bid on your name so much. John Carvalho: I forgot about this [00:24:30] one. This was always a controversial topic is the brand that advertising, whether it’s defense or where their competitors are actually competing when they take it. That’s a really shitty kind of pickle that Google puts everybody in and where you have to pay for your own spot. April Pollock: Yeah. Yeah. It’s not something that we’re necessarily happy about, but we do have other companies that do bid on our brand, which is frustrating. I mean, we were testing [00:25:00] it as well, like on other brands, but we stopped that. We’re not doing that anymore. Yeah. John Carvalho: It doesn’t really work, right? April Pollock: No. It’s like the worst. It’s kind of like scam advertising in a sense. I don’t really know how else to word it. John Carvalho: It’s gray hat, right? April Pollock: Yeah. A little gray hat, but it’s not the best quality. Like the best quality is someone who’s specifically looking [00:25:30] for your brand. And here’s the thing too, when you’re looking at the funnel, like top of funnel, middle of funnel, bottom of funnel, a lot of times you don’t see attribution come through your top and middle funnel. They act as brand awareness. Especially in this industry, in the Bitcoin industry, if someone’s just heard of you, they want to do their due diligence on your company, they want to make sure that this is legitimate and they’re going to Google you. So we see a lot of attribution come in through branded search just from our top of funnel efforts [00:26:00] coming from Reddit, from Twitter, from YouTube. And we know that they’re coming in through the bottom of funnel, through branded search. John Carvalho: Yeah. The whole path of attribution and measuring conversion, that’s a whole another like mind fuck that you have to get into with these roles. I’m sure things are a lot better than when I was there, because they were just improving all the time, once we actually were growing that department. What kind [00:26:30] of tools or methods do you use to gain confidence in measuring the data and actually completing this path of conversion? April Pollock: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Our proprietary tracking platform is the main metric that we’re looking at in regards to- John Carvalho: It’s entirely proprietary? You aren’t using like a software platform or tools? April Pollock: Mm-mm (negative). No. No. Yeah, it’s completely built from our backend. No, don’t get me [00:27:00] wrong, that’s not the only thing we use to measure performance. Like we’re measuring performance based from the specific platforms themselves, but for our two most important KPIs, which are our cost of acquiring a customer and our return on ad spend, we rely on our servers for that. And then when we’re looking at actual campaign performance, we’re pulling that from the ad platform. It’s never going to be perfect attribution, especially because a lot of people in Bitcoin will use like [00:27:30] ad blockers or Braid browser, where we can’t even track them. Especially since the iOS 14 update, that has made things more complicated as well, because users are automatically opted out of tracking when they update to iOS 14.5, and they have to opt in. There’s a bit of data loss throughout the funnel. The way we measure the performance on the KPIs is based on a blended CAC overall. We spent this much money. How much did it cost us to acquire all these customers throughout [00:28:00] these channels? And we can attribute the success of each channel based on, what did the click-through rates look like for, say Reddit, for example, because click-through rate does show interest and we do use retargeting there as well. So do we see an increase in click-through rates there and how many visits did we see come through and what tracked here, specifically coming from this channel that we can attribute to a new customer or to revenue coming in. [00:28:30] We always want to be return on ad spend positive. And we have been return on ad spend positive for the most part, since we started running traffic. So as long as we’re not losing money and we’re still acquiring customers and the blended CAC overall is within our KPI that we want to hit, that’s when we start to scale traffic. So we’ve scaled our spend about 500% from the start of 2020 up until [00:29:00] now. John Carvalho: Nice. That’s a good segue to, I’m not sure how to structure this question, but I want to ask without committing you to giving me Bitrefill’s amount, but generally, can you give listeners some idea of what kind of budget they should be expecting to do certain types of promotion? I know like a scale of Bitrefill is one thing, but like say you have a wallet app you want to promote, or [00:29:30] some other e-commerce Bitcoin site, what does it take to actually compete and get traffic and actually have a chance of doing the minimum volume of activity to actually know that you can measure? April Pollock: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, this doesn’t go just specific to Bitcoin companies, but even companies overall. You have to spend money to collect data. And you’re not going to hit a home run out the gate [00:30:00] when you start running paid traffic. It’s very rare for that to happen. And there’s a lot of variables there. Is this a brand new ad account? If it’s a brand new ad account with no pixel data, you need to collect data because these algorithms feed from the data coming through the pixels, specific to Google, or specific to Facebook, Twitter, et cetera. So that’s something like that. So when you’re just starting, like if you’re spending under 10 figures a month, it’s going to take some time [00:30:30] to make sure you’re building up and collecting that data. I’d say 5K minimum per channel, just to give it a chance for at least 90 days. And with taking that data that you’re collecting and making optimizations based on it towards your goals of whatever your KPIs are. If you really want to scale, I mean, you can scale when you’re not ROAS positive, as long as you’re looking at the lifetime value of a user. Like at Bitrefill, we like to be return on ad spend positive, and that’s after [00:31:00] taking our margins. So we take our margins into consideration and where we return on ad spend positive afterwards. Like as a new startup, a lot of startups are just looking specifically for growth. That’s what their investors want to see. You can scale out of negative return on ad spend positive as long as what your lifetime value of a user is. And then you’re taking that into consideration for what this person is actually worth to you. John Carvalho: Yeah. So you hear that everyone. You can’t just throw $500 [00:31:30] at Google ads for a month and then say you failed. You didn’t learn anything. You really need to put a significant amount of budget, an actual, intentional effort and to tracking the data that you create from this test. Probably have to do it for at least one or two quarters to even have any confidence that you did anything measurable. So yeah, I think that people need to be prepared, especially the smaller startups trying to promote something using [00:32:00] paid channels, you do need a good 20 to 50 grand just to do a proper test. April Pollock: Yep. Absolutely. John Carvalho: Are there any channels that you would say that are obviously channels that are not easy to measure, but maybe channels that you would say are high value? Something like sponsorships, PR, events, podcasts, these kinds of things. April Pollock: [00:32:30] Yeah. I mean, it’s hard to measure attribution for a lot of channels. Like connected TV is one example, and that’s something that we’re starting to explore. That’s video advertising through like Hulu, Roku, things like that. It’s brokered out through programmatic platforms. That’s all view through conversion. Like when you’re running ads, you have click-through attribution, which is actually tracking the click, whether it’s the first, middle or last click. And then you have what’s called view [00:33:00] through attribution, which is the channel knows that this ad was shown, whether it’s an image, video, whatever it is, and then it’s tracking whether it converted later. So then they attribute it to a view, which isn’t the most reliable from a checking, right? Like how do you know? That’s normal in the digital marketing industry for attribution to not be perfect. I’d say anything that was trying to attribute [00:33:30] through view, whether it’s connected TV, whether it is through, we haven’t tested this yet, but whether it’s through billboards, things like that are going to be hard to track and attribute, podcasts, we do run sponsorships on podcasts. When users purchase through us, some of them do fill out a survey after, that tells us where they came from. And some of them say that it was through a certain podcast, but [00:34:00] we know that there was probably more, and people just didn’t fill out the survey afterwards. Sponsorships. That’s brand awareness. Having your logo. We were a sponsor for Bitcoin 2021 in Miami. We don’t necessarily know the exact amount of customers that we got from that. And we’re not going to know the exact amount of customers that we got from it, but it’s part of a top of funnel brand awareness growth tactic. [00:34:30] Same with PR. PR is something that we’re starting to put more emphasis into. It has been a little bit of a void for us. We’re not going to know exactly our CAC. We can track our CAC through our paid platforms because it’s attributed from our backend servers. For brand awareness and things like that, it’s nearly impossible to know. I mean, we’ve even talked about using QR codes with specific URLs [00:35:00] and we can- John Carvalho: You can still slap it onto all your costs though, right? April Pollock: Yeah, we slap it onto other costs. Really we try to look at things as a whole, like on a macro scale. We’ve spent this much money and our business has grown this much. Try to attribute it the best that we can. John Carvalho: Okay. Let’s segue back to Thomas. I want to talk a little bit about localization. You guys mentioned earlier that you had the ambassadors. [00:35:30] So maybe, Thomas, can you tell me a little bit about what the ambassadors are and what they do and how that came about. And also, just generally, things that Bitrefill does regarding localization on your side, and then we’ll let April talk about it in regards to the channels. Thomas Mills: April said this earlier that our ambassadors are our boots on the ground and are eyes and ears for that market and letting us know [00:36:00] the local intricacies of that market. Something that maybe touches a little bit on what you were previously talking about, about finding out where the traffic comes from? We do find that about 22% of our customers based off of surveys that we send, do come from word of mouth. And that is a big part of our ambassadors and how they interact with people. [00:36:30] The way that we try to localize that is we do have over 5,000 products available on our website now at this point. For example, a customer in India, me being here in California, I’m not going to know exactly what the day-to-day life looks like if trying to live off of Bitcoin in India. So we do have an ambassador that will let us know, hey, Paytm, [00:37:00] or Amazon India, or whatever it might be, is a very useful service. And that is what we really need to be talking about with our customers. Even something like that, where we do try to personalize the email messaging and the education that is going out for those customers. I was talking about the welcome email. All of the markets that we have with ambassadors in them do get [00:37:30] an email that we have written with that ambassador, whether that is still hopefully talking about Lightning, but also letting them know about some different services that might be more helpful in their day-to-day life. We also are trying to, in our email messaging, we are starting to send out a monthly statement of rewards, just to remind people that they do accumulate rewards in our platform, but also to highlight new [00:38:00] vendors and services that we are having for that particular market, whether that be for the Philippines versus Germany, for example. John Carvalho: Are you guys using the rewards as a promotional method? Is that what you’re saying as well? It’s not just passing on cost savings, you’re also doing it to try to move traffic to an item? Thomas Mills: I would say that our rewards are more of a retention tool [00:38:30] to get people having a bit of a vested stake in the platform. The rewards are denominated in satoshis. Hopefully those reward balances grow for a customer over time and as a opportunity to surprise and delight our customer, because, let’s just say they had spent an amount and it was only like $10 of rewards. Well, hopefully with price appreciation, that all of a sudden becomes [00:39:00] a nice dinner out that they were able to order for free. I would say that our rewards program is a bit more for retention. There are certain items that have higher reward percentages than others. Everything defaults to a 1% satsback. I don’t think that we really target our rewards percentages to a particular item in [00:39:30] that, for example, that communication that I was speaking about, we’re using it as an opportunity to let people, again, educate and let them know, here are different parts of your life that you can live off Bitcoin for. Someone might come into the platform that is just buying Amazon, for example, and they’re only thinking about us in the context of buying Amazon, but they don’t realize, hey, I order [00:40:00] food a few times a week on DoorDash, and maybe they don’t know that DoorDash is also on our platform or different grocery items and things like that. John Carvalho: There was another question I wanted to ask about this, one second. You talked about the ambassadors, but I also know that Bitrefill does pretty deep localization [00:40:30] with all of the content. So like, how many languages does website support currently? Thomas Mills: I might be a little wrong on this. I think that a quick eyeball looks like about eight languages that we do have on there. Most of our customers are English speakers or Spanish speakers. With what we’re seeing going on in Latin America, [00:41:00] we are focusing a lot on making sure that our Spanish content and our Spanish messaging, it makes sense. It’s not just run through Google Translate, for example. And I think that that is something that is a little different that we do is actually translating things for people by those native language speakers, versus relying on something like Google Translate to communicate with our customers. So that way you aren’t [00:41:30] warping your message because of some weird grammatical thing with Google Translate. John Carvalho: Are you generating any social content like blogs and podcasts and this kind of thing in non-English languages? Thomas Mills: Yeah. We are. Our ambassadors, they do make podcast appearances. They do [00:42:00] contribute to some of our blog posts. Each one of our markets that we do have an ambassador in, or even if we don’t, we’ll find a customer that we really appreciate, by looking into different things with different people, we know in the industry, making sure that there is content about living on Bitcoin in Mexico, for example, or something along those lines. So that way that [00:42:30] person in Mexico, or the Philippines, sees that their grocery store or this food delivery service is available, and they can think about their own user journey of how they can use our service. We have talked a little bit about that user customer the roadmap, and I think that it’s good to remember that it is going to be different for not only [00:43:00] everyone based off of the experience that they’re in right now, but also their own locale, like a user journey for someone in the Philippines is going to be fairly different than someone in France. So it is important to make sure that you have that content and education for that person. John Carvalho: How about you April, do you have anything noteworthy that you can think of to mention about how languages or geographic jurisdictions affect [00:43:30] your work? April Pollock: Yeah. Absolutely. A good chunk, not the majority, but a good chunk of our ad spend does go towards Spanish speaking. I know I mentioned earlier that Spanish speaking was a way for us to get around Google’s bot ad approvals for YouTube, which is how we first started testing it, but we do run search ads in Spanish for Spanish speaking. And originally when we first started, [00:44:00] it was broad, just anything Spanish speaking. And now we’re starting to segment that out by country, specifically, to track the specific country optimization within the platforms, but also we do run some ads in German as well. We see a good amount of traffic coming from German speakers. John Carvalho: Do you see any regional trends worth mentioning as to like either growth trends or product preference trends, just anything interesting [00:44:30] related to either the languages or regions? April Pollock: Not necessarily product specific on my end, but really just the growth in Spanish speaking. Not just the amount of customers that we’re acquiring, but specific on the platforms, like the cost of the traffic, when we first started, one of our biggest advantages was that Spanish speaking traffic is a lot cheaper than English speaking traffic, so we’re able to reach [00:45:00] many more eyeballs. And we have noticed that the CPMs have started to increase pretty drastically in Spanish speaking countries, specifically on the keywords and phrases that we’re bidding on, which does show that there is a lot of Bitcoin companies coming into these regions and starting to bid on these phrases and keywords. John Carvalho: Or even traditional company is trying to compete with Bitcoin companies. April Pollock: Yeah. Yeah. Exactly. Or that as well. [00:45:30] This is a market, and we all know what’s happening in El Salvador, but this is some market that there’s a lot of growth potential in, and a lot of people are paying attention. And we can see that just in our traffic costs. John Carvalho: Do either of you see any differences in either, April with you, with like the approach and what it takes to get a conversion, or Thomas with you, with like customer happiness or culture, I guess you could say, [00:46:00] in regards to alt coins users versus Bitcoin spenders? Thomas Mills: I would say that the alt coins users, a lot of them, there’s a little bit of a difference that I see between the alt coins users in emerging markets versus developed markets. You can almost imagine the Ethereum user in [00:46:30] San Jose versus the person that’s in, I don’t know, Venezuela, that is using something like Tron Tether, because that’s what they have access to for banking. I think that there is a little bit of a distinction there for the emerging market alt coin user versus the developed market alt coin user, because of their access to banking and what their actual needs are. One [00:47:00] thing that I have found, and this is based off of we have been focusing a bit on Bitcoin meetups and getting to have those face-to-face interactions because you do get some different feedback from customers when you’re actually face-to-face, or non-customers, when you’re face-to-face versus just surveys and emails and phone calls. I find that the alt coins users, we talked a little bit about Lightning, [00:47:30] they’re fairly receptive to using something like Lightning because they see it as a new technology. And so I think that for both developed market alt coin users, a lot of them, if they aren’t totally embedded into a project, are receptive to whatever the best technology that they think it might be to use. You could probably almost say the same thing on the developing market that [00:48:00] it does depend on their access and how they actually are acquiring that crypto that they’re using it also as a tool, all of it as a tool. For them, they might’ve had a family or friend or read about it somewhere about, hey, you can interact with Tether on Tron this way, or Dogecoin for … Or something like that for cheap transactions. [00:48:30] I would say that the alt coin users are not quite as embedded into using the alt coins, and so they might move over to something different if we can just help educate them on that technology. John Carvalho: I remember a few years ago on Twitter, everybody all the time, granted this was more closer to the aftermath of ICOs, but it was like constantly every day, all [00:49:00] day, somebody asking to add a coin. Like Bitrefill, when will you accept X coin, Y coin, Z coin? Is that still the way it is? Thomas Mills: Yes. In support, we probably get like two or three messages a day in our surveys that we have for where we do ask our customers like, hey, what products do you want? Or what improvements we can make. There are several surveys a day saying, hey, can you add blah-blah-blah coin? [00:49:30] You look at the reason that they want you to add them, a lot of them are for convenience or what they perceive as convenience or cheapness or speed. Not to be a Lightning maximalist here on this, but that is an opportunity to educate them on that. We also do get a lot of requests for Monero, for privacy [00:50:00] and things along those lines. There are, I would say, probably more than half of our things are for some random coin that you’ve never heard of before, because they found it on Reddit or telegram or wherever they did, but yeah, we still do get a good amount of requests for that. John Carvalho: April, are you doing anything special to advertise regarding coins? Are you targeting Ethereum users separately or channels that are specific to alt coins? April Pollock: [00:50:30] Yeah. Yeah, we do, especially Tether on Tron. Tron was a request from our users. So then when we did launch Tether on Tron, we did start running specific paid ads to that, really the angle of, you asked and we listened. A lot of remarketing, using remarketing lists from the data that we have through the platforms. But one thing that we are seeing is just through our non-branded search traffic for [00:51:00] Tether over Tron options is a lot of traffic coming through there. Just people searching for it. I almost said organically, but we’re paying for it through non-branded. So not necessarily organically, but it is coming through that channel. When we test new angles and test new channels and test new countries, a lot of times we like to look where fire is already lit. So where are we seeing a lot of work in and stuff coming in through our Google analytics [00:51:30] and what makes sense for us. So like specifically Tether over Tron, a lot of is coming through our ads running in the Philippines that we launched. So do we spend more there? Do we scale there? That’s how we try to make our decisions. John Carvalho: Cool. Thomas, just quickly, I had a thought, being the head of customer happiness, generally, what makes a Bitrefill customer happy and what [00:52:00] makes a Bitrefill customer unhappy? Thomas Mills: I think this isn’t something that’s unique to Bitrefill. I think that this probably holds true for most every industry that you’re in is how you can perform based off of your customer’s expectations. If you’re performing above and beyond, or [00:52:30] at least in line with your customer’s expectations, you’re going to have a happy customer. Probably a happier customer if you’re exceeding those. I would say that, generally, most of our customers have a pretty good understanding of what they’re going to get when it comes to interacting with Bitrefill. So you’re going to have unhappy customers when they have forwarded expectations, when we don’t live up to their expectations. [00:53:00] Not that we want to lower our customer’s expectations, but we just want to make sure that we’re clear about they know what they’re going to get. So being transparent about what we’re able to offer and what that customer experience is going to be like, I think will generally always lead to a happier customer because then their expectations are going to be in line with what you can either deliver or with what you can go above [00:53:30] and beyond for. It’s a pretty simple thing I would say, but I think it holds true for most every industry. John Carvalho: Cool. Do either of you have any advice for someone that’s maybe doing your job role or a similar role outside of Bitcoin and they want to get a Bitcoin job? Like what could somebody in each of your roles do to better position [00:54:00] themselves to be able to make the transition to doing their career in a Bitcoin company? Thomas Mills: I didn’t come from a straight up Bitcoin background. I actually came from the wine industry. And so I think that it’s good for people to remember that, just like with what I was saying before about customer expectations, is that just because it’s a Bitcoin company, [00:54:30] a lot of what you’re dealing with on the day-to-day basis is unique, but I think that directionally, a successful company is going to have the same things. And so a few things that I always try to keep in mind is if you’re centered around the customer with all your decision-making, you’re generally going to have good outcomes. I guess two things that [00:55:00] are always top of mind for me, that resonate is, I think this is from Maya Angelou or something is that your customer might forget what they say, but they’ll never forget the way that you made them feel. So making sure that they feel appreciated, listened to, and that you’re empathetic as well as sympathetic to what their needs are. And then, again, always starting with that customer experience and then working backwards, [00:55:30] I think is very important for a technology company or a Bitcoin company, because I think that you see a lot of projects, if they’re started by an engineer, they probably start with the technology and say like, oh, this is what it does. And then try to jam it down the customer’s throat and say like, hey, this is how people use it versus … I think that’s backwards to how it should be. You need to start with what your customer, what their journey [00:56:00] is, what their experience is going to be, and then work backwards about how the technology is a tool, not the actual customer. John Carvalho: How about you April, what advice would you give to someone trying to move into media buying and growth marketing and Bitcoin? April Pollock: I think the biggest thing is to have a knowledge of the industry. It’s going to be very hard to know how to word your ads and what keywords to bid on and what to target if you don’t- John Carvalho: Just [00:56:30] copy Bitrefill ads, right? April Pollock: Yeah. Exactly. You need to understand the industry and you need to enjoy it as well. You need to have a passion for. It’s a very passionate industry. But I’d say the biggest thing is just having knowledge of it. I came to Bitrefill with not as much knowledge as I have now, but still knowledge of the industry. Like I had been investing in the markets and I had [00:57:00] some general knowledge of how to target certain people. That’s the biggest thing is you need to understand the industry. John Carvalho: Okay. Well, I’m trying to wrap things up here. Do either of you have either a question you wish I asked or some kind of point that you would like to make about your Bitcoin role that I left out, or a question for me that you have maybe related to any of these? April Pollock: I’m trying to think. Thomas Mills: [00:57:30] I guess question that I would have, because of all of your experience, John, is like when you were at Bitrefill, was there some advice that you would give to folks that were trying to break into the Bitcoin industry? John Carvalho: I didn’t do a lot of hiring when I was at Bitrefill, I’m doing more now. I don’t know, I’ll try to just be candid and [00:58:00] answer automatically on how I might rephrase this, which is like, what do I look for initially when I’m trying to hire. I’ll be honest, if somebody is coming from Bitcoin in the first place, they’ve got a huge advantage. I guess that compliments what you said April, except for me, it’s like even stronger. At Bitrefill is e-commerce, and so knowing about Bitcoin is a good advantage because of the [00:58:30] narrative and the content and somewhat the strategy. If you’re building Bitcoin software and things like this, well, my priorities shift a little bit more where if I see someone that say, been working on a Bitcoin wallet for a year, they’re much more interesting than somebody who’s been working on mobile apps for two years. It’s not the best example because neither one is that interesting because they’re both only one or two years experience, in the example, but if you talk [00:59:00] about someone that has an extra year of Bitcoin hands-on experience or hands-on on a Bitcoin product, even that alone makes a big difference. I would say maybe my advice boils down to get yourself into any Bitcoin company, any way that you can, or just start a project independently or contribute to an open source project. There’s plenty of them. Just get your hands dirty. Another good example is the Square Crypto Bitcoin Design Community. [00:59:30] That’s a great place to bootstrap a career. You can say, okay, I’ll start joining one of the projects there. I’ll contribute for a few months. Maybe end up getting a grant or at least get this into your portfolio and into your resume and that kind of thing. Yeah, that’s my rant on advice. April Pollock: Yeah. I couldn’t agree more. John Carvalho: All right. Well, thank you both so much for your time. I [01:00:00] know that this maybe won’t be the sexiest headline for a podcast. I’ll try to think of something. Actually, maybe you should write the headlines for the best clicks. Thomas Mills: April can make it a sexy headline there. April Pollock: Some clickbait. John Carvalho: Yeah. I guess that’s how we can talk about … Well, I’ll skip it, but how writing for bots can be tricky. You made me think of that. Writing headlines for Google is not the same thing [01:00:30] as writing headlines for a human. April Pollock: No. Yeah. It’s very different. John Carvalho: Yeah. I really hope people do listen. I hope people at startups, peers of ours listen to this, because my hope here is to save people some experience in time and at least kind of breach these topics, so they know what a real established successful Bitcoin business like Bitrefill has been doing to tackle [01:01:00] growth in this unique environment. Thank you both so much. If either of you are doing Twitter or have ways that you’d like people to follow you or contact you, just go ahead and state them. Thomas Mills: People can reach out to me in any way that they want to. Thomas@bitrefill.com is how you can email me. Thomasbtc is how you can find me [01:01:30] on Twitter. Any way that you want to reach out to Bitrefill, if you say you want to speak to Thomas, I’ll get back to you. John Carvalho: All right. April, are you on Twitter? You do any of the social stuff or you’re staying private? April Pollock: I am. I am. I’m newly on Twitter @AprilJPollock and then email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Very happy to be here. Very happy to help. I think [01:02:00] it’s wonderful what you’re doing, because it is sometimes tough waters navigating this industry. So hopefully people listen and can take some advice away. John Carvalho: Well, thank you both again so much. And I look forward to talking to you again soon.
Source: Bitcoin magazine