Starting a business from scratch is never an easy task especially when your products are health and nutrition-based. This blog encapsulates a conversation with Aaron, co-founder and president of Life Aid. Here you will gain the following insights:
- The backstory of LifeAid
- Moves that brands can avoid
- Metrics brands can use
- Adapting to ever-changing social media trends
Revathi: Hey folks Welcome to eCommerce 360! Today we have Aaron, the co-founder and president of Life Aid, which is a leading manufacturer of premium healthy and convenient nutritional products designed to boost performance. Let’s start with a bit of a backstory which is super interesting, I want to hear it from you.
Aaron: Sure yeah! Life Aid, we’re a very clean nutritious beverage company, we started 10 years ago really out of ignorance and passion my business partner Orion and I had no beverage background whatsoever I was a sports chiropractor who’s a certified financial planner and we really saw a need for in the marketplace to combine the cool sexy hip factor of the energy drinks at the time with the emerging more hippy-dippy but health-conscious brands like some of the kombuchas and coconut waters that were just hitting the market. We decided to create Life Aid, a reality the very first beverage company to focus on being function forward instead of flavor-forward and the first beverage company to start with eCom only. We only sold online direct to consumers, direct to the gym for the first five years of our existence. Now it’s kind of the cool thing to do but back then nobody was doing it.
Revathi: That’s a fascinating story, so neither you nor your uh co-founder founder had any sort of marketing background or any sort of e-commerce experience, from the time of inception of this idea till growth today, what are the decisions that you had to take to overcome the challenges and what sort of trials and tribulations did you go through?
Aaron: Oh so many! I think you know most entrepreneurs can relate when you’re first starting out especially if you’re bootstrapping you’re filling every role from sales and marketing to logistics, figuring out co-packing and manufacturing, taking out the trash doing everything. It’s only when you hit a certain scale and things literally start to break that you go oh god! you start hiring out of desperation, hiring out of desperation is never a good place to be hiring from because the first resume that comes across your desk you say oh they check all the boxes let’s go ahead and bring them on the team and it’s really the exact opposite thing that you should do you should always hire with a really patient mindset because you want to make sure you’re finding the right cultural fit the person that’s aligned has proper alignment with the overall vision of the company. I think some of you know the early hires we made we did make some mistakes and didn’t have the right people on the team. It took a little while to course correct.
Revathi: From inception, till now I’m sure the social platform or the social media channels have exploded basically in terms of sports and nutrition, how did you start adopting your brand to the new social media challenges like, for example now tick-tock is a new thing right, so a couple of years the back Instagram shop was the new stuff, so how do you keep soft pivoting to get to your social media audience?
Aaron: Well, you have to know who your customer is and so as anyone in eCom knows that does any advertising on social platforms. It’s very predictable, let’s just look at the age demo, for example you know which age groups are going to be on which platforms. My parent’s generation is more you know facebook oriented you know people, in my generation next is gonna be more Instagram, you know Gen z is gonna be more snap and my kids are all on tick-tock. So, you know you can kind of figure out like knowing who your demo is, who your target audience really helps drive where you need to be spending Ad dollars for us we’re constantly testing new platforms seeing if it resonates seeing. If our audience is there and iterating we happened to start 10 years ago right when Instagram was getting popular and right when Crossfit was getting popular and those were two movements that we really planted our flag with and were able to grow as those platforms grow.
Revathi: Right now again you will be moving to tick-tock and you’ll be adopting your brand strategies for your customers or for your audience across tick-tock. That’s great, so for a brand like live feed, I’m assuming you know a sizeable chunk of your revenue must be coming from our repeat customers so how do you go about ensuring that you have repeat sales and what are the strategies that you have in place do you have some sort of subscription or do you have some sort of post-checkout engagement strategies?
Aaron: Yeah great question, absolutely! I mean most people know it’s about five times less expensive to maintain a current customer than it is to attract a new one, so repeat purchase is a huge part of our business you know currently we have about 80 percent of our purchases off of our website are from a continuity or from subscribers so really working to nurture our audience towards subscription is a massive goal of ours and really is the end goal of for a customer once we get them into our funnel and nurturing that and making sure that we continue to provide more value than what we’re charging it’s a very simple formula but at the end of the day if you’re providing more value than people are paying monetarily they’re going to stick with you.
Revathi: Talking about funnels, do you have any favorite tools that you use? What does your text app look like?
Aaron: Yeah I mean we’re on a Magento platform and certain things built around that and you know we don’t use Shopify because we have a lot of customization because we do a direct to a B2B platform as well as a B2C which Shopify doesn’t do as good of a job with but as far as tech tools. I think one of the best tools for not only converting new customers but getting buy-in from your existing and getting them to stick is having reputable review sources, so we switched over to trust pilots several years ago and they’ve been a great addition to our offerings, to really give our community and our potential community confidence that when they see you know thousands of trust by the interviews at you know 4.8 or greater than they’re dealing with a reputable company and they feel comfortable buying directly off our website versus just going to you know amazon or something like that.
Revathi: Regarding tools, we need to talk about metrics next right, so what kind of metrics do you measure in order to determine the progress that you’re making? Overall it’s going to be the ROI but is there any other metric that you track that gives you some sort of incremental value to your business?
Aaron: Absolutely! Every department has their own OKRs and KPIs based metrics that they’re looking at so it depends on the department if you’re looking at our customer success department we’re looking at trust pilot scores, we’re looking at CSAT ratings, we’re looking at one ticket resolution meaning you know they’re not they’re predicting what the issues are and they’re not having to go have a lot of back and forth they’re able to resolve the issue the customer’s issues or inquiry and one response from, if you look at our digital marketing side of things, of course, we’re looking at uh CAC costs, we’re looking at lifetime value, we’re looking at average order value and all of these type of metrics to make sure that we’re staying within tolerance. It really depends on what department but every department is very driven by KPIs
Revathi: That’s amazing and to wrap up I would like you to let us know what you think are the future trends of e-commerce especially in the space that you are in sports and nutrition, I know it’s getting super crowded and there are so many influencers who are jumping? Is Life Aid loaded and ready?
Aaron: Absolutely! We’re always ready, we were pretty early in the market with being function forward now you’ve got a lot of companies that are very function forward. The market is moving towards more and more customization, you know personalization for the consumer I think you know the macro trends, we’re not going to have to be searching for individual products anymore there will be our history, and our cookies will be giving us real-time recommendations already in accordance with our flavor profiles, our taste profiles, our style profiles, whatever it is and be giving us very customized search results based on what they know we are already going to like from food and beverage perspective. The space that we’re in, from CPG, there’s still a lot of companies out there that are selling products that are two servings per container when everyone knows you drink the whole thing in one sitting so they can make the sugar levels look lower they’re still using aspartame and sucralose which are neurotoxic, they’re horrible for your gut health there are still companies that are using 40-45 grams of sugar. So, all that stuff is changing like we are going to have better products that are ubiquitous that are clean, low sugar transparent in their labeling and still taste spectacular.
Revathi: Awesome! increasing or improving the value of the product that you’re giving to your customers. That’s great! Thank you so much Aaron for leaving us with a lot of insights.
Aaron: Thank you so much thanks for having me.