May 4, 2023

Episode 264: Noah Tucker, CEO & Founder of Social Snowball

Noah Tucker is the Founder and CEO of Social Snowball, the word-of-mouth marketing platform for e-commerce merchants. Noah’s experience building Shopify sites, running ads, and working with influencers led him to Social Snowball, which now supports affiliate and influencer marketing for brands like Fanjoy, Goorin Bros, and Outway Socks.

Julian:Hey everyone. Thank you so much for joining the Behind Company Lines podcast.Today we have Noah Tucker, CEO and founder of Social Snowball, the word ofmouth marketing platform for e-commerce merchants. Noah, I'm so excited to chatwith you. Not only get to know your background, your experience and share thatwith the audience, but also what's super fascinating about Social Snowball andwhat you've been really, able to do and impactful in the direct to consumerspace.

And really, I thinkwe all have an understanding of how to get, our audience's attention, but it'sbecoming more and more crowded. There's so much more noise. So it's exciting tohear how, you're kind of helping not only understand, campaigns that brands aregoing and, and utilizing, but also the success and the success rate and whatactually works.

So, Really excitedto dive into those topics. But before we get into that, what were you doingbefore you started the company?  

Noah:Yeah, well first of all, thank you for having me. Super happy to be here.Before building Social Snowball, my, like, I was kind of deep in the wholemerchant side of the e-commerce world.

Yeah. So literallylike right after high school, it was like the summer after I graduated highschool, I got introduced to that world and I just kind of got sucked into it.It was like, I got a little taste of success. I mean, it was just kind of, thisis back in 2017, it was pretty easy to just.

Throw up a store?Not really, not everything had to be like super dialed in and you would stillget some traffic and some sales cuz it was just less competitive. So I, I setup a store back then and I just got like super sucked into that world. And thenfor the next five years I just kind of was like deep in that world.

So I was, buildingsome of my, some of my own stores, but I was also helping other brands withtheir stores. I was, pretty deep in like the advertising side of things, so Iwas like, Running ads. I got pretty deep into media buying. Yeah. And of courselike building affiliate and ambassador programs, which is like eventually whatled to, yeah.

Like the idea forSocial Snowball. But that's, that's kind of like, How, how it all started.  

Julian:Yeah. And thinking about that experience and for, for the audience and just toget some context, when you wanna operate a successful store, describe how muchkind of goes into that, whether it's the investment, if you're direct consumertype of product, the investment and the almost like the supply of what you haveand kind of the complexity about getting that to, someone and delivering thatvalue.

What's involved inthat process that we don't really see kind of. As, as almost viewers ofmerchants, but you know, not being in, in the game.  

Noah:Oh, I mean, there's a lot, there's a lot like what I don't like aboute-commerce and the big reason that I left it was just that there's so manymoving parts.

Yeah. And obviouslylike software is a very complicated business too, but it's just, it's, there'sso many moving parts in e-commerce it almost feels like unmanageable. Sothere's like obviously the product and like coming up like, I wasn't sellinganything revolutionary, but like most of the brands that at least we're workingwith now, like they come up with their own products and that entire process isvery, very, Painful.

And obviously likemost products are developed overseas cuz it's more affordable. So there's likethe whole time zone and, and language barrier often. And it, it's just a, it'sa very complicated process and I've, I, I've witnessed a lot of brands gothrough that and like that in itself is already like, like overwhelming, andthen there's the whole logistics side of things. So like, actually. Orderingproducts, placing purchase orders, like figuring out how things are gonna comefrom overseas to Europe or to the United States, or wherever you're gonna be,like housing and shipping the product, and then finding three pls and kind oflike piecing all those moving parts together.

Is, is it's, I'm,I'm, Exaggerate. It's like not as hard. Like there are things that make iteasier, but it's just, it's daunting to, to start a business like that. Yeah.And then of course, like that's only the, the backend side of things. That'swhat nobody sees and that's the not fun stuff to talk, to. Talk about the funstuff is the website design, the marketing, like, influencer partnerships andpaid ads.

Like that's whatpeople. Usually focus on, on social media cuz it's the fun and exciting growthstuff. But yeah, there's just a lot of, and, and, and there's also like littlethings like payment processing and, and banking partners. And there's just somany little moving pieces and if just one of them breaks, like kind of thewhole operation comes crashing.

But you know, likethe e-commerce stuff I was doing was on the more simple side, like I was Yeah.Mostly drop shipping products. So it kind of solves a lot of the logistics sideof things. And then I was also like, when I was shipping products outta theUnited States, we would work with like one three PL and we would, yeah.

It just likewasn't, I wasn't running anything that was so big that it gets like reallycomplex. But it, it definitely can, especially for, for larger brands.  

Julian:Yeah. Yeah. And being that, there's so many brands out there looking to connectwith consumers and sell a particular product. What, what's, and, and I think alot of people, even when they set it up, they're like, oh, I have a nicewebsite.

I have a decentproduct. I think people like this. I buy this. They have all these assumptions,hypothesis, but what really kind of cuts through, I hate to say the noise cuzit's such an overused term, but what kind of cuts through the, the amount ofchoices I would say that consumers have. And how do you distinguish, well, thevalue of your product or that you are the thing that they wanna purchase inthat moment in time, and how much kind of volume is reliant in terms of like,increasing the chances of you having a successful transaction?

How much of thatkind of is, is just like involved in the process?  

Noah: Ithink it's just a lot of brand positioning. Like the, the brands that reallycrush, they invest heavily into their branding and then like, they useperformance marketing. Like they, they spend, they put a ton of effort intobrand marketing just to like kind of raise awareness, like, like it explaintheir positioning.

Like one examplethat's like a really, really popular in the D to C space is liquid death, whichis just like, it's a water, it's a water brand, but they obviously have reallycool. Positioning and, and people know, like people know their positioning andthey choose to spend way more on their water because of that, and.

Of course they'realso running performance marketing stuff, like trying to, like ads that arewith the goal of driving conversions from that ad. But the only reason thatpeople are buying it is because they've already seen the brand and heard aboutit and understand the, the position. So I think it's like having both of thosepieces in motion at, at all times is kind of what gives you that competitiveadvantage.

Julian:Yeah. And thinking about, you have a brand and now you're, going out and doingthese different campaigns, how do you identify which platform is gonna be theideal one to. To get to your audience. What kind of research goes intounderstanding your demographic and where they convene, what kind of, in thisomni-channel approach, how can you identify which channels are gonna be themost successful for you?

Noah:It's honestly very, like, I'm sure there is a little research you do, but it'svery little research and mostly testing. Yeah. You might, you might besurprised, like you might be like, oh no, my audience is not Pinterest. Oh, myaudience is not TikTok because we sell in older demographic. You have to test,yeah. So there's, there's, you could do research and I'm sure you could talk toyour customers and, and figure out where they spend most of their time, but I,I, that's not solid enough evidence to like, say, okay, I'm not gonna test thischannel. Like, you definitely need to test everything and then like, learn fromthe data that, that, those tests bring you, and then like, iterate from there.

Julian:Yeah. Yeah. And thinking about just like how brands connect and the ways theycommunicate their value. Obviously this huge affiliate program and having,influencers market your product to show the, the uses and the use cases. Ithink it was super popularized and then now people are kind of, I think alittle bit more skeptical, making sure that whoever they're following isactually selling them something, either.

That are promotingsomething that they either actually use or is, gonna be valuable to them. Howhas that kind of trust paradigm changed being that we heavily, trustedinfluencers, now it's a little bit more skepticism, but what tools can helpkind of regain or rebuild or even reinforce the trust that we have with thepeople associated with, the brands that we, we consume?

Noah:I, I think it depends, like, I think there's a lot of maybe smaller influencersthat people are trusting more now. Like there's people, there's infl. I mean, Idon't think the trust has really deteriorated as much as you're saying. Like, Ido think, obviously there have been influencers that will like, quote, sell outand just like advertise any product and not really care just because they wannaget the bag and then, and like those, those get sniffed out pretty fast andthen they lose trust with their audience.

And then like thevalue of that audience. Decreases, but most influencers nowadays know howimportant it is to maintain the relationship that they've spent, like theirlife building with their audience. And they know that promoting products thatthey don't truly believe will provide value to their audience will like veryrapidly deteriorate that relationship that they've built.

So, Honestly, Idon't, I don't think it's as big of a problem as you're thinking. I think manyinfluencers turn down brand partnerships because they're like, this doesn'tmake sense for my audience. Yeah. And obviously the brand should have a decentenough finger on the pulse to know which influencers do have a good, like do,like their audience would be a good fit for their product.

But yeah, sometimesinfluencers, influencers could be pretty picky with that kind of thing.  

Julian:Yeah. Yeah. Describe, for the audience to get a little bit more context, SocialSnowball and what exactly the product does and how you're able to kind of, helpincrease not only transaction, but also, the awareness of a lot of the brandsthat you, you've been working with.

Describe theproducts a little bit more just for our audience to know.  

Noah:Sure. So I mean, like what, what affiliate marketing for e-commerce, like theway it used to be, traditionally, and this is going back to like the superearly days of e-commerce, is like, Brands would partner with like publishers.

So those would belike blogs or review sites or listicles or that kind of thing. Or like mediabuyers. So like people who professionally run paid ads they would partner withthem as affiliates and then there would be like software out there to kind oftrack those sales and manage those partnerships.

And that's kind ofwhat affiliate marketing has traditionally been. If you look at like, brandsthat have launched a long time ago, like that's usually what affiliatemarketing was. And then in today's day and age, obviously like brands are stilldoing those types of partnerships and there is still value in that, but they'realso very, very heavily focusing on partnering with influencers and creators.

Yeah. So thecurrent affiliate marketing, before Social Snowball at least, and this is kindof how the idea came to be, is like, The affiliate marketing technology thatexisted to enable these partnerships was really built for like publishers andmedia buyers. And what would happen is, like, if a brand was trying, was usingthis technology or like these softwares or apps to onboard like a TikTokcreator or like a customer that wants to be an ambassador or really just any ofthese, like more like modern affiliates, how I like to call them.

The technology isjust not meant for, and, and everything breaks. Like the onboarding process forthe affiliates is super clunky and manual. Managing them, generating theirlinks and codes is just like again, clunky and manual. Sending them pay payoutsto super manual, like kind of everything that these creators are used to beinglike, or even customers of yours that are like used to like your amazingcheckout experience and your amazing website ui.

Then they have togo on these affiliate platforms that we're just not meant for them in our superoutdated. And that just like that was very frustrating for me when I was likean e-commerce operator. So that's kind of how the idea came to be. And the onlyreally alternative solution that was out there on the market when I was lookinglike back in my e-commerce days is there were these like refer a friend apps.

That were like,kind of like loyalty focused, where it'd be like, Hey, give your friend $5 offand, and we'll give you $5 off your next order. And those didn't really workfor what I was trying to do, at least because it was just giving like couponsas incentives. Like it was like a loyalty program, but it would have like alittle refer friend feature within it.

And obviously likeaffiliate marketing is customer acquisition. Like you are paying a bounty forsomeone to refer, a follower, a friend. It doesn't matter, but it's not likecoupons and points. It's like, this is like really like we are payingperformance commission for you to drive these sales. Yeah. So anyway, SocialSnowball is the only affiliate marketing platform for e-commerce that's laserfocused on this more modern affiliate.

So every piece ofour platform, Is designed with like the modern creator or customer or influinfluencer ambassador in mind. Whether that's onboarding them to the program,generating their codes and links, managing them, exceeding them and giftingthem products sending them commissioned payouts like managing fraud and allthat stuff, like kind of.

What these types ofpartnerships comes with their own types of challenges. And like all of the, again,all the other tech that's out there is not meant for this, it's meant for thepublishers and, and the, the kind of like legacy affiliate. So that'sessentially what Social Snowball does.  

Julian:Yeah. It's so fascinating thinking about, the advantage from the brand side tohave a bunch of small kind of partnerships and almost like.

Like a small fieldsales team to be able to go market products, gain interest, drive transactionvolume. How has that really changed how companies invest in not only marketing,but sales? Obviously it sounds like, like PPC ads were, were the shit, but thennow it's all about, connecting with your audience and.

How has that reallykind of helped brands PO position themselves, but also from a strategy end? Howdoes it benefit them to have, a group of team of individuals who are prettymuch, promoting and selling their products for them?  

Noah:Well, I think the main value is that it's decentralized. So like we're not at apoint yet where brands don't have to rely on pay channels, like brands verymuch, very much.

Still do. I knowwe're like kind of moving away from that and people like, Really focus on thechannels that they're growing with that aren't paid. But like the reality is,and even though my platform is like the opposite of this, I, I, I will admit,the reality is in today's day and age, like brands are very heavily relied onmeta Google.

All, all the paidads channels are still very, very important to brands, but, We are becoming, weare coming to a time and it's undeniable. Like those channels are becoming lessand less reliable less predictable and just overall more expensive. So like theattribution in these channels is extremely non reliable.

Like the, thereporting HA is a mess because there's all these privacy laws around trackingusers. And because of that, like the data that these platforms give you on likewhich ads are actually driving sales is just wildly inaccurate. So you justdon't even know it's working. So that's a huge problem.

Then overall, likeit's just becoming more expensive because it's just, there's a lot morecompetition bidding to run ads to the same people. And when you combine thatwith like, it's just a little bit unpredictable, like things can kind of justfluctuate and it's outta your control, like one day. Your cost to acquire acustomer could just double and then it could go back down the next day and thendouble again.

Like it's, it'sunpredictable inside of the brand's hands and like these numbers fluctuating,have a significant impact on the brand's economics and like, yeah, they need tobe able to control their customer acquisition costs a bit more. So what's greatabout, a platform like Social Snowball is, it's like it's an owned channel.

Your affiliates areyour owned audience, right? You reach out to them, they're either yourcustomers or you found them on TikTok and you're reaching out to them like youown. That channel and like they're going out and they're driving sales for youand you're choosing the commission, you wanna pay them.

It's not likeFacebook wakes up one day and is like, oh, we're gonna double your costs. It'slike, you're, you, you say, Hey, we'll pay you $10, $15 per sale that you referus. And if they, they don't wanna do that, then too bad. Like that's, you havethat control. And maybe if they're not, don't wanna do it, then you increase ita little bit, but it's still in your control.

Like you at the endof the day, are deciding what you're paying for a sale and it's. Through achannel that is something you own and it's something that nobody could takefrom you and it's not relying on some platform. So, and Social Snowball's, justone example of that. Like there's definite, and, brands are just trying to movemore in that direction of like, Any channel that they can acquire customersthrough that they can own, and that's more predictable.

And that's not metaand Google, honestly. So we're not at a point where it's driving a hundredpercent of a brand's revenue realistically. I mean, there's some brands maybethat it is because they can't, they, they, for whatever policy reasons. If it'slike a cannabis brand, sometimes you can't advertise on Facebook and stuff likethat.

But for themajority of brands, it's just like, it's a more and more important channel forthem to focus on.  

Julian:Yeah. Yeah. What's changed for, a lot of the influencers being that, obviouslymeta changed some of their the compensation for the influencers on, onInstagram and they're seeing a big change in the way that they're compensatedfor the work, the audience, kind of all that awareness that they drive for brands.

How's, how is, the,in terms of how our influences are changing, the way that they're reachingtheir audience, how have you seen that change with. Companies like meta makingpolicy changes and there's, some on, on-ramps come close and others, become open.Where are they looking to reach their audience?

What are thechannels that they're, building, building this relationship with and reachingout?  

Noah:Well, I mean, I'm, I, I, in, in all these scenarios, it's really the brandowning the relationship with, with the creator. So it's, they don't have torely on like, Meta paying them or anything. It's like the brand is compensatingthem right on a performance basis for the sales they drive.

But I still thinkit's, it's the channels you'd expect. I mean, creators are all over. Right? ButI mean, TikTok is obviously huge right now. Instagram is still huge. It's likenot getting as much hype, but it's still huge, especially reels are gettingreally big. Yeah. And then, everywhere you'd expect YouTube, like I, I don'tthink the policy changes.

I mean, I don'teven know that much on those policy changes, honestly. But it wouldn't affectthe brand. Direct a direct brand collaboration. Yeah. With an influencer,because again, they owned that and that's one of the, again, the beauty of,yeah. One of those collaborations is like the brand doesn't matter whatFacebook does tomorrow, like the brand owns that relationship and they'rechoosing how much they're compensating the influencer.

Julian:Yeah. Yeah. It seems to open up a lot more possibilities, especially, beingthat if those things change, that those factors don't impact that relationship,which is awesome to see. Yeah. Tell us a little bit about the traction thatyou've seen, not only until now, but also what's feature kind of important interms of the milestones that you're looking to build.

How many, users,how many brands are you currently working with, but also what's pretty excitingabout the next stage of growth?  

Noah:Sure. Yeah. So we we're about two and a half years old now since we launched.We are bootstrapped, we have eight full-time team members. We have about 1200brands using the product.

I, I'd say thoseare the most important. The most important ones.  

Julian:Yeah. Yeah. And then what, what's particularly exciting about this next, justdoubling down on, on scaling both the affiliate program Yeah. In the ruralprogram. What's particularly exciting about the next phase? What are youlooking forward to?

Noah:Yeah, I mean, I think what's really cool and like what I didn't even realize somuch when I was launching and building this is like. What we're building issomething brands are very, very interested in focusing on right now. Like it isvery much every brand, it's very top of mind for them to diversify theircustomer acquisition to channels that they have more, more control over.

And obviouslyinfluencer creator, ambassador, referral, partnerships like that. That's a hugepiece of it. It's a very proven concept and it's just, I'm playing in a, in aspace of competition that is very outdated and not really thinking about likewhat partnerships look like today. So I think there's just like a lot to bebuilt, and that's what's really fun.

Like that's whatgets me up every morning and keeps me up at night. Like there's just so muchfunctionality within our existing product. And we even have ideas for otherproducts that are related to, like these types of partnerships that we couldship underneath the Social Snowball brand and, and offer to, maybe differenttypes of e-commerce stores that aren't running affiliate yet and stuff likethat.

So we, we have alot of ideas. There's like so much. To do And what's awesome is like at thisscale we are now, which is definitely not like huge, but I mean it's definitelynot even big if like, if you really look at the grand scheme of things. But weat least have a solid enough start and a solid enough, yeah, customer base thatwe, we talk to them all the time and we're like, Hey, we're thinking ofbuilding this and this and this, what do you think?

And they'll come tous all also and they'll be like, Hey, it would be awesome if you could buildsomething like that and something like that. And, It's really cool because likethese brands, the earlier adopters, they all know that we're like reallymotivated and innovating and that they could come to us with an idea and if welike it, we'll build it and it'll be live in like two, three weeks and likethat's really exciting for them too.

So we've kind ofcreated a really strong feedback loop with our customers and we definitely usethat to our advantage.  

Julian:Yeah, yeah. Thinking about whether it's external or internal, what are some ofthe biggest risks that Social Snowball faces today?  

Noah: Ithink, I think a really big one and it's something that we've put, we'veactually put a lot of thoughts into and we're, we've built some solution for,and we have a lot more solution coming soon, but it's just like coupon codeabuse.

I don't know ifyou've heard of this, but like affiliates codes leak to these coupon sites andcoupon browser extensions like honey. And when that happens it creates a hugeproblem for the brands. One because like it's a huge, massive attribution cuzall these sales are coming in and like it's. People are like, every softwarethinks it's coming from the affiliate cuz it's using their code, but it'sactually from the coupon browser extension or the coupon website.

So that, that, thatjust causes a huge investment. And the, and the bigger impact is that theseaffiliates think that they're actually generating these sales and they'reexpecting to be paid a commission on them. And then when the brand finallyrealizes like, Hey, this code is on honey, these sales probably didn't comefrom you.

It's a huge backand forth kind of fight with the affiliate to figure out like how many.Payouts, should we pay you for which ones came from the code? Yeah. So that'slike a huge, that's a huge problem that we're working on right now. And we havelike a solution for it. Like we do have a tool that works for Shopify plusbrands right now that basically just monitors their checkout.

And if a couponbrowser extension injects a code into the coupon field of the checkout, we'reable to monitor that, monitor that, and like tell which referral sales camefrom that versus which ones are legit and tell you like, Hey, this affiliatescode, like, like we have like a, we have a system for that right now, which isgood.

It's, it's still,and, and it, it's better than anything on the market. Like there's no otheraffiliate tool that even has any, anything for this. So I think a lot of brandsappreciate that we have anything for it because it is a real problem. We haveother solutions that we're working on because, I still think there's a lot morethat needs to be done to like really get on top of the issue.

So that's somethingthat like I'm, I'm actively thinking on  

Julian:yeah, if everything goes well, what's the long term vision?  

Noah:The long-term vision for Social Snowball, I think is to just really be like theone-stop shop for e-commerce brands, for everything partnership, marketing theyneed. So like we started with affiliate because, One, it's like very focusedaround driving revenue, which is what brands care about.

And it's also likewhat I wanted to build because it's the problem that I knew and felt myself.And now that we've kind of like built a really awesome affiliate product, andof course there's a lot more we need to build for it, but a, a decent enoughone at least for now. Like there's, I'm realizing there's a lot of other cooltechnology that brands want.

Around just likethis partnership marketing idea, whether that's referrals or creators, orinfluencers. There's just a lot that can be built and we already have ourlittle foot in the door, with a brand around these partnerships. So I thinkthere's just a lot more for us to build. And I, and to answer your question,like the ultimate goal would be like brands know, like any technology that theyneed around like partnering with a creator or a customer ambassador influencer,like we have a solution for it.

Whether it'sfinding new ones, partnering with existing ones. Every little piece of that, ofthat puzzle.  

Julian:Yeah, it'd be interesting to think about, like solving the, the problem of the,the, the, the coupon code abuse is like, it would be cool if a, if aninfluencer had a specific like own like boutique store online, and then that'sthe only way that you were able to access those codes.

I don't know ifthat's an actual solution, but it's, it's, it's an interesting problem. I'msure that you're, you, you, like, it's fun to play around with the differenttypes of solutions. What are some things that I, I know you mentioned, beingable to track if, if an extension's checking a certain code, but is there anyother clever solutions in terms of just like gating, certain codes or certainways that people can access those, those benefits from the influencers, fromthe partner.

Anything else kindof, was a surprising solution for you?  

Noah:There, there's some other stuff. I mean, what, what we have right now is thesame thing that you'll find, like there's other tools that just do this.There's some tools that are just for coupon abuse, blocking, and they allbasically do the same thing.

Like some of them,like we just like measure and like give you data on if a code is injected andgive you like actions to take on that and like show you like, hey, these.Referrals came from that. These didn't, there's other ones out there that'lllike block it from injecting, and that's, that's a pretty cool approach.

We don't have thatyet. But like, honestly, there's, there's some even bigger ideas that we have.I mean, more than ideas, like things that we're testing, I, I can't really,yeah. Disclose those yet, but we, we of course, will announce them as soon aswe have like some data on them working. But I mean, yeah, we ha we have really,really cool ideas for this.

I think it's justsuch a real problem, especially for brands that are doing like really bignumbers. Yeah. Like the amount of coupon codes that they're creating,especially with a program like Social Snowball, the risk of them leaking like.It's, it's something that needs to be stopped before it happens.

Yeah. Yeah. That's,that's the only, that's the only thing I can really say for now.  

Julian:Yeah. Yeah. I always like this next section I'll call my founder faq. So I'mgonna hit you with some rapid fire questions and we'll see where we go. Allright. First question I always like to open it up with is what's particularlyhard about your job day to day?

Noah: Imean, I'm learning, it's like a huge learning experience for me. Like I'venever really built a team before and I've never really built a software before.So like everything is a learning experience, whether that's like hiring andrecruiting, HR stuff, and as well as just like product stuff, de developerrelated things, like I'm not, I'm not a technical founder, so the amount oflearning curves that I'm just constantly having to plow through to just do myjob is, is a lot.

Julian:Yeah. Yeah. I, I always like to think about, with the programs that you've seenin the field programs. Programs, obviously, I think, what was popular at onepoint was like you, and for for a friend, you get a certain reward. They get areward. But there was like, that loop wasn't closed. It didn't seem to end updriving as much, maybe retention or new sales.

But what, what havesome interesting companies or maybe some companies you're a fan of, done wellwith affiliate programs that, that you think a lot of companies maybe shouldmodel after or, or should learn from?  

Noah:Great question. There's a lot I could say, but there's one that always comestop of mind and it's this brand called Outweigh Outweigh Socks.

It's like aperformance sock company. Yeah. Really cool socks they make. They, so they dosomething that, like we have a feature at Social Snowball that basically allowsyou to turn every new customer into an affiliate as soon as they purchase.Yeah. So just when a customer purchases, like we can take their order data fromShopify, use that to automatically generate them, their affiliate account, automaticallygenerate them, their coder link and give it to all of them on the thank youpage, as well as like post-purchase emails.

And, but you know,keep in mind like these are actual affiliates return these customers into, sowe're like, We're paying them out in cash and we have a whole system for makingthat really easy. But it's way more scalable than just like giving a coupon.Your friend gets a coupon. Yeah. It's turning every customer into an actualaffiliate.

So a lot of brandson Social Snowball do this, but outweigh in particular. They just have like areally passionate customer base and a really, really awesome product. Yeah. Andbecause of that, it's kind of just like the perfect storm. Like every customergets invited to the affiliate program. A lot of them take it up because theyare so passionate about the brand.

Yeah. And thesecustomers are driving almost 10% of outweighs total revenue. Wow. Just fromdriving referrals, which is like really, really significant. And that's noteven like including influencers that they're reaching out to or anything thatis just customers referring friends or maybe posting on social media, doingwhatever they're doing.

So they, I mean,they do it really well. Not only do they have a great product and the passengercustomer base, but they do a really good job with the program. Like all oftheir messaging is super clear. They send a lot of emails. The emails make alot of sense. They kind of just like have all their shit really together and itjust like, yeah.

Works reallywell.  

Julian:Yeah. Yeah. It's awesome to see kind of the engine operate. And I'm curious interms of, the rewards that they offer their affiliates outside of, say monetarycompensation with like commission. What are some other creative ways thatcompanies have really, I guess.

Expressive value,but also paid out kind of their, their affiliates in ways that kind ofreinforce their their, their brand. I would say like affiliation obviously, cuzthat's the kind of word that we're using here. But, what are some othercreative ways outside of like, money that, that brands are providing their,their affiliates.

Noah: Ithink like, there's, there's ways like product, like brands will give productif you hit a certain performance milestone, like refer over five friends andget a free X. Yeah. I think that kind of stuff does really well in just likehelping drive repeat referrals, which is where a lot of, where a lot of moneyis made with this.

Yeah. So there's,there's stuff like that. There's this one brand, I don't even remember whatit's called, honestly, but it was like a skincare brand for men and they hadlike this program. Targeting like girlfriends. And the idea was like, referyour boyfriend. And they put, they made the commission a Starbucks gift card,which is also something you could automate.

So it's a snowball.So they're like, refer your boyfriend and we'll send you a Starbucks gift card.So I thought, I thought that was pretty clever. Yeah. Yeah. But besides that,honestly, cash works really well. Like just like a flat cash commission. Likeyeah. It really does motivate people.  

Julian:Yeah. How, what, what's kind of been surprising about the amount of affiliatesthat companies have?

What's kind of likethe average amount and how big can that network get to?  

Noah: Imean, so like I said, we have this one feature that turns every customer intoan affiliate. So we obviously have brands with like millions of affiliates, butnot all of them are active, obviously. Sure. But yeah, I mean, like to.

That, that would belike the biggest, I guess is, I don't know exactly, but like seven figures ofaffiliates.  

Julian:Yeah. Yeah. And, and, and you know what, kind of being able to kind of, it's aninteresting paradigm that you have in terms of the opt out. It's like you canopt in or opt out of this affiliate program, but technically you're alreadykind of involved in it.

And so the barrierto entry kind of decrease that. How do you kind of think about testing ways toactually get people to start referring. Is it, testing the different kind ofincentives or is it testing the messaging on, on being more compelling to, todrive that? Is it around the brand? How can you kind of turn on that engine toget people to actually be active as an affiliate?

Noah:I, I mean actually both, like everything you said, I would definitely agreewith like the incentives matter a lot. So like little things like, usuallythese are two-sided incentives is the incentive you give the new customer andthe commission, you pay the affiliate. If the discount you're giving the newcustomer is like less than the welcome offer you have on your pop-up, thenpeople are gonna use the welcome offer and not use the affiliate discount.

And then like,you're not gonna be tracking any sales. So like, there's little things likethat that are like important to miss. And then honestly, in general, you wannabe generous with the incentives like, If you're giving a really smallincentive, it could make a difference that people are just not motivated enoughfrom that to refer.

And the messaging,yeah, like you said, matters a lot. Like some brands are very particular forgood reason about like the language and messaging that they use across all oftheir marketing materials, and you definitely want this to be aligned. And thenbeyond that, the best way to get activation once you have the messaging and theincentives dialed in is just to be like, Aggressive but not annoying withreminders.

So like, youdefinitely wanna send a lot of emails, even sms, maybe just like remindingpeople about the program, giving them their code, explaining to them how itworks. Maybe showing an example, this affiliate made this much money lastmonth. Like that kind of thing gets people motivated. For sure.  

Julian:Yeah. Yeah. Thinking about whether just early in your career to now, what'ssomething that you're good at that you wish you were better at early on as afounder?  

Noah:Something that I'm good at that I wish I was better at early on. Hiringdevelopers. Hiring developers, I, I was really bad at that in the beginning andthat cost me like unbelievable amounts of.

Well, just pain,but like, also just like things taking a long time, I didn't know what I wasdoing. Thankfully now, like, I mean I still don't even know that much now. Ijust have really good engineers and they hire people for me. So yeah, that islike a, a really big, like hump I had to get over. But yeah, if I, like, if Iknew even where to look or like who to ask for, like finding a good developersthat could have saved me like. A lot.  

Julian:Yeah. Yeah. What in particular was challenging? Was it like identifying theskillset, the match communication skill? Like what in particular? A lot offounders talk about this, especially with, engineers because they're sovaluable in terms of, building product. But what was challenging in terms ofidentifying and what, what, what, what question I guess, would you ask nowthat, that you haven't maybe asked before in an interview?

Noah:Well, dude, like I, I am, I still am, but at the time, like, especially I, Imean I still am fully, but like, I just was, I am and was extremelynon-technical, so I didn't even know where to start. I've hired people onUpwork before, so like that's where my brain turned. And like the truth is like99% of those engineers really aren't great, and there's a lot of, there's alot.

There's a lot cango wrong by hiring one wrong engineer to build like something early in yourproduct, like your database structure or just like the way the app works. LikeYeah. If you, if you start with a really weak foundation, like it really canscrew you over in the long run. And there have been some things that sosnowball that like in the early days were built really poorly and we're stillto this day, like rebuilding.

Yeah. A lot of.Things that, and so like, it's just a lot. It's just a lot to keep in mind. Andas a non-technical founder, I don't even know what to look for. And I couldn'teven be like, oh, we should probably build a database like this versus likethis. Like I wouldn't even know where to start. And the only way to like reallyensure that you're not getting screwed is by having an engineer that you cantruly trust.

And finding that isdifficult, being non-technical. Cause how do you know to trust someone? How doyou know if someone's good? They, maybe they are really good at a phoneinterview and you believe them, but like you can't actually trust them. So,Like now, like if I were to start from zero, obviously, like I, I, I, I havethe connections now where I know I can get great engineers and I have other peoplewho can interview them for me and like, that's what I would do.

But even if Ididn't have those connections, I would, there's like this, this app mm-hmm. That I've had some pretty good experience with. It's like theyvet the developers pretty aggressively before they even let them like go ontheir marketplace. So that is like one thing I would. Do for sure if I was juststarting, but I, I still don't know the right questions to ask, honestly.

Like, maybe I knowa little bit more, but it's, it's, it's hard. It's hard being non-technical,hiring good engineering talent, and it's really, really, really important. Andthat's what's so scary. Like I see so many people posting on Twitter, like, oh,I'm starting a new SaaS. I'm hiring these developers, and I'm like, You really,I really hope you did your, like, extensive homework on who these people arebecause it really makes a difference.

Julian:Yeah. It's transitioning code. A lot of times we call it spaghetti code, whenyes. Yeah. Say you take it another shop or something and, and it's such achallenge even, in like a, a whole platform migration to new code, that's justsuch a heavy, heavy, not only resource, but also like Yeah.

Financial cost onit. Thinking about, other founders out there, I know you mentioned obviouslyvetting and, and finding the right engineering talent, but what other advicewould you give founders early on, kind of starting out a product? Where shouldthey start focusing on?

Is it, acquire, is,is it starting to do customer research? Is it starting to test and starting toget a product out there? Where would you kind of put your focus in if you werean early founder today?  

Noah: Iwould just say like, do whatever you can that's not scalable to get your first,I mean, people say this all the time, but it really is so important.

Like do whateveryou can to get your first handful of early adapter customers and build relationshipswith them. So you could just constantly be hitting them with ideas. And I saylike non-scalable and like, we're at, we've grown, obviously it's somewhatsince we've launched and like I'm still doing this stuff today, like I'm still.

Getting customersby any means. Like even if it means I'm like DMing people on Twitter, I don'tcare. I'll still do it today. And I'm still like, I still have like a circle ofmaybe like five to 10 really high level brand operators that are way biggerthan I was when I was operating brand, like way bigger, like way, way, way,way, way bigger.

And like I can talkto them about like, Hey, we're thinking of building this, or Hey, we'rethinking of building this. Like what are you thinking? They'll get even get oncalls with me. And these are like really, really high level. Brand founders andoperators, and that's like a huge blessing now, and it took a long time for meto.

Get that. But evenfrom the beginning I had smaller brands that like really saw the vision andlike I built a relationship with them. I got on calls with them, I would whiteglove onboard them, whatever I needed to do. And then I could just constantlyuse them as a sounding board for product ideas. And that's really valuable cuzyou need to, that's, that's how you're gonna determine your roadmap.

It's not gonna belike what your intuition's telling you. I mean, sometimes it can be, but youalways want to at least have some people who are actually your users to bouncethis stuff off of.  

Julian:Yeah. Yeah. I always like to ask this next question. Whether it's early in yourcareer or now, what books or people have influenced you the most?

Noah:Okay. So people, I will give a huge shout out to Rob Walling. I don't know ifyou're familiar with him. He has this podcast called Startups for the Rest ofUs. And it's about like, it's, it's really, really tactical advice. He's beendoing it consistently every week for 11 years. Wow. The word bootstrappingbarely even existed 11 years ago.

This guy is an OGlegend. He founded he founded the email service provider Drip, like good email.Yeah. He, he was the founder of that. And he bootstrapped that and hebootstraps basically everything he does and he really gets. Building good SaaSbusinesses. And he's, and I'm not technical, so he talks both a technical andnon-technical audience and all of his content's great.

He has that. Sostarted for the rest of us, he has a syndicate, like for like small angelchecks, like, not like VC or anything. And then he does some events that'scalled MicroCon. And basically anything this guy puts out is great content.Like this guy just hits the nail on the head every time.

I will never missan episode of that any week. So when I found him like that honestly helped me alot. Yeah. And it still helped me to this day. I still never miss an episode.Books wise, there's this one book I read recently from Impossible to Inevitableis what it's called. It's like a pretty well known, actually, I didn't.

Yeah, I never heardof it like before, someone told me about it, but it's like actually a pretty,pretty well known book now that I like, have done research on it after I readit. It's just about building sass and like how SaaS companies work and how tobuild them. And honestly, like, as a first time Sass founder, there's a lot of littlethings and little nuggets in there that I was like, oh, that actually makes alot of sense.

So I, I definitelyrecommend that read like it was, it's not like too hard of a read. It's, it'senjoyable. It's not like one of those painful self-help books. But. Rob Wallingstarted for the rest of us. That guy's the goat. Anything he puts into theworld, I am buying.  

Julian: Ilove that. I love that. And I always like to make sure we didn't leave anythingon the table.

I know we're comingto the close of the episode. So last little thing is, is there any question Ididn't ask you that I should have or anything that we didn't cover that youwanted to? Anything left on the table here?

Noah:No, not, not that I can think of. This is a fun conversation.  

Julian:Cool. No. Well, last little bit is where can we find you?

Give us your plugs.Where can the audience not only be a fan of what you know, who you are as aperson, but also support of the product and what you're building. Give us yourLinkedIn, your Twitters, everything where, where we can be fans andsupport.  

Noah:Yeah. No, Twitter. Twitter's definitely the best. I'm always on Twitter, likeobsessively.

My, my username isNoah Tuck, but without the H, so just n O A T U C K.  

Julian: Amazing.No, it's been such a pleasure. Not only chatting about your early career andwhat brought you here, but also how you're really kind of helping brands notonly, manage these relationships and build these programs out, but also really,reward them for the work that they do and keep a really tight kind of, programso that companies can expand it and scale that and really start to impact andhave impact with their consumers.

It's reallyexciting to see what you've built up to this point and where you're looking togo. So, no, it's been such a pleasure having you on the show, and thank youagain for being on Behind. Company Lines today.

Noah:Thank you for having me.  

Julian:Of course.

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