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Halfdan: So you need to get those orders. It’s a chain and it starts with the sale.

Announcer: The biggest names in e-commerce share tricks of the trade from tools and software to strategies and growth tacts. Learn from the best and take your business to the next level.

JD: What are the actual tactical things that you’re doing to attract people?

Announcer: Now your host, JD Crouse.

JD: Hello and welcome back to eCommerce in the Trenches. This is JD Crouse and today I’m excited to have Halfdan Hansen from Calling All the Way from New Zealand. Welcome to eCommerce in the Trenches.

Halfdan: Hi, thanks for having me, JD.

JD: Absolutely, so it’s like a little after 9:00 in the morning there, is that right?

Halfdan: That’s right, yep and springtime as well.

JD: Very cool, how wonderful. We’re obviously in fall. I just moved to Texas and so we are missing out on the Colorado fall colors. I’m waiting for the trees to turn here and we’re excited about that, but it’s 85 degrees here. Anyway, let’s get down to business. On eCommerce in the Trenches, we like to focus on attracting, converting and retaining great customers.
I’m super excited to talk to you. Your business, which was started by your father, Jens, years ago has a wonderful origin story. Would you just kindly take us into how the company was formed and birthed and then we’ll talk about some fun stuff that has a lot to do with movies a little bit later?

Halfdan: Sure, sure, so, we have actually I guess, it’s a family business. I’m the second generation. It’s a jewelry business and I’m not a jeweler. I’m a university-trained engineer by background and I spent 15 years working in the international oil and gas industry, so I have more of a kind of technical management background, but that can be quite good when you’re running a business because you are not tempted to interfere with the guys who actually do the work and produce things. I just try and help facilitate them and do a great job.
Now my dad was traditionally-trained jeweler and he graduated and started working for himself in about 1960, so we talk about ourselves as being since 1960. But I guess we really only got online and only got online in 2000, I think is when we registered our domain name. We were early to the web. It ties back to the fact that my dad had been, although he had a traditional trading as a jeweler, engagement rings, wedding rings, that sort of thing, he became known as the founding father of the Craft Jewelry Movement in New Zealand. What you might call an artisan jeweler over in the US. He was making one-off pieces, crafted pieces. He was very much influenced by the Danish 20th-century modern style and he was written about in art books. He won art grants and all that good stuff and was quite critically will often regarded, if a small audience. He has works in the National Museum here in New Zealand that sort of thing.
Fast forward to 1999 and the art department production team of the Lord of the Rings movies from the young, then young and relatively unknown New Zealand film director Peter Jackson, he seemed to have his team looking for the people who would create the various props and costumes that were needed for this kind of medieval, fantasy epic that is Lord of the Rings and Light of the Hobbit. When it came to finding a ring to represent the central eponymous item of the story in the Lord of the Rings, they naturally came to my dad. There wasn’t a competition or anything like that. He was just so well-known that they knew about him and they said he well, was the obvious choice to make the ring.
They came to him and gave him a bit of a brief on what the ring should look like and it’s a very austere, minimal type of ring and to a lot of people it doesn’t look special, but they are the sort of people who think that a master and a Maserati are both cars. It’s in the quality. It’s in the weight and the feel and the presence of the ring. The ring is almost in a Japanese minimal style, designed to be less is more. It has a lot of gravitas and presence on the string. In this early in fact, it isn’t engraved at all in the movies in the production and there are only a few scenes that briefly appear as a special effect with his engraving on the ring.
But because of all of the after-market movie advertising, always showed the ring with the engraving on it, people came to think that the ring always had engraving on it. But those true hard-core fans will know in the people who saw The Hobbit Trilogy later on will know that there’s no engraving at all that appears in The Hobbit Trilogy of movies.
That said, I’ve got to say the officially licensed, the one ring, replica ring that we make for the Whitwick company in Wellington, that’s our best-selling item and that does definitely have the famous elfish engraving on the ring. That’s kind of the nutshell background of our jewelry business and we were involved in the making of the one ring for The Lord of the Rings. Yeah, what shall we talk about next?

JD: Well, something that jumped out to me and I did ask your permission before we started recording that had how to be hard but also … Well, you just tell me how you feel about it? The same year that Peter Jackson commissioned your father to make the one ring for Lord of the Rings, he passed away.

Halfdan: That’s right, yeah.

JD: So yeah, what does that mean to you?

Halfdan: Well, it means a lot of things because, obviously, we miss him. It’s been 18 years now and I’ve got to say I didn’t think that I’d be here now 18 years later still involved in some way with The Lord of the Rings, but it was with a real sense of sadness I think that my brother and I were at the premier of the movie in our small hometown and cause you’ve got to remember that the movies didn’t come out until December 2001 around the world, so that was two, almost 3 years or two years later. Our dad had made the ring in early ’99 and he unfortunately got sick with cancer. He got pancreatic cancer, which is normally considered to be a bit of a death sentence and he had about three months and then he passed away in August of that year.
Two years later when we’re at the movie premiere, it was with a real sense of both pride and sadness to see the ring finally for the first time on the screen because we didn’t know what it was going to look like, so we were really proud but also obviously sad that our father wasn’t with us to see the ring. But I’m obviously also glad that it’s left a real popular legacy for him. He was a contemporary artist and a bit of a modernist, so I think he would probably having a wee chuckle in his grave, if not spinning to know that he’s remembered today primarily for making the world’s most famous ring as an icon of popular movie culture. It’s better sweet, let’s say that.

JD: Absolutely, well I lost my mother last September and so had to have been bittersweet for sure for you. With the bit of fame and your company’s involvement, your father’s, your family company’s involvement in the movie, what did that mean to your business and do you feel like it helped you drive traffic? Was there a significant boost in organic traffic to your site?

Halfdan: Absolutely, yeah, I think I mentioned before that we were early to register a a domain name in 2000, but because of we have a physical store and an online store to support it. We weren’t able to tell anybody about our involvement for confidentiality clause reasons until the movie came out and it was after the movie came out that we started being approached by people by email from all around the world saying, “Hey, can we buy one of these rings? Can you make us a replica and you can make us a ring the same as the ring in the movie.”
We did get involved in making rings for people and we set up a very quick website to start with, which was a one page order form type website with a limited product offering and we started selling our movie rings to people. Our Internet business started then, if you like, probably 2002 I guess most accurately was when we were first starting to make rings. The movies came out over three years and we also had people coming into our store because we had a lot of tourists coming to New Zealand, so it’s a combination of that.
It’s a growth story from basically starting from nothing with organic interest in a product, people fighting us and then us finding our way over the years as to “Okay, do we start doing some sort of ECO on our website to help people find us? Do we start doing some Adwords advertising?” Much later came Facebook advertising, moving to a proper e-commerce. We went through a couple of iterations of e-commerce stores until we settled on Shopify.
Now it’s a very different business and we’ve grown effectively from the Internet being maybe less than 10% of our business to now it’s around 50% of our business, so it’s a significant business in itself for us. Yeah, to answer your question definitely, it had a huge impact, but it wasn’t overnight and it has been a slow growth and there’s been a lot of incremental, organic tinkering that we’ve done in order to improve things.

JD: Nice, are you actively spending money on Google Adwords now, going after the one ring keywords or any long tail and/or Facebook? What are your major sources of traffic? Are they organic? Are they paid and if so, where’s that coming from?

Halfdan: Okay, well, our major sources of traffic are organic because these days if people go online and work to type by the one … It varies, obviously depending on geography. It’s as you know, just because you type it in your own browser doesn’t mean that it’s what someone sees in another country or location or personal browsing history.
We believe that we’ve got a pretty good natural, organic reach for people who are looking to buy the one ring or who made the one ring or best one ring reproduction. We also have these side niches that we’ve discovered because we’ve discovered people were looking for information about elfish wedding rings. We sell a version of our ring. We call it an elfish-inspired wedding ring.
We have to be a bit careful because we only have a few items that are officially licensed and approved Lord of the Rings merchandise and we have to respect the intellectual property of the movie company, with anything else we do that where people are coming to us because of our fame and involvement with the movies. We just can’t call everything that we do … We can’t slap a Lord of the Rings’ label on it willy-nilly. We do Google Adwords. We do Facebook advertising. We do Facebook re-targeting, but I would have to say that the great majority of the traffic to our site is organic.
A couple of years ago, it was a really interesting story for me was that we know that people are interested in elfish and we had people asking us to engrave filled messages written in elfish, which is a made up thing which by the way. We put a little translator page or transcriber page on our website, which helps people type in “lessons in English” and see what they would look like in an elfish curly script.
We kind of found out the next time I looked at our website traffic it had doubled and I thought that it was just because I was a good guy and people love to me, but actually, it was actually because we found that all of a sudden the busiest page on our website was a page that was hidden deep inside, it wasn’t even really even linked to our navigation, but Google had found it and decided I guess because we had some reputation and credibility from our actual involvement with the movies and so we overnight pretty much became the number one hit for people who were looking for elfish translator.
That probably meant a heck of a lot of people who were actually looking, a 12-year-old, high schoolers, looking to do their project or something at school or people who wanted … I think a lot of people were looking at people who want an elfish because I believe those are very popular. We’re getting a lot of probably what you call a lot of traffic, but it’s probably quite unqualified, so the first thing that we sort of thought was, “Okay, how do we filter out the people going to that page who might actually be interested in our project?”
We started linking the product straight from our hind page menus. We started putting stuff on the page explaining what this tool was and wasn’t. We warned people not to get tattoos with it because it’s not a real language, folks and there are lots of different interpretations as how best to do it and we didn’t want to be responsible for someone putting something on their body that would be hard to take off.
It’s something we’re, now what we do is we offer on the page a little, a white paper for people to download to teach them to write. We call it “Learning how to write elfish in five minutes.” It’s kind of elfish 101. We then start giving people, we deliver that by Infusionsoft and have a little sequence of Infusionsoft where we then start to soft market to them to explain more about elfish and to sort of ask them, “Have you ever imagined what would it be like to have your inspirational accreditation, a message to a love one on our, what we call the world’s most famous ring on the exact, same shaped ring made by the same guys who made the ring for the Lord of the Rings movies?”
We probably get about a one cent conversion rate on there, but the thing is, of course, that wedding rings, solid golden wedding rings are the more expensive item than a souvenir ring, so our average sales probably around $1000. It’s not a huge volume, but it’s a significant enough price that each sale we are grateful for and it’s worth getting.

JD: That’s brilliant, that is brilliant. I actually saw the elfish translator tool on your site and I was going to ask you about it, so I’m so glad that you brought it up. Did you have more to add about that?

Halfdan: No, it ties in and I think what … I don’t know. My experience with running an e-commerce business is that you have to respond to what happens and if your website isn’t selling so much … In our case, we noticed that we had great sales on our website and May, June, July, August and then all of a sudden that fell off a cliff and we wondered why? Then we worked out it was because while it was our quiet winter period here in New Zealand, it was actually the spring, summer in the US and the UK and it was if you like the wedding season. I learned to be not to be too distraught and downhearted when the sales dropped off in September, October, the time period we’re in now and then they tend to pick up again in November, December.
There is, some businesses are seasonal and our business is not so much a repeat business, business. We don’t sell someone a wedding ring and then go back to them six months later and ask them if they’re still married and do they want another wedding ring? We do have to rely on constant new business, but also at the same time we’ve known for years and years that we need to do better at figuring out some way of generating repeat business.
We did also use another Infusionsoft sequence to, and this was based on the template of the revenue conduit/unific system of repeat business, which involves that sequence of Infusionsoft and tracking people through and systematically going back to your customers, talking to them, emailing them, asking them how they found the product and suggesting new products.
We have that running now. That takes a while in the background. We make various offerings to people to encourage them to come back to us and by something different or even to talk to us about their experiences and that can help in terms of generating reviews. If you are automatically emailing someone to ask them how they liked the product and if they come back and said they really love the product, then that’s a great person to ask for more information from asking if they’re willing to do a review?
If they’re using their … I’ve kind of sidetracked here, but using that principle we went from zero reviews on Google to I think we’re about to 150-something five-star reviews and they are all glowing, red-hot, fantastic reviews from our customers, so that really helps support our reputation.
In terms of the asking for a repeat business sequence at the Infusionsoft guys, sorry, the revenue conduit guys helped us set up and Infusionsoft, that also generates about a percent of conversion, but again, those conversions, they are all good, great sales and anything that’s running in the background 24/7 that you don’t have to look at that’s what e-commerce automation is all about. It’s all helped us.
They’re all bits of the puzzle that have helped improve and provide a steady flow of work because at the end of the day this stuff is being made in our workshops. We get the order, whether it comes in off the shop floor or through the Internet and then someone has to actually make this product. It’s not a virtual product. It’s a real, physical product made here in New Zealand and it can take some time to make and we have to track it to the workshop and then reconnect it back when we fulfill it back.
We also have shipping issues. We are shipping out a valuable product from the other side of the world, so we are having to get on with FedEx and customers sometimes have an unrealistic expectation about how quickly … We’re amazed constantly at how people will come to us at what seems to be the last minute and says, “Oh, I want you guys to make my wedding rings.” We would have thought that they would have thought about a little bit earlier rather than a week before the wedding.
At the same time, we also have that conundrum of we will pull out all the stops if we can because (a) the guy’s getting married. We want them to have a wedding ring. We don’t want to lose a sale because we are not able to deliver on time. But it’s also about trying to manage expectations from the beginning. If we can get customers to understand that “Hey look, this product is actually handcrafted, one-off for your unique finger size and your custom engraving that you require. It’s made by real people not robots,” then the more time we have to do that the better.

JD: That’s good. That’s great. On your site you have social proof tool. I was curious, what is powering that? Is that Sumo or Fomo or Proof? Do you know the application name?

Halfdan: It’s Fomo. The one that pops up and tells if someone has bought something.

JD: Yeah, how long have you had that running on the site?

Halfdan: I, look, I am a very early adopter of technology, so I’m such an early adopter of that particular tool that I was there from the days when it was called Notify. I was there from the days when it was the only tool like that on the market and I even had jewelry websites in the US coming to say, “Hey, what’s that tool? Where can I find it?” because it was really had to find in the Shopify App Store. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to find something in the App Store? It can actually be quite hard to know what an app is if you are trying to look for it just from scratch.
Yes, we were an early adopter of that. We love it and just in the last six months or so they haven’t really turbocharged it and taking it to the next level. They’ve renamed it Fomo. I’m a big believer in all the Shopify apps and I’m famous with all the web developers that we’ve worked for as having the most apps of anybody installed in my Shopify store and that’s not necessarily a good thing because it does mean that it causes all sorts of headaches and slowdowns and can cause problems with things and break things. You do have to be a little bit careful about it, but I think Fomo is a really amazing tool and they are just doing … They are really responsive in their support and I don’t have any shares in them, but I wholeheartedly recommend it.

JD: Yeah, absolutely, well interestingly enough, I’m the same way. Not to jump on your bandwagon, but we were using it before it was named Fomo also and I love it. I think the little reminder of just a little social push and when I was on your site earlier today, somebody in Brazil bought a beautiful, silver ring and, of course, I saw that flash up on the upper left on my desktop and I had to click on it and go on over and visit that product. It does a great job, time on site and internal navigation in and around the site. We have really seen it increase time on site and conversions on our store as well. I’m sure that you have as well.

Halfdan: Yeah, yeah, it’s always had to know. It’s that old of which $.50 of my advertising dollar actually works? I just intuitively get that what it does … When we talk about social proof, when I talk about social proof, I think it’s like, to me I’ve got someone potentially who knows nothing about me. They don’t know our back story. Just because my dad is world-famous in our hometown, certainly doesn’t mean he’s really world-famous and we get people looking to spend what could be thousands of dollars.
Who’s going to send me thousands of dollars over did Internet to a foreign country for most of our customers? I find that Fomo, as a social proof tool, what I love about it is that is actually popping up and it’s showing, “Hey, these guys are alive and kicking. This isn’t just some dead website that was made two years ago and if I place my order is it up-to-date? Is there anybody on the other end? Is my money going into a black hole?”
They can actually see that, “Hey look, these guys, they are ticking. They’re selling. They’re selling these products and they are shipping them to countries like mine or all around the world.” It’s that trust stuff and I’m sure that a large part of the reason that we’ve been successful on the web is that we are piggybacking on the reputation and credibility that we’ve got from being involved in The Lord of the Rings project from my father’s back story, history in New Zealand and reassuring people we are legitimate. That if people read the reviews …
You know what the hardest thing is to sell I think is? Is to sell that you give great service because everybody says they give great service. You know everybody says they get great service and everybody just dismisses it and takes it for granted, but the fact is that if you read any of those 155 reviews, five star Google reviews that we’ve got, the overriding theme is that our service is really amazing. I don’t think our service is amazing, but I think I know why people think our service is amazing and that’s because we are humans and we talk to people.
Unlike probably a lot of e-commerce signers, we’ve got an advantage because we are only selling a few items a day, right? When you’re only selling 100, 200 items a month, it means that on your e-commerce tool it means that you can really be giving your online customers the attention that they need and that’s because we’re selling a high dollar value product.
People love that a real person, whether it’s a … We have a chat service, which is a real person. We answer our emails typically within a working day, sometimes sooner because of the time zone differences and we know what we’re talking about because the people are working here on site. They know the product intimately and they give intelligent answers.
I’ve got to say that we’re English speaking, so we give our answers in English that’s probably why most of our customers are in Australia, England, the US, Canada, but we sell a lot to Europe as well. I think people really, really, really appreciate being able to correspond quickly with someone who knows what they’re talking about and can answer all their questions. I do appreciate that not all e-commerce businesses are going to be able to do that if they’re trying to shift high volumes of a [every 00:30:39] product.

JD: Absolutely, how do you view competition? When I do a Google search on Lord of the Rings rings or the one ring, there’s all kinds of price points and I’d be particularly interested in how you view Amazon? Competition in general on that product and Amazon, if you could?

Halfdan: Okay, I mean obviously we as a jewelry business, we make all sorts of things not just our official Lord of the Rings-related products, but thinking about the e-commerce, it’s true in our e-commerce business the majority of that is in some way related to The Lord of the Rings. We make a US $99 gold-plated souvenir style ring. It’s an official ring that we make for the Wicca company in Wellington. We call it “The world’s most accurate replica prop ring” and we’re certainly aware that you can go on Amazon or anywhere else and probably find something that purports to be the same thing for $10.
Again, I’ll go back to two things. One is that the sort of, unfortunately or fortunately, those replicas that we’ve seen they don’t actually take the trouble to rip off our exact design. They don’t get the writing right. I don’t know how stupid they are? If you are going to replicate something, well you would actually want to make an exact replica of it. They just sort of take any old ring and put some writing on it. What I’m talking about is that the ring that we made for the movie. I don’t think that those people necessarily … The people who are buying from us are the people who want to buy the exact, same shaped ring that was in the movie from the guys who actually made it.
We have two types of customers. We have the customers who are buying the, if you like, the lower price point souvenir type thing and then the people who are looking at actual solid gold wedding rings, there are people who want a wedding ring and typically, people will have I think a lot of emotion around a wedding ring. They want something made, hopefully, of solid gold that’s going to last a lifetime, that’s going to be adjustable and sizable, made of traditional materials that someone can service and we can over the years.
I think the most important thing and you talk about competition, I think the most important thing and where we’ve had the most success in our website is really focusing on our value proposition. I’m a huge fan of the guys over at and I really believe in their value proposition methodologies and this idea that the most important thing that you can … I’m not perfect at it, but I really believe that in their idea that in everything you do, every piece of communication, every page on your website should be answering in your prospect’s mind the question of why should I buy this particular which it or service from you and not your competitor?
It’s about getting clear on what your value proposition is. Also as an e-commerce owner, you can’t do all of this stuff yourself. The guys at Marketingexperiments approached us because our website has some popularity and said, “Hey, do you want to work with us?” And I said, “Yeah, hey that’s great, but I probably can’t afford it,” and guess what? I couldn’t afford it because you have to be spending six figures on advertising and probably seven figures or more on revenue before they’ll get out a bid and talk to you.
But the great thing about the guys that Marketingexperiments is they work with the bigger companies. They find out what really works and then they publish it all for free. So all their stuff is available. They have paid products as well and trainings, but they actually publish all the stuff in papers and research and they have videos and it’s just an amazing resource, but the catch with all of those things is, and we know that with people who give away free information, is that people just don’t have the time to learn it and implement it and it’s sometimes easy to get someone else to do it for you.
I went looking for someone who could help me delineate my value proposition and I went searching and looking for someone using the same language as the Marketingexperiments guys and I found a guy in Sweden … Finland, sorry, named Peter Sandeen and I’ve had a long relationship with him. He’s a relatively young guy who just has an amazing ability to define clarity in one’s messaging. The beautiful thing is when you can clearly articulate what it is that your product does and sets you apart, once you’ve got that, then you can use that it all your marketing. It can help define … It helps the ads right themselves if you like.
If I were to … We have a page on our website about elfish-inspired wedding rings and we followed a template that the Marketingexperiments guys found and put out. There’s being, “Hey look, this is our recommended template. We think this works.” On the page, it basically has a title “Elfish-inspired wedding rings” and then the sub headline is “The most authentic and unique elfish wedding bands on the planet.”
There’s a little picture on the right-hand side that shows what the product is and then there’s some future points and we say, “It’s the only one with the unique replica ring shape. It’s exclusive to us and it’s custom, engraveable,” and the subtext is to have the jewelers who made the movie ring for Peter Jackson’s movies hand craft your own unique wedding ring.
I’ve taken a long time to say that, but that’s the text on the page and I think it’s not a slogan. Is not a buzzword. It’s not an outlandish claim. It’s factual and is telling people that, “Hey, these guys actually made the readings for the movies. They can make it for you. It’s exclusive to them,” because it’s about the Marketingexperiments guys will tell you that it’s about exclusivity, desirability and credibility. That’s the Holy Grail trifecta, so if you have all of those three things, you’re on to a winner.
Now we have something that’s arguably exclusive because only we made that particular version of the ring you see in the movie and therefore, we can claim the exclusivity of the shape. It’s, we have the credibility from all the reputational information that’s out there. It’s in the written record that we were involved with it. The desirability, it is a niche. Obviously, it’s not something that everyone wants.
The Marketingexperiments guys use an analogy of look, of the hair loss, snake oil salesman. If you go out there and claim to have a product that recently reverse hair loss, male pattern baldness, whatever you want to call it, then that is going to be highly desirable, probably exclusive because no one else is claiming that, but is not believable. It’s not credible. Most small businesses will have one or two of those claims to fame and very unusually will they have three.
Therefore, your challenge is with your marketing hat on as an e-commerce business owner is to try and figure out, “Okay, what … My products and services, how can I describe clearly what they are so that my customers know why they should choose me over my competitor and also so that it’s clear to them and to answer those questions is this believable, is this credible, is this desirable?” If your products or services don’t check all of those boxes, then you better figure out a different product or service or you better figure out a different way of painting your message because that’s the thing is ultimately going to have those people choose you over something else.

JD: Very good, that’s like there are people that charge $3000 to go to a seminar to get the marketing lesson that you just dropped on us.

Halfdan: Yeah.

JD: That was good stuff. Yeah, that’s really good. Just a couple more technical things on your site as it pertains to growing your list is I love you are newsletter opt-in and where you have the simple survey questions underneath of it. How do you leverage that to be able to segment and better talk to your people?

Halfdan: I’m going to be honest and say that I’m embarrassed to say that we don’t use it as much as we should. That’s one of these things we-

JD: That’s great.

Halfdan: Yeah, you know that in theory there’s lots of things that we know we should be doing on our sites. We know we should be doing all these things, but there are only so many hours in the day. There’s only so much budget you can put on things, so we built the form. We appreciate that the more questions you ask people, you increase the friction and decrease the likelihood that people are going to do things, but we know we should have it, so we’re persisting with it. The great thing is at least the fact that they’re segmented and as long as I don’t leave people too long because obviously if you leave people too long, then your list gets old and stale and it doesn’t really matter anyways.
At least, we are acquiring the information so that when we build the next sequence in Infusionsoft we can utilize that information because it’s clear that we do have a lot of people that are not necessarily … We have a lot of people who are interested in Lord of the Rings, but we also have a lot of people who are maybe more interested in the bridal market or what we call “a contemporary jewelry market” and they are three quite different things and they don’t necessarily overlap.
What I will say one thing that we’ve done along those lines, which we are actually doing actively now is for the longest time in our store we recorded people’s customer details when they came in the store and bought something because they’re buying an expensive product and we want to be able to service it for them or they might have an insurance claim.
We said to people … we called it our insurance registry and said, “Look, you better give us your name and address and email so that, God forbid, if you were to do something, we would know what it was because we’ve been in business for so many years,” and we’ll have people come in and say, “Oh my god, your dad made this for me 25 years ago and it got stolen in a robbery,” and we say, “Oh okay, what was it?” and they say, ” Well, it was a ring and it was made of gold and it had some curvy bits on it.”
We have learned our lesson over the years that you need to know exactly what you sold them. For the last 15 years, we’ve recorded every cell, unless you have someone who just doesn’t want to give you their information, we record that information in our store. But one of the things we wanted to ask them when we were asking that is, “What’s your birthday and was your anniversary?” because that would be great to be able to remark it to people on their birthday or on their significant other’s anniversary. But that’s kind of a personal question sometimes or it starts feeling invasive when you’re asking people that in a retail store setting. We knew we should do it. It was on the form. It was random whether people filled it out or not or whether we asked for it or not.
Then we hit upon this thing where we just said, “Okay, well let’s …” We email people their receipt. One of the reasons for asking for … This is a hybrid of e-commerce and bricks and mortar, but one of the reasons we can give for getting people’s email is that we need to email you a receipt for insurance purposes or whatever else. Now what we do is when we emailed the receipt, it gets BCC to our support inbox and we have a zappier zap, I guess they call them, that notices when the specific template is coming through. It can see that it’s one of these client receipts and it starts them off in a welcoming sequence.
We are testing it in our physical store, but we are also going to extend it into using Unific. We’re going to do it in our online store, but it’s worked out surprisingly well because what we do is we thank them for purchasing and we immediately ask them that we want to get to know them more and would they be happy to share their birthday with us?
We AB tested a few different options and we found that we got as good or even better results not even trying to bribe them but just saying, “Hey look, just share your birthday with us so we can get to know you better,” and a huge amount of people are volunteering this information to us. We then that gets filled in via email and a Infusionsoft form. It’s tagged against their name now in our database.
If they answer that we actually somewhat cheekily then say, “Hey, that’s great. Would you mind optionally sort of telling us what your partner’s name and birthday and anniversary is?” because for a jeweler that’s the Holy Grail is to have the name and well, if we had name, address and permission to, I guess market to someone’s spouse and suggest things to buy for their significant other that would be great, but it’s probably going a bit far.
We get a surprising amount of people who are giving us their anniversary information and we are going to be able to use it to use Infusionsoft to remind us when it’s time to congratulate people on their birthdays and maybe make some sort of offering to them, whether it’s just asked them to bring, if they’re a local customer, ask them to bring their jewelry back in and we’ll clean it for them, have it looking beautiful and it’s a free service that we do. It allows us to reconnect with them, show them what’s new. With things like anniversaries, people don’t mind being reminded that they’ve got and anniversary coming up. Maybe they want to buy a gift from us, but maybe they want to buy it from someone else? That’s great.
I was really pleasantly surprised that that has worked so well for us. It’s a kind of non-invasive way to find out more about your customers, get them to sort of cell five and service the information to you and you started off asking me the form with segmentation, “How can we use that or how do we use that?” Well, we know we should use it. We are going to use it. We promise we’re going to do a better job with it in the future, but we are getting good results with that other birthday and anniversary information form, so that’s a good example. We’re believers in doing it, but it’s just picking the time and place when you’re ready for it.
You’ve got to have an offering. Sometimes you know what you want to do, but then the question is, “Well, what are we actually going to offer these guys?” We used to run ads, sending people to parts of our website and then we realized, “God, our website is just … It’s not on brand enough. It’s not giving a good enough message, so maybe we’re better off not spending money on advertising and sending people to a page on our website is not actually going to convert them or show us off in the best light?”
It’s all of the pieces in the puzzle have to work together and you’ve only got a limited budget and so you’ve got to concentrate on the low hanging fruit. I guess the really important thing is you’ve got to say, “Well, okay, what can we do that is actually not going to cost us too much to do that we can in some way measure the result and most importantly, can it help us generate a little bit more revenue so that we can then use that revenue to do some of the bigger, cooler things that we’ve always wanted to do?”
I’m kind of loath as a business owner to go out and spend hundred thousand dollars on any new shop for that or a new website or something with all the bells and whistles with no real proof that is going to generate more revenue, other than some experts say so. Now, I love experts and I believe in them enough. If I had a list budget I’d just tinker and make the coolest, greatest website on earth, but maybe I even wouldn’t be worried if it generated any revenue, but I live in the real world and I’ve got to be responsible for stewarding this business. The decisions I take out, I’m typically pretty cautious and try and spend within our means.

JD: Well, I think you have a beautiful site and from one business owner to another … I grew up in a Nebraska in the States obviously. My dad always used to say, “One of the reasons that ranchers work seven days a week is because there’s always more to do,” and we have to be careful as e-commerce store owners and you have a brick-and-mortar presence as well. We can always do more. There’s always more optimization. There’s always a better way to lay out the site and different things to do.
But what I love is what you said in a roundabout way was the total 80/20 principle or even 90/10. What’s the 10% that I can focus on that’s going to move the revenue and move our brand and create the experience for our visitors, for our customers, for our prospects that we want to, our best foot forward? What’s the experience that we want to have with them and obviously, an experience that would lead them to the next step of pulling out their credit card and making a purchase because we all have to eat, right? I love that. You do live in the real world. We are running close on time here. I’ve got a couple quick questions. How I’d like to end our conversation. It’s been wonderful by the way, Halfdan.

Halfdan: Thank you.

JD: Number one, what is the biggest mistake that you’ve made a business. You’ve been in business a wild. Would you share with us a big blunder?

Halfdan: We have to begin … I think … This isn’t really an e-commerce thing so much as a general thing. I think people are the hardest thing in the biggest blunders is not realizing when something is not going well with a staff member. I think everybody’s got that and that’s kind of off-topic I think? I think in terms of …

JD: By the way, I really don’t think so because … Yeah, go ahead.

Halfdan: You know maybe you’re right? Because it’s about people and I think one of the great attractions of e-commerce, especially when you’re starting out is you can do a heck of a lot of it yourself. You don’t have to be involved by pesky employees or even pesky customers. You are somewhat separated between you’ve got the computer and all the web between you and them. But if you don’t service a customer right they can create a lot of trouble for you, for your reputation and brand. If you have the wrong employee or the wrong service provider you can spend …
There was a company, great, local success story company here in New Zealand that was punching above its way, selling a new super-sexy Instagram type social media tool and I allowed myself to be talked into spending a couple thousand dollars a month with them, mainly because they were targeting really high-end corporations and not focusing on small business. But because they were local to us we got involved with them. We thought it would be really cool and we spent this money with them. There was no obvious way to measure the revenue. It looked really cool, but we didn’t get much out of it and a lot of those e-commerce products that is really easy to …
The big mistake is not to cut your losses. You’re throwing good money after bad and a lot of e-commerce service providers are trying to sign you up with your credit card and it’s a slow death of thousand cuts. Every month you get that new cost on your credit card. You don’t notice it. Every month you’re thinking, “Oh, I really should cancel them.” I guess the best advice I could give is just don’t think twice, just canceled the credit card subscription for that particular service. If you really need it and miss it, you can always get it back later on but you can’t get those dollars back easy.

JD: That’s right, great, great advice. That may have been the one thing, I was going to ask you if you could distill your experience down to one thing that it takes to be successful what would you say that would be?

Halfdan: I don’t know. I’d say it’s being honest and providing great service, but actually, you know it’s marketing. I think really in terms of selling a product or a service, you can have the best product and service in the world and if it’s not correctly marketed and then sold your guys and girls who are doing that service and product, they don’t have anything to do, so you need to get those orders. It’s a chain and it starts with the sale.

JD: Excellent answer, of course, that comes from a marketing guy. Halfdad, thank you so much for our time together. Where’s the best place for people to learn more about JensHansen?

Halfdan: Well, I guess our website, which is Actually, what’s interesting, I’m kind of proud to say that we have taken my dad’s name, which is literally the date is equivalent of John Smith. There is at least a quarter of a million of them in Denmark and we are now on Google by any measure the most famous Jens Hansen in the world. If I’ve done one thing for the legacy of my father, it’s I’ve made him the most famous John Smith on the planet.

JD: That’s fantastic, wow, wonderful. I have to tell you if your friend, Peter, helped you write the script on your “about us page” on that video or if you came up with that on your own that is a …

Halfdan: The video, yeah, we love the video, yeah, yeah.

JD: It’s fantastic. Most excellent visual display of artisan, and craftsmanship, you are just spot on. I want to come visit you. We are coming to New Zealand in the next 10 years and I want to come to your shop and I want to obviously, shake your hand and see what you guys are all about but excellent work.

Halfdan: That’s great, thank you so much. It’s been a pleasure.

JD: Yes, thanks for our time together. Thanks, if you’re listening, be sure to give us a rating on iTunes and share this with friends. That would be wonderful and go check out Jenshansen. That’s J-E-N-S Hansen, and check out the elfish translator tool. That’s pretty cool and until we talk again, Halfdan, thank you again and we will talk soon.

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