Bryce Adams is the creator of one of my favorite tools, Metorik. Bryce tells us about the path the led him to making Metorik, his view on e-commerce, GDPR, and how he’s using some cutting edge tools. We also talk engagement and stats. Be sure to stick around until the end of the episode – I have a new show I want to tell you about!
And be sure to check out my new show, Creator Toolkit, on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.
Intro: Hey everybody and welcome to episode 88 of How I Built It. Today we’re talking to Bryce Adams, creator of one of my favorite tools, Metorik. Bryce tells us about the path the led him to making Metorik, his view on ecommerce, GDPR, and how he’s using some cutting edge tools. We’ll get to all of that and more, but first…
I have a new podcast coming out this week called Creator Toolkit. If this is the show where we talk to the carpenters of the world, Creator Toolkit is the show that tells you what hammer you should us. We’ll talk all about how to build specific types of projects and how to make certain decisions when building on the web. The first episode drops Thursday, August 9th and covers hosted vs. self-hosted. If you stick around until the end of the show, I’ve included a short preview.
Sponsors: This week’s episode is brought to you by Creator Courses and Pantheon. We’ll hear about Pantheon a little bit later.
Creator Courses is a website dedicated to teaching you how to build on the web. Their catalog of courses is continually growing and it’s becoming the best place to learn how to build specific projects with task-based objectives. You will always learn by doing. Currently, you can learn how the new WordPress editor with their Introduction to Gutenberg course. You may have seen the notification to try it in the latest WordPress update. This course will teach you everything you need to take full advantage. Head over to buildpodcast.net/gutenberg, and use BUILDIT at checkout for 40%.
Joe Casabona: Hey, everybody. Welcome to another episode of How I Built It, the podcast that asks, “How did you build that?” Today, coming all the way from Melbourne, Australia– am I saying that right? It’s Bryce Adams of Metorik.
Bryce Adams: Perfect.
Joe: Bryce, how are you today?
Bryce: Hello, hello. I am really good. I feel very spoiled to get to do a podcasting to you at 11:00AM my time. Thank you for meeting me late on your end.
Joe: Oh, no problem. My wife is a night shift nurse, so once the baby goes to bed I’ll get an hour or so of extra work in around that time. But it’s my pleasure, I’m glad we were able to sync up.
Bryce: Yeah, me too.
Joe: I’m always careful to say “Melbourne” the right way, because my brother lived in Melbourne, Florida.
Bryce: I think everyone in Melbourne, Australia knows Melbourne, Florida. Especially when we talk to anyone from America. You just say, “I’m from Melbourne,” if they don’t hear your accent, maybe you’re typing or something like that. They’re like, “Melbourne, Florida? I’m close!” Or, “I went there once.” It’s so strange to me because I’ve never been. I don’t even know what’s going on there. “I know it so well.”
Joe: There’s a college that’s younger than my dad and that’s about it.
Bryce: That sounds like a great place.
Joe: It’s nice. It’s about an hour from Disneyworld. That’s interesting, because when he said, “I’m going to Melbourne,” I’m like “You’re going to Australia for college?”
Bryce: Not quite.
Joe: He became friends with somebody from Australia and they corrected our pronunciation. So I am always mindful to say it the right away.
Bryce: You did it perfectly. It would be quite challenging, as someone from Melbourne, to go and study at that college in Melbourne, Florida. Just thinking of the conversations I’d have. It would be like, “It’s nice to meet you, where are you from?” “I’m from Melbourne!” “You don’t sound like it.”
Joe: The closest thing we have near me is there’s a Moscow, Pennsylvania.
Bryce: Oh, wow.
Joe: Not nearly as cool as Moscow, Russia. That’s everybody’s geography lesson for the day. Today we’re going to be talking about a tool that I’ve been using for a while that I’m a huge fan of, called Metorik. But Bryce, why don’t you tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do?
Bryce: Sure. I’m Bryce. My background is that I was traveling for a while, I was nomadic. Then I got into the WordPress world and made some plugins. A lot of them were free. Eventually I made a couple that were paid ones on CodeCanyon. That was my first foray into making money from coding. That was really cool and challenging.
And then I ended up getting a job over at Woo. This is back in probably 2014, and I was doing support for WooCommerce. Really challenging but valuable experience for me. It was my first time doing WordPress and working with WordPress and coding as a career. I really enjoyed that time. Eventually we joined Automattic, did the same thing there.
But I ended up leaving back in 2016 and started to build this product, Metorik. I always struggle to describe it, which is awful. Because it’s changed so much from what in my head I would describe it as before. But these days I describe it as a co-pilot for WooCommerce stores and anyone running WooCommerce e-commerce stores.
It’s there to help them with all the things that they can’t do through WooCommerce itself, and also, a lot of things that maybe they never thought to do with WooCommerce. It starts with things like reports, but then goes further and lets you segment your data. Finding customers that haven’t ordered in a while, or trying to figure out what your highest selling products are.
And then I kept taking it further than I originally planned, and started doing things like integrations. I had an integration with Zendesk and then HelpScout, and a few other support platforms. And then Google Analytics. More recently a big focus of mine has been on something I’m calling Metorik Engage, which you might have played with yourself, Joe. It’s like e-mail automation for WooCommerce stores. Made really simple, but still really, really powerful.
My advantage there is that I’ve leveraged this segmenting system I built for Metorik, that I described as an infinite segmenting system. The idea is you have all your data, your orders, your customers. And then in Metorik you can say, “Show me all the orders from one of these cities, and was for this amount, and had these products,” and you can stack as many rules as you want.
With Engage the idea is, “Now that you’ve segmented those orders, or those customers, or even those WooCommerce subscriptions. Let’s e-mail those customers automatically.” For me that’s a pretty exciting direction I’m heading in now.
Joe: That sounds great. We’ll totally dive into that. It sounds super interesting, I think the way you described it is naturally really good. You’re the founder, so–
Bryce: Thanks. You’d hope so.
Joe: What drew me to it was WooCommerce is free, it’s a free e-commerce platform.
Joe: But I think one of the big things it’s lacking as a big boy e-commerce platform is reporting. There’s not a whole lot built into it. I heard of this from Brian Krogsgard, who says that he raves about it. I signed up a little while ago and I wasn’t doing that well with sales, so I’m like, “I can’t really justify reports for the 5 customers I have.” But this year it’s a lot better for me.
Bryce: Awesome! Congrats to you for that.
Joe: Thank you.
Joe: One day I was just bouncing around WooCommerce, and I was like, “I need to figure out how many people from Pennsylvania have bought my product.” Because in Pennsylvania you still need to pay the sales tax on digital products.
Joe: And I couldn’t do it. I’m like, “All right. I’m just going to go ahead and use Metorik. I’m just going to do that now. Pay for the year.” Totally worth it.
Bryce: I appreciate it. I think it’s interesting you mention that because that’s the idea. I love when people say to me, “What do I do with it?” And I’m like, “Either that means you’re just getting started and your store doesn’t have that much data, and that’s totally okay.” I don’t feel like Metorik’s a product every single WooCommerce store should have.
A lot of my customers feel like that, and I appreciate that. But then of course when you’re doing a few orders a month there just isn’t as much value you can get out of it. Perhaps you can get a little bit, but I can’t guarantee to them they’re going to get the price of the subscription out of it.
And I don’t do anything for free. Just because– we can talk about that later. But it’s something that I’ve struggled to accept since it compromises the sustainability of the product. I always say to people, “I don’t want you to pay for it if it’s not worth it for you.” I’m not trying to be the winner here and make more money to get the better end of the deal.
I want our customer to feel like it’s a win-win situation. Of course I’m winning because I’m getting a customer and revenue, but they’re winning because they’re saving so much of their time. Like, you ran into that issue. If it saves you even an hour of time that’s probably worth it, at least just for the month. So that’s my approach to it.
Joe: Without a doubt. That’s exactly how I justified it. I’m like, “I could either dig through or find some less than reputable plugin to do this one thing for me this one time, or I can pay for the year and save myself time now and around tax time.” And just saving my time around tax time is going to be clutch for me. I can send this to my accountant and be like, “Run whatever reports you want.”
Bryce: Yeah. And that’s it. Everyone wants to do things differently. Someone might struggle at first using Metorik because it might be a little overwhelming for them, and I say, “I could just make all those decisions for you.” I’ve even done talks at WordCamps about making decisions, not options for customers. I’m a big believer in that.
But I think running an e-commerce store, an actual business online, is so much different to a simple plugin that I install on someone’s site for adding a contact form or something like that. For me an e-commerce store, your store is the heart of your business. So I don’t want to make all these decisions for you and pretend I know exactly what you want, and how you want to get it.
I want to give you that flexibility while still guiding you there and saying, “These are numbers that I think are important, but if you feel otherwise, that’s okay. You can figure out whatever numbers you want. You can segment your data however you want. It’s your data. That’s totally okay.” That’s my approach there.
Joe: That’s fantastic. You totally mentioned decisions and options, that’s part of the WordPress development mantra. Their development principles. But you’re right, you’re running somebody like me that’s only digital products. Or there’s people who are selling physical stuff that might need more information.
Bryce: They need different data, and it’s not like I can just make decisions for you guys separately. It’s not just the digital products and the physical ones, but then the physical ones might have subscriptions. And then some of those physical ones that have subscriptions also have a digital element to it.
But that’s the beauty of WooCommerce and WordPress and why we all use it. It’s not because WordPress makes these decisions for us. It’s the complete opposite. It gives us that freedom. So I wanted to take a leaf out of WordPress’ book and WooCommerce’s book there, and give people the freedom to get the numbers that matter to them.
Joe: I think that’s incredible. So, you left Automattic in 2016. What gave you the idea for this product, or this service?
Bryce: Yeah well my advantage was that I was talking to not even hundreds, but thousands of WooCommerce stores every month. Especially because my job was WooCommerce support. I didn’t start in development, I grew into that. But I started by talking to customers and them telling me the problems they were having.
Back in end of 2014-2015, this was way before Automattic. I had that idea and I was still in support but I’d been learning to program on the side, and been making a few plugins here and there. I felt confident enough to take a crack at it and make something really simple but that solves the problem I was trying to solve.
Which was a lack of reports and KPIs, just knowing “What’s your average order value?” That wasn’t something that you could easily find at the time. And so I built something, a really rough beta back then. I pitched it to the Woo team but it wasn’t a really a good fit at the time, and it kept getting delayed, and then I started doing development there as my job. My spare time I didn’t really want to spend doing more development.
So I just forgot about it. But slowly over time as we joined Automattic and I realized no one, at least from outside, was interested in doing it. I just thought, “OK. This is something I really want to do. I’ve got the idea, that’s pretty much it. But I’m confident that I can build something that could create value for me and for customers.” Definitely really, really tough decision.
A lot easier to look at in hindsight and say, “It was the right decision.” At the time I really wasn’t sure. Especially in the WordPress world, working at Automattic is considered the best job you can have by a lot of people.
Joe: Right, yeah. “You’ve made it.”
Bryce: Yeah. Of course there are so many other amazing companies that I would in a second be happy to work for in the WordPress world. Like Human Made, and even what Pippin’s doing, Easy Digital Downloads, Sandhills. So there are so many of these great companies to work for. But at least for me, working at Automattic, I wasn’t wishing for another company to work for. I wasn’t thinking about that.
It was really tough to do. But I just said, “I want to do this. I’m fortunate that I’m young, I don’t have kids.” I have a dog, it’s a little responsibility there. But I did feel like I was in a position where it was possible. So I said, “How long will it take me to build it? How long will it take me to get that first customer? How long will it take me–?” Importantly, to not replace my salary at Automattic. That was not the goal at the start.
But, “How long will it take me to break even, to live the life I’m living right now without dipping into my savings?” I set a budget and timeline and said, “If it doesn’t work out,” I left around August-September 2016. I said, “I’ve got until March or April 2017 to get to the point of just breaking even.”
I didn’t mind if I was breaking even for another year after that. But at least get to that point where I can breathe. I think anyone in that situation is thinking of the same thing. Like, “How can I get to the point where this is a sustainable activity?” And then I can worry about making a business and making money and benefiting from it.
Joe: Absolutely. I maybe picked self employment at the exact wrong time from that perspective. I had a 3 month old at home.
Bryce: That’s hard. But it’s also like, “When is the right time? When they’re six months, when they’re a year?” It’s just going to keep getting harder. So you take that risk. And I think, at least, the sooner the better. At least for me, I was just thinking, “I’ve got the money there just to support me building this for a while. I’ll just do it. And if it doesn’t work out I’ll get a job.” I’m not giving up that much. And it’s not that I’m really struggling in that situation.
Joe: Yeah, absolutely. And my wife was incredible she was very supportive. I said, “I’ve got basically six months to make it so that we’re not dipping into our savings. Otherwise I’ll find a job.”
Bryce: Yeah. It’s not the end of the world. It doesn’t have to be. It doesn’t have to be like that “Make it or break it,” thing. It can be just like, “OK, I tried this. It doesn’t work. I’ll try a different job. And then I can try this again in a few years if I still want to do it.”
Joe: I always like to ask about the research, but it sounds like you had a pretty nice gig built into your full-time job doing research, talking to customers about their frustrations.
Bryce: Yeah, definitely. Probably the biggest disadvantage I had was that at Automattic it wasn’t really possible to do side projects like that. So it’s not like I could work on it in that time when I was there. But ideas are something you can have, and understanding the problems that people are having and thinking of ways to solve it definitely helped.
As I was touching on before, it’s funny how it worked out. Metorik is so far from that beta I built back in 2014-15. It’s so far from that now, just because, as you start it turns into something else based on customer feedback and everything like that. It’s funny because I don’t think I’ve ever researched what it is now, but I definitely felt like I had some understanding going in of what I was starting to build.
Joe: That’s great. I mean it’s cool that you’re flexible enough to change it in ways that add a lot of value for your customers, too. So let’s get into the title question, “How did you build it?” I’m very keen on this question because it sounds like– I made my first web site 15 years ago, I was in high school, I learned how to program. I’ve been programming for about that time too. And it sounds like you, within the last five years learned how to write code. Is that accurate?
Bryce: To some extent, yeah. I had my first WordPress site a long time ago. I don’t know, 10 years. It was a Mac news website. It was called It’s All Mac. That was pretty fun. I don’t know even what version of WordPress it was. But back then I had to dabble with changing the color of something, basic CSS. Never really got further.
I remember 2011, or 2012 I was starting University here and I really, really hated it. It was my first week and I had this idea, “How great would it be for a stack overflow app, but for Universities. Where you could join the community of your University and ask questions, and answers.” So I was like, “I’ll build that since I’m already here at Uni. I’m in the right environment.”
I remember even back then it was PHP, I was using some framework. Can’t remember what it was called. Definitely not WordPress. Something else. But I had no idea what I was doing, I remember being so overwhelmed and so scared of the concept of how to change things and writing PHP and just how it all worked.
I think I had a little bit of background definitely with CSS and basic stuff and understanding how the web works. But I definitely wasn’t a very good programmer back then. I ended up leaving University after that week. It didn’t go very well. I just couldn’t do it.
I tried and I was like, “No, I’ll go travel for a bit.” Came back, tried again. I think I lasted another week that time and then I was just like, “This is not working.” That was 2012 and I ended up trying to learn more about WordPress and coding and that’s where I started that journey.
Joe: Awesome. That’s a very cool story. I totally did the traditional four years of University and then I got my Masters degree in software engineering. I was very, “Academics, academics.” And that was the right way for me.
Bryce: Yeah. I don’t think there’s any right or wrong way to do it. That worked for you. Maybe I’d be a much better programmer if I’d also done it that way. I think it’s just the person who’s doing it and like, “What works for them? What’s the best way for them to learn and for them to grow in other ways?” Not even just with programming but as a person.
Joe: Absolutely. I mean I think if I maintain the same mindset that I have now in 17 years I’ll tell my daughter, “Go to college or don’t. As long as you can do what you love, or do what you want to do and support yourself. That’s fine.”
Bryce: Exactly. It’s also the world we’re in. Especially 10 years ago, I’m thinking back to when I was going to Uni, I definitely felt a lot of pressure to go. It wasn’t optional where people were like, “You can go if you want.” I remember back in school, meeting with the career counselors and they’re trying to help you figure that out.
It was never an option not to go to University. No one ever said, “You don’t have to go if you don’t want to. You can just figure things out, or travel.” Of course they can’t recommend you that in their position, but maybe in a few years, or maybe already now that’s starting to change. I hope so.
Joe: Here in the States I think that the next big bubble to burst is going to be higher education because it’s so expensive. Now people are leading the charge for trade schools.
Bryce: The student loans, and stuff.
Joe: Right. I’ll say that, “Yes. Getting a formal education in software engineering has made me maybe a better software architect than a lot of my contemporaries starting out.” But lots of people are self-taught, and if you find the right resources to self-teach, then that’s fine too.
We’re covering a lot of different life topics here. So how did you build Metorik? It’s very nice looking, I mean it looks really nice. It seems very powerful. I’m very curious about your development stack.
Bryce: That’s a great question. Well it’s Laravel behind the scenes, which is pretty familiar now to a lot of WordPress people because it’s the biggest PHP framework in the world right now. It’s amazing, the community is amazing. It’s all open source so it’s a very similar feeling to what you get working in the WordPress world. I do feel like one thing I am missing out is that I haven’t really gone to many Laravel conferences or communicated a lot with the community there.
Definitely my fault, because I’m building this product and I really don’t have as much time as I used to when I was an employee at a company where I was involved in the community. But I definitely see a lot of it just from building it and being on the outside. It definitely has a lot of similarities to WordPress. So Laravel is behind the scenes, it’s the PHP framework.
For the actual front end I don’t really do anything with Laravel there. I’ve got an API that Metorik will talk to. So it’ll say to the WordPress API, “Give me all the orders. Give me all the customers.” On the front end it’s all Vue.js, which may be familiar. But it’s very, very similar to React in that sense where it’s a complete UI framework that gives you complete control of the reactivity of your app, and building these really amazing experiences.
And the stuff I’m building now I never even thought would be possible. It wasn’t even a matter of, “Is it possible for me to build this?” But I didn’t even think technically it was possible. And yet I’m doing it now, and it’s honestly easy with Vue.js. I’m not trying to be humble with that, I’m just being honest. It is really, really simple. I’ve taught it even to a few people around me, where they’ll ask about that. And I’ll try to explain the concept to them, and in doing that I even see again how simple yet powerful it really is.
Joe: It’s funny, I outline the things I want to learn this year, and Laravel and Vue are both on my list of things to learn.
Bryce: Perfect. I’m very happy to hear that.
Joe: Another question I’d like to ask the developers is what’s your environment? Are you a Sublime guy? Or VSCode?
Bryce: VSCode, for sure.
Joe: That seems to be the popular answer.
Bryce: I think I’ve gone through a few different ones while I built Metorik. I’m thinking about it now and it feels like there’s nothing before VSCode, but I definitely only started with VSCode 6-9 months ago, something like that. Before that I used to use PhpStorm, but then everyone wants to go simple and use Sublime sometimes.
I definitely switched between them. But these days I can’t even think of using anything but VSCode. Just an amazing product. So many great plugins for it. It’s such a pleasure to work with.
Joe: It’s so pretty and works really well. I was using Atom before that and Atom was good, but it got bogged down a little bit too easily for me. So, cool. VSCode.
Bryce: Yeah, love it.
Joe: What about your local development environment? I think the most common answer probably is “Local by Flywheel,” among WordPress people. But this is not a WordPress powered app. Are you doing local development?
Bryce: Technically I have used Flywheel. It really came in handy for testing. There is a component of Metorik which is a WordPress plugin, the Metorik Helper plugin. Really lightweight, it’s really there to improve the syncing of data, and also to do some things like track where customers come from, how long they’re spending on the site before checking out. Those kinds of things.
So I did use Flywheel Local recently, just to test that plugin with different PHP environments. With 5.2, 5.4. Amazing for that, to be able to spin up those environments so quickly and run it all at the same time. I’m running 5.2 and I’m running 7 and everything, so that was really cool.
Joe: And you can change it on the fly, too. If you set up a custom environment you can just change the version, right there, on the fly.
Bryce: It’s amazing. I wish I had that when I was doing WordPress plugins every day back then. But that’s all right. Before it used to be HomeSit which was a VirtualBox favoring thing. But these days I’m using Laravel Valet. It’s really, really great because what it does is you don’t actually create a virtual environment or VirtualBox on your computer.
But rather it’s running the stuff needed to power the app, just on your computer. So you have MariaDB or whatever using my sequel, you’re just running that on the Mac. Normally using Homebrew. It’s so easy to set up and the best thing is I don’t have to tweak it at all. I never even think about it.
When you asked me I had to stop and think for a second, just because it’s honestly not something that’s part of my day-to-day anymore. While with Vagrant stuff I felt like every week I was searching how to fix some problem and waiting an hour for something to happen. Nightmare.
It’s a really, really nice experience. Don’t get me wrong, I do run into issues occasionally. It’s normally when there’s a big OS X update, there’ll be something that messes up the configuration for it or how nginx handle things. Normally you can solve it by reinstalling it. And because it’s so quick, there’s no setting up a virtual environment, you can try a whole bunch of solutions really, really quickly.
Joe: Awesome. So, I’m going to ask this because it’s timely as we record this. People will probably be well sick of it by the time this episode comes out but you mentioned you have the Helper plugin and it’s sending data to your app. How have you been affected by GDPR–?
Bryce: GDPR. Sorry, I can’t help it.
Joe: You totally telegraphed that question.
Bryce: Well, it’s a great question. Definitely something really relevant to Metorik, and something that I did have to invest quite a lot of time into like everyone else. But also something that I didn’t have to invest as much time into because I’ve always built Metorik from the start as being privacy-centric, privacy focused and really trying to respect not just my users’ privacy but their customers’.
Because an interesting thing is that I’m not just what typically every store is, which is a data controller. I’m also a data processor in that I’m processing your data and the data of anyone using Metorik. So there are different responsibilities there, and different ways to handle things. Fortunately it’s not as much work as you think because– I’m trying to think of a good example.
It’s not like I’m a quoting app or an invoicing app where I’ve got all your data that’s sensitive to your store, what’s your business, and everything like that. Metorik doesn’t have too much data about individuals. Like, about you. It’s just your name and your e-mail and things like that. The general stuff.
Most of the data is your actual store’s data which I process, don’t control. A lot of things are taken care of through how WooCommerce handles the data. Especially with the WooCommerce 3.4 latest release that added that GDPR compliance. Little things like removing customers details, no problem. It’ll remove them in Metorik. Delete a customer, they get deleted in Metorik.
When you’re starting a product, especially on your own and you’re bootstrapping it, you’re not going to go spend $10 thousand dollars on lawyers. Or invest all this time in worrying about your terms of service, how the words are formed and if you’re using the right grammar and things like that. That’s not how you build a sustainable bootstrapped company at the start. It was really nice to have a chance to revisit that now, where I had the resources, and try to improve it.
Joe: That’s a really great point. It did make me revisit a few things. Luckily I use mostly WordPress tools and they’ve made it easy to be at least as GDPR-compliant as I’m willing to be as a stubborn American.
Bryce: Fair enough.
Joe: At least, outside of the EU.
Bryce: Nice save.
Bryce: Exactly. And that’s the extent of it. One of the things that I found really helpful, and I saw a lot of similar products do the same, is to make a GDPR help doc or page. Where it says, “These are how we’re tackling all the things.” I’ve answered a lot of frequently asked questions. Of course, I’m not really getting asked by American stores. But I’ve got a lot of European customers, so I was getting asked everyday.
I just said, “Yeah, no worries. Don’t worry. I’m compliant, I’m on board. Here are some of the answers that you’re looking for.” Basically everyone wants to know the sub-processor who I’m sharing data with, and it’s really easy for me because I don’t share with anyone. There’s no reason. I don’t need to, and I won’t.
For example, I’ve got something you’ve probably seen with Metorik where it’s a global search and then there’s just general searching where you can just type in a name and find all the orders or costumers or products that match it. It could be a lot faster if I use something like Aloglia. I’d love to. It would be really, really fast.
Besides the cost reasons, I don’t feel comfortable with the idea of sending not just my customers data, but my customer’s customers’ data to these third parties. So I’ve tried to build everything in-house. I don’t even back-up or store actual customer data to external services. Of course I’ve got a bunch of backups and stuff in place, but my focus is more on backing up the Metorik data. I can always get the data from your store again.
I can always sync with your store and get everything, if you’re a small store, in a couple minutes. If you’re a big store maybe a few hours. I’m willing to save you, “I’m sorry, you have to wait a few hours for that data to come in.” If it was a catastrophic failure and I have to now go and get it from your store again. I’m okay doing that if it means that your data doesn’t touch a third party. For me that’s a priority. It’s made GDPR easy.
Joe: That’s fantastic. As a store owner it gives me peace of mind, because you’re not taking my data and then selling it off to somebody else or giving it to somebody else.
Bryce: No. That’s my nightmare. Of course, if Metorik was free, I don’t know how else you’d make it sustainable. “If you’re not free, you’re the product.”
Joe: Exactly, right.
Bryce: “If you’re not paying, you’re the product,” Right?
Joe: “If you’re not paying, you’re the product.” Right. That’s for sure. When all that Cambridge Analytica stuff came out about Facebook, I was shocked more at how shocked people were.
Joe: I’m like, “What did you think? Facebook is a billion dollar company. How do you think they’re making money? Well, we’re at the end of the conversation. I try to keep these episodes about a half hour long and this one has been a lot of fun talking about all sorts of different stuff.
Bryce: Yeah, I’ve had fun.
Joe: We’ve talked about where you’ve been, so I’ll end with the two questions I always end with. The first one is, what are your plans for the future?
Kind of trying to figure that out now. A big part of the last few months has been worrying about getting Engage, which is that e-mail automation product, live. Especially because it’s an add-on product. Before Metorik was just one price depending on how many orders you had, but now there’s two. It’s a little bit extra if you want to send unlimited emails through Engage.
And a lot people are using it now, and that’s been an amazing feeling just to ship that and get people paying for it. Now I’m starting to think OK, what do I do next? I don’t have an amazing answer for you. But in general I just have the longest to-do list in the world. Of ideas and feedback from customers, and things I need to work on.
Some of the things I’m going to be adding soon, specifically to Engage, like cart recovery e-mails. Everyone’s asking for. Some of those things. I want to keep leveraging the platform I’m building with Metorik. Well, I don’t know if you’d call it platform, but the product. And take it further and keep making it easier for my customers to run their stores and make money, and to grow their businesses.
Joe: That’s awesome. Actually, talking about Engage real quick. Let’s make that distinction. Because you said you have the Engage e-mails and then you’re working on the cart abandonment e-mails. Would Engage be more akin to the WooCommerce follow up e-mails plugin that’s there? Someone places an order, and they get the four e-mails that WooCommerce generates, but you can customize it and say, “Hey thanks for buying this product, this and that,” and stuff like that.
Bryce: Very similar to that one for sure. But more so in that it’s also just saying, “I want to contact customers when they haven’t ordered in a while,” or with subscriptions I want to e-mail them a week before their next payment. I’ve got a lot of customers that use WooCommerce subscriptions and charge their customers a large amount, a few hundred dollars, every year.
They don’t want to just charge them, they want to e-mail a week before. But also if the customer cancels they want to follow up and say, “Can we get you back? Here’s a coupon.” It’s hard to describe it as doing one thing because the approach I’ve taken with leveraging this infinite segmenting system I have is, people are coming up with these crazy approaches to using it.
And it’s making them money, and I didn’t even think of it. Some people will use it for getting reviews, but then some people are just using it for telling people about relevant products. I just had never really thought of all the ways that they would use it. And so for me, it’s really amazing to see what people come up with.
I’m trying to do more on my end to write about the different ways to use it, because I only know what I can think of, but customers are thinking of all these different ways. I want to make it easy for other customers to use those similar methods.
The cart stuff and anything else I do is all going to fall under this umbrella of Engage, where it’s about engaging with your customers or potential customers and trying to provide them with your product and your service and grow your store with them. I don’t think it’s just going to be that. There’s other things I want to do under that umbrella, for sure.
Joe: For those of you who are listening to this episode, but have not listened to the most recent Chris Lemmer episode on managed WooCommerce hosting. He talks about the importance of segmentation and connecting with your customers. The example he gives, which sounds like a perfect use case for Metorik’s Engage, is you have customers and you have repeat customers.
Maybe they buy a new product every 127 days. That’s the number that he gave. You don’t want to hit that customer with, “You bought this, why don’t you also buy this?” A week later, you’re using a dumb segmentation system there. But if you know that every 127 days they buy something, on day 127 or day 126 you could say, “Here’s a little coupon. Go buy something else in the store.”
Bryce: For sure. Or you can even take that and try to think, “If I know it’s 120 days, how can I lower that to 100?” Maybe I e-mail a month before, but give them a coupon. So now I’m giving up a little value with the small 10 percent or whatever discount, but they’re ordering more frequently. That’s how it started with Metorik because I had that data. It’s so easy to see, “What’s your average time between orders?”
And you can segment and say, “What’s my average time between orders just for customers from Pennsylvania?” Or, “For customers that bought this product as their first product?” So you can see all that, but then people kept saying, “I’ve got that data, but now I need to use it. I want to contact them.” That’s how Engage happened.
Joe: Very cool. Very cool and awesome. I took a cursory look at it, but now I actually understand. I have a lot more context of why it’s important for me. I’m definitely going to take a look at it now. And I want to ask you my favorite question which is, do you have any secrets for us?
Bryce: I’m figuring it out. I’ve got one bit of advice, I guess. And it’s just something I say having gone from starting this and being in that early stage, to now, I feel like I’ve built something I’m quite proud of and is successful in that sense. I’m always hesitant to give advice because I don’t like the idea of telling people what they should do, like I know better. But it’s just one thing I do see a lot, especially in the software as a service world.
Don’t take things too seriously at the start. Don’t worry so much about perfecting things that don’t matter. When you’re starting, at least the software as a service, or any kind of software product. Just ship it and get revenue, and then iterate and talk to customers. I see so many people that are working on products for a year before they’re selling it, and I’m sorry, that’s just way too long.
When I launched Metorik, of course it was far worse than it is now. It didn’t do like a quarter of the things it does now. It had bugs, it had all these problems. But I still got customers because they noticed and recognized the value in it, and a lot of them were just supporting me because it was of value to them but also they wanted to see what it would become.
So they were happy to support me in those early days. If I hadn’t launched maybe it would have all failed, so I can’t stress that enough. Just put something live and get feedback. You can always improve something but you can’t recover that time you’ve lost if you wait too long.
Joe: Absolutely. If you’re starting something out I think the thing that I always got stuck on was like, “Is it scalable? Can it scale to a million people?” I don’t have a million people yet.
Bryce: Doesn’t matter, exactly.
Joe: I mean, “Let’s scale it to 5 people and then 10 people.”
Bryce: For sure. And also you’ve got to think, “What’s relevant?” For your business you’re trying to build. And with Metorik I knew my average customer would be paying $50 to $100 US a month. There’s some a little bit lower and there’s some a lot higher. Some people pay me $600. So I knew, “If I’m making between $50 and $100, how many customers do I need to be at the point where I’m breaking even? How many customers do I need to have my old salary? How many customers do I need to be making more money than I know what to do with?”.
You can have those numbers and I promise you those numbers are going to be lower than you planned to build the app for. For me that number is anywhere from 50 to a couple hundred customers. Anywhere in that area is amazing. If I get to 1,000 or 2,000, that’s great.
But again it’s not millions of customers, so there’s no point of planning to scale to millions. Because if I have a million customers, that means I’m doing a billion dollars in revenue a year. I don’t think so. I’m not planning to get to that point. I don’t expect I will ever–
Joe: And if you do get to that point, you can afford to scale.
Bryce: Exactly, yeah. When you’ve got a billion dollars in recurring revenue I think you can figure something out.
Joe: Well, Bryce. Thanks so much for your time today. Where can people find you?
Bryce: My pleasure. Best is probably Twitter. Twitter.com/BryceAdams. And then check out Metorik. If you want to run a WooCommerce store and you haven’t heard of Metorik, please come and try it out. Because I want to know what you think, and I want to know how you survived this long without something like it. Because I really feel like it can make your life easier. Give me the chance to do that, I suppose.
Joe: The reason I had you on the show is because I’m such a big fan of the product. Definitely everybody will be linked to a bunch of stuff that we talked about, including Metorik, in the show notes. Which you can find over at HowIBuilt.it. Once again Bryce, thanks so much for your time. I appreciate it.
Bryce: My pleasure, thank you.
Outro: What a great guy to talk to, and the creator of a fantastic and very useful tool. I use Metorik every day to track sales, trends, and run reports. And Bryce’s advice about engagement and stats are top notch.
And Thanks again to our sponsors Pantheon and Creator Courses. Definitely check them out. Both are teaching you all about Gutenberg and WordPress 5.0.
For all of the show notes, head over to howibuilt.it/86/. If you like the show, head over to Apple Podcasts and leaving us a rating and review. It helps people discover us! You can also join the Facebook community over at howibuilt.it/facebook/. I want to build a strong community for this podcast, and Facebook is the place to do it.
Thanks for joining me. Before you get out there and build something, I’d love if you stuck around and listened to this preview of Creator Toolkit, a new podcast by me, starting Thurday, August 9th.
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