Post-Purchase Surveys (PPS) with Quip's First Employee, Shane Pittson
Our latest episode of the Question Authority podcast features Shane Pittson, Quip's first employee and current Head of Growth & Marketing.
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Matt (00:00): So we had to call 911. It's definitely stressful... hey what's going on, Shane?
Shane (00:05): Hey.
Mitch (00:05): We're just exchanging some more stories about passing out in bars due to dehydration.
Matt (00:10): Fair enough. Every one drink, one glass of water, right?
Mitch (00:14): That's what they say.
Shane (00:16): That's the dream. I don't know if anyone's ever achieved that.
Mitch (00:23): Well, welcome Shane. Welcome to our lair of inquisition. Well, first of all, I think it's cool that... you were employee number one at Quip, right? Is that accurate to say?
Shane (00:35): Yes.
Mitch (00:35): Yeah. So I just liked the idea that the notion of having a brand say our first employee is going to be someone who's focused on consumer insights and growth and interacting with the customer I think says a lot about what role your brand plays in changing behaviors and leading people down a path of mutual benefit, so I think that's cool.
Shane (00:57): Yeah, no, thanks. I thought it was cool too, especially when I got the job.
Mitch (01:03): And I know you guys, I don't know if it's still true, but at some point, you guys were spending more on offline than you are on online advertising. Is that correct?
Shane (01:11): Yeah, that was and is still true at the moment. It was an interesting jump into offline. We started with audio and-
Mitch (01:22): Podcast or radio or both?
Shane (01:24): Podcasts. Yeah. Started with podcasts. Our initial thought going into it was, I don't know if this is going to work, because our hypothesis was that Facebook was working because our product is really well-designed, and so most of our ads were very product led. It was like product is hero, kind of that Apple type of approach where product is front and center, white background.
Mitch (01:50): Yeah. Which is understandable because the product is kick ass, so it's understandable to take that approach, yeah.
Shane (01:57): It came to life in the offline world in a way that we didn't fully expect, but it actually ties into a lot of those behaviors where the product isn't crazy expensive so we always make it a priority that every podcast host or somebody that's reading an ad has the product beforehand. And it allowed people to speak about the product in a way that they were still able to communicate that this thing doesn't look like any other toothbrush you've seen, but then what ended up being even more powerful than we realized was people speaking to those more personal details that are a little bit harder to put into an ad in some ways. You can throw in testimonial, but when it's an endorser just speaking about their firsthand experience, it is authentic and helps to make it more relatable, of, look, I got Quip and I was like, oh my gosh, I don't remember the last time I replaced my toothbrush.
Shane (02:54): That's something that's relatable because on average, people replace their brush once every nine months. So people go quite a while. It's just something that's out of sight, out of mind.
Mitch (03:07): Exactly. Yeah.
Shane (03:08): And so the service element of Quip, getting that shipment every three months ultimately acts as a behavioral nudge or reminder.
Mitch (03:17): Krystina Rubino from Right Side Up, who was on one of our episodes, was saying exactly that about one of the important hacks to getting good podcast ad and good results is definitely have to send your product to the host, because as you said, it's really the ultimate word of mouth and word of mouth naturally solves a ton of the objectives that marketing is usually trying to solve piecemeal with different kinds of ads in the funnel. You can nail like seven of the parts of your value proposition as marketing objectives in one good word of mouth experience, and so to your point, exactly, when you can actually get the product in front of whoever it might be and they're like, "I didn't know bristles are supposed to work this way. I always buy the cheap shit and you they don't feel like this," or whatever. Stuff you would not even think of as a product owner maybe to talk about.
Mitch (04:08): Okay. So you started in podcast ads as far as exploring offline, and that's what we were talking about there. Well, I know you're using surveys in part to measure that stuff. Is that what you were starting off with with the podcast or how else were you assessing that this was actually going to provide value?
Shane (04:23): As we were towing into offline, we did some subway advertising with URLs printed on the ads, and that helped initially, but we quickly were like, there has to be a better way of attributing this. And we spoke with some of the team over at Harry's. They walked us through some of their approach to post-purchase surveys. It was like, oh, that seems like a great solve for some of this offline media that isn't click-based or cookie based, so we really prioritized getting post-purchase survey up and running before we really leaned into testing in the podcast. But then we supplement that with coupon codes and the vanity URLs, so we ultimately ended up toggling between last click and post-purchase survey responses and then weighted attribution based on those two things.
Mitch (05:25): Yeah. You kind of get that freedom.
Shane (05:27): Yeah, no, that was super valuable, and out of the gate with that, we had a really high response rate. We tend to keep the first question pretty consistent, which is just what brush didn't you use last? And then how did you hear about us? And then the third question is where we experiment a lot, so we tend to ask a lot of innovation and questions about the buying experience or about future buying experience or preferences.
Mitch (05:59): It's a really well-structured survey for sure, and yeah, just for anyone who hasn't seen it, I'm glad that you ran through it there. I think the what brush did you last use question is great, and again, it's that nice balance of highly tactical attribution, which we've been talking about, the more esoteric and explorative market opportunity and competitive landscape and all that other stuff, and then, like you were saying, sometimes some of that market or product R and D. Are there any interesting insights out of any of those questions, assumingly, they're non attribution questions, that are worth discussing?
Shane (06:40): Just out of the gate, what brush did you use last was insightful to us at the time, and ultimately insightful to investors because the working theory or hypothesis was that the electric brush market, all of the incumbents were going up market. They're launching new products with new features at new and importantly higher price points. And so many kind of assumed that Quip was a value trade that people that were shopping more expensive electric toothbrushes were making, that we were mostly playing within the existing electric brush ecosystem. Come to find out that wasn't the case, which we were really surprised by, and it was much closer to a 50, 50 split than we thought. And that became a really big part of our data and conversation with retail partners, and as distribution partners are trying to understand, okay, but how would introducing your product or your service interact with our guest or our customer? We were able to come with various statistically significant data showing how we might affect the category as a whole, which was really helpful.
Mitch (08:09): That's pretty kick ass, yeah. Right, I can imagine talking to like a Target or whatever and going with their original logic of, we want to sell in five or 10 units to each of your stores because they're going to have to be on this really crazy end cap and it's going to cost whatever much money, which basically shouldn't even be on the aisle with the rest of this stuff, to actually saying, no, just, just throw it in there, man. It will make people think differently about what they're spending on that whole category and probably drive your revenues up for that whole aisle. You're welcome. You know?
Shane (08:45): That data really had changed the algebra going into those types of decisions.
Mitch (08:54): I'm trying think of something that more fits this statement but I'm having trouble. Oral care to me is maybe one of the best examples of the nuance of personalization and how you really have to talk to your customers and understand them well to be able to successfully sell them stuff, because so much of it is a sector of neglect. And so being able to nudge folks in the right way to say... Because you cannot... Well, maybe you can, but I would imagine you're not going to get the market growth that Quip gets by going into Facebook categories for targeting and saying, find me people who floss. It's like, well, okay, sure, but find me all the people who know they should floss and are like, I'm willing to do it if I can just get a couple of nudges. Maybe a nice email every once in a while that tells me about the benefits, or some instruction book or even something that just looks cool in the cabinet might be enough. But you have to do that work, and then that definitely involves talking to customers and getting feedback.
Matt (10:00): A lot of brand operators just know how to manage a Facebook agency. They're not really into the whole, who is my customer? It's like, well, I don't need to know who my customer is. Facebook knows who my customer is.
Shane (10:11): Yeah. Yeah, and that's been a big focus of ours in the last year and a half or so. Both of Quip's founders are industrial designers so they come from a background and mindset of what is the behavior ultimately that exists and how do we use design and use the product design to either lean into that or influence that? In the last year and a half, we've expanded from just the electric brush into refillable mouthwash, refillable floss pick, refillable gum dispenser and gum.
Mitch (10:49): Which is great. I've seen that because we have a mutual friend at Quip, and when he showed me that, I was just taken back to my days of Pez dispensers and I was like, ah, this is cool.
Shane (11:00): Oh yeah, it's so fun. I was out just this past weekend. There was eight of us and I was like, "All right, who wants some gum?" And everyone was in a circle and I just had the dispenser and it was just like...
Mitch (11:16): Yeah, exactly. For sure. Shout out to James by the way.
Shane (11:20): James and the whole Quip ID team. Super talented.
Mitch (11:24): Sure, everybody. Yeah. So other than talking about the construct of the surveys and the answers that you guys get out of that, I noticed that you wanted to address both the segmentation value of what you get out of that and then also the kind of the broader market research, more longitudinal or long-term or experimental thinking around that.
Shane (11:47): Yeah. I thought it might be interesting to speak to the point that Matt was bringing up at the top of the hour, that kind of evolution of how do you think about customer. For us, we were looking at doing a more in depth segmentation of our customer and seeking to better understand what the core psychographics were of the Quip customer and Quip opportunities. And especially as were looking to continue to expand the brand, were really interested in where people were shopping.
Shane (12:26): We built the brand as a direct to consumer brand for a lot of those behavioral things that we were talking about earlier. If we make something that looks nicer, a lot of people don't brush twice a day but if there's this cool object that you want to pick up and touch because it looks cool and it's on a mirror mount that's at eye level, and so maybe it guilts you a little bit when you see it late at night and it's looking right at you. It's the habits. And it's the behaviors that make the biggest impact to change people's oral health, and we were really worried that if we change the shopping dynamic, that we might lose some of those benefits.
Shane (13:12): We began to see that our core opportunities were very omni-channel shoppers, and that one of our segments that had the highest likelihood to be interested in buying Quip really valued product discovery at retail and really valued being a bit ahead of trend or ahead of the curve. That set off a whole other chain of research where that's a journey that we spend a lot of time thinking about. In the old school sense, it was mail-in rebates and warranty activations. For Quip, we have a claim code that gets you your first refill free, and in a lot of our packaging with the plan, activates a lifetime warranty. That's a funnel or flow that we continue to test and run focus groups with.
Mitch (14:07): Yeah.
Matt (14:19): We talk to a fair amount of legacy brands where it's like, we need first-party data... we need zero-party data... which essentially is just survey data. I'm just curious like, within Quip, do you guys ever use the word first-party data or is it more or less innate at this point, where it's just customer data?
Shane (14:35): So yeah, we tend to refer to it as customer data. I mean we throw around PPS as an acronym all the time, cause it's referenced frequently as its own data source. And then every once in a while, the marketing group will throw around the HDYHAU, how did you hear about us acronym, which is a hefty one. But I saw Wilson Hung from Kettle & Fire using it and I was like, that is still more efficient than typing all of that out.
Matt (15:00): Yeah. We get "heidi how" every once in a while and I personally don't use that. I think maybe we probably should because I know there's people that can recognize that, but I just don't feel comfortable saying it, so I totally hear you. I brought that question up because it's interesting to me how direct to consumer brands, especially ones that go omni-channel now, they still operate in such a different way than legacy brands as they mature too. And a lot of it, it's just funny talking to larger brands where like, we need more first party data. And it's like Shane at Quip. It's like, first part data, no, that's just customer data and we already have a ton of it because that's how we operate. We don't put a label on that kind of data.
Mitch (15:43): It's innate, as you said.
Matt (15:44): Yeah, it's cool.
Mitch (15:46): Well, I'll let us part with this unintentional testimonial for flossing, which is that the best advice I ever got at a dentist office was the hygienist asked me if I flossed and I said, I don't. And she said, "Well, listen. Just floss the ones you want to keep, okay?"