About the Episode:
Does your website make it confusing for customers to purchase?
Today, we dive in with Tim Keen and his expertise, after he taught himself how to make money online all by going to Google and hitting the search button., “How to make money online”.
Tim Keen is the founder and CEO of Loop Club, a Shopify Plus Partner performance marketing agency based in Los Angeles that spends about $3M a month on paid ads. He played drums in a touring rock band until he needed to make money online, and went from typing “make money online” into Google to running a $2M+ annual revenue agency in under 4 years, working with 7, 8, and 9-figure brands like Unilever, Free Fly Apparel, and Road Runner Sports.
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Watch the episode here:
- Marketing vs Development
- Why niching works
- How to make money online
- Starting from scratch
What’s shakin, how’s your day today? Welcome to the show. I’m Rick Jordan. Today we’re going all in. My guest today is co-founder and CEO of the loop Club, which is a Shopify Plus partner performance marketing agency. Anybody out there use Shopify? I bet you if you’re selling a lot of stuff online, you’re probably using Shopify, and the dude’s also the drummer in a touring rock band. So we’re gonna have some fun with this conversation. Tim Keen, welcome.
How’s it going? Great to meet you.
It’s going really well. Let’s start with the rock band. Is that cool? You’re still touring right now?
No, no, I’m not. So the band ended a couple of years ago. I mean, no one was touring during the pandemic, right? No matter what it would have been done. But when I was in that band, I actually started doing marketing while I was in the band, because I don’t know if you have been abandoned any listeners have. But no matter how successful you are, you don’t make any money at all. It’s literally like a rigged game. There’s no There’s no, there’s literally nothing. So I was in the van with him. “Like, how am I going to figure this out?” I was like building little websites like trying to figure out how to teach myself to do things and like on my little iPad in the back of the van, like learning marketing, and then when the band when we stopped, the band stopped playing, I kind of was able to translate that experience into an agency and then it just kind of went all went up from there. Interesting job doesn’t give me a huge amount of time to tour right now. But hopefully it gets to that point.
Your job doesn’t give you a lot of time to tour you’re talking with the loop cloud, right?
Yeah. So that’s kind of taken. That’s gonna take it over like a lot of musicians, right. A lot of aspiring musicians always have this gig for you. It’s not served in a restaurant, though, which is what a lot of musicians will do. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Yeah. It’s very lucky. I feel very lucky.
Awesome, man. So what is the well, we’ll come back to the band in a second here, because that’s where you started your digital marketing and everything, and typically speaking, the most I know about band marketing, you know, is a lot of grassroots stuff. It used to be, you know, putting posters like, like, show posters up on trees, you know, or lampposts or something like that, and it’s moved to digital media. Now, of course, however, first firing bands, like you said, you don’t make a lot of money. It used to be pretty freakin ‘cheap, right to print a bunch of flyers or pieces of paper, you know, at a copy store, or a FedEx Kinkos, whatever, and then go nail them or tape them to something. Now in order to get it out there with digital media, it requires ad spend. So how does that crossover before it was like total grassroots and sweat labor? But what kind of sweat labor can you do in digital marketing?
Yeah, I mean, one of the things that I’m grateful for is that I’m not trying to kind of build my internet presence as a musician right now. Because I think, like you said, it seems very tiresome and very difficult. What I have seen is, I mean, going viral on TikTok seems to be the way that the labels validate music now, and the bands get exposure. So there’s all these TikTok, with even these, like, relatively famous musicians, and on their profile are like, “Oh, God, I’m so tired of making TikToks my labels making me do another one. Like, they won’t let me go back on tour or release my album until I’ve had a viral hit. Like, I just have to sit here in front of my camera all day.” I mean, I used to do that I remember in 2012 going around and sticking up posters on different different walls, but nowadays, it’s just like, it’s making TikToks it’s just TikToks.
Yeah, no joke. It’s interesting. It really is interesting. I mean, those you can make go viral, you know, without any kind of ad spend, of course, that did you ever get into that world to where you had a label or a promoter that was backing you that said, Hey, you have to do X amount of things in order for me to continue with, you?
No, we were lucky. So we were, you know, on the independent side of the music industry, we I mean, we had a record label, and a booking agent, and a promoter and all of that stuff, but they were pretty hands off, and because it was we, you know, on the independent side of music, you have better, more egalitarian deals. It’s kind of like being like a bootstrap company, versus being like a venture backed company, you know, like these pop stars of venture backed essentially, like they need to smash, it’s for anyone to make money. We were like, you know, 50-50 profit splits. Like, we only need to play slightly smaller rooms, like our budgets were lower. But you know, the breakeven is more, you know, it’s easier, like, so we didn’t really do that. I think honestly, for me, like, when I was making music. I was just much more interested in making the music itself. I think that’s it when I do this job, and when I do in this career, it’s much easier for me to separate those things because it’s like, okay, I can figure out how to make money. I can figure out how to do things, but in music, it’s a little more personal and your first instinct isn’t to go and monetize it as aggressively as possible, which is, yeah, what my job is now.
That’s cool. Yeah, I like that. So what your job is now you were a struggling musician, right, and then you went from what I see here. You literally Googled, making money online?
I love it.
This isn’t paying the bills, what do I do to make money online? Tell me Google. What did you find, dude, when you type that in?
So the first thing that I did was I would do surveys for brands, I’m sure a lot of people have done this, I would do like, you know, give us 30 minutes, and I’ll give you a $2.50 voucher, if you tell us what you think about Kellogg’s corn flakes. I was just sitting there, clicking through these surveys trying to get like three bucks deposited in my PayPal account, and I was like, “Look, if I’m going to be clicking all day anyway, like, I need to make each click a little more valuable.” m my revenue per click is pretty low here. So I was like, “Okay, what else can I learn?” And then I got deeper and deeper. I did all kinds of stuff. I told him I tried to do SEO, trying to rank websites, trying to build little WooCommerce stores, like I really kind of just dabbled in a lot of stuff. And I got some traction eventually, like dropshipping. But all of that is a grind. It’s not a good way to actually make money. It’s just a good way to learn the principles of this industry.
You’re really giving the real talk on this right now as far as making money online. I appreciate that, because dude, I mean, I scroll through my feed on Instagram all the time, and I see all that, like you mentioned dropshipping, right? There’s people that come up with things like, “hey, build this multimillion dollar drop shipping business.” You know, and this is, by the way, join my coaching program to do that, you know, because I’m doing it. But there’s, there’s a lot of effort that has to go into that, in order to build that it’s not something that’s overnight. It’s not something that goes without its grind. You said you got traction, what’s some traction to you?
We did like, you know, 5k a month in revenue, something like that.
Yeah, you’re talking $60,000 a year. That’s it.
Yeah, and that’s, that’s all gone, you know, that’s gone. It’s like, that’s the thing about these businesses is they like paper. Like, even if you just say you’re doing a million dollars a year in dropshipping revenue, you’re at 20% net margins when it shakes out. So you’re doing your 200k may be net, but you’ve made you know, how are you gonna pay for all your mistakes, you’re gonna pay for every mistake that you make on the way to man that is definitely costing you a lot of money, like, it’s going to zero. Plus, on the other hand, like your business is, you’re being a middleman, your business has been a middleman. So you’re dealing with customer service, you’re dealing with, you know, people and the value that you add, it’s just branding and marketing, and eventually people realize there’s a discrepancy between the quality of the product and the branding. So, you know, you can make some money quickly if you’re good, and I think people are on Tik Tok. Now, they’re like, really running up the score with that stuff. I’m definitely seeing a few people being like, “Oh, wow, you got this.” But it’s one tactic for learning a number of ways of doing this working in this industry, but it’s known as sustainable Korea. Exactly. I mean, a lot of people are selling high ticket courses on how to get from one level to another level. And some of them, you know, some of them will give you the information that you need. And some of them won’t necessarily, but like, it’s not information. Information doesn’t really help you with this. It’s just dealing and messing it up a lot.
Yeah, for sure. Well, how did you transition? How did you break through because you tried all these things, right? And where was your tipping point?
I would say the real breakthrough for me, and this is what I would recommend to anyone who’s trying to do this if I went to work for an agency. So I was freelancing, and I was on Upwork. I was building websites doing all this different stuff, and I just like, was like, Okay, I’m just gonna go into an agency and see if I can get this job. I never had a full time job in my life, and I was like, “Okay, I’m just gonna, you know, do it, I’ll just say, it’ll be funny,” and I realized that, that experience is like, trying to do it for yourself is actually more valuable than you realize, because a lot of people haven’t done that. So when you come into an agency, like, you don’t know any of the rules about what you’re meant to do, and what you’re not meant to do.
So it’s kind of a superpower, because you will just do whatever you need to do. You have experience like learning very, very, very quickly, like ingesting information and then executing on that information in no time, and so, that was where I was like, oh my god, like I actually do know how to do this. AI was able to scale a couple of brands. I didn’t even really realize at the time, like how significant it was, but you know, a couple of clients, you know, to a good million dollars a month in revenue, like in nine months of being there. It’s just like, once you know how to do it, like, you know how to do it. It’s not that hard.
You’re starting to talk about e-commerce as riding a bike.
I was actually just talking about this the way that I described these jobs and marketing in general, it feels very hard until you know how to do it. Once you know how to do it, it’s literally a list of instructions in a Google Doc, and so the gap is like, “Okay, how do you learn those things? How do you understand when to apply any given tactic, and then the subtleties of each step of the instructions?” Like, okay, you can capture leads, like, how do you successfully execute each step, but like, the hardest part is gathering all that information, putting it together. That’s why high ticket course sellers are successful, because that information would take you a bunch of time to gather on your own, and that time is valuable.
That’s what high ticket courses are, it’s really just the curation of information. You know, it saves you. This is for anybody, I’ve never actually spoken about it in this way, and I appreciate you going here in the conversation, because those courts, like, “Oh, I’m gonna pay five grand $10,000, whatever it is, for this high ticket course,” and it’s always information that you can find out on your own. In these high ticket courses, it will just take you a longer time than just clicking on the site and putting in your credit card information, then it is right for you. It’s a curation of information, and that is valuable, dude.
It’s incredibly valuable. I mean, I still pay for that. I still pay for curated information all the time. I’m in you know, I have three of my team and a Slack group that I pay $1,000 a month for, I have like, you know, courses that I’ll buy all the time, and everyone is everyone in this space? Who is serious? Is trading, trading money to save learning time, all the time.
Yeah, for sure. That’s incredible. So now you’ve got all this information, right, and you’ve done it and everything, you know, you’re a Shopify Plus partner, there has to be some kind of threshold or performance in order to achieve that status.
Yeah, the plus partner thing was a really big win for us. So Shopify Plus has obviously be, you know, where the the merchants who are most serious on Shopify, I would say, what, how how you got there really was through our relationships in the ecosystem, like we to Shopify, as everyone knows, is, it’s not just one app, it’s a collection of you need to plug in a bunch of other stuff in order to run your store. So when you install Shopify, you still need, you know, CLEVEO, for email marketing, and a kendo for reviews and something for awards, and like all these other systems that you need to build around it, and I’ve always been of the opinion, a lot of media managers, a lot of media buyers, they don’t know that platform. They have spent their whole career just working in Facebook all day, and just like doing the numbers, but I started because I didn’t know no one told me that I wasn’t meant to do that.
When I was growing, I spent a lot of time in Shopify, and really learnt the systems and really learnt the apps and the plugins that couldn’t help a store very quickly. So when I started running this agency, that was always just an easy part of service offerings to add as a value add. So, you know, I would tell clients, you know, what apps to use? Or what apps not to use, and how to set up the funnels and have that tracking and like all that stuff. There aren’t that many marketing partners who can give you what kind of technical development help, but like, it lives in this middle ground between marketing and development. I think that was exciting to the plus team.
Then I would say the second thing that they were excited about was that we are early to TikTok, and that we built our business during the pandemic. I mean, I’m sure you know, almost everything about performance marketing has changed in the last two years, since, you know, iOS 14, the pandemic, you know, the way that ad platforms work, the way that ecommerce works is completely different now. And so these younger agencies have a totally different playbook from the older agencies and achieve results with different techniques. So they were definitely looking for agencies who are playing, you know, in the new school.
Yeah, no kidding. But when did you start this loop club because you’re talking about there is a lot that’s changed in the last two years. Did you start before or during?
My first freelance client was April 2020. You were right.
So you were right as the beginning of all the changes then, with iOS 14, and with the pandemic like we were talking about. This is good dude, you didn’t have any old bad habits!
Yeah, exactly, and it’s actually been a huge thing for us. So yeah, iOS came into effect in April 2021. I was writing about iOS 14 in January 2021. Just back when no one was even thinking about it. 2020 was an interesting year, it was very easy to succeed in E-commerce, but the main problem was supply chain and inventory and all of that and, and customer lifetime value, like people weren’t coming back. So we’ve seen a lot of stuff and exactly to your point, these bad habits are very hard to unlearn. To the extent that like, if I am interviewing someone, and they’ve been in this industry for, you know, five or more years, I have to really drill in, I have to be like, okay, like, have you been working in the last two years? What has changed about your approach, because if they are attached to the old methods of working, if they talk about strategies they used to use five years ago, eight years ago, it’s very likely that they won’t be able to deliver results, and that they won’t know why.
Well, that’s the key, right? Most marketing agencies, and this is the difference between traditional digital marketing and performance marketing. You know, this is such a new world, and I’ve been saying this, you know, for years now, even before iOS 14, it’s like, why the hell isn’t there a marketing agency out there that will just say what they’re going to do? And then that’s their metric, right? If they actually achieve the results, then they get paid? You know, rather than just saying, we’re going to give you so many impressions, you know, we’re going to give you so many click throughs and everything’s like, that doesn’t matter. If I don’t make a sale, what does all the frickin impressions matter? In the first place?
Exactly. I think I was very lucky to work at mistakes. When I did it. It was as if they were really at the forefront of performance marketing, on Facebook, and especially in the, you know, in the 2015 2018 error, they really were very, very good at it and the best, the best people, there are some of the best people in the space for sure, and that’s the focus. It’s like nothing else matters. Except for driving revenue. Nothing else matters, and when you can actually focus like that, it informs every single action that you take. You end up just saying what you’re going to do and then going to do it and if you don’t do it, you’re just like we didn’t do, here’s why, and then you’ve tried to figure out another way around. Yeah, none of those. None of those other metrics really matter. No one cares how many impressions at the end of the day, and you can’t bank impressions.
Exactly. Yep. Or how many video plays you know. They watch all the way through the video, you know, when the drop off point is sure that I think those are levers to help you reach your end goal. But it’s not something to base success off of a campaign.
I got into a fight yesterday on Twitter, because someone asked a controversial question.
That’s the first line by the way, I just got in a fight on Twitter.
I got in a fight because someone was trying to stir the pot and they asked a question which they knew was controversial. The question was like, just say you write an ad, you post an ad, and it’s doing really well. That one has a typo in it, and they’re tight. It turns out that the typo is getting people to pay attention. Because it looks a little wonky. Yes, and the question was like, Yo, turn it off or not, and immediately, I was like, unless your whole job, unless your performance and your business’s performance is measured on how many words we wrote accurately in an ad, like scale at Forever, like to the moon, like there’s no circumstance where you would want to change that. Someone was like, “Well, you know, you need to calculate the predicted, you know, Goodwill loss of having a typo.” No, you don’t, have to do that.
Oh, it’s performing, oh, look over here, this perfectly spelled and grammatically correct piece of shit isn’t getting any kind of sales whatsoever.
Yeah, and I think for me, what, why I’m why I feel this way is because I used to be a musician, and is, as a musician, you are constantly negotiating the distinction between your art project and your business, because you start doing it as an art project that is, you know, aesthetically important to you. You want it to look the right way, and you want it to feel like to you, and then eventually, unfortunately, you start running the business because you have to manage, you know, you’re on tour all the time, like you’re trying to make a living off what you’re doing all this stuff, and this job is not an art project for me. Like this is a business. Looks like I just don’t know what works. I think a lot of business owners and brand marketers come at it from the perspective of it being an art project, but they’re emotionally attached to it being a certain way to have a feeling about something. But if you just follow what’s working, yeah, you can keep following what’s working forever, you know?
Yep, you got it. Dude, I appreciate your perspective with us so much. You know, it’s something that I’ve been told, when I started building my personal brand five years ago. Now, that was one of the things I’m like, What’s wrong with all these agencies, you know, because they’re saying, Oh, we’re delivering all these things. I like it, but it’s not doing what I actually need. So the performance side is, I’m so happy that things are going that way, just as an industry as a whole, and you’re going to start to see some of these behemoths shift eventually, because dudes like you and loop club are going to start taking over the world.
It’s gonna be interesting. Sorry.
Yeah, no, you’re good, man. I’m just getting excited. That’s all.
Obviously, performance based marketing is not only around Shopify, right, do you have other areas that you dive into too? Or is that just the niche you focus on?
So we have a number of clients who aren’t on Shopify? For the most part that is bigger than Shopify, they’re enterprising platforms that built their own front end. You know, they’re doing you know, they’re doing a whole lot of things, I’m more than happy to work on those businesses. That’s a great time for me. I love working on big businesses that have, you know, dedicated headless stores, you know, they load fast, they like are responsive, they do all these things. But for the average mid market business, Shopify Plus is like, you know, it’s a great solution. It’s ideal, and we have so much platform knowledge and so much ecosystem knowledge, that it just makes it easy for us to win those deals all the time. But I would say more than that niche, like we have started focusing on specific verticals, even within the commerce, like, you know, we have a number of health and wellness and sports and outdoor brands, we know we can do a good job with them.
The number of pet brands, we know we can do a good job with them. We have a number of, you know, kids and baby products, or brands, we know all of these verticals we have experienced in and then once you get experienced in a vertical, it’s like, okay, well, I know, all of the content creators to call up. I know all of the copy that works. Like I know, like all the angles to use. I know, like, you start to know the language of the vertical, and that’s platform agnostic. Like I don’t care if you’re on Shopify, just sell supplements anyway.
I love that man, and you try to fit as you go through business, too. This is something that I learned from running businesses is that you tend to start out not very verticalized. But then it just starts, you end up gravitating towards things that you learn and whatever you settle on, and it doesn’t really matter. You know, I don’t think many people go into, if it’s an e-commerce business thinking, you know, what my vertical is gonna be pets, pet products, or whatever it is, you know, or like me, like, my vertical is gonna be law firms. You know, that’s not, that’s not how you go into it, you go into it, especially like going from a rock band, right? Needing to make some money or just broke, you know, with two newborn twins be like, I just need to put food on the table, I need to make sure that I have a roof over my head. So whatever money is going to come my way. That’s good for me right now, and that’s an okay place to start. As long as you have some sort of, you start to identify the signs along the way and say, You know what, I’m starting to become pretty adept at this niche over here. I think this is something like you focus and there is that shifting point to where you start to let all the others fade away, and then you start to focus on what you’re really, really good at when you find what you’re really, really good at.
Exactly, and because you can charge high prices that way, because you’re a specialist in that domain, you can be more certain that you can get results in an area. Someone actually had a really good tweet the other day that I really appreciate, which was someone I was talking about. There’s like a left handed stuff store online. I’m left handed. I’ve never bought anything from left handed stuff, but they would like to fix your stuff. So yeah, exactly. I don’t know the name of the soul. But like, think about it, because they only sell stuff to the right handed for left handed people.
What’s the percentage of left handers in the world? I can’t remember.
I think it’s like 10%.
Yeah, it’s low. I know that.
Yeah, something like Lefties the Left Handed Store, where everything’s the left hand. So if you think about stores like everyone else, you know, if you go to a normal store, you’re going to buy a pair of right handed scissors, like inevitably, they don’t even have to say right handed scissors. But yeah, this store by niching down by only servicing its left hand even though it sounds like they’re giving up 90% of the market. Right? They can charge higher and higher, they can have a higher price point. They have more specialized knowledge, they have a moat around them, because someone else would have to, you know, start a left handed store. They can specific right messaging that is very, very specifically targeted to their audience, and they can gather up instead of trying to get 2% of all of the right handed scissors sales in the world. They can try to get 50% of all the left handed scissors in the world and make so much more money, sir. I think it’s such a perfect example of why niching works. I just really enjoyed that tweet.
That’s awesome, man. Yeah, I love your perspective on this stuff. You’ve got there’s a stat that I have. I’m curious, and this is something people need to hear, because I think we’ve covered the journey pretty well. I appreciate you being very real and human today about a lot of this too, because there’s so much out there about marketing and E commerce and it’s just a whole bunch of hype. I feel that there’s a lot of hype. This is the real deal. Man, you are the real deal, Tim, I appreciate you. So 90% of your clients have increased their revenue by at least 100%. Right, which means 90% of your clients have doubled their revenue.
Yeah, I think it was probably in the last year that isn’t as true anymore. But suddenly in 2021 we were just running out of school. Yeah, absolutely.
What attributed to that, man, what happened to where they’re like, “Oh, my God, Tim’s a god.”
So I mean, there’s a few things that we do that are pretty fundamental so most of our clients come to us looking to grow fast, right? So you ready come in with the mindset and you already come in with the inventory and the preparation and product market fit, and then you come in, but what you’re missing most of the time are the things that get lost in a bigger agency or freelance, so people aren’t thinking about it. They’re really fundamental or really simple. Like most of the time, your creative, what you’re running on as a as an ad is not as engaging as it should be, or it’s not as clear as it should be, or it doesn’t sell the product well, or it’s not, you know, employing like methods of getting people to pay attention. So psychologically interesting. That’s your normally the first thing so you fix that, decrease the cost per click, and then all of a sudden, you know, you’re playing an easier game, you’ve just made your game easier, then the second piece that’s usually bad is the landing page like way you send that traffic to. So most of the time, if it’s been written by a brand, I mean, I do this, when I write my landing pages, they become confused, they become jargony, they become, you know, as if someone already knows about the space because I don’t, I do it all day, I live and breathe this stuff. So like, if you were trying to explain it to someone who hadn’t done it before, you’d probably do a bad job.
So the second thing is, you know, readjusting the landing pages in the site experience to make it easier for someone to purchase. Then the third thing is getting over those old habits. A lot of the time, a lot of the time, I’m looking at accounts, in paid media accounts every week that are spending well over $100,000 a month, that are very, very poorly optimized, and by that, I mean Rabin run as if it’s still 2015, some media buyer who hasn’t like been on the internet since 2015, apparently, who just everything looks really bad, like a lot of wasted spend a lot of you know, not even best practice, it’s just not even like, not even how it should be not thoughtful. So there is usually, you know, 20 to 30% efficiency on the table, in any given account, see, grab that, make the creative better, make the landing page better, you know, fix the offer a little bit, and then you can move really fast. Like, that’s everything. There’s nothing else to it, and I think the reason why we’re able to do that effectively is because a lot of media buyers just don’t think that way.
They just open a Facebook ad account or a Google Ad Account, and they just click around in an old day, and they assume that the answer is somewhere in the data, or somewhere in like, Okay, I’ll find some sort of technical solution to this problem. The problem has not, not nothing, almost nothing to do with technology, almost nothing. It’s about how well your message is resonating with people and how easy it is for them to make a purchase. Once that message resonates.
That’s beautiful, man. You’re inspiring me today because this is great. I know you’re gonna keep crushing it brother. Looks like we can connect with you on LinkedIn. Tim Keen, right? Where can we go to my book club? What’s the address?
Beautiful brother, that I’m impressed, man. I mean, you’re gonna keep crushing it. You know, it’s great that you found such success in such a short amount of time. I think the pandemic was also just a huge blessing for you. Because you started right then in there, man. That’s amazing. Keep crushing it and I want to introduce you to a couple people that I think could probably help the brother. Thanks for coming on the show today.
Thanks for having me. It’s a pleasure.