Batch x Levitate Foundry
Steph Liu is the Founder & CEO of Levitate Foundry, a Digital Growth Firm driving hyper revenue growth for top eCommerce merchants. Having worked with 300+ DTC brands in the last few years, she offers unique insights on how to acquire and retain consumers in the eCommerce ecosystem of 2022.
Levitate Foundry is the largest female-founded Shopify Plus Preferred Partner, having migrated a number of top namesake CPG/beauty/fashion/food/bev merchants to Shopify Plus over the last 24 months. Steph sat down with the team at Batch to dive deep on:
- How iOS updates are rewriting the growth marketing playbook
- Why every merchant should prioritize retention and replenishment
- The value in upgrading your store’s checkout experiences on desktop & mobile
How Brands Are Responding to iOS 14 Changes
Throughout the last 6–12 months, Steph has witnessed firsthand how iOS 14 has “changed everything” when it comes to best practices for DTC eCom marketing strategies.
As a full-service shop, Levitate provides services across user acquisition, retention, and lifecycle marketing. A large number of their client companies are subscription-based and rely on retention strategies to make sense of first purchase CPA.
As the privacy changes on iOS impacted the economics of acquisition, CPAs skyrocketed and ROAS plummeted. In response, Steph and the Levitate team doubled down with their customers to optimize post-purchase experiences, boost retention, and counteract the unpredictability of ad platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
Her team’s retention efforts have generally focused on simplifying the customer purchase funnel by removing sequenced checkout stages.
“Both acquisition and retention are all about convenience. If you build a flow where people can easily repurchase something, that’s what they’ll wind up doing.”
Why Retention & Replenishment Are Top of Mind
Focusing on retention and replenishment, Steph emphasizes that brands need to get more and more creative as their competitors adopt similar tactics and functionality across the board.
One emerging field that’s caught her focus is seamless automatic purchase and repurchase. Here, brands can leverage functionality like:
- Auto-Subscription — The product simply shows up. To stop it, the customer will actively need to seek out their options for pausing or canceling.
- Mobile Shopping — As 73% of e-commerce is now on mobile, and customers are spending more and more browsing time on their cell phones, brands are re-investing in mobile checkout optimized for smaller screens.
- Replenishment — Brands are creating numerous pathways (QR codes, email, SMS) for users to re-up on a product without adding a new subscription.
With this in mind, Levitate now recommends all of its clients to upgrade to Shopify Plus to enable conversion rate optimization (CRO) and testing at checkout points across both desktop and mobile.
Optimization of this kind involves countless UI levers — from the location of your buy button to the look and feel of your shopping cart. Everything can influence the buyer’s psychology and have an impact.
“It doesn’t matter if your AOV is $50 or $500. The objective is the same at the end of the day: Make your product as easy and seamless to purchase as possible.”
The Levitate Playbook: Checkout Mistakes to Avoid
Across the Levitate portfolio, Steph highlights two frequent purchase pathway pitfalls.
1. Speed (or Lack Thereof)
As the Levitate team has tested countless checkout experiences, they’ve found that there’s a tradeoff between getting customers to add more products to the cart and getting customers to actually check out.
Her recommendation is almost always to focus on speed, removing extra steps from your checkout, and optimizing for conversion.
2. Generic, Non-Targeted Flows
Optimizing checkout in unique ways across both desktop and mobile is crucial. In most cases, Steph sees most brands receive greater mobile traffic, but that’s not always the case.
For example, site traffic and mode of shopping are tied closely to user demographics. In the case of one of Levitate’s clients, they were tasked with reaching women aged 50 to 65.
- Most present-day digital ads hover around 12 seconds and are aimed at mobile.
- However, because of the target age group, Facebook ads and Pinterest are key.
- So for this client, Levitate created ads that were 45–50 seconds long and aimed at desktop users.
At the end of the day, you need to cater to your client and their audiences. Ask specific questions about your user persona to better allocate optimization efforts, such as:
- Where does my audience live?
- Where is this audience located virtually?
- Where is most of their attention devoted?
“Your audience is truly everything. If you have a highly targeted one, it becomes easier to create high-return, custom experiences.”
How to Upgrade Your Brand’s Checkout Experience
Steph champions maximizing the typically underutilized growth levers of checkout and post-checkout. Specifically, she highlights the potential of:
- Upselling — Suggesting more expensive products or upgrade options
- Cross-Selling — Suggesting products related to the buyer’s cart
She defines these two tactics as a checklist every brand should be considering at the checkout step of the consumer funnel to further drive AOV and LTV. In her words, ”After investing so much into acquiring a customer, you want to do anything you can to keep them engaged at checkout.”
The Levitate team regularly leverages its extensive client portfolio to conduct testing and gain as many industry learnings as possible.
Their most replicable findings so far, from brand to brand, come from the team’s CRO practice.
By putting Levitate clients on Shopify Plus, running A/B testing on purchase flows, driving traffic, and dissecting results, Levitate is able to get creative when optimizing a brand’s checkout.
A few of these solutions, which should be replicable across most — if not all — brands include:
- Utilizing auto-fill for customer info
- Implementing cross-sell, upsell, and drip
- Creating one-click purchase functionality
- Integrating post-purchase tools like Batch
- Offering different payment methods on desktop
“With these findings, we believe it doesn’t matter what your brand is or does. If you put in the work on these methods, you’ll reap the benefits.”
How to Upgrade Your Brand’s Checkout Experience
Looking at the array of brands Levitate has serviced, Steph notices a shared mindset that tends to foster business success: Founders and teams with growth mindsets are often more willing to relentlessly test new ideas and technologies, leading to deeper learning and stronger results.
A hustler mentality and an openness to experimentation are critical for any brand wanting to differentiate itself in the increasingly-inundated DTC market, full of both slow-moving legacy brands and an ever-growing pool of younger competitors.
“I love working with startup teams because I don’t have to convince them to try something that’s good for the business. They’re eager and willing to adopt it.”