A Kiwi Original

A Kiwi Original - Grant Johnson | Rocketspark 042

August 13, 2020 Season 3 Episode 42
A Kiwi Original
A Kiwi Original - Grant Johnson | Rocketspark 042
Chapters
A Kiwi Original
A Kiwi Original - Grant Johnson | Rocketspark 042
Aug 13, 2020 Season 3 Episode 42

Beautifully simple websites by Rocketspark. Kiwis are DIY’ers and that often applies to websites too. Rocketspark makes websites fun again and Founder Grant Johnson shares how the restrictions of Covid-19 has resulted in a resurgence in businesses wanting to reflect what 2020 Kiwi consumers expect, the customer stories that speak to the impact Rocketspark has been having and why Grant gets a kick out of helping business owners have a better life.

TIMESTAMPS

2 mins 40 secs Using lockdown to focus on marketing and website development. 

3 mins 23 secs The productivity that digital brings and the scheduled ordering feature Rocketspark built for takeaway ordering businesses.

4 mins 22 secs Nick at Elspeth bakery and selling out a whole day’s bake in less than two hours thanks to ecommerce and the pipeline certainty that has helped his sisters bakery reduce waste.

5 mins 13 secs Connecting up with delivery systems, stock management, book-keeping and online booking to make digital more than just a brochure.

5 mins 33 secs Setting up Timely for better bike scheduling at a bike repair store. 

7 mins 22 secs The importance of storytelling with digital and how technology can actually be simple.

9 mins 50 secs Riding the wave of manufacturers going direct to consumer and what’s happening overseas during Covid.

16 mins 8 secs What Grant Johnson saw in New Zealand when we returned to New Zealand and why ecommerce should be a progression of development rather than a massive upfront investment. 

19 mins 55 secs Solving more interesting problems as your ecommerce business grows, why capturing the customer insights is so important and the Layby story. 

23 mins 31 secs ‘Green valleys not Silicon Valleys’ with the Rocketspark team of 17 hailing from Cambridge, New Zealand. 

24 mins 26 secs What attracts software talent to Rocketspark and what keeps them.

26 mins 26 secs The talent of New Zealand software developers and how XeroCon is a showcase of what Kiwi software coders are building. 

29 mins 44 secs The marketing software stack, the first two SaaS software purchases of Dropbox and Xero… and what Quotient software does for businesses.

32 mins 40 secs What’s coming with Rocketspark and the new lightning bolt feature that guides Kiwi businesses by creating the SEO text for you to automate key pain points. 

36 mins 40 secs We get techy with search engine optimisation.

41 mins 58 secs Helping clients keep search rankings when you’re migrating your site.

49 mins 10 secs The rule of seven (or 13?!)

50 mins 16 secs The race to digitise and why Rocketspark’s purpose is getting a kick out of having a better life.

52 mins 31 secs Hiring more developers as Rocketspark grows through 2020. 


LINKS MENTIONED

Rocketspark - Online Store Builder

The integrations Rocketspark supports

Search Engine Optimisation Guide for Rocketspark SEO

How to build a website click by click







Show Notes Transcript

Beautifully simple websites by Rocketspark. Kiwis are DIY’ers and that often applies to websites too. Rocketspark makes websites fun again and Founder Grant Johnson shares how the restrictions of Covid-19 has resulted in a resurgence in businesses wanting to reflect what 2020 Kiwi consumers expect, the customer stories that speak to the impact Rocketspark has been having and why Grant gets a kick out of helping business owners have a better life.

TIMESTAMPS

2 mins 40 secs Using lockdown to focus on marketing and website development. 

3 mins 23 secs The productivity that digital brings and the scheduled ordering feature Rocketspark built for takeaway ordering businesses.

4 mins 22 secs Nick at Elspeth bakery and selling out a whole day’s bake in less than two hours thanks to ecommerce and the pipeline certainty that has helped his sisters bakery reduce waste.

5 mins 13 secs Connecting up with delivery systems, stock management, book-keeping and online booking to make digital more than just a brochure.

5 mins 33 secs Setting up Timely for better bike scheduling at a bike repair store. 

7 mins 22 secs The importance of storytelling with digital and how technology can actually be simple.

9 mins 50 secs Riding the wave of manufacturers going direct to consumer and what’s happening overseas during Covid.

16 mins 8 secs What Grant Johnson saw in New Zealand when we returned to New Zealand and why ecommerce should be a progression of development rather than a massive upfront investment. 

19 mins 55 secs Solving more interesting problems as your ecommerce business grows, why capturing the customer insights is so important and the Layby story. 

23 mins 31 secs ‘Green valleys not Silicon Valleys’ with the Rocketspark team of 17 hailing from Cambridge, New Zealand. 

24 mins 26 secs What attracts software talent to Rocketspark and what keeps them.

26 mins 26 secs The talent of New Zealand software developers and how XeroCon is a showcase of what Kiwi software coders are building. 

29 mins 44 secs The marketing software stack, the first two SaaS software purchases of Dropbox and Xero… and what Quotient software does for businesses.

32 mins 40 secs What’s coming with Rocketspark and the new lightning bolt feature that guides Kiwi businesses by creating the SEO text for you to automate key pain points. 

36 mins 40 secs We get techy with search engine optimisation.

41 mins 58 secs Helping clients keep search rankings when you’re migrating your site.

49 mins 10 secs The rule of seven (or 13?!)

50 mins 16 secs The race to digitise and why Rocketspark’s purpose is getting a kick out of having a better life.

52 mins 31 secs Hiring more developers as Rocketspark grows through 2020. 


LINKS MENTIONED

Rocketspark - Online Store Builder

The integrations Rocketspark supports

Search Engine Optimisation Guide for Rocketspark SEO

How to build a website click by click







A Kiwi Original 043 Rocketspark.m4a

[00:00:10] Grant Johnson is the founder of Spark, and he's on a mission to make websites fun again.

 

[00:00:18] We generally get a kick out of helping people have a better life. So if the business is running smoothly and the more successful in reaching a potential, we get a kick out of that.

 

[00:00:26] Grant follows that up with some real examples from a bakery, a bike repair store, hospitality business and Kiwi manufacturers through connecting up to this productivity way of building websites for some of them that transition their business from being kind of barely viable.

 

[00:00:44] But then you get an interest. And suddenly they had the capacity to start investing into the business and hire in some of the good stories that I know why New Zealand Made people are going to be licenses. And it's just cool to see their businesses evolve and and with the neighborhood that as well, through the listening intently to what they're asking for.

 

[00:01:09] We talk about the marketing software stack, some of the things that are coming out from Rocket Spark to help with search engine optimization and Grant's thoughts about Kiwi software internationally as people walking around.

 

[00:01:23] But my Kiwi accent and logo, what is it with all your Kiwis here? You know what you do? Great software. And my here and I was like and they were right there was deemed would be there and we were there and we were just so many software companies there as well.

 

Ryan: [00:01:44] Let's start with recently. How has that shifted or grown or what does that enabled us to do in terms of the beautifully simple websites that you create?

 

Rocketspark: [00:01:56] Well, as a website builder, it's been fantastic in terms of our local businesses making it simple for people to build their own site, and when New Zealand and countries around the world in the markets that we're in with all these restrictions coming into play. Suddenly their digital presence, the digital presence of small businesses became so important. So businesses that for years and probably put off getting website or really investing into the website was suddenly right up for it and hospitality businesses that may have just had a Facebook page and even busy people that hadn't done much. Like we had accountants and bookkeepers, which are quite a key customer segment. We had quite a few sign up during lockdown because they're using that time where they weren't sort of meeting with clients and they were still digitally, but that efficiency that they had, they were actually focusing on some of the marketing activities as well.

 

Ryan: [00:02:49] So that's great to hear because that part we hear that small businesses in particular are time poor. Whereas challenge that to a certain degree to say that you become time poor if you don't have the right productivity or efficiencies in play. And technology is a great unlock for that. With those businesses you were talking to, like the accountants or like the hospitality businesses, what is that productivity piece that goes beyond just building a website for them?

 

Rocketspark: [00:03:23] Probably in the hospitality piece like this is a feature that we actually turned around really quickly for them was a feature called Scheduled Ordering, where they could set the hours of operation because a lot of them where they wanted to trade, when they say in the New Zealand context reaching level three, they could start to trade. They couldn't stay have people in their restaurant or cafe, but they were taking text messages or phone calls and taking orders. And that was only when they were open for business. So we set up this feature and we turned around really quickly, sort of based on the feedback where they could set the hours of when the food could be ordered and delivered or picked up. And so they just opened up so much efficiency in terms of they could take orders all through the day and night.

 

Rocketspark: [00:04:06] Probably one of my favorite ones is actually my sister-in-law, who has a lovely bakery in Mount Maunganui. And I've been talking to them for ages and then just pestering them, hey, I'll even give it to you. And they've got an information website and then we sat down on a Sunday afternoon and in a matter of hours, put this e-commerce  website together. And but they then did one Instagram post and they sold out the whole day's bake, I think it was in less than two hours, so and they were like "whoah, this is something that's something new there".

 

Rocketspark: [00:04:42] And they could take orders and had some certainty because when they're making sourdough loaves, that take two days to make to have that certainty of what their pipiline is. It was just a whole different realm and then probably connecting some of the tools. There's also sort of some great New Zealand software companies like Xero that we connect them into so then when you start getting orders and what we find is once people start getting momentum, they start looking at the processes that they can connect up with, such as delivery systems or Xero for their bookkeeping side of things or stock management or online booking.

 

Rocketspark: [00:05:21] And actually I was in a bikeshop yesterday with one of our clients and they implemented a system, also made in New Zealand called Timely for hair and beauty but they've set it up scheduling and booking in a service of your bike and when they set that up they see their rate of people booking in for service increased.

 

Rocketspark: [00:05:43] And then after lockdown, the rate of people looking online was a whole step change in terms of people using that service on their website. Yeah, quite fascinating. Obviously, there's a lot of sad and bad stories and doom and gloom, but it's also fascinating seeing that fundamental shift in the way people do business and consuming. 

 

Ryan: [00:06:05] Those are two really good examples. Grant, I like that it's moving it beyond the 'you should get an e-commerce website' to more this is a tool that can increase your productivity and also give you forecasting in the example of your sister's business to reduce wastage and in hospitality is very narrow margin business.It all comes down to management of waste and efficiency of staff provision. And that example with Timely you gave is that's about utilization of expensive resources, which as humans are. 

 

Ryan: [00:06:44] With Rocketspark, you're obviously more than just that the website builders. There's a real integration piece there. What's the business case for like, how do you engage with businesses, what's the start with the thinking? Well, do I need a website? Because this one's fine and it looks OK. How do you get them to make that shift when it is difficult to kind of show the other more broader benefits than just brand and marketing?

 

Rocketspark: [00:07:20] I think storytelling is so key to that, and it's something we're kind of learning and and getting better at is actually telling the stories of their peers or competitors that I are basically doing that same thing. So the number of times I've retold that story of Nick with a bakery called Elspeth that they gained just from adopting this technology and the efficiencies that they could get. So I think storytelling is probably a key, a key part of it in terms of  introducing people to what's available, I think probably another part is just making it really, really simple. So people will often look at technology is as complex. And just by breaking it down into really simple steps and it's probably an area that's our strength, is making the complex simple and we're pretty fanatical about making it simple and accessible so that they do adopt. I was talking to somebody yesterday that said 'if it wasn't running Rocketspark, I'd be running a business that connected small businesses with technology, because I think that's such an opportunity in that area. And no ones kind of really nailing it in terms of assisting small businesses to do that really well.

 

Ryan: [00:08:32] You're exactly right. Is that there are business owners that fear to shift or have a perceived time deficit to be able to invest the time. There are consultants out there that will do it for you and some are very effective some of the time. I've been one of those and some are less effective, but none drop the knowledge off in the business and doing it side by side with the business owner, that model has I believe it's got some merit. And, you know, we've talked about this before is that there's fifteen hundred New Zealand manufacturers. They all, in my view, should have some type of direct to consumer play because the Internet a thing. Mange channel conflict... What would be your message to that cohort of organizations that are really good at making stuff and really good at making it efficiently, productively, profitably but the distribution part where web is an element, it's not their area. In fact, it's been someone else's industry, like retail, resellers, distributors. How do you make that shift where someone's a manufacturer?

 

Rocketspark: [00:09:50] I think there's probably a couple of things. One is with the world changing, I think it's this whole direct to consumer model has to become much more common, like even some really big international clothing, footwear brands like household names, international brands now have a direct to consumer model. And they've realized that with the whole distribution model compromised where people can't go out, that they want to pass to to sell directly, whereas previously it was just a brand site. So there's probably that aspect and probably the other thing. As our business started as a DIY website builder, so as a person I love DIY we've built a house recently and I've built the vanities and I love doing stuff myself but as we've grown with realized just the importance of bringing in people to help and experts to help and probably for that business that's really great at manufacturing and maybe not so great at the marketing side where they've got this fantastic product, but they're kind of hiding their goodness under a bushel an old fashioned term but their hiding the goodness, because they just don't know how to tell the story. So I think getting some experts in and there's probably one, I think they're actually a Buy New Zealand Made licence holder as well as Work From Home Desks. Fiasco was their core product was road cases for the events industry. So the big black boxes that have cables and things and in their words, 'that business was toast' because events just weren't happening around the world. US was a big market for them. New Zealand, Australia, they setup this business called Work From Home Desks and they set it up in a week where it's basically these kind of sit stand desks where they're flat packed and they're cut from plywood and using the same technology that they used to make road cases. But what they did was, was so that great at designing things and building things but one of their team was like a fantastic photographer and videographer. So they had that expertise in the team. But then what they also did was they engaged a partner company of ours to help them with their digital marketing and just to do some of the AdWords and social media marketing and just get some real expertize. And just you should hear them talk about their partner in terms of how they've helped their business. And so they invested significant money. But the growth that they achieved and I haven't caught up with them for probably a month or two, but in the early days, it was looking like it would potentially be a more significant business than the original business. And it was a business they turned around in a week or so. But yeah, so getting the expertise and over time where we started as this Do It Yourself website builder, we started getting more graphic designers and marketing, like marketing agencies and sales coaches that were like, can I use Rocketspark for my clients to help them? And probably now 50 percent of our business actually comes from those graphic designers. We call them our design partners. So someone will come to us and say, hey, could you design the site? And then we'll push it out to those design partners. And that's where they can come alongside and work with these manufacturers that are great at designing the product.

 

Rocketspark: [00:13:02] But we'll have someone to walk them through and recommend different connections that can plug together probably invest the money in expertise and the results. And I could go on all day telling the stories of people that were really surprised about what they achieved once they started selling online.

 

Ryan: [00:13:19] Let's talk about something that makes you different from a lot of website building agencies. Is this partner approach that you've got with the bronze, silver, gold levels. What are you doing with your software stack that is different from someone that simply builds websites?

 

Rocketspark: [00:13:39] Probably the key thing that they love and often they've come from that sort of traditional model of designing something in Photoshop or kind of software and then handing it over to a developer and the good developers are expensive and are booked up because they're good. And often the ones that are available and are cheap generally are the ones that your website just doesn't quite get over the line or that picture just doesn't quite load every time or so. They love the fact that they are in control of the end to end process so they can design the site because the build is so simple they can build it and then because they can ring us up on 0800 ROCKET or they can email into the support team and get help. And often that help goes beyond just the website. It's like, well, how do I get up the rankings or what email marketing system should I connect or what are some of the add ons where someone's in say the hair and beauty sector, what are some add ons to maybe streamline that? So I guess it's that support and probably before this interview I actually chatted to our Head of Partnerships to say, "I've been in this game for a fair while and he's been with us just over a year, coming up a year. And it's probably just that whole culture side as well in terms of we have a vested interest in seeing them succeed, but we'll bend over backwards to make sure they're successful. They appreciate that. They tell their friends. And it's just the simplest marketing around is just happy clients that feel well looked after.

 

Ryan: [00:15:14] I think I like what I like about your approach is that it does have this ecosystem play. You're not trying to do everything there's integrations with, looking at your website here, there's MailChimp for email, you've got Xero for accounting, Vend if you want point of sale, Afterpay, layby for payment options, TradeGecko and Gosweetspot and Zippay I haven't heard of before. How important are all of these to that ecosystem play. Do, do businesses connect those from day one or do you find that their building their website and then adding those other things over time as they get confident going from a brochure site to something that is more integrated with other technology platforms?

 

Rocketspark: [00:16:05] It's probably a mix of both, some of it, I think e-commerce is very much a progression in terms of as you learn more and particularly as you grow, it's just an the necessity of efficiency, like say if you're dispatching one to two parcels a day to handwrite some address labels and ship them out and so while running Rocketspark when I return to New Zealand, so it's based in the UK for several years, getting Rocketspark going in the UK and returned and actually saw the state of ecommerce in New Zealand. So I actually set up an online store selling natural pet food and baby wipes and so on and we would probably get maybe one inquiry a week saying, where is my order? And we were pretty good like If we work with a partner who is a wholesaler and already importing and distributing those products and so we became a direct channel for him. And one query a week saying where is my order, even though we were really reliable and when we integrated with GoSweetSpot, which is a system that as soon as you get the order, it pushes it through to GoSweetSpot, which is your delivery system, and they've done deals with sort of PosteHaste and New Zealand Couriers and companies like that. So you can choose the sweet spot of who has the best rate for where you're delivering.

 

Ryan: [00:17:18] Wow.

 

Rocketspark: [00:17:19] And you're not buying a book of sort of tickets and investing cash upfront, they invoice you the following month on their own terms. But our queries, this is the beautiful thing, our enquiries of where is my order? They disappeared. They completely stopped because GoSweetSpot also sent an automatic tracking to the client. A customer could just track the order themselves. And so it was just amazing and literally. The number of people that previously were not now, and it's just it's their business, we're sold that now, but they've continued on with GoSweetSpot and it's New Zealand Made software and a really great solution.

 

Ryan: [00:18:34] All of those little layers, and it gives you that one percent productivity or efficiency increase that on their own their inconsequential, but as you start to stack all of those up.. I think there's a British Olympic team in cycling that took this approach rather than trying to make it at the Olympics. And actually, in effect, they decided how do we just small things like how do we optimize perfection on getting the team to training? How do we make that as free and efficient as we do? They need to live to do that once they're there. What's the process of putting on all of the training gear? Where do the bikes need to be and what angle and what order? So what they're really doing is creating this this mode where is you are stacking on all of this complexity and getting comfortable with it. You have that. We're freeing up the athlete's body and mind to focus on the thing which is competing. And I wonder whether that's the that's kind of a metaphor for e-commerce, is that you don't have to do it all at once. But first, get started, make a sale online and make sure you choose something that's an ecosystem play. So as things become easier and you can then solve more interesting problems.

 

Rocketspark: [00:19:56] One hundred percent spot on as you don't have to do it all on Day One. It's really iterative and what we've found actually is we're pretty fanatical. I probably use that term way too many times, but really fussy about making sure we capture the customer insights so when someone contacts us and says hey, and this happened sort of a few years ago where people were contacting us saying we want to offer Layby, which is a New Zealand Made software Buy Now Pay Later, like AfterPay they've now launched in Australia and the UK. And we capture all of those requests in a software tool called Product Board and we capture those insights. And so then we do our fortnightly sort of roadmap review where we're kind of reviewing what we've done, where we're heading. And it just came up time and time again. And that was being led by the customers because they'd heard from other people and then so we integrated with Layby and we did a study. That we looked at a cohort in terms of that had 12 months of history with us and six months prior layby and six months post, the average increase was 66 percent in terms of their transaction value and the reality is because our clients are typically smaller businesses and getting going so it was sort for some of them it transitioned their business from being kind of barely viable but then you get an 66 percent increase and suddenly they had the capacity to start investing into their business and hire. Some of the good stories that I know are Buy New Zealand Made people in terms of their licence and it's just cool to see their businesses evolve and and we've enabled that as well through the listening intently to what they're asking for. So we don't always have all the answers, but by listening to what people want and acting on it, you can achieve a lot.

 

Ryan: [00:21:48] It's amazing. That's amazing. And it's great that the ecosystem has a company like Rocketspark to be able to help them along that journey because that growth, 66 percent for just one tool that I wouldn't have thought mattered that much. But I can imagine that when you have the intent to purchase you, motivation is high, the excitement is high. The price part is that is the moderating effect on that desire to purchase. And if you go to Layby and it's over four months, the moderating is going to drop by seventy five percent. So you can still get that domain of purchasing now without the domain cost can be spread over the few months.

 

Rocketspark: [00:22:36] Yeah, and we debated it internally and we sort of pretty ethical in the way that we run, are we stitching people up in terms of spending beyond their means. And it's actually like with layby, it's a six week, so six weeks and you kind of entering into that commitment with the view of paying it back, unlike, say, credit card debt or other sort of consumer debt where there's less of that finite time that you're paying it back. And if you're paid monthly, it's six weeks. You kind of covering two pay cycles. If you're paid weekly. Brilliant. And yeah, we just we saw the results with it and then our Australian customers were then asking us about AfterPay and then AfterPay is now in New Zealand and so then we integrated with them. And you can see momentum build off the back of that.

 

Ryan: [00:23:23] Let's talk about the actual software itself now, which is the development of your software take place.

 

Rocketspark: [00:23:31] It's kind of more Green Valleys than Silicon Valley's, but most of the team are in Cambridge in the Waikato and one guy working remotely in Auckland. So we're a team of, 17 people and the majority are in Cambridge. And all the development, so we take on graduates as well. So we're a good feeder in terms of and a lot of them have stuck around a long time and in terms of when they've come through and they've stayed with us. It's kind of nice where we have good relationships with some of the local, like with the University of Waikato and Wintech and getting to know AUT in Auckland as well. So that's a great feeder into our business.

 

Ryan: [00:24:15] What attracts them? How do you how do you attract them into your business, either through the the technology side or the culture side?

 

Rocketspark: [00:24:24] It's probably the technology and the story of where we've come from and we're we are heading that probably attracts them initially and then it's probably the culture that keeps them. I asked Jason our Head of Partnerships "What are the few things that if someone was interviewing you about Rocketspark, what would you say? And he said, "well, actually it's the top down culture" And I say, well, it's kind of strange here I am as CEO talking about this brilliant top down culture, but it was kind of nice that that was the thing that he recognised. And I guess we genuinely really care about the team. And it's kind of compared with corporate life that I've come from, which can be quite brutal at times. It's kind of just keeping things pretty human and just as genuinely caring about people and their well-being and looking after them, that we've just got a really long term team. And probably we also make the tough calls, which we didn't do in the early days of maybe when someone's not the right fit and probably in the early days we probably might be carried on a bit long. And now we've kind of been a bit more careful, I guess, in terms of if someone's maybe not the right fit in terms of capability or culture is going to having that conversation that we might have shied away from. And maybe it's not the right place for you. And I think as we grow and get more awareness it's becoming easier to attract talent because people have heard about us whereas in the early days it was kind of a bit of a punt for people to come in if they haven't heard about us. It's not long before I started seeing your name at the bottom of websites, the Powered By Rocketspark and some of the stories that we've told.

 

Ryan: [00:26:07] How good do you think Kiwis are at software development generally, like for the skills you are seeing coming through? What are we good at? What needs to be improved in the system and where do Kiwi's sit with software development?

 

Rocketspark: [00:26:23] I think we're very good. As an an external example of that, is that at XeroCon events which we've done in New Zealand and in the UK where they have the kind of main event for accountants and bookkeeper's and they have kind of like a trade show, kind of add-ons that connect them to Xero of which we are one of many and as people walking around they'd hear my Kiwi accent and go "What is it with all you Kiwis here? You do great software and you're here." And they were right. There was Vend would be there and  we were there and Xero, there were just so many Kiwi software companies there and I think one thing I learned from being in the U.K. is that it's so much easier to be anonymous in terms of the service that you provide and there are probably a greater number of sharks and rogues. There's a lot of sharks and rogues in the web game but it seemed like it was even a higher number there because you could sort of fade away and the odds in a country where they are sort of 60 odd million, I think. I was in London where there was 11 plus in central London, that you can disappear. Whereas in New Zealand, you know someone who knows someone, it's that two degrees of separation. So you've got to be good at what you do. And like in our hometown of Cambridge, it's a pretty high percentage of businesses that are actually on Rocketspark. And actually, one came knocking on the door yesterday and she was like "my email has been hacked, not through us, but the fact that we can, our reputation is so important in terms of being a small place. So I think that breeds good capability.

 

Ryan: [00:28:02] Are you able to capitalize on that reputation internationally as well as domestically?

 

Rocketspark: [00:28:09] It's harder internationally. Internationally, it's kind of more, I guess, just about being great, being the right solution for people. From my travels while I was based in the UK, we traveled a lot. There was a warmth towards New Zealand. It's pretty rare for someone, so I don't know if it every happenmed for someone to say "New Zealand, terrible people, terrible country" there is a warmth there and probably a trust in terms of New Zealand is known as a pretty honest and straight up country. So I think that's helpful. But it's more your products just going to be the right product and the service has got to be great and just look after them. We actually have someone that works a night shift like a late shift to look after the UK clients so that we're providing that level of support and if you check out reviews on like the Xero Marketplace or Capterra which is a great software review site, we're rated five stars for ease of use and five stars for support, which is and I know how hard it can be to even shift from four to five. If anyone's at 3 they're terrible if they're 4 their kind of OK and that takes a lot of work to get consistently five stars.

 

Ryan: [00:29:22] So it's more important then, at least internationally, to make sure that in those review sites that yoursoftware is being reviewed to be fit for purpose, for what you are claiming it's going to do over and above where the software is made or where the company is located.

 

Rocketspark: [00:29:42] Yes. When we started Rocketspark, one of our first subscriptions was probably Dropbox and then it was Xero and and now we spend thousands of dollars a month and we're still a relatively small business in terms of team size and that but we spent thousands just on software and we always look at what's the best software and that meets the needs. So it's great if it's in New Zealand but at the end of the day it's a business to run and we kind of look at what's the right software for our business. We use Quotient as well when we're doing quoting on any customizations and that's a great New Zealand software as well.

 

Ryan: [00:30:21] I've used Quotient. It's amazing to do proposals. You put your pricing in there. You've got you know, you can do annual monthly recurring a description of it, and then it handles the uneasy part, which is, OK, here's the quote. Here's the deliverables. How do you get that from a proposal to approved. In the old days, you do that via email or a meeting or signature. This puts a little bit of distance in there, but also enables your client to kind of change the proposal, doesn't it?

 

Rocketspark: [00:30:57] Yeah. Yeah, that's right. They could pick and choose what they get and part of our partner proposition is really educating partners that they may have just come out of a larger agency and kind of don't understand the best practice to running a business or they're that fresh out of university or design school and so introducing them to the right tools and that's one we often recommend, is just to get your quoting systems right and we don't design websites anymore. We put that out to our partner network but our account manager that used to do that job, when he got back to the office, he'd actually wait a little bit before sending the quote because he could actually prepare it so efficiently but he didn't want them to think that we hadn't really considered their business and what they wanted so that's why he just paused a bit because otherwise it seemed like it was just too fast and to good to be true.

 

Ryan: [00:31:49] And that's a good problem to have because you know that it's not the workload that takes the time. Now you're thinking about what is the right expectation to set your customer. All right, so we've talked about the Rocketspark part, we've talked about international, talked about how you don't do websites in terms of the development, you providing a platform. Usually with platforms you're always thinking ahead of, you know, what's the product lifecycle, the developments and the releases, what do customers want? What do we want? What's regulation pushing? So all of that kind of triangle of need is is there anything you can kind of give a future lens on what's coming up with Rocketspark that you're excited by?

 

Rocketspark: [00:32:40] Probably one of the ones that probably gives a bit of a sense of what we're doing with that, probably I may as well say it anyway, I think the best thing is just do stuff better. But we've just we've just launched that if you sign up to a trial from now on. And we haven't yet promoted it. But there's this little lightning bolt. And what it does is it actually goes towards and actually does some of the search engine optimization work for you and even generates the text for your website.

 

Ryan: [00:33:09] Wow.

 

Rocketspark: [00:33:09] So it's kind of countless the number of seminars and class we've done where we tell people, hey, this is it's actually really simple to get up the search rankings, but it's a lot of work. You just basically got to produce good content, which is such a key part of your role. And as you guys produce a lot of content and and really that's what it's about. But the number of seminars we've done, small businesses, they often just don't do the basics well. So we thought, well, actually, if we could use some artificial intelligence to do that for them and create what's called the title tag and the description, that is the thing that appears in your Google search results and also provides or checks have they got at least three keywords on the page? And then if not, generate the text to put three keywords on the page, that's automating a key pain point. And a gap, because it's just irritating for us when our retention is really good. But if someone leaves and they say the website wasn't effective and you look at it and they just haven't done the basics, and so that's why. And so that's probably what's coming down the pipeline for us is just a lot more so the AI machine learning stuff where it's just kind of automating the whole sort of design and build process where you're probably more checking stuff off that I'm happy with what the machines generate because it's going to take time to learn. But I like that. I like that. And that's kind of that whole automation. And it's. It's pretty exciting and for us it's a whole new product for us in terms of like a subset. And so we're actually sort of relearning almost going back to our grass roots in terms of the need to sort of test in a much more methodical way, because it's just a whole new proposition for us, so we kind of haven't gone all bells and whistles with the marketing because there's still things we need to refine. And, while, when we use it, it works really well for a customer. When they go, they think when we say plug in your keywords and they might plug in every keyword they can think of and we're thinking just plug in two or three. And so it's just making it really explicit. Plug into two or three keywords you want to rank for and let us do the rest probably long winded answer about the machine machine learning AI.

 

Ryan: [00:35:19] It's exciting because it solves a problem that essentially Google and these platforms have created, which is if you want to be found, discovered or at least available in the places that people are going to be searching for, the things that you sell or do, then here's all the Google buckets that you need to fill with words, images, videos. That's that's easy, isn't it? By words, images, videos, and there's buckets. And because it's hard to see. With the bucket is how big it is, what words, images and videos need to go in the buckets, particularly for business owners, because they're not physical buckets, the virtual buckets, and then they have silly names like MIDA description or robots. Don't text or make sure you've got your email image file was made it really difficult to created this entire industry that is basically just translating complex acronyms into simple term, which is just fill the buckets with stuff that allow Google to find what your business does. Old tags are for blind people, but they're also for Google so they can read an image, although the image processing with machine learning is probably probably catching up now. And these are these are basic things. These are like Web two thousand and three things.

 

Rocketspark: [00:36:46] Yeah. And I think with that, even those terms, which have obviously got a great grasp of sounds confusing and people think that it's complex. But probably a good example is when we're running the pet store and we sold this product called Nature's Miracle and it was a pet clean up because your dog or cat made a mess. And we wrote this blog saying, which Nature's Miracle product should I choose? Because there's a lot of a big range. And if you search for that phrase and hopefully it's still a few times, but in terms of  searching for that phrase, the business, pure and wholesome, was coming up, number one, in answering that key question that people are searching for. And then you go to the blog, which is helpful, and then it's by the way, you can buy this here. So all we did was answer someone's question that they were searching for and now we're ranking well, Just even for the brand term and actually we were outranking naturesmiracle.com for that particular phrase. So the brand would be something like outranking Rocketspark phrases about the website and I don't even build websites. 

 

Ryan: [00:37:51] And that goes strikes home the point that, you know, when you're thinking about, well, what content should I write, it's really thinking about over the front counter of your business. What questions do people ask you? So I know for NZ Made it is this product eligible? How much is the license fee? How long does license processing take? So the answers to those could be blogs, images, videos or all of the above. And then if you filling the Google buckets properly, those things will come up. It's it's not that hot. You may have competition against others that are filling buckets up at the same time. That's right. But I think the audience listening, who is thinking too hot? Just going don't look at what these Google buckets are. It's not a bucket as such. It's just look at all those terms and get a little bit of basic understanding around it because it's not that hard because, you know, you business, you just don't know how to put the different terms in the different places.

 

Rocketspark: [00:38:52] Yeah, you're spot in, we've actually written the book and they use it at the University of Waikato and Wintek for their digital marketing and e-commerce papers and it's called How To Build A Website Click By Click and we actually just methodically go through. Do this now, do this now to the alt text, make sure there's keywords on the page and just walk people through and one of our clients can back and their selling coffee capsule's. And I think if you search for coffee capsules nz, I think three of our clients are on page one. So they're up there with Nespresso and when I looked about a month ago on search pods. 

 

Rocketspark: [00:39:32] mycoffeecapsule.co.nz, tuatahui coffee capsules and a marketplace. Yeah. And so and actually they encapsulating that marketplace they're encapsulating New Zealand coffee in capsules so people can buy the coffee they like from a local cafe. But all they did like they're all DIY websites and they just followed step by step and they're up with the big players. And actually my coffee capsules, they were number one for a long time and they just haven't probably produced as much blog content recently and so it's probably a good lesson in terms of not being complacent. You've just got to keep producing good articles and good content.

 

Ryan: [00:40:25] I think one area that is a bit more complex and this is for businesses that that may be shifting from existing platforms, existing e-commerce sites to whether it's Rocketspark or another platform, is that moving house that moving digital house. I've seen too many cases where businesses don't provide a forwarding address to Google essentially shutting down their retail store and customers knocking on the door for the next six months digitally and no one's telling them where to go next.

 

Rocketspark: [00:40:57] No sign on the door.

 

Rocketspark: [00:40:59] Just get your 301 redirects! We've just gone through this with buynzmarket.org.nz. So we a lot of inbound link equity businesses linking to buynzmarket and we've shifted a lot of the listings on that to our shopkiwi.online. We've 301'ed all the category pages. There's probably 20 or 30 pages to let Google know, 'hey we''ve changed address so that people still searching for the old site or going to the site from a link, let's say like from Rocketspark to buynzmarket, we just redirect, which I mean, you know, this is that part of the conversations you have with customers is to preserve? Because particularly in manufacturing these guys have websites that haven't been touched sometimes since mid 2000's. There's even though they look bad, they have a stunning amount of link equity and stability. Do you do help them protect that?

 

Rocketspark: [00:41:55] Yes. So we use a software tool for different stages in the process we send different bits of information out to clients and we've got a guide. I think if you searched for Rocketspark, how do I keep my search rankings? there's a guide that walks you through setting up the redirects and how to do that process? And even before we had a tool that they could do it themselves, we used to have it just as a free support thing that people could email it in but now with the tools people can set up the redirects. But yeah, it's because it takes time it takes time to Google to see that you're an authority. And often when I'm looking at this kind of really good manufacturers websites they've invested a lot of money probably right in the early stages of websites taking off and they kind of look like 'ok job done.' and they're not mobile friendly which is just so even with Google you don't rank as well if you're not mobile friendly.

 

Ryan: [00:42:49] The other little one I know, this was going to get off on a tangent because I love talking about this stuff, is, I only learnt this recently, is if you buy a domain name for ten years, that's a signal to Google versus buying a domain for a year.

 

Rocketspark: [00:43:06] Really? No, I didn't know that. Yeah,

 

Rocketspark: [00:43:08] I think it's I a two hundred ranking factors and so you're showing that you're in for the long haul because I'll be able to see the next renewal date of a domain.

 

Ryan: [00:43:19] And that's the more technical side. And that's something that I don't think business owners need to even really look at. Again, it's that one of those one percent things. There are far easier, more low hanging fruit and it all revolves around investing in your own digital home. You know, Facebook and Instagram and Twitter, those are great places, but it's leased land. You don't own it. You can build whatever building you want on it. But at some point they might kick you off that land or your lease expire. Whereas if you're building on the web and open standards, it's freehold. And every piece of text and image and video you put on your freehold land will pay capital returns and it will just keep compounding returns.

 

Rocketspark: [00:44:08] Yes, you're in control of your story and your messaging and the journey through your site. And you mentioned about the content and the FAQ'S. Often we find clients will have the answers, which is to people's questions already in emails that they've sent out to people and that's just perfect blog content. So you can actually really efficiently just start with your top ten questions that you clients ask you, that your customers ask you and put each of those into an individual blog, but don't waste your potential with Google by having them as one big FAQ and put individual keywords in the heading, body text and even the subheadings on the page all go into making it. It can be done really efficiently.

 

Ryan: [00:44:52] We use the Drift Chat bot. So that's on site. So if anyone's going to question either in the once they're a license holder, you'll get a pop up. How can I help you today? If they're in the front end on the eligibility or pricing page for more than 20 seconds, it pops up on my phone and they ask a question. Those questions are automatically logged. So there's over 400 potential blog articles to write, videos to do. And you can use one question and so many different ways to populate content. It's simple, but again, it comes down to that time and the want and need to do it.

 

Rocketspark: [00:45:31] It takes time. We found even though we had the knowledge of these things, we just weren't getting it produced at a fast enough rate and so what we actually did was engage the friend of ours who is super talented writer, and and he started writing. We'd kind of give them a bullet point framework and then he'd go away and write that article and what it cost us maybe two or three hundred dollars for that article back then. And we started that program in 2013. And if you search for the phrase, say, the importance of the about us page on your website we're still ranking in the top three results. Again, my last check and the changes all the time. But for that result and the people that are searching for that are the ones that are likely to be building a website. We were getting probably averaging two hundred clicks a month of people coming through at the moment for 'website building' it's for about 14 bucks a click if you're actually paying for 'website builder'. So for $300 bucks and then also you convert a percentage off the back of it and that's 2013 when we started this.

 

Ryan: [00:46:34] And that's the smart way to do it, is you don't need to compete on the, there's a long tail and that fat end and is expensive in terms of cost per click. And with Google paid ads you're competing with your competitor on terms. If you got a little bit further down the tail with like the example, that question on the about page, you can get still get high intent traffic and maybe it's only 20 or 30 clicks a month. But if you convert three of those that's your return on investment for that $300 dollar article 7 years ago.

 

Rocketspark: [00:47:05] Yeah, yeah. Like the value for us because we have such good retention is several thousand dollars in terms of one new customer, even though they might pay us averaging around four hundred dollars a year. That value that you get just by looking after them, it's a long term.

 

Ryan: [00:47:24] So you've given away one of your secret insights because you never really hear about these things. I'll give you one of ours, which is this series for example, the A Kiwi Original, all of the videos that Hugo creates and puts on YouTube. We put in the company name so that if someone searching for Rocketspark on Google and YouTube is the second biggest search engine, if they look in the videos column, the NZ made video channel content of us talking, you'll turn up.

 

Ryan: [00:47:58] So we've done nearly two hundred of these videos now. So that's two hundred businesses that NZ Made will be in their ecosystem. And it doesn't necessarily work to high search intent for someone that already wants to become a license holder but has some questions. It's more a very broad brand play that if you're in an ecosystem of if you're searching for businesses and let's say four or five pop up and they're all in websites and you see one out of the five is NZ Made and you're an engineer yourself and you run a New Zealand Made engineering business, you're more likely to choose someone like you. So you want to see that that website agency is also New Zealand Made rather than imported or resold software. So it's hard in terms of tracking conversions. I can see it in five years time, there's thousands of these digital assets around there, it should shift the New Zealand experience for searching on Google.

 

Rocketspark: [00:49:03] Yeah, it's so helpful. It was sort of several years ago someone introduced me to this idea of the rule of seven in terms of someone not making a purchase until they've seen a brand seven times. I think now they're saying it's like the rule of 13 or 14 because of your Twitter and Facebook and digital. But it's that sort of idea. So it's valuable in terms of having these stories out there and actually the same partner manager that I was  getting some insights for this chat. He's like "can I get that video because that'd be great to hear from new partners to sort of see youtalking about about your business and so it's really valuable.

 

Ryan: [00:49:42] And that's a great side of it. And we could probably talk about this all day and we  probably shouldn't we should probably wrap up about here unless is there anything else  that I haven't asked you or something that you want to share both with the audience at that are Kiwi's that are interested in New Zealand business and what New Zealand Made software is doing at the moment, or for our base of fifteen hundred manufacturers who are really in this new race to digitise and sell online.

 

Rocketspark: [00:50:18] You did a great job of preparing, but one of the key questions is about the purpose in terms of why you exist and our journey has been interesting in the start of the journey was like, I'd love to build a subscription business where people signed up and became customers and I could go surfing and skiing and this could roll on and it was kind of quite a self centered sort of purpose. I did actually go surfing this morning, so it's kind of a little bit of that in there.

 

Rocketspark: [00:50:44] But as we've gone on, the purpose has become much bigger and I don't wanna make it sound too grand, but we genuinely get a kick out of helping people have a better life. So if their business is running smoothly and the more successful in reaching their potential, we get a kick out of that. And probably related to that is we've done a huge amount in the not for profit sector and social enterprises, particularly in New Zealand, but around the world, like as a friend in the UK is currently setting up a website to sell facemasks that are made in Malawi into customers in the UK and we get a kick out of that where we've supported them with the website and help to kind of get that going.

 

Rocketspark: [00:51:24] And just even in their hometown of Cambridge, there's so many and just around New Zealand. So, the key message is that in terms of what we do we're great on the helping people with their business, but there's a bigger purpose in what we're doing. So it's pretty cool and probably the other key thing is just actually if you've go to Rocketspark.com/ebook just check out that book because it's just such a great resource that walks you through from choosing a domain. Great content, photos, videos, social media and I think it's over a hundred pages, but some people print the whole thing out and just use it as a checklist to go through because it's that methodical and really a useful tool for the audience to use. And it's just a free resource that we provide.

 

Ryan: [00:52:14] I'll make sure that we include that in the show notes and on your bigger picture it certainly fits in with the theme for this show, which is uniquely Kiwi stories that are contributing to New Zealand's future. What your team in Cambridge are doing has a real multiplier effect for New Zealand businesses, because when you're building the infrastructure of the Internet, the architecture, it has this effect on all the businesses that that use it. So the things you are doing around the plug ins, the way you are thinking about it, beyond just the design and build of a website to make sure that there's productivity aspects, that there's incremental revenue increases, that's going to shift it for all New Zealand business owners that want to participate in the Web this way. And by gosh, you know, we've got 620,000 businesses and not enough websites that enable for e-commerce that are optimized to be found and that are delivering returns and I hope over the next few months that starts to shift. Covid has been the lightning rod for that and you deserve all the success that you get.

 

Rocketspark: [00:53:27] Thanks Ryan. I think we've created with a team of 17, two of those roles that were created in the last three months and we're currently hiring for another developer and more to come. So it's kind of cool that people support us as a New Zealand business and we don't expect this, if we're good that they would do that, but also then creating further employment and my customers And that's a nice thing, that circular economy and it allows us to accelerate what we're doing offshore as well. 

 

Ryan: [00:53:56] That's awesome to hear your story today, Grant, and thank you for your time.

 

Rocketspark: [00:54:02] Thanks Ryan.

 

Ryan: [00:54:03] Yeah, we'll get this up on the website and on the podcast and YouTube and practice what we preach and do the the transcriptions and descriptions and everything to make sure that Google and Facebook and Instagram and all of these other platforms are super happy with how we're distributing this.

 

Rocketspark: [00:54:22] Awesome, thanks for the work that you do it's really appreciated.

 

Ryan: [00:54:34] That's it for another episode of A Kiwi Original. Thank you for listening. If you've got value from this, please share it with someone you know on your social media to help build the audience for these people and businesses that we're featuring. Once again, thank you and see you on the next episode.