In this episode host Callum McKeefery talks to Zach Rego, SVP of Revenue at Triple Whale , the company that bring the metrics that matter most into one easy-to-use dashboard, enabling you to get the real-time insights you need to grow your brand.
They discuss topics such as the role of e-commerce analytics, artificial intelligence in driving e-commerce growth, the evolution of the industry, and the importance of data access. Zach also shares some insights on Triple Whale's unique features like natural language querying for data access and their future plans, which include launching a forecasting feature. Towards the end, they talk about strategies for aspiring e-commerce entrepreneurs and valuable resources for learning
Books: Shoe Dog by Phil Knight
Acquired. FM: The complete history and strategy of LVMH
Ep. 33 - Zach Rego - Triple Whale (multitrack)
Callum: Welcome e commerce enthusiasts to another exciting episode of In Reviews We Trust podcast. I'm your host, Callum McKeefery And today we've got a true industry expert in the hot seat. Our guest, Zach Rego, brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the table as the Senior Vice President of Revenue at Triple Whale.
In today's episode, we'll be deep diving into the heart of e commerce success. analytics, attribution, and the role artificial intelligence will play in growing your e commerce brand. Thank you, Zach, for joining me today. Such a pleasure to have you on.
Zach: Yeah. Thanks for having me, Callum.
Callum: So, could you just explain for the listeners, what the original thinking was behind launching Triple Whale
Zach: Yeah. It's funny. Our, our original or our co founder's original thesis on, on triple whale was that DTC founders and marketers needed access to data. And my boss, our co founder [00:01:00] Max Blank was a store owner. Running a shop called Madison braids is doing about eight, eight figures in revenue and our co founder CEO, Ajay was his partner in that business, helping really run his marketing and Max.
I know exactly how it happened because I deal with it today. Max loves to pick at data. He just wants to kind of know things. But he'll just, he'll send me a WhatsApp, a WhatsApp voice message. And he'll be like, Hey, Zach, you know, how are demos trending today? He's got a dashboard. He's got all that, but he just likes to get access to data.
And I think AJ wanted to give him that access to the data, wanted to give him a dashboard on his phone that he could look at and say. You don't need to ask me. It's there.
Zach: So the original thesis was, hey, we want to give founders and marketers real time access to data about their marketing performance.
And that's now evolved into their product performance, their LTV, and how they can improve retention. And it's really kind of compounded from there. But the original thesis was [00:02:00] founders and marketers need real time access to data to make business decisions because D2C businesses are running 24 hours a day at typically pretty high velocity.
Callum: yeah, definitely. What's interesting about Triple Whale is that, one, I love the name, I love the branding around Triple Whale. It came to the market with such a buzz about it. probably the best product launch I've ever seen for a new, SaaS solution, to get everybody talking about you did such a good job.
So how's that, has your marketing, has the strategy changed now as you became more of a mature company, you've now raised a lot of capital.
Zach: Yeah, it's funny. I, I joined Triple Whale, we'll say about nine months into them starting the business, maybe a little bit less than that. And the reason I reached out to them was to actually to do a partnership because of exactly what you just mentioned, there was so much buzz around them. And I was reaching out to the same people to do partnerships, trying to get the same people to promote [00:03:00] us.
I was like, forget that. Like, let me just get in touch with triple whale and have them market with my, with, you know, unstack the company I was with at the time together. And they were like, we need a head of sales. It's like, okay, well maybe I will talk to you about that. Cause you're, you're, you're growing, you're getting leads like crazy.
I can just see the buzz around it. Rob Rob and team our original CMO did just such an incredible job of go to market and content creation and community. And I think that is. It's still so core to everything that we do is kind of the content and community piece. And, and Rob really instilled that in our, in our culture.
And that's been awesome. Where we've had to grow up is we need scalable things that we control. I think what we found was. YouTube video goes live and someone reviews us. That's great. And it gives us this wave of leads, but then it kind of diminishes. And I think DTC brands can feel this too. It's like, Oh, we got it.
Like we got this, we got this tailwind let's go. And then you can't sustain that. Or it's, it's hard to sustain it cause you need these constant [00:04:00] pops. So we obviously did what any, you know, SAS company has to do, which is we started implementing paid ads on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google, we tried Reddit.
We've tried everything. They all still go at some capacity, but not as much volume as they once had to. Content's still core to us. Our blog is getting really, really solid traction. And the other things we've done is tech partnerships. Tech partnerships have been incredible. To yeah, to the business and we're really fortunate in how you mentioned, like we had a great tailwind and we had a lot of people that were talking about us or working with us and we had a great customer base and a great community.
So tech partners that are much larger than us. Still wanted to do stuff with us because we had kind of the buzz, even though their email list is, you know, 10 times the size, we were kind of in this unique spot that I've never been in, where we had the buzz people wanted to partner with us, but we were still small.
Typically everyone wants to partner with you when you're bigger than they are, because they're [00:05:00] going to get more exposure. They stand to gain more. So that's been a big shift for us. Now we've got a great tech partnership team, a good ecosystem, and that's really, really helped us continue to scale.
Callum: How many is in that team, the partnerships team?
Zach: Tech partnerships is two. And then agency partnerships is another kind of ecosystem that was starting to be built when I joined, and we've really tried to harness that, and that's been a great kind of lead gen and, and referral source for us, and our agency partners are also doing a lot of our content creation with us, webinars with us, blog content, and that's, that's really been huge for us too.
Callum: And, and where's your, on your paid marketing, where's your, what's your main channels on that?
Zach: It's pretty close to 50, 50 between Google and Facebook, or I would say like 45, 45. And then the other 10 percent kind of goes into LinkedIn. We've tried to shift a lot more from Facebook over to Google.
Mostly, mostly because we have a lot more control. Yeah. We've also tried to launch. [00:06:00] Very specific tools or guides that we know there's good demand on, on, on Google, both from an SEO perspective, but also you know, from a from a free tool perspective, we actually launched like a GPT prompt builder.
That's tailor made. For the DTC world. So you can create subject lines. You can create a Instagram comment you know descriptions, headlines, et cetera, like we've really tried to build things that we know the market's looking for. And those have been. You know, really, really big wins for us from a, from a paid perspective.
Cause now we can bid on keywords close to what we're doing, but just outside and really provide value to the community, which has been, has been helpful as well.
So how much investment have you had already?
We're somewhere in the 50 million dollars in total investment.
Callum: So now that you've, they've had that investment, they've had that growth, that 50 million VC invested, has that changed the sales cycle?
No, I mean, we, we [00:07:00] definitely are bringing on more large brands. We were just announced that we're Shopify Plus certified yesterday. We're the only player kind of in our space that's plus certified. We're definitely bringing on bigger brands. That's way more from a maturity of our platform and feature set that is making us.
Zach: Able to go up market less around the funding. You know, I think we've got kind of 2 core cohorts that are that are our power users. And I talked about them at the beginning. There is the brands that are doing. You know, 500 K to 10 million where the owner operator is still probably the marketer or partnering with the agencies on the marketing and they're logging in on our mobile app heavy usage on the mobile app, which is crazy to see and then online, you know, very frequently.
They're usually daily active users multiple times a day. As you get to 10 million and up, we start to see that. Hey, there's kind of different personas that will use the tool. You know, there will be a media buyer at an agency. That's logging in [00:08:00] daily. There might be an operations person that's logging in weekly.
And then the founder or the president or whoever it may be. Is the using the mobile app and it's like a very different use case. Whereas like the smaller brands is kind of one person. He or she is a practitioner. They're actually working in the platform. And then as you start to go up market, we see like everyone's kind of got a home and they're viewing different things, but they're using them.
They're using the platform very differently than I think our original intention, which is, is great. We've learned a lot.
Callum: So what's, what's any new features that triple whale will be launching or what's the recent feature that they've launched? It'll be a, you think this is going to be a big hit for us.
Zach: Yeah, I think everyone thinks of Triple Whale as attribution. And it's interesting, like that, that was not why we originally built the business. Now it's core to for collecting first party data is core to what we are building, but attribution is not the end goal, [00:09:00] like telling you someone clicked here, then clicked here, then converted, like amazing, helpful.
But using first party data to tie. An ad to a product and being able to tell you which products best deliver sales for a certain or which ads best deliver sales for a certain product. Whoa, you know, that's powerful. We launched our product analytics tool and we're starting when we show that to people and you're like, hey, click here.
You can see your top 10 ads that drive the best contribution margin for that product. The gears start turning, right? They start to think, okay, well now instead of panicking and putting the product, you know, at a 30 percent discount to try to close it out before the end of the season, I can use this tool beforehand and go and crank up the dial on my ads to sell through a perishable, you know, if you're a CPG or a summer t shirt, if it's about to go into fall, those things are where we're taking the product is how can we collect first party data to better understand.
The customer journey and tie [00:10:00] the first click to the product or the last click to the product. And then the next piece and what we're really have spent a lot of time on two things, but I'll announce kind of one of them here. Tentatively is forecasting, which is in beta right now, which will actually allow you as a brand to do scenario planning, which I think as we go into the last few months of this year, and we get into December and everyone's kind of reeling from Black Friday, Cyber Monday.
Yeah. Being able to forecast for 2024 or at least Q1, not only, you know, Hey, let's do these scenarios. I'm going to spend this amount and here's how it's going to break down new customers, returning customers. Here's what we expect them to buy. Those things can really change the dynamics of how a business operates and e commerce business operates.
And we're able to do that because we can piece together the entire journey and understand the story of the customer. So I'm really, really excited about that. I think it totally changes. Our position in the market, and I actually [00:11:00] think it works for both of the personas are kind of groups. I just talked, but I think the founder owner operator that's still, you know, at a million or, you know, trying to get to 5, they're going to love that because it's going to give them the line of sight to go and attack and the confidence, hopefully to go and attack the bigger brands that operations person that that finance person.
They're going to dig it because they're going to be able to go in and plan with the marketers and the marketing budget in mind, which right now there's a tug of war in most of those departments where those folks are fighting against each other. So I'm really excited about that. I think it, I think it starts to really change our, our position in the market.
Callum: So, how does TripleWare work on its plans for the listeners? how does your billing plans work?
Zach: Yeah. So we charge off of your last 12 months. annual revenue. We want to be as aligned to your growth and success as possible. And then we've got packages. So packages are based on features. We've got our, our growth package. It's really focused on [00:12:00] acquisition and analytics. That means you're going to get our pixel.
It helps you track all of your paid media span, where you should be scaling, where you should be turning budgets up or down, and then our, our dashboarding and summary, which is a full no code analytics solution. You could think about it as a replacement for something like a Supermetrics or probably an Excel or Google Sheet right now.
And that allows you to create custom metrics and in real time, monitor the performance of your business all the way down to net profit which is really powerful. Then we've got our pro plan, which brings in a lot of the LTV tools and retention tools. And then our enterprise plan, which brings in a lot of the ops the product analytics type tools and forecasting will be a part of our enterprise plans.
We've got three packages that really people kind of grow throughout. We see a lot of smaller brands kind of starting with, Hey, I'm just. I'm just trying to invest and kind of grow and report on my business. You just need something that can help me figure that out. And you start to scale and you're like, okay, I've got a customer list.
Now I need to figure out LTV and like really start to think about how I'm creating retention and product journeys and [00:13:00] card analysis for bundles. And then they grow into, Hey, I need an API and I need to get all this information into a data warehouse. So we see that progression happening in real time.
It's, it's really quite fun to watch.
Callum: how does the revenue, what do you do? Do you have a base, base prices, and then the revenue of the previous year affects that base price?
Zach: Yeah. Yeah. So there's both a package price and a revenue tier. So as you grow revenue tiers, you know, you, you can, you can go up in price and then at any point you can choose to upgrade your plan to another plan to unlock a certain features to kind of two vectors by which you grow with, with triple
Callum: Yeah. So how, obviously we've seen this massive change in the world in the last 12 months with AI, open AI doing some amazing things.
And how do you see that playing in the industry that you're in the, the, the analytic and the, data that you guys have got, I imagine that AI could, could do some amazing things with that
Zach: Yeah, so we have a tool [00:14:00] that we've built and customers are using it. That is a natural language querying, which basically allows you to chat with all the data we've collected about your business. So that's step one is how can we, again, the original thesis was let's make data super accessible that maybe marketers or founders are not getting access to today.
We talked about the data warehouse, right? Like I used to have access to Tableau. At my last company, and I would sit at my computer and like be like forget it. Like, and I would just walk away, right? Like, cause the queries I needed to create were well above my pay grade. I'd end up just doing it in sheets and creating the formulas and going.
With our natural language querying, you can actually just ask it a question and it'll give you a data set and a table. And then you can turn the table into a charter graph. So we're actually starting to build a lot of that into. Triple whale and again around the original thesis of how can we make data more accessible to you know, DTC founders and marketers and that's been really fun to watch.
We've worked with our largest clients, nine [00:15:00] figure brands to sit with their teams and say, what would you ask this? You know, this bot, if you could ask it a question and we'll beat our head against the wall asking it because you do need to train the model, which is super challenging. And AJ, our co founder and CEO is crazy about this stuff, but he's all hours of the day asking it questions, trying to figure out where it breaks and how to make it better.
And we're building some really incredible dashboards that are giving. These brand that are using data warehouses access to the same data, but at their fingertips instantly and in real time, which totally transforms their business, especially when you're a nine figure brand and you're investing millions of dollars a month in ads.
I mean, these orders are coming in every second and the dynamics of the business can change pretty quickly throughout the course of a day. So that is that's one way we're, we're building it in. And then we use it as an internal team all the time. Like we upload all of our reviews into chat CPT and ask it to find any [00:16:00] trends and how they talk about certain things.
Just cause we, as marketers and our marketing team, like. We want to speak like our customers, you know, like we want to change the way we talk about the product to talk like we assume they're going to call it this, but they call it that. And you're like, Oh, shoot. Like we missed the mark, but that's fine.
Let's learn. So we use it all the time just to, just to create things the best we can.
Callum: data. That'd be so amazing. Just one thing you were talking about there that you could actually literally create a dashboard of a natural language query. Imagine doing that, saying, right, show me this in the view of a dashboard with this, this, and this. Yeah. Now save this dashboard. It saved it. You get a link, you throw that up on your screen, and I mean,
Zach: You can do it right now in triple whale. It's pretty cool.
Callum: that, that's just, just brilliant. I is that a product that you're marketing at the minute?
Zach: We are not marketing it yet. We have it in, [00:17:00] we opened it up to customers to again, feed. the questions really and we got tens of I don't know tens of thousands but in the four to five thousand questions asked we took all those and then we started sorting out the model and that's where we're at right now to the point where like we've got it down to 50 customers that are using it regularly and then we're meeting with those top 10 kind of again nine figure plus brands that we are just saying like what would you want here and then we Internally, actually, our CEO is banging his head against the wall, getting it to spit out the thing, the dashboard and making it but that's how we're training the model to the point where we'll be able to create templates that anyone can access for their own brand, or if they want to change it there is kind of a sequel builder in there where you can go in and actually modify the query yourself if you know what you're doing, or you can ask it more questions to build upon the original chart.
So. You know, I can take a template and turn it into the next iteration that I needed to do. I can do [00:18:00] that today, even in its current form. We really want to get it to where you ask it a question, you get the result you want. It won't always be perfect as we know with even, you know, open AI. But the goal is that it's, it's super usable for the majority of the templates.
We know people are trying to access.
Callum: So at reviews,We've now built ChatGPT into our dashboard, and you can now do generative AI, and you can ask it questions, the one question was
which products in our top 10 selling products, gets the most negative reviews and why and it'll say, because damaged packaging, damaged packaging, damaged packaging.
we're pulling out some really good data. Obviously, it's difficult with OpenAI to put so much data into it. It is getting better. I do worry that the costs are going to go up on AI eventually.
I think they're going to. I think they're going to come down, come down, come down, come down until they've got everybody using it and [00:19:00] then they're going to go back up again, when they start, wanting to build the real business behind this. I think things will change there, but it is, it is amazing.
Zach: Yeah. Yeah. I'm also super excited about the use case for agencies too, is, is giving agencies who have. Never loved their reporting suites. I've worked with agencies for 12 straight years and I've never heard anyone be like, I love how I do reporting today. But giving agency account managers the opportunity to go in and ask the question that their customer asked them, get a chart and graph that the CEO can go and understand very quickly, fire it over.
Like that changes the game for an agency account manager. And it takes out, it takes out a lot of that, that stress or running around trying to get to the data which I'm, I'm pretty excited about for them.
Callum: It is awesome. So, how do you see the industry evolving over the next couple of years, obviously, Since the explosion in Triple Whale, there has been a couple of brands, Challenger [00:20:00] brands coming up
Obviously, you've got Northbeam as a competitor. They've always been a competitor. And now we're starting to see smaller competitors coming into the market.
How do you see the market evolving in general?
Zach: We have competitors. There's no doubt about that. Do we, you know, and there's enough business to go around for all of us. They are. Some of them are very good tools. I think we have. A different take on the future of e commerce and, and marketing and how you operate a business. And I think that's, what's very different about how we're building than how anyone else in our space is building.
Now they're welcome obviously to copy things that we launch and I think it'd be very challenging for them to build a natural language querying tool similar to what we have because we've been dedicating time to it for months before OpenAI. I mean, we've, we've been at this since. About the day I started maybe a little bit after so it's not something that's, you know Being spun up over the course of a couple of months [00:21:00] you know, I think the other thing is I said this early on like attribution is not it's it's not like a that's not a business.
That's not a big business It's not something that you should like we don't want to build our business around Attribution for digital marketing. Like we want to build around giving marketers and founders access to as much data about their customers that they own that they can take action on as fast as possible.
And I think that's going to be really important for the future of our business and our customers success. I think the other thing is there's going to be inherent privacy challenges forever. Apple will continue to move. The goalposts on what they believe, whatever they think makes them look the best, even though they're collecting more data about all of us than anyone else.
And they will one day roll out some ad platform that does everything. But, you know, we, we are really thoughtful about that and really focused on that and don't want to build with [00:22:00] that as like the backbone of everything. IOS 17, like if I'm a brand right now, I'm being thoughtful about iOS 17 because there are changes that they are making.
That should change how a brand operates, even if they feel minuscule because they're only going to impact private browsers and only going to remove Google Click ID and Facebook Click ID. That means you should be setting up CAPI solutions. That means you should be setting up manual UTMs on everything that you do because one day.
It won't just be on the private browser. I can guarantee you this is a test and they will then roll it out to everybody. So I think you gotta, as a brand, you know, I really think staying focused on the market and these changes that people are making so you don't get caught creating content that you own is really powerful.
I'm seeing more and more, you know, kind of eight figure brands owning. Sites that are not their site, but owning content sites that are not their site that they're driving their Facebook [00:23:00] ads to or their Google ads to, or they're just search ranking on SEO for them. And like, I'm a brand I'm looking for a blog that is doing some relative volume.
That is not my website that I can go buy or some own media that I can create that allows me to have a channel that I own that is driving the day. I'd be, I'd be really thoughtful about some of that stuff as a brand today. Content community, similar to how we've tried
Callum: I was going to say communities plays into that. You see, you see the community that some brands have built. I was actually looking at Sephora a couple of days ago. And the community that they've built around the brand, I think they've got like two, 2 million members in that community and, and the posts just, you know, like it's not living within another platform.
It's living on Sephora site on their own.
Zach: Oh, interesting.
Callum: So it's not living in Twitter [00:24:00] or Discord or Facebook. It's actually living on their site. So it's actually quite clever what they've done. And you don't see many brands doing that. They're building a community. Generally, it's off platform. And like what you're saying is, you know, buying that, buying that blog that's got traction and got that community already is a great idea.
But I also think even better is to build your own community on your own site with your own members and keeping them in the system. Loyalty systems do this a little bit, they don't really let you know, peer to peer transfer of ideas. I think a lot of brands are scared of that because it can get out of control.
You can make a misstep and that community can turn again. I think for some brands that it is definitely what they should be doing. They should be nurturing those people. There has been some changes actually by the FTC about communities and giving [00:25:00] communities products to gain testimonials and reviews.
So bizarre voice. Mm-hmm. is one of our competitors, and one big part of their business is that they, they, they do a lot of sampling, so they send products out to people, ask them for a review. So one of the big companies that they used was Dyson and Dyson, send vacuum cleaners out people on new products, got some reviews in, put them on their site.
Well, then they're not really genuine reviews because they've been given these vacuum cleaners. Yeah. There's no value exchange early. It's not true. Well, the FTC is going to ban that. Interesting. So the FTC seems to be playing a bigger part in the, in the review and the testimonial space. Which I think is actually really good.
All the moves they're making are really positive,
So talking about like going. Back to what we were talking about before with AI, have [00:26:00] you used any other good tools
to improve what you're doing
Zach: Yeah. Like I said, we use, we use chat GPT for analyzing reviews, analyzing how customers talk about us in mass. We do that for churn surveys as well. So anytime someone churns, we try to collect all that data. I use it to build free tools. So I use it to build a contribution margin calculator that we'll be putting on our website as an embed.
I'd love to know how to code. I don't. I know how to chat with chat GPT and it can get me pretty darn close and I can send it to someone that can make it look nice. So we try to use it in those capacities as much as we can. Anytime we can speed us up. We use it for content briefs. So creating content outlines with H1s, H2s.
You know, some bullets on things that we want to talk about those have all been really helpful in speeding up our team, which is quite small on the, on the marketing side, especially. So we, we try to use it as much as we can at our disposal. I use BARD a lot in Google Sheets because I find myself spending more time in Excel's than I would like to Google Sheets than I would like to.
[00:27:00] And. Sometimes there are formulas I do not know how to calculate, but I can give Bard an example of what I need to accomplish and it can give me what I need back, which is, is exactly where I live in figuring out Google Sheets.
Callum: and just think a year ago, we would have been like searching for that query. So if say, for instance, one of our listeners today, they're just starting out and they're doing probably a hundred thousand in revenue. What would you recommend them to be doing, making sure that they're doing?
To get to that 1 million, 2 million in revenue, if
Zach: Yeah, it's a good question. I mean, the, the. Best places to play. Facebook's obviously great. I'd be putting, if I, you know, if I had a 10, 000 a month budget at that level, you know, I'd be putting 70 percent of it or so towards, towards Facebook. I'd be doing TikTok right now and TikTok shops right now, no doubt.
TikTok shops [00:28:00] is getting some traction and they're giving customers the end purchaser discounts for buying through it. I would be doing that like crazy. I'd be on Metashops as well. I would stay really focused on those two. And the third one would be creating content. I would be creating a base of content for my brand.
As fast and early as I can, it feels like a lot of work, but with chat GPT, creating a brief for you. If you go and do some keyword research, I use a H refs. It's a little bit pricey, but if you're, it's to me, got the best access to different data points find keywords. Go and create a content brief, fill it in with some of your special voice and language.
Find a customer quote to put some social proof in there or get a customer quote to put some social proof in there and get it live and start creating content because the sooner you do it, the more you can build off of it. But yeah, TikTok shops. Facebook and then a little bit of content sprinkled in is a good recipe.
Those would be the [00:29:00] three I focus on.
that's some great advice that you've been an absolutely fantastic guest before you go, what's one book, one podcast, one blog post, I'll give you a book i'm reading right now I'm a little bit behind the curve on this one mostly because I read another book about the the same person But i'm reading shoe dog Right now, which I've really enjoyed story and the tenacity is, is out of this world. Podcast I listened to that stuck with me that I recommend everyone listens to is the story of LVMH on the podcast acquired.
It's like they, these guys do like four hour deep dives into businesses from, you know, the day they were started all the way on through. They do Amazon, they do all, but the LVMH one is. Incredible. Just the way that business has been built, the holding companies have been pieced together, the way that it's run and the way that they think about premium products and positioning of that totally [00:30:00] changes your perspective on.
The, the businesses. So I would listen to that. The Porsche one's very good as well. The same podcast.
Callum: I love that recommendation. I'm going to go in there, get that one. Is that acquired. com?
Zach: No, the podcast is just called acquired. I think they do have a website. It might be like ACQ or something like that. They've got a Slack community. It's a very, very well done podcast, but again, three hours. I listened to it. Like it's an audio book. It's like 30 minute increments. But highly, highly recommend the LVMH one Porsche one's also very good.
Callum: I'm going to do it today. Thank you so much, Zach. You've been an absolute star today. Honestly, it's been brilliant. Thanks for coming on.
Zach: Yeah. Great to catch up.
Callum: Thank you for listening today. In reviews we trust is a bi-weekly podcast where I hope to be bringing you advice and insights from brands that are taking the e-commerce world by storm.