Boosting Ecommerce Sales Through Instagram DMs and Micro-Influencer Landing Pages


Justin Silver, Co-founder of AAVRANI

Justin Silver is the Co-founder of AAVRANI, an Ayurvedic beauty brand focusing on skin and hair care. Ranked in Mintoiro's Top 100 Trending Skincare Brands in January 2014, the brand has expanded globally. Justin started his career in investment banking and private equity before venturing into investing in consumer goods and partnering with businesses in the food, beauty, and beverage niches. He is an investor turned entrepreneur with experience growing digital-first luxury brands through ecommerce, retail, and wholesale. A Wharton Business School alumnus, Justin imparts industry knowledge as a Venture Advisor to students at Yale, Entrepreneur in Residence at Venture Lab, and a Guest Lecturer on entrepreneurship at Wharton, NYU, and Yale.

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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Justin Silver discusses how AAVRANI leverages Instagram DMS and micro-influencer landing pages for growth
  • Justin reflects on meeting his co-founder at Wharton and launching his brand
  • How the company uses behavioral psychology to convert intent-of-interest to intent-to-purchase
  • The importance of creating exceptional products
  • Why directly asking customers about their concerns is "gold" for building landing pages and ads
  • What are the benefits of using custom landing pages for micro-influencers?
  • Justin emphasizes the value of having a co-founder who shares the same vision and work ethic

In this episode…

As ecommerce businesses strive to remain competitive in a digital-first world, how can they improve the customer experience, drive sales, and increase consumer loyalty? What strategies are leading companies employing to stay ahead of the curve?

With a versatile background in early-stage consumer product scaling, Justin Silver has identified the power of crafting time-sensitive personalized conversations with potential customers to convert leads into sales. Justin explains how his company leverages behavioral psychology to drive sales on Instagram by inducing a feeling of urgency and scarcity in their DMs. His insights challenge “salesy” marketing processes, revealing that it’s less about pushing your products to buyers and more about asking customers about their concerns. Justin illustrates that true mastery of this marketing method is built on having high-quality products, replacing tech intermediaries with real people, and understanding buyer intent. He also delves into using custom landing pages for micro-influencers, providing valuable insights on how to create a deeper relationship between the influencer, your brand, and consumers.

In this episode of the Minds of Ecommerce, Raphael Paulin-Daigle hosts Justin Silver, the Co-founder of AAVRANI, as they guide listeners through boosting ecommerce sales through Instagram DMs and micro-influencer landing pages. Justin highlights the benefits of personalized messaging and offers, the importance of having an outstanding product, and how AAVRANI leverages behavioral psychology to convert leads into sales.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Sponsor for this episode…

This episode is brought to you by SplitBase.

At SplitBase, we design, test, and manage high-converting landing pages and on-site experiences for fashion, luxury, and lifestyle ecommerce brands. Our optimization program pinpoints exactly where your store is losing money most, and then we help you fix that.

The result? Increased conversions and profits for our clients.

With our team of conversion optimization specialists, performance marketers, and conversion-focused designers, we've got your back when it comes to testing and optimization.

Request a proposal on SplitBase.com today, and learn how we can help you get the most out of your marketing spend.

You can find us on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. Don’t miss out on our exclusive podcasts at Minds of Ecommerce.

Episode Transcript

Raphael Paulin-Daigle  0:06  

Welcome to the Minds of Ecommerce podcast, where you'll learn one key strategy that made leading  ecommerce companies grow exponentially. We cut the bullshit and keep the meat in a 15-minute episode, founders and executives take us through a deep dive of a strategy, so you get to learn and grow your online sales. In the last episode, I talked about how to approach site redesigns in a way that can actually help you increase conversions. And then in the one before that, you heard from Ian Blair, the founder and CEO of Laundry Sauce, and we talked about how they scale to eight figures with paid media and no employees. Now today on episode number 39, get ready. Justin Silver is the co-founder of AAVRANI, a highly successful hair care brand powered by science inspired by tradition, and who also recently launched in Sephora just this month. Now we'll be discussing how they've used Instagram DMS as a sales channel and how they've used micro influencer landing pages to scale. Super interesting conversation coming up. Now. I'm your host, Rafael Paulin Daigle and I'm the founder of SplitBase. This is Minds of Ecommerce. Now this episode is brought to you by well SplitBase at SplitBase we help leading direct to consumer brands such as Dr. Squatch, hyper ice and Emika AB test design, build and manage high converting landing pages and on site experiences, we generate a combined 100 million dollars in additional revenue for our clients. Every single year, our optimization programs pinpoints exactly where your store is losing money most and then we help you fix it. The result? Well, you get increased conversions ao V and of course improve marketing efficiency. So if that sounds great, and you want to scale your ecommerce brand profitably, where to wants to call in, you can do so by going to splitbase.com and requesting a proposal today. All right, Justin, welcome to the show.

Justin Silver  2:06  

Hey, thanks for having me.

Raphael Paulin-Daigle  2:08  

So as you know, this podcast is all about going deep, right and dissecting one or two key growth strategies, so our listeners can get the most value right away. But just to get some context, before we actually start talking about Instagram, DMS and all that good stuff. Can you just tell us for how long you've been working on AAVRANI?

Justin Silver  2:26

I met my co-founder back in 2017. When we were first years in our Wharton MBA program, we met online for lunch Taco Tuesday. So it's been about seven years. Amazing.

Raphael Paulin-Daigle  2:39  

So seven years, I'm sure it flew by. And it feels like you started this company yesterday. Sometimes, right out of those seven years, what are maybe some of the highlights or things that you you're proud of having achieved with the brand? Yeah,

Justin Silver  2:55  

I mean, what we just launched in Sephora, which was a dream of ours, since we first started the company. Outside of that, we've raised over $10 million in investor funding to really grow the brand. And we're sold in almost every country around the

Raphael Paulin-Daigle  3:08  

world. Amazing, pretty, pretty awesome achievement. So congrats on that. Now, Justin, I'm really excited for this conversation. Because when you when we booked this, you know, you said that you could talk about Instagram DMS as a sales channel. And obviously we see that for like b2b stuff. And, but but for an ecommerce brand, and was I think my first time really hearing about it. And I work with ecommerce brands every day for the past, you know, nine years. So I'm definitely excited to learn more about that. And then we can touch base on landing pages. But let's start with that Instagram DMS as a growth tactic. How does that work?

Justin Silver  3:48  

So think about it this way. You know, when people use Instagram, they want to interact. It's not a one way platform where we're just putting out content and people are like cool content, all of a sudden that went by. That's not the way the world works. There is a sales process that people want to be a part of, but they also don't want it to feel super salesy. You know, you don't want to walk into Macy's and have somebody come up to you and try and sell you stuff. That's why those places are going away. So we carved out a new strategy inspired by Kevin gold from glam netic. He was the one who first this as far as I know. And it's called Instagram DMS as a sales channel. So if someone follows us on Instagram, immediately we have a real person based in the US who DMS them.They say, Hey, I'm Stephanie. Let's have a conversation. And you know, they have a canned message, really asking, What are your hair concerns? So now we're bringing this conversation to the forefront going from Hey, just a follow up. I think this could be interesting to Let's Talk.

Raphael Paulin-Daigle  4:52  

That's amazing. And you know, it's funny, we work with glutton addicts, and I wasn't even aware that they did that. Maybe it was after but So how does it work? Like at scale? You're telling me it's a real person? Obviously, you've got, you know, canned messages in there as a strategy. But at scale, how does it work? Who takes care of that? What you know, why not automate it? If that's not part of the game?

Justin Silver  5:18  

Yeah. So it's, I'll be really tactical with you. So perfect. We started out thinking, hey, we want to have a real person. And in discussions with different founders, we came across this site. Actually, this is from Stephanie at Mount Lai shout out to her hire my mom.com not a joke. It's a real website. They have amazing women across the United States, who are moms who oftentimes have these amazing backgrounds. But they're, they need to work from home, they need flexible hours. And that's exactly what you know, sending Instagram DMS is you could do it from anywhere, and it's at whatever hours makes sense. So we hired a couple of these moms, and we give them access to the DMS. Now me as a follower, I follow AAVRANI, that means that I've shown an intent of interest, but not an intent to buy. The goal with the Instagram DM is that it goes from the intent of interest to an intent to buy. So we send that message and it starts with a concern. We're not trying to jam a product down your throat immediately, we want to understand how we as a company can fit into their life. So let's say that concern is dry scalp. Okay, perfect. Hey, we appreciate you letting us into that you're letting us into your world of you having a dry scalp. Well, we have a dry scalp rescue serum, now we're going to inform them of that we're going to link that to the product. But most importantly, we're going to use a little bit of behavioral psychology to try and go from that intentive interest to that intent of purchase. Just showing somebody a link, that's a I can do that. But instead, we actually have this real live person go into the backend of our Shopify, they create a one time code with this person's name. So let's say I'm talking to Anjali so it will say Anjali 15 will be the code that we take. Now we go and we say hey, Anjali, thank you so much. You already know about the dry scalp rescue serum, here is an offer Anjali 15 for 15% off, and it expires in 10 minutes. You've taken this conversation, which 10 minutes off is like in 10 minutes. And so that creates a scarcity, urgency. Those are the two behavioral psychology pieces, because if it expired in 24 hours, well, I'm likely going to exit and come back to it. You're just listening, I did air quotes on that come back to it, it's unlikely they'll actually come back. But when you only have 10 minutes, that feeling is like well, maybe I should try it right now. Yeah, nine 15% off, that is sometimes strong enough to push that intention of into that intent of interest, all the way to intent to purchase. And in that one conversation, in literally just two to three minutes of a person's time, we're able to convert them, have them try the product. And this is all based on the fact that we know the products are amazing. So for all the listeners out there, if your products kind of suck, don't waste your time, this is not worth it. This only works if your products are really at that best in class level, because you need to count on them coming back, and then purchasing more and more. And so how do you scale this thing? It's really about bringing on more people to get this done. We are not thinking about using AI for this. It's a custom conversation. And we think a lot of consumers are not yet fully attuned to, hey, I want an AI bot to help solve my problems. And this is really a nuanced sell. Sure, we could come up with one of these, like big charts that you know, they ask any question or they say the problem, and it has some automated answer. But we liked the idea of a real a real person who could solve a problem five, very different than AI for, hey, I'm checking on my shipping or my order number or something. That's easy. This is really tactical, this is, I guess, scalable in the way that we've done it. And it's been a really great lever for growth.

Raphael Paulin-Daigle  9:18  

And I'm sure it's like benefit. And I'm sure you've thought of that right. But like asking for it, what's your main concern? Right, like, in a way, it's almost like a survey that you're conducting. you're inserting yourself in your customers, you know, day to day just by asking that question and creating some engagement and interaction. But by asking that you also get responses directly from your customers as to what they're struggling with. Which you know, like when I think of, you know, this type of qualitative feedback. I mean, to me, that's gold when it comes to building landing pages or utilizing that in your ads. Right and you get that directly. So I think that's that's pretty smart. I'm so question. So people just to kind of recap this, so people follow you they get a message from a real human from the Rodney Instagram account. And when asked about the concerns, the person responds with their concern, and after that you recommend a product that can help with those concerns? Is it is there more to it? Or is that pretty much the interaction that happens? Yes,

Justin Silver  10:24  

sometimes people go in with multiple concerns. So people say I don't have a hair concern, specifically, I'm just interested in the brand. And that's where that human element comes in, we're able to provide them with more info on what we do as a company, some of our you know, philanthropic efforts, were able to go into what makes us unique, and more importantly, the person who is behind, you know, driving the DMS at that moment, they're able to look at that person's profile and understand what's important to them. So are we able to, you know, not only provide a hair concern or saw something there, but do we align from a cost perspective? Is there some kind of conversation we can have? And so it ends up being a lot, you know, these conversations are sometimes 2030 messages long, Oh, I saw that you're in this geography, Oh, I saw that you're interested in this. And we're creating real relationships person to person in that electronic kind of, you know, in the ether, DMS way, but it grounds something that is otherwise totally out there into something real, and we hope to form a relationship as best we can.

Raphael Paulin-Daigle  11:31  

Amazing. And so how many people actually take you up on that offer? Like you give them a 10 minute timer, which I think is super smart, because they have to take action now. But then from like that message to actually going in buying? Are we talking about a small percentage? Are we talking about a big percentage, what does the take a look alike? Yeah,

Justin Silver  11:48  

so it's anywhere, you know, depending on the day between 10 and 15%, while people are going to go from intent of interest to intent to purchase, that to us is massive, you know, we're able to really take this and leverage it. Now when we say intent to purchase that goes to add to cart, so not all of them are clicking, you know, full purchase. But getting to that add to cart is, you know, we're nearly there. Once we hit that, you know, we're talking about a couple of emails, and the purchase likelihood is sky high. But versus a conversion rate on site, you know, you're always talking about lower single digits, most of the time in that one to 3% range. This is well worth our time. And even outside just a pure number. The relationship that we develop with customers have been insane. I mean, some people this starts a lifelong love with the brand, this starts relationship. And Matt is indicted.

Raphael Paulin-Daigle  12:49

Yeah, it sounds like an LTV standpoint, like that is totally worth it as well. Exactly. Um, so I'm curious now about kind of maybe the tools that you use for that, like I understand a lot of it is manual, but you know, is there like any platform or tool that you use with your team of moms, to respond to all of that.

Justin Silver  13:08  

I mean, there's a back end of slack. I personally am not a big slack user, but you know, they're on here. But honestly, we like to keep it simple. We think there's a lot of tech, and there's a lot of companies trying to sell. And yeah, if you're 1000 person organization, you need lots of tech, you know, jammed in throughout the process. But for us, you know, most of this happens via email, in terms of communicating with our team in text, Slack. And then, you know, right into the DMS, it's just Instagram directly. We don't like to put any of those intermediaries on there, we're not creating tickets. We're not doing all that work that I think once you start to do it, because your organization is so big, you end up getting to everything, but it feels less natural and less efficient. We're not at that scale yet. And so we can really keep it natural and efficient, and feel like, at least for the customer. This is very real, right?

Raphael Paulin-Daigle  14:03  

So as you're walking me through this, I mean, it sounds like a strategy that at the end of the day is pretty straightforward, which I think and the fact that it's working so well is what I think is fascinating. On the flip side, I'm wondering, has there been any challenges that you guys have experienced by doing that? Like what's been the like, the tougher parts of figuring out that strategy?

Justin Silver  14:23  

Yeah. So when we first started it, we didn't have any kind of nuanced messaging or strategy. We just said, Hey, this is a cool idea. Let's get people in the DMS. And so we reach out, Hey, how's it going? And then, you know, that was the the original thought was okay, we could just begin a conversation. That's right enough. We very quickly learned that that is not enough. As a brand messaging someone Hey, how's it going? Or how's your day been? Thanks for following us. It doesn't open up that real conversation. It doesn't identify that it's a real person. So it could be a bot. It doesn't create anything more into of intent to purchase, it really is just a half or not even half effort. And so for us, it was over time unlocking that strategy, I'm giving it to you all right now, so you don't have to go through that learning. But it's, you know, going from this introduction, given this questioning in this kind of conversation, to then this recommendation to then some of that behavioral psychology to actually create a purchase intent. All of that was crafted, you know, through trial and error over the course of months.

Raphael Paulin-Daigle  15:30  

I love this. Now, obviously, social media is a is a really important channel for you guys. But that strategy, but I know you are also utilizing some micro influencer landing pages. So how does that work? Totally.

Justin Silver  15:42  

So I mean, you know, we had just been in conversation with so many influencers, micro influencers, all of these individuals, and a lot of them loved what we were doing, and we're trying to track, you know, okay, do we give them a discount code? And that's how we can track everything. But it just felt like, there were so many brands and so many discount codes, we were like, how can we stand out? How can we do something different. And that's when the idea came up of these custom landing pages, knowing that we're not working with 1000s of micro influencers, we're talking about a couple of dozen, you know, so between, let's say, right, one and 50, any given time, we said, hey, we can actually create a landing page, very simply change out their name on it, you know, this is a copy and paste exercise on the back end. So it's not taking more than a few minutes per landing page. And then we can actually give these landing pages to these micro influencers. Now, instead of just, hey, use my code, Stephanie 12, or 12%, offer either these kinds of things, they are actually able to say, hey, go check out my website, brands, they don't own that website. We own that website, right? It creates a deeper relationship with the influencer with the brand. And with the consumer. It kind of ties it all together in one place. And so now they go on. And they see a picture of this influencer is almost always mobile over 80% mobile in terms of when we talk about right influencers going to sites. So they see a picture of that influencer, who they were just watching, maybe on an Instagram story. And now that influencer is either holding our product or talking about our product, or we have a Tiktok that's linked there. And now the ability to purchase from that ages takes what is otherwise a pretty far apart relationship of someone a product, and now having to go buy that Proximus company and brings it right together. Amazing.

Raphael Paulin-Daigle  17:37  

And what does that landing page look like? Is it is it like a dot AAVRANI landing page and you're really selling your product? Walk me through kind of the overall structure and layout,

Justin Silver  17:47  

I would say think of it like a sliding scale at the top of the page. It's 100%, influencer zero, AAVRANI. And by the bottom of the page. It's 100% AAVRANI and 0% influencer essentially it's that classic walk down of you know, we're starting with them, we're starting them in product and it slowly goes up right them and the product then maybe talking about the product quote from them. And then it moves into more I'd say purely up Ronnie focus is you know, product related before and afters and we're talking. I mean, this is your bread and butter. I think it's the classic Landing Page Conversion focused selling, we have a timer on the bottom that's counting down, we have a limited time offer. And we of course have the offer from the influencer that's special for this landing page only. Now we've replicated this same offer for the other influencers. But that still gives us a really unique angle and creates a new relationship with these influencers because they're not getting that often right now to be able to have their face enshrined on a website, their pictures, their videos, if you've got 8000 followers. That's cool. Yeah. Now, if you have 800,000 followers, everyone's trying to do that for you. Right, being able to do it, that micro level has been really,

Raphael Paulin-Daigle  19:07  

really cool. I want to go back quickly to the Instagram DMS. Because I was wondering, right like you send those DMS and people tell you about their concerns. But what about the times where people just don't respond? Like do you have do you follow up? What happens in those cases? And yeah, or do you just what am

Justin Silver  19:27  

I like? Yeah, one of my life things is following up every like that's the people who follow up are the people who wouldn't life. But we do follow up. But there's a big drop off. I'd say over 20% of people don't respond at all. And that's, that's okay, I think that's part of this game is you're not going to get 100% If anything was 100% Everyone will be doing it. So we'd send out that initial message. We send out a second message within 24 hours and then we send a third and final message. It's kind of like a you know we're around if you ever want to pick conversation. So it's not closing a door, but leaving it open. But after those messages, we end that conversation in terms of our team's time, right? We say maybe they're just not interested in totally a conversation with us.

Raphael Paulin-Daigle  20:15  

What do you say in those follow up messages? Is it just like the same question again, like, Hey, what are your hair concerns? Or?

Justin Silver  20:22  

No, we kind of we, we didn't pay a little bit on it. We the first one is, of course, the introduction, then the second one really hits on the fact that this is a real person, I think many times get a DM from a company, even if it says, Hey, this is Stephanie, and I'm sitting in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, I would love to chat with you, you still might think it's fake. It could be that I bought Stephanie. And so we'd say, hey, just checking back in again, real person coming at you. I would love to help if possible. So the second message reiterates that it's a real person. And then the third message is more of a send off saying, Hey, we're here, if you ever wanted to chat, but appreciate your time. And thank you looking forward to talking soon, you know, again, keeping it with emojis and filled with realness. So that way, it leaves the door open for maybe six months from now. Awesome.

Raphael Paulin-Daigle  21:17

Justin, this is amazing. I'm so glad we got to talk about that. I feel like I just learned something that I'm not supposed to know. You know, it's one of those secrets that I finally get to share. In the minute that we've got left. I'd love to know, if you were to start a brownie all over again, you go back seven years, with the knowledge that you have now, what would you do differently?

Justin Silver  21:38

Man? I think it's a great question. You know, some of the things I'd say that were really powerful were one I getting into haircare earlier, I think hair is on an explosive path support is investing in hair, the world is turning towards hair. And so we feel really passionate about that growth. In that industry, too, I would say, of getting a three PL faster, we pack the first I think it was something like 10,000 orders by hand. And that was a mistake, especially at 3am on Black Friday, sitting there tying ribbons on boxes, I realized my time could be better spent. But one thing I would not change for the world is picking an incredible co founder, my co founder, Roy is the reason this business exists along with me. You know, we've been through the ups and downs and without her we really couldn't be here today. So I think you're thinking about you know, choosing a co founder, anybody listening you know, it's one of the most important choices you can make. And I'm just honored that get to Awesome.

Raphael Paulin-Daigle  22:42  

Well, we've been talking to Justin Silver, who's the co-founder of AAVRANI Justin. Now people if, if people want to learn more about you, or AAVRANI, where should they go?

Justin Silver  22:52

Yeah, check AAVRANI out on Instagram and Tiktok @AAVRANI, that's a as in apple. It's a V as in Victor R A N  and I check us out on @aavrani on Instagram and Tiktok. And then of course, feel free to follow me on Instagram at theJustinsilver. And I look forward to seeing you on there soon.

Raphael Paulin-Daigle  23:14  

Awesome. Thanks so much. All right. Well, that's it for today's episode. And thank you so much for tuning in. Now, if you like what you've heard, and you don't want to miss any of the new episodes that are about to come out, make sure you subscribe to the podcast. And well bonus points if you also leave a review in the iTunes Store or wherever you're listening to this. Now, if you're working on an ecommerce Store that has over a million dollars in revenue, and you need help with conversion optimization or landing pages, well, I've got some good news because there's a pretty good chance we can help with that. Go to splitbase.com To learn more, or even to request a proposal. If you have any guest requests, questions or comments, tweet me @Rpaulindaigle and I'll be super happy to hear from you. And again, thanks again for listening. This is Minds of Ecommerce.