“Value is king and you need to be customer-centric” – Nicolo Augusto Manica
Nicolo Augusto Manica, Co-founder & CRO of uDroppy INC., joins the latest series of affiliate interviews on Affiliate Grand Slam
Nicolo Augusto Manica of uDroppy INC. says that they are the first marketplace that connects e-commerce owners with reliable suppliers and that they are the ultimate one stop solution for the modern entrepreneur! He also gives valuable insights about a successful digital marketing campaign – follow his story below.
When and why did you start considering affiliate marketing business as a career?
Since I was a kid, I always developed the need to create something of my own. I had a lot of ideas during my teenagers’ years; however, they were always requiring too much capital to be developed, therefore I just kept studying, knowing one day something would have come.
The rise of digital, together with my idea of learning to sell during my university years, made me discover the affiliate business.
It all started as a side business to earn some money while studying. At least I thought so.
In fact, the first affiliate campaigns, started together with my friend and business partner Luca Borreani, gave us great inputs. We were not profitable, but we understood it was possible to make some conversions online.
This was back in 2015, we started testing different niches offers, until we discovered our favorite one and from there we scaled quickly.
A key element of our journey has been the fact that we were always keen to learn so we re-invested everything in the business instead of wasting it around. We used the profits generated to invest again in the business, from new affiliate campaigns launched to buying conferences tickets and access to masterminds, the idea was the one of mastering the entire business practices.
The result of this continued reinvesting in knowledge led us to win the top publisher price of a big European affiliate network back in 2016. A great achievement, obtained in a relative short time.
In the meantime, I finished my university and I had in front of me a choice. What to do next?
The choice? Well, quite clear, I just went all-in in the affiliate world, deciding to create a company together with Luca and moving on with our careers. Why filling job applications when you have already a successful business running?
How did uDroppy take off?
Back in 2017, the affiliate new trend was e-commerce. Everyone was talking about e-commerce as the new opportunity. We wanted to try this new model.
Therefore, we decided to launch our e-commerce stores, a couple of them to test the industry. Thankfully, the skills learned in the affiliate marketing in how to get traffic, repaid. Our e-commerce stores were selling. However, one big issue came out. Something we did not consider before. Something really hard to deal with. E-commerce was great, we were creating our brand for the first time, but we did not consider an important aspect, i.e., operations!
In fact, we were relying on a terrible supply chain. The more clients we were on-boarding, the more we were losing. Our media buying abilities were vain because of the terrible customer retention. All because we were reeling on Chinese suppliers who were not even speaking English.
We had to find a solution. Therefore, we started to look for one, but nothing came out. Enough was enough, we hated the idea of killing the business just because of a problem too difficult to be solved! We also thought of how many other e-commerce entrepreneurs were in our seat. We had to act, and we had to act fast.
uDroppy was the solution which we decided to create to help every e-commerce owner. This was created together with Carlo Bellati, an old friend of mine, who developed his skills in working at oracle first and sales force later. In fact, uDroppy is the first marketplace that connects e-commerce owners with reliable suppliers.
If you want to launch your first e-commerce, optimise one, or want to scale, you need to create a reliable supply chain.
uDroppy helps you with this and our motto is “marketing on you, the rest on us”.
Tell us a bit more about your business model, concept, and culture.
uDroppy is the ultimate one stop solution for the modern entrepreneur. We help you start, optimise, and scale your e-commerce brand by giving you easy access to manufacturers, fulfillment centers, and shipping carriers worldwide.
We do this, with a team of incredible people. In fact, uDroppy team is created by people living in different parts of the globe, offering a global view, and fighting together to become the leader in the B2B e-commerce space.
We really believe everyone can have success in the e-commerce space with the best tools.
You told me that “uDroppy is the ultimate one stop solution for the modern entrepreneur”. Can you explain why?
If you decide to start an e-commerce store, probably you do it with an idea of creating something valuable. The same can be said for e-commerce stores that are already selling and need to be optimised and to the ones already scaling. Value is king today!
Value is king because traffic is getting more expensive day after day, and you cannot afford to lose a client anymore. The opposite actually. Once you acquire a client, you need to monetise him on the long run with a fantastic product, increasing his customer lifetime value, and his purchase frequency.
If you don’t do this, you can be the best in getting traffic, but unfortunately your venture is not going to last for long. Therefore, in order to create a valuable e-commerce brand, you need to offer a great product. A great product however is born with fantastic supply chain practices.
You have two options, you either go and create your supply chain with a long period of focus and networking, and maybe even learning Chinese to communicate better with your suppliers, or, way more simple, you join uDroppy and you have us taking care of your supply chain for you.
What incremental value do you provide?
I think I already provided this answer; however, I will never be tired to repeat it.
Value is king and you need to be customer-centric. Focus on your client and his experience. You can do this alone or with us, but do it!
We offer our clients the possibility to have uDroppy almost as a new member of their team (they can get a Merchant success manager dedicated with our PRO plan), allowing them the possibility to focus on marketing, while we focus on their operation.
By which KPIs do you measure your success?
We are customer-centric, for us a successful customer is our own success. Therefore, in our relationship with clients, we monitor his improvement along his e-commerce journey. The more a customer can rely on us, scaling in terms of orders or delivering better operations to his business (i.e., faster shipments or cash on delivery implementation, 2 services that we offer), the more we are successful.
What is your approach in the initial stages of a new partnership?
Our Merchant Success Manager (MSM) offers an on-boarding call to all our new PRO clients.
From there a process is developed together. The process is simple and linear. Client and MSM study together the next actions and steps to achieve the customer results. Every week, or whenever the client needs the MSM help, they will get together virtually and work on our client business. Moreover, the MSM is also responsible for monitoring the customer’s success and to monitoring that the client is using our marketplace at its best. For example, a customer may not think about the cash on delivery (COD) implementation for his business, the MSM is responsible to introduce to the client this new shipment method and to find on our marketplace the correct supplier of this service for him and for his needs (i.e., which country to do COD).
Moreover, we have just launched a new tool, given to all our clients called My Grand Venture. This is an academy that teaches everyone tricks and the best e-commerce practices. We do this by sharing premium content and webinars that are recorded together with the most successful e-commerce owners in the space. Everyone can come on uDroppy, learn, start, and scale their e-commerce business.
What makes a successful digital marketing campaign?
Thanks to my experience in the field, back in 2019 I was offered the possibility to teach digital marketing at Grenoble University. Since then, every year I have a class of students who are always asking me this same question.
Well, according to my point of view, in order to create a successful digital marketing campaign, you need to start from scratch. First of all, define your customer avatar. Digital offers us the possibility to target even the smallest niche. We know that people love similar people, therefore we need to impersonate in our customer avatar and create a communication that is in line 100% with his persona.
As soon as we know the persona we need to target, we need to develop an ideal customer journey. The customer in fact as to be guided to our process with different connected actions. Every action we create, should be connected with a call to action to the next.
In a competitive digital world, the successful one is the one who stands out from the crowd and gets the attention of the clients.
The customer journey creates a master plan, a plan that now needs to be implemented thanks to the funnels creation and all the following digital marketing actions. You need to control your funnel, you need to get the attention!
Affiliate marketing is one of the most in-demand skills. Why in your view?
Affiliate marketing covers one of the first activity in implementing a digital marketing strategy. In fact, affiliates are great in acquiring traffic, the traffic every business needs to get more users on their funnels in order to transform them in clients. Unfortunately, only a few top affiliates can do this, therefore companies and brands are always looking for their services.
How can affiliate marketing help someone’s business?
As said before, acquiring traffic and standing out of the crowd with our message is going to be more and more the need of future companies leveraging digital marketing.
How can affiliate marketing improve?
Affiliate needs to think outside the box in order to succeed. It is a crowded, over-competitive space in which only the one with the most innovative ideas can succeed. Therefore, my suggestion is to always be innovative, to think outside the box, and to test new strategies. Unfortunately, affiliates who just copy or keep repeating the same actions are going to fail in the long run.
Did you attend the Affiliate Grand Slam Expo in Dubai?
This has been my first time at SiGMA and I was impressed by the ability of organising one of the first conferences after the pandemic. I am happy about the courage demonstrated by SiGMA in organising this conference. The conference has been a great moment for networking, learning about the new industry trends, and reconnecting, finally in person, with all the people of this amazing industry.
Tell us a bit about yourself – after all, business is done with people, not just companies! Your hobbies, favourite book, favourite quote, etc.
I do everything with the idea of creating new opportunities. My vision is the one of offering everyone the possibility of creating their own business. It is hard and is done through risky decisions, but I am sure it is worth it. The quotes I love that summarise this concept are: “who dares, wins” and “Ad Astra Per Aspera (To the Stars Through Difficult Times)”.
I do this knowing that it is going to be a lifelong journey in which I try to enjoy every step and getting together with fantastic people (such as my team, a big thanks to them and to the efforts they put every day in the business).
I am sure we must be business oriented; however, we need to appreciate every single moment of the journey we do, stopping and celebrating even the smallest success.
I fact, another quote that I love is “there is no finish line”.
About AGS Dubai
The 3-day Affiliate Grand Slam event kicked off in one of the UAE’s most progressive emirates on the 24th of May, 2021 with a series of networking and registration events. A content-rich conference and buzzing expo floor followed and took over the city’s luxurious Intercontinental Dubai Festival City hotel on the 25th and 26th of May. The unique event geared towards bringing together thousands of like-minded delegates, such as content marketers, lead generation specialists, media buyers, affiliates, SEO gurus, and influencers for an immersive conference experience. Coming up next is the Malta Week! Join us on 16 – 18 November, 2021!