Blog > MyFBAPrep Interviews > Creating Content With Research and Partnerships: A Chat With Tristan Williams of Envision Horizons

Creating Content With Research and Partnerships: A Chat With Tristan Williams of Envision Horizons

In this video, Rachel Go chats with Tristan Williams of Envision Horizons about managing marketing, creating content, learning about Amazon and eCommerce platform trends, and more.

Transcript below.

Tristan’s background

Rachel Andrea Go: Thank you, Tristan, for joining me. Can you kind of start with how you got to where you are today, what you do for Envision Horizons, and all of that?

Tristan Williams: Sure. So, my name is Tristan Williams. I work in the marketing department over at Envision Horizons and I’m currently the senior content strategist on the team. So, I actually started a much more general marketing role with Envision, and it was more of a startup back then, three or four years ago. So, you know, there was a lot of—you have to wear a lot of different hats and make sure a lot of different things are moving correctly. So, before, our team was probably around 30 people when I joined and now we’re at 70, so things have grown a lot, and it’s allowed me to dive more into the marketing that I enjoy the most, which is the content writing.

Rachel Andrea Go: Can you tell me a little bit about what the journey looked like?

Tristan Williams: Yeah, it’s been great. I think that every year has only been better in terms of the talent that we have join the team in the type of content that we’re producing. It was interesting to compare, like, our first ebook that Envision Horizon’s ever put out with our recent work. It’s just—I think obviously the more time you have to dedicate to the content, it’s going to be more elevated, but also just the trial and error; I had never put out an ebook before working at Envision, so just figuring things out along the way. And I think that that was probably the most interesting part of being at a startup is that everyone’s figuring things out all the time, and we’re always testing and trying new things. So, it was definitely a learning experience on, I guess—yeah, on trial and error.

Leveraging leadership content for growth

Rachel Andrea Go: So, speaking of learning new things and testing things out, how did you choose which growth channels to invest in at Envision Horizons?

Tristan Williams: I think that Laura, our CEO, has a really strong vision for the company, and every year, the business is changing so much, so you really have to work with—right now, we’re offering TikTok Shop services for the first time just because, you know, the platform’s so big and everyone’s talking about it as an eCommerce agency. That was kind of Laura’s vision for what was the right move for the next chapter. We still don’t know what will happen with TikTok, so we just have to be pretty agile, and so right now, a lot of our content is focused on TikTok Shop.

And we’re producing a lot of thought leadership content. I think that’s where we have realized is the most impact in our industry because it’s infrequently that you come along a decision-maker at such a large company, and these thought leadership pieces seem to get more eyes from executives and the target audience for us really, because we work with high-growth brands on Amazon. So, they have to be at a certain scale already, and that’s a difficult market to always reach. So, that’s what we have found the most success with.

Rachel Andrea Go: I know that you publish a lot of ebooks, as you’ve mentioned before. Can you tell me about how you conduct research and collect data for these reports?

Tristan Williams: Yeah. So, I think the research looks different for every report. Sometimes we are in the weeds of our accounts in Amazon Seller Central and looking at things like—or, tools like Amazon Brand Analytics. A recent ebook that we published was on using Amazon first-party data, so that is just screenshots of a lot of the reports explaining how to use them. So, it was more direct, that type of ebook. But we’ve also published reports where, this year, for the first time, we’ve started collecting our own first-party data through larger-scale surveys, and the Gen Z report that we put out recently was based on that first-party data and supplemental data across different research platforms. So, that was interesting to test out.

Rachel Andrea Go: I’m interested in your Gen Z report that you mentioned. Can you share some takeaways on selling to Gen Z?

Tristan Williams: Yes, so, I think one of the biggest takeaways from the report was how long they had reported that they are spending deliberating about products that are even under $25. So, I think it was over three days was the highest answer for how long they’re looking and considering. And I think one of the actionable insights there was to re—to invest in retargeting strategies even for products that are under that $25 mark. So the report style kind of flows that way where we share one of the findings and then share an actionable insight for brands based on that research.

Envision’s advice for selling on Amazon

Rachel Andrea Go: I know that Envision Horizons has services specifically for the Amazon beauty category. What are some keys to success for beauty brands and sellers on Amazon?

Tristan Williams: I think beauty is also such a visual category, so we have a team of graphic designers and video editors, and they’re great at taking existing creative assets and really optimizing them for the Amazon platform. So, for beauty, that’s been huge; having a really sleek, gorgeous storefront is important and those type[s] of things are prioritized.

And I think, for performance beauty products, there is a lot of best practices, like showing before and afters and giving really detailed descriptions and graphics to manage customer expectations. So, across beauty, our team has a lot of experience and kind of knows what the best tips are for brands like that. And we do a lot of A/B testing as well, so always testing and finding the best options.

Rachel Andrea Go: So, what are some common mistakes that you or your team has noticed and advanced sellers make when it comes to selling on Amazon?

Tristan Williams: I think that Laura, our CEO, would probably say not being prepared to invest fully in Amazon as a channel, having the right resources allocated, and also, for a lot of large brands, I think we’re still seeing some brands that have been hesitant to get onto the platform for a wide variety of reasons. More and more are slowly starting to join the platform for the first time, and having the right team or the right agency working on your account is super important. So, whether it’s an internal member of your team that’s really well versed and experienced with Amazon, or if it’s an agency like Envision Horizons, I think that just making sure that you have the right fit.

And we do, we actually—I’m plugging another one of our ebooks, but we have a “how to staff your Amazon team” ebook, and it does go over both agency options but also in-house — if you were going to manage Amazon yourself, what type of roles you might want to have on the team and how you might want to structure that. And you can also go for more of a hybrid model where you do have team members and outsource things too. Maybe it’s not a full-service agency like Envision Horizons but it’s just an advertising agency — that can be an option too. So, we really break down all of the different methods and models.

Rachel Andrea Go: So, I know that you have your finger on the pulse when it comes to Amazon because you write about everything about Amazon. What are some of the Amazon programs that you have your eye on?

Tristan Williams: The Creator Connections program is a new one that we’ve been testing. I don’t know if I can speak to the results that our clients are seeing using that just yet. And then TikTok Shop is not an Amazon program, but that’s, you know, another big thing that we’ve been testing.

Collaborate on content

Rachel Andrea Go: So, I know you create a bunch of ebooks and blogs, and the content behind Envision Horizons is really good. What would you say to merchants who—or brands who want to create content like this but just don’t have the time or, you know, they don’t know where to start?

Tristan Williams: I think that we’ve had a lot of success collaborating with partners on these type[s] of ebooks. So, if you just have a couple people in your marketing team or one person who’s maybe leading the initiative, even having content from a partner is—helps you get a good start on the direction of the ebook, and having them take a chapter of content. We always do—or we usually do the full assembly of the PDF and beautifying that, but having a partner contribute some content has always been good and it really expands the network of people that you then are able to reach with the ebooks. So, that’s been helpful.

And I think then, the one other piece of advice that I would give that we’ve realized as a team is that the first step is really to get an understanding of what your audience is wanting to hear. So, you can put a lot of time into a beautiful ebook that no one’s really searching for the answers to the specific question that you’re posing. So, I think just making sure that it’s content that your target audience — in our case executives at larger brands — are really interested in finding out. And a lot of times it is something that you might not think would make a great ebook, like staffing your Amazon business, but that’s something that they’re looking for and that they want an expert opinion on. So, before dedicating the resources, I think that that’s important, to know the objective of the ebook too.

Best practices for a brand overhaul

Rachel Andrea Go: I know that you’ve done a lot of case studies and client case studies as well. What are some of the favorite growth stories that you can share about your customers?

Tristan Williams: I really like working with the creative rebrand case studies, because you can really tell the story through the images. And it’s a really—the viewer’s able to really clearly see the impact of even just, like, a storefront screenshot before and after, and the creative best practices and tips are something that seem sometimes obvious but that a lot of brands aren’t doing. And it’s sort of a—just like how it is with graphic design, you don’t know why it looks off or why it’s not as compelling until you really go through the best practices and what other brands are doing.

So, I think the creative overhaul stories—we have one with Morningstar, which is more of a technical brand. And that was—even though they’re not a beauty brand or something like that, the case study is still compelling and still interesting just because of the visuals. And then I also like our launch stories. Those are always fun and they’re also easy in terms of seeing the six months—the data from zero to whatever we bring them to, and we usually do either a 90-day or a six-month result check-in in those books. So, then Drift, which is a car air freshener brand, more of a luxury air freshener brand, is a case study that we just recently published as well, and they have a great launch story and saw a lot of success in that category.

Rachel Andrea Go: Can you give me some examples of best practices that are obvious when you realize but sometimes are easily overlooked?

Tristan Williams: Yeah, I think that with creative in particular, there are a lot of just missed opportunities. There is so much room for content on the product detail pages, whether it’s utilizing the A+ Content or even making sure that you’re posting on Amazon posts because that is oftentimes overlooked, but Amazon plugs the Amazon post content in multiple other places on their website. So, it’s just free real estate that you’re missing out on if you’re not utilizing it. Amazon Inspire, that new tab—or, I guess it’s not that new, but I personally never look at that tab, but people are going through Amazon Inspire and it’s pulling directly from Amazon posts. So, if you’re not doing that, then it’s just a missed opportunity there.

And then I think video as well. A lot of times when we see on a product detail page that video isn’t being utilized, that’s an easy thing to implement because there’s room for it on the page. And within the product detail page image carousel, a lot of times, just the six placements are not being well utilized where, instead of having two different shots of the product by itself, you could be having an infographic with callouts about ingredients or the before and after photos that we mentioned or even, like, a beautiful image with an overlay of a customer testimonial or something. So, there’s just more that can be done with the product detail page carousels, and a lot of times brands just don’t know that they’re not utilizing it to the maximum effect that it could have.

TikTok is leading the way forward, but look into other platforms as well

Rachel Andrea Go: Awesome, thank you for sharing. What happened in eCommerce this past, say, six months that you’re most interested in or you think is going to have a big impact in the future?

Tristan Williams: Well, probably the TikTok stuff that we’ve been talking about. It’ll be interesting to see. Especially [since] it’s such a new service for us that we’re still learning and testing and figuring things out with our clients, so that—that’ll be interesting if, in six months—we don’t know.

Rachel Andrea Go: What are some of the things that you’ve been testing in TikTok?

Tristan Williams: Well, I mean, it’s just the first time that any of us are using the platform, so it’s everything from making sure that the shop is running smoothly and the products are being listed right and that the orders are going through, but also the same things for [an] Amazon channel like making sure you have enough inventory and making sure that you’re following the new industry best practices that not everyone’s on the same page about yet.

So—we also are utilizing a lot of UGC content, so there’s a lot of testing that always goes in there on what’s resonating right now with the TikTok users. And the platform’s now all of a sudden being flooded with more advertisements and more TikTok Shop links from videos, so consumers are getting a little more skeptical and it’s more with the advertising, [asking], how are—how can we put out advertising that’s compelling and that isn’t immediately scrolled past and identified as an ad?

Rachel Andrea Go: So, my last question is, what’s your advice to B2B marketers or, if you choose, eCommerce merchants in 2024?

Tristan Williams: I think that our VP of Growth, Todd, especially is super great about always testing new platforms or new tools that come out. So, all the time we’re, you know, subscribing to new platforms and seeing how that could help elevate our marketing or make us more efficient, and sometimes they aren’t useful. But sometimes we do find a tool that sticks that we love. So, I think just being open to trying new methods and new things. And, you know, for 2024 in general, I think just, yeah, being agile and being able to quickly shift, because, like we just talked about, if TikTok Shop is shut down, we’ll pivot our marketing and our services and focus on a new area. So, I think just being able to—having the flexibility to do that.