Paul Matviienko, CEO and co-founder at Adwisely, tells us about its online ad tool.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded Adwisely.
Paul Matviienko: In 2015, Volodymyr Vorobei (CTO and co-founder at Adwisely) and I created a social commerce SaaS product that helped businesses in Eastern Europe sell directly on social media rather than undergo the long, complicated, and expensive procedure of creating an online store.
As we tried to enter the US and EU markets in 2016, we saw that their target audience needed help growing sales. We knew that paid social media ads were the most efficient way to get more orders, but running and optimizing them was extremely complicated. This was when we thought of automating the online advertising process.
Together we decided to launch a new product – RetargetApp. The idea was simple: the founders wanted to provide small and medium-sized online stores with an easy-to-use and efficient tool that helps boost sales with the help of paid ads on social media.
The first version of the product offered full automation of the launch and management of retargeting campaigns based on Facebook Dynamic Product Ads technology. It was successful as RetargetApp:
● started earning money from day 1
● was featured by Shopify, an eCommerce platform, as one of the top-10 apps that help boost sales
● reached $1M ARR in its first year without raising investment
● got a Facebook Marketing Partner badge
● was voted the Best CEE-based Startup
In 2019 RetargetApp introduced the Prospecting feature – a special type of ad that enabled users to get brand new traffic to their store. This made RetargetApp a full-funnel advertising solution that could attract new, “cold” audiences and help convert “warm” store visitors into customers.
In 2020 RetargetApp closed a Seed round of $2.4M. They raised investment to become a multichannel and multiplatform advertising solution. We managed to:
● become a multiplatform tool as we added Google ads and got a Google Partner badge
● start offering services to online stores powered by WooCommerce and BigCommerce
● launch Marketing & Sales
In November 2021, RetargeApp changed its name to Adwisely. We have outgrown our name – it just did not reflect all the benefits we offer to eCommerce stores.
Today, Adwisely helps online stores run and manage all the necessary advertising campaigns. The ads we run are 2x more efficient than those of competitors – and, at the same time, up to 10x cheaper.
Do you have small habits that made a meaningful impact on your life and business?
Paul Matviienko: Sure, some of my habits are:
● Zero inbox approach (practicing since 2012)
● Morning meditations
● Regular cross-fit or Functional training (at least three times a week)
● No alcohol
● Making sure I sleep well
● Work-life balance. We try to do what we love (apart from work): surfing, kiteboarding, snowboarding, wakeboarding, dancing
● Reading books
● Regular retrospective on personal goals
How does Adwisely market its product/services online?
Paul Matviienko: It is hard to create an umbrella message or positioning for all customer segments and their needs in AdTech since customer goals and needs are changing very fast.
Our customers can be divided into at least 6 segments, each with different goals, needs, and expectations for our products and services.
We have different landing pages for different customer segments to market our products efficiently. Each landing page has its own positioning, channels, and pipeline. Service and product onboarding also differs and is based on the customer segment.
The most important part is to regularly gather insights and facts that describe the goals & needs of customers and keep customer profiles up to date. AdTech environment is changing very fast, so we’re validating different marketing hypotheses – that’s 90% of marketing team activities.
Since the 1st day of our operations, communities have been the #1 channel for customer acquisition. I’m talking about Facebook and LinkedIn groups, eCommerce forums, etc.
We share valuable information to help eCommerce entrepreneurs run ads efficiently and raise awareness of us as advertising experts.
It helps to build personal relations, earn trust, and acquire new clients via network effect.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to manage your online marketing?
Paul Matviienko: The most important thing is having expertise in advertising & eCommerce fields and understanding customer pains.
We have a team of Advertising Experts who help the marketing team by sharing their knowledge and offering useful insights.
Here’s the software we use:
● Tableau for data visualization and presentation
● MySQL to manage databases
● Intercom for CRM purposes and knowledge base
● Hubspot for Sales & Marketing activities
● Hotjar for tracking user activity
● Sheets / Excel
● QuickBooks for accounting
● Stripe for payment processing
● Calendly for appointment management
● tens of different tools for lead generation and outreach
What is your hiring policy/process, and how do you retain your employees?
Paul Matviienko: From my POV, our hiring process looks like most other hiring processes.
Here’s how we hire new people at Adwisely:
● The role requester – usually a manager – describes the profile of the role needed based on business needs, including responsibilities, goals, KPIs, hard skills, soft skills, and required experience.
● HR manager validates the vacancy
● Recruiter distributes the vacancy via different sources and runs screening interviews.
The screening interview goal is to assign a score based on validation of basic vacancy requirements and culture fit. We also ask the candidate about the compensation they are expecting.
● In most cases, we offer a test task before moving on to an interview with the requester.
● If the screening was successful and the test task was completed well, the next step is an interview call with the role requester
● In most cases, the interview takes 1-2 hours, and each manager has their own interview flow and agenda, which depends on the role we’re looking for.
● If the candidate passes the interview successfully, the recruiter contacts their previous employer for references. We need this step to validate the information we received from the candidate
● Then we send an offer and sign the contract.
● Once the offer is accepted, the candidate has a 3-month trial period in most cases. The trial period aims to integrate candidates into our processes and culture. During this period, each party can terminate the contract at any time. Also, the candidate will get a “buddy” – an experienced teammate – to provide additional help. After the 3-month trial period, the manager evaluates the newcomer’s performance based on 180° feedback and progress towards the goals.
● Candidates pass the trial period if feedback is positive and meaningful progress toward the goals has been made.
Here’s what I normally ask at the interview:
● What are your short-term and long-term goals?
● What do you think about our businesses?
● What do you need to succeed?
● Why are you the best candidate for this role?
Some of my rituals for retaining employees:
● Involving all employees in strategy development and strategic decisions
● Setting interesting, ambitious but achievable, and meaningful goals together
● Running 1-to-1 meetings weekly to stay connected on a personal level
● Providing regular and constructive feedback
How are you funding your growth?
Paul Matviienko: Since most resources are spent on R&D, we’re developing and validating the customer acquisition hypotheses. The next step will be developing acquisition loops and implementing product-led growth tactics based on the validated hypothesis.
We’re planning to raise Series A with a focus on growth and use the funds to scale validated channels.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Paul Matviienko: Adwisely is the first solution in the eCommerce market that offers full-funnel advertising automation on different ad platforms for eCommerce SMBs. There are few competitors in the space, such as AdRoll or AdEspresso, but their solutions require daily decisions from experienced advertising managers, and these decisions are not always data-driven.
Adwisely is different because most advertising decisions are made automatically based on data and don’t require advertising expertise. With Adwisely, the brand doesn’t need to obsess over questions like “What audience do I need to reach?”, “What placements do I choose?” or “What budget do I set?”.Since most ad decisions are made by software, Adwisely guarantees high returns on advertising spend, while other solutions just simplify ad management processes and don’t guarantee high returns.
Indirect competitors like Smartly, ROI Hunter, and advertising agencies are focused on offering similar value but are too expensive for SMBs since advertising decisions are made by advertising experts and require an additional budget that most eCommerce SMBs don’t have.
Tell us a customer success story of yours.
Paul Matviienko: We are proud to share the success stories of our customers on Adwisely Blog. Some feature impressive numbers – like the case of a motor vehicles store that got 8887% ROAS from the ads we ran for them. Others are about the slow but sustainable growth of a family business – The Perfect Touch, an awesome South African clothing brand, is an excellent example of that.
Each of our customers is unique. We try our best to deliver great results regardless of the business size, niche, or location. Our personal view of success is providing an average return on ad spend of 600% or higher to all our clients. It means that thousands of our customers get more orders at a reasonable price without having to pay a premium to advertising experts and can grow efficiently with paid ads. To us, it proves that our mission is meaningful.
Your final thoughts?
Paul Matviienko: The advertising market is one of the biggest in the world and has millions of valuable opportunities for new players.
By entering the AdTech market, you need to be ready for
● a constantly changing environment
● steadily increasing necessity for investments to support the solutions you’ve just built
Due to the ever-changing nature of the market, focus on short-term planning and stay flexible.