How to Create Brand Evangelists

The Ecommerce Real Talk Series

The Ecommerce Real Talk Series is where we get to know the marketers who are so busy living their ideas out that they don’t really have time to talk about them! These are the insights not being shared by “thought leaders.”

In the first part in the episode called, Creating Desire with User Data, Product Marketing Head, Mason Kuang, sat down with veteran ecommerce marketer, Dean Lockhard, to talk about brand evangelism.

So who is Dean Lockard?

When Dean Lockhard shakes your hand his last name comes to mind because his grip is like a vice — he locks in hard on you! This is how it’s done in the real world, folks, with firm handshakes and original ideas driving big wins.

Dean is a Marketing Director and Entrepreneur with 19-years experience in Australia, Europe and the US. Besides that, he…

  • created over US$ 500m in combined ecommerce sales in the European luxury fashion marketplace, and in the Australian 4x4 automotive industry.
  • Now, based in Taiwan, he’s the Founder and CEO of, where he’s exploring new distribution models for AI and B2B.
Dean Lockhard has been around the block a few times and he knows how to create desire with user data.

In this June 2021 interview, he joined Product Marketing Head, Mason Kuang, to share some of his amazing experiences and his thoughts on the current state of ecommerce.


So how do you create desire with your user data?


I’m a data freak. I really love data. I love everything about data, I collect a lot of information and I like to pinpoint which parts of the information are important for me.

So you gotta collect data.

But emotions create action.

And if there’s one thing to take from my talk today, it’s that you have to look at your data and make a story or an experience that connects emotionally with your customers. Create an experience that makes that strong emotional bond.

There are companies that are good examples of this like Apple.

iPhones cost double the price of an Android phone but people still want them. They love iPhones, they wait in lines to buy iPhone. That’s a crazy experience, right? I have an Android but my wife has an iPhone. That’s an emotional purchase, she expects great things.

Apple has some of the most passionate and committed brand evangelists of all time.

And that’s where you want to be in marketing and ecommerce. You want to look at your data to find out what people want and rise to it. This way, people may complain that you’re too expensive, but still, they cannot live without your products. That’s an emotional connection, that’s trust.


Are there any specific data points you can look at to build that trust? To build that connection with users or shoppers?


It’s very different from company to company. First you need tools to analyze the data. I have a list of tools for ecommerce that I’ll share later. I call it my Swiss Army Knife for ecommerce.

You need to use these tools to follow channels and connect with your customers.

You may hear stories about somebody doing well in this channel or that channel, or using this marketing approach or that one, but you need to be able to understand your customers in your channels.

You need to look at your data and your points.

You should follow two major metrics. One is the cost of customer acquisition. I mean that’s basic marketing. The other one that I think people forget is profit. It doesn’t matter how many customers you get if you’re not running a good profit. Cash flow is important. Cash is king. The thing is to connect your data to the most profitable customers.

The brand evangelist campaign

As an example, when I was selling off-road vehicles in Australia we once ran a campaign where 3 days after a customer bought a car they would receive an email from us. The email explained that if the customer reviewed the off-road vehicle they purchased and include a good story about it in a post on social media they could win a full refund on the car. We explained that the 3 stories with the most engagement from other shoppers would win.

A sales campaign based on customer stories

We got a lot of good reviews, a lot of good stories and a lot of response on social media from this campaign. And we noticed that the people who read these reviews shared them everywhere and were more open to buy more because there was trust.

It was substantially better! It was a 40% greater return on investment compared to running ads.

And we noticed that people who came because of seeing these ads, seeing the great stories about how people used the products, these people were actually more open to buying more because they came with trust. They saw that other people trust us, other people love us, customers love us. They actually purchased much quicker and at a much higher price range. These are the things you can look into your data to understand.


So what about your monthly ad spend for social media compared to the cost of refunding three brand new cars each month? Was it phenomenally better than running Facebook and Google ads? Or just a little bit better?


It was substantially better! It was a 40% greater return on investment compared to running ads. So the point was that we got a lot of new customers who really purchased from that campaign. The stories inspired people to buy. There was a good emotional connection and it made a big difference.

Another example from channels. You see everybody talking about Instagram, especially in Europe in fashion. Just before the start of the pandemic I was working for a fashion company and there were just four of us who were guys, two IT guys, a designer and me. The other 96 people in the company were women. It was a great atmosphere, I loved it. And everyone was about Instagram, it’s a fashion thing. We had a lot of Instagram followers. But when we looked at the data, the users who came from Instagram to us were not the ones who buy the most expensive, profitable products. Actually people who came from the Facebook ads bought the most, where it’s a more mature audience with higher disposable income, and even from SMS. It turned out that Facebook and even SMS were better channels for fashion than Instagram, by our data.

So you have to look at your data to find out how you can connect to your most profitable customers.


That’s really interesting. So you guys had a lot of users on Instagram but they were not actually your target audience. They’re not the ones who are able to buy the target you guys are selling. So it’s just about getting the most users, the most likes or the most clicks, it’s about getting the right audience. So can you tell us about how you figure out who is the right audience? Or how do you figure out who is the right shopper?


Yeah so as I said, you must look at who are your most profitable customers and then you reward them and create your right audience. They’re the ones who bring the most profit and they’re the ones most likely to come back. So you need to find your story, your strength, your market, your niche, and then reward your customers and create your audience. Because they give you their trust by buying something from you instead of from the competition or from Amazon or some other big company. You need to show them that you appreciate that they chose you. For this it’s great to be small because you can do something that big companies cannot.

For example I remember when we began to sell from Europe to Australia I recorded a personalized video thanking each customer for buying from us. If you have five people buying something per day, you can easily record five videos. I recorded the videos in the workshop where you can see people making dresses behind us. This created such a connection because they’re buying an unknown dress from a brand in Europe and suddenly they get an email from me in the workshop saying “hey! Thank you for buying from us. We would love to see how the dress looks on you please when you receive the dress let us know if you need any help. We would like to hear your comments about it. If you have any problems just call our customer support” And I always use names. “Call Annette or Maria. There is a phone number down here on the email and ask us any questions or tell us any problems.” We would love to see a review. We would love to see your picture on Instagram because We know you will look gorgeous! Thank you once more and bye bye!”

Amazon won’t do that! You won’t get a video from Jeff Bezos but you can do that when you’re small. That’s your advantage. And that creates attraction because people get direct emotion from you on the video.

Dean figures our competitive advantage is that we can make stronger connections with customers than Jeff can.


So from your experience, recorded video actually makes customers more passionate about your product and makes them come back to your store more often and increase their orders more.


Yeah and then they become evangelists for your brand. It’s not something you can buy with advertising. You cannot buy an ad and say “love my brand.” But you can create an experience that will make people love your brand. They can love the experience of shopping on your website, love the experience of receiving your product, and love the experience of dealing with you after the post purchase.

You can learn from your customer, ask them about suggestions, and send a survey. Make them feel like they are part of the process of building your brand because they are! It’s about them.


Yeah it’s all about the customers. Let’s go back to the customer reviews you were talking about earlier.


Yeah yeah yeah. We got about 5000 reviews in the first three months, it was quite good! And we rewarded 3 customers with refunds on their cars every month for a long period of time because it really worked for us. We shared this on social media, we shared this on email, and shared it on our website and on our blog.

We saw that people seeing this would come back and they would purchase because we created this trust. I remember the point for me when I understood about emotion was when we created a forum where people could talk about cars and the car campaign. I saw a post from a guy one day that said “I am getting up every morning at 6 o’clock just so I can check your website.” Everyday! And when I read that I was like, “gosh. I’m doing something right.” This is a real connection. When people are so passionate about what you do it gives you energy of course.

What strikes me sometimes when I look at other businesses, and I like to work with ecommerce businesses but I also work with wealth-management businesses, is that you can’t forget about the basics. For me, the basics is when you come to your website, there should be a phone number at the top and somebody should answer the phone. I think I mentioned to you before that I was with a company with three co-founders and when they started the business each of them would answer for eight hours, so 24 hours a day somebody would answer the phone. Putting pictures of real people matters. When you go to a customer page or receive an email or a newsletter, I’ll put a real picture for our customers to see. Like Maria, call her at 1800… if you have any problem, call Maria. Be real. Create experiences where people will enjoy being there. I’m sure your products are great but you also want to give a great experience.


So having the real person there, the real phone number, that actually helped you increase sales.


Yeah because it creates a real connection!

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Our mission is to empower merchants. Our technology lets merchants understand fashion-savvy customers and create unique shopping experiences that grow their businesses. 1000+ ecommerce shops using saw a 2x increase in AOV and 3.3x increase in conversion rate.

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Ian Mckinnon

Ian Mckinnon

Content Strategist

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