How Northbeam Gives The Kizik Team Answers to Questions They Didn’t Know They Had

Lior Torenberg
May 2, 2024

Motion is magic, according to shoe brand Kizik. And we agree, especially if that motion looks like Kizik’s performance since it was founded: an upward curve reflecting a strong product and a powerful marketing engine. 

Kizik’s comfortable and attractive shoes are unapologetically hand’s free; a novel innovation with multiple patents to its name and the growth to show for it. 

Founded in 2017, Kizik entered a licensing partnership between Nike and its parent company, HandsFree Labs, in 2019, signaling the growing impact and popularity of slip-on sneakers as well as the unique value of its proprietary technology.   

In 2021, Kizik started working with Northbeam to help capture data and better bring its revolutionary product to a direct-to-consumer audience. 

We sat down with Jesse Semchuck, Kizik’s Head of Acquisition, and Brett Swensen, Kizik’s VP of Marketing to talk about how Northbeam supports Kizik to bring the magic of motion to a growing audience and make great marketing decisions along the way. 

I didn’t know what I’d been missing

“I started using Northbeam in 2022 when I joined Kizik,” Jesse said. “And I didn’t really know what I’d been missing. At previous companies, we used last-click, Google Sheets, and Excel, but nothing that would show us the true lifetime value (LTV) like Northbeam does.” 

But Brett was around during the transition to Northbeam. “We were maturing as a brand at the time and growing pretty rapidly and we started to expand our channels,” Brett said. “I remember meeting with the Northbeam team and laying out some of our struggles of growth and diversification and measurement. It was a challenging time for attribution and how to track success. Northbeam felt like a great solution to help us stitch our data points together and make better decisions as we grew.” 

“It felt like the most sophisticated tool on the market. And as we talked through it and really understood the model and the science behind it, it made a lot of sense to take the leap,” Brett said.

Making the decision to adopt new software requires confidence in the data and abilities of the platform. It is a decision that impacts your whole team, so it’s important to think about software in the context of not only your current state but your goals for scale. 

Brett agrees: “There wasn’t anything else that felt sophisticated enough, quite frankly, to meet our needs. We were one of the fastest growing direct-to-consumer brands out there and we needed support.” 

“I can’t even count how many different brands I’ve recommended use Northbeam” Jesse said. “I think it’s a situation where you don’t know what you don’t know. And what has worked in the past might still seemingly continue to work, but you don’t know the insight that you’re missing until you can see it and use it. Now I just can’t envision a world where a brand would be ramping up direct-to-consumer spend and not using a tool like Northbeam.”

Northbeam provides answers to questions I didn’t know I had

“We’re in the business of selling shoes, but we also want to understand the customer journey throughout the sale,” Jesse said. “We don’t just want to sell them one pair. We want to sell them multiple pairs. We want them to become brand ambassadors. We want to engage with them long-term. And Northbeam helps us do that.” 

Building brand loyalty is important for any DTC brand, and Northbeam is an integral partner in helping achieve a higher LTV. But how exactly does Northbeam help DTC brands achieve their goals?

“One of the metrics I love looking at is email sign up rate,” Brett said. “That’s a real leading indicator for success that maybe you wouldn’t otherwise look at. Maybe you’d shut off a campaign. But seeing that it can actually drive net new customers that show intent and maybe take a little longer to convert is powerful. That’s something people aren’t necessarily thinking about on their own.”

What metrics do you look at to see how customer intent plays out in the long run?

“I look at attribution model reports quite a bit,” Brett said. “We’re looking at clicks only as the first touchpoint, but we’ve also built some other views as well. We have a pretty big influencer program and it’s nice to be able to see breakouts for those different attribution models. So I’m constantly flipping between the different ones to determine what our spend mix should be going forward.” 

“It’s great to get a pulse on the business week-over-week and see changes and trends,” Brett said. “Transitioning from the holidays to the new year is big for us, and it’s helpful to see year-over-year comps. The fact that we have years of data in there to look at how things have shifted over time has been a useful way to validate our decisions, especially amid the constant changes in the iOS landscape.” 

“As we ramp up for the holidays, we spend a lot on prospecting and building audiences that look terrible in platform. Traditionally, other companies would shut that off. But we know by using Northbeam and the data we have that those usually back into sales come November and December.”

“It takes a lot of faith to run those campaigns when you’re banking on things paying off 30 or 60 days down the road. But having a tool that we can both look back at for historical context and look forward with to see how things play out eases some of that anxiety.” 

Growing at the right pace is paramount. And access to intelligent data exactly when you need it is crucial to maintaining that pace.

“We don’t have a huge team,” Jesse said. “So when I’m looking at data, I’m looking for a quick answer to an important question. And oftentimes, I end up getting the answer to another three questions that I didn’t know I even had. This helps us move faster and helps us grow.” 

@wearkizik You always know where to find me 😉 What city do you want to see a Kizik store in next? #retailtherapy #utahshopping #utahretail #fashionplacemall ♬ original sound - user1048584939

Marketing supports a balanced ecosystem

Kizik has big marketing goals this year. Growth has been their focus over the last few years, but now sights are set on profitability and maximizing their existing traffic and audience.

“We’re looking at our retention efforts and being efficient with our spend more than we ever have before,” Brett said.

“We’re trying to find a balance now where we’re still pushing for growth and moving aggressively, but not moving so aggressively that we’re taking away from the bottom line. We’re looking at things like contribution margin that perhaps weren’t as big of a focus for us the previous few years. It’s a dance every day and every week to find that sweet spot.”

“In 2024, it’s a lot more about execution,” Jesse said. “For example, we want to be a little faster about our creative rotations and linking ads to inventory. Northbeam has tools that can help us with that.”

“We’re growing internationally; we’ve just signed with some distributors in two or three global locations,” Brett said. “And we’re opening five retail stores, plus wholesale. We’re becoming a lot more omnichannel as a brand and that requires deeper thinking and long-term planning, especially in the footwear space. We have a lot of operational excellence goals as a business.” 

“A lot of what we do with digital advertising and what we track through Northbeam affects how people buy, it affects wholesale, it affects retail and Amazon. We have to continue to pound that drum that it’s an ecosystem that needs to stay in balance. Being able to tell that story is huge for the team.” 

Staying on top of both trends and the competition is key to staying relevant in a space as saturated as footwear. And Kizik has been able to do so with the help of Northbeam.

“A lot of brands in our space and at our size do things in a similar way,” Jesse said. “I think we’re a little better at it, and that’s allowed us to grow. But I think to really separate from the pack, we have to execute at a very high level. That takes a lot of detail work and automated reporting, and Northbeam can help us do that.”

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