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Stumbling into purpose at sunset

I spent most of the day feeling lost. Filled with doubt, insecurity, and fear, I stumbled from hour to hour wondering, “Am I ever gonna figure this out?” My ongoing and somewhat debilitating mission to find my life’s purpose – to do something I’m passionate about – something that gives back to the world in a meaningful way – on a day-to-day basis – is nothing new. It’s actually something I’ve struggled with for years. But today, for some reason, the fear that I was never going to “figure this out” was more overwhelming than usual.

To add a little irony to the mix, I was asked to present at a meeting today. Yup, be a guest speaker where I was expected to share my insights and experiences. As I reviewed notes preparing for the meeting to start, the contrast between what I was about to do and how I was feeling about myself was comical. To say that I went into today’s presentation feeling like a hack is an understatement; poster boy for Imposter Syndrome would be more like it.

The presentation itself went well. I discovered that my anecdotes resonated with a number of people – and that my words were helpful to some. I was able to walk away from that specific experience feeling like less of an imposter and more like someone who had something helpful to share.

As I watched tonight’s sunset, I was captivated by the intensity of the scene. A ball of orange descending between two mountain ranges. Streaks of light shooting across the desert floor. Caught up in the beauty of it all, I found myself truly living in the moment. There was no thought of today’s feelings – and no consideration for tomorrow’s plan. In that moment, there was no fear. Just peace. Well, peace, and a desire to capture the scene to share it with others.

As I went inside to prepare dinner, the strangest thought occurred to me: maybe, just maybe, my purpose today was to share the peace I found living in the moment with others.

Leading Content Marketing Efforts for a Shopify Returns App

A brand positioning, messaging, and thought leadership overhaul

My Role: Copywriter and Content Marketing Lead

Returnly — offering the only returns platform powered by data science and financial technology — hired me as their first Director of Content Marketing. In this net-new role, my focus for the first quarter was three-fold:

  1. Support CEO and other marketing leads with rebranding efforts
  2. Amplify Returnly’s key differentiators and benefits to help Shopify merchants choose the best returns solution for their businesses
  3. Collaborate with PR and other communications professionals to create thought leadership content on behalf of our CEO and CTO

While my role was impacted by a 1/3 reduction of our workforce due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I’m proud of the contributions I made to help reinforce the Returnly brand as a trusted leader in the post-purchase direct-to-consumer e-commerce space.

Below, I’ve outlined what I was able to accomplish before my departure.

Returnly was acquired by Affirm Holding, Inc. in 2021.

1. Working together to define company positioning, messaging pillars, and style guide

When I was brought on board, Returnly, a late-stage financial technology startup, was in the process of a brand refresh. Initially, I worked with leaders across the organization to update brand positioning, public-facing messaging, in-app communications, and editorial guidelines. Ultimately responsible for content marketing efforts, this was the perfect opportunity to help me understand the businesses’ key differentiators, customer base, competition, and reputation in the e-commerce landscape — everything I needed to create a strategy to help support Returnly’s place as a returns leader in the e-commerce space.

​THE GOAL:

Position Returnly as the only returns platform powered by data science and financial technology capable of giving direct-to-consumer brands the ability to turn returns into a winning edge in the highly competitive e-commerce landscape.

THE RESULT:

Foundational branding elements that tell the story of Returnly’s unique ability to help its customers exceed their shoppers’ expectations by delivering instant gratification at the point of return — i.e., extending credit to let shoppers get the right item before having to return the one they don’t want.

Company tagline:
A return experience like no other

Positioning Statement: 
Returnly is the only return solution that lets customers get the right item before returning the wrong one — with zero risk to the merchant.

Value Proposition:
The best returns experience is built with Returnly. With Returnly in place, brands give browsers the confidence to buy. When purchases don’t go as planned, Returnly uses financial technology to help brands exceed shopper expectations, save more sales, and earn repeat business. 

THE STYLE GUIDE

Please note: My contributions toward content voice, tone, and usage can be viewed on pages 7 – 11.

BRINGING IT ALL TOGETHER: THE WEBSITE

When the rebranded website went live it showcased the new company, platform, and product positioning — reinforcing Returnly’s position in the marketplace as a financial technology leader uniquely equipped to help e-commerce businesses turn post-purchase experiences into competitive advantages. Click the image below to check out the Returnly website.

Screen Shot 2020-03-30 at 1.11.29 PM.png

2. Creating purpose-built content to amplify brand benefits and help Shopify merchants succeed

A bit of context: In the e-commerce space, a lot of data has been gathered and shared about shopper behaviors and trends. Shopper personas, in fact, have been well defined and documented. And this information is used by most direct-to-consumer brands to improve shoppers’ pre-purchase experience, streamline internal operations, and plan marketing efforts. But nothing had been done to help these businesses better understand “returner” behaviors; creating the perfect opportunity to elevate Returnly’s position as a thought leader in the e-commerce space.

​As a returns platform powered by data science and financial technology, we had unique insights into return and exchange trends and post-purchase shopper behaviors. I oversaw the development of Returnly’s 2020 State of Returns Report which broke new ground by defining the returner personas shaping the e-commerce landscape. With this report, we were able to present new insights and relevant content to better help our customers meet customer expectations, boost brand loyalty, and increase sales through returns. — and elevate Returnly’s standing as trusted thought leaders in the direct-to-consumer and financial technology community. 

EBOOK: FIRST-EVER DATA REPORT OF ITS KIND

Check out the first-ever consumer-centric returns report. Unlike other return reports that analyze logistics data, the Returnly 2020 State of Returns Report includes findings from our year-long look at consumer returns behavior.

WEBINAR PRESENTATION: STATE OF RETURNS DATA REPORT

To spread the word and celebrate the release of Returnly’s first-ever data report, we organized a live webinar with e-commerce thought leader Steve Hutt. Here’s the deck that was created to support the conversation between Steve and Aaron Schwartz, Chief Business Officer at Returnly. 

WEBINAR: STATE OF RETURNS DATA REPORT

And here’s the webinar I hosted to unveil and review the Returnly 2020 State of Returns Report State of Returns data report.

WEBINAR: DIRECT TO CONSUMER (DTC) OPEN HOUSE

At the beginning of the pandemic, with so much uncertainty for DTC merchants and app developers alike, we launched at DTC Open House series to bring everyone together to share and learn from one another.

3. Rolling out learning and thought leadership content programs

I also collaborated with our public relations agency, strategic partners, communications consultants, and in-house subject matter experts to create content to amplify executive presence, reinforce brand mission, and raise awareness of Returnly’s products, services, partnerships, and customer successes.

LEARNING CONTENT CREATED FOR SHOPIFY ACADEMY

Tips for Building an Online Return Strategy with Returnly

SAMPLES: EXECUTIVE BYLINES

SAMPLES: BLOG CONTENT

E-Book: Returnly’s State of Returns Report

This guide was written for Returnly Systems Inc. All rights reserved.

Introducing the first-ever data report of its kind!

Check out the first-ever consumer-centric returns report. Unlike other return reports that analyze logistics data, the Returnly 2020 State of Returns Report includes findings from our year-long look at consumer returns behavior.

Shopify Learning Content: Tips for Building an Online Return Strategy

This article was written for Shopify Academy. All rights reserved.

My Role: Copywriter and Content Strategist

Rolling out learning and thought leadership content programs

While leading content marketing at Returnly, I also collaborated with our public relations agency, strategic partners, communications consultants, and in-house subject matter experts to create content to amplify Returnly’s value proposition and key differentiators.

As part of this effort, I was able to work with the great folks at Shopify Academy to produce helpful learning content for their e-commerce customers!

Fintech to the rescue: Expand globally. Deliver simplified, localized return experiences.

Originally published on the Returnly blog. All rights reserved.

My role: Copywriter and Content Strategist

Let’s face it, most of us have certain expectations when it comes to shopping online. We want easy-to-navigate, engaging, and transparent experiences. From browsing inventory, customizing orders, and understanding pricing to selecting payment and shipping options at checkout, we expect the end-to-end shopping experience to be seamless. And when it comes to exchanges and returns, we’re no different; clear policies and simplified procedures earn our repeat business—and boost loyalty.

How important is the returns process for today’s online buyers? According to recent studies, it’s critical. Providing a simple, friction-free return experience for shoppers could mean the difference between closing a sale and the dreaded abandoned cart. A recent Baymard Institute study found that 11 percent of shoppers have abandoned at least one order in the past quarter due to unsatisfactory returns policy. And, after the cost of shipping and delivery speed, a Pitney Bowes Global Ecommerce Study shows that a complex returns process is one of the top five reasons for cart abandonment by global shoppers! For online retailers looking to expand their customer base across borders, this is especially concerning.

Want to return something internationally? Not so fast—literally.

Imagine for a moment that you’re from Madrid visiting San Francisco over your summer vacation. One day, while exploring Noe Valley, you stumble across a store that sells unique handmade shoes—but you don’t have enough time to shop. Luckily, they have an online store and ship to Spain. Perfect! After your three pairs of shoes arrive, you discover that they don’t fit and need to exchange them for another size. Sounds straightforward, right? Not quite.

The process starts with a call to customer service (which due to time differences is inconvenient). Then, via email, you’re sent instructions for returning your shoes. Step by step you do as instructed. Unfortunately, in preparing your return, you run into language barriers, confusing customs forms, border restrictions, currency issues, and unanticipated costs. By the time you’ve shipped your shoes, you’re beyond frustrated and have lost confidence in the brand you were so enamored with just a short time ago. What you thought would be a simple return, turned into a difficult, time-consuming, and slow exercise of jumping through hoops. By the time you’re done, you don’t want to follow through with an exchange. You just want your money back from the San Francisco-based retailer—and have decided you won’t be buying from them again (at least online) in the future.

Sadly, complicated international returns don’t only affect shoppers—they prove to be a major pain point for businesses looking to expand their ecommerce businesses internationally.

Turning the tables on highly manual and complex international returns

At Returnly, we’re all about finding new ways to help retailers and brands deliver frictionless returns. Committed to helping our customers expand into international markets and unlock their growth potential, we’re tackling the challenges associated with cross-border returns head-on with our newest solution, Returnly International.

Explains Eduardo Vilar, Returnly founder and CEO, “Our international returns solution is designed to make online shopping easier than ever for today’s global consumer. With a simple, fast and reliable returns process, we’re giving consumers the confidence to buy, while removing one of the biggest obstacles of global ecommerce growth for U.S. and Canadian online retailers ahead of the holiday season.”

For retailers’ shoppers, International Returns simplifies returns across borders by offering:

  • Automated Cross-Border Returns: A self-service experience that includes shipping label generation, streamlined duties and tax drawback procedures, and returns tracking.
  • Localized Shopping Experiences: Includes options to create regional return centers or display branded domestic return centers in the local language and currency.
  • Returnly Credit: Gives customers increased purchasing power even before they shipping the original items back.

For the retailer, Returnly’s International Returns solution not only streamlines the international workflow processes, it also provides a complete and comprehensive view into returns operations which translates into:

  • Better ability to forecast return volume
  • Improved insights into global shopping trends (e.g., what’s being returned and why)
  • Reduced support call and manual processing cost

With shopping cart abandonment rates as high as 69.57% online retailers will need to do everything they can to meet (if not exceed) modern shopper expectations. And while Returnly’s post-purchase payments technology can’t help retailers ensure the perfect fit for every pair of shoes sold internationally, our solutions can help save sales, encourage future repurchases, and increase customer loyalty when they need to be exchanged or returned.

Thought Leadership Campaign: Executive Bylines

My Role: Ghost Writer and Client-Side Editor

While leading content marketing at Returnly, I worked to help boost our executives’ digital media presence and reinforce their positions as thought leaders in the e-commerce returns space. Here are a few of the bylines I helped develop.

4 ways to take the headache and hassle out of annoying holiday returns: Retail Report

Four Strategies Digitally Native Brands Can Use to Outsmart Amazon

Bloomberg Interviews Returnly’s CEO

Using tech to exceed modern shoppers’ instant expectations

This article was written for Returnly Systems Inc. and published on their website.

My Role: Copywriter and Content Marketing Lead

As part of the ongoing series, Retail Transformed, Bloomberg Technology host Taylor Riggs, sat down with Returnly CEO, Eduardo Vilar, to discuss how tech can help with the returns process. During the interview, Eduardo discusses the health of e-commerce, what’s “broken” with traditional returns processes, and the expectations of today’s “now customer”. He also explains how Returnly is fixing returns with Returnly Credit, allowing consumers to shop again at the point of return — so they can get the right item, before returning the wrong one.

Watch Taylor’s full interview with Eduardo below to hear how direct-to-consumer (DTC) technologies like Returnly, ShopifyShopify PlusAffirm, and Klaviyo are helping online retailers create shopping experiences on par with e-commerce giants like Amazon and Walmart.

See what other DTC brands are doing to exceed the expectations of today’s online shopper

In the on-demand recording of Killing it Without Amazon, you’ll learn what DTC retailers are doing to compete with Amazon, drive growth, and increase Customer Lifetime Value. Leading e-commerce strategists from ShipBob, LoyaltyLion, Packlane, and Returnly discuss fulfillment, returns, customer retention, and packaging tactics brands can start using now to increase customer satisfaction and boost sales. 

Topics covered in this webinar include:

  • How to build your own DTC flywheel that sees continual growth
  • Why your current fulfillment operation needs a facelift
  • How to save sales and earn loyalty with great returns
  • The retention opportunities that aren’t available on Amazon
  • How custom packaging can help your brand stand out

On-Demand Video: Killing it Without Amazon

Webinar: Killing it Without Amazon

Watch Recording Now!

Campaign Support: Autodesk Content Connection Portals

My Role: Content Strategist and Copywriter

Increasing subscriber product adoption while reinforcing Autodesk’s mission to empower innovators

Overview

In 2018, while working as a copywriter for the Digital Customer Success team at Autodesk, in response to a call-to-action from our CMO (Lisa Campbell) to modernize our approach to marketing, I pitched a concept to my team — and the title slide of the deck read:

Autoflip:
A reimagined subscriber nurture experience

The Pitch

By the time my deck was socialized with Director-level leadership, my Executive Summary (which really became the team’s asset) slide read:

  • Lack of actionable data, inability to reach the majority of our users, and new corporate focus drive a need to evolve beyond our current push-driven nurture practice
  • Create a new nurture experience where subscribers can pull and engage with curated content that meets their needs from across the entire Autodesk learning and community ecosystem
  • AutoFlip, a scalable web-based platform to be built in-house using existing Autodesk resources, will provide subscribers a highly-engaging opportunity to self-select content to help them succeed
  • This will finally allow us to engage in conversations with our subscribers, understand and capture their preferences, and deliver more personalized experiences than we can today
  • AutoFlip will enable the Subscriber Success Team to synchronize with leadership’s efforts to digitize the company—and create high-value interactions with our customers

Fast-forward to 2021

Ultimately, my “Autoflip” concept never gained traction due to cost — and I left Autodesk to expand my content strategy and content marketing experience in the startup world. In early 2021 I was contacted by my former manager and team members — “Autoflip was greenlighted!” I was invited to help manage bring my old (and now evolved) vision to life.

The Result

The concept “Autoflip” ultimately launched as:

Content Connection

Resources curated by experts. Experiences designed for you.

In addition to pitching the tag line (now live), my content strategy contribution helped define the UX, UI copy, back-end workflows, and the taxonomy used to power search.

Currently, the site support 7 industries, over 14 core Autodesk products — and has been produced in 6 languages. As of January 2022, a two months after launch, the English site has over 60K visitors with close to 200K page views (average time on page = 2 minutes.)

Telling Stories and Raising Brand Awareness in Vegas

Autodesk Customer Stories. Real-Life Applications. Presented in Real-Time.

While working for Autodesk’s Customer Success Team, I collaborated with the Autodesk Brand Team to help tell our customers’ stories, show their design innovations, and reinforce Autodesk’s commitment to helping people imagine, design, and make a better world.

The five stories featured in the PDF below were actually presented as part of a live immersive storytelling exhibit at Autodesk’s largest user conference — Autodesk University — in Las Vegas, Nevada.