Under The Hood: Wyatt from Ice Barrel
A passion for cold therapy turned into a beautiful business
Welcome Wyatt! What led you to start Ice Barrel?
My background was in corporate aviation. I'd help people buy and sell airplanes, and that was a very stressful, demanding career. I was already struggling with anxiety and depression since childhood, but my job made all that even more prevalent in my life.
So I started utilizing cold showers as a way to manage stress. And it was extremely impactful: It helped me show up better as a husband, as a father. I initially thought I was looking for happiness, but what I was really looking for was peace. And the cold brought me to a place of presence of mind where peace was a lot more attainable.
With all that, I became passionate about cold therapy and I set out to create the best cold experience out there.
And when did you start?
Towards the end of 2017. 2018 was a product innovation year, and I started selling the product online shortly after we launched. 2019 was when we really started putting all the pieces together. By 2020 we were up and running & fully operational.
After that: 2021 is when we experienced 10x growth. And 2022 was 5x. So it’s been hockey stick for the past 2-3 years.
Could you take me back to 2017/18. What was your mindset prior to jumping in?
The goal was never to start a business and make money. The goal was to share the power of cold therapy with everybody everywhere. Even today, we measure success in our business on # of ice baths that we give out, and # of people that we expose to cold therapy.
I had no background in eCom. But I was very passionate about this mission - and I cut the parachute cords fully, and jumped all in. I didn’t even have a big nest egg to lean, I took a lot of risk and invested all I had into the business.
Love it. Let’s chat first about the name. Does it help from an SEO standpoint?
There was a lot of consideration that went into the name.
First: The product and the company share the same name: “Ice Barrel”. That’s very intentional. Now, every time anyone searches for our company, it strengthens our product presence - and likewise on the reverse.
It’s a simple but highly effective way to focus all the attention at all times on our hero product. It even impacts our search ads where we’re saving costs since everything always drives to the same message.
Now back to your first growth spurt: What do you attribute it to?
Cold therapy wasn’t very popular until recently - but we were there since the beginning. So naturally our efforts (especially on content) started to pay dividends as the conversation expanded.
People started looking for “what do I use to get cold?” and the “health benefits of cold therapy”. So we took the opportunity to position ourselves as experts in this.
I collected some medical research by compiling a list of 600 websites that mentioned “cold therapy benefits” and then we went through different medical journals to consolidate the information into a neatly organized science page on our site. We even published our own scientific paper, leveraging those same medical certified researchers.
This education piece evolved into a rich blog and created a real community around Ice Barrel.
How much of your first growth do you attribute to those SEO efforts?
I would say it was around 30-40%.
And the rest?
Ambassador programs, PR work and paid - those are the other channels that had an impact on our growth.
Tell me about ambassadors: What works?
You just gotta find the right people.
Somebody with 10 million followers might not sell any product. On our end, we've had success with both large accounts and small accounts. So size doesn’t matter - it’s about the targeting.
How many are you working with?
By this point, we have over 1000 affiliates worldwide. And influencer wise, probably close to 300 active influencers, some of which we've been working with since 2018. That's the other thing, when you find the right people: Hang on to them. Even through some low-periods.
Let’s chat PR: Has that really worked for y’all?
First off - it’s not cheap.
From our experience, a good PR agency costs you $4-8k per month. And really you’re paying for placements. So that budget would get you 4-8 placements. We’ve hit all the main ones - and even started doing podcasts too recently.
On the podcast front: Is it worth it to run ads?
It ended up being a successful channel for us in 2022.
Overall, I think the value of everything is highly inflated in digital marketing. It’s sometimes ridiculous: A podcast with 200,000 listeners will charge 4x what another with 700,000 does. It’s just nonsense.
So we protect ourselves by measuring each channel’s ROAS independently and negotiating our agreements based on actual results that are directly attributable. We stay away from “perceived value” or unattributable growth and always stay laser focused on tracked numbers.
Let’s talk CRO: Any good experiments or results to call out?
We use Google Optimize & Hotjar for our tests. And our tests are usually centered around layout design & photography.
We always want to find images that people easily relate with and that changes with psychographics but also with macro-events (like the weather). Somebody in a warm climate shouldn’t be shown images of an Ice Barrel in the snow. We pay close attention to things like that.
Let’s chat about the stack: What’s powering your business?
We use WooCommerce which we prefer over Shopify. I think it's better from an SEO standpoint + we have a stronger ability to customize our pages.
We use Klaviyo for email, woocommerce and wordpress for our website, VTANNA for virtual experience, Stamped.io for reviews, Unum for social management, Optinmonster and Google Optimize for split testing.
Last question: What’s been your key to success on Ice Barrel so far?
Our company and our mission has a lot of soul in it. That can't be bought.
We started it for reasons greater than ourselves and at the end of the day, that's the most meaningful and attributable factor to our growth and our success.