Overwhelmed with email marketing for your eCommerce store? Not sure if you’re doing it right or if you should be making more money from your efforts?
Let’s dive into the Email Marketing Framework I use to generate 25% of a 7-figure eCommerce business. It’s a new way of thinking about and approaching email marketing so you can generate more revenue without the overwhelm.
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The Wrong Way to Do Email Marketing For eCommerce
So before we dive into the details, I want to mention to you to treat email like a two-way conversation and how you would talk to someone if they were walking into a store; like if you had a brick-and-mortar store; or how you talk to people when you meet them in real life.
This is not a way to just always say like hey buy from me, buy from me. I know that you probably receive emails like that a lot from big retailers. There are some I get an email every single day and while that may work for them because they have a shit ton more subscribers than you.
I don’t want you to look at these huge corporate companies that have millions of people on their list and think that is the right way to do email marketing for eCommerce, because it’s really not.
As a smaller business with, you know, maybe 10,000 or 20,000 people on your list, you are not going to grow fast enough to match the churn you will see if you are sending emails like that. Don’t look at the big guys for inspiration. Look at people who are you know, just a couple of steps ahead of where you are at for what makes sense.
Using Data For Better Emails
Now, of course, you can’t hear what the customer is saying back or what they’re thinking when they receive, open, read, your emails… but every action that they do or do not take, tells you something about their response.
So whether they opened your email or clicked it, did they browse your website afterward? Did you have to resend that email with a new subject line before they engaged with it? Did they actually buy what you featured in the email or did something else get them to open their wallet?
All of that data that you get is telling you how you’re doing with your email.
It’s really important that you pay attention to that as you’re working through your email program. And remember that the data doesn’t lie and when it comes to eCommerce as a whole the majority of your answers are always going to be found in the data.
While I am a huge believer in intuition; I have to say for most of my life my intuition has never been wrong is really just a question of whether or not I listen to it, but we’re not going to be right 100% of the time and the data is concrete.
As you know how to read analyze and understand it which is something will also be talking about on an episode on this podcast. You will be able to extract findings and insights that will help you strategize moving forward.
Always think of email marketing as a two-way conversation. And even though the customer can’t talk to you directly. They are definitely telling you things.
The B.A.D.A.S.S. Email Marketing Framework
So, what does badass stand for? Admittedly I was super proud of myself when I came up with this because I’m a giant nerd and I was just giving myself a huge pat on the back…
- Behavior Automation
- Adding Value
- Determining Preferences
- Always be Testing
- Sense of Urgency
These are the key pillars you need to create an email marketing program that is going to make you money. Email marketing is exactly that, a marketing strategy, and it should be bringing you a return on your investment.
Studies show that email, when done well, still has the highest ROI of any marketing activity out there. So it’s really important to dig into this, understand it, put your best foot forward, and really make it about your customer instead of about you.
Here is a little framework that we’re going to walk through to help you understand all the different pieces of email marketing and how they work together.
These are the emails that trigger automatically based on the behaviors and actions that customers take on your online store. Some of those emails are your welcome series, your browse abandonment, checkout abandonment, your lapsed purchaser series, a never purchase series, and your post-purchase. This is beyond the order confirmation, shipping, and delivery emails.
The magic of automated emails is, they’re mostly set-it-and-forget-it. You’re definitely going to have to monitor their results after you first set them up and continue to test and maybe tweak subject lines and sending times and things like that.
But, once you have the bones set up, they’ll just continue to work for you and generate revenue on autopilot… and who doesn’t want a little bit of that. So that’s the behavior automation piece.
Adding Value to Your Email Subscribers
The next thing is to add value. So if you’ve worked with me one-on-one or you’ve been following along on Instagram, you've heard me say this a million times before but it's worth it to say it again.
Not every email you send needs to be sales-driven and they shouldn't be.
Some of the highest revenue-generating emails I've seen have been focused on blog posts or general newsletters that have a less obvious call to action. I know from talking to so many of you that most of you struggle with even knowing what to say and let's talk about that a little bit.
What to Say in Emails for eCommerce
So the first thing is to put yourself in your customers’ shoes and start thinking about your customer avatar, your ideal client customer, whatever you call them. Think about what else might matter to them.
For instance. If you sell activewear or workout clothing, then hearing stuff about health, fitness, and wellness is going to be valuable to them, but it's still tied to your product. If you sell wedding supplies or gifts for bridesmaids, then things about wedding planning and dealing with difficult bridesmaids, family members, or drunk Al at the wedding will likely be valuable to them.
Even some of the more simple stuff like, how much should I even spend on my bridesmaids’ gifts? And when should I give them and all of those things?
So, think about it… just kind of brain dump this. Brain dumps are really my favorite thing to do because you have all these ideas swirling in your head and it's really common for people to edit themselves as they are doing work instead of just letting it flow out of them. So if you've ever heard, write without editing, this is sort of the same thing. Just get it all out first. No idea is too stupid. No one else has to ever see it but you. Get it out on paper and then you can go back and refine that later.
So think about your customer and what matters to them that is still connected to your product.
Once you finish listening to this episode, one of the first things that you can start doing is to do that brain dump and start putting some ideas out. And if you want more feedback on that you can come on over to the eCommerce Badassery Facebook group and we can definitely talk about it more there ‘cause I know that this is really a struggle for everyone. You'll be able to get direct feedback and it will really help everyone else in the group too. Okay, so that's adding value.
How To Know What Types of Emails Your Subscribers What to Receive
One of the other most important and overlooked things in email marketing is determining their preferences. The more targeted you can get with your email marketing the more successful you will be and there are a few ways you can go about this.
One of them is just the data you collect, right?
- What emails are they most likely to open and click?
- What do they buy?
- What collections do they look at on your website?
And if your email marketing is integrated fully with your eCommerce site, which it should be, then you should have all of this data in there that you can use to understand your customer.
Setting Up a Manage Preferences Center For Email Subscribers
Another way to do this is to just ask them through a manage preferences center.
If your email marketing platform does not have a way for you to collect answers from your customers in a preference center you need a new email marketing program. Period, end of story. You just do.
Klaviyo has this (I'm always going to talk about.
The idea is that you predetermine how you would split your customer up. What information do you want from them to help you understand what they want to hear about? How often do they want to receive emails from you?
So there are a few basic ones that I always include at a minimum and then the other stuff is really going to depend on your business.
How Often Should I Send Emails to My Subscribers?
The first one is frequency. How often do they want to hear from you?
The three that I usually put are weekly, which would be once or twice a week and I'll kind of put that in parentheses for them so they understand what that means. Monthly, once or twice a month, or all the emails. All the emails would be the default until someone fills this out.
You can adjust this, of course, based on your business.
What is their path to purchase?
You know, if you sell a big-ticket item maybe that path to purchase is going to be a lot longer than say an article of clothing. What is kind of the real Keep business that you can expect obviously if you're a boutique with new arrivals all the time they're going to come back a lot more often?
You have to tweak this for your business, but this is sort of the baseline and maybe your business does not warrant sending more than one email a month in which case saying, you know, weekly, monthly, all the emails isn't really the right thing. Maybe it's monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly, or something like that.
Think about your customer behavior and how your business is to come up with these, but those are the three basic ones that you can start with.
What Should I Send to My Email Subscribers?
The other thing I like to ask is, what sort of content they want to receive. I'll ask them. Hey, do you want to know about new products? Do you want to know about sales and promotions, (which actually not everybody wants to hear about that which is kind of weird to me, but hey), so you wouldn't send them promotions.
Do they want other content? For the adding value we were just talking about, do they want that stuff. Maybe they don’t; give them the option to opt-out of receiving that and think about maybe you need to be more specific about what that content would look like.
If you have a store that has a really wide assortment of product, maybe just saying content is to general. William-Sonoma, for example, they ask you what level of chef you are so that they can make sure that they send you things that make sense. They're not going to send you some super-advanced recipe or… I don't know. I don't really cook. So this probably wasn't the best example to use (haha) but I remember seeing this on their website. Maybe they're not going to send a type of pot or something that only advanced people will use, or if they cook versus someone who bakes.
Just dig in. I mean you started this business because you were passionate about the product that you are selling and so you should really understand your customer. A lot of times your customer is you if you didn't already know that, and so just think back about what you would want when you were in the shoes of the customer you're serving ‘cause maybe now you're a little bit ahead of them.
Right so it could be different but so it can be General like content if you have one overarching idea or if it's going to be in different categories. Maybe you get even more specific with what you are asking them.
So those are the main things: frequency, what type of emails, oh that I didn’t even say the third one! And then the third one is what products do they like?
How to Know What Product to Feature in My Emails?
So this may or may not matter depending upon what you offer if you let's say you have a clothing store and you sell men, women, and children.
You want to know who they are shopping for. Because, me, as an example, as someone who doesn't have children and I don't have any nieces or nephews yet, I don't need emails about kids' clothes. It's completely irrelevant to me and I'm never going to open those and I'm certainly not going to buy from them.
Ask them who they are shopping for and it may or may not be relevant to your business. Think about what you would ask them if they were coming into a store right? You strike up a conversation with them. Oh my God. I love your shoes. Isn't the weather great? Who are you shopping for? What's the occasion? So you're kind of asking these same types of questions just in a digital format.
Uses Quizzes to Collect Information About Email Subscribers
Another way that you can determine their preferences and get more information about them is if you offered a quiz.
Have you seen these before? You go to a website and it's like oh, you know what personality type are you so that you can direct them to the right product.
Klaviyo, for instance, integrates nicely with Typeform. If you offered the survey through Typeform, their answers would then get stored on their profile inside of Klaviyo, and then you would have that data to create segments and get a better understanding of that customer.
So there are a few different ways you can do this, but the point is to get as much information straight from them as you possibly can pair that with the data that you are collecting and then use it to make smart decisions and send smart emails.
All right, that was Behavior automation, add value, and determine preferences.
How to Test Your Emails For Better Results
The next one is to always be testing. You heard me mention this when we talked about behavior automation. They are mostly set it and forget it, but you still have to go back and look at how they are performing.
You might have to adjust subject lines. If you see the open rates are great but the click rate is low, there wasn't anything in the email that was enticing them to click. If they're not buying maybe there was a miss between what they expected in the email and what they found when they got on your website. That could be related to the landing page or the messaging in the email. Something was amiss.
The same goes for your campaigns, right? You're not always going to get it right.
Gathering Data About Email Performance
Most of the email platforms have something called A/B testing and this is where you can test say two subject lines against each other. You can also test content against each other. Some may also let you actually test the time that you send them but there are ways you can do that even if it's not built-in and we'll talk about that in a second.
The point is because you are going off of data, you have to create situations to gather more data so that you can get insights and do better next time. Even if you don't use the actual A/B testing features, you can still do this by switching up your strategy a little bit.
When is the Best Time to Send an Email
So let's talk about figuring out the best time of day to send an email because so many people are asking me this and really the answer is, it depends. You have to test to figure it out.
My customer at my day job… what we sell is not safe for work, so it's unlikely they're going to be opening these emails during the day at work. And so evenings work best for my customer, 6 p.m. ish.
The day of the week doesn't really matter. How do I know? Because I have sent emails all days of the week and there is not a drastic difference in performance.
That makes sense. They're probably sitting at home. Maybe they're on the couch watching TV scrolling through their phone and I have customers all across the country. So if I'm sending an email at 6 p.m. PST, it lands in their inbox between 6 pm and 9 pm and that seems to work. 7 pm to 10 pm works as well. Anything in the evening when I know they are home. That's the most important thing for my customer.
For you, let’s say your customer is generally a mom. So maybe during the day when the kids are at school if she doesn’t work or whatever it is might be better. Or late nights are also going to be better because maybe she did work and then they came home and they had dinner, the kids are in bed, she's sitting on the couch watching TV and scrolling through her phone.
Think about when people are on their phones. By the way, the majority of your emails are going to be opened on mobile devices, so think about when people are on their phones.
I do see other people who do really well at like 3 ish. Maybe that's kind of that afternoon slump where they're at work and they're kind of sick of doing what they were doing. So they're scrolling through their phone… and even during commute times. Hopefully, those people are taking public transportation and not on their phone while they're driving, but the only way to figure it out is to just send a lot of emails, stagger your times and see which ones work best.
You’ve got to take into account not only the open rate but also click rate and revenue. Maybe they’re opening because they’re on their phone, but they're not really in a place where they can pause what they're doing, whip out their credit card and make a purchase. So then it's not really helping you.
Make sure you're looking at revenue. Also, if you find for example, there's a specific time where the open rate is lower but you’re making more revenue, then who cares? The goal is to make revenue so stick with that time.
Using A/B Testing For Email Marketing
The other thing is when you are testing stuff, so let’s go back to the A/B testing that is built into the platform, there are usually two different ways you can do it.
Let’s say I’m going to test my subject line and the key here is to only test one thing at a time. Otherwise, you won’t know what worked. Don’t have two emails where the subject lines are different and the content is also different, just do one thing at a time. So the content is exactly the same, the subject lines are different. Make sure they’re different enough.
Just changing one word is probably not going to be statistically relevant.
But if you, let's say this is a promotion, if you call out the promotion 25% off, right that’s your deal. And the other one is something just more a little bit general like treat yourself to this, that and the other thing – that’s going to be different enough to give you a valid result.
The other thing you could do here is maybe you want to test whether people do or don’t like emojis. And so all you’re doing is your subject line is the same, but one has emojis and the other one doesn’t. That could work because it’s more than just words. So you have to figure out what works for your customer and as you start to see when you’re looking at a subject line the most important metric there is your open rate.
See which one gets the best open rate and then test again, and then again… and see over those couple of emails which type of subject line does better. Then do more of that type.
I find that things that are a little bit witty and kind of suggestive tend to do better than things that are super-specific and to-the-point, but that’s my customer. Maybe your customer likes funny. Maybe they do just want it to be straight into the point. Everyones going to be different.
How to Execute A/B Testing
When you do these you can either send it to a small segment of your customer. What it will do is, let’s say it takes 20% of your entire list. it sends half of those people subject line A and it sends the other half of those people subject line B.
Then after about four hours, whichever one has the higher open rate will be sent to the rest of the list. Here's my problem with that. One, if it's a time-sensitive offer… you ain’t got four hours to wait! Two, people open emails for a long time after you send them. So you may not get truly statistically relevant results by only testing it for 4 hours.
If I’m testing something, I just split it fifty-fifty. Everyone on the list gets the email; half of them get subject line A and the other half get subject line B and then I determine the results. I usually give it about two days before I look just to be sure.
Here’s the other thing to think about. Klaviyo and I'm always going to talk about them, but they will count a sale from an email for up to 5 days from when you sent the email. So if you are using revenue as one of those triggers, because people do like I said, it might take them a couple of days, but they’ll open the email. If you’re looking at revenue, it’s not the full conversion window yet. Just give it a few days before you look at the results.
The same thing goes with content. I would just send it 50/50 and adjust from there. Always be testing
Segmentation For eCommerce Email Marketing
Segmentation. So this is definitely the buzzword and there’s a good reason why – because it works. Now, here’s the deal. If you only have 500 subscribers on your email list, you don’t have to bother segmenting.
You should still listen to this part because as you grow you’ll be ahead of the game, but if you create a segment that has 20 people on it, that’s not really helpful at all. So when you get to like the 5000 mark is when you really want to start digging into this and the segmentation is really depending upon your platform.
But if you’re using
What is your end goal? What are you trying to accomplish?
Okay. So let’s take an example of a new product that you have coming and you’re launching a brand new product and it can be really tempting to just send that email to everyone on your list and maybe, if it warrants in your business, that could totally make sense for you.
If you think about what I sell, we have a few different customer avatars, and so not every product is relevant to every customer. And even, if you think of Target or Best Buy, something like that, not every product that they sell is relevant to every single one of their customers.
So the first thing is, you know your goal is to sell this product now you have to think about who wants to hear about this, who is most likely to buy this, and then you’re going to want to create a segment of those people in
Oh, and you have endless fields that you can segment from. So you’ll have the preferences that you collected from them, one… do they want to hear about new product? If they don’t, don’t include them in this. Two… have they browsed or purchased similar products to this one? If they have, you definitely want to include them in the segment.
The other thing to think about is when was the last time they bought from you I generally will exclude anyone who's made a purchase in the last 14 days. I’m excluding them because I know my customer doesn’t really shop any more often than that. What I will do however is, later on, resend that content to the people who didn’t get it the first time but maybe would appreciate it.
Just because you sent something once does not mean you can’t send it again, side note.
Think about the different ways you can slice and dice up your customer list based on the data you have based on your product assortment, who is it going to matter to.
If this person walked into your store, into a physical store, would you show this item to them?
Think about even your friends and family, right? And when you come across a new product or a new brand or you see a funny video… don’t you pick and choose who you send those things to? Because you know who will appreciate it and who won’t?
I want you to take that lens when you’re thinking about segmentation.
I will definitely talk more about those kind of tactics and doing that inside Klaviyo specifically; I’m working on some content for you there. But, I want you to just start with thinking through the logic of it. And what makes sense. And then, if you have specific questions on how to do this in your platform, come on over to the eCommerce badassery Facebook group, or DM me on Instagram @ecommercebadassery and I’m happy to help walk you through it. Really, I just want everyone to love email marketing as much as me… it’s a problem.
Adding a Sense of Urgency to Your Emails
The last one is a sense of urgency. People generally don’t take action and for scrappy entrepreneurs, it can be really hard to wrap your head around this, right? Because you are all about taking messy action. You’re all about getting shit done.
But the average person, the average consumer is not and they are forgetful and they have a lot of shit going on. And you are kind of the last thing on their mind. So it’s important that you instill that sense of urgency that this is not going to be available forever.
Think about when you get messages like that it puts that little bit of extra fire under your ass and makes you do stuff, makes you get shit done. So you have to instill that same sense of urgency for your customer. And if you can remember that people need it… you’re not doing that to them, you’re doing it for them.
That’s the sense of urgency and here’s where I use them.
When to Add a Sense of Urgency in Your Email Marketing
I use them in discount codes. If I have a discount code in my welcome series I’m putting a deadline on how long that coupon code is valid. I want them to take action. You have to time this with the path to purchase of your product though. If you’re selling mattresses and you’re telling me I can only use this coupon in 7 days, I’m probably not going to buy from you because I can’t decide on a mattress in 7 days.
If it is more of an impulse buy or a low price product, 3 to 7 days at the most.
The other thing to remember is that getting the first purchase is the hardest one. So when you’re talking about a welcome code you definitely want to have some sort of deadline on that same thing with sales, right? If you do a snail a promotion, whatever it is, you’re not going to run that shit forever, you’re going to run it for a short amount of time and either they take advantage or they miss out. You snooze, you lose.
So you want to add that urgency. You can do this through limited quantities. A lot of people will only buy a certain number of items, right? Like they don’t have it. They don't have 1,200 units of it to last forever.
Maybe you have a seasonal scent of something, or a flavor depending upon what you sell. Maybe it's certain colors you only have a certain time of the year.
Think about the pumpkin spice latte; and if you don’t like pumpkin spice lattes, that’s okay. We can still be friends. Please don’t judge me. I love them. I’m basic. I put on my Uggs,I drink my pumpkin spice latte. I don’t really put on my Uggs because I live in Los Angeles now, but when I lived in New York, they were a necessity! I wait all year for my pumpkin spice latte. That’s a sense of urgency. I know, I have to go get one and get multiple before they run out of the pumpkin syrup because that’s a sad day. The first day you go in there and they say we're out, very sad. So you want to instill that with your customer as well.
Think about how that ties back to your product and your business.
B.A.D.A.S.S Email Marketing Framework Recap
Let’s recap these really quick.
Behavior automation, add value, determine their preferences, always be testing, segmentation, and sense of urgency.
Okay. I know this was a lot. I threw a lot of information at you. You’re not going to grasp it all right away. I don’t expect you to! This is one of those episodes you’re going to want to come back to and listen to again.
If you were on the move while you were listening to this definitely come back and listen to it again when you can sit down and take some notes. Really start thinking about your business and your customer.
I think a brainstorm is so important ahead of time and it will make it that much easier for you to sit down and execute. Look at what you’ve already done in your email. What have you done that fits in this framework and what pieces might you be missing?
I hope that this was helpful to you. I love email marketing. I want you to love email marketing and most importantly I want you to make money from email marketing and not feel overwhelmed by it.
If you have more questions about this, come on over to the Facebook group, just search e-commerce badassery and you’ll find it. That way we can talk so much more about this. I’m going to be talking more about it. And of course, we’re going deeper into each of the behavior automations in the next episode. It’s already recorded and ready for you to listen to. We’re going to go through each email, what sort of emails you should have, the timing you should have, all the things!
I’m super excited to share that with you and I will see you in the next episode.