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Why Email is the Unsung Hero of E-Commerce with Phillip Rivers
On this episode of the Quiet Light podcast, we talk to Phillip Rivers (not the quarterback).
We get into why email is the unsung hero of E-commerce businesses. In his experience, thirty percent of your revenue should come from email connections.
Tune in to her more on Phillip’s thoughts about the power of email in E-commerce.
- Phillip’s background in E-commerce.
- Why email is still powerful despite expanded advertising options.
- The misstep of shooting from the hip.
- How to start out on the right foot.
- The efficacy of social media advertising.
- Getting past personal biases.
- Sharing a name with a famous quarterback.
Joe: Our buddy Mike Jackass did a presentation not too long ago on his product campaign product with Color It and what he does with e-mail in Klaviyo and did a presentation to I think it was the eCommerceFuel folks showing how much of his revenue came from his e-mail campaigns. And a lot of people were blown away because they felt like it’s something that is dated and not an area that’s strong in e-commerce anymore. Maybe those folks are doing mostly on Amazon and actually can’t e-mail the customers. But in this case, when it’s an off Amazon business, Mike presented a case, that e-mail is an important component of any campaign in growing up SaaS business or content business whatever you’ve got if you’ve got a list of customers to reach out to them. I understand you had Phillip Rivers on the podcast talking about this very same thing. How did that call go?
Mark: Well, you can imagine my delight when I got an e-mail from Phillip Rivers. I thought he’s finally returning my fan mail. All the e-mails that I sent to the quarterback of now the Indiana Colts as opposed to the San Diego Chargers; I’m sorry, Los Angeles Chargers. I was like I finally met; no, it’s not that Phillip Rivers. I did have to ask him about that at the end. He has a funny story about people not believing it was his real ID when he was going into a bar thinking it was a fake ID. But that’s at the end of the podcast. The bulk of what we talked about instead of football is e-mail marketing and the fact that it’s the unsung hero of e-commerce marketing. And for all you buyers out there, this is one of these opportunities for where you can find opportunities for immediate gains after you acquire a business. Phillip Rivers at this podcast argues and argues very well that in his experience, an e-commerce business should have at least 30% of its revenue mix coming from e-mail. So if you’re looking at where customers are being acquired from currently with an e-commerce business and it does not have a sizable portion coming from e-mail, this is an opportunity. And there are ways to do this with Amazon as well. I’ve known plenty of Amazon sellers who have healthy e-mail lists and use it to launch products. And that’s a great avenue for getting those products to rank well on Amazon very, very quickly. So we talked a lot about his experience with this; with e-mail marketing, some of the best practices he follows and then some of the metrics you should be following in here. I joked at the end when you have a name like Phillip Rivers your open rate probably naturally gets higher than if it’s just Joe Valley. Well, probably not Joe Valley, Joe Valley is recognized, right?
Joe: In a very small circle of people, yes.
Mark: Yeah, right. Anyways, good point. I think it’s a bit larger than that. I open the e-mail when I see it, but no, good episode for just learning about identifying these opportunities for quick wins and opportunities that you’re evaluating for businesses for sale.
Joe: Excellent. Let’s go to it.
Mark: Phillip, thanks so much for joining me on the podcast here today. I’m really excited to have you on because you reached out to me. You talked about e-mail as the unsung hero of e-commerce and I have a special place in my heart for e-mail as I built my first business on the back of e-mail marketing. So welcome to the podcast. I’m really glad to have you here.
Phillip: Thanks for having me, Mark.
Mark: Hey, why don’t you give a little bit of a background on yourself and why you reached out to me about e-mail as the unsung hero as you put it of e-commerce and why this is something that you want to talk about?
Phillip: Yeah, man. So I’ve been in e-commerce for quite a while, about 15 years now, highs and lows. But in the early days, there was none of these wonderful tools that we kind of now take for granted. And so I sort of skid my teeth on e-mail; building audiences and nurturing them and figuring out ways to monetize creatively. And this dates back to; this is pre-Shopify, Facebook Ads, and all that stuff. And over the years, as the industry matured, I just got really leaned into and sharpening my sword on building audiences and communicating with people. And in doing so, I’ve had some successful stores and some unsuccessful ones. It’s kind of how it goes in this game.
Mark: I’ve only got successful stories. I’ve never had a failure in my life.
Phillip: That’s not true. I heard on another podcast a business you bought that didn’t work out.
Mark: All right, I have more than one of those. Okay, let’s move on from my failures on to your successes.
Phillip: And so, in any event, I think that to my time in e-com I notice that e-mail is this very unique special channel that the brand or the individual business has complete control over in terms of how they build that audience, how they connect with them over time, and what messaging they put in front of them to get whatever action they aim to get out of it, whether it be engagement or revenue or whatever it may be and so much so that in talking with friends or now clients that are in the e-commerce space, it’s just e-mail is one of those things that kind of gets kicked to the curb or neglected in lieu of kind of faster or sexier channels. And so really, I’m here just kind of standing on a soapbox and tell people like this is an important channel for longevity and to have a clean, healthy business long term and an asset that you can own and control. E-mail is very important and vital to long term success of any business.
Mark: And I would agree but let’s go ahead and play some of the devil’s advocate here with the different channels. Obviously, social media is where a lot of people are putting their attention. You’re on Facebook for a long time some people are kind of weighing in on Facebook and saying Instagram advertising works really, really well for them. Influencer marketing, it’s a matter of time before we get to the next big social media. I was just talking to somebody yesterday who was like I’m trying to figure out TikTok. It’s the latest thing out there to try and figure out. With all these things happening, why does e-mail continue to hold a seat at the table in our marketing mix? And then later on, just for those listening, I want to get into the how later on. I think that’s the mediary topic but before we get to the how let’s talk about the why. Why is e-mail; why does it deserve a seat at this table?
Phillip: Well, it’s the one channel that you own outright. I think that gets kind of discounted or forgotten a lot. Any other social channels you’re borrowing that audience and technically Zuckerberg or one of the other power players is who owns that audience and you can be sort of de-platformed or the cost can go up or the algo can change and all of a sudden you can’t reach the same amount of people. So it’s just they’re not bad and they’re amazing tools, you just don’t have full control like you do e-mail. So I think for me that’s the biggest thing. And the other way that I look at it is all these social channels are great at engaging folks and driving traffic but if you look at the analytics, at any store or any e-com store, the conversion rate; let’s just say it’s 5% which would be on the higher end of the spectrum. But that still means that 95% didn’t buy on any given day and if you’re not thinking about how you capture leads from as many of those people as possible and how do you communicate with them to communicate your value proposition and products etcetera, then you’re really relying on luck and kind of paying for impressions to get people back again which is it leaves too much up to chance, in my opinion, or for my liking. And two, it just is a very expensive long term proposition and it’s hard to build something sustainable that way.
Mark: Yeah. With that, though, and again I’m still playing the devil’s advocate here, should we own the channel? We own somebody’s e-mail, we can hit them up but Google’s gotten better at filtering that out. Our updates here at Quiet Light got thrown into the updates folder. Another company I have, things are getting thrown over in the promotions folder which is like spam with an asterisk; it’s spam, but you should probably be looking at it. At least that’s what I look at that promotions folder. Do we really have full control over e-mail do you think, or are we losing control, and what about the future of that? Is that something to watch out for in the future?
Phillip: I think that strategy is the most important part. And so I think that this goes kind of back into the how, but based on how you set forth in terms of once someone pops in and you start to communicate with them, how do you do it and what actions do you ask them for. Doing some of those things kind of at the outset can dictate where your e-mail goes in terms of the Gmail inbox, for example, long term. If people aren’t engaging with it, it’ll be routed to promo. But if people engage with the early e-mails, that’s kind of a way to work around it to land in the inbox. But to go one layer deeper, I think from an e-mail perspective, I don’t worry too much about the mailbox tab or the promo tab. The only one I really want to stay out of the most is Spam and that’s the one I can control. Whether it ends up in promo or one of the other tabs, there’s nothing that I can do about it. As a marketer, all that I can do is think critically about how do I create the most incredible experience for the person that’s going to be consuming this message? And if I think about them and value them, then the things downstream that I don’t really have control over will tend to work out.
Mark: Sure and I think this is a point that might get lost sometimes with e-mail, right? And maybe we can talk a little bit about the how, because I think we’re just going to naturally end up there anyways.
Phillip: Can I add one more point before we get there, Mark?
Mark: No. No, I’m just kidding. Please.
Phillip: I was going to say that the other thing is like you mentioned the dynamic changing or Google changes things meaning how that affects us in deliverability in the inbox. Facebook or the players and social are changing algorithms every single day and so increasingly of all of your audience there, fewer and fewer of them see your message unless you pay to play. So e-mail, if you look at them side by side on engagement metrics, e-mail would win far and above every single time from organic social versus e-mail. But the state of play on all platforms is always changing. But I don’t look at that as to say like we shouldn’t play the game. It’s just like what are the rules and kind of where do I have to get creative and that to get the best result possible?
Mark: Sure, yeah. And I think talk about a multiplatform approach makes sense as well. It’s not an either-or sort of proposition. We can definitely enhance our e-mail marketing with other platform marketing. But for anyone curious as to what’s the winner when you are looking at these different channels just do a Google search. I mean, the open rates and the attention that gets paid to e-mail versus social media is significantly higher with e-mail. I’m going to stop playing devil’s advocate because it hurts me to do so. Because I do have a soft spot in my heart for e-mail but people do it wrong all the time. People really don’t understand how to do e-mail right. And I mean, I go through every day and I unsubscribe from; I have no idea how many people I’m unsubscribing from every day. It just feels like I’m constantly unsubscribing because they’re not offering me value. But there are some people in my inbox that I don’t remember signing up for but they’re adding value so I keep them in there. So let’s talk about that. Let’s talk about doing it wrong. Let’s talk about doing it right, especially from an e-commerce standpoint where you’re selling products. I’d love to hear where you start that conversation with people.
Phillip: Well, I think that through the lens of e-com, what most people miss, Mark is the strategy first and foremost. So I talk to a lot of business owners on the phone and most of them when it comes down to e-mail, they have no clear roadmap or kind of treasure map, as I like to call it, in terms of what they’re going to be doing week to week from a messaging perspective, whether that’s value, whether that’s offers or; not offers at percentage basis but talking about a product and offering something for sale and also segmentation. So pretty much what most brands do is just shoot from the hip, which is really hard to build a successful channel when you’re just guessing and playing with borrowed time all the time. And so that’s kind of the biggest misstep that I see a lot of people making. And then it’s important with this channel just as any other just like with your Facebook ads where you’re putting a lot of budget behind the ads that you’re running is like, okay, how do I kind of think about what do I want to communicate to the audience and based on kind of where they are in the lifecycle so that one, I create a good experience for them, but two, I get to little by little move them along the lifecycle to ultimately converting or re-converting or whatever it may be. But that’s the biggest thing that I see missing is starting off on the right foot.
Mark: What is the right foot and what’s the wrong foot?
Phillip: Well, I think the wrong foot is sale, sale, sale all the time or just running with offers to people and just mass discounting to get sales which is the strategy or tactic a lot of people use. So I think the right foot is looking at what does your audience care about? The way I like to break it down is into kind of three different high-level kind of categories; offers where we talk about the product, trust builders, where we can pull things from social media or reviews, testimonials, maybe how our brand, our origin story or how a product is created, where we can tell a story. To me, that builds trust or connection. And then also content. That content, again, could be Instagram content, or a blog content, or just things that are important to the brand and they know it’s important; the avatar that they can talk about. It doesn’t have to be a blog post necessarily, but content. So ultimately, if we take a step back, that’s a mixture of offers and value add stuff in one way, shape, or form. And they all sort of cross over it’s like a then diagram you can make a content message and offer message and so it’s kind of a hybrid, but you’re still in that context leading with value and you’re offering something for sale but the main point of that isn’t an offer or a product. It’s you’re telling a story around some angle or narrative. So I think the right way to start is to; what we often do is group what things can we talk about from an offer perspective that apply to our brand, our avatar, same thing for trust builder, same thing for content ideas and put all those on paper as wild or crazy or simple or sophisticated as you think those answers or your ideas are. Get them all there and then it’s a lot easier to cut things or group them together once everything’s sort of out of your brain and onto the piece of paper. That’s oftentimes the first step that I take and I recommend people take because that way it’s a lot easier to see it. Kind of like akin to Minority Report.
Mark: Throwback there to an old Tom Cruise movie for anyone that hasn’t seen it. Don’t watch it. Actually, it’s an okay movie. Well, let’s try to actually break this down into an example here because a lot of theory here as far as this. And what I’ve often found when we talk about marketing, whether it be e-mail marketing or any other type when we start talking about segmenting; it sounds great in theory, right? The idea that, hey, you want to segment your audience, you want to understand and kind of meet them where they’re at and like, yeah, that’s great and then you sit down and you do it. So how do I know where my audience is at? How do I know what they want to hear from content? And how do I move from that content to the offer? So let’s make-believe a brand, we got a pet business here. It sells dog collars; custom dog collars, let’s say with nice little chains around the neck or something like that, I don’t know. We’ll just say a pet brand we don’t have to get that specific. You talked about breaking up into these three different levels. I mean, how would we do this with a B2C sort of brand for a hobby niche or a passion just like pets? What are some things to look at there?
Phillip: So I’m talking through the lens of campaigns, not flows, just to be clear. And so through this sort of pet leash or pet brand that you mentioned, it’s like, okay, what are some offers that we could talk about around the product? So there’s obviously discounting, there’s maybe product releases, back in stocks. There’s a few ideas. There’s design inspiration, why they built this product this way. That could also be kind of like a trust builder sort of thing. And again, reviews, even just pictures of dogs wearing your collar. Pet owners love that type of stuff and so that goes a long way. Again, this could also be content or slash trust builder. But I know it’s hard to stay organized talking about this and through the lens of the people that are listening now, this is all over the place. But like pictures of other dogs wearing the collars, that could be used in all three of these categories; offer, trust builder, or even a content idea. So the way that I look at it, Mark, is you have these three overarching categories. In a month there is four weeks that you’re going to be communicating campaigns to folks. And not to get too into the weeds on segmentation, but let’s say you’re going to send five campaigns throughout the course of the month. So one a week plus some sort of like wildcard campaign based on whatever’s happening in the calendar or in the world that you could sort of ride the coattails of in any given month. So I would say two of those should be offer related e-mails. Two of those or three should be content or value-added. To make it simple it’s something that people can sort of sink their teeth into. Like, okay, now I have a clear go forward in terms of what I should be doing each week.
Mark: Yeah, you don’t want to get into the weeds with segmentation. We’re going to do that in a bit. But first, I want to know, does this change when you are going B2B or B2C?
Phillip: The only thing that changes when I go B2B is it depends; like what’s the underlying product that’s being sold and what’s the sales cycle and how is that product consumed? So if you’re selling cloud hosting solutions for law firms, which I’ve done before…
Mark: That’s exciting. I fell asleep while you were saying that by the way but I’m awake.
Phillip: So the sales cycle for that is long and they don’t really repurchase it. They’re repurchasing services from whoever installed the cloud hosting stuff for them. And so for them, one a week might be a little bit too aggressive. It might be a bi-weekly or monthly thing, but I think to answer your question, it’s all circumstantial based on the underlying business and what they sell and how it’s consumed. And so there’s not a hard and fast rule that you have to send once a week even for e-com necessarily. It’s what applies for one business won’t necessarily apply to the other and I think a lot of people get sort of tripped up on that where they seek advice online and they think they have to do it that way. But it’s not necessarily best suited for them or their or their leads or customers.
Mark: Yeah, you do consulting for this, right? This is part of what you do.
Mark: Okay, so let’s say a new client is coming to you. And I want to just talk about the average client avatar that you have here, like the average client coming in. What do you often see with people’s e-mail setups when they first come to you? Assuming that they have something set up what is kind of the most common approach they take? And then the follow up to that’s going to be what do you do next once you see that and what are the steps to try and get it in shape?
Phillip: Yeah, so what I often see most is there’s no strategy like it’s just sort of thrown together piecemeal and they send when they send. And therefore they don’t know what they’re doing with campaigns. There’s no plan and there’s no measurement because you can’t track what you don’t measure. So that’s big mistake number one. The other thing that I see is people that do use flows; again, this is through the lens of e-com especially, more often than not they kind of just use like the templates that are given to them by whatever ESP they’re using so it’s like they put forth the least amount of effort just to have something there to cross it off the list. And oftentimes they do this because people don’t realize the potential to e-mail has for their business and so because of their; what’s the word I want, lack of experience sort of in this channel, they think that if they get 2%, 3%, or 4% a month from e-mail they think that’s; their outlook is, oh, we’re doing okay. I’m happy with it. Not knowing they should be doing at a minimum 30.
Mark: 30% what?
Phillip: Of revenue per month attributed to e-mail.
Mark: That’s a high percent. Okay.
Phillip: So without a solid strategy, I would say it’s like building a house on quicksand and if you do that, it’s not going to be around very long. And so what they do is oftentimes there’s no strategy. They do a little bit here and there, and they’re quite happy with the results because they don’t know any better. But they’re also inclined to say e-mail doesn’t work for my business. But it’s not because the channel is inherently bad, it’s because there’s no strategy in place to make it successful.
Mark: Right, that makes sense. So what’s next for you then after you see this? They don’t have a strategy in place. Is the strategy that you start putting together just what you were talking about; this kind of planning out the next month and these three different types of e-mails that you would send out or how do you go about dissecting that that strategy and building something for them? I mean talking flows, let’s just make a quick point of clarification. Flows would be like automations, there’s e-mail sequences, there’s a lot of different names for these, but it’s e-mails that are sending based off various triggers in sequence. Is that right?
Phillip: Correct. So when I’m sort of looking at an account and I’m diagnosing what’s currently happening, what are the holes in their funnel, if you will, or what are the pitfalls within an e-mail and how can they improve as fast as possible to start making; squeezing more juice out of this lemon? I look first at how are leads being captured on-site? Traffic is coming from paid social, organic social, TikTok, or SEO, whatever the traffic sources are. But they’re coming in. Most people don’t buy. So how effectively are leads being captured so that you can communicate with them? Most people don’t track these at all. And just for those listening on the low end, anything that you’re doing on-site with, like a pop-up, for example, should be converting at minimum 5%. We always sort of measure; our goal is to get to 10% conversion rate. So impression to conversion is 10% and if it converts to 10% percent I’m not touching it. It’s like I found the unicorn. I just let it ride until it starts to diminish; the performance starts to diminish. But most people don’t even know how the pop-up is performing from a lead gen perspective. So that’s the first thing we look for. Second thing is in parallel, what’s happening with campaigns is they’re sort of a strategy or a framework in place for communicating with the audience, period. More often than not it’s no. If they do have a strategy in place, it’s like, well, how is it performing? How are they using segmentation to at least be sort of more precise with their messaging, making sure that it has audience message fit to move the metrics that they want to move. And parallel to that on the flow side, again, as you mentioned, Mark, these flows their purpose is to nurture people throughout the customer lifecycle based on their behaviors, attributes, or lack thereof. So if someone comes in and gives their e-mail; they come from paid social, they give their e-mail, they don’t buy, you put them through a series of messaging that starts to evangelize them. They learn what’s important to you, form some sort of a connection, a deeper one, than you had when they got there in the first place. And so these flows, by and large, there’s four, I would say, critical or key flows that any business needs first before they start adding a bunch of sexy stuff afterwards; that being the welcome flow, like when you start to sort of indoctrinate or evangelize folks, browse abandoned flow, so someone’s been opted in, they’re shopping around, but they don’t take an action to add to Cart, abandoned cart flow, which there’s a lot of people that add to cart and never buy. So there’s just low hanging fruit there. And then the other one that I think is the most important to have at the outset is first time customer. And so at this point, the reason I think that’s so important, Mark, is getting someone to buy the first time is one of the hardest things in the world. But once they’ve converted they’re five times more likely to buy a second time than a new person is to buy a first time. So this is really our first opportunity to start to make an even deeper connection with someone that’s converted once and to communicate our values and what lies ahead for them when they receive their product in the mail, so on and so forth, so that we can start to then be in a place to position something else for them to buy at some point down the road based on what makes sense for the underlying business and what they sell, obviously. And so usually when I’m a buyer, those are all the things that I look at like is the core infrastructure of flows in place yes or no? If it is okay, is it performing well or are there holes in it that should be improved before moving on to something and moving on to kind of more sophisticated flows?
Mark: I got it.
Phillip: I know that’s a mouthful but is that helpful?
Mark: No, that was great. I mean I purposely was just not talking because I was soaking up a lot of what you were saying here. With flows a couple of just practical application issues here that I want to go over, one is do you recommend interspersing campaigns with flows and if not, how do you work in holiday specials and stuff like that? And my follow up to that is going to be how do you do this without interrupting things? For example, I’ve seen this flow set up before where you get the introductory e-mail, and then the next week you get another e-mail that’s kind of more trust building, and then week three you have something that’s sent out that’s more of a promotion e-mail. And this is going to be everybody’s experience when they become a new customer, right? They’re going to have this sort of experience. Their clock starts the day they buy or the day that you capture them as lead depending where their starting point is. Do you recommend using campaigns as well and how do you not have competing offers or campaigns disrupting that flow?
Phillip: So I think, quite honestly, I don’t worry too much about cannibalizing flows with campaigns or campaigns with flows. Most businesses aren’t to the point where they’re that sophisticated from a marketing perspective, where there’s that much going on, where it’s going to hurt them to have a campaign sent and someone also receive a flow. So I think a lot of times they start; it’s an outlier and people worry about it and it takes up time, energy, and ultimately it becomes a barrier for them ultimately taking action. So then what happens is they get into the weeds thinking about it and like oh, they end up not doing it because they’re worried about somehow buyer implications that might happen if they were to do this. And they don’t do anything, which is worse than just doing both. So I think it’s a lot easier to keep it simple. But again, this is one of those things where it all depends on the underlying business and what they sell and how they communicate and all of these things. But to answer your question, I don’t worry too much about if someone’s enrolled in a flow sending a campaign. But what I will do depends on the ESP that’s being used. But I’ll talk through the lens of Klaviyo because that’s where I spend most of my time. If someone is in abandoned cart flow, which is very high leverage flow and they’re close to converting. And I also have campaigns going out that generally disperse; these people that are in the abandoned cart would also get this campaign. If I’m hypersensitive to it, or I want to make sure that people enrolled in flows don’t want to see this particular; let’s just say it’s a deep discount, I’ll just suppress that segment or anyone that received an abandoned cart e-mail in the last 16 hours from getting this campaign. So it’s like an easy sort of fix but if you don’t have to go write it all out on a whiteboard and see where all the dependencies arcs is it just becomes too confusing. It’s just easier not to do it if you’re going to go about it that way.
Mark: Sure, and you don’t think people are paying enough attention anyways to; not paying enough attention but you’re not to worried about cannibalizing and having one interrupt the other not as problems.
Phillip: Not really. A lot of what happens to is we have like our own world view, our own biases when we’re thinking about stuff as the business owner market or whatever like I don’t like this or I’m worried about that. But at the end of the day, to answer your question to this specific example, I’d rather look at the metrics of the e-mail to tell me what’s working or what’s not working or what I’m doing wrong or right. So, for example, if I just let it ride, people get flows, people get campaigns, and I start to see there’s an uptick in spam complaints then that tells me, okay, I need to pull back a little on the aggressiveness of the campaigns. That’s the first place I would look. But I’d rather know in black and white than me, just come up with something, not know what the upside or downside, but then I don’t do it. But I also don’t know how it affects my business in a positive or negative way.
Mark: I got it. What’s a good opening, in your opinion?
Phillip: That’s a loaded question because there’s so many factors but what I would shoot for, at a minimum, I would say 25%.
Mark: That’ll be great. I mean, again, it’s a loaded question and it’s difficult. Every business is going to be a little bit different. If you’re not at that, let’s say that somebody is listening and they are 15% right now or 12½% or something like that, which I think is kind of common, depending on how long and how old your listing is. Lists in my experience tend to get old and sometimes get a little bit tired, especially with the older people on there. What are ways that you can increase that open rate and is it something that they should really be worrying about as well, in your opinion?
Phillip: I think it comes down to a lot of the underlying business, but also like what do they care about most? From my perspective, revenue is the most important thing. The audience is important. I don’t want to blow up a list and degrade the engagement metrics in favor of revenue because ultimately revenue is just a lag indicator of the engagement metrics anyways. So that’s going to start to diminish over time if that’s the approach that you take. And so to answer your question, if the open rate is 15%, I would look at how old is the audience to your point, how long have they been around for, what other behaviors or actions have they taken since they’ve been on the list that would tell me that they are interested in receiving more messaging from me. Sometimes I do this, too and you probably do also but I subscribe to lists. I open their e-mails. I don’t necessarily consume them, but I don’t want to unsubscribe because; this is e-commerce but I don’t want to unsubscribe because there might be something I want to see in the future so I stay on but I also am not really engaged. So I think that on the one hand it’s looking at kind of the age of the audience and are people engaged with your site overall? Like when was the last time this cohort of people has even been on your website? At some point, this is one thing that a lot of people don’t think about is like, how do I start to clean my list or my audience or where do I draw the line in the sand to determine these folks who want to be here, these folks don’t, and come up with a strategy to either ask them finally, do you want to stay or just suppress them or remove them altogether? But to get the open rate up, that’s one place I would look. Also, if it’s a new, relatively new audience, and your open rate is only 15% what that tells me is there’s misalignment between the message and the audience. So there might be a bad resource or another example that a lot of people do these days in e-commerce is they run giveaways, but give away enrollees aren’t necessarily the best subscribers because they’re not there because they want to hear from you. They’re there because they wanted something for free. And that has its own sort of implications and how do you deal with that but from my experience, the list that I see that are at 12%, 15%, there’s a combination of not the best audience, not the best message for that audience, and also an audience that’s probably decaying because the strategy for e-mail isn’t buttoned up and so the audience doesn’t know what to expect. Therefore, they’re relatively unengaged.
Mark: Yeah, let’s close out with this question here, because we’re getting up against the clock here on our time. What are some key metrics that you do look at with your list? Obviously revenue, and obviously open rate to an extent as well, depending on some other circumstances. What should people be looking at? If there’s going to be one thing that somebody is going to look at as soon as they stop listening to this podcast and leave in a rating on iTunes because I know everybody does that; a cheap plug there. What is one thing they should go over into their ESP and take a look at to say, am I doing well here?
Phillip: Okay, so I can rattle off a bunch if that’s helpful.
Mark: Please, yeah.
Phillip: But I think starting with revenue at the top just to be able to assess overall performance of e-mail as it applies to revenue for your business is just look at what is the revenue contribution like from Klaviyo, for example, the last 30 days, 90 days and then breaking it up. What did flows contribute to that? What campaigns contribute? That’ll give you a really good idea in terms of the heartbeat of the performance of e-mail overall. Like I said, I would strive for 30% so if that’s at 6% there’s a lot of room for improvement. If they’re at 25% they’re still upside but again, I don’t like to quote higher than 30 because there’s things about businesses. But let’s just say you still have room to improve, but obviously not as much as the folks at six. So that’s what I would look at first. On the campaign side, I look at open and click. I look at click to open ratio, which really tells me of the people that open how engaging was this message for them? Did it resonate with the audience? I’ll look at revenue on a dollar perspective; dollar amount, and then also the percentage of the people that received the message that bought just so I can see kind of a take rate and placed order from this particular campaign.
Mark: I got it. That’s great. Anything else that you’d like to add and if people had questions or wanted to bounce some stuff off of you regarding e-mail marketing, where can they find you?
Phillip: I don’t have anything to add other than just think about adding e-mail to your marketing mix if it’s not something that’s a focus right now, that’s all.
Mark: Can I double down on that? I mean, if you’re going to buy a business, we talk often about doing an acquisition, finding places where business is weak, and bringing a strength to that. That’s an easy way to get a fast return on your investment. If somebody is not doing e-mail marketing with their e-commerce, then that is an easy opportunity to add more revenue to a company, especially if the target is 30% revenue mix. I mean, that provides a nice metric to take a look at to see what is somebody doing right now and maybe where can we grow this company. I agree with you 100%, e-mail is the overlooked channel. One of the few areas where I keep harping on this is and frankly if I see a business; if I’m selling a business that has a good, solid e-mail list for somebody to optimize that, I typically give it a higher valuation because I don’t worry about the algorithms changing like I do on Facebook or any other social media network or getting overly crowded. E-mail is going to continue to be a champion for a long time and I know that other marketers agree with this, especially some seasoned marketers. Where can people contact you if they have questions about this?
Phillip: You can find me on Facebook, just Phillip Rivers with two L’s or on my site on the contact us form or something like that. But my e-mail address is at [email protected].
Mark: Awesome. Phillip Rivers with two L’s not one.
Phillip: That’s right. Not the quarterback either.
Mark: Not the quarterback. You probably get asked all the time. Are you a Chargers fan or now Colts fan is it?
Phillip: By coincidence when he got drafted I was going to school in San Diego and I also turned 21 at this time so I would always get double takes by the bouncers. Like who is this guy with his fake ID.
Mark: You don’t look like Philip Rivers.
Phillip: And I’m only six feet. He’s like 6’7. But I was a Chargers fan for a long time. I kind of like just don’t have as much time to watch sports. But yeah, I’m a Chargers fan, but I always appreciate him just because he’s my namesake.
Mark: And there you go. And I’ll tell you what, it gives you a higher open rate because when I saw that I have an e-mail from Philip Rivers, I’m like, sweet Philip Rivers is contacting me. Hey Phil, thank you so much for coming on the podcast. I really appreciate it.
Phillip: Thanks for having me, Mark.