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How To Effectively Use SMS and Email Marketing – Dylan Kelley

In this episode, we talk to Dylan Kelley, Founder and CEO of Wavebreak. Dylan shares his best advice on how ecommerce brands should use SMS and email marketing effectively.

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About this episode:

In this episode of The Ecommerce Insights Show, we sit down with Dylan Kelley, Founder and CEO of Wavebreak, a boutique agency specializing in SMS and email marketing. We talk about the right way ecommerce brands should use email and SMS marketing. We also dive into brand building, email marketing segmentation and personalization with real examples from the industry.

In this episode, you’ll learn about:

  • What are the benefits of SMS marketing
  • Strategizing for a small business vs a big business
  • Prioritizing your marketing budget and figuring out where & what to spend
  • How SMS fits in the marketing strategy, and the role of an email marketing manager (how the two platforms work together)

So if you are interested in learning the best ways to use SMS and email marketing, then this episode is for you.

Learn more about Dylan and his resources here:

Want to be a guest on our show? Have feedback or ideas for how we can improve? Send your thoughts over to podcast@thegood.com. We’ll be keeping an eye on that inbox. 🙂

The Ecommerce Insights Show is brought to you by The Good, a Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) consultancy specializing in helping ecommerce businesses accelerate their growth through better research, testing, and design. Learn more about our team, our work, and our services at www.thegood.com.

Episode Transcript:

TEIS – Dylan Kelley – Wavebreak

[00:00:00] James Sowers: So here’s the question. How can you, commerce leaders make sure that they are producing a great product, providing a world-class customer experience responsibly managing the finances and still reserve time, energy and resources for marketing their products. My name is James Sauers, and you’re listening to the e-commerce insights show.

[00:00:16] The podcast that gives you a specific, actionable advice for growing your e-commerce business. Every Monday, you’ll get a conversion rate optimization tactic that you can implement quickly to make your business 1% better. Every single. Every Thursday, we sit down with industry experts to go deep on a specific aspect of running a successful e-commerce business.

[00:00:34] It’s the perfect blend of learning and application, which means that you maximize the value of every single minute you spend with us. We’re just as committed to growing your business as you are. So if you’re looking for a partner to help you crush your revenue goals, you’ve come to the right place, roll up your sleeves and grab a notepad because it’s time to get to.

[00:00:52] Hey, Dylan. Welcome to the e-commerce insight show. Really excited to have you on to talk about email marketing, SMS marketing, and just general e-commerce. I know you’re working with some very impressive brands over there at wave break. So maybe before we get into the technical stuff and get into the weeds about, uh, your area of expertise, give us a couple of sentences about what you do at wave break and maybe a project or a campaign, or, um, a client effort that has you excited to fire up your laptop and get to work.

[00:01:17] They.

[00:01:18] Dylan Kelley: Yeah. Yeah. First. Thanks for having me, James. I really appreciate it. Really, really great to be here. But, um, yeah. My name is Dylan Kelly, I’m founder and CEO of a company called wave break. We’re a boutique agency specializing in email and SMS marketing, ultimately a bigger focus on retention and even outside that profit driving profitability for our clients.

[00:01:40] And yeah, it’s really, really exciting what we’re doing right now, you know, in terms of like what really excited. It’s. I mean, I love 80 20 rule, so just really like optimizing for that and specifically building around customers. And now just like if I bought this, bought that, but like where they are in the journey and like where your most profitable customers are and getting more of those and growing your business based on that instead of other things, and, you know, using channels like email and SMS to do that, but.

[00:02:05] Yeah. I mean, just like, I mean, profitability in general and e-commerce is a big focus of mine and something that’s really exciting and, uh, close to my heart. Um, because like, that’s the name of the game profit. So,

[00:02:16] James Sowers: yeah. And it’s easy to kind of get off track when it comes to profitability because e-commerce in the last year has really taken off.

[00:02:23] And, um, you know, because of that, it’s kind of like the gold rush, right? Like a lot of people want to sell you picks and shovels. And it’s easy to sign up for every tool because every tool comes out and says, I’ve got a positive ROI, right? Whether it’s SMS, marketing, email, marketing, SEO, you know, you’ve got agencies and you’ve got the tools.

[00:02:39] And they’re all saying, like, if you give me five grand a month, I guarantee you you’ll get five grand plus a couple extra on top of that back in revenue, you signed up for enough of those and you kind of lose track of like, am I still bringing anything home after all this? You know what I mean? Like who’s delivering on their promises.

[00:02:52] Who’s not, so it’s messy out there. And I empathize with the e-commerce leaders. We have to wrestle with that because. People are really good at pitching their products and services. And a lot of them probably do make sense, but like, no matter what it is, if you don’t implement it correctly, it’s not going to.

[00:03:06] Save your bottom line. Right?

[00:03:07] Dylan Kelley: So a lot of people also have great pitches and terrible execution, which is very common to especially agencies. There’s a lot of agencies with really good salespeople or the founders of the salesperson. And then they don’t have a good enough team to back it up too. So that ends up getting, getting a lot of brands and pretty bad spots.

[00:03:22] But yeah, there’s just, there’s a lot of misinformation and. Yeah, a lot of stuff out there now, now we’ve got slack groups, we’ve got LinkedIn, we’ve got DDC Twitter, which has a mind of its own. And there’s like all these things you could be doing and you have to be doing and a Twitter thread on how to do it when you should really just be focusing on like the overall strategy.

[00:03:40] All of your business and being more strategic and

[00:03:43] James Sowers: less tactical. Right? Right. Yeah. The fundamentals saying they never grow old. Right. So maybe in line with that, like maybe one of the examples you’ll share here is one of those fundamental kind of processes or strategies that always work and is tried and true, or maybe it’s something more experimental, but like, is there something in your day-to-day work at wave break, client account or something?

[00:03:59] That you’re seeing really kill it right now. And email and SMS marketing. And some of you want to share with the audience. And like I said, that could be something that you always known has worked, and we just keep pounding away at those fundamentals and they keep driving revenue. Or is it something a little bit more, you know, an edge case, more experimental, more.

[00:04:15] Pulling out of the labs,

[00:04:16] Dylan Kelley: right? Yeah. No, it’s a great question. I mean, in general, we, we are really doing extremely well with SMS and I know that’s like a buzzword hot topic, hot tactic right now, but it is just cutting through the noise at a really great rate. I will say, like, if you don’t have a great email program and you don’t have a solid business to start with adding SMS, isn’t going to help you.

[00:04:35] You know, it’s still is like a tactical channel. It’s not like a strategic. Growth lever. It can drive a lot more revenue for your business, but in terms of what’s working really well, like, you know, SMS and email combined is working extremely well, just because like the visibility of SMS is insane. I mean, like we’re getting great click rates, great conversion rates, and the reason why.

[00:04:56] It’s just because more people are seeing the messages. Right? Cause like in the average retail open rate is like 15%. Whereas like the average SMS is like 95% plus. So if you just imagine, if you could, if everybody on your list actually saw the emails you were saying. You had like four to five X, your email revenue, like that’s pretty much what SMS is now.

[00:05:15] It’s not your silver bullet to success, but as far as like a more tactical thing, that’s working really well right now, I would say SMS is, is working really well when it’s done. Right. You know, it’s cutting through the noise. You gotta treat it differently than email. You gotta treat differently than a lot of channels, but, um, yeah, in terms of something that’s just like crushing SMS.

[00:05:30] James Sowers: Yeah. I, I hear a lot of folks get frustrated with that. 95% open rate stat. They’re like, oh, I’m sick of people touting this like, well, what are the quality of those opens? And like, think of all the people in your life, like your family and friends that you text that never texts you back. Like, just because they read it doesn’t mean they take action on.

[00:05:45] And I’m like, okay, that makes sense. I get it like conceptually, but like, even if you cut that number in half, right. Even if SMS open rate is 50%, like I don’t see many large scale email campaigns working at those levels even. So there’s still plenty of opportunity there. Even if you don’t necessarily take it at face value.

[00:06:00] Right. And accept it for what people are

[00:06:02] Dylan Kelley: promoting. Yeah, absolutely. And like, just, I mean, look at the return on it, like test it out as a channel. Also, it doesn’t even matter what the open rate is or like you are also not your consumer, like so many of us aren’t even on email lists for brands. So. I think that’s a big mistake people make is they try to figure out like, oh, what would I like?

[00:06:19] Oh, I wouldn’t like SMS, so I’m not going to do it. Or I wouldn’t open an SMS or some people don’t text me back. Like, you know, some people are texting back the brand by accident. Like, we’ll go through the responses that people are sending and it’s hilarious. They’re like, Hey, can you bring my stuff to the office?

[00:06:31] Like, those are literally responses to the brand’s texts. I feel bad. I hope those people get the texts, but that maybe that’s why maybe that’s why they’re not texting you back. Um, no, but like, Yeah, no, it’s, it’s working really well. And it’s just like everything. It’s like, you got to test it. You’ll be surprised what actually works on your audience and your customers.

[00:06:46] And a lot of times you’re not your audience and your customer, like you’re a business owner. You don’t want a lot of distractions, but a lot of people really like distractions. They love Tik TOK. They love social media. Living there, their actual life, they hate their jobs, you know, so it’s, I mean, that’s important too.

[00:06:59] You like step outside of yourself and then actually testing on the data. And the numbers we’re seeing is, is really incredible, you know, from SMS sitting anywhere, you know, it can drive up to like 20% of our clients, digital revenue and it’s new revenue too. It’s not like it’s like overlapped attribution.

[00:07:13] Email, like, you know, there’s always a slight overlap, overlap, and we’d talk about attribution and its issues. And you know, it’s not perfect if you added up all the attribution from Facebook, email, Instagram, Google, YouTube, and everything. You’d have like double the amount of revenue you actually have and, you know, versus what you’re actually collecting.

[00:07:28] But no, it’s like, let me send out a text. Like our clients literally feel it in their warehouse. They’re like we’re shipping out more orders today because of this promo or because of this message,

[00:07:36] James Sowers: which is really. Yeah. And you never really know if it’s going to work for your brand until you try it. Right.

[00:07:40] So if you just sit there and you’re just, I’m agnostic about it, right. Or whatever, um, then you’re never going to find out and it might end up working for you. You guys work primarily with larger brands, right? Like, so, uh, somewhere between 10 million and a hundred million annual revenue, I’m guessing, I’m curious.

[00:07:55] Operating at that level. So a significant percentage of our listeners are probably on the SMB side. So somewhere under 10 million. And I think that the challenges and the opportunities that those organizations face are different than kind of where you’re operating. And so I’m curious, like, What is your perspective on, and maybe you started kind of at that lower end of the scale and worked with the smaller brands and built your way up.

[00:08:15] So maybe you have the benefit of understanding both sides of that table, but maybe what are some of the differences between like early stage e-commerce brands and how they think about growth and then more established brands, more mature brands, higher ticket brands, and how they think about growth. Have you noticed any differences there?

[00:08:30] Dylan Kelley: It’s funny. And I love this question and it’s not an easy question to answer because it varies so differently, but like the larger your brand gets the more. I feel like the less business problems you have in the more like people problems you have. It’s more about like, you know, if you’re doing 50 million a year, you’re probably not like a five person e-commerce brand anymore.

[00:08:46] Right. And the hard part is finding great people who can help you take it to a hundred. But yeah, we’ve seen a lot of brands go from. 10 million to a hundred million or 5 million to 25 million. And that’s really where I cut my teeth. Like my first clients were doing 50,000 a month in e-commerce revenue, 5,000 a month in e-commerce revenue.

[00:09:01] And this was back in 2016 when I started. And I noticed they specifically, you know, they’re really focused on acquisition, which is funny. It’s like I was talking about this in 2016 and like, now it’s kind of like a trendy thing where people are like, oh, can we stop talking about retention and like acquisition, like you need Facebook ads and it’s true.

[00:09:16] You know, people just never really thought through like how to get repeat, and it’s killed a lot of companies and we’ve just become too dependent on Facebook. Like that’s a totally different conversation, but you know, it’s been really fun because we got to, and I’ve gotten to work directly with and help these companies go from, yeah, like I said, like five to 25 million or 10 to a hundred.

[00:09:32] And what’s funny is like you do see patterns. So if you’re in like that one to $10 million range, a lot of times you’re still chasing tactics as a way to grow. What’s funny is about like, you know, our eight and nine figure clients who are doing, let’s say 50 million a year. It’s like, they all have the same, like 20 Shopify apps.

[00:09:48] They’re running Shopify. Plus they’re running Klayvio, they’re running attentive. All the same apps. And I think that’s kind of what happens is you, you start looking at these like random tactics less, and you start looking at just like core like business functions and like, you know, it’s just like, this is all we need.

[00:10:03] And it’s just so much more simpler. And I will say to the brands we work with that grow the fastest and the biggest are extremely focused. So like, for example, even on my podcast recently, I was talking with the VP of marketing at chirp, like the back roller company. They STL to 40 million last year within a matter of, yeah.

[00:10:20] With one product and that’s super common. Even with the more mature businesses we work with. It’s like even the company, you know, that comes to mind. We started working with them. They were doing like just under 10 million a year. I think last year they did like 80 this year, you know, they’ll do well over a hundred.

[00:10:34] We’re driving tens of millions of dollars in email revenue for them. They still really have like one main product and they’re just focused on scaling that one thing, their website’s ugly. I mean, it’s not ugly, but like it’s not the prettiest. It’s not D to C looking like they care about actual core data and metrics.

[00:10:51] Like, you know, what’s my revenue per visitor and how do I scale that? And like, they’re just very focused and I think that’s the number one thing for growing any business is being focused. You guys obviously know this, that the good, like you do one thing and you do one thing. Well, same with us. Like you can work with a lot of agencies who also do email and SMS marketing, but there’s no chance they’re as good as us because like, this is all we do and live and breathe 24 7, and we don’t even have enough time to do everything we want to do.

[00:11:13] So like, how is anybody offering this as a secondary service? Can I do well? And it’s the same for your e-commerce business? Like the fastest growing companies. Like it’s a lot easier to scale when you only have one product or, you know, you’re scaling the same product in different. You know, that’s another client who’s yelled really fast.

[00:11:26] It’s like, they’re just doing the same product, same supply chain, same everything, launching new designs at the same thing. It’s a lot easier to scale that way. And like, I would say, like, that’s the biggest thing, like people who are early on get wrong in like the one to $10 million range. It’s like, instead of looking at what new product can I launch the scale, like you can get to that later, but like even look at a company like pure Vida, like they just started launching shirts.

[00:11:45] The other day and we’ll see if it’s a good move. You know, it might be, it might not because they’re, you know, initially this like jewelry company and, you know, focus can really hurt you if it’s wrong. But even if coming like that, it’s like, you know, they scaled to their acquisition as Pura, Vida bracelets.

[00:11:59] And so I think focus is really key because it’s so much easier to grow that way. And I think that’s where everyone gets wrong. They’re looking for a new product to launch. They’re looking for a new category to enter where like really like, yeah, you can get to like 50 million a year. Off like one core competency and just scaling that.

[00:12:12] But I think a lot of people don’t like that, cause it’s like, you know, I mean, I’m, I’m an entrepreneur too. It’s like you have all these ideas, you have all these ideas for channels and everything. And like, I think with the largest brands, no. They’re just really clear on like the basics and the fundamentals and scaling those and scaling what works and really taking the 18 to 20 to the next extreme, where it’s like, you know, the 1 99.

[00:12:31] And that’s what I’ve seen work really well that I think a lot of brands could benefit from instead of just like, you know, even listening to these podcasts, like, you’ll get a ton of ideas, but if you just decide to focus on what’s where. You’re going to see amazing results than trying a bunch of new things.

[00:12:44] James Sowers: Yeah, for sure. I, uh, it reminds me, I can’t think of the show that I heard it on, but somebody told a story recently. They had a friend who was a successful entrepreneur and he would go to conferences. And as soon as he got that one idea that he thought would make a difference for his business. He literally went back to his room, packed up his bags and went home because he didn’t want to be distracted with the next 12 talks.

[00:13:01] He’s like, I got my idea. This is going to return, whatever investment I made to come here to the conference, let me go home and implement. Right? Like you got to balance that. Learning with application. And if you get too far in one area or the other, you can kind of lose your way. So I think that focus and I love what John Lee Dumas says is like, focus stands for follow one course until success, and then move on to the next one.

[00:13:21] So I think like a lot of early stage brands, you know, they got that shiny object syndrome. Or even if things go well, like I launched one product, that’s selling like hotcakes, right. So how can I do that again? Right. Maybe that’s not the right question to ask. Maybe the right question to ask is how can I do even more of it, right.

[00:13:36] Like it’s selling, well, how can I sustain this longer? Or how can I take it even higher? Because I thought this was the ceiling. And clearly, maybe it’s not right. We’re going to crash right through that and go to the next level. So I think that’s super appropriate. One thing that I heard you talk about there that you didn’t say directly, but maybe it’s like my interpretation of it is, you know, these smaller brands.

[00:13:53] May not have enough data to make data back decisions. Right. So they’re kind of following their gut. They’re like, we talked about a little bit already. Like, I don’t think anybody would want SMS marketing because I don’t like SMS marketing. Right. So you’re using the best information you have available, whereas like a more established brand.

[00:14:09] They’ve got the scale, they’ve got the traffic, they’ve got the volume, they’ve got the data and analytics to make data back. Decision-making. You know, there’s going to be somebody here in the messy middle where it’s like, yeah, I have some data. I don’t have enough to know a hundred percent that this is going to work.

[00:14:23] How do you advise people like in that middle range where it’s like, you’re using a lot of gut-feel, um, you’ve got a little bit of data and you’re trying to prioritize, like, which one has the best chances to access. Maybe it’s relevant to email marketing. Maybe it’s just kind of overall just growth

[00:14:37] Dylan Kelley: strategy.

[00:14:38] I mean, like, yeah, it is tough. And at the end of the day, like, even if you have data, you still don’t know, like you’re still getting. And I think that’s when it kind of comes down to the execution and also trusting your gut. Like if you’re the owner operator or like a marketer and inside of business, like you can kind of know and you kind of feel, and I think a lot of people don’t trust their gut enough either which like, you know, it’s not a very, like, I guess it doesn’t feel like a very actual tactical thing to say on a podcast, but like, you kind of know, and you can kind of see, so like, you know, work with the data that you do have.

[00:15:06] And, you know, in general, I think, I mean, you probably, when you say like a business that doesn’t have enough data, are they. Selling a hundred thousand a year or they sound like 2 million a year, or what would that range?

[00:15:17] James Sowers: Yeah, it’s hard to tell. I mean, it depends what your average price of your goods is and something like that.

[00:15:24] So I guess normally I’m thinking somewhere in the realm of like half a million and below, like, those people are very firmly in the, I don’t have a whole lot, like, I might have hot jar and Google analytics and that’s about it. That’s coming from our world. But like they have the very basic Klayvio, you know, open rate, click rate reporting, and not much beyond that.

[00:15:41] Right. Like. They might not even have kind of those fundamental email marketing workflows or sequences set up, like they might have off the shelf abandoned cart that sends one followup an hour after the checkout, so abandoned or whatever, like, that’s it. Right. And that’s all they’ve got. And so they don’t have a whole lot to go off of, but they read a blog post from you or someone else.

[00:15:58] And they’re like, man, this sounds promising, but is it worth me? You know, not working on the new product launch that I’m talking about or is it worth me not diving into how can we save money on logistics and fulfillment, you know, should it distract me because there is always this constant pull, especially on the smaller side of things where like, you’re either the solopreneur or you have a very small team, but like everybody’s wearing multiple hats.

[00:16:20] So it’s like if I want to invest in email or SMS, I have to take away from somewhere else in the business. Maybe that’s finance and accounting. Maybe that’s product development, maybe that’s logistics, but you can’t have one without the other. And so I think a lot of listeners are probably like, man, I’m wrestling with this.

[00:16:34] And I want, I want to spend more time on. But how do I know? Like that’s the right choice versus somewhere else in the business, you know?

[00:16:41] Dylan Kelley: Yeah. Great question. I will say I’m not an expert on like getting a brand to a million in sales necessarily. I will say like what we do focused on email and SMS and like retention, like involves having product market fit and existing customer base already.

[00:16:56] And I really think that’s probably your best bet if you are in that stage, like if you’re doing less than a million. Try to get that product market fit and initial acquisition engine going first, before you go and try to add on even any fancy Shopify apps or anything like that, like you can get to a million without much and you really need a good product to get there.

[00:17:15] And if you get there, it doesn’t even have to be a million, but like, that’s your kind of be your first focus and building a good acquisition engine. That’s why a lot of the companies we work with are more mature because they already have that nailed. And then it’s. Us, you know, like the Harvard business study, it’s like, you know, extracting like a F like one to 5% out of your customers can drive an increase of like up to a hundred percent of profit.

[00:17:34] But if you don’t have those customers to begin with and you don’t have a good product to begin with, you’re not going to get that increase. And that’s another thing is like, I was just talking to a bread this morning. They scaled really fast last year, but now they’re really struggling because they didn’t get any repeat because their product wasn’t good.

[00:17:46] So they acquire a lot of customers. And so like, really, like if you’re still early, I would focus on like two things, like one making sure your product market fit. So probably wouldn’t do that much with email. I would do like the bare minimum to keep it going. So like, you know, send to your list. I always tell people like, just be consistent with it.

[00:18:00] Like you don’t have to send daily, you don’t even have to send weekly just on one. Keep that list active. Cause our most successful customers come to us and their, their list is already pretty well engaged and used to getting emails from them. You know, other customers come to us, they’re like, Hey, we’re doing 10 million a year.

[00:18:13] We haven’t even emailed anybody. It’s like, oh, that’s tough. So, you know, you said you have to like warm the list. You have to ramp it up and you end up losing a lot of people that you wouldn’t miss out on. So really I wouldn’t start focusing on email more seriously until around like two, three mil build the list in advance.

[00:18:27] Cause you need that. And like slowly. To wrap your head and say, but prior to that, I would focus on product market fit and building a solid acquisition engine. Just probably like you guys do with conversion rate optimization. Like you need the traffic and customers first. And so yeah, if you’re early, like you probably don’t even need to listen to this podcast yet, but if you’re doing over a million a year and you want to get to.

[00:18:45] That’s when you need to start thinking about email and these other channels, cause you’re gonna throw a lot and conversion rate optimization. Cause it’s like, you’re gonna throw it away. A lot of money getting to 10 that could really help you when you’re in that stage, when you don’t have a lot of money to get to that next level.

[00:18:56] And then, you know, once you’re past 10, it’s like, you definitely have to focus on it or you’re going to have a profitability problem and you’ll never be able to exit your business later, which is.

[00:19:05] James Sowers: Right. That’s not a good place to be in line with that. I guess it’s like these poor folks in the SMB world.

[00:19:10] And, and we can move back to kind of the enterprise or the more established brands after this question, but like the poor folks in the SMB world, they’re constantly getting pitched with like email and SMS products. Right. And whether that’s consulting services or more typically, like I’ve seen people put out a lot of courses lately and it’s like, Hey, here are, um, 12 templates that you need to get those basic email marketing workflow set up.

[00:19:32] And the thought there, at least from the outside, looking in, appears to be literally take this Google. Copy paste into Klayvio or whatever you’re using and set up the right timing and sequences, you know, three-day pause in between or whatever you want to do and turn it on. And then it’s just a money machine and like, to a certain degree, that might be true.

[00:19:50] But I suspect that, uh, you’re probably gonna have a slightly different opinion on that and that, like, you can’t just pull something off the shelf and apply it to pure Avita versus. Well, these are big brands, but like nugs or Allbirds, like all of those probably have very different email marketing experiences.

[00:20:05] And so to take something at face value, pull it off the shelf and apply it to your business. To me, sounds like a recipe for like, why isn’t this working? Okay. I’m just not going to do email anymore because it didn’t work. Right. But really it’s like, you didn’t apply it in the right way. So what’s your take on kind of this, um, you know, especially for the early stage brands.

[00:20:21] There are some things you can implement and make more money right away. Like a basic abandoned cart sequence probably makes sense, but to buy something from an expert, a consultant, an agency, even that is trying to take a one size fits all approach feels a little misleading. So what’s your take on that?

[00:20:36] Yeah,

[00:20:36] Dylan Kelley: it’s definitely, yeah. You kind of have to find the middle, especially when you’re early. Cause you don’t want to come up with everything and you can’t really afford to outsource or delegate that much yet. That’s the hardest phase of business to be in like, you know, and I know that cause I was there too.

[00:20:47] Like it’s like going from one. Too, you know, it’s funny. Cause I, I actually didn’t go through another guy. I went to another lady and then another lady, but, um, yeah, going from one person to multiple people, it’s like really hard and you don’t have a lot of money, so it’s like even harder. And so like, I remember those days, like fingers crossed, hope the bank account hits.

[00:21:06] So I know what it’s like, but like at the same time too, it’s like, okay, you buy this thing and then you got to set it up, but it’s not going to take you a day or a couple of hours. Like they say, because you have to go through the course. It’s really going to take you probably two. And you’re a busy business owner.

[00:21:17] Can you really afford to take two weeks off? Probably not, but as far as like the bare minimum, like I would just set up, like you said, like abandoned cart. I mean that’s table stakes. Just set that up pretty easy. And yeah, templates. Work very well. I like the idea of frameworks because like there’s general best practices in terms of timing and you know, what you need set up and what a comprehensive program looks like.

[00:21:39] Like you said, every brand is different. And like we have a company we’re generating 30 million a year for, they sell a high-end a thousand dollar plus product and where it’s mostly one-time buy and we’re driving a lot of revenue for me. We can’t take those and put them in our client who sells phone cases and expect them to do well, because it’s a totally different thing.

[00:21:56] So, you know, starting with looking at your actual brand, like, and that’s what really separates us from other agencies is like, we look more at the customer journey and your product and your business and why people buy and why we don’t, why they don’t. And we build around that. So we drive a lot better results.

[00:22:09] Give a better customer experience and just people are happier versus like, Hey, here’s like the best copy and paste, you know, abandoned cart template. Like that’s great. There’s, there’s good benchmarks to start with, but it’s really, probably not worth it, especially if you’re doing less than a million a year, because it’s going to take you a lot of time and it’s really not going to move the needle.

[00:22:24] Like, you know, especially like the, the word mark you get, you know, like let’s say at the top end and emails, driving 40% of a brand’s revenue. I mean, if you’re only doing 200,000 a year, it’s like, sure, it’s a hundred grand, which is a lot to the business, but like, there’s just. I mean, I at most, and that’s like at most it’s going to be driving 40% of the revenue.

[00:22:42] It might only drive 10 and it’s like is a 10% increase off the $200,000 business. Two weeks. I mean, maybe not, but yes, I would start with the basics, like make sure when people sign up to your list, you’re like, Hey, here’s who we are. What we’re about. It can just be one email to start same with the abandon cart.

[00:22:57] Like, Hey, you forgot about this. And then answer the top three objections. And then also I would also build into Klaviyo. So then you don’t have to build on something else. They’re the best CASB. They’re the most scalable, those get with you to a hundred million plus in revenues and beyond, you know, they’ve been integrated with Salesforce, commerce cloud now to.

[00:23:12] The bigger, the brand new become, you can still scale with them. So you don’t have to deal with the migration. I mean, if you’re a $50 million company and you’re migrating your ESP, like we’re helping a lot of companies migrate from Bronto to Klayvio. Now it’s like, there’s going to be a window where you lose revenue.

[00:23:23] And at scale, that’s a lot of revenue that you lose because you have to ramp and warm a new IP. So I would start with Klayvio. Literally all you do is like three emails, one welcome email, one abandoned cart, email, and then a browse abandonment email. Cause it’s basically free returns. And it just works really well.

[00:23:37] Maybe a post-purchase like, thank you for cross sell, but it’s like, wow, for emails, you can actually set that up in a day. You don’t need a template and just do your best and then send like one email a month. Like, Hey, here’s an update. It can even be directly from you. The founder, you don’t need to buy a course.

[00:23:49] Like it’s literally that simple. And like, even when you fire up Klayvio they have like, pre-built. Just turn those on you don’t need a perfect program from day one. That’s why brands end up hiring us because you know, then you get into it. Like, it actually makes sense to spend a lot of money on the agency because we can actually drive those big ROI as you talk about, um, it’s actually worth it.

[00:24:04] And it fits into your high level business strategy where like early on, like, yeah, it’s like easy to get caught up in this. And do I need SMS at that? It’s like probably not. You probably need product market fit first. You probably need to figure out a good acquisition engine. Those are the two hardest things you solve through that.

[00:24:17] Growth is so much easier. Like our clients can grow from 5 million to 25 million in 12 months. They can grow from 10 million to a hundred million in two years, but that’s only because they already figured out the fundamentals and they were focused in the beginning on those. So like great product, great acquisition system, you know?

[00:24:30] And then later on building on top of

[00:24:31] James Sowers: that. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense to me. Without those numbers. So you really need to focus on kind of traffic and audience growth in the early days and product market fit. Like you said, because without that, like anything you dabble with, anything you test, anything you implement, whether it’s email, SMS, or CRO or anything else, like you don’t know for sure that it’s working, because you’re talking about a law of small numbers here and it might work for 30 days and then you’ll find that the next 30 days it tanks again.

[00:24:54] And you don’t know why. And it’s because, well, you’re talking about hundreds of people instead of tens of thousands of people or even higher. So. Really audience growth. And that’s back to that concept of focusing, right? Just focus on getting your product in the hands of, in front of the eyes of as many people as possible and finding the place where like, it becomes a no brainer, a purchasing decision for them because the product is so good or it solves the pain.

[00:25:15] So adeptly or something like that. And

[00:25:17] Dylan Kelley: just one more thing on that. Like you’re never going to be able to fix, if you have a core business problem in terms of you don’t have product market fit, or you don’t know how to acquire customers. Like if you’re at 50 million a year, That’s just going to be a bad business and it’s going to be stressful.

[00:25:30] I think revenue is vanity profit is sanity. And I think we’ve really lost. A lot of people have lost touch with that. Like even the honest company, right. They’re going public. They just filed their S one, I think like this week or last week. And, um, they’re not properly. Like nobody is, but they’ve great gross margins.

[00:25:44] And like, that’s really tough and like, yeah, revenue, isn’t everything. And that’s why it’s so important to build your business based off good fundamentals in the beginning when you’re at that level and be okay with growing slower, I will say like our most successful clients, they grew really slowly and painfully for a long.

[00:25:57] But now they’re at a hundred million and they’re profitable or they’re at 25 million and they’re still profitable and the growth will catch up. It’s exponential. It’s so much easier. Like the cash is so tight in the beginning and the time is so tight when you’re just starting out. It’s just like, and it’s so hard because like, I’m the same way.

[00:26:11] It’s like you get impatient because you see these case studies of like, oh, they grew from zero to this so fast. Or they went from 10 to a hundred million in two years. Like even I sat on this podcast, but. They’ve been around for 10 years. So you don’t see those first two years, which I think is really important.

[00:26:27] I just wanted to add that like be okay with being patient and it’ll pay off in the long-term because then you’ll actually get what you actually want, which is a profitable business.

[00:26:34] James Sowers: And I think that profit is sanity part is just so relevant because. Really it’s breathing room. And when you make decisions from a place of fear or scarcity, where you feel like your backs against the wall, are you gonna make payroll, whatever, like that’s not where solid decisions are made, solid decisions are made when you’re comfortable and you’re making it independent of the financials.

[00:26:52] Right. You’re making it based on principles and other data sources that aren’t necessarily tied to people’s livelihood. Right. And so it’s just, it seems like the responsible choice right out of the gate, I wanted to talk about. So we talked about like, kind of this basic email flows that you can set up for the early stage, but let’s talk about what goes in those emails.

[00:27:07] I think email and SMS, especially are areas where you get these trends, you get these hot topics, you get these very strong opinions from folks and, um, for better or for worse, like they sometimes hit the mark. And sometimes it’s like, well, I don’t know about that. Like, is that really the case? Or is that like somebody speaking from agency land?

[00:27:23] Not necessarily from brand operator land. Right. And so one of the things that I see all the time is beautiful emails. Right? Beautiful. But they’re like literally a single JPEG being loaded inside of my inbox or something. And while they present the product in a great light and they can be super compelling.

[00:27:41] I’m just curious if you’ve seen anything on your side about how effective that really is versus maybe a simpler HTML-based template or even plain text, right? Like you talked about, maybe the post-purchase email comes directly from the founder. Like, can that be a plain text email with my name and my face in the signature and that’s it.

[00:27:58] And a very conversational tone. Is that more effective than something that’s branded and styled and beautiful and has product imagery and all that. Like, what are you seeing on your end as far as, is this a, what is it maybe a myth or a fact that beautiful creative, like image based emails work better than plain text, you know, something you might expect from your boss or your coworker.

[00:28:19] Dylan Kelley: It’s funny. So to unpack that there’s like a few things there, like one ultimately like what type of brand are you trying to build? So if you want to send a plain text, email, like, are you trying to build yourself in the brand? You know, maybe you shouldn’t go to the plain text route or you, um, you know, integrate.

[00:28:33] So like ultimately like, know what you’re trying to build. I think that’s important to get clear on that. Like if you’re trying to build, you know, the next peer Vita and like, be like this cool brand, you know, which even the founders are still really associated with it. Maybe you don’t want to do a plain text, like with yourself in it, but yeah, that’s on brand for you.

[00:28:48] You could do it in terms of like creative and kind of. It’s really funny. It’s what we see. And it really depends. Like I would say, don’t worry so much about creative early on. Just worry about like getting the actual emails because that’s all you need. Like, you can waste a lot of time designing, beautiful emails, but we do notice, like at scale with the enterprise, like great looking emails do convert better just because the inbox is a lot more crowded.

[00:29:09] And it also depends on your audience. Like if you’re, you don’t have a younger audience, that’s really used to social, uh, you know, your customers are gen Z or millennials. Like they kind of expect that premium. Um, and they’re kind of weirded out by text, email, and also you think about the brain, it can process images faster than it can even process thoughts, which is crazy.

[00:29:28] So that is the power of like an image-based email. Um, I will say it doesn’t actually hurt your deliverability. That’s kind of like 2005. And everybody was kind of like spamming things, but we do find like good creative really helps brands stand out and also build brand equity. So like actually knowing the brand and like being able to stand for something visually is important too.

[00:29:46] And it’s not even like one size fits all. Like there are certain instances where the plain text will convert better and there are certain instances where the creative will do better. But yeah, in terms of our testing, we do find that we do get better engagement off of like more creative based emails.

[00:29:58] And especially as competition inbox is heating up, you really got to stand out and you have like very little time to catch attention if people open it and they see a whole. They’re not always likely to read that depending on the audience, if you’re selling a high ticket product, it can work extremely well.

[00:30:10] If you’re selling a phone case, it should probably just be like, Hey, here’s the phone case? Or just get more creative about the messaging. Like we kind of look at email at way break and SMS, because we’re limited with the characters. It’s like less than a tweet nowadays. It’s like as a portal and a gateway to the brand and to the site and to their content.

[00:30:26] So you can still do longer form community building and things like that. Like sending them Tik TOK, sending them blog post soon. But using that as a portal to get them out of their inbox, where it’s full of distractions and then onto your website, where boom, now they’re backing in retargeting. So you can trigger your browser management flow.

[00:30:40] You can trigger your Facebook ads and all these different things. So it’s really not one size fits all. We do find that creative does increase performance as far as just like increasing conversion rates and drives more. And also less is more just because. The attention spans, you know, I think we’re already smaller than a goldfish, like 10 years ago, it’s getting even smaller.

[00:30:58] Um, there’s a definitely a time and place for playing tax, but it really varies. And that’s where testing comes into it also. But you gotta be smart about testing because a lot of businesses test wrong and a lot of companies it’s not worth testing yet. You’re not even sending consistently, or you don’t even have an advanced program.

[00:31:12] You’re missing half the customer journey in email. So don’t start testing and then people just test one email at a time. And it’s not like part of an overall strategy of like, Hey, let’s test, you know, the sequence of 10 emails. That’s really where like our expertise comes in is we have the economy of scale of, you know, multiple clients, millions of email subscribers.

[00:31:28] We had run these tests across. So we don’t have to AB test that much as an agency anymore. We already kind of know what works and what doesn’t. I mean, we still do, and we’ll do it specifically for our clients as far as best practice goes like plain text can be great, especially if you’re starting out, like I would just build in Klaviyo.

[00:31:42] It’s super easy. It’s going to be good. And then as you scale into more legit brand new start to explore more advanced, creative, and start playing with gifts and things like that, which we do see increase in performance from. You know, it’s not like we’re like doubling email revenue by adding a gift.

[00:31:55] Right. It’s very incremental. So it’s like focused once again. It’s like going back to, it’s very boring, right? Like, I feel like people expect me to say like, sometimes he’s like mindblowing new things with like, you know, these new Gmail features. Yes and SMS, and this it’s like, but like, ultimately, like we just focused on fundamentals and reverse engineering, like I said before, why people buy and why they don’t.

[00:32:13] And then that’s why we’re so successful because it’s like, Hey, if you buy this or you check out and you don’t buy this, you probably have a few questions on your mind. How long is shipping? Will this work, blah, blah, blah. And you can address us in an email. And that’s when conversions, they are best converting, abandoned cart emails are based on like answering those objections.

[00:32:30] So yeah, kind of a long-winded answer, but. That’s kind of the, just that we’ve seen. No, that’s

[00:32:35] James Sowers: good. I’m glad you brought up that last point because like one thing that I see all the time and abandoned cart sequences, especially is like the very first thing you get as a discount. And we just hate to see that because you’re just like, we’re talking about being, building a profitable business.

[00:32:46] You’re giving away your margin right out of the gate, and it’s like, sure, maybe it converts for you, but. Are those the customers you want, like, are those the customers who are going to come back and buy again? Or are they going to buy for a friend? Are they going to refer a friend? Like maybe not. Right. So what I like to see done at least, and I’m not nearly the expert that you are, but I like to see that first email be kind of the FAQ that objection, busting.

[00:33:05] That’s like, Hey, what’s got you on the fence. Usually it’s one of these five things and here’s our help desk article. Here’s our blog article. Here’s whatever, an interview with our founder, all these different things to social proof, whatever to kind of dispel those. And if that answered your question, If that solved your objection, you can buy here, pick it up where you left off.

[00:33:22] And then, you know, maybe second, third email down the road. You’re throwing that hail Mary effort, then throw a discount in there. That’s fine. Right? At that point, they’re either going to leave entirely and not buy at all. So you might as well try to get some of that revenue back and capture that. That’s my personal opinion, but a lot of folks that I see between the pop-ups, as soon as you hit the site, when you don’t even know what the brand does.

[00:33:41] The discount right out of the gate. When you abandon your cart, like, you know, my wife, isn’t working in e-commerce, she works for a state government and she’s like, I do that all the time. Cause I just know what’s coming. Like I know I’ll get at least 10% off. So I immediately abandoned my cart and I wait 24 hours and then go back and buy it if they send me a discount.

[00:33:55] So it’s like consumer behavior, it’s an expectation that’s been established and like. You know, maybe it’s fine if it’s working for you, keep doing it. But I just think it’s worth exploring something else first to protect that because usually are 20% off or something. It’s like, you protect 20% of your margin there, you know, 10 or 20, that means something over the span of a hundred purchases, a thousand purchases, 10,000 purchases.

[00:34:15] Right. That’s meaningful to your business. So,

[00:34:17] Dylan Kelley: and you think of the numbers that scale. I mean, this is where it’s like, we can talk about e-commerce profitability problem in general, like you’re spending. You know, it’s funny. It’s like, I talked to my friends on wall street and they’re like confused because they’re like, wait, like, are people selling just really expensive products?

[00:34:30] And so like, there’s like, you know, like the cogs is extremely high. Like, no, it’s actually really low it’s everything else. So it’s like, you pay for the Facebook ads to get them to your website. And then yeah, you’re offering like a 30 and like, sometimes you even see like 50% off. I mean, these brands have to be acquired either.

[00:34:45] Their margins are insane off their products or they’re acquiring customers at a loss because like, how can you get 50? Like if you have a a hundred dollars product, you’re getting $50. I mean, you probably have another $40 to Facebook and then another $20 on the product, maybe $30, maybe $10. If you’ve got, you know, a really good margin on the product, but it’s just like the math just doesn’t add up.

[00:35:06] And what’s funny is like, there’s just not a lot of focus on profitability in the industry. And like everybody’s so focused on revenue and it’s like, okay, we add this new discount to our website and it drove more. Great, but did it drive more profit? You know, some of our fastest growing clients end up coming to us and they’re like, wow, like we had a record year, last year.

[00:35:24] We didn’t make any money. And we didn’t realize because they don’t think that through. And like, that’s really important to like, back to the fundamentals. Like you want to build a profitable business. Like, it’ll be interesting to see, you know, I think like a company like Casper, right? Grateful for Casper.

[00:35:38] They did amazing things for the industry in terms of showing us what’s possible and really growing the direct to consumer space as a whole. But then, you know, you’re not profitable. You try to go public as a tech company. You’re not a tech company, you’re still a consumer company. It’s just tough. And you end up with this like tough valuation against your revenue.

[00:35:55] That’s not pretty because you’re not profitable. And I’m curious to see what’s going to happen with, uh, Jessica Alba’s company, honest company, you know, they’re going public. I think it had like a $2.2 billion valuation. Not profitable. They’re growing a lot. They went from like 200 million to 300 million in revenue over the last 12 months from 2019 to 2020, but they lost $15 million.

[00:36:14] And it’s just like, and this is especially important too, for like growing businesses and the SMB, like if you actually want to sell your business, like you’re probably not going to IP. Um, and if you are, you know, hire us so we can help you get your profit up and you have a much more successful IPO, but like, you know, oh, by the way, she’s also venture backed so she can spend money a lot differently than you.

[00:36:35] So like, don’t copy the hot direct consumer companies. But ultimately if at some point you’re probably gonna want to exit your business, even though you love it 15 years from now, you’re not going to be judged on your revenue and how much you grew it, uh, year gonna be judged on your profit. And you want to start baking out of your business now because it’s really hard to go from, you know, billion.

[00:36:50] Unprofitable fundamentals and then like shifting and just like all of a sudden be like, oh, we got it. Like, we’ll figure out how to generate profit later. Like that, that really never happens. Right. That’s why Casper is the way it is. And like, they’re not like this like crazy, amazing IPO that everybody’s like, wow, like let’s put money into it.

[00:37:05] It’s like, no, everybody’s putting money into software companies because they actually have. Extra profit because they have repeat cause they have the recurring revenue, which is great, which, you know, a lot of e-commerce companies don’t have. And I think that’s a bigger problem. The industry is like, e-commerce so many people are gold on revenue and it’s coming from the top down to like, you know, CEOs and founders.

[00:37:24] Like they just want more revenue, but they don’t really have a profit target. Some people don’t even know their profit. They don’t know how the FA the cost of returns factors in to their revenue. So, I mean, so many brands probably didn’t go. They probably looked at their 2020. And we’re like, great. We killed it maybe in January.

[00:37:41] And then they didn’t account for the January and February returns of the holiday window, which I mean, who even knows, which is funny. Cause it’s like, it’s boring focusing on the fundamentals, but if you want to build a business that’s valuable and it has longevity. It’s like got to focus on. We got to

[00:37:55] James Sowers: do it.

[00:37:56] Cool. So, one other question I have for you related to email is, and this is another one of those kind of like popular trends, popular advice is segmentation, and I’d even lump into that personalization. So those two kind of go hand in hand, it’s like basically providing a more nuanced customer experience through the email marketing channel.

[00:38:14] Right. A lot of the advice out there is like, if you segment your list, then you get higher open rates, higher click rates, because the relevance is up, right? Similar advice given around personalization. If you use a tool like octane AI, which has like a shoppable quiz and you collect some data on the front end about whether somebody has oily skin or dry skin, or when they do the routine in the morning or at night or whatever else that might be involved there.

[00:38:36] You will pipe that all into Klaviyo and all of a sudden you can kind of personalize the body content, subject line, whatever you want to do beyond just like, Hey, first name, right. You know, something more sophisticated than that. So if we put those two together and we can address them separately, or just kind of lump it all together in this terms of like personalized customer journeys, through email, whatever, what’s your take on segmentation and the impact that it can have for our business, because it definitely is more.

[00:38:57] You know, that’s down the road. That’s definitely not going to be an SMB consideration. That’s going to be a more established brand. That’s already established email as a channel, a sustainable channel. They’ve got traffic, they’ve got budget. They’ve got head count to help work on this, or they’re willing to hire an agency to do it.

[00:39:10] So when you get to the point where. Okay. I think that we could probably make a little bit more money by segmenting our list and sending more targeted emails, higher volume, but you know, sniper rifle, not shotgun. What’s your take on that? Like, do you have clients kind of experimenting with that and are they doing some things wrong when they come to you that you have to come back in and correct or address?

[00:39:28] Dylan Kelley: It’s a great question. I mean, it’s like one of those things too. It’s also one of those buzzwords around. It’s like segmentation, personalization. It’s like, yeah, it’s great. And it is, but it also, once again, it’s like not a silver bullet, like by making your emails more personalized, like you’re not going to double triple your email revenue.

[00:39:44] Like at scale you can, but it’s just like really hard to do that at scale, because you know, let’s say you have a hundred thousand person email list just to keep the numbers simple and you split it into 10 core segments of like 10,000 people. If you only send the same 10 emails. Two smaller fraction. The list, surely we’ll get a better conversion rate, but you’re gonna make less money because you’re only targeting 10% of the list.

[00:40:05] And I think that’s kind of where people get distracted with personalization and segmentation is what is the actual lift that’s going to drive? Probably not a lot if you’re doing it like that or by customer type or product type. What we find is more successful is looking at more of like, just like, kind of like RFM segmentation.

[00:40:22] So like recency frequency, like all those things. And actually figuring out where customers are in their customer journey and then setting targeted content to those people. So back to the abandoned cart example, like you don’t necessarily want to give everybody a discount on their banning cart email, but if you know, a certain segment of your customer base is discounters and that’s all they buy and you can set up a filter based on that.

[00:40:42] That is going to drive a lot more revenue from your band and cart series, which is a high converting series. It’s probably worth it to segment further same with like customers and VIP is like, they might not need as much discount. So segmenting based on that and say many based on customer type in terms of like dollar spent and like where they are in their customer journey instead of like bought red pants by black pants, like that’s great.

[00:41:02] It’ll work. They’re probably more likely to buy it. But once again, like going back to strategy, if you have a one-time buyer problem, it’s much better to focus on like, okay, how do we get these one-time buyers to buy a second time, then how do we get these people about red pants to buy black pants? And the same goes with personalization.

[00:41:16] Like personalization is great. You know, I think it’s funny. We have like all this advanced technology, I was joking. People could be emailing like it’s 2030, but everybody’s still emailing. Like it’s 2005. It’s like batch and blast sends every day to their list. And that’s part of why we work with like bigger companies too, is like, they’re the worst at this?

[00:41:32] Like, you sign up for like a Unilever brand emails. You’d start getting emails from. Vaseline acts like Kleenex. I don’t know if Kleenex is actually, you know, we get emails from their entire brand and you sign up for one or you’re just like, you know, I just like to see what other companies are doing. It’s like, they’re really bad at this, uh, too, but yeah, I mean, ultimately I think focusing on customer type is important instead of trying to get too crazy with like, yeah, man, the Unilever example is really bad.

[00:41:59] Cause like they’re a huge company with a lot of resources and they should be personalizing and they should be segmenting better because for them. But they’re not, but as far as like the people listening to this, like look at more customer type and more generic segmentation that like red pants, black.

[00:42:14] Got

[00:42:14] James Sowers: it. Yeah. So to recap that, or at least my understanding of it, it’s less about taste and preferences and more about behavior. Like, are they a high frequency buyer? Maybe it’s a smaller amount, but they buy from you every single month or whatever. Cause of replenishing their pantry versus like, are they somebody who buys once a quarter, but their AOV is much higher because they’re buying in bulk and they’re just kind of storing it.

[00:42:34] Are they a gift giver versus a self purchase? Or like there’s a bunch of different behavioral things that you can use. And it sounds like you’re saying those are more impactful than just segmenting. Male female. So we only show them female clothes or whatever, or, you know, outerwear and active wear or something like that.

[00:42:49] Like, those are more taste preferences. I like dark colors, whatever. Versus like, how often do I buy, how big is my average order value? That kind of thing.

[00:42:57] Dylan Kelley: Yeah, exactly. And like male, female is the one that kind of makes the most sense if you are doing. Like not so much like behavior based, like if you’re doing more like, you know, who the actual customer is like, that can actually work really well.

[00:43:10] We do that with clients and we see a lot of success because then you can actually put good messaging in front of them. But, um, yeah, I mean, ultimately looking at it as a. Yeah, part of the bigger picture and getting those people to do what you need them to do to drive better business outcomes. Is it it’s most

[00:43:23] James Sowers: important?

[00:43:24] Got it. Listen, we really hammered email today. So I want to touch on one SMS question. I know we’ve talked about SMS a little bit and how it’s working well for you guys. Usually in tandem with email, it sounded like. So I’m curious to hear your take on that and how they can work together and also like how they fit into the broader growth strategy.

[00:43:38] Like these are just two communication channels that you can use. There’s a bunch of other stuff going in. So how do they fit? Where’s the role, but more specifically, I’m curious about SMS in the context of. That abandoned cart. Topic that we talked about earlier, where it’s like, Hey, abandoned cart emails.

[00:43:52] That’s low-hanging fruit. Like if you don’t have that set up, go set that up right now. It’ll take you a day. It’s typically free money. A lot of tools and services are coming out to say, well, let’s do the same concept, but let’s do it through SMS. And maybe we do it in tandem with email. So they get the email one hour later, but then 24 hours later, somebody reaches out.

[00:44:08] Maybe it’s a person, maybe it’s a chat bot, whatever. And they’re sending kind of that effort to, Hey, you left something in your cart. What’s holding you back, you know, can I answer any questions? You can pick up your order here. What’s your take on how SMS fits into that role specifically, and also how SMS and email play in the broader role of like e-commerce growth efforts and strategy.

[00:44:26] Dylan Kelley: Yeah. So this is really a great channel. It’s funny, because like five years ago I was asked the same question and I was like, don’t worry about SMS. Like at that point it was just like a distraction tactic because we didn’t have the right technology. Um, it was like, you know, these random Shopify apps that you could add your app store, you know, it’s still really early on, but yeah, now it’s becoming a really great core pillar in terms of like retention strategy and just another owned channel.

[00:44:49] So that’s like the best part about email is you own it it’s the same with SMS. So like, even if you’re not going to build out the most robust email and SMS program, you still want to build your list from day one because it’s something you actually own. And it’s important to like, build the engagement with that list.

[00:45:02] So that over time, like as you ramp, you don’t lose it. Like I was saying earlier, Yeah. I mean, what we see in terms of like SMS and email working together, um, you know, it’s really powerful because it’s just like everything. Like we live in a distraction economy. We have so many notifications on our phone with so many emails in our inbox.

[00:45:18] Even like, we have so many texts, but when you kind of like mix the channels together and you’re hitting people in multiple places, just like you do with your advertising. Like, I mean, ultimately like the most successful marketers are just everywhere. Like you see them on the billboard and then you get the ad on your phone and then you get the text and.

[00:45:34] You’re a lot more likely to buy, just because of like, you know, you might be on the subway one day and then, you know, the next day you’re in your bed when you get the text. But yeah. In terms of them working together, we see when they work together, they drive more performance just in general. Um, no, it’s great.

[00:45:47] It is. It’s like having them work together, you just get a lot more eyeballs and you reach consumers are where they want to be reached. Especially younger customers is what we see as like, you know, SMS is obviously really successful with, but even email is really successful with younger customers. So I don’t think email is going anywhere.

[00:46:03] As soon I think, you know, SMS is growing and I think it’s great if you’re ready for it. And you have the time to add it on top of your email, just because it does convert really well. And it cuts through the noise, but, um, I guess summaries, like it works really well. Don’t go too crazy with it. Don’t make it like email, even if you’re set up for an abandoned cart with SMS on top of your email, like you’ll recover a lot more cards.

[00:46:22] James Sowers: Is there any difference in how you approach the abandoned cart kind of goals? Through email versus SMS, like we said, through email, maybe it’s best to do an FAQ or an objection Buster first, and then kind of trickle your way down to a discount SMS. Is there any different approach there? Like, do you jump straight to like, Hey, pick up your car.

[00:46:39] If you want to 10% off, I can like ask my boss about it and send it to you. Right? Like you’re trying to make it kind of like. Conversational gimmicky, like you’re doing somebody a favor. Is there any difference between those two channels and how you communicate specifically in that, like you’re trying to recover that car that’s been abandoned.

[00:46:53] Dylan Kelley: You could, I would, once again, you know, lean away from giving discounts initially. So just using it as a reminder, cause like a lot of people forget to buy because they forgot about it. Right? It’s a tab open on their computer and they have a hundred tabs open, especially now. It’s like, you know, you’ve got zoom schools, everybody’s working from home.

[00:47:08] People are slowly starting to go back to the office. What’s cool about the tax. Is it cuts through the noise? So we like to use it just as a simple reminder. Initially, you know, whether it’s before, after, or same time and the email doesn’t really matter, not leading with a discount by any means. If they’re the right person who needs the discount, maybe they’re a non-customer they haven’t bought yet.

[00:47:25] Or they’re just a specific discount buyer. Then maybe we’ll throw that into what we’re doing on the SMS channel. It is very similar to email, but there’s also like you pretty much only get like one abandoned SMS, which is why, like, you know, individually texting customers could work. Cause you can. Send more.

[00:47:39] I’m not sure how that works from client wise off the top of my head, but it is like, carry a roll. Like you do only get one steamable does say that. So you do want to make the most of it, which is something that’s like to like AB test that one. Cause it’s really important. But also, yeah, don’t give way to this kind of first one, like that’s, that could be a big, big mistake and you don’t always have to cause SMS cuts through the noise.

[00:47:56] So, well, you can even like, if you do want to send a discount, maybe put it in email because people are less likely to see it and they’re more likely to see the text and they’ll convert without it. That’s our. Yeah, I love

[00:48:05] James Sowers: the point you made earlier about meeting somebody like where they want to be met.

[00:48:08] Right? Like I think about this all the time as a director of marketing. Published blog posts. We’re leaving a lot of opportunity on the table because not everybody’s a reader, right? Like some folks like to listen to a podcast like this, but I’ll take this conversation, pull up the transcript. I’ll have somebody also write a blog post and then draft up some social media posts and create a graphic from it.

[00:48:26] Right. And create like a 32nd video snippet for the person who’s busy, but is also interested in like just the highlights. Right? So repurposing. Break in a single piece, down into multiple different formats that can be distributed across multiple channels. That make sense, like in marketing. So why wouldn’t it make sense in e-commerce marketing on the brand side of things where it’s like, not everybody wants to buy through email or communicate through email, like maybe that’s the busiest part of their world and their SMS text messaging inbox is like much more barren.

[00:48:54] And so, like you said, cutting through the noise, especially for the younger generation. I think there’s a tool out now where you can basically like reply yes. And complete your purchase. Like if you already have a card on file, like you’re, you’re already a customer of them. It just say, Hey, you left this in your cart.

[00:49:06] Maybe you got distracted. Maybe you’re busy or whatever. If you just reply yes. To this, we’ll go ahead and complete the purchase with the card on file. It’ll be to your house in two days. Tell me that doesn’t work at like a 50% clip. Right. Like that is just so seamless and easy, almost dangerous. Right. I bet a lot of people are like, oh man, I’m spending way more money because this is so simple.

[00:49:23] But like, yeah. I just love meeting customers where they want to be met through the channel and the communication platform that they like best. Right.

[00:49:30] Dylan Kelley: And like getting out of the noise and eliminating the friction. It really does that, you know, same with like shop. I mean that just crushed us. If a brand has Shopify pay, shop, pay, like I’m checking out or apple pay.

[00:49:40] It’s just like so easy if you’re on your phone. Yeah.

[00:49:42] James Sowers: It’s scary. It’s like when they launched proximity payments, basically like Google pay apple pay on your phone, you get to the grocery store, you just put your phone in front of the little sensor and you’re out of there. Man that was just so game changing and it’s just like, it makes it a lot easier to run in and get that one item.

[00:49:56] Right. Because you’re like, do I really want to go there for like five bucks or whatever, but it’s like, I’ll just swipe my phone and I’m out. Like I barely even talk to anybody. It’s perfect. Cool. Okay. Uh, so maybe to wrap things up, I got one more question for you. So if you look at the current e-commerce landscape, is there anything out there that is kind of like maybe an emerging trend, an emerging technology, something on the horizon, you know, Five years ago, I was talking about SMS and saying, don’t do it.

[00:50:15] It’s not worth it. Right. And that has changed. So what is kind of that version of what you’re looking at today? If you project out into the future, what’s something that maybe you’re not necessarily pessimistic about, but like, I don’t think this is there yet, but it’s coming and I think it could be good if it works out a certain way.

[00:50:29] Dylan Kelley: Yeah. Great question. I think one thing. That can work well, it has to be for the right brand, but it is crushing right now for specific brands is mobile apps. Once again, like it’s not going to be like an end all be all, but there some really big successful e-commerce direct to consumer brands who are driving a lot of their revenue through mobile apps, through push notifications and just, it really works at scale.

[00:50:54] If you have for like a higher skew more business that. You can reach a wide amount of customers. They give you and sell it to all Americans that’ll work really well. You know, if you have a really niche product, I mean, it could still work really well, but just like, you kind of need a bigger product catalog to make it work.

[00:51:07] Like if you just have one product, you know, mobile, app’s not going to do well, but you know, for the departments, like the department store of the future, like probably going to be a mobile app, the model of the future, it’s like your inbox scrolling through. Dedicated brands and yeah, I think mobile apps for the right brand could be really exciting, especially with push notifications.

[00:51:24] Those are working really well. And there’s, I can’t say like specifics around the brands or what amount of their revenue comes from their mobile apps, but that is something kind of like behind the scenes that not a lot of people are talking about right now, but there’s some brands who are killing it with mobile.

[00:51:37] No, don’t go, just go start a mobile app for no reason. Like you probably don’t need it yet, but that is something I’ve seen that it’s just kind of like, you know, on my

[00:51:45] James Sowers: radar, I was going to say, I talk about a significant investment, like to have a custom mobile app developed. Like, are they effectively a re-skin of the website that’s just native or is it more like community building, right?

[00:51:54] Is it more like, Hey, I’m just. I have no idea what brands you’re talking about. So if this happens to be on the it’s totally coincidence, but like, if it’s a supplement brand, right? Like, do we have an app that has workouts, recipes, meal planning, whatever, and just happens to have a sales component to it where it’s like, Hey, we happened to notice that it’s been 30 days since you bought some protein powder, you might be running low.

[00:52:14] Here’s the one-click checkout to go ahead and restock on that. Is it based around. Non product focus stuff primarily with a sales element to it, or is it strictly like, Hey, we’re going to take our entire online store and make it native to iOS, Android, wherever we’re going to be.

[00:52:30] Dylan Kelley: There’s a mix of both approaches.

[00:52:34] It’s funny, even the simple, just like let’s take our mobile site and turn it into an app is working really well. So you can use something like tap cart. It’s like a hundred bucks a month. You get a mobile app, basically a re-skin of your, um, of your website. Not exactly, but it’s pretty close and you can put subscriber exclusive or app member, exclusive content and have a different, like, it’s more of a VIP relationship type thing, but.

[00:52:56] It works really well. And what’s cool too, is like the push notifications. They convert really well too. And, um, it’s not like paying for tax. It’s not like paying for an email and, uh, you can send like five of them a day and like, people don’t get as upset versus like a text or an email, which is just interesting.

[00:53:12] Got

[00:53:12] James Sowers: it. Yeah. Sorry to tack one on the end here, but that you just reminded me of one question I had for you specifically. I hear a lot of advice. Like just send more email and like send more often send more frequently. And the customer advocate in me is like, man, that sounds terrible. Please don’t do that.

[00:53:26] But also I can see why as a business owner, like, it makes sense. If you send an email every day, you’re going to make more money through the email channel. It’s just going to happen. Right. So. I empathize with the e-commerce leader, who has to make that call. But I’m curious where you personally come down on the side of like, should people be sending daily if they’re continuing, like, if they’re not, you know, they’re unsubscribed as an outpacing, their conversion rate or vice versa, like what, what’s your take on kind of frequency and when it’s too

[00:53:49] Dylan Kelley: much.

[00:53:50] Yeah. I mean, you should definitely be sending as much as possible without hurting. Which is important, but like I was talking about earlier, like there’s advanced technology out there. Like you can segment people by how often they want to receive your emails. So for the James Sauers on our email list, like we can hit them up twice a month.

[00:54:06] We hit them up once a week. And then for the people who are. Love the brand VIP’s who want to hear from, you know, aloe, yoga every day. Like you can get those emails every single day. Like some people like it, depending on who the market is, like, they really enjoy it. It’s the magazine catalog of the two thousands.

[00:54:24] Like nobody’s getting back. Cause you need to look through, it’s like, it’s your email? Like people scroll through the promotions tab for fun. It’s probably like, you know, like it’s kind of weird for me cause like I don’t do that. That’s not how I find buying ideas, but it’s like you’re fan of brand. Like that’s how, you know, what’s.

[00:54:37] Yeah. I mean, ultimately, like I would say send more than you think and more than you would like personally, because you do make more revenue and like, you know, if somebody really doesn’t want to hear from you, like just lose that person. They’re probably not going to buy anyway, but also, yeah, you don’t want to run your list in the ground.

[00:54:50] Like if you’re just sending the same stuff over and over again, cause contents important to you. If you can’t find something to send every day, which most brands aren’t big enough or interesting enough to do that, you know, it’s probably not worth to do it. You’ll probably see engagement go down, not even just unsubscribed, you’ll just start to see opens and go down, which is like not good.

[00:55:05] Um, but also. If you could do frequency modeling and say like, Hey, we have like these three types, which are people who like to write. Only for the most important things you would like to hear from us, you know, once or twice a week. And then people want to hear from us, everything, you can build a really great email.

[00:55:20] It’s like, that’s great segmentation, not just like red pants, black pants, like

[00:55:24] James Sowers: we were talking about. Yeah. I’m glad you pointed that out. Cause I, I don’t mind getting a lot of email, but it’s really best to have the option to choose kind of that frequency that you want because. Somebody just going to unsubscribe and like they could have been a customer.

[00:55:36] Right. And maybe the only thing holding them back was how often they hear from you. Um, so yeah, I love that advice. Cool, man. Well, I’ll let you get back to the rest of your day and then you’ve got some important things planned. So I’m really excited for you to see what comes to those. But before I let you get back to your day, where are some places that folks can go to learn more about you wave break and everything else that you’re working on.

[00:55:54] Dylan Kelley: So if you run a growing. Brands. And you wanted to hear from the people who have done the same and grown their business to 10 40, 50, a hundred million plus in revenue, you can listen to my podcast that way break podcast.com got a lot of great interviews with really cool companies like pop sockets, vanity planet, Beardbrand parachute home, and a lot of other really exciting ones coming.

[00:56:14] That are, you know, it’s like literally exactly like what you’re dealing with. Other people of Delta, you kind of learn from their mistakes, which is great. So you can definitely subscribe to the podcast that we’re brig podcast.com. And then if you’re a brand who’s, you know, doing over a million or doing over 3 million a year, and you’re really not optimized when it comes to your email and SMS marketing, and you feel like you’re leaving money on the table and not building a great community and relationship with your customer.

[00:56:34] That’s exactly where we come in is to come in and help you build that out and really optimized a great program with everything we talked about. Uh, you learn more about that and, and schedule a time with us at wave break.co/call. And yeah, it’s been great to be on the show. So thanks so much for having me, James.

[00:56:49] Awesome.

[00:56:50] James Sowers: Anytime we’ll have to have you back next year or in the next six months sometime and figure out what’s changed. Cause I know this stuff’s always evolving and best practices today aren’t necessarily the best practices of tomorrow. So we’ll, we’ll stay up on the trends. And I know that. Well, have your finger on the pulse of what’s going on in the email marketing and SMS marketing space.

[00:57:04] So thanks again for your time today, Dale and I really enjoyed it. Thanks. Yeah, for

[00:57:08] Dylan Kelley: sure. Thanks so much, James. Hey everybody.

[00:57:11] James Sowers: This is James again. And before you go, I just wanted to invite you to join one of the coolest things I get to work on. As director of marketing here at the good it’s called the e-commerce insiders list, and it’s a private version of this podcast feed that gets you access to tons of additional bonus content like extra interviews, Q and a sessions, website, tear downs, and anything else we can dream.

[00:57:28] It doesn’t cost you anything, but your email address. And we promise to always respect your inbox. This is just our way of forming strong relationships with our listeners and making sure that we produce content that is actually valuable to you and to your business. If you’re interested, you can join the rest of the e-commerce insiders by going to the good.com/podcast and dropping your email into the form at the top of the page, we’ll follow up with directions for how to access the private feed, and you’ll be off and running.

[00:57:53] Like I said, this is one of my favorite things that I get the opportunity to work on because it lets me interact directly with e-commerce founders and leaders. Just like you. If you’re interested, I’d love to see your name pop up in my notifications until then keep an eye out for the next episode of the e-commerce insight show.

[00:58:07] And we’ll talk to you soon.

James Sowers

About the Author

James Sowers

James Sowers is the former Director of The Good Ventures. He has more than a decade of experience helping software and ecommerce companies accelerate their growth and improve their customer experience.