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How To Retain Customers With Email And SMS Marketing – Joanne Coffey

In this episode, we talk to Joanne Coffey, Head of Retention at Aisling Organic Cosmetics. As a data-driven marketer and specialist, Joanne shares her best advice on email and SMS marketing.

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About this episode:

In this episode of The Ecommerce Insights Show, we sat down with Joanne Coffey, Head of Retention at Aisling Organic Cosmetics who is a data-driven email and SMS marketer. We talk about customer retention strategies and how they can help maximize growth for Direct-to-Consumer businesses.

In this episode, you’ll learn about:

  • What is the relationship between email and SMS
  • How to use email and SMS in your marketing strategy
  • The best tools and applications for email and SMS marketing
  • The best way to put together an Ecommerce workflow that performs well
  • What you should and should not do when it comes to email and SMS marketing

So if you are interested in customer retention strategies for Ecommerce brands, then this episode is for you.

Learn more about Joanne and her resources here:

Want to be a guest on our show? Have feedback or ideas for how we can improve? Send your thoughts over to 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

Episode Transcript:

[00:00:00] James Sowers: So here’s the question. How can you, Congress 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 insight 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 work.

[00:00:52] Hey, Joanne, welcome to the e-commerce insight show. Really excited to have you on to talk about. Email and SMS marketing. I know this is a little deviation from our typical format. Normally we talk to consultants, advisors, agencies, kind of the service providers in the e-commerce world. But I saw a tweet from you about a really clever win-back campaign that you did, and I’m assuming it’s doing well.

[00:01:10] And we’ll get into the details of that a little bit. I was like, I got to have her on the show, even if it’s just a little bonus episode, because this brand perspective, this operator’s perspective is valuable as well. Hopefully we’ll come back around and do a whole season around that, but we’re going to test the waters here with you today.

[00:01:23] So, um, before we get into the meat of the conversation, uh, can you give us just a couple of sentences about who you are, where you work, the type of work you’re doing, and maybe what has you excited to fire up your laptop in the morning?

[00:01:33] Joanne Coffey: My name is Joanne coffee. I work for easing organics. It’s a female founded business based in new England to do we sell organic makeup.

[00:01:40] So I started for Aisling about three years ago as an intern. And after my internship was done, it was a summer and our CEO did not have any email or SMS implemented in their marketing strategy. And so she asked me if I wanted to stay on part-time for the summer and implement her, being a marketing strategy.

[00:01:57] And at that time I really had no email marketing experience. So I’ve been self-taught up until this point. And so I took it on. Was a freshman student. So I really don’t into what email marketing is, how I can make this strategy great for this small business that I really believed in. And I’ve been in this role ever.

[00:02:14] Oh,

[00:02:14] James Sowers: awesome. So early in your career, learning by doing, which is my favorite way to do it, I’m just curious. And if you can’t share this, that’s totally okay. But at what point maybe revenue wise was the company when they said we still don’t have an email marketing strategy because I think they’re not alone in that regard.

[00:02:28] Right. I think a lot of people go along. Six, maybe even a seven figure business before they really have something written down, something intentional around email and SMS marketing. So what stage of maturity was the business that when you came in and they said, all right, we want to formalize this. We want to put more energy and effort behind this and you’re the one to do it.

[00:02:45] Absolutely.

[00:02:45] Joanne Coffey: So we were in over 300 spots when I came on as an intern. So we were kind of a hybrid. DTC. And in those salons of retail and we wanted to pull out a retail for a couple of reasons, was we really did not know who our customer was. And in the long run, it was just turning unprofitable for us. So we pulled out all of those salons and we really just wanted to focus on DDC because we saw that as a future.

[00:03:08] So when Krista brought this onto me, she’s like, we need to understand who our customer is and what they want from us. And we feel like we can find that out and implement a better strategy with email and SMS. So that was her name reason for wanting to implement those two strategies. Um, and since then we’ve seen a significant increase in revenue and just knowing who our customers are and what they want to see.

[00:03:28] James Sowers: Yeah. Yeah. So 300 stores, I think you said, or 300 spots. I mean, that’s not a small business, right? That’s not somebody fulfilling stuff out of their closet or out of their home office. Like that’s a significant amount of progress to make without any attention to email and SMS. So this is really like pouring fuel on the fire.

[00:03:42] When you get this stuff nailed down, uh, you really start to see that growth curve kind of accelerate up into the right as people like to see it. So maybe tell me just a little bit more about Aisling organics, like the product. I think that context is going to be important when we talk. Some of the tactics that you’ve deployed there to level up that email and SMS marketing.

[00:03:58] So what’s kind of like the precipitating event that caused the founders who create the company. And then what separates you from other kinds of skincare or personal care items in the market? Absolutely.

[00:04:08] Joanne Coffey: So our founder was sick for years with migraines and nausea when she was in college and she could not figure out why.

[00:04:14] And so we’re based in new England, we’re close to Boston. So she went to all of these hospitals in doctors in Boston, and they couldn’t tell her why she was having these symptoms. So she took it upon herself to really have a clean lifestyle. And she was sitting at her makeup vanity, and she was looking at this foundation model and she said, I have no idea what’s in this product.

[00:04:33] Why am I focusing so heavily on what I’m eating and my lifestyle when CPG products. So your deodorants, your makeup. Your skin lotions, your skincare. I don’t know what’s in any of these products. And so she sent her foundation bottle off to a lab and it came back with ingredients like formaldehyde and mercury things that really belong in auto shop and not in your beauty products.

[00:04:54] So she tried a bunch of other clean makeup lines and nothing performed to her standard. So that is how amazing was born. She wanted a high-performance organic makeup line that could hold up to her conventional products that she used had used.

[00:05:06] James Sowers: Yeah. So she wanted to have her cake and eat it too. Right.

[00:05:08] She wants something healthy, but also makes you look better. Don’t we all right. That reminds me of, and maybe if there’s a chemist listening, I’m going to ask for forgiveness ahead of time. But I swear, I just read something recently. That is like the chemical structure of nitroglycerin, which is like TNT or.

[00:05:22] And peanut butter chemically. The structure is not that different, but nitroglycerin very dangerous. Peanut butter, very delicious. Right? So it’s like these, these minor little things that like, you have these harsh chemicals and in our day-to-day life, we’re not necessarily aware of it. Right. And we don’t know, and we’re literally putting it on our.

[00:05:36] Your body’s biggest Oregon taking it right internally and effecting a bunch of other systems. So it makes sense that somebody would be discerning about what they put on their skin or what they ingest or something like that. So really cool story behind, uh, Aisling. And I think that that is going to be important later, as we talk into some of the specific tactics that you’re using.

[00:05:52] But if I were to sum up my understanding of your role, focusing on email and SMS, so you’re playing around in Klaviyo and postscript all day, but how do you distribute that time between. Filling the funnel, right. Growing the audience and more of the retention based, or there’s automated workflows like nurturing the existing customers that you have.

[00:06:09] Joanne Coffey: Sure. So my role is solely focused on retention. I don’t so much grow the list as much as you might think. I’d rather just have the pop up there, but I’m not running the ads in the background. Um, I’m solely just focusing on. Campaigns different flows and automations that we have set up and really focusing on retaining our customer that we have in storytelling with the story and really focusing on product education in the end.

[00:06:33] That is my main goal is just making sure that our customers can come to us. And how long were you? You know, learn something new, learn that, you know, some of the products that they might be using in their home or greenwashed or anything along those lines. I try my best through my email and SMS efforts to really educate our customer so they can feel better moving forward in their lives about the products that they’re using.

[00:06:57] So we have our basic flow set up. We have our welcome series. We have. Product education. We have our win-back campaigns. So we have all the basic campaign or all of the basic flows that you have set set up every single day. But I feel like what differentiates us from the other clean beauty brands is that we really focus on education.

[00:07:15] James Sowers: Yeah. I think that’s a great spin to take on it because I don’t know anything about personal care items and I’m not in your target demographic, but I’m sure that like, even just the term, like greenwashing, I just picked up on that. You said. I don’t know what that means. I mean, I can make an assumption, but maybe educate me here on the show.

[00:07:30] Like, what does greenwashing mean in the context of makeup and personal?

[00:07:33] Joanne Coffey: Absolutely. So what green washing is, is basically a brand that has organic looking packaging, but the product is actually filled with chemicals, like formaldehyde the flavors. You know, things that aren’t necessarily might not be safe for your skin in the long run.

[00:07:48] So brands can kind of trick consumers into using these products, thinking that they’re natural, but they are really filled with harmful ingredients.

[00:07:55] James Sowers: Yeah. Interesting. I’ve heard about that on the food production side of things and some of the regulations around that, like the consumer would think if something’s labeled organic, that it’s healthy.

[00:08:04] But maybe the don’t quote me on the specific examples because I’m not a nutritionist, but it’s like, okay. If it says organic, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a hundred percent organic. That means that like the chicken that you’re buying got a certain percentage of their diet was organic matter.

[00:08:17] And then the rest is whatever, some kind of like artificial supplemented feed or whatever. And so the consumer is like, I’m eating organic meaning. But behind the label, like it’s maybe not being so true. And it sounds like that’s kind of the same thing going on here. It’s like we put it in green packaging and we put a bunch of leaves all over it.

[00:08:31] Or we put a little icon of a globe and people think they’re saving the world and they’re saving themselves in the process. And then that’s maybe not the case.

[00:08:39] Joanne Coffey: Strict with cosmetics. There has not been a updated regulation from the FDA in over 80 years. So these brains can really do whatever they want without any, you know, slap on the wrist.

[00:08:50] And so we put ourselves in a position where we hold ourselves to a very high standard with the ingredients that we use and then how we communicate that to our customers because not every single brand is doing. Yeah,

[00:09:00] James Sowers: it’s a little scary, really, because like some of those really big established global brands that do use the bad ingredients, they can just spin out a sub-brand right, like a son or daughter brand and repackage it and just have the consumer thinking, oh, this is something new on the shelf.

[00:09:14] But really the parent brand is the same kind of like Cruella Deville that they’ve always been. They just put a new sticker and a new label on it. And make you think that you’re buying something that’s morally sound, I guess, for lack of a better term. Interesting. So you said you focused on the retention.

[00:09:27] You’ve got all the key series setup. Maybe let’s dive into the one that caught my attention on Twitter. You tweeted about kind of a creative approach to a win-back campaign. So maybe let’s start there and just end to end the production process for that, like the brainstorming session, where you came up with the idea all the way through launching it, and maybe how it’s performing for you.

[00:09:44] Joanne Coffey: Absolutely. So as a small business, I know scared to say that we’re a little bit scrappy, you know, like we want to compete with these big brands. We want to see the same numbers that they do. And so I created this win-back campaign in the hopes that we could apply some new customers and very inexpensive way.

[00:09:59] So what I did was I set up okay. Flow in Klayvio. And what it is is after somebody purchases the first time, about 45 days later, they will get an email just saying, Hey, like you home purchase from less than a while, blah, blah, blah. And then we give them a $5 off coupon. And then if they haven’t used that, we send them another follow-up.

[00:10:16] And this is a text-based email from our CEO. And we find that these emails have a much higher open rate than when the center names comes from. And it has a salesy subject line, so on and so forth. So we want this email to be very dynamic, like it’s coming from our CEO. And so what this email says is, Hey, like you haven’t used our $5 off coupon.

[00:10:35] Why don’t you forward it to a friend if you’re not going to use it? And so that way. Um, and then we get a little bit more of product education on why using organic makeup is better for you than using the conventional alternative, just so we can educate that customer that might be getting that email.

[00:10:50] And this flow is one of our top reporting flows, and we can track this analytics because if they are second time purchaser using that five off coupon, then we know that they’re purchasing directly from that email. But if it’s a first time customer using that $5 off. Then we know that we are applying to new customers for very low cost.

[00:11:06] James Sowers: Yeah. And I should’ve been writing down cause I have like a handful of questions to follow up on that. And I’m not sure where to start. I think number one, how did you come up with that 45 day period? Is there something about that’s when they run out of the first product or is that just a gut intuition?

[00:11:18] You’re like, okay. 45 days feels about right. Let’s follow up with them then.

[00:11:21] Joanne Coffey: Absolutely. We chose around 45 days because by then we feel like the customer should have a grasp on if they like the product or. And because that’s makeup, we have different variants too. So we have different chains that they could pick out.

[00:11:32] So say it is a tinted lip oil that they, like, we feel like 45 days is enough to be, to think for that customer. Oh, like I would want to differentiate in this. So 45 days tends to work out really well for us is that when they run out of the product, definitely not. That should be around the 90 day period where we send out, you know, different flows saying you should replenish this for it.

[00:11:51] If it’s six months later, we say your product is. Fire. So we do have different flows set up that have different time links associated with it, but 45 days works for us.

[00:12:00] James Sowers: Okay. Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. And then the $5 off, are you doing any segmentation around that? Like, are there lower ticket items?

[00:12:05] Well, that’s a really big discount percentage wise and higher ticket items where it’s not, or like, how’d you come up with that number and do you think it’s more compelling? To say 10% or $5 off. Did you consider that at all? Absolutely.

[00:12:15] Joanne Coffey: So dollar off coupons works so much better for us than percentages off.

[00:12:20] It’s just what we found with our customer base. $5 is a pretty good incentive for us because we don’t really do discounts often if at all. So $5 seems incentivizing enough for the customer and we know that it’s working. If it wasn’t working, we up it to $10, you know, we’d done that testing. We’ve had this low ACTA for a really long time.

[00:12:38] This has just been sweet spots for us.

[00:12:40] James Sowers: Yeah. That makes sense. So the first email comes from the brand, right. And the second followup comes from the founder. Is that right? Yes. Okay. So in terms of, if somebody engages with that email, right, you’re making that second one personalized, like it’s coming directly from the founder.

[00:12:53] What if somebody replies to that? Where does that go? Does that go to her? Does that go to the support team? Like, is there any kind of, are you seeing any kind of, cause I would expect you to see some kind of. Even just thanks so much for this. Or I just forwarded it to my friend. Hope you get a sale out of it.

[00:13:05] Something like that might happen. So, so who’s jumping in and fielding those. Okay.

[00:13:08] Joanne Coffey: So if anybody’s listening to this, that’s a small business owner. Use that to your advantage, use your small team to an advantage. So there’s only three females that work here full time. So there’s me and Joanne head of email and SMS marketing.

[00:13:20] Krista is our CEO. And then Brianna is our customer service and fulfillment manager. And so she gets those responses and then she’ll just forward them right in slack to our CEO. So there’s, it’s really great to have such a small team because we are in constant communication of the messages that Bri is receiving on the customer service side from our customers.

[00:13:39] And then she just sends them to us right in slack. And we’re able to collaborate on a good response and Krista can draft up their response. So that way it’s directly coming from her.

[00:13:47] James Sowers: Super interesting. I just wonder, has anybody ever asked you, like, I use my $5 off code. Can I get another one for my sister or for my mom or for my coworker?

[00:13:55] Does anybody, uh, ping back and just ask.

[00:13:57] Joanne Coffey: Not so much that more. So people ask for color recommendations for either their friends or for their daughters. We have a lot of moms that want their kids to use, to start using organic makeup from when they’re a kid. So that way they can grow into learning how to do their makeup efficiently and with organic products that are better for their skin, for their health.

[00:14:16] So we have a lot of moms just asking, you know, what should my daughter use, or what color would you recommend for her? As a ten-year-old you don’t know how to color, match your wreath and do your makeup either. So that’s kind of where those inquiries come from. Not so much.

[00:14:29] James Sowers: So what can you tell me about the uptake rate on the $5 off incentive?

[00:14:33] So what’s it doing to customer lifetime value, repeat purchase rate? Like, just give us some sense of how successful this campaign has been since. Sure.

[00:14:39] Joanne Coffey: So my goal and my goal is to turn zero temperatures to one-time purchasers one to two times, three times to four times. And when they get up to that three to four times, I want to turn them into subscribers.

[00:14:49] So this incentive is to really turn that one-time purchaser into two-time purchasers. And so that is the main goal of this flow. We have some other flows set up for those three to 400 purchasers to turn them into subscribers. And I can speak a little bit more on that if you want me to, but we’ve seen a great.

[00:15:04] Response in this email. And even it’s kind of works in two ways because we have that one discount code trying to get us from zero time to one time. So when I’m dropping off these slows, that is really what I’m looking at. And the order placed rate from this flow is very high compared to our other flows.

[00:15:21] So that is the analytics that I’m looking at and kind of the mindset of what I’m setting up

[00:15:24] James Sowers: these flows. I think that’s really smart. I mean, especially in the world, Customer acquisition is getting more expensive. So retaining more of your existing customers and increasing the value of each account, so to speak each person’s lifetime value, really smart.

[00:15:36] So I’m glad that you’re diving in there. Maybe talk to me about, you mentioned trying to get that fourth time purchaser to subscription. That could be one example of this, but I’m thinking, okay. CEO says you own email. Now, two part question for you. One, where do you go to learn about email? Where did you go to become the expert?

[00:15:51] Right? You’re self-taught right. And second after you learned what you learned, like where did you dive in first? What are those kinds of foundational essential flows that every e-commerce brand should have set up? Like where did you start? This is the low investment, high impact type of stuff that I can work on to make it a splash around.

[00:16:05] Joanne Coffey: Exactly. I was so nervous when Chris asked me to take on email because I was just like a bright eyed, bushy tailed intern, like ready to work in the makeup space that I had no idea, the hard work that it would take to get to where I am today. And when she asked me to take out an email and SMS, the first place I went to was actually YouTube.

[00:16:22] So three or four years ago, I feel like that was kind of the place. Education. Now a lot of the tips and tricks that I find for email and SMS actually come from tick-tock and from Twitter, I’m connected with so many industry and thought leaders that just tweet out their marketing secrets, kind of like how you found me and I’m learning so much stuff along the way.

[00:16:40] So my recommendation to anybody that is just kind of feeling stuck, it’s just trying to find some inspiration on social media or making connections on LinkedIn or any place that you can find different ways that you can implement a better email. Now. Marketing strategy. And so when I started out, I implemented the basics.

[00:16:57] I did the welcome flows. I did the abandoned carts, the win backs, the post-purchase, it was very, very minimal. And I would send out about one email campaign a week and, oh my gosh, thinking back, it was so horribly designed. The copywriting is not up to par. I probably had so many typos, but I have definitely come a long way since then.

[00:17:16] And I’ve learned from my

[00:17:17] James Sowers: failures as well. Yeah. I think that that’s really smart. You know, I think the level of forgiveness that the average consumer has for a brand coming into their inbox is higher than most people anticipate right there. So I think what a lot of founders do, especially when they’re early days, bootstrapping things by themselves, they’re wearing multiple hats.

[00:17:33] Like they’re the founder, but they’re also the head marketer. They’re the logistics person, their product development, whatever. They’re like, I can’t be perfect at this, so I just won’t do it at all. And that’s probably the worst thing to do. I think the best thing to do is just take one step forward and do your best that you can.

[00:17:46] Like you said, go find reliable sources of information and get better over time because that’s the best way to learn is by doing it. So really glad to hear an interesting that you mentioned Tik TOK. Cause like I’m not really there that much, but I’m seeing more and more. Hang out there, especially for kind of business related content, which is surprising to me.

[00:18:00] So, uh, I might have to check that out cause you just taught me something today. I mean, you wouldn’t think

[00:18:04] Joanne Coffey: you’d probably just think it’s the platform of like teenagers dancing, but there is such a community of DTC owners and thought leaders on there just tweeting or just making tick talks on what they’re doing on a day-to-day basis.

[00:18:16] And I’ve learned some great tips for our marketing strategy that I would’ve never even thought of from tech. So it’s.

[00:18:23] James Sowers: Yeah, that’s really cool. Talk to me a little bit about the SMS side of things. So we’ve talked a lot about email and that’s kind of where you dove in SMS in terms of lifecycle is a little farther behind email, right?

[00:18:33] Like it’s a newer thing, especially in the DDC or e-commerce space, but I’m especially interested in like, how you think about the relationship between email and SMS. So are you starting to layer SMS into some of these experiences? These van eCard experiences is like you get an email immediately, but then six hours later, you get a text message and then 24 hours later, you get an email and you are you starting to sprinkle these things?

[00:18:52] How do you think about the relationship of those two channels?

[00:18:54] Joanne Coffey: Absolutely. I love SMS marketing. I think if there was one thing that I could do for the rest of my life and be completely happy with it, it would be assets marketing. I think it is such a fun and unique channel that some brands are starting to implement.

[00:19:07] Some brands are a little bit weary of it, but I think. As, as not the future, SMS is now so many brands are using it as a marketing channel. Great success from it, just like we have, when it comes to our email and SMS marketing strategy, I feel like we do a great job of doing both and doing it both very well.

[00:19:23] So I will say with our SMS marketing strategy, we do have those same flow set up that we do with email. Like we have our welcome series. We have our opinions. But we make it like a conversation. We don’t make it like a marketing message, you know, we make it. So the customer is excited when they see easing organics come up on their phone.

[00:19:40] So for an example, we have an order delivered flow. And since we do fulfillment in house, we have a selfie of Bree with a box of packages, go along with. When their order is fulfilled. So they’ll say, Hey, Joanne, Brianna just fulfilled your order. It should be shipping out in the next couple hours and we just make it so personal.

[00:20:01] Instead of just saying your order is fulfilled, that it should ship in a couple of hours, you know, we make it so personal that it doesn’t even feel like a marketing message.

[00:20:09] James Sowers: Yeah. Yeah. That little multimedia element that just the ability to have a pretty photo right. Of a real person there with the next message right behind it.

[00:20:17] You can do that in email, but for some reason it’s not as impactful as it’s like right here, my phone next to pictures of my kids or my family or my friends or whatever. Like it’s all kind of a situational thing that makes it that much more powerful. And you just, it’s really hard to replicate that in email where your inbox is filled with like text-heavy things and requests from coworkers, like it’s filled with work and, you know, kind of marketing material, relationship, building stuff.

[00:20:37] So maybe that like dilutes the message there. So I think that’s the upside of SMS.

[00:20:42] Joanne Coffey: I do both email and SMS. It can be tricky because if you send out an abandoned cart email, and then you send out an abandoned cart text, and they say the same message, that’s annoying. If you send out an abandoned cart email, and then you make the texts with a funny gift and like something so personal and related to that product, it doesn’t feel like a marketing message.

[00:21:01] You know what I mean? It just feels like a text message from a friend. And that’s kind of how we like to implement our SMS marketing strategy is we don’t want it to sound like it’s coming from a brand. We want it to flow in a conversation. And I feel like that is what different. What differentiates our email and our SMS strategy.

[00:21:18] James Sowers: Yeah. Yeah. You got it. Yeah. That’s interesting because like, so the SMS marketing has a character limit, right. Or at the very least, like you wouldn’t want it to be this long diatribe. So I think it has some of those elements of like constraints, breed, creative. Right. The same way that like, when Twitter first came out, it had the character limit.

[00:21:32] So people had to like be punchy, right? It’s a copywriting exercise. It’s like, can you condense this insight into 240 characters or less or whatever you’re doing the same thing with SMS. Like you only have their attention for a little bit of time. How do you get the most important details across? How do you make it fun?

[00:21:46] How do you make it engaging? I think that’s one upside of SMS is like, it forces you to be more creative because you don’t have as much real estate. You don’t have as much time or attention to work with. How do you think. Making sure you’re not stepping all over yourself with these. Like you say, if you send the exact same thing, abandoned cart wise, email and SMS, that’s obviously bad, but how do you map out that cadence?

[00:22:05] Is it every other or is it email and text message in the same day, but they say slightly different things. Like you got a six foot whiteboard like I do here, and you’re just mapping these things out to make sure that you’re not stepping on your own toes. Like, how do you figure it out?

[00:22:16] Joanne Coffey: I actually have two wireframes set up and I don’t even know if wireframe is the correct term, but I have every single message in flow that I have set up in email.

[00:22:24] And then I have every single message. With the timestamp as well that I do for SMS. And I mean, it’s not like we have like 50 different flows set up, so it really only took me a couple hours to set up. And then that way I can see specifically, if they’re going to get an email at this time, you know, their SMS marketing message, you go out at this time.

[00:22:40] And so it kind of gives me, I mean, it’s not. But it gives me a rough idea of not honing in, on our customer and hitting them with so many marketing messages all in one day. So that is just kind of like my method to my madness of how I set it up. I’m sure that there might be easier ways to do it, but that’s just kind of how I set mine up.

[00:22:57] James Sowers: Yeah. What is the name of the tool you’re using to build those? Wireframes.

[00:23:02] Joanne Coffey: It’s really

[00:23:03] James Sowers: simple. I mean, I know of a few, I know like, okay. G L O maps, we’ll link it up in the show notes. That sounds really cool. It’s like a visual design tool to help you kind of map out these flows. I think it’d be really helpful cause it’s like, it’s not easy to build these things inside of Clavio or inside of convert kit or whatever email marketing provider you’re using.

[00:23:20] Like it’s not always easy to drag them around and be like, oh, I want this email to actually come earlier in the sequence. Copy paste, like rebuild everything. So wireframing is super smart, especially doing that on the front end. Cool. So let me try it and make sure I have the details right here. So you’ve been with Aisling organics for three years.

[00:23:34] Total part of that as an intern, and then maybe the last year in charge of email and SMS. Is that right? Yes. Okay. So whether you want to take the three-year timeline or the one year you’ve been focusing on email and SMS, what’s kind of the biggest win that you’ve had. The low investment, big impact, or just something like a flow that you put together, or a campaign, a marketing campaign, a sale, something like that, that absolutely killed it.

[00:23:53] Like talk to us about the details of your biggest wins so far with the organization. Absolutely.

[00:23:57] Joanne Coffey: And I know this is kind of going to be like a jump around answer, but I wouldn’t even say that my biggest win is a specific flow or a specific campaign. I would say that my biggest win is having an impact on our customers and really being able to educate them on the types of products that they’re putting on their skin.

[00:24:13] And so. Yes. We’ve seen great revenue results from our campaigns. And yes, our customers love to receive texts from us, but that’s not the main point of my job. Emailing organics is suppose is a resource for people to come to for anything that they might need, whether that’s color matching product recommendations, high-performance organic makeup.

[00:24:32] And I’m in a position where I can really help out our customers in their everyday lifestyles. Not necessarily. Just with our product focus. And a great example of this is when quarantine started, we saw a huge drop in sales. You know, our sales dropped 80% in that month. And so we were thinking, all right, our customers might not be buying makeup, but what can we do to put a smile on their face?

[00:24:54] And so for our SMS marketing, we sent out the daily laugh and what it was was just a dad joke that we texted to our sunscreen. Once a day, no call to action, just to put a smile on their face. And over time, our unsubscribe rate over time was drastically decreased because people just wanted to receive texts from us.

[00:25:12] So overall, it’s not just a flow that does well or a campaign. I’m just happy that I’m in a position where I can really help

[00:25:19] James Sowers: them through. Yeah. I think that’s a really intuitive answer because like we think about it the same way. We’ve got a lot of great clients. But I think the biggest success that we have when we’re done is changing the conversation around conversion optimization and making it easier for people to understand it because they think it’s some kind of like pseudoscience and they think it’s like, change this button color to red and your conversions will go through the roof, but that’s not how it works, you know?

[00:25:39] And so if we can be the educational arm and help people really understand it and how to do it the right way, I think that’s really how we would define success. It sounded like you’re kind of the same way. It’s like, can we be. A little piece of delight in somebody’s inbox. Can we educate them about the industry and the market and some of the maybe misleading marketing messages that they’re seeing out there and their big box retailers.

[00:25:57] Can we kind of change the conversation around makeup and personal care? So I think that’s really smart. And I liked that you mentioned dad jokes because I was going to start this conversation off with a dad, joke about coffee. Like I’ve already had my coffee today, but who can’t use a little more coffee or something and I avoid.

[00:26:10] But since you’re using dad jokes and your marketing, I’ll call that out. That I, uh, I’m proud of myself for not bringing that up, because that would have been a little cringy, still cringey. Now I’m talking about it now. So,

[00:26:19] Joanne Coffey: but if you do want an analytical answer, I will give it to you for the people that want to know.

[00:26:25] I would say my biggest win is creating flows, that perform well. And when I create a campaign that has a really high open rate or a really high placed order rate, I feel like that’s a win for me. So for an example, I mean, you, we talked about the one back flow. We talked about the order delivered. I don’t know.

[00:26:41] I can’t really give specifics. I don’t know. It was like, I got enough to

[00:26:44] James Sowers: answer. Yeah, I think that’s good. That’s all right. I mean, it’s really the cumulative effect. That’s kind of what I was expecting to hear is like, we get a bunch of little wins and then you look back over the last three years and you’re like, look, how far we’ve come.

[00:26:55] I mean, we see that on conversion optimization all the time. It’s like maybe every test is not a win, but when you’re. All the 10 tests we ran this year and you look at where you were in January. Like it’s pretty crazy. So I think you did a great job answering that one. I just had another question. Oh, okay.

[00:27:09] So we’re talking about how it feels good to send an email that gets a really high open rate or a lot of clicks or something like that. We just had some news dropped by apple that maybe that environment’s going to change at least in the apple ecosystem. So, and that’s probably not the end of it. Right.

[00:27:22] We’ll probably have other platforms come out with additional privacy protections or just how people, their activities are being tracked around the web. Right. And just trying to keep the consumer’s interest in mind. So. You know, how do you think about that in terms of how it’s going to impact your work?

[00:27:33] Like for the people listening open rates have never been a hundred percent accurate. Like it’s a tiny little pixel that when it loads in the email service provider, it gets logged as an open. Right. But if people have images turned off and they opened the email, they did open the email. It’s not going to make it all the way.

[00:27:46] It’s your reporting dashboard. So it’s never been a hundred percent accurate, but we’re working with the best information we have. It sounds like based on this apple news, that number might get even more inaccurate because you’re not going to get some of the feedback from those apple users. And we all know how popular apple is.

[00:27:59] So that’s going to happen on the email side. Something else is going to happen on the SMS side when you can’t. Opens reliably clicks still seem to be fairly. Okay. So maybe that’s the default answer here, but like, how do you think about your email marketing strategy and that, or SMS and that feedback loop that tells you what’s working and what’s not like, how are you going to figure that out?

[00:28:17] Going forward?

[00:28:18] Joanne Coffey: Exactly. It’s a great question because I feel like it’s on a lot of people’s minds. And I kind of have an unpopular opinion is that I, I don’t think it’s the biggest deal in the world. And I say that for me, from our email marketing strategies, because I’ve done so much testing over this past year, that I know what works for our customers, and I know what doesn’t.

[00:28:36] And so what works for us is providing value is text-based emails from our CEO and just educating our customers. And so we have high open rates and high click through rates already because of how much value that we get to our customer. And so for the brands who just have these giant email lists, Last to their whole subscriber base who are just selling, selling, selling.

[00:28:56] It’s going to be a problem for them, but for us, because we have a different perspective on our email marketing strategy. I don’t think it’s going to be the biggest deal in the world. So that’s just how I have thought about it. I will still always continue to test always trying new strategies, try new things and it, yeah.

[00:29:11] It’s things that I won’t be able to really see the analytics behind those tests as I used to be, but I can get a good. On what has already worked from us moving forward and then just

[00:29:20] James Sowers: continuing to do that. Yeah. I mean, I think there are a lot of areas in life where we have to work with imperfect information and we just have to do the best we can and know that if you’re doing what you think is the right thing, then you tend to end up in the right place.

[00:29:31] Right? Like I don’t have to step on a scale every day to know that if I eat healthy and workout regularly, I’ll probably be at a healthy weight. Right. Like I don’t need to scale to tell me that. And consistent about it and doing the right things, then I’ll have a good outcome. And so I think maybe that’s the way to approach this is like, if you were taking care of your consumers first through email and SMS and keeping their experience in mind from the start, then you’re gonna be just fine.

[00:29:51] And that includes performance, but also like satisfaction scores, net, promoter score, customer satisfaction, whatever that kind of stuff do the right thing from the start. And you’ll be just fine. You don’t have to worry about what’s on the news headlines from day to day. So you

[00:30:03] Joanne Coffey: haven’t been, now’s a great time to just start testing as much as you can.

[00:30:06] Sorry, testing from your center lines, start testing different subject lines, different content from email or SMS, and just see what works before these changes start to

[00:30:15] James Sowers: get into. Yeah. Get it any way you can, I suppose. Awesome. So one more question for you before I let you go. We could talked about a bunch of stuff today.

[00:30:23] We could’ve done an hour on segmentation. We could have done an hour and an analytics and kind of bounced around a little bit. And I think that’s okay because that’s how the day-to-day is for an email marketer. But I do have one kind of two-part question before. What is one thing, email and SMS, or you can just focus on one or the other that any commerce founder or a marketing leader absolutely should be doing.

[00:30:40] And what is one thing that they absolutely should not be doing when it comes to email and SMS marketing

[00:30:44] Joanne Coffey: with SMS, because that is what I’ve been diving into for the past six months or so. Well there’s dinner, marketing strategy. There. I would say one thing that you want to do when you are sending out SMS campaigns is then needs to sound like a conversation.

[00:30:58] It should not sound super salesy. It should not have 20 different links and the text should not be paragraphs upon paragraphs. It should be. One sentence with a break, one sentence with a break at, in a couple of emojis, add in the graphic and then a clear call to action. I have just found so many brands are only selling through SMS, and that is not the point of SMS.

[00:31:20] It is supposed to be a conversation between the brand and the customer. It’s such an intimate platform, and I feel like brands are just not doing it. Right. So if you do want to start implementing an SMS strategy, Start there and start using keywords in your campaigns. I’ve seen a lot of great DTC brands start to do this.

[00:31:36] So in their welcome series, they will put reply story to your founder’s story or applied tips to hear a founder, to hear some makeup tips. And I just gave away the keywords in our welcome series. One subscribe. There you go. Yeah. And then that way we can better segment our list to say, all right, these people want to hear from crystal and sent her campaigns about her story.

[00:31:57] These people want to hear specific makeup tips. So we will send them campaigns for makeup tips, and then that way we can segment our lists. So again, it’s that scrappy marketing strategies that I love, or just doing different things that are unconventional and it’s working for us. So anybody that’s starting to implement a SMS marketing strategy, just don’t send out promos every single day.

[00:32:17] It’ll kill your list and it will make you look

[00:32:19] James Sowers: good. Right? What is one thing they should absolutely not be doing when it comes to email and SMS?

[00:32:23] Joanne Coffey: For sure. So just like I said, for us and last just don’t make it. Super salesy, you know, don’t type in all caps. Don’t, you know, there’s so many different negative things that you could be doing to kill your list.

[00:32:35] And for email, I never send out unless it’s a specific promo or like a random special occasion, I almost never send out email campaigns store entire list. I either try and send them to our engaged list or VIP’s our customer that have signed up for our rewards program. I always segment based on an action that they have taken on our company.

[00:32:55] And if you’re going to say. Campaigns, just try and pick one segment and focus on sending a campaign out to them. And then same thing for flows. You always want to focus on an action that the customer has seen in, you know, and you’ll just killed your email list. If you send them campaigns to your entire list, just selling, selling, selling, you can think that your product is the most best product in the world.

[00:33:14] But let me just tell you that the consumer does not have. You have to make them care, you have to solve their problems. So those are just the things that I have noticed that I’ve seen other brands do, and we’ve even done them too. But moving forward, we’re definitely taking a more, more segmented approach to how we do marketing in a more humanized

[00:33:31] James Sowers: way.

[00:33:31] Personalizing that experience and making it contextual to the individual readers situation, right? Their needs, their wants their dreams, that kind of thing. You could stand on the street corner with a megaphone and shout that you’re selling bottled water, or you can walk up to the guy that’s sweating and huffing and puffing and say, Hey, you want one of these, you know, like which one’s going to have the higher conversion rate.

[00:33:47] I’m not sure, but I have an idea of which one I would go with. Cool. Well, thanks so much, Joanne really enjoyed this conversation before I let you go and get back to your day. I know you’re really. Handling everything over there on the email and SMS front, where can folks go to get more of those marketing insights that you’re tweeting about?

[00:34:00] Maybe Tik TOK? Like where do you want folks to go to follow your journey and learn more about icing art, Aisling organics?

[00:34:06] Joanne Coffey: So you can follow me on Twitter. It’s it’s Joanne coffee IDs, J O H N N E C O F F E Y. And then if you want to shop any high-performance organic makeup products, you can go to Aisling

[00:34:18] L I N G O R G a L I C

[00:34:21] James Sowers: Awesome. We’ll have all those links in the show notes. Thank you so much again for joining us today. I really enjoyed our conversation and we’ll have to have you back when you launch that next great campaign, I’ll be watching on Twitter. And, uh, when you start sharing the details, I’m going to start asking for you to share them with our audience.

[00:34:34] Joanne Coffey: Thank you so much for having

[00:34:35] James Sowers: me. I really appreciate it. Awesome. Thank you. Hey everybody. 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. 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 up.

[00:34:57] 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 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.

[00:35:21] 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 notified. Until then keep an eye out for the next episode of the e-commerce insight show.

[00:35:35] 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.