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Effective Email Marketing Strategy For Ecommerce Brands – Nikki Elbaz

In this episode, we talk to email marketing consultant, Nikki Elbaz. Nikki gave her best advice on all things email marketing for SaaS and ecommerce brands.

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About this episode:

In this episode of The Ecommerce Insights Show, we sit down with Nikki Elbaz. Dubbed “the Queen of Emails” by many, Nikki is the copywriter behind emails for brands like Shopify Plus, Resident Home, Four Sigmatic, and more. She was previously the Head of Email for the Copyhackers Agency, her micro-agency helps SaaS and ecommerce brands hit that elusive $1:$40 ROI. We talk about the value of a well-written and well-planned email workflows that is often overlooked by most ecommerce brands.

In this episode, you’ll learn about:

  • Leveraging evergreen workflows/sequences to drive significant revenue
  • The relationship between SaaS and ecommerce
  • What are people in SaaS doing with their subscription strategy
  • Nikki’s Sequence Test Drive email strategy
  • Email marketing missed opportunities by brands

So if you are interested in writing effective emails to drive revenue for your brand, then this episode is for you.

Learn more about Nikki 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:

TEIS – Nikki Elbaz – Email Marketing Consultant

[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 week, 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] All right, Nikki. Well, thanks so much for coming on the e-commerce insights show. Really excited to have you here to talk about all things, email marketing, you know, A lot of people are providing consulting services in a lot of agencies out there. I think a lot of e-commerce leaders and brand owners are familiar with email marketing and know the value of it.

[00:01:10] Surprisingly, I think a lot of folks still get it wrong. So I’m really excited to have you on the show to kind of set me straight if nobody else, but I’m sure that everybody else will get value out of it. Maybe before we get into some of the technical stuff, what’s the 62nd overview of who you are, what you do for your clients and maybe like a project or something you’re working on right now that gets you excited to fire up your laptop in the more

[00:01:28] Nikki Elbaz: yeah.

[00:01:29] Pleasure to be here. Thank you. I definitely love talking about this stuff. So if nobody gets anything out of it, I will get something out of it. Okay. So we are a very, very small micro agency, like a micro micro agency, um, where we, um, work, uh, on email for SAS and e-commerce and something that I just recently like neurons fired in the brain like, oh God, that understanding is how much.

[00:01:53] The two industries will feed off each other for me, where I will take best practices in one industry and then start applying them to the other industry because each industry has their own standards and defaults. And it’s just a cool way to be a little more well-rounded and just see interesting new ideas and insights and things to test and play with.

[00:02:15] Um, so. I always kind of was like, oh, I really shouldn’t eat down into one of them. Why am I doing two? We should really do one, but I couldn’t let go of either of them. And I’m kind of like, Hey, that’s cool. We’re doing bold. And it’s beneficial. It’s a good thing. So we mostly focus on automations just because that’s what I love doing.

[00:02:31] That’s where I feel has a lot of impact what a lot of people are not working on, but we will have some spillover we’ll, we’ll do campaigns because once we’re handling it, you know, we’ll just end up doing a routine or kind of thing. Um, and do the campaigns as well. But that’s kind of like the front door is okay, let’s work on our post-purchase nurture, let’s work on our abandoned cart, things like that.

[00:02:51] So that’s what we did. It’s kind of funny to be talking about a SAS one on an e-commerce podcast, but they are an e-commerce focused brand Shopify plus partner. And I’m just really excited about it because the project is for Elevar, which is a GTM like tagging it’s like fun data stuff, you know, where just kind of making sure that your data is accurate and you’re using like, you have clean data, basically, because there are so many pieces of tech that we have as e-commerce merchants, you know, that are all talking to each other, but are talking to each other along.

[00:03:24] Um, so just making sure that all that, especially with all the new privacy laws of iOS 13 and all this like good stuff, you know, just making sure that everything is accurate across the board. And so we’re working on it in activation sequence and it’s just very exciting because they’re such an awesome brand.

[00:03:42] They really listened to the merchants. They’re just so nice. Like. Really really awesome people and their customers are so happy with what they can accomplish. So it’s kind of fun because I’m on the other side of it as well, like using the data and saying like, oh, all my clients should be using Elevar. Um, so that we can, so it’s kind of like full circle, sort of.

[00:04:04] I feel like I’m talking a little bit of, but it didn’t make any sense

[00:04:08] James Sowers: at all. No, I get it. It’s always good to work with a great team to like the interpersonal aspects of client work often get overlooked. Right. But it’s like, the product has to be interesting. The subject matter has to be interesting, but also the people have to be good folks to work with, or else it’s not going to work for either party.

[00:04:24] Right. Like either they’re going to fire the consultant of the consultant’s going to fire them. So it’s great that you found a home. Was it Elevar is that, am I pronouncing that right? Yeah. It’s great that you met them and it seems like a match made in heaven so far. Maybe, maybe we’re still in that honeymoon phase.

[00:04:37] Maybe we will, maybe we’ll find some blemishes down the road, but probably not. They sound like a good team. We have been working

[00:04:41] Nikki Elbaz: together since last year, August, I think. So this is a new project, but we have been working for awhile. So I think we’re past maybe, maybe not. Maybe it’s still, we need that year to get out of the honeymoon, you know, and also that, well, that’s a really good point that you touched on it.

[00:04:56] That the great team also. Filter down into the product because you know, the same way they’ll listen to me as a consultant. They’re listening to their customers too. And like, especially their field is changing so much right now. Like all the data laws are really changing and they have to be on top of that and listening to what’s happening and changing based on that, which I can’t imagine is easy.

[00:05:16] It’s really like, you know, you made a great product and it worked really well and it was awesome. And now you have to reiterate and just, you know, and they’re just, they’re going with it. So yeah,

[00:05:27] James Sowers: we all have to be really, um, flexible and adaptive and these stays right now with everything going on and uh, in the world and in business, especially e-commerce.

[00:05:35] So it’s kind of crazy. You know, you said you focus on the automated sequences, definitely want to get into those later. But I think one thing that jumped out there is the relationship between SAS and e-commerce, which is maybe not immediately intuitive to a lot of folks, but I interviewed valgeisler on the show, which I’m sure, you know, and I said the same thing to her.

[00:05:51] I’m like, man, the software is so far ahead of e-commerce in terms of certain areas, right? Like they’ve been operating on a subscription model for a long time. And now the thing that people are banging the drum about in the e-commerce world, Get customers through a subscription, get them to some kind of membership community-based thing, get that recurring revenue foundation.

[00:06:07] So you’re not constantly trying to like replace revenue from one-off purchases or whatever. So it’s like, if you look at the SAS world, they’re so familiar with increasing customer lifetime value, focusing on retention and managing. Getting that expansion revenue, getting people to upgrade to new plans.

[00:06:22] Like it doesn’t translate one-to-one in the e-commerce world. Like you’re not getting somebody to go from a basic plan to a premium plan usually, but there is something like if they’re buying your foundation, you also want the concealer or whatever. Like, I don’t know anything about makeup, but you want to kind of like, you want to increase the overall value of that customer.

[00:06:38] And one of the best ways to do that is through email. So I think your point’s very astute is like, if you’re struggling with email marketing strategy or you’re running out of ideas that you feel like you’ve kind of like captured all the value, you can just subscribe to a few SAS newsletters or sign up for some free trials and just see how they communicate with you.

[00:06:52] Cause a lot of that stuff can be kind of tweaked a little bit and applied in an e-commerce context and can really make a big difference in terms of customer engagement, but also financials. Right.

[00:07:01] Nikki Elbaz: Especially since we were just talking about delivery, it’s very interesting. We ran an upgrade sequence for them back in January, where they were changing based on all the data laws they upgraded, they did like a, um, a version two.

[00:07:14] So they upgraded all their, all their merchants to version two. So we were trying to get people to upgrade and we made a mistake in terms of pulling people out of the sequence once they upgraded. So they were still getting emails, even though they upgraded and a lot of the merchant. Emailed back and said, Hey, I’m getting these animals, but it’s okay.

[00:07:33] I’m actually learning a lot from them. These are really interesting. Like we really care about email marketing and we’ve been like studying up and it’s interesting for us to see the emails that you’re sending out. So that was so cool to hear, but it’s really true that, you know, it’s such an easy way to learn about marketing is just to watch emails and see what people are doing and, and yeah.

[00:07:53] Across the industries, what are the SAS people doing with their subscriptions? And how can we start? You know, especially because like you said, they’re two steps ahead, you know? So how can we start playing around with that? So like, things like, I know that, uh, ProfitWell, they’ve been running all sorts of fun DTC shows and everything, but even reading their other emails where they’re trying to get you to subscribe to their product, that’s going to give you some interesting learnings as well.

[00:08:16] So yeah, definitely great ideas.

[00:08:19] James Sowers: So I was going my research, like a good podcast host before this. And I went to your site and what caught my eye is you have this section in the hero area where it’s like, do you want to test drive a sequence? So you sign up for my newsletter, I’m guessing. Or they get on some kind of email list, segmented, whatever that you have.

[00:08:34] But I’m curious, like without, you know, spilling the secrets that you have in there. Cause I’ve never really seen that before. Like I’m an email marketing person test drive my sequence and just see how like I manage my audience and my community. Can you give us like a high level overview of like what that is?

[00:08:47] That’s more of a curiosity, you know, I guess you could call it an ice breaker, but I saw that during my research and you know, before we get into the meat of the conversation, I’m just like, what is this all about? You know? And I could subscribe and find out, but unfortunately I saw it like yesterday and so I wouldn’t have time to get all the emails.

[00:09:00] So w what’s the deal there? Why did you put that together? And what’s the goal? That’s an awesome

[00:09:04] Nikki Elbaz: question. So yeah. So many people were coming to my site and then wanting to hire me and having like a whole bunch of conversations about around hiring me, like what, you know, all the questions you have when you’re considering to work with a consultant.

[00:09:18] So I was just kind of like, why don’t we just automate that? Like, this is what I do for everyone else is automate all these conversations. But beyond that, because yes, exactly. Like, it’s not like I’m trying to automate the relationships, you know, we were going to have good client relationships, but yeah, it was very much.

[00:09:33] Like the questions of like, you know, can we see a sample as like, well, every, I think this is really what started. It was every industry and every brand is so not industry, every brand and every company and every, like, they’re all so nuanced in terms of who their customers are. And, and so many times I would send a sample and they’d say like, oh, but we can’t have that voice and tone, like, do you do this kind of voice and tone?

[00:09:55] Like we’re much more buttoned up can be like, you know, so they would just be this like conversation around samples. That was just, okay, fine. Let’s scratch the, customer’s like, just see how I work in terms of like, how I will write for you and how I default to the strategy and something interesting is you mentioned that you won’t, you wouldn’t be able to get the emails in time.

[00:10:16] So one thing that I did was that instead of it being a drip of one day, one day, one day, you can click and just get. On your schedule because that’s something that really frustrated me, always with e-courses was I would sign up one day and then like, I wanted that information now I didn’t want to wait five days for you to drip it out, just because like, that’s the best practice we send out one email a day.

[00:10:37] It’s actually still there from Brennan Dunn. He had an eCourse where like you could click through and just get all the emails when you actually want them. So I thought that was a really cool strategy. So yeah, it’s kind of just like a little test drive. Exactly. Like it was also sort of from this whole idea of, you know, every SAS, founder is now trying to move to product led growth, where you can test it out yourself and without getting on a demo and.

[00:11:00] You know, without actually, you know, having that conversation, just do a little bit of testing it out herself, trialing it out yourself. Um, so I was like, okay, how could you trial a sequence? Okay. Let’s write one and then let’s see how you like it. So that was kind of like a bunch of the thoughts around, around that test drive.

[00:11:17] Um, and then yeah, at the end you can choose to, or maybe at the beginning you can choose to be in the newsletter. I don’t remember if I set it up in the beginning or the end, you know, and then yeah, you’ll, you’ll get the rest of the newsletters or not. If you just want to see if you want to hire me, then you could just take the test drive too.

[00:11:30] So it’s a fun

[00:11:31] James Sowers: experiment. It’s really smart to use the, choose your adventure kind of model, because especially if the context, I mean that just accentuates how important it is to know your customer. Because like, if you know that these are clients who want to see a sample of your work, like they probably just want to rifle through six or seven emails.

[00:11:45] And like you could have just put that in a Google doc and said, here’s a welcome sequence. I wrote for my own business, like. But that doesn’t really feel as polished as like, at least getting them in, into their inbox. Like seeing the emails, how they’re designed, maybe they’re plain text or whatever, but like just seeing a real, tangible example and then, okay, well I got one, I want the next one right now and right now, so they can still like move through that at an accelerated pace and knock it all out in less than an hour.

[00:12:08] Right. They could just rapid fire click through that and I’m sure they get delivered pretty much right away. But it’s just so much more impactful, I think, than dropping it in a Google doc and just saying like, here’s, here’s something I wrote for myself. So here’s an example of my work. Right. I think by putting them in that experience kind of helps them forecast what that would look like for their customers.

[00:12:24] Right. And how they would be guiding their own experience. So that’s super smart. Great, great play there. I like that strategy.

[00:12:30] Nikki Elbaz: I think that’s also like, yeah. I just like default to like, okay. List, list, email, you know, like it didn’t even cross my mind like, oh yeah. I could make a portfolio, but it’s like no emails,

[00:12:43] James Sowers: you know, I think it’s a great example of, of your capabilities.

[00:12:45] So, um, I think that was super, super savvy. Let’s talk about email marketing. Right? I think, like I said before in the e-commerce space, I think people get the value of human marketing. Like you hear a lot of people out there, like if you’re not getting 30% of your revenue in an e-commerce context from email as a channel, then you probably have room for improvement.

[00:13:00] So let’s talk about that. But at the same time, I buy a lot of products and I still have some really bad email experiences, right. People are using off the shelf, confirmation emails produced by Shopify, WooCommerce, whatever they’ve got used as the platform. There’s no followup post-purchase so it’s just crickets until the product shows up at my door.

[00:13:17] And then even after that, I’m not pitched for a review. I’m not pitched for a referral and none of that kind of stuff. Like there’s just so much more opportunity out there. And I’m curious if you have a perspective since you work in the industry, why that might be like when folks come to your door, Hey, I don’t know the first thing about email marketing or is it I’m too busy?

[00:13:31] I haven’t touched it yet. Or what’s kind of holding founders back because there’s some brands out there doing a really great job and maybe, you know, some of those, and we can share some of those today, but there are a lot of brands that are just kinda like just coasting right. And leaving a lot of opportunity on the table.

[00:13:43] So, so why do you think that is if they understand the value, but aren’t quite executing on that. What’s the gap there what’s causing that kind of gap between the knowledge and the execution?

[00:13:52] Nikki Elbaz: I feel like it’s a few things. I feel like definitely the busy-ness is that’s always, you know, a, a good reason. Um, but I think also there’s a little bit of a gap of understanding what it means to get to that 30%, you know, where.

[00:14:08] Can I just do it with these out of the box templates that Shopify has given me the Klaviyo’s give clique Klaviyo is getting me, um, will that do it for me? Um, and you’ll read a lot of blog posts that say, yes, that does work. You just need to have the pieces in place. Like, you know, if you set an abandoned cart reminder, you know, two hours after, which is what the recipe is in Klayvio, um, you’re going to recoup whatever the status, uh, I don’t know, 27% or something like that.

[00:14:38] Uh, and if you set another one that it ups to 43%, um, and this is true to some extent, whereas having something in. It’s going to, it’s going to move the needle for you. It definitely will. Like that’s how powerful email is, is that if you do bare bones basic, you will see results. It’s amazing. I love it.

[00:14:58] It’s fabulous. Um, but I think there’s a gap of understanding how, when you customize, how much of a difference is going to make it, how it’s going to just bring things up even more. Um, so I think, I think that’s definitely like, you know, You’ll see a lot of best practices around just the basics because the basics do, do good work and then understanding how it can get even better.

[00:15:24] That’s where I feel like is the gap of the knowledge, um, to the point where a lot of the, like our leads will, who come in are just, you know, like, okay, can you just write something for us? Um, and not understanding, you know, that we want to be talking to the customers. We want to be, you know, seeing that customer journey, we want to be strategizing and customizing and doing a little bit more beyond just like taking the template and making it more snazzy.

[00:15:49] Um, you know, so yeah, I think that’s, that’s probably where the gap is.

[00:15:54] James Sowers: Yeah, I think we see a lot of the same stuff in optimization where like, people are like, I know conversion optimization or CRO is important. I read about it all the time. I see these case studies of companies that committed to it and saw these big lifts, but I don’t know how to do it.

[00:16:07] Right. So I just don’t do it at all. Something like that. And it’s like, I’m afraid. I know if I do it right, it can make a big impact. But if I make a bad decision, I can actually lose money. I can lose customers. I can reduce the size of my list, whatever. So I think maybe there’s the same thing going on with email where it’s like, I know I read about all these brands right here on podcasts, how great they already email.

[00:16:23] And I just don’t know how to replicate that for me. And that’s where somebody like you would come in and help guide them through the process. Maybe do that customer research on the front end, that kind of thing. And like kind of brainstorm that out, map out the sequences and that kind of thing. So the other thing I think is holding a lot of folks back, cause they think email marketing is just newsletters and sales campaigns and promotions and stuff like that.

[00:16:42] And that’s definitely. But like you said, at the beginning of the show, like you specialize in kind of these automated evergreen sequences, welcome sequence, abandoned cart, post-purchase whatever it might be. And there’s a lot of money to be made there too. But a lot of tools and platforms will give you kind of an off the shelf solution for that.

[00:16:57] And it’s fine. But even they would probably say we never intended this to be your solution forever. Right. Once you get to a certain size. There’s a level of sophistication that should probably come with that. Right. So if we weigh kind of the one-off promotional type of stuff, I’ll just call them sales emails versus kind of the more customer journey focused, you know, automated sequences.

[00:17:16] How would you distribute? Like, I don’t know if it’s really opportunity or revenue potential or whatever, but like, if you a brand owner, where do you divide your attention in terms of like 80% to campaigns and 20% to workflows or, you know, switch those numbers are somewhere in between. Like what do you recommend a question?

[00:17:33] Nikki Elbaz: See, I tend to look at it as the newsletters are. You’re always doing them and you always have to keep turning them out and turning them out. Whereas your automations, you set them and you can’t forget them. You can never forget anything. You can never set anything and forget it. I don’t know why that’s even afraid.

[00:17:51] It’s first of all, foundational forever. And then, you know, you just revisit it and optimize it going forward. So I feel like the effort. Should be a lot more intense in the automations because that’s, you know, it’s also, it’s, it’s where your touch points are. So you’re seeing that customer interest right away.

[00:18:12] And so it’s following that journey, you know, if your customer. Showing interest and taking actions. Then you want to be following up with that. Whereas your campaigns, they’re just kind of on your schedule. So campaigns are wonderful. You should definitely be sending them and they will be giving you great revenue.

[00:18:31] But I feel like if you have to choose between them, then more efforts should be put into the automations. And then the campaigns will kind of. Get them based on that’s another cool thing is that you could be pulling pieces from your automations and just kind of repurposing them something. That’s very interesting.

[00:18:48] I do these e-commerce playbooks. And so I just pulled different examples and kind of, so it’s like just a basic walkthrough of like what you’re trying to accomplish with this sequence, you know, nitty-gritty things to like be putting into place. Um, and then I do like a whole bunch of tear downs of all the different types of emails you can put into that sequence.

[00:19:05] Uh, and then I tear down like a full sequence and one thing that’s very interesting for me when I’m looking at these emails, looking for examples to be tearing down is, you know, I just like type in, let’s say a brand name in my inbox and just look at their different emails. And some companies it’s very hard to tell which ones are the post-purchase emails and which ones are their campaigns because they do their post-purchase so well that they have like similar ideas within their campaigns.

[00:19:32] And you can, because like, it’s me just looking at it. You know, from two years ago when I bought this product, um, you know, I, I’m not remembering exactly when I got them and all that. You can really see that they’re mimicking certain things like, okay, they had this campaign about this, you know, myth that somebody has about their product and that shows up in their post-purchase as well.

[00:19:51] So there’s a lot of like back and forth in between that you can be playing around with it. So I didn’t quite answer your question, but I feel like automations are very foundational and you should make sure to have them in place, both from your customer’s experience side of things. And then also for you as you’re developing.

[00:20:08] What you want your campaigns to be, so that they’re not just 50% off sale. I mean, okay. No one does a 50% of sale sale sale sale. So like, what are some thoughtful things that you can be doing that are not just content that are sales emails that will get that sale, but are beyond just a discount or a promotion and are more, you know, walking them through objections or educating them about your product or things that are a little more strategic that you will naturally be able to pull from your

[00:20:37] James Sowers: automated.

[00:20:39] Yeah, from my seat, it sounds like the campaigns or the promotional emails are more of a volume play. Right? That’s like being present in the inbox, staying top of mind, nurturing those relationships frequently, right. Being on a consistent cadence. Maybe you hear from us every Thursday or something like that, but then the automations are.

[00:20:55] More like targeted lots of work upfront, but once they’re launched, like they’re pretty reliable. So it might be like comparing a shotgun, which sprays all over the place to a sniper rifle, like very targeted. We’re going to dial this in. It’s never finished, but we’re going to get it to a point where we’re comfortable with it, launch it, and then set a reminder to come back every quarter, every six months, whatever, and look at it and see if it’s still fresh and relevant.

[00:21:16] Um, I heard a couple of tactical things in there. I think that you didn’t necessarily say, but I’m going to throw some ideas out there and you can react to them. One would be create a burner. And email account and subscribed to a bunch of stuff. Maybe not just competitors, but people have similar products.

[00:21:28] Like if you have a product that’s reusable like a consumable, good makeup, food, whatever, find some other folks who aren’t necessarily in your same category, but have a similar product subscribed to all their stuff, maybe purchase one product and just filter all those emails into one place. Um, you can set filters up in Gmail for the brand name or the, from address or whatever, and kind of get those into folders.

[00:21:47] And then you can just go back and look over the last year. Like how have they communicated with me and what can I take from that? And maybe apply to my business. I mean, I hesitate to tell folks to do that blindly. Right? Think about it. Think about your customer. Think about what’s important to them.

[00:21:58] What’s working for one person might not work for you, but that’s an option. And then the other thing I heard is this interplay. You know, the automated campaigns, the workflows and the sales promotional emails, and kind of like blending those two, taking something from the campaign, putting it into a weekly email or vice versa.

[00:22:13] The other thing I would throw in there is your content marketing. If you’re blogging and you’re writing to solve customer needs and educate customers, if you’re seeing a lot of traffic, if you’re seeing a lot of engagement comments on those articles, or they’re getting shared on social media, that might be a signal like ding, ding, ding, let’s put this in our post-purchase flow.

[00:22:28] Let’s put this in our welcome sequence. Like something about this is written in a way that people like it and they seem to be engaging with it. So let’s put it, you know, somewhere in that customer journey, either right before the sale to get them to the sale or right after the sale to make them feel good about it and get them buying again and tell them.

[00:22:42] Uh, that’s something that stood out to me, but I don’t know how you feel about either of those ideas, the build, the burner inbox, or the share content marketing insights with the email side of the house as well, a

[00:22:50] Nikki Elbaz: thousand percent super insightful. Yes, absolutely. You know, the burner email idea. That’s like my number one strategy.

[00:22:56] Anytime anybody says, you know, like, okay, how can they learn more? And obviously there are places where you can like officially learn, but just subscribing to emails is just, it’s gold. You’re just seeing so many different ideas and yes, you have to evaluate which ones will work for your brand and which ones won’t.

[00:23:12] But it just, it just opens up the doors to a lot of ideas and creativity and just things that you won’t think of. I actually just found this service called mail charts, which, um, you know, you’ll see a lot of curated emails. These companies that just like curate emails, like here’s great emails and you can type in, you know, subscription emails and they’ll just pull up a bunch.

[00:23:32] So we all share some similar, but what I really like about male charts that I don’t like about the other ones is that they give you a lot of context, so you can actually sign up. It’s not cheap, it’s a hundred bucks a month, but you can assign up and see the journey. So instead of buying all the stuff and seeing all the post-purchase journeys, they will give you all of those journeys and you’ll see, you know, like post-purchase, here’s what they did.

[00:23:54] Here’s what they did post purchase, you know, here’s that whole abandoned car sequence. It’s just like seeing like tons of. With all the context of that. So it’s also similar to, you know, the other ones that, where you have to kind of understand the context and like getting into your inbox is definitely, definitely the best, but, you know, we can’t just buy everything just to see all the emails.

[00:24:16] So I thought that was a really cool angle where you get a little bit more of the context and you get to see the interplay between things. It was just cool. You know, and like, I love reading these emails cause it just gives so much. So much, so many ideas, there’s so much like just food for thought kind of stuff.

[00:24:33] So if you are hesitant to create an email and get a whole bunch of Carlson, there’s another option. So, yeah, cause that’s definitely the biggest, oh man. Like I have to get more emails to inland my inbox. Like, no,

[00:24:45] James Sowers: it’s funny. People will say that, but it’s like, oh, if only there was a way for you to have a separate inbox that wasn’t cluttered with all your actual important stuff.

[00:24:52] Like if only you could just create a separate account, just one more password, right. And then you have all that in there and you can set up filters and everything. Um, the other thing I was going to say is, it’s funny how, like, if somebody decides they want to start a garden or like, they want to refurbish a car or something, like you go to the library, you go online, you research, you learn how to do it, and then you do it.

[00:25:08] But with email, like people don’t do research. They don’t like go research. How other brands are doing it. They just kind of like throw something in a Google doc. And then they put that in a pretty email and then they launch. I hope this works right. But it’s like, there is a lot of information out there.

[00:25:21] You just gotta, gotta do the legwork. And like we talked about earlier, brand owners, especially for smaller brands are very busy. And so I don’t fault anybody. Who’s like trying to get minimum viable, email marketing going, but at some point it’s probably good for someone to take the time to actually do that kind of like market research and get some ideas going and then bring that back to the team and figure out what’s right for.

[00:25:40] So very, very astute observation there. I’ve got a question for you about email design. So you straddle this kind of e-commerce and SAS clientele. I feel like in the SAS world, it’s much more accepted to have kind of plain text or text-based emails. Whereas like on the e-commerce side, I see a whole lot of very stylized, like big pictures, lots of brand colors and flourishes, and like these little elements it’s not plain text by any means for the most part.

[00:26:06] Now, when you work with your e-commerce clients, are you advocating one way or another and is maybe a sales promotional email designed a little bit differently than one of those workflow emails, those automated sequences that happen based on a trigger or some kind of customer. I’ve I’ve come a long way

[00:26:19] Nikki Elbaz: with this.

[00:26:19] This has been like a journey for me because I came in through the SAS side of things and I see all these e-commerce emails. And I was like, you can’t do that. You know, don’t, you know, like you need plain texts. That’s, that’s what people will read. That’s what people will feel personal. Like you can’t just have pictures and then listening to the brand owners saying like, well, we did these photo shoots and like, people need to see the products.

[00:26:40] And like, and I was like, oh yeah, they actually do you’re right. That people do buy with their eyes and, and, you know, so coming to this idea of the marriage of images and text, and that Playtex is not always the best fit, especially in e-commerce. So it’s been an interesting, you know, just understanding that each industry does have their defaults for a reason, but then seeing, okay, how can we bring things up a notch?

[00:27:07] Because yes, those campaigns that are just pictures, 50% off, nothing persuasive to them, that’s not going to do as well as something that. Some text to it that, you know, has some strategy of compelling people to buy it and moving them towards that conversion. So definitely you’ll see a lot more with the automation side of things.

[00:27:31] You know, the, the workflow emails, you definitely want to be doing a lot more of the person leading legwork. So you want to leave room in your designs for the copy and not just like squishing it in, you know, um, or like sticking it in a Jiff that you can’t even read. Cause it’s moving too fast and things like that.

[00:27:49] Um, but definitely, you know, where, whereas a campaign is. Sometimes more cell base. And that, that is the persuasion is the fact that it’s a discount. People like discounts, humans, like discounts, you know, you can get away with that. You can’t get away with that forever though. So that’s again where, you know, you kind of have to keep pulling back in and adding in more copies to your sale emails and being more strategic and not just discounting or bonusing or all that kind of stuff.

[00:28:15] So, yeah, I think images are great and e-commerce people do want to see what they’re going to buy. Most e-commerce brands have beautiful pictures, but just making sure that you are giving more than just a sale sale flyer. I call them flyer emails where it’s just, it’s just a flyer. That’s all it is, you know?

[00:28:33] Um, You want to respect the fact that you’re in someone’s inbox and that you’re not just being promotional. You are promotional. You can be promotional. People want to know about brands that they love, but that you’re just giving a little bit more value. And it’s a funny thing. When people talk about giving value.

[00:28:51] Very often, especially if they’re opting in on a, you know, a lead cap that is a discount, then what is the value? The value is the fact that they’re getting sold to, they want to get sold to they’re interested in your product that is value, but where you’re giving value in a sense that you’re helping them make their decision, that you’re helping them choose the right product, that you’re helping them choose the right sale, even, maybe not the sell, but the next sale.

[00:29:13] So, yeah, that’s kind of like the interplay between images and copy is, is making sure that there is that interplay that it’s not just images. It’s not just plain text because that’s not going to work, but, you know, making sure that there’s that balance

[00:29:25] James Sowers: there. Awesome. Yeah. Maybe it’s worth testing too, right?

[00:29:28] Like I want to get into testing a little bit later after we talk about some of these sequences, but testing, one thing that I love to see is immediately, post-purchase a plain text email from the founder or from some kind of senior leader at the brand just saying like, Hey, thanks for buying. It means the world.

[00:29:41] Here are three things you need to know since your product is on the way, like when you get it clean it this way, or whatever, like test it in this order, that kind of thing. Just a little personal touch there. And it’s, and it’s from them. Ideally, if you reply, it goes to them or it goes to, you know, some inbox is managed by their assistant.

[00:29:55] Whatever’s going to happen. But like, I like that kind of plain text, personal touch immediately. Post-purchase uh, that’s just one example, but maybe it’s worth experimenting throughout these different types of emails. Like obviously if it’s a sale or it’s promoting a specific product, you got to see the product in some way, but there are some engagements where it’s like, maybe it makes more sense for it to feel like it came from a person who’s just checking in and seeing how your experience with the product went now that you have received it.

[00:30:19] And it’s been a couple of days, right? Like maybe that’s the personal touch and I don’t need a bunch of graphics. I just need, you know, James in my inbox. Hey, how’s it going with that new sweater? Is it fitting? Okay. Like here’s the details about returns? What do you think about the material? Just remember you want to care for it this way, so it doesn’t fade or, or, you know, tear or a chatter or anything like that.

[00:30:35] Um, yeah, I just think it’s worth experimenting. So I definitely want to get into like things that you test in email a little bit later and how you set those up. But maybe before we do that, let’s talk about some of these sequences. Cause we’re talking kind of the blend of the two promotions campaigns and also like automated sequences or workflows.

[00:30:49] If you come into a client account, is there a certain. Place it, you know, I can just dive right in here and almost always make progress and get a quick win. And cause you want your clients to kind of retain you over the long-term. Right. So it’s like, I know 90% of the time when I jump in, they’ve got the standard abandoned cart sequence that offers a discount right away an hour later.

[00:31:06] And then it’s got these time gates that like everybody’s experienced, like my wife’s conditioned to automatically abandoned her shopping and wait for the email. Cause it’ll come within the next hour and then use that discount code. So like consumer behavior has adjusted to this it’s so, um, it’s so much of a recipe, right?

[00:31:20] Like a repeatable process. Uh, I don’t know if that’s the one where you would jump in, but is there a place where, you know, like I know if I jump in and I create a sequence or improve this existing sequence, I’ll get that first client win. And then we make real progress in months, two, three, and four, but I got to kind of earn my keep in that.

[00:31:34] Yeah, definitely.

[00:31:35] Nikki Elbaz: So it’s funny. Cause I always default to like, we should really do the abandoned cart first because of this, because so many people are conditioned to this and because there’s so much data out there on how abandoned cars are. So, you know, giving those notifications are still, it’s still lucrative, but what I’ve seen actually more and there’s less data out there and you know, the blog posts of the world is optimizing their post-purchase because that is harder to track and harder to, whereas with the abandoned cart, that recipe does decently well enough that it will make more of an impact to customize the post-purchase that like the basic template post-purchase does.

[00:32:15] Like, eh, and then once you customize it, it does like great. Whereas the abandoned cart template does like, oh, okay. And then customizing it. It does it great. So then gap of two. Great. And then okay to great. I’d rather focus on the post purchase and I think that’s because of. They’re already a customer they’ve, they’ve become a customer.

[00:32:35] So you know that they are wireless and. They’re open to more conversation. And also that you can follow that journey really well. You know, like, you know, when the item left the warehouse, when it’s getting to them, when they’re probably starting to use it, when they’re probably reaching that like aha moment.

[00:32:53] So really being able to like follow through with that is going to really help them continue on the journey with them. And that’s something that I don’t see a lot in post-purchase miniatures. What, besides the repeat purchase are you trying to accomplish? You know, and like the repeat purchase might be that goal and that’s totally fine.

[00:33:11] That’s a great goal. You are in the business to make money in some of our products, but like, what are some other ways that you can get them to that repeat purchase? You mentioned something previously, um, you know, get them, getting them to join your community, getting them to read your blog posts, just getting them in your ecosystem so that they’re not just a customer, but a brand advocate.

[00:33:28] So moving them through these goals, to all these different little micro goals until they get to that final. Okay. I am going to do a repeat purchase, you know, hitting that goal. Um, there’s like so many different touch points that you can follow through with the post-purchase that it’s just like a really fun, great way to optimize and get the customer to just feel happy about your brand.

[00:33:53] And, and it’s a good win for the clients. And it also. Kind of that foundational thing that I was saying before, that can feed a lot. Once I start reading all the blogs and I’m like pulling which ones to put into the post-purchase, then I have all this information and now it’s like, okay, let’s, let’s do the welcome secrets now because, oh, I want to pull this.

[00:34:10] And, you know, and it just kind of like feeds all that. It becomes very, you know, foundational.

[00:34:15] James Sowers: Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. Cause I can imagine it’s one of the more robust sequences too. I mean, if you think about it, you make a purchase and it takes a few days to get to their home. So that’s automatically a week and you can touch base with them several times throughout that process.

[00:34:28] Maybe one of the emails I love to see there is like an FAQ email. So take your FAQ page that nobody reads and turn those into actual emails and say like, Hey, your product’s on the way. I hope you’re excited. You probably have a question about this and here’s our best answer for it. And so it’s like, okay, yeah.

[00:34:40] When I get it, I can’t wait to dig in there and, you know, get it set up properly or whatever I gotta do. Um, but then after they received their product, you can check in and see how things are going and see if they have any questions or they need to return. That’s a great relationship building tactic there.

[00:34:54] And then further down the line, there are all kinds of things you could do. You could ask for a review, you could get them to join kind of your referral program to get rewards for sending other customers your way you could pitch them on complimentary products. Right. But what I love about post-purchase and I’m glad you brought that up as kind of like the place you’d love to play first is because.

[00:35:10] There’s never a higher sentiment between a customer and your brand then right after when they buy, that’s the biggest commitment I can make in that moment. And I’m saying, I like your brand and I at least want to try it. Right. So why wouldn’t you make some of your most compelling offers or like make your most personal kind of like educational, nurturing value-based propositions right there in those immediate days, following that because like, I’m just feeling warm and fuzzy and I haven’t like gotten the product yet, so there’s no chance I’ve had a bad experience yet.

[00:35:36] And I’m in this kind of like middle ground where I’m excited to get it, but I don’t have it yet. And I’m feeling good about the purchase, but if you just kind of like allow crickets to set in, and maybe there’s a shipping delay or something like that, like all of a sudden I’m like, I don’t even remember ordering this.

[00:35:49] Right. I don’t remember like what it was about or whatever. And if you don’t use that space, then you run the risk of like losing a really strong connection with a customer who could buy from you again, or could tell a bunch of friends about you. And I just think that’s a really big missed opportunity. I don’t know the majority of brands that I interact with.

[00:36:06] Like aren’t even touching that. And so I think it’s really smart that you said let’s jump in there and, um, take advantage of it and then use that as kind of like the foundation or the raw material to go back and look at a welcome sequence and abandoned cart or something like that, your point about that

[00:36:19] Nikki Elbaz: emotion, you know, like yeah.

[00:36:21] Anytime by something. And then I see that in the inbox, it’s like, oh my things, you know, it’s, it’s that excitement. And anytime you can get emotion in your inbox, in your customer’s inbox, it’s like a huge opportunity. So yeah, that’s definitely like a big difference between, you know, an abandoned cart or a, even a welcome to the email list.

[00:36:40] Obviously, you know, they give you their email address. That’s something that’s valuable, you know, that emotion isn’t going to be high after that post purchased. Definitely. Yeah.

[00:36:47] James Sowers: Yeah. Okay. So let’s talk about one of those other two. Do you want to get into the welcome sequence or the abandoned cart? Where, where do you like to go next?

[00:36:53] I mean, the abandoned cart is kind of like, I don’t want to say. It’s established, but most people it’s like two or three steps maybe. And there’s always a discount at the end or maybe right at the right away. It depends on how you manage your brand and whether you want to be like a premium brand or like how you lead.

[00:37:07] But I feel like that one’s a little bit more established, so maybe we don’t even need to address it. But like, I just think a lot of brands give the discount right away and I’d like to see them at least reserve it for the end and be more of a hail Mary. Right. First one is maybe why I don’t want to do your job for you.

[00:37:19] So how do you feel about abandoned cart sequences? Let me get your thoughts and then maybe I’ll chime in. If I hear anything that, uh, I feel differently about, or I’ve had a different experience with. Oh, cool. Yeah. I’d love to

[00:37:28] Nikki Elbaz: hear that. Yeah. I think the biggest, biggest problem that I have with abandoned cart sequences, that they typically have no information to them.

[00:37:35] They have no anything to them. It’s just a reminder, you know, it’s like, Hey, you forgot something. Hey, you forgot something. Hey, you forgot something. Here’s a coupon. So often it’s not that I forgot to abandon my cart. I mean, listen, that definitely will happen that, you know, you get busy and all that kind of thing, but many, many, many times.

[00:37:53] The fact that you just, you’re not sure about something, you know, you’re like, is this really a good product for me? Is that like, can I, do I want to pay shipping on this? Or, you know, how long is it going to take to get something there’s, there’s just questions, you know? And he said, you’re going to cart.

[00:38:06] There’s often the questions surrounding it versus just like, oh, I forgot. So great. Send out the forgot one. You reminded them. Wonderful. You know, let’s hit some objections that people might be having. Let’s talk them through and help them reach a conclusion. So, you know, either that could be like that FAQ email that you mentioned or breaking it up into a few FAQ emails, you know, just pointing them to a piece of content that could answer the question.

[00:38:29] Have helping them get in touch with support, you know, that’s another great opportunity. And that’s actually something by the way that I think SAS can learn from me conversations, having that live chat there, you know, we asked an some investment, but people who have questions before they’re going to purchase.

[00:38:42] So helping them through that. So those are like the kind of like basic, you know, and then test it, like, see what happens if you don’t offer a discount at all, like throughout the sequence, you know, and just what what’s going to happen there. And then yes, definitely. Don’t just throw out a discount right away.

[00:38:57] You know, we don’t want to condition our customers to do that as much as I love discounts, you know, but yeah, definitely waiting until the end. And also even that, you know, like that three day, five day kind of thing, uh, what would happen if you waited a week? We are very much, we want our stuff right away when we want it.

[00:39:13] But sometimes if it’s something that people are really thinking about, Or something that wasn’t just like an impulse buy something that they can wait on. You know, what happens if you late a week? Well, they actually want it more because they’ve been thinking about it for the week or because they were just kind of browsing then and other kind of like, yeah, I still want it, like, imagine that.

[00:39:33] The beauty of that full week, wanting it a whole week later, that means it’s not just this impulsive decision. It’s, it’s something like, oh yeah, I want this. And I want to try that and how much, how they’ll look forward to that and build that relationship a little better. So there’s all sorts of fun things you can test with this.

[00:39:48] Um, but just kind of thinking more from the customer side of things where they’re not just like, oh, I forgot. Or, oh man, I left my credit card at home, you know, just it’s that decision around buying, what’s going into that decision. And you as a founder should know that and probably do know that, especially if you’re talking to your customers, you know, what, what went into the decision of buying the product?

[00:40:08] James Sowers: That’s a really cool idea for extending kind of the life is I think everybody thinks about abandoned cart sequence, like this last two or three days, right? You get one an hour after you abandoned 24 hours and then maybe 48 or something. And that’s it. And that’s all they do. And that’s cause that’s like the off the shelf arrangement.

[00:40:22] But man, what if you extend that, especially for high ticket products, like what if you extended that a month? And it’s like, you get a few right away in that in the immediate week and then it’s silence. And then three weeks later you say like, Hey, still dreaming about that fender guitar. Like you deserve it, treat yourself or something like that.

[00:40:35] Like some kind of mess. Cause you know, like they’re still thinking about it if they were shopping for it, like, um, shopping for something expensive, like a guitar or a computer or something. Hey, are you still having trouble with your laptop? Does that thing need an upgrade? Like we’re still here and here’s some questions about that.

[00:40:49] I think that’s super savvy. That that’d be really cool. I think

[00:40:52] Nikki Elbaz: people probably think that their newsletters will take over for that. So like, what do you mean I’m still top of mind? My newsletter will do the job for me, but yeah, it would be so much more targeted if it’s actually addressing the fact that your laptop still doesn’t work and you need

[00:41:06] James Sowers: a one-to-one and one-to-many like, They’re sensitive to that.

[00:41:09] Like you can tell, I mean, it’s, it’s obvious in some ways, but in other ways, it’s like, if it just says, Hey James, are you still frustrated with your laptop? Like I notice were browsing for this new MacBook pro or whatever. Like, I don’t know if yours is broken or running slow or whatever, or you’re looking for a gift we’re still here and here are a few things you should know about it.

[00:41:26] And if you want to pick up your purchase, like it’s right there for you waiting. Um, if this is a better time or whatever, like you got your tax return or something, I dunno. If you got like, you know, there, there are a hundred different reasons why somebody might buy a month later and it’s totally valid to like, you don’t want spam them.

[00:41:38] You don’t want to do it every day for a month, but like give them a little break and then bring it back around and say, is this still on your mind? And if you have any questions, I’m happy to answer them. Or if the time is right now or you’re ready to commit. Peer pickup where you left off. And I think, I think that’d be super, super savvy.

[00:41:52] Um, there was something else that you mentioned there that I wanted to dig in on. Oh, so like, what do you think about in the abandoned cart sequence sharing somewhere in there sharing, like here’s how other people use this, right? Maybe it’s your team doing like a quick little 62nd YouTube video using the product or it’s like customer reviews, but it’s like, um, segmented based on what was in their cart.

[00:42:12] And it’s just like, okay, so maybe it’s FAQ, maybe it’s cow, can we help like hit reply and our support team will step in and then it’s like, here’s why Stacy from Wisconsin loves this product and here’s her review or here’s her using it? Something like UGC. I think that is kind of under utilized to almost never see that.

[00:42:28] And I’m just wondering, like you have 397 reviews on your product page, like use that to help somebody buy in an abandoned cart sequence context. Right. That just feels like a missed opportunity. Yes,

[00:42:37] Nikki Elbaz: definitely. I’d love for a few emails there. So it just reading the reviews, like all of a sudden. Why can’t it look, of course, I need to buy this, you know, like I’ll be convinced, you know, even just writing the emails.

[00:42:49] Yes. It’s definitely what I will see often is just like a waterfall of reviews. Like here’s what other people have to say, make your decision based on this review review, if you were good. Um, which is definitely fine. It works, but yeah, creating that story and more around them and it doesn’t mean just like one customer story, but kind of just making it a theme of the email.

[00:43:08] So like, if you know that people hesitate because of reason X then choosing the reviews that are around that and creating the narrative of the email around that idea because yeah. People trust other people more. So just getting an even just, you know, hearing people work through their hesitations, you know, like if you have a review, that’s like, well, I wasn’t sure because of whatever, you know, that’s, that’s very powerful.

[00:43:32] It’s like hugely helpful to help you. Moved past the hesitations they have and get there. Definitely.

[00:43:39] James Sowers: Yes. Awesome. So let’s cover this last category really quickly, the welcome sequence. So I’m picturing this as somebody’s sign up to your newsletter. Like every site in the world has one of those discount.

[00:43:48] Pop-ups I just want the 10% discount code or whatever. Give me your email. And then there’s some point between that. And when they fall into kind of like your regular weekly newsletter marketing email cadence, is that what you’re thinking when you say welcome sequence? And if so, what are the most important aspects for that, for the brands that are executing it?

[00:44:03] Well, not necessarily, you know, the default that a lot of brands put in place, which is probably one or two emails and then drop them into the sequence. Right.

[00:44:10] Nikki Elbaz: So it’s kind of similar to the post-purchase in that you are following that customer journey, you know, they just gave you the. Email now, what do they want?

[00:44:18] What do they want? So they didn’t buy, but they’re telling you they’re interested. So there’s kind of like a few options of what they want and what they’re interested in, what they’re thinking. And you kind of want to be matching that and, okay. So if you have a really expensive product, is it that they are, you know, just kind of wanting to learn more and just like mitigate some risks.

[00:44:40] So what can you do about that? You know, can you educate them? Can you, um, have them join a community where they’ll talk to people and just, you know, work through that idea. So just kind of like following, like what what’s happening here? Like, why are they subscribing, but not buying? Are they just not ready?

[00:44:56] Or they just, you know, an email marketer who wants to read your emails, you know, just kind of. Walking through, like what’s what’s happening and talking to your customers to your subscribers is a very helpful way of understanding why they just, you know, subscribed, but didn’t buy. And then yes. Obviously if they’re looking for a discount, then you know, they just want the discount.

[00:45:16] Um, and then, so what can you do if they just want the discount? What can you do to keep them interested in. Your emails because you want them to continue reading your emails. So some cool things are just, you know, like asking them, like just doing a survey, like, you know, oh, Hey, you know, what, what would it be helpful for you showing up in your inbox, you know, or not a survey.

[00:45:36] Right. But like, here’s the different things that we can be offering you to kind of a self segment or, and they don’t even need to know that it’s a self segment or it could just be like, Hey, I, here’s a few blog posts for you to read which one here they are. And then tracking the clicks, you know, which one did they express interest about?

[00:45:52] Um, and then just, you know, segment them that way. So kind of allowing that also to help you help them, you know, like just putting them into the proper segment based on, on their engagement. So there are a lot of similarities between the post-purchase, because you’re kind of continuing that like friend loyalty kind of thing.

[00:46:09] Like you’re trying to get them also the same way. A post-purchase often you’re trying to get them to a repeat purchase. So the welcome you’re trying to get them through that purchase. So there are some similarities there, but. Like you said you should be saving like your good stuff for your post-purchase people.

[00:46:24] Um, and also your post-purchase people already bought. So you’re training more to activate them and get them excited about the product and using the product. Whereas with the welcome people, you’re trying to get them to feel like they really need this product. They want this product, you know, more around the hesitation versus around the benefits.

[00:46:41] Obviously you’ll was taking the benefits too, but just like working through that journey.

[00:46:45] James Sowers: Yeah. Yeah. I have a little bit of a background in kind of the info product space or like digital products, like eBooks courses, that kind of thing. And I know there are some tools on that side of the house that would allow you to put a link in the email.

[00:46:56] And if somebody clicks that link, they get a certain tag and then that segments them down a different journey. They get a different set of emails from somebody who clicked the second link. Is that something that exists in Klaviyo or some of the more popular e-commerce tools or is it more like you would have to get somebody out of their inbox to a type form or a survey or some like that?

[00:47:12] And then based on how they answer the questions for the survey, you can use a tool like Zapier or something to connect the two dots there. So I’m just wondering how segmentation works. Uh, it seems like the welcome sequence is probably the best place for that. Like what’s holding you back or what questions do you have?

[00:47:24] Is it, is it price? Is it unsure about the features and specifications? Is it, you know, I’m worried about fit or, you know, colors or materials or something like that, or I have an allergy and I’m worried if like the ingredients are gonna something like that. Like letting somebody pick the one and then you have kind of four lanes of emails that somebody could go down.

[00:47:40] If they say allergy, they get three emails talking about, you know, the nutritional makeup of your product and the allergies that definitely don’t work. And the allergies that you might want to be cautious about, whatever, like, um, is that possible in some of the more popular tools that are really focused on e-commerce like a Klayvio or a drip or something.

[00:47:56] Nikki Elbaz: Honestly, you could do it as simply as tagging, you know, that they click and they get a tag and then the tag will then trigger the next one. It’s really like a low tech way of segmenting your lists. Like you just, you know, and even it looks low tech, I mean, with e-commerce you can make it look a lot nicer, you know, you just, you know, make some pretty like visuals or buttons or whatever, but often you’ll see the self segment or is that just like a line of blue underline texts, you know?

[00:48:19] And it’s, it’s so good tech, but it works, you know? Um, but you, you triggered it an interesting thought in terms of e-commerce quizzes. So they’re gaining in popularity and they’re so interesting because they allow for so much segmentation. I don’t see it happening and. Very frustrating for me. Um, you know, I’ll take a quiz and I’ll like answer all sorts of like interesting things just to see like, what happens next?

[00:48:42] You know, are they going to segment to me this may, if I say I have allergies, if I say I have a PA, then what happens? And nothing happens. And it’s so frustrating because it’s so easy to segment based on these quiz answers. Like that’s the beauty of the quiz. Like, yes, you’re trying to help. Make a decision and you want to recommend a good product for them, but you’re collecting all this amazing data too.

[00:49:02] So use the data, you don’t collect that data and then use it to start, you know, giving those emails based on, you know, their responses. So it’s just another like really cool entryway point. Like if you, if the people are coming onto your list through a quiz, that’s like a really interesting, welcome sequence that will give you so much value so much because you’re collecting so much data on it and it will be so segmented and relevant, um, that it will just perform super well.

[00:49:27] And I should start recommending this to my clients. Okay. Nope.

[00:49:32] James Sowers: Feel free to jot that down. That sounds like one of those situations where the marketing leader or somebody on the team is like, we got to understand our customers better. And so let’s run a survey and let’s collect this data, but they never connect the dots.

[00:49:41] Like how does that impact email? How does that impact customer support? How does that impact SMS? Like, or even it’s like, this will help us create better products because we know what percentage of our customers have dry skin versus oily skin or males versus females or whatever it is. Yeah, that’s super important, but let’s also like, think about how we talk to them about those issues and bring them around in the marketing, because that’s going to move the needle on sales faster than creating a new product.

[00:50:04] We all know the product development cycle is like months, right? So like creating a new products. Great. You should definitely do that, but you know what? To have a faster impact, email SMS website, copy content marketing, like take that data funneling into all the relevant tools so that you can. Segment and contextualize those elements because they’re going to generate a return a lot faster.

[00:50:22] It’s going to be a better use of that, that quiz functionality. Awesome. I got just a couple more questions for you if you have the time. The one thing that I wanted to make sure we get in is, is testing, right? So like obviously as a conversion optimization firm, we do a lot of testing and we have some strong opinions about that.

[00:50:36] But in the email world, I always hear subject line, you know, test subject line, test, body, copy, length, test CTHS. Um, and you’re looking at things like open rate, click through rate, that kind of thing. But like, I don’t know, the tracking on those things can be so messy, like people with ad blockers or whatever, don’t always their opens don’t get triggered and then they they’re it’s it can be a mess.

[00:50:56] Maybe if that’s the foundational 100 level, maybe that’s where it stops. Maybe that’s all, there is a test. I am highly skeptical that that’s what you can test an email. I’m sure you have some other thoughts, but like when you’re working with clients, what kind of things are you testing and how are you setting those up?

[00:51:08] Like, is it something that the layman can do with a help desk article? Or is it something that they need an expert like you to come in and help them? Because it’s fairly sophisticated? No, I would say it’s not

[00:51:17] Nikki Elbaz: sophisticated. I feel like email is so well suited for testing, not from the technical side, like you said, there’s, there’s, it’s hard to collect the data on the tests because of all these issues.

[00:51:28] Because you’re sending so many campaigns often, nobody’s going to be noticing all of them and be tracking everything. So you could kind of like sneak in all these tests and your customers are not really going to be noticing that you’re doing all these tests and you’re collecting all this stuff. So I feel like it’s, it’s low risk, you know, because you’re like, well, hold on.

[00:51:46] No, I can’t change the hero on my website because XYZ, you know, like it’s, it’s so much more of like a bigger deal to test something big. Whereas like, if you’re sending out a whole bunch of newsletters, like if you’re honestly, like, I think a great strategy that I might start doing is, you know, okay.

[00:52:01] Client sites on, they want to get started. What’s our first step. Well, let’s just start testing things and see what the audience responds to the best way to start doing that is with the newsletters you’re sending out for them out. So often it’s just going to give you that fast data really quickly. If people are not really going to be noticing and like.

[00:52:19] Shaping at the fact that like your brand voice changed because you were just testing this brand voice. Um, so it’s, it’s like a kind of low risk, quick way of testing a whole bunch of things off the bat. So it’s definitely like, uh, testing with email is lower risk and yeah, I test way more than just subject line and button copy and all this kind of stuff.

[00:52:40] You know, you want to be testing your hypothesis of, you know, take your post-purchase nurture. You should create two split versions of your post-purchase nurture and send some purchasers down one path and one down another, because you know, maybe they don’t need to hear email number three. It’s not going to help them do a repeat purchase.

[00:52:59] Maybe actually, you know, email six should be moved up, you know, like all these different things that you’re going based on some theories that you’re creating based on talking to your customers, watching your customer journey, all this kind of stuff, but is it actually doing well? So. Doing your post-purchase and then revisit any yet, you know, in three months like, oh, did they do a repeat purchase?

[00:53:20] How many repeat purchases in the past three months? And then revamping it, like, why not start from the get-go with two different theories and see how that goes? You know, there’s just, there’s so many variables with everything that like everything, test everything, always

[00:53:34] James Sowers: be testing. Yeah. I think that’s the sentiment that I was hoping you’d get at.

[00:53:38] And I think the point here is like, start with the hypothesis that like have a purpose behind the test. Like if you’re just throwing stuff at the wall, then you never actually know what works or what doesn’t because you don’t have a system to track it. Right. You don’t even know what the test was or why you ran it.

[00:53:51] Like, you almost need a journal and you say like, okay, in June, we’re going to test, send time or something. We’re going to localize it to the person’s time. We’re going to test morning, noon evening. Um, that kind of thing, but like even that’s fairly basic, I mean, to your point about the sequences test leading with a discount in the abandoned cart, I run that compared to something that has the discount at the very end, with a little bit more nurturing and then compare, you know, over 30 or 60 days, like see what that does to customer value, average order value, conversion rates.

[00:54:16] I’m like that, like see which campaign performs better. And then maybe just turn it on as, as the default or even just the sequencing of those post-purchase emails. Do you start with the FAQ or do you start with a letter from the founder or do you start with like here’s, um, basically the specifications from the product detail page just delivered an email form as kind of like a nudge.

[00:54:34] And just to remind you like of what’s coming up to your door and what you can expect and things like that. So I think the point you start with a hypothesis have some kind of an idea. What you’re expecting to see right. Hypothesis is if we use personalized subject lines, that open rate will increase and then see if that happens.

[00:54:48] Right. But if you’re just kind of like winging it, then you can’t really expect big time results because you just kinda, I don’t know, you, you don’t have much of a system behind it and you don’t really know why you’re testing. You’re just kinda doing it for the sake of doing it. And I just don’t think that’s effective in any area of the business, especially email.

[00:55:03] I think that’s

[00:55:03] Nikki Elbaz: a cool point where you were saying, you know, can any lay man do this themselves? And I think one benefit that we have as an agency doing it is that we will create these kind of like little mini presentations before like, okay, here’s our hypothesis. This is what we’re working towards. Sign off on it, just this work for you.

[00:55:18] And then we’ll go and do the work. And then we will have a post-mortem and see like what happened. So. I think it’s really important if you weren’t doing this on your own, that you do that as well, so that you have that like clean. Okay. Here’s what we tested. Did it work like that clean process instead of just like, yeah, let’s assess and oh, I read this slug pause and let me do that.

[00:55:37] And I know I was talking to my friend and he did this and let me test that, you know, just that it, that you, you have that, that reasoning and the hypothesis, and then, you know, the scientific method basically, you know, like go back to

[00:55:49] seventh

[00:55:49] James Sowers: grade, right? Yeah. I would say open up your, your task manager, your project manager.

[00:55:54] Hopefully it has like the Kanban set up the Trello style setup and you have like the idea backlog. So none of those things get lost. I’m great. I’m glad you read that blog post. It does sound super awesome. Let’s let’s put it in the backlog and let’s get it scheduled, but then have active tests and then have completed tests.

[00:56:06] You know, that’s kind of like your retrospective review and see how things went, manage it that way. Cause if you even concurrent tests can really. If you run into things at the same time, even if they’re in separate sequences, like, I don’t know, somehow that customer journey can connect and you can really kind of trip over your own feet there.

[00:56:20] So it’s important to know, like what’s actively running when it’s going to stop, how long you’re going to let it running and then make the time on your calendar to go back and look at the data. And. How things actually played out because they might support your hypothesis and that’s great. And then you just kind of make that the default and you turn them live and funnel a hundred percent of the customers through that, but maybe it invalidates your hypothesis and you’ve got to go back and you’ve got to run a different test and you’re like, okay, send time.

[00:56:42] Didn’t do it. I got to do something like the, from email address. And do I make that a person? Or do I make that from the brand? You know, or something like that. Like you just start over and, uh, unfortunately there are no shortcuts, right? You just got to kind of experiment until, and like we used this, we always like to say, you’re never fully optimized.

[00:56:57] You just kind of always optimizing, right? Like we’re just trying to get 1% better every day. You’re never really done. Unfortunately, that’s part of entrepreneurship and part of just marketing and e-commerce in general. So yeah. Really appreciate your insight there. I’ve got one more question for you. If somebody is listening to this and they’re like, great, I get the value.

[00:57:12] I want to do it. I’m not doing a great job of it myself, but I’m ready to make a move. There are two kind of scenarios. It’s like, okay, I’m going to jump in here and do the best I can. Or I’m going to hire somebody to do. And then the other scenario is I’m just going to call Nikki because she sounds really smart and she’s got a lot of great ideas.

[00:57:26] So I want to work with her in each scenario. What would you like to see a founder do so that they kind of like maximize their chances for success? Right? Like if they’re going to DIY at what should they read first? What should they, you know, where should they focus? Their effort is probably an 80, 20 rule.

[00:57:39] And then if they’re going to work with a consultant or an agency like you, what should they have kind of in place before they come calling?

[00:57:45] Nikki Elbaz: It’s a fraternity DIY and I’m biased towards my playbooks. That’s basically what they’re for, you know, seeing and hearing people saying like, okay, so I’ll just do it properly.

[00:57:55] Or just reading blog posts that the wrong, you know, they would say like, here’s how you set up an abandoned cart and me saying like, okay, that’s, that’s how you take your recipe that already came with your ESP and just plug it into place. Like, I don’t need a blog post to read that, you know, what can we do to make it even better?

[00:58:11] So just, you know, that, that’s why I created that really. So obviously I think that’s a great idea, but if you want to really DIY it, talk to your customers and walk through that journey. So you use all the data that you have, you know, your, your Facebook ad stuff, your, your GTM layer, like all the different touch points, like see how they’re spending time on your website.

[00:58:31] And then what happens after that? All the, like, just map out that customer journey. And be matching everything to all the touch points. So it sounds complicated, but you know, what assets do you have that matched to each point that they are in? So an asset could be a discount. It could be a blog post. It could be an FAQ page.

[00:58:53] Like what do they need to hear at each point? What do they need to do at each point? And just help them through that journey? Something I once heard was like, never send an email that doesn’t have a inaction, like not necessarily a call to action, but like something that they can do to continue the journey.

[00:59:13] So I think that’s a little like fanatic that you should never send an email like that. I think there are instances when you will, but you know, let’s say that that post-purchase confirmation, um, you know, you just guys just published an awesome blog post on that. Where, like you want to continue that journey.

[00:59:29] Don’t just send that confirmation email and that’s it done? You know, what happens next? What can they be continuing to do it? That’s, that’s the whole, like all these different automations, that’s the whole point. It’s just getting them through. So just mapping that all out and, you know, helping them through that journey.

[00:59:44] So that’s, that’s the DIY away, but really just like, just start, like, just do it and, and have that Trello board of all the different, you know, tests that you’re testing. See what works. What’s not working, what can be improved, but like just starting is so important because email is so powerful and just, just do it.

[01:00:04] That’s what I would

[01:00:05] James Sowers: say, Nike had it. Right.

[01:00:09] Nikki Elbaz: And they paid what they pay like 30 bucks for that, a tagline, or was it for the logo? And it was the logo, the tagline ashamed of myself that I don’t know

[01:00:19] James Sowers: this. I don’t know that either. So don’t feel bad.

[01:00:24] Nikki Elbaz: And then in terms of hiring, I would say, you want to know what you’re trying to accomplish.

[01:00:30] Like what metrics are you working for and what you have to offer, um, you know, in terms of like that, that customer journey. So what’s interesting is that you can discover all this with whoever you hire. You know, and, and that should honestly be a guiding point for you of, you know, like, do we want to hire these people?

[01:00:52] Are they actually going to do good work for us? You know, what’s their process, you know, can they talk to our customers and discover this for us? Should we be doing it ourselves? Can we trust that we can be doing it ourselves? Which I actually think that most founders can be trusted because they are, they live and breathe the brand, you know, like there’s so much in there, but like how can we evaluate whether we will be doing a good job and unbiased job, you know, what will my agency be doing with this information?

[01:01:19] And just kind of like laying out the foundation so that the work could be good in terms of knowing what you want to accomplish and what you have to offer in terms of like your, your Intel basically.

[01:01:28] James Sowers: Yeah. Uh, I think that’s a great answer. And you know, the only thing that I can even think of, you know, from the agency perspective for what we do is like, just have a certain amount of time that you’re definitely going to commit to this cause results generally don’t come tomorrow, right.

[01:01:40] Or even next week. Like they take some time, especially if you’re doing your job. Email is probably one of those areas where you can see more of an immediate impact. Cause you’re already sending it, you know, on a weekly cadence or whatever. And like you can kind of make an improvement, maybe see a little uplift in sales from a promotional emails.

[01:01:54] I mean, but a 50% discount in there and you’ll see an increase in conversion rate. So that will definitely happen. But, but the reality is like, you should probably commit to this. I don’t know what your timeline is, but at least like 60 or 90 days, I would think to get in there, take a look at the sequences, do some customer research, like figure out what you’re already tested and worked or didn’t work, you know, come up with a hypothesis, that kind of thing.

[01:02:12] Like these things take time. But oftentimes at least in our business, it’s like the first 60 days might not look great, but the next 60 days sure do. And it’s kind of like this compounding effect of like all the legwork done upfront gives you the context and the nuance that you need to do a really good job from there on out.

[01:02:29] And then you have those kind of indefinitely because you took the time upfront to lay the foundation. I don’t know if that’s the case for your business, but I wanted to share that cause like from our perspective, that really helps too to have reasonable expectations around. How long it will take to see kind of that significant impact from the investment.

[01:02:44] And just knowing that like you’re playing the long game here, right? You started the brand for a reason. You wanted to make that your life’s work at least for some amount of time that’s measured in years probably. And so why would you only give any agency or consultant 30 days to prove their worth? You know what I mean?

[01:02:56] Like. So that’s my feedback, but I don’t know if you have any reaction to that. Absolutely.

[01:03:00] Nikki Elbaz: There’s the learning curve where you have to understand, you know, what the audience has already been experiencing and, and letting them take the time to adjust to the shifts and the changes, you know, so obviously any new leads coming in, um, you know, they’re not going to be shifting any changes, but still just changes take time, but failure is not failure.

[01:03:19] It’s just, yeah, let’s be all cliche. Right. It’s just a stepping stone to learning or, um, you know, but, but it’s really true. It’s a cliche for a reason, you know, where, yeah. It, these things do take time. Like you can sometimes often see, you know, amazing results off the bat, but sometimes it’s just, it’s just like that you have to get there.

[01:03:39] Uh, you need a little more, or your hypothesis was wrong and we need to just go back and find something new to work through. It’s an amazing metric, not metric. It’s an amazing. Service like email is, is incredible. Like it’s, it’s a great driver of revenue and you just have to have the patience to get there if it’s not working right off the

[01:03:57] James Sowers: bat.

[01:03:59] Totally agree. Well, Nikki, thank you so much for your time today. I know this conversation has been a delight for me and we didn’t even get into segmentation or any of the more advanced stuff. So maybe we’ll have to have you back to talk about that and really nerd out on email marketing. But I know you’re at Nikki and Elba.

[01:04:15] So I’m very jealous of both of those things because I have neither of nor my Twitter handle. Um, so as a marketing guy that breaks my heart, but I, you know, I was late to the game. I wasn’t always a marketing guy, but, um, is there anything else that you want to share with the audience promote? Uh, this is kind of your opportunity to, to be up on the pedestal and just share whatever message you want before we say.

[01:04:33] Nikki Elbaz: Okay, so message and promote, promote my playbooks., I think. Um, yes. Yes. That is

[01:04:43] James Sowers: the way,

[01:04:46] Nikki Elbaz: you know, I think they’re awesome. I price them pretty low so that they could be accessible to companies that are just getting started with their email marketing efforts. Um, and they’ll just like foundational good stuff to be thinking about when you’re sending your automations in place and then message.

[01:05:03] Yeah, the Nike just do it. Like I’m such an advocate for email that you just like, just start and don’t worry about the fact that you’re not sending it often enough or you’re sending it too often or you’re, you know, you’re dropping this offer or you’re, you know, you didn’t do that in the best practices that, and you know, there’s, there’s so many voices that we can be having about how we’re doing it wrong.

[01:05:23] We’re not an expert, blah, blah, blah, but just start and just do it. And like it’s an area where intention and action. Just go so far. So just, just go, just do it.

[01:05:35] James Sowers: Awesome. Great advice. Tried and true when Nikki, thank you so much for coming on the show today. Like I said, we’ll have to have you back really enjoyed it and um, yeah, just appreciate your insights and email marketing and all things, business and entrepreneurship and e-commerce so thanks for joining us.

[01:05:49] Nikki Elbaz: Thanks for having me.

[01:05:51] James Sowers: 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.

[01:06:09] 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.

[01:06:33] 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.

[01:06:47] 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.