On this 60th episode of The E-Comm Show, our host and BlueTuskr CEO Andrew Maff shares his own personal experience of email blunders plus the do’s and don’ts of email marketing including how not to annoy your subscribers! So, if you have no clue what and when to send your newsletters, here’s Andrew to break it down for you.
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The Holy Grail of Email Marketing
Andrew Maff is a marketing expert with over 15 years of experience in e-commerce, and has not only owned and managed multiple marketing companies in the e-commerce space but has also worked in-house at multiple online selling companies, driving brands to new heights.
With his knowledge of marketing and business strategy, love for staying ahead of the curve, and ability to execute effective marketing solutions, he created BlueTuskr, a team of specialized experts dedicated to the growth and success of e-commerce sellers.
However, if you do or you do mess something up, it always helps to personalize it and admit that you are wrong. Say we're human. And unfortunately, things happen. People love that and they respond so much more when they know that they're speaking to a person and on a business. Hey everyone, this is Nezar Akeel from Max Pro. Hi, I'm Linda and I'm Paul and we're Love and Pebble.
Hi this is Lopa Van Der Mersch from RASA. You're listening to and you're listening and you are listening to The E-Comm Show.
Welcome to The E-Comm Show, presented by BlueTuskr, the number one place to hear the inside scoop from other e-commerce experts. They share their secrets about how they scaled their business and are now living the dream. Now, here's your host, Andrew Maff.
I'm your host, Andrew Maffettone. And today is storytime, I'm going to tell you a little bit about an email marketing mistake I made years ago that leveraged some of the best data and some of the best numbers I've ever seen. So little bit of background. years ago, this was probably five years ago, maybe five or six years ago. Before I was in the agency I was in I was technically not an agency. I was running marketing for a founder who had several companies. So it's kind of like an agency, but it wasn't. But anyway, one of the things he ran was a SASS company. And we were targeting ecommerce sellers. And what I did was I kind of helped build out, you know, their marketing. And one of the things we did is we had a bunch of we did big content play a ton of blog posts. And we were doing I think a weekly newsletter, I think it was weekly. And he had a very voiceless email list. Typically, people would typically respond to this stuff. They usually were under the assumption that he was the one sending the emails. Not always, but sometimes. And this was a relatively promotional email, it wasn't a discount or anything like that. It was kind of like, here's a bunch of blog posts that we had written. Here's some stuff going on in the news, it was kind of more of an E-commerce informational weekly, the newsletter we did. Anyway. So I sent out this email. And I don't know what happened. Maybe I was in a rush, maybe something, I always send emails to myself and test them and look at them on a phone and a tablet and just kind of double-check everything. And for some reason, I just didn't do this day. Because I send out this email. Commonly office, I think our emails around them, we're going out of the gate in the morning, come in the office, and I have so many emails, like a ridiculous amount in comparison to when they're only had a couple of the other people in the office. We're just like, dude, what happened? And like, I don't know, what are you talking about? Well, there was a blatant spelling error in the subject line, there was a really bad spelling error in the snippet, then there were probably two or three more spelling errors within that email. And one really obvious one, like right in the title right when you open it, I don't know what happened. I don't know why I didn't do it. Why didn't look, I usually must have just breezed through it. I can't remember what the hell happened. But this email goes out. So we got I wrote this, I wrote it down on what happened here. So our open rates were typically 25 30%. For these types of emails, this specific email was like 47 and a half, like, almost half the amount of people that got it opened it, the click rate was usually like a three to 5%. This was 12. Like it was nuts in comparison to basically doubling our metrics across the board. I didn't have a metric for a response rate. But if I did, this would be more than double. So many people emailed us and a couple of people off tried to take my job which fuck that guy. But they were like, Oh, he, you know if he's not paying attention to this, then what else isn't he paying attention to and I could do this better? And if you're hiring let me know. It was really like, alright, you took your shot. A bunch of people responded just like, Hey, you made a typo. Some people were super nice about it. Like, oh, no, can't believe this happened. Here's what you did wrong. But still have great newsletters. I'm like that. There are a ton of responses. And I was like, do I was panicking. I was so pissed. I was so upset because I try not to do that kind of stuff. And so here's, here's what I did. So my thought was, I need to bounce back from this and I can't send another email apologizing for typos. I Can't Don't send another email the following week and just pretend it never happened. Something has to happen here. But our metrics were nuts. I also didn't have metrics on how many new clients we would normally get from a newsletter like that, because it was kind of just content once we weren't tracking that directly. We were just kind of more indirect. And this one that day, we had a ridiculous spike in new people coming in who led coming in. So even though it was a crap email, it worked really well. And my thought was, okay, this is very interesting. And it's intriguing because we started joking, like, should we do spelling errors on everything? So what I did is I wrote a blog post, I'm not, I don't write very often because I just get bored after a while. But I was like, I have to write this like, this needs to be from me as a, here's what I did. Here's where I messed up. But here are the numbers that we got. And so I did one blog post. The next week, when the next newsletter came around, I basically made that entire newsletter, about that blog post that I wrote, and the subject line, the snippet, and all that kind of stuff were very specific to last week, we've locked up and this week I'm fixing it, like the whole thing was like, Don't worry, we double check this one about grammar. One guy called me out, well, you didn't put this comma in the right spot, like Screw you, I'd hate comments. Sending out all this stuff, this email didn't do as well as the other one, but still did ridiculously high, ridiculously high open rate and click rate in comparison, and a bunch of people sent over an email saying that like, oh, this was great. The numbers you guys got were amazing. This is real cool, like, fine. So it's basically an unwanted test that I did. And kind of what I wanted to get into this is when you mess something up, if you can remind your consumer that you're human like they're buying from a person, you can really connect with them. And they actually appreciate that much more. They don't want to buy from a business they want to buy from a person. And what I did is I made a personal connection with all those people by explained by sending out that follow-up email with that blog post that explained. Hi, my name is Andrew and I have fought Shut up. So I sent all that out. And I made a personal touch with those people to tell them like hey, I'm human and unfortunately shut happens. And it worked amazingly, I'm not telling you, in your next email to make a ton of typos. However, if you do, or you do mess, something up, it always helps to personalize it and admit that you are wrong. So you are human. And unfortunately, things happen. People love that. And they respond so much more when they know that they're speaking to a person and not a business.
So, newsletters do's and don'ts. So here's why I wanted to do this one. So I enjoy a good cigar every now and then. So I did finally find a pretty decent company that sells stuff online that I can just order cigars from. And this is not an exaggeration. When I tell you I get a newsletter or promotional email from them a bare minimum of three and a half times a day, I tell you three and a half because I started actually telling it. And after two weeks, my average was three and a half, three and a half friggin emails a day from this company, I actually went to unsubscribe and decided to stick through it because I had to see why the hell they're doing this, it makes no sense. So I'm gonna start with the don'ts. Don't send a damn newsletter that many times don't even do it. Don't do it daily. Don't do it weekly. Don't do it that often. It's ridiculous. If you do a ton, and by the way, I'm talking about, at least specifically, ecommerce sellers right now promotional stuff. It's no one's going to shop with you until they get in a newsletter if you constantly send out promotions because they're always going to be expecting a discount, it needs to be relatively rare. Don't be boring. Don't have these ugly newsletters, like put some love into them. Make sure that you're you know, actually kind of giving them something interesting to look at. Make sure it's the brand voice matches. If you can try to have it be a little bit entertaining, I don't it's gonna be depending on your brand voices, but you kind of want it to be a little more entertaining so that they at least read the whole thing, especially your subject line your snippet, which I'll touch on. Don't just blast out blog posts with nothing else to say. There are a ton of sellers I've found who thankfully are doing blog posts and they're seeing the SEO value of it. They're like Oh, I gotta promote this. Let me just shove it into my newsletter and blast it out. And basically, they're just like taking the picture and the title or the main banner picture the title and then just like the first quarter, or like maybe the first paragraph and then doing a read more, and then that's it and that's crap. Don't do that. Don't go too long without sending an email. So a buddy of mine, while having a few drinks, realized that You can really have some really interesting conversations about newsletters and news email lists. So our favorite so far is to use it or lose it. So basically, if you don't send out an email enough, people are going to forget that they are subscribed to you and your email list will die. So you actually need to stay consistent and you need to send out emails, don't overdo it. But you definitely don't want to underdo it either. Don't this one really should be under but I needed one more for DME, so don't adjust them. So basically, always be testing. Always look at your metrics. Test the day that you're sending test your time test your subject line, test your snippet, chess, test your copy or your creative like every aspect that you possibly can, you need to test. Cool, good. Now dudes do make it personalized, find a way to personalize it without creeping it out. Don't in a promotional type newsletter or something where it's like, clearly this is going to a lot of people I opt out of using their name, I opt out of using their company name or using you know their address or their city or something like that because they're going to know that it's in most places. But by personalizing it, I mean, maybe you're doing a product line where maybe you do clothes, and you want to do 20% off, you know your apparel, and you're sending out sending this out in April, your people in the south should probably get more summer looking creative. Your people in the North should probably get more spring, looking almost winter, Lisa, it's been up here. So personalize it, don't do that weird crap where it's like, Hey, Carl, the nice paint job is on your house the other day that shit gets weird and freaks people out. Don't go that route for these types of emails, AB tests everything. So kind of mentioned this and do don'ts. And I'm going to mention induced too. Because you really should just be AV testing everything. I don't think I've sent an email in 10 years that wasn't being AV tested at the time, it's meant to segment your audience. So if you're doing that, that apparel thing I just mentioned, you need to segment out, and people who maybe live in the south versus the people who live in the north or cat lovers or dog lovers, or truck drivers versus car drivers were bikers like you need to segment out your audience so that your creative and your copy can be relevant to the audience that you're sending. You could be blasting out an email to everyone, but you want to make sure that the people you're specifically targeting for that email blast, or at least you're at least giving them their best chance of converting by speaking their language and showing them what they're interested in, make it visually appealing, which still kind of comes from the don't have Don't be boring. But there were a couple of things that I really wanted to touch on were, don't make them ugly, do some nice banners, do some nice pictures, and add something to it. I love the ones that are gifts and can actually like have some movement to them. Be careful overdoing that because it can make the email heavy, in which case it won't open. And that's a whole nother issue. Give the copy some character. So I prefer to try to speak in a brand voice while also tweaking the voice just a little bit where it's got some entertainment value behind it, whether you're telling a story or you're using some kind of pawn or weight or something like that, just so that the newsletter itself is a little bit more entertaining, they may not whatever you're offering for sale, or it's a product announcement or something they may not be interested in. But what you don't want is for them to go, I'm not interested in this. And I'm also not interested in ever hearing from you again, you want them to go maybe, or obviously, this isn't the goal. But in a worst-case scenario, want them to go, this is a cute email, I don't really want this product right now. But it's funny, I'm not gonna unsubscribe. And then always, always, always, always, always provide value, always you if your value is 20% Create, sometimes other things that I will do to adjust that same type of promotional email, where I'm making sure I'm providing value is I will couple it along with a blog post that is relevant to whatever it is we're selling. So for example, we were a couple of people who do these, like massive, like $ 1,000-floor type machines. And I'm just sending out like a tool that kind of plugs into the machine or whatever it is. It's kind of like those people don't really respond, their audience doesn't respond as well as I'd like to if I'm just like 20% off tonight, like they don't really care. So what I've changed it into is a blog post about how to do a specific thing using that machine. And we happen to have 20% off those tools that plug into that machine. So it's kind of unprovided value and teaching you something new. In this case, it's a b2b. So I'm helping them learn how to make a little bit more money, maybe offer a new service, and obviously, I'm trying to get them to convert on 20% off. But you can do that with anything. There's an ecommerce seller you can absolutely tie in your written content with your promotional stuff.
You We're going to dive into a full list of automated emails that all ecommerce sellers should have. So these are all the basic ones. There are a lot of fancy ones out there, like product related ones. So hey, you just bought this product, it can also do this or me, don't forget to do this or something like that. So that to me is a little bit more specific. So I'm gonna go pretty broad here for the first one, and talk about the ones that, to me are a requirement like you have to have the setup. So the first one, the welcome series, is someone who had an email that goes to someone after they've signed up for your newsletter. So you can have discounted or some user-generated content or reviews or whatever other crap you want to put in there; it absolutely needs to be sent out. You need to send a confirmation once someone does something that is just transactional. So I have given you my email; please now, send me an email confirming that I've gotten the set email, and account creation. So basically, if someone purchases something from you, and they create an account, which a lot of people will do because they want to plug it in and easily see stuff they've ordered before, or maybe they want to track an order or something like that, send them an email with an account confirmation, it doesn't have to be too pretty, it's more the information in it that they're going to want. Because some people will forget, like, oh, I made an account, but I can't remember what my username is, or something like that. So always send an account confirmation, new customer. So this one made a purchase, I've probably gotten the product by now. And then we'll wait like a week or so. And I'm going to send you a very personal email that appreciates you becoming a new customer of mine, you've never shopped with us before and you finally did; acquiring a new customer is hard. It's also not easy on the consumer side to shop with someone new that you haven't shopped with before, because sometimes you're like, I don't know how this is gonna go. So you always want to send them something nice, I like to do like almost like a written letter from the founder as like an appreciation. In some cases, that doesn't work, obviously, in much bigger companies, you're clearly not getting a letter from the founder. So you kind of have to decipher that on your own repeat customer, I do this just one more time. So once they've become a new customer, they a new customer email, then they come and shop with you again, I then send them a second follow-up like Thank you. It's not as personalized. It's not as I guess lovey word I'm going to use here. But it's like thank you for coming back. So clearly we did well, the first time you liked what you got. And you came back again, we really appreciate that because repeat business is the best business. So sending repeat business, repeat customer, best customer. So this one could be your kind of deciphering who is our top 10 customers. And maybe it's someone who shopped with you 10 times a year and spends a minimum of $4,000 a year, I don't know. But you figure out who the top ones are. And they get to be in their own secret club. So basically, thank you for being for spending so much with us for being one of our best customers, you know, for supporting us this long or in or spending as much money. Here's something we want to offer you. Here's some cool swag. Here's a discount, like anything like that. Browser abandonment. This obviously only works if you already have their email. But if an existing customer has come and shopped with you before you know how their email, and then later on down the road, they come back, visit your store and don't do anything, send them an email, say, hey, we saw you looking around, there's anything we can help with, let us know. Or hey, we saw you're looking at this, you may also like this, or here's a discount for this or however you want to do that. Then when a customer went back, so depends on how long people typically shop with you. If they usually shop with you every couple of months, and they haven't shopped with you in four or five months, or maybe six months, trigger an email to go out to them saying, hey, it's been a while since you've been with us. We miss you. Where are you something like that, I'll usually have a follow-up to that email. If they still haven't come back with a discount. It's offering them to come back. Again, kind of depends. Discounts aren't great for everyone. Then social engagement. So this one is to me very important. It's a little bit, it's a little bit more relevant to direct to the consumer where there's kind of a social aspect to it, but I will basically send an email a couple of weeks after they've gotten the product. And maybe a couple of weeks kind of depends on the product, but I will send an email after they've gotten the product, asking them to take a look at our social media. Take a picture of yourself with the product. Are you doing this? Are you doing that? Use tag us use this hashtag and we'd love to feature you. It is me My social media team is so much easier, it has made their job so much easier, where users and customers are just sending them content. And they're just sending them pictures. And every time you take something on Instagram of someone who posted a picture of your product, and you just repost it and give them some credit, they're going to then share that again with their audience. And be like look SO and SO featured me because people love to get featured all the time. So that's worked out great always suggest doing that if you have a social aspect. And then last but not least, it's kind of like a group of stuff. So all of the transactional things, so order, confirmation, shipment, confirmation, and after delivery, delivered, refund requested stuff like that, like all of those usually come pre-loaded, they probably already exist. If you're in Shopify, they absolutely already exist. I still like to give them my own feelings, I like to go in there and brand them up a little bit, maybe change some of the wording kind of you know, a lot of those they're not that sexy, they're not that fun. It's just kind of an I knew I needed to get this. Some of the best ones I've seen specifically for shipping are like a stork is like it's a long story about like a store because delivering your product. And now it's like your store is about to fly on your roof and drop off you probably get ridiculous, but it works so well because it's actually getting people to read that email. And as far as I know, there's a whole article on this, I read and it was it's like the only shipping confirmation email that you actually feel like you have to forward to someone just so that they can read it. And if you can spread your brand name by just having ridiculous stuff like that. It's awesome. I would absolutely suggest doing that.
How many newsletters are too many? Please, for the love of God stop sending so many newsletters. So one of the reasons I want to do this one, I talked about this, like when we first started this podcast. And I did finally end up unsubscribing from them. I don't know if you listen to the podcast, but in the beginning, you'll know what I'm talking about. But there's an I'm a big fan of cigars. There was a cigar company that I liked that I was able to ship stuff here because at the time where the pandemic I couldn't, couldn't go anywhere. So trying to figure out how I'm hanging out at home. How do I get one? So I found it online. And this is not an exaggeration when I tell you that I had on average 2.5 emails from them every day. And that is not they didn't send me half an email. It's like sometimes I got two sometimes I got four and it turned out to be 2.5 I sat down to the math because I thought this was hilarious. Two and a Half emails a day is fucking ridiculous for newsletters that aren't saying Don't ever do that. Now, one newsletter a week. Still pretty bad; I wouldn't do that. So, you know, I think I think a few weeks ago, and I know we did this one where we talked about like ideas for newsletters. We talked about like promotional ones or company announcements or just kind of a blog roundup or something like that. And if you can get on like a regular basis of like a blog Roundup, let's say once a month, or if you're doing enough blog posts maybe once or twice a month, and then maybe one promotional email, like every couple months unless there's like a holiday or something around. That, to me is kind of the perfect sweet spot. Unless you can really segment your audience, then it's a little bit different. So like, for example, you know, we've worked with apparel companies where they'll send newsletters to certain aspects of their customer base a little bit more often than they will some others just because of the metrics we're seeing, or we've segmented out in the winter doing bathing suits for the South, and not so much up north. So we'll segment them out. So maybe we'll do another one that month to the north and kind of change it. But usually, if you're doing just a blast out to everyone, once or twice a month is more than enough. And the reason I wanted to bring this up is that we're in q4 now, and people are notorious for getting obnoxious, especially around Black Friday, and Cyber Monday, and they would start to send an email like I would say they'll start usually like two weeks before Black Friday, Cyber Monday. If you're really desperate, you'll even do one right at the beginning of the month. Then they'll do one like a week before Black Friday, Cyber Monday then they'll do one the day before or not. Then they'll do one the Monday and say this weekend. Don't forget, then they'll do one on Wednesday and say Don't forget Black Friday, Cyber Monday. Some people do it on Thanksgiving and say tomorrow is the day and then they send you on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, and then God forbid someone is friggin doing a lot longer than that and now they're sending me, and after. That is an obscene amount of newsletters and it's unnecessary. What you have to think about is your brand is fragile. You don't want to overspend so many newsletters to the point where annoying people think about if someone like Mormons were coming to your door every day to try to convert you that would drive me insane. Um, I will tolerate it for like once a year is fine, but if they're at my door every day trying to convert me, I'm going to snap eventually, just like I don't want you emailing me every day to purchase something if I want to make a purchase, I will, you also have to think that you're going to belittle your brand. So essentially what I mean by that is, if I'm a consumer, and I know that I want to buy this product, and I maybe buy it on a regular basis, if you constantly are sending promotional emails, I'm never going to pay full price, because I know that you have a deal all the time. Or I know that your actual prices after a while is BS. So I'm gonna give an example I'm even gonna drop a name because I don't care if they find me. Fans edge or fanatics or nfl.com, or any of those guys, I big Steelers fan, and I'm always trying to buy new stuff for whatever the hell we win. And I go screw it, I'm buying a hat. And they always have like on a weekly basis, like 60% off, or spend $50 and get free shipping plus $20 back and it's almost every week. And then I get an email from one of those guys, whether it's nfl.com or fanatics or fan edge, or God knows what the other ones are. Gotta be at least two or three times a day and it's obscene enough of noxious that I've started unsubscribing from him. And what he's really starting to tell me is, I'm never going to pay full price because you always have sales. So I'll just sit around and oh, wait, I don't need it right now. And then I also now know that your numbers are bullshit, they your prices are a complete fucking lie. So if they're not telling me the accurate price number from the beginning, they don't have that much trust in it. Unfortunately, they've developed this friggin monopoly so I'm kind of stuck with them. But in other companies, you know, it's something you kind of has to keep in mind. So sending out too many newsletters can really start to belittle your brand, especially if you do it on a consistent basis. You are on the blog roundups, I like consistency. But on a promotional side, having a sale every month on the last week of the month is great, but then that means that your third week of the month, people are probably not going to purchase with you as much because they know that the following week you're gonna have a sale. So you have to keep that kind of stuff in mind. You can probably send out more if you segment your audience a little bit and change your message around. But I would say slow down the number of newsletters.
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