EP #18 Designing Customer Journeys and Email Automation For Maximum Revenue

EP #18 Designing Customer Journeys and Email Automation For Maximum Revenue

About this Podcast

Building an effective customer journey and automation strategy can mean the difference between leaving money on the table and more than doubling your revenue on the campaigns.

With us today is Chris Donald, Managing Partner at InboxArmy, and an industry expert in designing revenue-generating email automation campaigns.

Matthew Vernhout and Chris share valuable nuggets of knowledge from their experience working with clients in various industries.

Chris and Matthew Discuss Answers to the Following Questions:
  • How do you build an effective customer journey which finally gets you good conversions?
  • How do you plan a great welcome journey of emails to plan for a new customer?
  • Can other automation mailers like cart abandonment emails/ shipping confirmations be used to offer relevant products to the customer?
  • How do you strategize for drip emails once a user has downloaded an asset/report from your website to engage them further?
  • How do you go about designing an email journey for a lead nurturing program?
  • How do you plan to design a great CX for your automated emails?
  • If you were to advise a new budding marketer on getting into the email marketing profession, what will it be?
Episode Transcripts

Intro: You’re listening to the ForTheLoveOfEmails podcast, powered by Netcore, a weekly show dedicated to helping email marketers, marketing enthusiasts, and professionals of all walks, engage, grow, and retain customers through reliable, smart, and effective email communication and engagement. Discover actionable ways to increase ROI and deliver value through email innovations, personalization, optimization.

[00:00:28] email deliverability and email campaigns. No fluff. Tune into your best practices and tactical solutions from the best thought leaders and practitioners to master your email communication now.

[00:00:42] Matthew Vernhout: Hello and welcome to another edition of, ForTheLoveOfEmail podcast. I’m your host, Matthew Vernhout, the Vice President Deliverability for Netcore solutions for North America.

[00:00:51] I have with me today, one of my long time friends and a very senior digital marketing specialist, If you want to call him that, Chris Donald, who is the managing partner for the InboxArmy, Chris, welcome to the podcast.

[00:01:04] Chris Donald: Hey, thanks, Matt. I appreciate it. And thanks Netcore for having me.

[00:01:08] Matthew Vernhout: Yeah, Chris, I’m going to just dive right in here.

[00:01:11] we’re doing a bit of a condensed season on our podcast this year. We’re just going to close out the year with three very important podcasts. We had you, we had Ryan Phelan on the last episode. We’ve got you here and next month we’re coming up with another special guest, that we have yet to schedule.

[00:01:26] But, just trying to close out 2020 with a bang here. So we’re going to just dive right in. Chris, why don’t we start, give me a little bit of a background InboxArmy, who are you guys? What do you do? and where do you focus?

[00:01:39] Chris Donald: Sure. So we are a full-service email marketing agency, but we are focused on the production side of things.

[00:01:46] So if you think of everything after strategy, right. So design, coding, testing, set up deployment, QA integrations, automation, all the work. Right. We do strategy for clients for sure, but where we shine is being able to save people money, usually anywhere from 30% to 40% over a traditional agency.

[00:02:07]So, yup. That’s kind of, and we work with clients of all sizes. Most of our businesses are in the middle market and above, but we do have some small business clients as well.

[00:02:17] Matthew Vernhout: Awesome. Yeah. So when you and I were talking about setting the podcast off, we said, we want it to talk about journey and marketing automation.

[00:02:23] So those are really big, hot topics. These, this time of year, everyone’s looking for ways to stretch their budget and sort of getting that, Program in place, get that automation moving and sort of walk clients down the path of, welcome to the program right on through to thank you for your purchase.

[00:02:41] So, where we’re looking at all of these different types of things, can you kind of take us through the different stages of, automation when it comes to, either working on a strategy with a client or executing the strategy for a client from, sort of the cradle to the grave view of automation for?

[00:02:58] Chris Donald: yeah.

[00:02:59] So, yeah. And of course, it depends if they’re B2B, B2C, they could be political, they could be healthcare which changes things considerably, obviously, but let’s, let’s talk a little bit in the coming up to the holiday season. Let’s talk a little bit more e-commerce based.

[00:03:14] Right? So. I think, first coming in, generally, there’s a, if you look on most e-commerce sites, there’s a pop-up to subscribe, which is some kind of incentive, right. 10% off your first purchase or free shipping or something like that. Which is good because that helps drive your list growth. Right. It gives the person a reason to subscribe.

[00:03:34] First of all, And it also gives you something to deliver meaning a coupon code. So when you do have a pop-up, I’m not a fan of having to give them the coupon code right away. I let the coupon code come in the first email and you tell them that right. You tell them that you’re going to send that. An email with the coupon code and that way they give you a good email address, right?

[00:03:56] Because some people will give you a fake email address just to try to get the coupon code. So that way they give you a good email address. And then, the first email which starts, you’re welcome. Right? So, you always want to welcome and thank them. You can call it a welcome campaign, thank you, campaign, whatever you want to do, but a welcome campaign should, first of all, thank them.

[00:04:13] It should give them what you told them. You were going to give them the coupon code for the discount, whatever. And it then should also shed expectations, right? So let them know if you’re going to be mailing them daily, let them know that if you’re going to be mailing them twice a week, let them know, Hey, we send an email twice a week with this and that blah, blah, blah.

[00:04:32] Here’s what you can expect. That’ll make it a little easier for them to go, Oh, okay. I’m going to get this many emails from them. Right. So they won’t be surprised when they get an email every day. If that’s who you are or emailed you twice a week if that’s who you are. and it may also include where you can connect socially, if you are the type of a business that sells very expensive things, where people might need POS and you do more work with B2B, you might give them how to contact someone, right.

[00:05:00] Here’s who to contact to make a purchase or talk about POS or whatever that might be. Right. So kind of get the basics out of the way with email one. And then email two and three can be offering products or letting them know what you do or what your services, whatever it might be. Right. So you could do a lot of companies just do a single welcome

[00:05:19]. That’s all they do. Others do a four or five message welcome. A B2B company may do a 10 message nurture sales nurture, right? That could go over two or three weeks. Depends on what your needs are. And then once you get past the welcome, it becomes again, if we’re talking e-commerce, you have well, and there might be follow-ups.

[00:05:44] So I should have said this. So if you send a discount code, but they don’t use the discount code, you may want to send a reminder to use the discount code, right? Because some people didn’t open the first message for some reason. So always reiterate that, Hey, you still have this deal and you might even give it some urgency saying this.

[00:06:02] Coupons are only good for 48 hours or something like that. Right. That might help. so in e-commerce, once the welcome is done, then the other parts and pieces are things like certainly cart abandonment is super important, right on e-commerce because welcome and cart abandonment is generally, you’re two of the highest generating automation or journeys that you’re going to have, depending on who you are and the amount of traffic you have coming in.

[00:06:26]But cart abandonment is super, super important. the old days of the standard three message card abandonment in my eyes are gone. We find that people take longer to make decisions on purchases, especially anything, $300 or more. So we find that with a five message with a three, you leave too much money on the table.

[00:06:47] A five message tends to work much better. But cart abandonment is certainly important. Post-purchase like a Thank you and maybe some add-on to the sale. So if they bought it. this, you might buy this and this right. And some of that could even be included, in transactional.

[00:07:07] If you keep a small 20% marketing piece in there. But a post-purchase may be following up on whatever they’ve purchased. You might have reordered. So if you sell something like cosmetics or potions and lotions or things, people use up in a supply of 30 days or something, then you want to have a reorder automation.

[00:07:26] Right. That’s certainly one that I consider and usually do very, very well on things that are used up at 30 days or a 15 day period, whatever it is, just make sure you start them early enough so they can order that from you. And get it in time before they run out of what they’re using. Because if not, then they may go to the local store and buy something and find they like that better.

[00:07:49] And then they kind of stop buying from you. Right. So set that reorder process up. That’s super important.

[00:07:56] Matthew Vernhout: Yeah, that’s one I love, and I think a lot of people sort of miss out on is that we approximate now how long it takes to use our product when you buy it, an average user, maybe uses a tube of toothpaste once a month.

[00:08:10] Right. So, in week three or week, at the beginning of week four, before you realize that someone’s used it all up, you send them a new one that says, Hey, are you ready for another one? Or, Hey, click here to reorder, re-up your new candle, re-up your purchase of cat food, or whatever it happens to be.

[00:08:29]those are all great things that as a brand, I would expect them to understand sort of the shelf life and use a cycle of those types of consumable products.

[00:08:39] Chris Donald: Yeah. And they know how long it takes to ship to most clients as well. So if you know how long a shipment takes to get there and, how much time you need to, to remind them off then you go, okay.

[00:08:52] Yeah. with day 20 or day 15 or day 17, we need to say, Hey, it’s time to reorder. Right. and so you can figure out the timing on that stuff pretty easily. And we talked a little bit about the welcome, the discount thing. So a lot of people say, should I offer a discount? And that’s a, it’s a good question, right?

[00:09:16] Should I offer a discount?

[00:09:17] Matthew Vernhout: A great place to AB test,

[00:09:19] Chris Donald: right? Oh yeah. And I always say, what’s a customer worth? And if you have a customer that buys from you once, how many times do they buy from you after that? Right. Does the average person buy three times, five times, 10 times? Somebody like Amazon knows that if they get a client.

[00:09:38]They know they’re going to make X amount of purchases. Right. So they’re a different animal. But, every company can look at that. So if, if it’s worth it. I’m not saying you shouldn’t lose money, but if the discount is good enough to get a new customer in your belief system, X amount X percentage of people will buy from you once by two, three, four, five times.

[00:10:00] Then you can extrapolate that out and go, here’s the value of that client, right? So we can give them 10% off or 50% off even sometimes.

[00:10:08] Matthew Vernhout: Right. And that that’s something that brick and mortar stores have been doing for a long time. I don’t have. Yeah. But I remember hearing Walmart knew that every time someone walked in the door, they made $35 off that individual.

[00:10:20] Right. So something close to that, so,

[00:10:22] yeah. You should be able to determine that in your email program as well, to say every time the subscriber comes to my site and fills out this form, is that 10% discount, 20% discount the right number so that I know their second, third, fourth purchase.

[00:10:36] They’re going to give me that $35 every time they come back.

[00:10:39] Chris Donald: Sure. Yeah. And Costco’s the same way. Right? So Costco knows that when they get a new member in the first 90 days, they spend more money on those 90 days than any other 90 days in the lifetime of the customer because everything’s new. Right.

[00:10:55] They see all this stuff. Right. And in this example, we give our employees a free Costco card. It’s one of the things we give as a bonus, right. As sort of a. A benefit. So one of the girls, they had never heard or had never been to Costco and they went to Costco and they took pictures showing me these two shopping carts with all kinds of stuff, including big screen TV, 65-inch screen TV.

[00:11:18] Oh my God. This place is amazing. Right. She called me. Right. And she said, I think we spent like $2,200 and that was the first visit. Right. So, yeah, I mean, getting people in the door is important, but yeah, so we have follow-ups, we have those, we have the reorder stuff, we have a next logical product or an NLP, right.

[00:11:39] And next logical purchase next logical product. And that might be people who buy almost 70% buy this and this. So let’s market that to them. Right. Let’s try to realize that revenue sooner. a good example is, you were talking about Ryan Phelan, right? So we were talking, he was telling me about one that he did for, Sears back in the day when they were selling the front load washer and dryers, right?

[00:12:07] Yeah.

[00:12:08] Matthew Vernhout: I’ve heard this story please for our audience.

[00:12:11] Chris Donald: Okay. Okay. So, some people would buy the pedestals. Right when they bought them. Cause if you’ve ever bought one of those, you have to bend way over if you don’t have pedestals for them. Right. And so some people would buy them when they bought the machines, but not a big percentage would, but they would buy them within six months.

[00:12:32] Right. So the idea of that program was to try to realize that revenue sooner by marketing those to them, whether it was with discounts or whatever, they would hammer them with those. Right. And they had a great conversion rate on it because it was something you needed, you felt when you bought it.

[00:12:50] I think the mindset of most people, because the high-efficiency washer and dryers were pretty pricey first, right back when he did this program, certainly. So they didn’t want to spend the extra two, $300 per pedestal…

[00:13:06] Matthew Vernhout: Yeah. That’s something that we’ve seen too. So as, as part of that, the Netcore product suite, our AI engine Raman, has a very powerful product recommendation platform.

[00:13:17] So, if you are an e-commerce site, and you’re out looking for How do I build that attachment and that next product, and you don’t want to go out and build it yourself. it’s something, I’m not sure I’m not the guy to implement that. So I’m going to give you the simple version, but what I’ve been told, it inserts this JavaScript into your site.

[00:13:34] And then a few weeks, the product engine has figured out what to start recommending to people. We’ve had some fantastic success with that and other products and other areas of the world. With our clients that are in that e-commerce space. I’ve also been told that works very well with publishers in regards to what to read next.

[00:13:49] So, Certainly, where do you see the play of AI happening in those types of product recommendations, next recommendation for email and such, for your customers?

[00:13:59] Chris Donald: Yeah. So the recommendation stuff works well. We have some that work with some really good recommendation engines and they work well.

[00:14:06] Right. They have a, I mean, they’re not a cart abandonment conversion rate. Right. But, they certainly help move the needle. I always look at things like. we would have a client come to us and go, we want to browse abandonment. And I go, okay, you have 200 visitors a month to your site.

[00:14:25] No, right. That money can be better used somewhere else because it’s a volume thing, browse, abandonment, like the recommendation, is just, it’s a lower price. conversion rate, right? So, browser abandonment is only 1, 2, 3%. If you’re lucky, you can get to 3%, most cases probably in between one and two.

[00:14:44] So if you have lots of traffic, then it makes all the sense in the world, right? Because setting up a browser abandonment program for a big company or a small company, it’s almost the same amount of work and the same cost, right? So I always just tell people when you hear all these different things that people say you should be doing, try to look and go, does this make sense?

[00:15:08] Right. Cause I will say that we love to give all this, ideas and thoughts and who you should do this and that, but we never, we don’t give context. Well, sometimes. Right. So, browse, abandonment makes sense. If you have lots of tracks, right. And you have lots of products and lots of things that you can offer, if you’ve only got one or two products, it probably does.

[00:15:28] Doesn’t make sense. Because you’re already marketing those two products there. Probably not that big a deal. You could do some manual campaigns track to it without having to spend the money to set up the automation and then manage it moving forward. But it makes sense. Certainly, there’s a win-back right.

[00:15:45] How do you bring people back that purchased and for a while and stopped? where do you decide when they become inactive? And here’s one of the things, don’t focus just on. email metrics for that, right? You need to tie in because somebody could be inactive on email, but very active on purchasing from you or on another channel.

[00:16:09] Right. So I always tell people before you decide someone is inactive and say, come on back, we miss you. Well, you only miss them from the email. They’ve been buying. Right? So that doesn’t make sense to send that email, right? So you have to try to tie some of that data together. And I know it’s not easy and I know sometimes it’s multiple locations and they’re not integrated.

[00:16:35]one of my fights with ESPs still in the world is really good data. We all like to talk about big data, but we suck at small data. So, it’s just one of those things that you have to go, okay. Take the time and, and just run through the data once and take a look at it and just stop!

[00:16:54] Does this make sense to do. And if I’m going to target people, do I have enough information to tell them I miss them? Or am I going to be missing the mark? Because they’re buying from me. They’re just not opening emails. it’s that type of thing. Right. And we also know email does more than just opens and clicks.

[00:17:15] Right? Email does have a nudge effect. Email does have branding, even though they didn’t click. We don’t talk about that enough as a group, I think, because we say opens aren’t important, but when you look at all the other channels, the way they sell themselves to the C-suite well, Oh, branding is important.

[00:17:33] Impressions are important. Right. I mean, they are selling, selling impressions that there’s no true correlation to what it does, but they hang a lot of value on it. We do just the opposite. We say, Oh, opens are important, right? No, they are. Right.

[00:17:55] Matthew Vernhout: I think, personally, my experience with opens they’ve become a bit diluted with the bot traffic, clicking them.

[00:18:01] Chris Donald: Thel absolutely

[00:18:03] Matthew Vernhout: opens it, moved into more of a directional view of things. And it’s more of that click to open rate that you want to spend a lot more time

[00:18:10] Chris Donald: Clearly. I mean, yeah. Click to open rate is the value, the value one, right? Because it tells you once they opened it did what was in the email resonate.

[00:18:21] Right. Which is the biggest thing. but even people, I’ll go shopping at Costco because of an email I received, but I never opened the email. Right.

[00:18:32] Matthew Vernhout: Just because the headline was

[00:18:33] Chris Donald: descriptive the headline and just reminded me, man, I got to go get dog food and dishwashing detergent, whatever I buy from Costco.

[00:18:40] Right.

[00:18:41] Matthew Vernhout: So yeah, that Chris and it comes to the sort of, we were talking about journeys and we’re talking about automation and, sort of drip campaigning when you’re looking at, That I, that email from Costco. Right. Do you think they’re targeting it to you to say we know that you’re on purchase for dog food, so we’re going to send them an email advertising dog foods?

[00:19:00] Chris Donald: No, actually with them, no. So I do see it from others for sure. Right. you know some do it in spades. Clearly. If you’re an Amazon customer, man, they know, I mean, there’s. They’re just insane with their stuff. Right? You look at something, I’ll get an email. Exactly what I looked at going, Hey, don’t forget this or whatever.


[00:19:20] Matthew Vernhout: for similar products.

[00:19:22] Chris Donald: Yeah, yeah, exactly. Right. And they do right. And some of them are their products. Some of them are other pens, but they don’t care. They just want people to buy. Right. But it makes sense, reminding people because we get busy. Right. So the little reminders are really important.

[00:19:37] I think, And I appreciate them a lot of times. Cause I bail on stuff, not because I wanted to, because I just got busy during the day or something. Right. So, and especially with sales that are time sales, I think those are important. Right. So if you’re going to have automation for cart abandonment, you’re having a big sale and it ends make sure you adjust your cart abandonment to end the same way or to.

[00:20:02] To shorten the space in between timing, right? Because if you have a three message card abandonment that goes one hour, 24 hours, another 24 hours, and you have a 24-hour sale, then you’re going to send a reminder to buy something that’s no longer on sale. And gee, that’s not nice. Right. So, but yeah when it comes to automation for us is my main, my biggest advice is to understand your goal.

[00:20:30] What do you want your goal to be? Right? What is the goal of this automation and then work backward from there? Right. So what do we need to do to reach this goal? And also don’t set it and forget it. It’s not a Ronco Rotisserie, right? It’s automation. It needs to be monitored.

[00:20:54] They can stop working for all kinds of reasons. It could be a platform problem. It could be a form. The problem could be a tag problem could be something else. Right. So you need to check your automation and make sure that they’re firing properly. Make sure the content is still relevant. Right.

[00:21:10] Because one of the things we tend to just go, Oh yeah, they’re firing. Oh yeah. It’s making money. But. The branding’s off cause we’ve rebranded or the offer is we, we could have a better offer now or whatever it might be. So, we look at them monthly at a minimum, almost weekly to make sure they’re firing properly, but monthly, as far as content goes.

[00:21:32] And that’s super important with any of this automation we’ve mentioned. Right.

[00:21:36] Matthew Vernhout: So, so let’s, let’s maybe take a quick step back. Cause we have talked about a lot of things we’ve talked about. Welcome. We’ve talked about cart abandonment. We’ve talked about, maybe some wind back or since sunsetting type programs, all of these are different types of journeys or drip campaigns that people are looking at. But say I’m a new marketer.

[00:21:56] I’m just launching my brand. Maybe I’m doing my welcome program. Right. But what’s my next step? Like really, where do you sort of see people? Cause I always liked the idea of “pick one and iterate”, right? Pick one, your welcome program from there. Maybe your next is cart abandonment, and maybe your next is an educational series on your product or service, where do you think people need to go from, simple.

[00:22:21] Thank you for subscribing to that ultra-complex choice of 60 different messages you could receive today. Yeah. Right. I’ve seen those programs. They’re pretty crazy, but you know that sweet spot for most people with somewhere in the middle. Yeah. How do you get there? What do you, when you’re working with your clients, how do you advise them to get there?

[00:22:41] Chris Donald: So we try to see how, where they are and we always audit and see kind of where they are now. Right. A lot of it has to do with traffic to their site, list size, list growth. Right. Because we always, one of the things we always focus on with every single client, no matter who they are, is list growth right.

[00:23:03]And proper natural realist growth, right? So we don’t want to be buying lists. We don’t want to be doing, even doing sweepstakes and things like that. You’re going to get a bunch of crap because you book people that just want to win stuff. Right. But list growth. And so what can you do in that respect?

[00:23:21] Right. And that’s really. The onboarding stuff. So whether it’s a Facebook sign up or those types of things, that kickoff automation. What you said about expanding. So with welcomes, a lot of times what we’ll do is in welcome as one of the first ones we set up. I mean the first two we set up for any e-commerce, making sure if they don’t already have it as a welcome and a cart abandonment without a doubt.

[00:23:44] Right. Those two, But then we make an iteration on those, right. We try to improve them, like depending on the source where they came in may have a different welcome series. So if they came in through Facebook, it might call out the fact that they came in through Facebook and we appreciate your follow and all that stuff.

[00:23:59] Right. If they came in through the site, or if they came in through something else. Cart abandonment is something that we tweak in. A lot of our clients have three cart abandonment programs running sometimes four, depending on what they’re, what they’re doing, how they came through. Did they come, did they abandon during a sale? Did they abandon a large cart?

[00:24:16] So we have what we call a standard cart abandonment program. Then we have a postcard abandonment program and the postcard abandonment kicks in after the third message of the standard card abandonment program. When the checkout amount is $400 or $500 or more.

[00:24:37] Because we take longer to make that decision to make that purchase. Right. Because we may have to talk to our wife or husband, honey, I’m buying a $500 pair of shoes. No, you’re not. Okay. But I mean, we have to wait for a paycheck, right. there’s just when it’s only $50 or $75, it’s an easier decision.

[00:24:56] Right. But. Once you get into that three, four, or $500. So we tweaked those. I think probably one of the next most important ones is having a good win-back program set upright. Because people buy from you and stop buying from you for all kinds of reasons. Some of them you can win back and some of them you will never win back

[00:25:21]. Right. you might, maybe the guy bought a lot of stuff at best buy all the time or a lot of electronic stuff. And then all of a sudden you just stopped cold and you have not been one of your best customers. Know it, buy it for me anymore. What you don’t know is he just had a baby.

[00:25:40] Right. And it changes buying habits. Right? So we all have these life events that change our buying habits. So you win back, should be set up. Not to beat them into submission, but to invite them back. Right. don’t be overly aggressive about it, but I would say that most people wait too long to run a win-back campaign.

[00:26:02] They go, Oh, once they come to become active for 90 days and we will be 90 days, why are you waiting for three months? Right. It should be something that says at this point, what we know is. Once they get past this point, we lose more than 50% of them forever. Right. So that means you have to start before that point.

[00:26:25] Right? Right. So I think a win-back is probably as important as any of them. Right. Because we all know keeping a client is easier than going out, getting a new client or a new customer. Right. and it might be, you need to control them into, give them some kind of a great deal, whatever it might be.

[00:26:44]But it just depends on the program. I will always look for what will drive revenue and what will retain your list. Right. So what’s going to drive revenue and what’s going to keep your list size moving in the right direction. Sure.

[00:26:59] Matthew Vernhout: Yeah, those are, those are both great alternative directional ideas. when it comes to sort of that consumer experience, we’ve touched on that a little bit.

[00:27:06] You just talked about something sort of like stage events. Where do you build sort of those unexpected drop-offs and how do you catch those in your automation? How do you trigger those? and I know like it could mean various things to various products, but are you looking at the last purchase day, last activity, date, email, last activity, date in-store, what types of activities are you looking at with your clients to be those triggers?

[00:27:33] Chris Donald: Yeah. So, we look at all of those when we can, right. Unfortunately, you can’t and the smaller the client, the harder it is. Right. So, small businesses are, aren’t integrated, and don’t have great tracking or attribution pretty much to anything. Right. So you try to do what you can do, but looking at the last purchase date is super important, right.

[00:27:56]Because, if they haven’t, if they’ve purchased six months ago, but they opened click emails, but they haven’t purchased then why. Right. So, and we looked at a group like that for a current client and it came down to, it was during COVID. Right. So COVID kind of turned everything upside down.

[00:28:18] Right and all kinds of deliverability problems with B2B, because email addresses are bouncing, for all kinds of reasons, mailbox falls or the guy got furloughed or fired or laid off whatever, and nobody’s changed their email address or done anything with it. Right. but I’m trying to think of the best way to say it.

[00:28:40] So the,

[00:28:44] the first purchase date for sure. Right. I mean the last purchase date is important also to understand if they were multiple purchasers. So we look at the last purchase date. Number of purchases, right? So we try to put them in groups of, are they do they buy from us all the time because you’ll see somebody, you’ll have this group that buys from you all the time and then it starts to shrink.

[00:29:11] Right. And we saw that in, because of COVID right. That it happened to certain, or certainly in the travel industry, which we have a bunch of clients in, it was just a train wreck for them. But even for people like that, we’re taking, that was on auto-renew stuff. Right. So we auto-shipments and things like that, cancellations and, and it became, people had to triage what they were buying.

[00:29:37] Is what we saw. Right. We saw people focusing more on stuff that they need. Because we work with nutraceutical companies, we saw a large increase in people buying stuff for the immune system. Right. which is a shift in what they’re buying. Because once we saw that shift in products buying, we let, we let the client know and they said, Oh yeah, we’ve seen the sales went up.

[00:30:00] And I said, yeah, but do you have enough. Do you have enough stock to go with these rates, right? Because they’re going to keep going up in this category of product. And they realized they didn’t. So they had out their orders with their manufacturers for those products. Right. So they could still meet the demand.

[00:30:17]But so definitely the last purchase date, last email activity, site activity, when we have that stuff. Right. So, And, and also what have they purchased in the past. So we try to look at if we can with a re-engagement, we try to re-engage them with products that they’ve purchased in the past.

[00:30:42] Right? Something that’s going to be familiar with them. Hopefully. one of those will trigger them to go, Oh yeah. You know what? I haven’t bought this in a while. I need this. Right. Usually when it comes to women’s products, potions, lotions, that type of stuff. during COVID they had stopped buying some of those things.

[00:31:00] They were staying home. They weren’t getting all done up every day for work. Right. So, like us who don’t shave or, or, but

[00:31:09] Matthew Vernhout: grow your hair out stop shaving. Right.

[00:31:12] Chris Donald: But then it best it started coming back. Right. And some of that was because of the way they were marketed, this wind-back process.

[00:31:19] So, understand their last purchase date, understand their activity on the site, their activity, and email. And if you’re going to try to win them back with that information, go back and see what they purchased and try to sell them what they purchased previously. Right. and in most cases, giving them a deal helps, right.

[00:31:37] It’ll help get that purchase and get them re-engaged so to speak. If you have somebody who is purchasing but isn’t active in email or any other channels, do you care? Right. I mean, if they’re purchasing, right. We care because we want our click-through and our attribution.

[00:32:00] Right. But long as your buy-in, who cares. Right. That’s what I tell people. That’s why I tell my clients, if they keep buying, that’s fine. Right now you may go, well, what’s driving it. Email’s not driving it. Well, you don’t know that. Right. As I said, I’ll see an email from Costco and I’ll go to Costco.

[00:32:17] I never opened the email. Right. So, you might look at other channels, how are they interacting with other channels? What do they just have? Your bookmark loves you. And they come back and buy stuff. Sometimes that’s the case, right? I mean, you’ve gotten an email because you have something bookmarked.

[00:32:30] You just go to the bookmark and go there. Right.

[00:32:32] Matthew Vernhout: Sure. Well, I use it all the time as an app. Even when I get an email I’m like, oh, I should go check out the app instead of the email. And then the app gets the attribution as opposed to the email. So,

[00:32:41] Chris Donald: yeah. And that’s important. Use the apps. Right. We, we, we haven’t talked a little bit about that, but apps can trigger emails as well.

[00:32:50] Right. So app usage and yap. Non-user right. deep linking for that stuff to bring them back and all that. We do that with a lot of clients, right. because some people are very active in the app and they just look forward to the in-app messaging and they don’t worry about email as much. Others are very interactive with the email.

[00:33:10]But, look at all that data, whatever you have available, try to look at it and understand where they are in their journey, what they’ve been doing. What, what information do you have that can tell you what, what you can expect? Are they inactive or are they just inactive on email, right?

[00:33:31] Or are they just inactive socially or whatever?

[00:33:34] Matthew Vernhout: So, so Chris, when it comes to building journeys and building automation for brands, do you have an example of a client? You don’t have to share the name obviously, but the client that you worked with where you looked at one of their journey programs, or, looked at one of their automation and said if we tweak this if we change this just a little bit, can you start, like walk us through that process, how you even recommend those types of things to your accounts and then yeah, the success you’ve had.

[00:34:01] Chris Donald: Yeah. So, and we see it all the time. The problem is with journeys, especially brands, believe it or not, brands like anybody else. A lot of times the email channel, the email, the group is underfunded. Right? We see that always. and that includes big brands now, suffering branch growth, lots of money at it, which is great.

[00:34:25] Others are not right. So an example of, we were working with this one brand that’s sold, sort of high-end modern furniture, office furniture for the office, but also the home. Right. So the average order value was a thousand dollars though, I mean, you could buy a five, $600 chair or something like that, but that’s sort of the low end, right?

[00:34:51] This is like the smallest checkout amount would be five, $600. And they came to us and they said, can you look at our automation and tell us which one you would try to improve first? And we looked at the welcome. We looked at the win-back, and reorders, but, next purchase, right?

[00:35:09] What’s the next logical purchase thing. So, I mean, they had a bunch of setups and I said, cart abandonment in a minute. And he says why it does well, I said, no, it doesn’t there’s no, it does. There’s no, it doesn’t. I said, yeah, it’s making you money, but it’s leaving so much on the table. Right. Because they had a three message card abandonment program that was over in 48 hours.

[00:35:32] Okay. And these are orders that. if it’s B2Borders, they’re going to be big orders. If it’s, even if it’s people buying for their home, it’s going to be two, $3,000. You’re going to take more than 24, 48 hours to make that decision. I guarantee you. Right. So I said, just let us extend it to five.

[00:35:53] Right? So we’re only going to add two more messages and let’s see what that does. I said I guarantee it’ll increase by 25%. At least. And I was pretty sure it was going to be more like 50, 75, but I still want to look good. Right. So I said at least 25%.

[00:36:13] Matthew Vernhout: under-promise and over-deliver

[00:36:15] Chris Donald: That’s right. That’s right. So we did it, we tweaked a few things.

[00:36:20] We tested the timing between them for a couple of weeks and. , after the 30 days when we were done testing the next 30 days, it increased conversions by 200% and revenue by 220%. Just by adding two messages to that automation, it now has eight by the way. And we have conversions at seven and eight.

[00:36:46] Right. So it made a huge difference, right? Because anytime I tell him, it has always been one of my pet projects, right. Because there’s just so much revenue loss there. but you look at that, we’ve, we’ve done the same things with, With B2B sales nurtures, right. We ran into a company that had three messages.

[00:37:11] B2B sales nurture changed it to 10. It did extremely well. The number of appointments made conversions because we took them down the path of explaining the products and services and value and benefits and cost-savings and man-hours savings and all the things that this did. Right. and made it black and white.

[00:37:32] Also, we kept content short in each email, right? Because on the B2B side, we’re all freaking busy. We see an email come long and we go, Oh, we’ll look at it later. And that’s the kiss of death. Right. So I tell people, the other thing is, don’t think you have to create a ton of content for these.

[00:37:51] Right. Focus on something really important that you want them to look at and pay attention to and keep it short and sweet. It can be a click to read more, and if they have time, they can, but give them the meat and potatoes right there. Right. And, let them absorb that. And so that they can go, okay.

[00:38:07] That was good. I might read it later, but I got enough right now to know I’m interested a little bit. Right. and the higher you go up in the chain of command, the less time they have. That’s the other thing to remember. Right. So, but it just, look at it, look at where the conversions, if you see, if you have a three message automation, no matter what it is, and you’re getting a lot of conversions on number three probably means your need number four, number five.

[00:38:33] Right. If you see very little conversion on number three, then you’re probably fine at three. Right? So that’s one of the things to look at is. Yeah, but if you see number one does well. Number two is terrible. Number three does well and there’s a discount on three and not to switch them.

[00:38:52] Right. But bring free upfront, realize that revenue earlier, because some reason that one resonates with them and then look at the third one that didn’t do well. And look at the first two ago, what do these two have that number three doesn’t have, cause he used to bring in people, but this one isn’t.

[00:39:09] Right. So, try to understand what they’re engaging with and what they are clicking on or converting on. And, try to repeat that. I don’t mean to repeat the same message, but try to go down that road, understand it.

[00:39:23] Matthew Vernhout: Right. I like that. I like that messaging is integrated. To figure out the ones that work well.

[00:39:28] And what’s happening with them compared to those that are underperforming, if you will, and try to upgrade or update the content, upgrade the messaging, and, and sort of seeing that difference. And maybe like you’re saying right, message two. Didn’t have the discount, but messages through those. So that makes it.

[00:39:44]that much more enticing for people to engage. Now, Chris, we’re coming, we’re coming up to the time, where we’re going to end here. and I always like to sort of ask and, and sort of getting other people’s opinions on, We see a lot of, recent graduates or junior people running email programs, simply because they, email is one of those segments in the marketing world, but for whatever reason if you’re really good to get promoted out of your position quickly.

[00:40:13] Yeah. And so it’s, it’s always full of new people making similar mistakes and similar sort of, Have facing similar challenges, I would say, because it’s always sort of fresh faces and, and it tends to sometimes be a high rotation, the role you’re either in it forever because you’re good at it.

[00:40:29] Or you get promoted and somebody else backfills because you’re good at marketing. Right. So there are those types of things. what type of advice do you have sort of for the new email marketer when it comes to. maybe being part of those strategy sessions to build their journeys, to build, look at their automation, and sort of develop those programs or, or manage up even and say we don’t offer card abandonment.

[00:40:53] Right. What is, where do you look at and sort of the advice that you would give someone in that position?

[00:40:58] Chris Donald: Yeah. So I tell them all the time to ask questions everywhere. Right? So, your ESP, whatever level of support you have from them, ask them right. Ask them questions. see if you can talk to somebody on the strategic side by a couple of hours from them.

[00:41:14] If you need to. join some of the groups, right? You have the email geeks, Slack channel. You have, OOI only influencers are email experience council there’s, I mean there’s, there are women of email, right? They, they, if you happen to be a woman and you’re in the, in the industry, there’s a great group over there.

[00:41:34]Ask people who know right. Interact with people on Twitter. And one nice thing about the email industry is we love to share. Right. it’s very different from a lot of industries in that respect. I think we will help each other at the drop of a hat. John Caldwell and I have been friends forever and we call each other and help each other all the time.

[00:41:53] And we’re both agencies, we’re competitors. Right. And we help each other. I mean, we talk to each other all the time. the same thing would fail and our dentist statement or yourself, Matt, I’ve called you. Right. ask right. Build those relationships. and maybe say, Hey boss, look, I think we could do better at this.

[00:42:08] It’s because I’m still learning this part. Be honest, right? Say, I’ve got this part, but I’d like to learn some more, to be more effective in the automation we’re running. So, can I buy it? 10 hours, can I have $2,500 to get 10 hours of strategy from, one of the agencies or, or consultants or whoever, right.

[00:42:30]that I could help me move things along faster. When you ask the C-suite or your boss for more money to do something, don’t talk about the technology of it or clicks or things. Talk about how it might move the needle with revenue. Say, I believe if we can do this, then we can get more conversions and we can increase revenue by 10% or something like that.

[00:42:53] Right. That’s

[00:42:54] Chris Donald: makes sense to them. Right.

[00:42:56] Matthew Vernhout: Had you asked for money, explain the return that you plan on getting that’s always a good way to

[00:43:00] Chris Donald: exactly. Right. And so talk about dollars. Talk about the benefits of that, but don’t talk about how it’s done. It’s just going to hurt their head and they don’t.

[00:43:08] Okay.

[00:43:10] Matthew Vernhout: That’s probably some of the best advice I’ve ever received. So. You’re going to say, thank you very much for joining us on the network core for the love of email podcast. please, just give our listeners as a quick shout out on how they can reach you. Should they want to learn more about the InboxArmy?

[00:43:24] Chris Donald: Sure. If you’d like to learn more about inbox, army, it’s the websites, inbox, army.com, or if you’d like to reach out to me personally, I’m on LinkedIn. Look me up Chris, Donald. but my email address is [email protected]. And you’re welcome to email me, even if you just have questions.

[00:43:43] Matthew Vernhout: Great.

[00:43:43] Thanks very much, Chris. to those of you out there, listening to us tonight or today, depending on where you are and what time it is, we hope that this helped you gain some insight on email automation and journey building. I know we took a bit of a wandering journey ourselves during the conversation.

[00:43:58] So, hopefully, there’s some great advice in there for you. if you have any other questions you can reach out to Chris, or you can reach out to us at netcore by visiting us at netcorecloud.com to learn more about our AI-powered email delivery and campaign platform, where we also talk about AI-powered personalization on the web and through email, which is a great follow up for this conversation

[00:44:19]. don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast. You can just write to us on all your favorite channels on Spotify, iTunes, Google Play Stitcher, as well as visiting us on our website, where you can get past archives of the podcast.

So everyone please stay safe, healthy, and thank you again, Chris, for joining us and for our listeners, we will be back with another episode in December.

[00:44:41] Thank you again for joining us.

[00:44:44] Chris Donald: You’ve been listening to ForTheLoveOfEmails, podcasts powered by Netcore, and subscribe in your favorite podcast player to make sure you never miss an episode to learn more about effective email communications and engagement through AI-powered email solutions.

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