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Digital Velocity Podcast Hosted by Tim Curtis and Erik Martinez

30 Elevating Your Email Marketing Strategy - Kyle Stout

This week on the Digital Velocity Podcast, Kyle Stout of Elevate and Scale joins Erik and Tim to discuss processes that will elevate your email marketing strategy.

Because email has been around for many years it is often neglected, but it can still be a powerful marketing tool. Kyle explains, “Email's been around for so long that we take it for granted. A lot of people think, especially in Ecom, they think that all you really need to do are these holiday sales. They're not taking time to even give some thought to the content the way they do their social content. They're the same people who are engaging with your social content are opening your emails. So, they would love to continue the conversation in the same way.”

Email marketing can offer more stability and dependability than other platforms can at this time. Kyle says, “Especially right now with so much competition on social, with paid media costs being just unpredictable and with uncertainty in the economy and everything. As a business owner, wouldn't you love to have a reliable sales channel that performs month after month and it gives you a direct line of communication to your customers, and it's this asset that you own forever and it can't be taken from you.”

It doesn’t take a great deal of additional work to improve email marketing. “All this time, whenever we've seen trends go left and right in different directions with top-of-funnel marketing, email was always there and it's been that tried and true thing and because it has always been there, I think people overlook it a little bit. They're still doing really basic stuff and they don't realize with just a little bit extra effort, they can get way better results from their email than they are now.”

Listen to this week’s episode to learn more about advancing email marketing campaigns.

About the Guest:

Kyle Stout is the founder of Elevate & Scale, a leading email marketing agency that helps 7-figure product-based entrepreneurs elevate their brand and scale their growth. Kyle is an authority on how leveraging email marketing can vastly increase revenue by improving customer retention, increasing average order value, and driving repeat purchases.


Tim Curtis: [00:00:00] Welcome to this week's edition of the Digital Velocity Podcast. I'm Tim Curtis of CohereOne.

Erik Martinez: And I'm Erik Martinez from Blue Tangerine.

Tim Curtis: On this week's show, we have Kyle Stout. Kyle is the founder of Elevate and Scale, a leading digital marketing agency that helps seven-figure product-based entrepreneurs elevate their brand and scale their growth. Kyle's an authority on how leveraging email marketing can vastly increase revenue by improving customer retention, increasing average order value, and driving repeat purchases. Kyle, welcome to the show.

Kyle Stout: Thanks for having me.

Tim Curtis: It's good to have you here. Tell us a little bit [00:01:00] about your professional journey. You know, we talked a bit before the show, and obviously, I've got a nice hometown connection with you through Tulsa, Oklahoma, but I'd love to hear a little bit more about you professionally, your journey, and how you arrived at Elevate and Scale.

Kyle Stout: In 2013, I started out as a freelance copywriter, really just trying to take on any project I could. Was doing a lot of sales copy for websites, sales pages, and I started getting into email marketing a little bit. Back then the big focus was blogging. So, I was ghostwriting for a lot of big agencies for their content, but also for their clients as well.

So, I kind of got to have a behind-the-scenes look at a lot of different marketing services. So, fast forward to 2019, I started Elevate and Scale. Before I had started that I had actually attempted to do an all-in-one approach. Like, offering all the different marketing services, and I quickly realized that I wasn't great at all of it. I didn't know enough to hire the right people [00:02:00] to be great at all of it.

Looking back, the areas where I was really getting the best results for people and what I enjoyed the most was email marketing. So, I ended up making that the focus, primarily email marketing, and then just helping businesses better understand their sales process. A lot of business owners, they get so caught up in the day-to-day, they don't really ever take time to take a step back and work on the business. Whenever they do this, they realize that, Oh, you know what? I actually skipped a few steps. There's a lot of low-hanging fruit by just having some basic email automations in my business where I could be making more money from the traffic that I already have. So, that's where I started that, and now we primarily work with Ecommerce businesses.

Tim Curtis: Interesting you mentioned Copywrite. Can't tell you how many times we've had people on the show who have gotten their start and they were coming from a copy background. That's an interesting tidbit. So, basically what you're saying is you stumbled into email marketing really because of its effectiveness and because that was sort of where the return for you was. [00:03:00] Maybe some of that hidden revenue, lowest hanging fruit, I think you said, people oftentimes maybe don't associate with email. You know, email is not cutting edge anymore, so people don't often have it as top shelf, but to your point, you leaned into it because it was the most effective. Are you still seeing it as one of the more effective channels?

Kyle Stout: I see it as the most reliable sales channel. So, like you said it's definitely not the most cutting-edge, it's not the sexiest thing. To be fair for a business, you're not gonna see this crazy explosive growth that you will from having a massive TikTok following, you know, if you just blew up over three months. Like, obviously that's going to grow your business and have that multiplier effect.

But for a lot of businesses where we spend so much time, money, energy, on top of funnel marketing and a lot of those things they change often 'cause the attention moves from platform to platform. Something might happen where you lose a page. Like, maybe you didn't even do anything wrong, but you get some kind of penalty or some kind of like fake report or whatever.

All this [00:04:00] time, whenever we've seen trends go left and right in different directions with top-of-funnel marketing, email was always there and it's been that tried and true thing and because it has always been there, I think people overlook it a little bit. They're still doing really basic stuff and they don't realize with just a little bit extra effort, they can get way better results from their email than they are now.

Tim Curtis: The extra effort part. It's interesting. We do a lot of lifetime value studies with clients. In making that determination with a lifetime value by channel, so we'll analyze how somebody comes into a brand, what channel they come into, and then what's the residual lifetime value of the channel. Email is always number one. Email is always number one. To your point, email is not scalable. In other words, you can't just rapidly scale it up, you know, in quick order. So, you don't have the luxury of that.

In my opinion, when you're looking at the overall marketing strategy and you lay out those dollars year over year in terms of what you're going to be investing, I think that's where you say overlooked. I see an underinvestment in [00:05:00] email, an underinvestment in the technology. Perhaps it's leaning into some of the new AI technology that can rapidly change the pace of personalization, context, offers, et cetera, based on, you know, activity.

So, email is such a powerful tool, but when you look at the overall marketing strategy, I think you're right. You just don't see people leaning into email and really putting the level of effort into it. Where do you see it, email in the overall marketing strategy? You mentioned TikTok, right? People are desperately trying to find something now that Facebook has just collapsed. So, they're leaning into these experimental platforms on social. They're leaning into big dollars into connected TV that's not really seeing the return that they're expecting. So, where does that leave us with email and the overall strategy?

Kyle Stout: Yeah. So, I think the game is what you just talked about is lifetime value. You're always gonna be looking for new ways to get new attention, to reach new people, and to bring attention to your company through all the advertising and [00:06:00] social media like you've mentioned. But if you can focus on getting people into your email list, you have this asset that grows in value over time. Again, it's just by building a relationship with them, maintaining that relationship with them, getting repeat purchases, and it's extremely cost-effective.

If you look at the costs of creating social media content organically, or paid media costs versus the costs of not only the email platform itself, but the cost to create emails, the ROI is just so much higher than other channels. I think business owners, especially right now, a lot of 'em who don't have this would love to have a sales channel that's cost-effective and reliable like that.

Erik Martinez: Well, and I think, in addition to that, email also gives you the ability to tell a story. Listening to some other podcasts that you've been on and looking through some of the materials, you talk about being able to tell the brand story through email. So, you wanna dive into what's the most effective way [00:07:00] to tell your brand story using email as a tool?

Kyle Stout: I can credit that to my copywriting background. A great resource for people if you're not sure how to create a brand story, the book I always recommend is called Building a Story Brand by Donald Miller, and I highly recommend that because if you just follow that framework, you will end up creating something that you would've had to have been a really good copywriter originally to do without actually having to learn all the things to be a good copywriter. You're just really understanding your target, your ideal customers, and understanding how to talk to them in a way that resonates with them where you're having the type of conversation that they're more likely to be interested in.

So, you gotta start there. You gotta actually understand your ideal customers, and then first come up with, okay, how are we going to position our brand and our products? How are we going to have this conversation? So, talking about there, and this is classic stuff, so this could be review for a lot of people, the hopes, dreams, fears, concerns, all of that.

But then you wanna [00:08:00] think about, like you said, how are we gonna actually tell the story and introduce it to them. So, I mean, that starts with the welcome series. So getting people into that introductory email series. Yes, you're gonna have the offer that you give them. Whether it's a coupon or the freebie or whatever they opted in for, you want to get that to them right away, 'cause you want that quick win, but you need to start telling that story within the first email.

So, immediately making it clear who you're for and who you're not for and what you're all about, and I like to do that in the first email and in the second email in the series, go a little bit deeper into that brand story. Then the way you can communicate as those people get into other automated flows or with the emails you're sending out on a more frequent basis, you don't have to continue to always mention the value props all the time. You can do it in a way where you share customer reviews, but you're sharing reviews that are really aligned, you know that that person is very similar to the type of customer you want to have more of 'cause you wanna attract more of those people. You want people to see that review or that person and think, [00:09:00] Oh you know what? That person's just like me. That way you can attract more of them.

Also, again, not being afraid to say who you're not for and not being afraid to kind of draw the line in the sand 'cause that will help people make a decision. Just making it clear that, hey, you know, we're trying to cater to every, whatever you're selling. People are very opinionated nowadays. So, it could be supplements, it could be flowers. You know, whatever it is. People have a hot take on everything. So, if you share your hot take, people love that, and they love to have a debate too. So, it just makes it fun.

Erik Martinez: Kind of moving that to a different side of the coin, what are the top three mistakes you think people are making when it comes to email?

Kyle Stout: So, one of them is just being too salesy all the time. I always tell people, it's silly to try to hide the fact that you're trying to sell stuff with your emails. That's the whole point. They know that you know that. So, it's okay to sell. It's not that you should only deliver quote, unquote value, and never [00:10:00] sell. It's just that you wanna make it fun for people and enjoyable to receive the emails.

So, I like to have a balance, or at least, I call it having a reason to show up in the inbox. So, just having an angle that starts a conversation, which then pivots to the sale. If every single email, the copy or the whole message, is only just sales driven, it will work until it won't. If you're not watching your analytics closely, you might not realize that you're losing more people than you're adding on your list.

You'll get a spike in sales from being very salesy today, but there comes a time when the hit of the shrinking list and then perhaps lower engagement leading to poor email deliverability, you get to a point where, man, you've done some damage to your email list. By the time you figured out now, it's a big problem. So, that's one.

Another big one is email frequency. Getting email frequency wrong, and this goes in both directions. Some brands are emailing way too frequently and they need to back it off. So, [00:11:00] that could just mean using better segmentation. You can still have a high frequency, but just not sending to everyone every single time.

A lot of brands, they actually do the opposite. I would say more often than not, I see a lot of companies that aren't emailing their list for just different reasons. Like, maybe they think that they shouldn't be, maybe they just can't come up with ideas for email content. Whatever it is, but they're only emailing their lists like, once a month. Or even worse than that, like just the major holidays and that's it. Man, they're totally missing out on a ton of sales. Especially if you're selling products. While I say not to be too salesy, you don't have to be afraid of selling 'cause the cool thing about selling products is that people love to buy products.

It's way different than business-to-business services where everyone has their guard up it seems like in the sales process. When it comes to selling to consumers and selling Ecommerce product, it's like the whole meme of, you know, just shut up and take my money. That's the attitude of a lot of the people you're dealing with. So man, why would you not be talking [00:12:00] to them more? So yeah, those are two of the big ones.

Another one that's really along the same lines of that is just sending every email to everyone on their list and not using segmentation. I get it because from the business owner perspective, a lot of times they think, Man, we've spent so much money and we've worked so hard to build up this list. Why would we not want to take advantage of everything we possibly can?

The downside to that is that now the inboxes are a lot more sensitive. So, Gmail, Hotmail, all of them, they're a lot more sensitive to engage, and they are a lot more trigger-happy about not putting you in the inbox if they see you're getting lower engagement. Which is what's gonna happen if you're just emailing a ton of cold people on your list. It's not that you shouldn't ever email the whole list, but that's something where, again, that it could become a problem that you don't realize until it's a very big problem, and now you have to have a big undertaking to reverse course.

Tim Curtis: Okay, so I'm a brand. Let's just play [00:13:00] hypothetical here. We have our regular five-day-a-week cadence we're sending this out. Probably, generally would say, need to be more, you know, segmented. Most brands it feels like there's a strong gravity back towards going to a version of an email, not a whole lot of variation. Where does a brand start to create the segmentation and to invest in figuring out some of those content pieces? You're right. You mentioned it's as simple of a problem as they can't figure out what else to say. That's a real concern with a lot of brands.

Kyle Stout: Yeah, definitely, and a lot of times it's you're so close and you are looking at your marketing materials so closely and so often that you feel like you've said all that you can say. You know, a lot of the people on your list, they're just not watching as closely as you are. I think people need to give themselves a little bit more slack when they're planning content with that consideration.

So, the first place to start. There's a few categories of types of segmentation that I like to create. So, one would be your engagement-based segment. So, your 30-day, [00:14:00] 60-day, 90-day, all of that. If you don't know what that means, that just you can define rules for what engagement is. Oftentimes for us, it's gonna be if someone opened an email, clicked in an email, or visited the site within that timeframe. So, I'm gonna give you some examples of, how you can then use these segments to craft the content.

So, the thinking here is that the people who are more engaged, they want to get more emails from you so you can get away with emailing them more frequently. The people who are less engaged, they typically don't want as many. So, we are gonna be a little bit more thoughtful about which ones we send them. If it's like a big holiday sale, Yeah, we wanna send it to everyone.

Just because they haven't engaged in a while, doesn't mean they're not interested anymore. There's so many reasons why you can stop opening emails from a brand that you like that have nothing to do with not liking them. I mean, we all have cluttered inboxes. We all only have so much time in a day, and also there's just certain products where you don't have the need to buy them frequently. Maybe you really love that product and then the holiday season comes up, or a friend's birthday comes [00:15:00] up, and now all of a sudden you're back in the market again. So, you don't wanna ignore those people. So, those would be engagement-based segments.

Another one I like to create, or I call them customer life cycle segments. So, I break them down by leads. So, people who have never purchased, one-time customer, repeat customers, and then VIP customers, and I separate them out. So, the repeat customers does not include VIP customers. Although, sometimes you can do that, but for the purpose of what I'm talking about here I keep it separate.

So repeat, depending on the brand, it could be like people who have made two to three purchases, and it may be VIP is four purchases or more. Now, for your brand, if that's not a VIP, maybe it's like six purchases or more is a VIP. You know, it's all flexible. I'm trying to come up with content. I just need something, like give me something to help me make this a little bit more personalized to them without having to know their whole life story and all of that.

If someone has never purchased from you, one assumption you can make is that they need to be sold on your company a little bit more than the VIP does. You do [00:16:00] need to include more of the value props of your brand. You need to treat this as they're a little bit more of a stranger because you're still trying to win them over. So, it could mean that you need to sell them more on the brand, or you need to sell them more on the particular product or some version of both.

Then on the other end of the spectrum, the VIPs, it's kind of a waste of space in the email to have all your value props in there when you can have other stuff that's more fun for them. At this point, if they've bought from you that many times, you already know they like you. You already know they know what you're all about. So, now the messaging can be a lot more loose and fun. This can be like having a conversation with a friend. You can joke around with them. You can make jokes about how much they love to buy from you and it actually is true. It's not you know, some fake thing.

Tim Curtis: Right.

Kyle Stout: And the content resonates way more. How I like to describe it is like talking to someone who's in the same club as you, and you both know that you already are in agreement on things and it's a different conversation. You don't have to win them over. Now it's like you can almost assume that they [00:17:00] really want everything you have to offer and you can be playful in the way that you talk about it.

So, then another type, I'm not gonna go for on forever here unless you guys want more examples, I just wanna give some stuff that people can implement right now.

Tim Curtis: No. This is super helpful.

Kyle Stout: Another category of segmentation to start off with would be product interest types of segments. Let's just say you have 10 products and you can create segments based around people who have purchased or viewed those products on the website or added them to cart. You can have your rules. Then again, now when you send emails to people, for one thing, you could be sending them offers that you know they're interested in. So, you can have the email only focus on the one product they're interested in.

If you start to figure out over time that maybe you have this one hero product, like that's the thing that converts new customers, that's the thing that gets people in the door. Then for whatever reason, that product tends to lead to them buying another product. So, now you can do cross-selling and upselling to that segment, knowing that information, and that's always gonna be brand to brand. For [00:18:00] people to kind of wrap their mind around, well, what does that really look like?

For example, with supplements. In the fitness supplement world, pre-workouts are the hot thing. That's the thing influencers are always talking about. Typically one of the first products that someone will try of a new supplement brand. Then when someone gets into the hobby of working out and they start to really get into taking supplements, now they're gonna expand and they're gonna start taking these other supplements that aren't necessarily like the sexy things, but they are things that help them get results. Those would be the things that they end up getting cross-sold onto once they're convinced that now they like this brand and they like that main flagship product.

Erik Martinez: It's funny. I'm listening to you and I'm sitting here going, man, you just created a lot of work for a lot of marketing departments. So, I'm gonna retreat back into my shell and just blast my email to everybody on my list. When you're talking about these things, what do you recommend your clients do to just break this into bite-size chunks? How do you progress them from a batch and [00:19:00] blast to segmentation? You know, what you're talking about are some pretty cool, fun strategies that can be set up in a workflow type of scenario, right? With proper time and thinking and setup. So, how do you progress them through that process in order to make sure that they're seeing the value? Because at the end of the day we need to be able to return some value, right?

Kyle Stout: Yeah.

Erik Martinez: How do you have that conversation?

Kyle Stout: Well, we do it all for them, so that's the easy part for them, but for someone who's not hiring someone to do this, and they are going to be doing this themselves, I will say that it might sound like a lot, but honestly it's really not. So, creating these segments, you are literally one YouTube search, you're one Google search away from doing this. So, creating those segments I just talked about. All of the ones I just talked about, that could be accomplished in like less than 20 minutes. Like all of them. All the engagement ones, product interest, customer life cycle ones, all that. So, creating the segments, having them there.[00:20:00]

If you don't know how to do it, you're just literally one resource away, and whatever email service provider you're using, usually they will have resources on this. So, we use Klaviyo. That's our favorite platform. They have tons of great resources and you can find us online. So, you don't want to get overwhelmed and intimidated by this.

So first, just get this segments created, so that way you can see how many people are in each one 'Cause some of these segments, if you have a smaller list, they're not even worthwhile to mess with. It's not even worthwhile to get this detailed yet. So, what you've been doing is you've been emailing your whole list, and let's say you're doing what you said, five emails a week, been emailing the whole list every time.

Okay. So, let's just take one step at a time. Week one, let's just say, hey, instead of emailing the whole for the five days, we're going to choose an engagement segment to hit every five days. We're not gonna even change the content yet. We're just gonna see what happens when we change the segment and just look at how the content we've already been sending going out to a new segment of people, what that does for the metrics. So, what do we see in engagement, and what are [00:21:00] we seeing on actual revenue generated from that?

Then week two, it's like, okay, you know what? Now we wanna actually, we wanna step our content game up a little bit more. So, we are going to rotate. So, maybe one day it's a 30-day engage, maybe one day it's a 90-day engage. Again, we're thinking more of the people who are more engaged, we're more friendly. You know, it's more joking around. It's less having to deal with any kind of sales objections.

And in the less engaged, you want to, in the back of your mind, be thinking that you know what? Maybe they've forgotten about us. Maybe they've forgotten why we stand out. So, that's just one little shift. That just means adding a little section to the email with some bullets about your brand in one, and then the other one you don't. What you'll find is that this is actually, it's really not as complicated as it sounds. It's just that when I throw all of it out to you at once, it sounds like this whole long thing and it's really not.

So, when I'm planning out a campaign calendar for a month, first, it's just like looking at what's going on that month. [00:22:00] Are there any monthly holidays we're hitting? Okay. Get that in the calendar first 'cause if we're gonna have a big sale, we don't wanna have any other big sales that get in the way of that sale. So, that's in there. Then it's looking at, Okay, are there any timing based around this month, something that's going on this month?

So, if you sell dog products and in this month dog allergies go crazy in this particular month. Okay, now we know that we want to have some emails dedicated to that. So, you have this empty calendar and you're filling in the blanks, starting with the easy stuff until you've gotten like all the easy things planned. Then you work to where it's okay, now we're running out of ideas, and that's where over time you want to build up a bank of go-to content angles, or what I call like having the reason to show up in the inbox.

So, one thing I really like to do is I find that when people do an email about a particular product, the go-to thing is, let's say that product has 10 benefits, the go-to thing is people will list all 10 benefits in one email, and what I would tell people is, yes, you [00:23:00] can do that. If you're launching the product and it's the first time you're introducing it, then that, yeah, totally makes sense.

But if you're gonna be doing five emails a week, and you're gonna be hitting this kind of frequency, and you need content ideas, you can get 10 emails out of that by doing one email for each particular benefit. You don't send them all back to back, but I'm saying over the course of a month, you could have 10 emails where now you deep dive into each one of those specific benefits, and you make those people really care about each one of those benefits.

And what you'll find is that why you think people are buying of those 10 benefits when you have an email dedicated to each one of those and you've sent them out at different times. You can look at the engagement and you can look at the sales and you'll start to find it, man, it's actually only three of these 10 that really is the thing that makes people make a buying decision, and the others are more of a nice to have. So, now going forward, you can adapt your marketing where, oh, you know, we're always gonna prioritize these benefits by doing that.

That's another thing about email marketing, to never run out of ideas. I [00:24:00] look at email marketing as the greatest testing tool for all of your marketing, because these are the people who have already given you their email address. They've already done business with you. You need more of these people. Every email you send out to me is a test. It's like an AB test where you send it out, you try a different message, you try a different angle of positioning the product, or whatever. See how they respond, and the ones that hit, now you can take that and you can apply that to your ads and you can apply that to your organic content because you know if this is working with our best people and we want more people like them, we need to put this out so we can attract more people like them.

Tim Curtis: It's like a research angle almost.

Kyle Stout: Yeah. I find that if people have that mindset. If they're not putting so much pressure on themselves, that like, I'm gonna send this email and it has to work. But if they realize that it's always a test and it's always an opportunity to learn and to improve on the next one and that you're going to be continually doing more emails. So, there's no pressure that any one particular email has to blow it out of the park. That will help people relax their mind and get out of that state of overwhelm, and not have so much pressure. Like, it's [00:25:00] okay if not every email is going to be this life-changing thing. Like, some emails are gonna be just okay. You don't have to have so much pressure to have everything refined and perfect right from the start.

Erik Martinez: I think that's a critical point. Email is one of the easiest tools to test that has ever been invented, right? We got control of what message gets sent, who it gets sent to, what content and creative that we can do. So, as CMOs and their marketing teams are planning for email, how much testing should they build into their strategy and how long should those tests run? In some cases with email response rates as low as they can be on certain types of campaigns, it's been my experience that one test isn't enough to prove a point.

Kyle Stout: No. I agree. I look at it from two different sides. So, on the automation side with the automated flows, we always have AB tests running on every email and every flow, and we do find that to be beneficial. A lot of times your automated emails, they do well out [00:26:00] the gate, and people think it's set it and forget it. They don't realize that they're actually missing out on more sales just by having that ongoing AB testing.

So, the way people respond to subject lines or the way that they respond to the email content that's being tested in there, we can then apply that to what we do with campaigns. But like you said, as much as marketers love to go on and on about AB testing and talk about how amazing it is, yeah, we do it, but to be honest, a lot of the AB tests when we're sending out campaigns, they're really not that definitive.

You know, like we could test very different subject lines and what I find is that assuming that you're using segmentation and assuming that you're putting a little bit of thought into the email content you send out, people are opening because it's you and it's really not as much about the subject line. 'Cause a lot of these subject line tests, even though the subject lines can be very different, you look at the results and a lot of times there's just not much difference between the winner and the loser. It's more, it really is an ongoing thing.

It's like, one test is just not going to [00:27:00] move the needle in a big way. It's by continually doing that over time and just slowly tweaking and slowly tweaking over time. I mean, sometimes you will. Of course, you're gonna have the random ones, and that's always fun when that happens. A lot of times it's not as gratifying as you think it's gonna be. It's really just a neverending thing

Erik Martinez: So, if you were to advise a CMO, director, manager on three things that they absolutely should do in their email program over the next six months, what would those three things be? I mean, I think we talked about a couple, right? We talked about segmentation, right? We talked a little bit about testing. What's that other thing that they should be doing?

Kyle Stout: Okay. First place I would start is optimize your sales process because you likely have revenue that's hidden in your sales process and you just don't know it yet if you haven't already done this. When I say that, what I mean is look at the step-by-step process someone takes to [00:28:00] go from not being a customer to being a customer.

With Ecommerce, it's very simple. People show up on the site, they view a product, they add to cart, they start checkout, and then they complete the checkout. So, at each one of those steps, a certain percentage of people will fall off and not make it to the next step. Because the technology has come a long ways, a lot of people will have a welcome series and they'll have an abandoned checkout, but they don't have anything else around their sales process.

They just don't even know that you can actually send out these automated emails to people who viewed a product but did not add it to cart. So, you can send them kind of similar to an abandoned checkout. This is called a browse abandonment email. You can send them an email that reminds them of the thing they were interested in, and that flow typically is one of the most profitable.

So, you wanna do this for your whole sales process. So, end to end, have automated follow-up at every step in your sales process. That's where you're gonna find the most low-hanging fruit, assuming you already have traffic going to your site assuming [00:29:00] you already have people who are buying, you already have customers. So, you already have all this activity happening. It's just numbers, right?

So, there's a certain percentage of people who didn't move forward to the next step. Every automation you put in place is going to move a certain percentage of them forward now that you wouldn't have gotten, and so that's just gonna help you get a better return on your top-of-funnel marketing. So, that's step number one for a lot of businesses, and that's all automated. It's a lot of work upfront, but then it, man it's easy to maintain and it just keeps working for you around the clock after that. So, that's step one. If you don't have that, that's where there's a lot of low-hanging fruit.

 The cool thing about Ecommerce I find with business owners is that they tend to have a natural connection to their customers. They tend to know their customers really well, better than business donors in other industries. So, a lot of times they don't really do much research on brand storytelling and all of that, and they get away with it because they're pretty good just at a hunch. They just happen to know their stuff, but then as they start building up their team and they don't have [00:30:00] any of these strategies in place for content. The other people on their team, they don't know the audience like that, and then the content becomes more generic. It just becomes more like, you know, just typical email marketing like that you wouldn't recognize is different from any other brand.

So, the next thing is, if you haven't already done it, you've got to start being a little more thoughtful with your content, and that goes to the segmentation. So, segmentation with email content that is thoughtful to that segment. That's really the foundation of your email marketing strategy. It's having the automation in place and then having the ongoing strategy of making sure that people are actually going to enjoy getting your emails.

So, then from there, maybe something that's more of a nice to have is I think that brands should be looking to have something as part of their marketing that's beyond just sales. This is a little bit more difficult for some brands than others. Like for example, we talked about supplements. If you set goals of helping people get great results with their fat loss or building [00:31:00] muscle or whatever it is for your space. Regardless of whether or not they use your supplements, they're going to like your brand more. They're going to like getting your emails more, and they're gonna stick around. So, whenever they're ready to buy again, they're already there.

So, the same thing goes if you're selling furniture and you can help people be better interior designers. You can help them understand design and understand how to coordinate a room and how to get pieces to match and what to look for in a quality piece. You know, whatever it is. If you can help them really turn this thing where they're shopping into a passion or a hobby, and you can get that emotional connection to it beyond just a simple transaction. That's more of the long play, but that's something to really strategize of your content of like that's gonna be the kind of the underlying theme throughout all of it. So, you try to infuse that in everything you're doing.

Tim Curtis: A lot of times brands will take the effort usually at a switch of platform or something like that where they're re-platforming and going from one to the next. They'll take those opportunities [00:32:00] maybe to add the abandoned browse or maybe do some additional expansion on abandoned cart, et cetera, et cetera. But I think, you know, sort of maxing out the automation and the triggers is something that does seem like it's money left on the table, and I'll give you an example.

A few years back, I had a client who we were going over there, basically, it was the list of triggers. What triggers are they currently employing? What could they be leaning into? The little birthday email was an automatic trigger that was set up. Had a 7% conversion, and they'd not really done anything with it. So, we went out and did some work gathering more, basically more birth dates, populated the database, and really tried to engage on that.

You know, there's little things like that, that as you begin to really think about. You talked about your sales process. If there's s some nuances or idiosyncrasies about your sales process, not only can you build in abandoned browse-type triggers, but there's probably all [00:33:00] sorts of little custom triggers that may be unique to you.

You know, you talk about playing up that example of the supplements. Well, there's a whole lot of content. You know, the supplement industry, one of the benefits for them in an email perspective is there's so much content that can talk about because people are using these to achieve an end to a means. In other words, they want to lose weight, gain muscle, whatever it is. There's also a lot of this creative space that you can really utilize with email.

I think the greatest tragedy I see with email is we're not fully loading down email with our creative thought. We're not really putting forth the effort, creating the space to give email the opportunity to be everything that it can be, and it really is consequential to a brand because if you don't maximize those email opportunities it's gonna take you a lot of work and a lot of other channels to try to make that up. There's only a few channels that are even remotely in the ballpark as email. Unfortunately, that's not where people are investing and we've just gotta bring clarity about that.

Kyle Stout: [00:34:00] I completely agree. Especially right now with so much competition on social, with paid media costs being just unpredictable, and with uncertainty in the economy and everything. As a business owner, wouldn't you love to have a reliable sales channel that performs month after month and it gives you a direct line of communication to your customers, and it's this asset that you own forever and it can't be taken from you.

I mean, funny you say that because seriously, it's overlooked. I think again because it's always been there. Email's been around for so long that we take it for granted. A lot of people think, especially in Ecom, they think that all you really need to do are these holiday sales. They're not taking time to even give some thought to the content the way they do their social content. They're the same people who are engaging with your social content are opening your emails. So, they would love to continue the conversation in the same way.

It's crazy. I see brands put out so much short-form video [00:35:00] content, and they're like, we don't know what to say in our videos. It's like, Man, what about all these videos you've done? I mean, you have endless ideas for those pieces of content and email is just another piece of content. At the end of the day, it's all content marketing and we're just choosing different channels to deliver it, to distribute it, and we're trying to adapt it to however it's being distributed. So, obviously, it's gonna be a little different for each thing.

The message is being communicated and the fun ways that you start the conversation and position that content, you can treat it. It's like you said, having a birthday flow, having a VIP flow. So, like for uh, people who have a subscription model as part of their Ecom brand, making it fun whenever people hit certain milestones. If they've been subscribed for three months, send them something that kind of gamifies the whole thing where now they've up-leveled a different status.

You know, I like to have things where it's like the founder sends a video of them kind of like popping a champagne bottle, or you know, making just a fun celebration. That's what you would do on social. So, why wouldn't you do that on email? Yeah, I totally agree that it's just, I [00:36:00] really think people could be so much better at it, and it's not that they don't know what to do, they kind of have their mind closed off to what email is because they still think it's what it was 10 years ago.

Tim Curtis: Yeah. The way I describe it, and unfortunately, I see it far too often, but when it comes to email and the email channel, there does seem to be a bit of a paralysis that sets in with an organization. It can be an ingenuity paralysis. It can be a creative paralysis. Things get stuck in a routine, and the routine is a cycle and it just repeats a cycle, and I think when you're a business owner or you're a business executive and you're noticing these signs that it's probably time. We've reached an inflection point where I believe it's time for you to strongly consider outsourcing that service.

In other words, you need to bring fresh eyes, fresh perspective, and you need to bring not necessarily best practices, but next practices. You know, the things that are really on the bleeding edge of email that are going to give you the best opportunity to cash in. All of the email platforms are investing very, very [00:37:00] heavily in machine learning and artificial intelligence. There's so much that's transpired in the last two to three years.

There are entire specialty platforms that exist that can work with your ESP, that oftentimes have a far greater identification grid and can boost the reach of your ESP's remarketing by upwards of 40 to 50% and those are lucrative returns. So, it really is possible to think differently about email, but I think you do have to kind of at that sort of point, take a look at, what your level of investment is with email. What's the delta between where you should be and where you are? Because there will be a delta, and then you really have to make a determination, do we have the sustainability in our human capital? Are they staying long enough to build this, or do we seriously need to consider outsourcing that function? It's very, very competitive, and you've gotta stay ahead on email, in particular, or you're just gonna churn. You're [00:38:00] gonna churn those customers.

Kyle Stout: Yeah, and it's, it really is a shame when you see people who have a big email list. It just sits there and they haven't done much with it, and then you see the list go cold and you just think, man, there is so much. You can revive it, but it's not gonna be as good as if you had kept the momentum going all along. I see the demand to create email content does put stress on internal marketing teams.

Part of it is coming up with the ideas, the consistency of just having a high output of emails if you are doing a high frequency of emails if this is not the only thing you do and you're busy managing, doing marketing for the other sales channels and everything. For the person who's doing that, a lot of times, let's just say that they're in charge of social content and maybe updating some of the content on the website and they're in charge of the emails. You know, which thing do you think gets the lowest priority in their day, and it's reflected.

That's typically the conversation that I end up having with a potential client is, [00:39:00] either they have no idea how to do email and they know they don't. They wanna start fresh, you know, and just have it done right from the beginning, or they've been doing it and it's become such a burden on their team and they know they could be doing so much better. They know that they're not actually performing at the level they could. On top of that, it's taking up a lot of time from their team and the team would rather focus their time on other things.

Typically, if you already have enough traction, the ROI on email marketing services with any of the teams you're working with is typically very good. So, it's typically more than what you're gonna get from other marketing services. As we go through this next year, I don't know what's gonna happen with the economy and everything, but I do think people are going to start looking at that old customer of retention thing that they kind of ignored.

Tim Curtis: Yeah. They will, and they always retreat to email. That's one of the safe spaces where brands go. Well, talk about your favorite platform as we start to wrap up here. You're with, is it Klaviyo now?

Kyle Stout: Yep. We primarily use Klaviyo. So, over the years, I mean I've worked on [00:40:00] a bunch of random ones, but I would say the ones I've spent more time with have been HubSpot, ActiveCampaign, and Klaviyo. We primarily work with Ecom businesses, so pretty much all Klaviyo. Really the thing I like about Klaviyo is the integration with Shopify. It just makes things so much easier and it saves you from having to do a lot of third-party integrations.

Especially if you aren't hiring a team and you're just doing this yourself. There's always gonna be a learning curve for any platform, but I will say that getting started with those automated emails while the templated content that's gonna be in those flows, you'll definitely wanna update that and make it your own. It's not meant to actually be used like that. It's meant to just kind of like give you a quick message of, hey, this is what should be in here.

You can start with that and that will get you some traction. In those flows based on the templates, we deliver different type of content at each message. So, there's levels to this, like everything, but with Klaviyo I do find that they have great [00:41:00] resources and it's pretty easy to get started for people if they can just get over the learning curve of dealing with an email service provider in general 'cause there is just that basic level of just getting familiar with how they work. I found that if someone has already had a little bit of experience with that, that Klaviyo was pretty easy to pick up.

Erik Martinez: Klaviyo is pretty easy to pick up.

Tim Curtis: They're everywhere.

Erik Martinez: I used to be a big Bronto user back in the day, and it was one of the easier ones to use way back in the day. Klaviyo definitely seems to be filling that niche pretty well in the market. One last question. You're talking about email content and creative. Where do you get your inspiration? Where do you and your team get inspiration?

Kyle Stout: So, all over the place, Man. So, part of it is because my background was in content marketing. I have a mind for that. You know, in email, I look at it as like, you have the technical side and you have the content side, and I would say my strength is on the content side. So, part of it is having a database. So, we have an internal database of [00:42:00] campaign ideas and angles that we have used for different brands, just like go-to ones. So, there's that.

Another way to get ideas, whether it's your company or you're working with a new client, is go and subscribe to all their competitors and get an idea of, Okay, if I'm a customer in this market, what am I seeing? If I happen to be shopping around if I happen to have tried a few different products, what am I seeing? What's out there? You don't want to copy them. You actually want to look for how can you do something different than them. I find that you can take ideas from very different products and apply them to your products.

So, for example, just the other day we have a client that sells roses. I had found this email from, forgot what brand it was, but it's a company that sells apparel. They sell accessories and stuff, and the whole theme of the email is that pink is our neutral. The whole email was all pink and they had a bunch of like pink purses and random pink products.

The client we were working with, she loved that. She's like, we should do [00:43:00] something like this, and I said, Okay. We're not gonna say pink is the neutral. That makes sense for apparel. It doesn't make sense for roses, but in the flower world, a lot of people think that red roses are like the go-to rose to buy someone for Valentine's or Mother's Day or whatever. Fun fact, actually, it's pink roses are what women love the most.

Tim Curtis: Oh, really?

Kyle Stout: Yes.

Erik Martinez: Listen to that guys. Listen to that guys. Valentine's Day is not very far away. Think about that. Isn't sweetest day coming up?

Kyle Stout: Yes. Yes. That's so funny you bring it up. We have some emails about that right now. So, the angle I took was, instead of pink is our neutral is pink is always the answer. The email was basically asking questions of what do I get for someone for, we had a gift that kind of like rotated what it was asking, so for the anniversary or birthday or whatever. Another line of questioning that was, you know, like for my girlfriend or wife or whatever, and then the whole thing was that pink was always the answer.

We had all pink roses throughout the email and everything. So, that was something where I just took the idea from an apparel company. Thought, you know what? [00:44:00] I like this, and you can adapt it to your brand. The ideas are everywhere, but you do have to look. So, I would say like, it really, really helps to build up your own database, your own just go-to ideas, and those tend to be the ones you've tested a bunch of times and they work. But then also just always be on the lookout for something where it's like, Ah, that's good.

Erik Martinez: Yeah, we had a guest on the show a few months back who studies the process of innovation. Her name's Carla Johnson. Check out her book, Re:Think Innovation. Her very, very first steps is about observation. Taking time to observe the world and environment, and the reason I asked you that question is 'cause it's not as hard as people think. There's lots and lots of really great ideas for inspiration that you can use to generate content to deploy in your email campaigns and social media campaigns. So, I thought that was really valuable insight. If there's one last piece of advice you'd have for our audience, what would it be?

Kyle Stout: I know I've said this over and over, [00:45:00] but I do find that this is the thing that people overthink and overlook and it really is focusing more on who you're selling to than what you're selling. So, like you said, being observant. Really take the time. If you don't already have enough customers yet if you don't have survey feedback and you don't have product reviews and all of that, go and look at the product reviews of other products in your industry, and Amazon is the best place to start.

So, if you go and look at the top 20 selling items or products for what you're selling. Go look, and especially look at the five-star and the one-star reviews. You wanna find what people are really passionate about. So, you wanna find the stuff that really pissed them off and the stuff that really excited them. Not to say that there's not value in the two to four stars, but that's where you're gonna find the marketing gold. So, really understanding them, understanding what they actually care about, because people who take the time to leave a review like that, they're telling what caused them to make a buying decision.

Nowadays we are so distracted. We have so many things fighting for our attention at all times. [00:46:00] I find that one of the biggest hurdles to overcome is that consumers just need help making a decision. So, if you can help make that easier for them, you're going to win their business more than the other brands, just simply because you made it easier for them to come to that conclusion quicker.

Erik Martinez: Yeah, you're being helpful. Well, cool. Kyle, thank you so much for your time today. If anybody in the audience wants to reach out, what's the best way to get a hold of you?

Kyle Stout: My handle everywhere is Elevate and Scale. The website is I would say that If you want to reach me directly, go there and book a call. But otherwise, the best place to find me is I'm focused on YouTube right now. So, that's where I'm gonna be putting out content. So, that's the first social platform I would say to go to.

Erik Martinez: Awesome. Thanks again for all your time and insights today. We really appreciate it. That's it for this episode of Digital Velocity. I'm Erik Martinez from Blue Tangerine.

Tim Curtis: And I'm Tim Curtis from CohereOne.

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