Using marketing automation to grow your business on autopilot
In episode 6 of the Customers Who Click podcast I spoke with Adam Kitchen, the Co-Founder of Magnet Monster, about behavioural email (marketing automation) and how businesses can use this to grow on autopilot.
Adam is passionate about helping e-commerce entrepreneurs make their businesses profitable by dependency on paid ads with email marketing. After 7 years of juggling his dream job teaching kindergarten with digital marketing projects, he took the plunge full-time in 2015 to focus solely on the online world. In 2018, he closed down his own store to create his agency, Magnet Monster, a fully-managed email marketing service for e-commerce brands looking to scale & increase profitability.
Will Laurenson 0:05
Will here with the latest episode of Customers Who Click. On today’s episode I spoke with Adam Kitchen of Magnet Monster about email marketing and specifically how brands can make use of behavioural emails.
Adam is the co founder of Magnet Monster, which provides a fully managed email marketing service for ecommerce brands looking to scale and increase profitability.
Email has always been one of my key focuses at all the companies I’ve been at it, from launching the mobile app newsletter MyVoucherCodes, to they triggered flows at Readly, Europcar, and Gamesys. While I think it’s really important to provide your customers with an incredible experience on-site or in-app, so they keep coming back to you anyway, email is without a doubt the most powerful way to bring back customers to your business. There are plenty of opportunities to set up marketing automation, which we’ll get into shortly. But if you’ve done things well, when you send out those larger scale campaigns, and newsletters you’ll see a huge influx in sales.
Let’s hear from Adam about behavioural emails, some key campaigns every business should be sending, biggest mistakes brands make and what lies ahead.
Hi, Adam. Welcome to the podcast. If you could tell us a bit about yourself, your background and why you do what you do.
Adam Kitchen 1:17
Yeah, sure. Thanks for having me Will. So I’m Adam Kitchen obviously, I’m the co founder of Magnet Monster. We are an email marketing agency for e-commerce brands. And essentially, our core message positioning is we want to help ecommerce brands and help them to become more profitable and reduce their dependency on paid ads. And obviously, our niche positioning is that we use email marketing to achieve this.
So my background is I’ve been a digital marketer for 13 years since I was 17. I sort of got involved in the Sports Nutrition supplements business from a young age, I was a bodybuilder, even though I don’t look like one now, and that sort of funnelled into a long term interest in growing ecommerce trends, so doing a bit of email and social media, and then dabbling around with paid advertising intermittently throughout those years. I lived in Asia the majority of my 20s and during this time I was approached by a big Chinese conglomerate who works with a lot of Amazon brands and had their own private label products in sports, nutrition, electronics and other niches or industries.
It really stood out to me whilst I was working in China, how they were really focused on their own channels. So they were using a lot of software on Amazon to have these personal one on one conversations with customers and consolidating their niche. When I came back to the UK, it made logical sense to me to really run with email as a channel, seeing how powerful it worked for them, and helping ecommerce brands to become more profitable. And like I said, reduce that dependency on paid ad spend, and that led to the creation of Magnet Monster. And it we’re about a year and a half into the journey today, and I’m really enjoying helping everyone that we work with achieve those goals.
Will Laurenson 3:30
Sounds great. Yeah, I mean, email marketing is so important, and it’s still so important as well, but we’ll get onto that in a bit. And what does a standard day look like for you?
Adam Kitchen 3:42
So generally when we first started, the standard day, I suppose like any startup business, it was trying everything and trying to make something stick and to figure out the positioning of the company. And these days we’re a lot more refined. So we have stable clients, we know exactly who we want to work with. I’m quite a hands on business owner. So I like to have a very personal relationship with the clients. And not to say we’re a massive agency, we’re definitely boutique and we plan to stay that way, especially in the current environment.
So generally speaking, the mornings are more client management, business stuff for me, communicating with the people that we’re working with, and then in the afternoons I try to focus on more of the business developments around the company. So our own internal marketing, content creation, and obviously, sales as well, which is the lifeblood of any business. So I’m still heavily involved in the sales but I would say it’s more about giving the sales people on our team marketing resources to help push that channel.
Will Laurenson 4:54
Yeah, so I guess using a bit of your expertise to help the marketing or help the sales team actually approach people with, and I guess, push content out there.
Adam Kitchen 5:05
Yeah. And one thing actually I’ve learned since is having an agency as well is that, there’s a very clear distinction between sales and marketing. So I consider myself a very good marketer, but I’m not a great salesperson. So even though it’s a strong point of my building relationships, it’s easy to misconstrue, that that means you’re good at sales. It doesn’t. And I think it takes a very specific skill set to be good at sales and being able to take a step back and get the right people into focus on the sales has been important for us. And yet, for me, it’s, I tried to focus more on making sure there’s support in terms of the marketing materials. So you’ll probably see we’re very active on LinkedIn, we’re always investing in content marketing, blogs, social media posts, graphics, constant education and nurturing our audience to ensure that when it does come to the sales that we don’t have to justify what we do, we have people who are generally wanting to work with us. So that helps a lot in that aspect.
Will Laurenson 6:15
Yeah. Sounds good. Do you find any particular content works well,
Adam Kitchen 6:20
So we try and do a lot of interviews. And there’s a couple of reasons for this. One is that I think it makes better quality content speaking to business owners. The second is it builds relationships, which organically leads to more sales related conversations. So we try to interview, you’ve seen we do a weekly ecommerce insider blog. And that’s not because we want to sell to those people, even though they are our targets clientele. But it’s also because everyone loves to create content, you build valuable relationships and the people that we interview, share it with their audience as well.
So it helps us tap into their networks in addition to promoting their business and putting them on the spotlight, I would say definitely that’s been the most effective for us. Apart from that, I would say just having that good variety of contents and knowing that your, what your customers pain points are is key to driving sales and pushing your business message further, so just turning up every day and being consistent with the messaging they’re trying to get across is crucial and i think it’s very underrated, the just the habit of turning up every day and making content like I said.
Will Laurenson 7:39
Yeah, absolutely agree with you. And but obviously, we’re not here to talk about, you know, sales and content marketing, we’re here to talk about behavioural email. So do you want to tell us a bit about that generally.
Adam Kitchen 7:49
Yeah, sure. So, behavioural email marketing generally referred to email as triggered by behaviour, so I’m not talking necessarily about mass email blasts to your email database. What I mean when I say behavioural email marketing, it’s taking the cues in people’s behaviour when they’re browsing your websites. Obviously, this is specifically related to ecommerce, the examples I’m going to give you, and triggering email automation to help drive sales and build a positive customer experience.
So I’ll give you a few examples of this, of behavioural email marketing. The most obvious one would be somebody shopping on your websites, they add items to the cart, they go to the checkout, and then life just gets in the way. Maybe your checkout process is inefficient, the websites slow or something just happens that distracts their attention and they forget to complete the sale. So this would trigger what you would call a cart abandonment email sequence. And the goal of these emails is to remind people that they have products in the shopping baskets and to come back and complete the sale. So that’s probably the most obvious behaviour in email automation, pertinent to ecommerce. Another example is somebody buys from you for the first time, so they would go through the post purchase email sequence, which will obviously welcome them to your company, they’ll try and drive upsells to increase the customer lifetime value, and then migrate them onto social channels.
So it’s generally taking advantage of customer trigger events on your websites and using them to create positive experiences by email automation. And this has the benefits of alleviating pressure on you to go out and market directly to people which can be labour intensive, and doing it on autopilot. So it’s driving revenue and freeing up your time simultaneously, which is very powerful.
Will Laurenson 9:56
Yeah, definitely. I mean, I think I saw a stat saying the conversion rate for a cart abandonment email is about roughly 15 to 20%. So if you’ve got huge numbers of people putting products in baskets and then leaving the site, if you’ve got a decent cart abandonment flow set up, you get huge amount of revenue, just you know, on autopilot, like you say.
Adam Kitchen 10:17
Yep, absolutely. And I think it’s sad how many people neglect this area because as you said, 15 to 20% definitely on the higher end, but even if 70% of people abandon their carts on your website, which is sort of a generalised figure, just think how much revenue you’re leaving on the table. If you could salvage 10% of those people who abandon the carts, so this is, we’re sometimes talking about 10s of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of pounds or dollars per year for a lot of brands and you really can’t afford to not have something like this setup, especially if you’re in e commerce.
Will Laurenson 10:57
Yeah, and especially when you know, times get tough. You know, we get seasonal changes. You know, anything could pop up. You know, we were dealing with, kind of dealing with Brexit. I don’t really know what’s happening with it right now. But if things happen that affect effect your marketing, affects your stores and whatever. So if you’ve got these sequences set up, it’s just driving you the extra revenue that could keep you going.
Adam Kitchen 11:23
Absolutely. And I suppose now is an obvious example of that. So you have the Coronavirus crisis. And generally speaking thing that gets first slashed for any company, I suppose, is the marketing or it comes under scrutiny. Now you want to free up the labour intensive stuff I suppose and focus on what drives an ROI. And the beauty of email automation is that this works on autopilot so you’re not going to just cancel these email automations and destroy the sequences they’re going to work to your advantage where you’re trying to stay lean and more profitable, which is a theme, obviously, we’ll come back to a lot with email for all the core systems here.
Will Laurenson 12:05
Yeah, exactly. Um, I saw some stats earlier today actually, that actually show that yeah. ad spend is reducing. So CPC is reducing, but actual searches and spend on ecommerce, is increasing in a lot of categories by significant amounts. So ROI is increasing. So actually, you know, obviously, there’ll be some businesses are really badly affected, and they’re in those industries, like travel, for example, where they’re going to really struggle to sell. But there are other industries where, yeah, all right, you might panic initially, if you’ve gotta close stores and things, there’s definitely opportunity out there if you keep spending, and then you know, just keep driving people to your site, keep getting people adding products to baskets, and then yeah, you’ve got these autopilot sequences that will just keep revenue coming in.
Adam Kitchen 12:55
Will Laurenson 12:56
So I do a lot in email marketing as well. So yeah, I love you know, I get lots of sequences set up on autopilot because well like we’ve just said it just drives money on autopilot. Do you really, do you look into more longer term I guess retention pieces with databases where you’re using past consumer behaviour to segment lists for campaigns, or do you guys specifically specialise in the actual triggered automation?
Adam Kitchen 13:27
Yeah, so just to give you a brief insight into our business model, most of the time when we go into work with a company we prioritise email automation, definitely. And that’s because we want to give the power back to the clients and leave them with a tangible product that there’s no dependency on us, probably a bit counter intuitive, I suppose if you are an agency where you want a monthly retainer contract. However, we do set the email automation up and then, this is not to understate the importance of general sales promotion or email campaigns, these drive a lot of revenue as well, but we all always prioritise setting up the initial email automation, and then generally work with people on a monthly basis for managed campaigns where we’ll help strategize with them, create the creative elements to drive revenue even further.
Will Laurenson 14:26
Yeah, absolutely. I appreciate I didn’t give you any advance notice of this question. So, but given how GDPR came in, yeah, well, almost two years ago, actually, wow thats a long time. How do you, do you think GDPR has impacted these automated sequences much and, you know, with things like basket abandonment, and we’ll talk about post purchase and things a bit later, but some people consider those sort of emails to actually be marketing. You know, if you, if you send someone an email which says, here’s your receipt, these are the products you bought, by the way, you might want to consider this as well. You know, let’s say someone’s bought a printer, but they haven’t bought ink. You could say, well, did you need to buy ink as well? Some people consider that marketing, and if you haven’t got permission in place, you know, so personally, I don’t, I think those sort of emails you can get away with as long as you’re not sending six different emails about cart abandonment, but yeah, what’s your opinion on that? And obviously, it’s not legal advice. But um..
Adam Kitchen 15:37
Yeah, definitely don’t want to step into that territory. But it’s an excellent question. And I think just to touch on that, one of, especially with the UK clients that we were or EU clients that we work with, and it’s definitely one of the most foremost concerns that people will bring up when they speak to us. I think it’s very important to make sure obviously, that you do have consent to send these messages and just being as transparent as possible with your consumer base, so giving them very clear options to opt out, ensuring that you can send them the data if they request it, and obviously, honouring any type of unsubscribes that you get. So you’re trying to always be as consumer focused as possible. And I think generally speaking, if you’re able to, adhere to any request from a customer and be transparent with them, then you err on the side of caution, and you should be okay with your marketing.
Will Laurenson 16:31
Yeah, I think I agree if you’re doing it for the right reason, and only to a certain level, you should be fine. If you’re taking it as the opportunity to try and push a completely different category of products on someone. That’s where you’re probably getting into a bit of a grey area.
Adam Kitchen 16:47
Of course, yeah, it’s all about consent. At the end of the day, if someone’s consented to receive the marketing messages, then it’s okay. And obviously, when someone wants to stop the marketing messages, then you need to honour that request.
Will Laurenson 16:59
Yeah, absolutely. Do you think, I mean we always hear the the comment that email marketing is dead but what other email, you know myths and misconceptions do you see around email marketing or behavioural email specifically?
Adam Kitchen 17:16
Yeah, so yeah, I think definitely to touch on the email marketing is dead one that’s probably the biggest misconception, I’m not sure where this myth comes from. Maybe it’s because email has been the longest standing digital marketing channel there is, to my knowledge anyway, and maybe it’s not as sexy, it’s not flavour of the day anymore compared to other channels. However, when we look into the ROI, to my knowledge, email still has the ROI per pound or dollar spent. It still has the best organic open rates, reach, click through rate, so many key metrics for a marketer and driving ROI, email still wins. So where the misconception it’s dead comes from I’m not sure, it’s definitely inaccurate.
In fact, I’ve said this multiple times, email is more relevant than ever, especially when you think of the Coronavirus situation that we’re in now, where all the brands and the CEOs of the companies tend to communicate with customers. I had an email from Sainsbury’s CEO this morning, I’m sure it’s the same for everyone else. The inbox is packed with messages pertinent to the Coronavirus situation. So, it’s funny how people still think it’s dead, when they tend to email when they need to get the most important conversations and messages from brands. And I think having that medium where you have a one to one personal conversation in somebody’s inbox is just unparalleled to me, and that’s why I love it so much.
Will Laurenson 18:58
Yeah, definitely. I guess, yeah, like you say, with email being being such an old channel. I wonder if yeah, maybe this is coming from people who are trying to push more modern channels a bit more. So focusing on I don’t know, like, trying to get WhatsApp messaging going as a business thing or, you know, Tiktok, Snapchat, that sort of thing. Or whether it’s people who did email years and years ago, and saw their performance dropping because they weren’t keeping up with modern ways of doing things.
So they weren’t, you know, verifying email addresses. They weren’t segmenting email lists. They were just blasting out, you know, a million emails every week to the same list, seeing their performance drop. And so they’re the people going, you know, I had 20 years of experience in marketing email, probably not 20. Well, you could do, 20 years in email, and I’ve seen performance drop every year for the last 10 years. It’s dead. I’m done with it. Then there’s people like you and me are going well. I’m still doing it and I’m getting decent open rates, decent click through rates and a fantastic ROI from it because it costs you almost nothing to send.
Adam Kitchen 20:05
Exactly. Yeah just to touch on that as well Will, I think it’s an important point, as you said about young people using Snapchat, Tiktok and things like this, and this is not to understate the importance of tapping into those mediums because I think like you, it’s obvious that young people do communicate heavily on those platforms. But again, I come back to the important information that you receive from brands and people in general. Where do you go to for payment receipts? Where do you go to for news during the Coronavirus crisis, where do you turn to for job interview updates, people are still using email as an attempt to communicate the most important information.
So even though again, people say to me, oh, my daughter has 15,000 messages in her inbox that are unread yet well did she open the job interview or the payment receipt emails, you know there’s, people will still open the message if it’s personal and relatable to the information that they’re looking for. So it’s about having a consistent brand message that sticks out. And obviously, that resonates with people so they want to open your emails, of course, people are going to ignore spammy emails that aren’t relevant to them. Or if the quality of your content is powerful, then people will definitely open your emails engage with them.
Will Laurenson 21:29
Yeah, and I think actually, this kind of brings us on to a point I think we would probably discuss a bit later but it’s an owned channel, isn’t it? You as a business, own that but also the customer owns it so, and they’re the only people who can take that permission away from you. Things like Facebook where you know, Facebook, I’m not going to say Facebook’s dead as a marketing channel. Absolutely not but I don’t use it nearly as much as I used to. I see so many ads on there. But yeah, it’s almost more of a an advertising and product channel for me then than anything else I use. I use WhatsApp mostly to keep in touch with people. So I wonder if you know these new channels like Snapchat, Tiktok and all that are therefore much more social purposes. Yeah, yeah, like you say people always come back to email because that’s where they keep their important, you know, the important emails, that’s where they want to get their job interview updates and email receipts and all that stuff.
Adam Kitchen 22:30
It’s, it really is unparalleled. I think when you play into that context as well, for me, the social channels whilst obviously important and not to understate how effective they can be. They’re quite transient by nature. So if you’re looking for a safe marketing channel to invest in, then email is very robust. And as we said several times already, it stood the test of time. So if you’re looking for long term or a why, in terms of stability and a solid investment then, for me, again, email is unparalleled at this moment in time.
Will Laurenson 23:05
Yeah, exactly, exactly. You know, you might have a monthly cost for your email tool. But once you’ve got those emails, your cost of sending to those people is tiny. Whereas if you want to do, to get all those people purchasing through Facebook ads, you might pay, you know, even if you get it down to like one or two pounds per person, because it’s people who have purchased from you before, that’s still, I don’t know what, 20 times more expensive than email, probably more.
Adam Kitchen 23:32
Yeah, exactly. And we’ll come back to this point I think later on. But generally speaking, I’m constantly reiterating this message that long term, you want to migrate people from any platform or advertising medium where you have to pay to reach people, to your most profitable channels. And that’s what I suppose is called your owned channels, email, push notifications and trying to control the experience directly rather than, like you said, having to pay Facebook or Google to reach out to a customer that you’ve already worked so hard to acquire. So it’s difficult to stay profitable as a business whilst you always have to do that as your go to way of communicating with your customers and obviously, emails ROI, we’ve discussed it already and it’s ability to do that is great.
Will Laurenson 24:23
Yeah, definitely. So we talked about how important behavioural email is and how, you know, an owned channels like email is. And so what are some suggestions you’d make for businesses that are maybe looking into setting up behavioural, automated communications or maybe even doing it at the moment, but have it as a basic setup.
Adam Kitchen 24:50
So for me, it’s, when we usually work with someone we have a series of automations, or flows depending on how you want to call it, that are always generally applicable to all ecommerce businesses. But there’s three that stand out in particular, this is the welcome series. So when people subscribe to your brand for the first time via a newsletter or some type of discounts, or competition giveaway, generally speaking, you know the pop up that comes when you go to exit the websites, or you spent a long time on a website. You want to drive these people into a welcome series automation of emails. So you want to incentivize first purchase, you want to share customer success stories, you want to tell them about your brand ethics, your brand story. And yeah, give people testimonials and social proof to really welcome them to your brand and incentivize that first purchase. So that for me is always the most important email automation of all because not only does it drive a sale, but it puts your brand in the forefront of their minds and tells them the values as well, which are most important to you.
After that, you will have the cart abandonment like we’ve already discussed. It’s a crucial revenue driver, and the post purchase email automation. So, what type of experience do you want your customer to have the first time they buy from you, you want to be sending them a series of emails over the course of the next month or even two months depending on the nature of the product, trying to drive a repeat purchase, incentivize reviews, user generated content and make someone feel welcome so there’s no buyer’s remorse. So when they buy from you for the first time, they feel as though they’ve made the right decision, and that you’ve consolidated the relationship with them. So even though email is very important for automating the sales, which we’ve talked about as well, I do come back to that core message where this is not just to drive sales. This is to consolidate relationship with the customer, you can definitely deliver email content to people. It’s not all just about trying to make more money.
Will Laurenson 27:08
Yeah, actually on that, that last point just then, that’s a really valid point. Actually, I think a lot of businesses will basically just add you to, add you to their database and start sending you promotional emails. And if they are going to ask you about your purchase, it’s generally in the form of a Trustpilot, or Feefo link email saying, please rate your experience, when actually really that first email should be tell us what your experience was like. Like, did you have any problems, you know, reply to this email or phone our customer service line and let us know about it. And I think a lot of companies miss that out and just assume that people will get in touch if they’ve got a problem. And when actually, I think there’s a stat which is, I think it’s one for every one person that contacts you with a problem or is unhappy there’s about 20 to 25 people who just kind of stay quiet, stay unhappy and probably won’t come back and purchase from you again.
Adam Kitchen 28:09
Yeah, like you said, you want to get those who have the positive experiences to share those as well. And you can definitely, if you’re delivering valuable content, and again, that this is a message that we constantly reiterate to our clients, it’s not, even though email is obviously a powerful channel for selling, you need to look at the customer lifetime value. And the only way you can get someone to stay on an email list for you know, one to two or three years is by giving them valuable content. So don’t just try and sell for today, think about how many opportunities you’ll have to sell them in the future. And the way you do that is by constantly delivering high value.
Will Laurenson 28:56
Yeah, I completely agree with you on that as well. Which kind of leads us on to next point, which is how do you see segmentation and personalization working within behavioural email? And I’m not talking behaviour, personalization, like getting first name and things in there. You know? Yeah, I’m sure you’re aware. It’s about personalising products and things. But I’ll hand that over to you.
Adam Kitchen 29:19
Yeah, so I think from a segmentation standpoint, when it comes to the initial behavioural email automation, it can be quite difficult unless you’re just working off your basic bias versus non biassed predictive gender if the email service provider has that capabilities, and level of visitation to your website. So these are the basic segments that you can create from a first time visitor or maybe someone who’s bought, generally speaking, I always say when it comes to segmentation strategy as an email as a whole it’s not so cookie cutter, it really depends on the brand itself and their customer avatar.
So as an example, if you sell sports nutrition products, you might have various segments of customers, some who are wanting to burn fat, some who are wanting to build muscle, some who are endurance athletes. And that’s again, where you need to be constantly collecting data to provide better user experiences with your behavioural email automations. So I think it’s quite a difficult question to answer because it’s highly dependent on the brand and the company positioning itself, rather than giving a cookie cutter overview of how segmentation works, unless we’re talking specifically about bias versus non bias, gender. Those obviously the top basic things that you can segment people into so you really need to know your customer base. That’s my overriding message for this.
Will Laurenson 30:58
Yeah, get what you’re saying. I guess it’s, it’s a case of segment if you can, and it makes sense. But don’t segment just for the sake of it.
Adam Kitchen 31:10
Yeah, and it’s important to note as well if you do have an effective segmentation strategy, then this will improve, it will move the needle on all the metrics. So, as an example, if you sell, say for example, you’re ASOS or Nike, or ASOS, I’m not sure how to pronounce it. But anyway, you’re not going to send emails of men’s things to women who buy women’s clothing. So you need to definitely know your customer and include some key segments based on previous buying products and things like this. And obviously, if you’re just sending one generalised message to everyone then you’re going to have a high unsubscribe rate, you’re going to have a poor open rates, poor click through rates, and you’re not going to be able to increase customer lifetime value effectively.
Will Laurenson 32:04
Yeah, absolutely. I think I get so many emails, which are just, why don’t you check out the latest products in this category, this category, this category, and yeah, that’s completely irrelevant to me, isn’t it?
Adam Kitchen 32:18
It’s a dinosaur approach? It really is, and I don’t think it’s taken with longevity in mind, unfortunately.
Will Laurenson 32:24
Yeah, absolutely. And I think as a marketer, though, and someone who does a lot in email, the thing that frustrates me more is actually when someone has taken the opportunity to personalise to me, but has actually got it wrong. And one thing that stands out, one example stands out, which was actually Amazon. I’m not a big fan of what they do with email to be honest, but I run, I ran a company called Sport Draftr a few years ago, and in one of our competitions we gave out a console to the winner, and he had the choice of a PlayStation or an Xbox. Now the person who won picked a PlayStation and so I ordered it from Amazon. But previously, I’d ordered an Xbox, and since then all my purchases have been Xbox games. And yeah, for at least a couple of years, all the personalization around consoles and games was PlayStation. And I just, I get, you know, I kind of get what they’re doing, you know, they’re trying to personalise to me and say, here’s the latest PlayStation games or whatever. But also you look at the data and you’d say, well, there’s one PlayStation purchase there. Yeah, have a think about this a bit more. And, you know, you could be sending out more relevant emails.
Adam Kitchen 33:45
Absolutely, just to touch on that, that’s why you need dynamic segments setup as well. So you wouldn’t, I’m assuming that some type of malfunction in the AI capabilities but generally speaking, you wouldn’t want to, as you said, if you’re buying Xbox games, then why would you send someone completely irrelevant product recommendations? So it seems to me as though like the, maybe the data feeds are not working right, not in sync with the email software that they’re using. But yeah, I can, I can completely see what you’re saying, that type of personalization turns you off. So it’s definitely a fine point of how much personalization to use and tie into the segmentation. It’s a very difficult topic to get right to be fair to all brands.
Will Laurenson 34:34
Yeah, exactly. And which actually brings us on to the next topic, which is what are the big or big and most common mistakes that you see in email strategies.
Adam Kitchen 34:45
This is an obvious one that stands out straight away. And that’s mass mailing your database because you, you sit there you see you’ve got a million subscribers and you go, well, you know, if I send enough emails to enough people someone will buy it and buy my products or services. And yes, they will, but over time, it’ll just be a case of diminishing returns because your open rates are going to plummet, your unsubscribe rate is going to go through the roof, and generally speaking, people are just not going to engage with the brand at all.
So like you said, it ties into the previous question of segmenting and sending the right emails to the right people. So I’d definitely say mass mailing your customer database is the worst mistake most people we work with have done previously. And also interestingly, that affects your future deliverability. So you’re more likely to get categorised and your inbox placement will end up in the spam folders for Gmail and outlook and all these other service providers. So it’s, it’s not just the buzzword segmentation, it’s crucial to maximise the customer lifetime value and the only way to do that is by having a strategic overview and sending the right information to the right people.
And another one I’ve kind of touched on it previously is selling incessantly without providing valuable content. So I like to use the analogy of using email as a social channel. And I think it’s very underrated in this regard. So whilst people will produce, say, for example, recipes and style trends and things like this on social media, they’re not delivering that content through the social. I have no idea why because given how powerful the organic open rates are the reache is, why would you not want to share this via email and a lot of the things I hear from brands, so this is, oh, we feel as though we’re annoying the customers, which is probably the strangest and constantly recurring theme that comes up when I ask people this but, it’s actually counterintuitive because as I said, you want people to stay subscribed and engage with your brands as long as possible.
And the only way you can do that is by giving them highly valuable content. And also remember, if that traffic comes back through to your website, they’re more likely to browse your products in your store anyway. So it’s a win win in that regard. You’re not just enriching their lives with valuable content, you’re also bringing traffic through which you’ll subliminally sell to people as well, I suppose.
Will Laurenson 37:27
Yeah, so it’s a yeah, you shouldn’t just be using email as a way of putting products in front of people. Yeah, it’s, it’s still an engagement and a relationship channel, isn’t it? If you’re trying to engage people on social media, why, and if you know, if you think it’s valuable enough to post on social media, which, you know, is partly there to to engage with your current customers, but partly also there to actually get that additional reach and reach other people. If you think it’s good enough for that, why isn’t it good enough for your email? Which are actually your valuable customers?
Adam Kitchen 38:05
Yeah, I’m not sure to be honest. Will, I thought about this myself a lot of times. And again, it’s just confusing to me. But, again, it’s a lack of education I suppose unfortunately, and how the medium can be used to communicate with customers. But hopefully, we’ll start to see a reverse trend in that sense.
Will Laurenson 38:26
I mean, I guess that, you know, there are still differences in the way people use it. I mean, you know, if you post something on Instagram, if it appears on my feed, and it’s not interesting to me, I can just very quickly scroll past it. Whereas, I’ve taken a much more high intent action by clicking the email. And if then that email, if I feel it’s been a waste of my time, maybe I’m a bit more likely to unsubscribe. Yeah. But I think generally, unless your emails are really bad, unsubscribe rates are pretty low.
Adam Kitchen 38:56
Yeah, you touched on a very important point there, but my i suppose rebuttal to that would be, if you think people are going to unsubscribe from your content, then you shouldn’t be sending out in the first place. It’s not valuable content. So if the quality of the content is high. I would not have any hesitation to send that content to a certain segment of subscribers, especially if I know it’s going to fortify and, you know, consolidate my brand’s message that I’m trying to get across.
Will Laurenson 39:25
Yeah, that’s a fair point. What’s going to happen with email over the next say 12 to 18 months? Do you see any new trends coming or just big trends over the, over the coming months?
Adam Kitchen 39:39
So I think probably the most prevalent one, which is no secret by now is that the needs to optimise for mobile is more relevant than ever. The amount of people who are using mobiles to make shopping purchases for ecommerce, and read email is continuing to go an upward trajectory. So, optimising emails for mobile specific devices as well as desktop is very important because there is still a cross channel usage.
And again, coming back to the previous points of leading with valuable content, so not just trying to sell but using email as a medium to push out high quality content will become more prevalent I feel in the next coming months, especially again, given how relevant it is at this moment in time with the Coronavirus stuff going on. I think you’re going to see more brands tap into email to communicate with the customers in a more personal way. And one of the interesting things I want to mention is that we’ve been using to good success at Magnet Monster with clients is using gifs or gifs. Depends on how you pronounce it.
Will Laurenson 40:55
It’s gifs. It absolutely gifs.
Adam Kitchen 40:59
It’s funny because I spoke to someone previously, actually, a few months ago when I was looking at how to pronounce, gifs gifs, and they said there was basically no consensus on whats right anyway. But yeah, using these to drive click through rates, it’s been very effective for us. So as long as the file size isn’t too big, and obviously it renders correctly in the inbox that you sent, then this can be a great way to drive traffic back to your websites and present products in a more efficient way, I suppose. Because you’re not having to scroll down to see every single product on the screen, and you get a really engaging graphic straightaway that initiates this click through. So highly recommend if you’re trying to send traffic back to your website to initiate purchase or just read content then this is a very powerful technique that you can use.
Will Laurenson 41:55
Yeah, I think it’s nice as a good way of showing off products but actually kind of coming back to the point you made about mobile focussed campaigns. I don’t think, it’s not simply a case of making an email responsive for mobile, I think you need to take into account the device itself and how people interact with an email. And actually, so instead of having a, you know, five to 10 products just listed out in an email, and you know, little cards that people can scroll through, a GIF is a great way of quickly showing off all those products. People can click through to a page that then has them all on and then they can see more information.
Adam Kitchen 42:39
Exactly. Yeah, and I suppose this is one of your forte’s as well. It’s the, that customer user experience. So as you said, rather than presenting these and having to scroll down constantly to see what you want, you get a quick, more efficient overview because as we know, people’s attention spans are decreasing and they’re spending more time, but less on each marketing message. So being able to produce things in the most efficient and engaging manner possible, is always a recommended strategy.
Will Laurenson 43:09
I know, I asked the question was specifically about email, but if we go back to kind of behavioural sequences and communications. One thing you know, obviously push notifications you have to have an app for, but what about things like SMS and maybe even like direct mail? How do you see that fitting in with kind of sequences and behavioural like triggered communications.
Adam Kitchen 43:39
One thing that’s interesting, especially going back to push notifications and SMS in particular, is a lot of the email service providers are starting to amalgamate them into the services and just bake them in. So you’re able to leverage these directly from the conventional email platform, I suppose. Klaviyo being the most obvious example, which we work very closely with. And yeah, I think that again, that’s my philosophy as a business owner myself. And what I’ve tried to advise clients is if you want to bring your marketing costs down, and not just customer acquisition, but for retention, you should always look to the most profitable channels that allow you to communicate a low cost with your customers, and push notifications, email, and SMS depending on which country you are from, because I know there is some variants are all very well engaged with channels. And I think they’re going to continue to grow in popularity over the coming months and years.
And I’m not saying Instagram and Facebook ads are going to die anytime soon. However, I do think there’s a conscious shift in terms of dependency on them that ecommerce owners are looking at that now because the only real winners with Facebook and Google collecting this advertising spend is them. And with the cost of acquisition constantly going up, then you need to look at ways to become more efficient with your marketing spend. And again, these owned channels give you the best chance of success in doing so.
Will Laurenson 45:14
Yeah, absolutely, um, you know, I think they all have their place in the mix. You know, it’s, it’s still great to use, like Facebook retargeting ads, even to your own audience. And I’ve had amazing success with SMS, really love that as a channel. But I think the important thing to realise is you can’t treat each channel the same. So if you want to send an email every week to your database, I probably wouldn’t with an SMS. It depends on your business, obviously, but just be a bit more careful because the open rates are extremely high, and click through rates are fantastic. But and it’s because most people get that notification on their phone immediately. And so they’re highly likely to check it out. But yeah, If you abuse that, and just send, you know, again, like generic mass mailer kind of SMS blasts out, you’ll lose that permission. And then when you have got something really important to say, or if you’ve got some really, really good personalised offer, and you’ve lost a really powerful channels to send that out through.
Adam Kitchen 46:20
Yeah, I completely agree with you Will, and I think it goes back again to the message of, not only do you need that omni channel approach, but you need to be focusing on the messaging that you’re delivering. So it can’t always be sales related, it has to be leading with value. And, you know, I understand more than anyone that you need to drive sales, we all do. And these channels can give you a great way to achieve that. Or, again, look at customer lifetime value. You want to do all the things long term. And the best way to do that is by keeping people engaged on these platforms for the longest periods possible.
Will Laurenson 46:58
So we haven’t got long left, so it’s a question I ask everyone that comes on the podcast. Do you have any pet peeves when it comes to marketing? And it can be email specific or just generally, any pet peeves out there? user experiences or anything?
Adam Kitchen 47:13
Yeah, again, I think going back to the message that we’ve talked about a few times in this, this interview, the the notion that email is dead and obviously the relentless needs for brands to sell at every opportunity really does get on the wrong sides of me and not email as that, I’m fine with people believing that myth, because obviously thats more business for me, but, if you need to constantly sell, it’s definitely the fastest way I think, personally for me, to get me to unsubscribe. And the best way and I think again, if this is relatable to a lot of people these days to keep me engaged is to constantly keep me educated, deliver great quality content and use this omni channel approach. Again, it’s not all about email. And it’s leveraging each channel as you said, in their own unique way.
But again, leading with value leading with education, getting me to buy into your ethics and positioning as a company is the best way to increase customer lifetime value over periods of time. And pet peeves suppose, again, I’m really passionate about helping businesses become more profitable. So I know Google and Instagram and Facebook are very important channels but I would like to see more people consciously trying to become less dependant on them because ultimately it’s going to be difficult to stay profitable if that’s your only source of revenue as a marketing channel. So and people thinking they’re the be all and end all because obviously they’ve been great the last few years does annoy me and yeah.
Will Laurenson 49:00
Yeah, so just one thought on your, on the email situation. I think what people need to realise, though is, like you say, it can’t be selling at every opportunity. But when, when people like you say, you know, you need to build those relationships and valuable content, it I don’t think it has to be, you know, in the exact opposite of what people were doing before, they don’t have to switch off the sales emails and go for entirely content, they can mix it up. But there needs to be that element of providing a bit of value and, and kind of, you know, treating the customer as I guess, I think I said it in another, another podcast, but treating them as a friend of the brand, basically, someone who you want to have a bit of a conversation with and engage with, not just by the way, here’s the latest product. Can you buy it?
Yeah, but equally, you are allowed to do that. You know, they know you’re a business. You know, if you put products in them and particularly personalised products, people will be happy with that and know that they’ll either buy, or they won’t buy because they don’t need it. But they’re not going to go. I really hated that email, it’s so annoying and unsubscribe.
Adam Kitchen 50:13
Exactly. And there’s definitely a science to this as well. And I think just if you take a common sense, top down view of things, let’s say you send emails over the course of a month or a week. Now, if you send five sales related emails Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, the likelihood is, not only am I not going to buy but I’m also going to unsubscribe. Now, if you spread those five sales related emails over the course of a month, and then intersperse them with a content related email as well, so you can double your email frequency, build a better relationship with me, and increase my likelihood of buying. For me that’s just common sense and logical. So it’s about pacing yourself, its a marathon not a spring. And again, keep coming back to customer lifetime value. That’s what matters. Take the long term view all the time.
Will Laurenson 51:08
Yeah, absolutely. And final question, is there a particular marketing channel or tactic that you’d want to kill off because you hate it or?
Adam Kitchen 51:21
Again, I think, and I know, I’ve sort of bashed Instagram and Facebook and Google, but these are fantastic channels. There’s no doubt about it like that. It became an imperative part of the game for driving initial acquisition. And I think they’re great channels again, I just want people to consciously move away from the dependency on them, because they’re very expensive to tap into every time you need to drive a sale. But in terms of particular marketing channels, I think everything has its merits. I don’t want to say nothing works completely.
I suppose personally speaking, I just hate it when I get cold emails on LinkedIn. Can we schedule a 30 minute call, like we’ve talked about already, and then they got into a whole essay of six thousand links on their services. I think this is the worst way to sell. Because maybe it works on one in a thousand people, but you’ve destroyed a potential relationship with 999 others. And I think I’ve made it clear by now that I’m all about building relationships and take a long term view to any type of brand strategy.
Will Laurenson 52:31
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, I completely agree. I’ve had some pretty, pretty awful ones. I think I shared one with you the other day, someone trying to sell me something that, they used a load of terms that didn’t make any sense to me, didn’t provide a link or provide a media deck. This was the first email since connecting and then signed it off with ‘Anyways, thanks for connecting’. Kind of like blasted me with a sales email and then you’ve ended it with like just a kind of almost like a friendly, friendly ending and yeah, just…
Adam Kitchen 53:08
so yeah to me that’s, again, I don’t want to bash these people to hard because I think it’s miss education and not knowing how to use things properly. But anytime you go into, especially I think the way the world is now with a me me me attitude. It’s bye bye bye. Then you’re going to lose people eventually. And people want stuff that will benefit them. So my marketing philosophy is turning the tables on its head in that sense, it’s what can I do for you? Because you’re more likely to reciprocate for me at a later stage.
Will Laurenson 53:43
Yeah, definitely. So I think that’s all we’ve got time for. So thanks so much Adam. It’s been really, really fascinating stuff about email marketing.
Adam Kitchen 53:51
It’s a pleasure, mate. Thanks for having me on. And I look forward to speaking more.
Will Laurenson 53:55
Really valuable stuff there from Adam. If it wasn’t before, it should now be pretty clear that email marketing is absolutely vital for your business. It’s often one of the most neglected channels available. Email the marketing absolutely isn’t dead. And even the idea that youngsters don’t use it or that automation is annoying is wrong as well.
What’s important is how you do it and how you execute it. If you segment your lists, provide value to your customers, whether that’s recommended or personalised products, or other content that provides information or some other value, and don’t just email for the sake of it, you’ll see huge returns from email marketing and can build a large base of valuable customers.
That’s it from me today. If you like what you heard, don’t forget to subscribe. And as usual, if you have any questions about email or behavioural email, send them over to Will@customerswhoclick.com.
In the next episode of Customers Who Click I’ll be speaking with Tristan Burns, the analytics lead at Pizza Hut Digital Ventures all about conversion rate optimization.
Have a great week, and until next time, keep those customers clicking.
Will Laurenson is a Customer Journey Marketing consultant, specialising in CRO, CRM and Customer Experience. Will has over 7 years experience working across a range of consumer facing businesses and has worked for huge brands such as MyVoucherCodes, Europcar, JackpotJoy, Virgin Games and Virgin Bet.
Adam is a digital marketing entrepreneur with over a decade of experience in the industry. His copywriting has contributed towards building multimillion £/$ e-commerce brands with proven email marketing strategies. Today, Adam is fiercely passionate about helping SMEs optimise their customer value journeys with effective content marketing and scaleable digital strategies at Magnet Monster.