Episode 19: Supercharge Your Email Marketing Part One

Today we want to talk about the benefits of email marketing in your business. In the past we didn’t embrace email marketing, but all that changed with Colorit. We will walk you through our email flow during the Colorit Contest.

The numbers are beyond encouraging and we will definitely be using these techniques on other products like cuttingboard.com. Grant admits that he doesn’t have a lot of experience with this marketing style, but there is something to it. If you didn’t get around to hearing the episode we did on the Colorit contest you can listen to it here.

Here’s what we discussed today:

  • Our background in email list marketing
  • How to make a clickable subject line
  • Why you should subscribe to companies that do great email marketing
  • The email sequence we send out after a contestant enters the Colorit Contest

This episode is just part one on this subject, so come back next time for part two!

Resources Mentioned During Today’s Episode:

Nerd Marketing — Drew Sanocki







If you have any questions or anything you’d like us to discuss on the podcast please go to ecomcrew.com and fill out the contact form. Also we would really appreciate if you would leave us a review on iTunes. Thanks  for listening!

Full Audio Transcription

Intro:    Welcome to the EcomCrew podcast with your hosts, Mike Jackness and Grant Yuan.  Here you will learn the lessons, tips, and tricks that these ecommerce pros have learned over their years running and growing their very own seven-figure ecommerce businesses.  Each week, we dig into the ins and out of ecommerce, the truth about affiliate marketing, how to build your own brand and sell on Amazon, and how we’ve stumbled and then quickly rose to success.  The world of ecommerce is changing rapidly, and here you’ll find the trusted resources you need to take your business to the next level.  All right, enough of the fluff.  Let’s get over to your hosts, Mike Jackness and Grant Yuan.

Mike:   Hi, this is Mike.

Grant:  And this is Grant.

Mike:   And welcome to this week’s edition of the EcomCrew podcast.  We have a pretty exciting episode this week.  I’m actually really excited to talk about this.  Grant knows I’ve been talking a lot about email lately and I think that’s – like between email marketing and Facebook ads, that’s like all I talk about these days.  This week’s episode’s going to be how to supercharge your emails and grow your brand.  And it’s one of these things where I admit personally I just completely – I don’t know, it just never really happened for whatever reason.  We always like disregarded email.  We knew it was important but just didn’t really take full advantage of email.  And since we’re been doing ColorIt I’ve been just really a lot more motivated to do email and so we’re going to be talking a lot about ColorIt’s emails specially today.  I mean we obviously are doing some email marketing for CuttingBoard and ChoppingBlocks and for IceWraps, but even still, like we admit that we aren’t taking full advantage of email like we are with ColorIt.  And certainly, ColorIt’s been the inspiration for me to go back and really take advantage of IceWraps and supercharge our email there, too.

But really going to be talking about ColorIt and what we’ve been doing with that and how Klaviyo and just doing tons and tons of email have really helped grow our business.  And just a sneak peek into what we’re going to be talking about: we launched ColorIt.com on December 5th and had zero people on our list and I’m on the Klaviyo dashboard right now and we’ve sent 102,100 emails in the past 30 days.  So we’ll be talking about exactly how we did that and why and how powerful it’s been.  So to kick the conversation off, Grant, do you have anything you want to say real quick before we get deep into what we’ve been doing here with ColorIt?

Grant:  I will just say that my experience with email is actually quite minimal and I’m actually pretty excited to hear about Mike’s big adventures into email just as well as everybody else because the reality is that we’ve never really had a good background in email, to be perfectly honest.  And I think that reason is one, with ecommerce, we’ve never really had a lot of time to simply grow a base.  And when you’re running a store and you make a sale, you’re usually going to grab that person as a lead or as somebody to go onto your email list, and if you have a newsletter pop-up (and we both do that), you grab another person in.  And even if you are an excellent, excellent email marketer, if you only have a list of 100 people or 500 people or even say 1,000 people, if you’ve got a 2% conversion on your emails, which would be very, very high in terms of a checkout and getting back to your own people, you really need a lot of people on that list to really make it worthwhile.  So a lot of the problem that I think me and Mike have is really building that list.  I’ll go back and say that we actually do have some experience on email, even though it hasn’t really been directly me or Mike, in a previous project that we ran in the gaming space.  How many people do you think we have on that email list, Mike?

Mike:   I mean it’s some six-figure number.  Low six-figure number.  I know it’s a pretty big number.

Grant:  Right.  So we have sent off a lot of email and I know for a fact because I’ve seen the Aweber bill. It’s not really pretty but it makes actually a lot of money for us on the other business, yeah.  I mean it went through somewhere on the order of, gees, oh boy, over a million emails a month or anything.  So I wouldn’t say that we’re completely new, but actually it was somebody else that was taking care of that and we really had a captive audience that we were blasting email messages to.  But in terms of taking it to the next level, this is going to be something new.  So…

Mike:   Yeah.  And my experience with email with ecommerce at least, when we owned Treadmill.com and we sent out our shipped emails or asked for a review email and it kind of just really ended there because I just didn’t really see the potential of repeat business and referrals necessarily and all these things because these were these really expensive machines that people bought once and so we didn’t really do a lot with email there; just neglected it.  And then, interestingly enough, when I bought IceWraps.com, it came with a list of like 40,000 people and I ran it through our scrubber and it got down to like 20,000 and then I sent out a couple of newsletters and while the engagement was fairly high, the open rate was high we would get like 12 orders or something miniscule off of sending that many emails and just kind of started neglecting it even more again because it didn’t seem worth the effort.

And what’s really funny is ColorIt started out the exact same way.  You know, I’d sent out a couple emails here and there and there was very little reward and almost kind of gave up with it but I think that because ColorIt just seemed to have this potential of being a brand if you will and having repeat business, it’s something that I forged through, and now that I have, I am actually really excited to go back one of these days when we have some time here and do all the same things that we’ve done with ColorIt and apply it to IceWraps and show Grant how to do that to CuttingBoard and I think we can get some pretty interesting results.  What do you think, Grant?

Grant:  Yeah, you can start right now, man.  That’d be great.  I’d love that.

Mike:   I’ve been taking pills to grow another hand and when that comes in we’ll get started.

Grant:  Really?  Pills just to grow a hand.

Mike:   Yeah.

Grant:  You know, I’ve heard there’s other pills on the internet that sell well.

Mike:   I take those too.

Grant:  Didn’t you want to own – what was that pill website?

Mike:   It was DietPill.com we came really close to buying one time.

Grant:  That’s right.  Diet pills.  You could’ve –

Mike:   Yeah.  Yeah and speaking of domains, it’s actually foreshadowing a little bit.  We were just talking about this before the podcast.  We probably have an episode coming up.  We just sold – or we think it’s going to sell – another domain.  So we’ll talk about domains as well, but yeah, it’s pretty funny.

Grant:  Oh yeah.  That would’ve been a good email.  That would’ve actually been a great email trial by fire: DietPills.com.  Because I mean talk about having to hit somebody over the head to try to get back to your domain.  I mean that’s really where it’s at.

Mike:   Yup.  Yup.  So let me kind of tell you our lifecycle, just kind of where we got started with Klaviyo and with email marketing and I think you guys will find this interesting.  I think it’s applicable really to any business.  Yeah, I started thinking that through and I want to slap myself silly for not doing this stuff with IceWraps and I’m sure Grant’s going to feel the same way about CuttingBoard eventually, but there’s some backstory I want to kind of get into real quick.  And one of the things is that a really good friend of mine works here locally for a like real estate company.  They basically teach people how to buy and sell homes and make money doing that and their whole business basically is predicated off of email marketing.  So over the last 12 to 18, 24 months, every time we’d catch up like kind of talk to him about what he’s doing at work and we’d get these little tidbits.  And one of the tidbits that I got that really helped me as we were doing our email marketing here is that the reality is that you have to keep your open rate really high, which is obviously a challenge sending out emails, especially to a cold list.

So after talking to him about open rates and understanding exactly where emails land in your inbox, whether it’s in your inbox, in your promo tab, in your spam tab, it’s really important and I mean, Grant, how many emails do you actually open that land in the Promotions tab?

Grant:  Oh, I’ve disabled that one, man.  I don’t even do that.

Mike:   You don’t even look.  Do you have it like all go to one big inbox or you just like – if it goes in Promotions, it automatically just gets deleted?

Grant:  Oh yeah.  Everything goes into my inbox and then everything that makes it past that, I just spam filter the hell out of it.

Mike:   Gotcha.  So you’re probably like a power spam user or filter user, which is probably even more important to what I’m talking about here.  And so a couple of the key techniques: I mean first off, you need to make sure that you don’t use words like “free” or “sale” or any of these types of sales-y type words in your subject line and those are things that people glance over really easily.  And also Google and as Gmail or Hotmail, Yahoo Mail, any of these types of hosted email platforms, which is like 85% of email these days or maybe even more, they just know what to do with that stuff and just throw it into promotions or throw it into spam.  So it’s very clever techniques of how to write a good subject line, and the other thing that’s really important is keeping the subject to an exact amount of characters.  I believe it’s 35 or less.  I have to go back and double check that number.  But the majority of emails that are opened now are opened on mobile devices so –

Grant:  Mm-hmm.

Mike:   You know, you want your subject line to be readable on mobile.  So that’s really important.  Do you find that, Grant – I mean you’re probably not quite as OCD about opening emails on your phone as I am but you probably still read several of them on your iPhone – or you don’t use an iPhone but your Android phone.

Grant:  Yeah, I know.  I’m the guy that hates technology even though I use it all the time and yeah, that’s the funny part about me.  I do understand that I am not one of my own customers and I think that’s probably a really great lesson for a lot of people, which is that a lot of times people forget that they’re generally not their own ideal customer and I often have to slap myself and try to remember that because, like you said, I rarely check my email on my phone.  I actually hate getting email on my phone, when I get a little buzz or anything like that.  I actually have it disabled.  I don’t even get a little buzz when I get the email.  I can’t stand it.  And I know there’s that one game – I think it started in Silicon Valley or somewhere – where you get a bunch of friends and you go out to eat and you put all your cell phones in the middle of the table and the first person to reach for it gets to order for everybody.  As in like pay the bill, that is.  And I would definitely be a winner of that game like hands down.

But like you said, it’s so true.  I don’t totally buy the “everybody is ordering online.”  There’s a huge, huge, massive like – I can’t reiterate enough – distortion of how people are putting that data because it’s not the fact that people are always ordering online.  But the truth is that people are definitely engaging at the very, very entry level at the funnel online for very much most of their shopping habits so email is like a huge part of that.  So I totally agree.

Mike:   Yeah.  Yeah.  So that’s one thing to really keep in mind and the stat that I have here for you guys, it still blows my mind just knowing what I know about email and what I know after talking to a lot of people in this industry.  Of those 102,000 emails that I mentioned that we sent out in the last 30 days, our open rate is 33.8%, which is like incredibly high.  You know, I’m in several mastermind groups and I read a lot of stuff online and that’s a very high open rate.  And there’re some things we’ll talk about in this podcast that will kind of explain how we got the open rate so high, but the key really is to train your audience to open your emails.  You know, not necessarily give them all the answers in the first email, or give them value bomb after value bomb depending on the type of flow that you’re running, and you’ll find that you can really get that open rate up.

So really, the first real email flow that we put together where we really got serious about email and where the real a-ha moment came for us was when we started doing contests.  And we’ve already done a podcast about contests so there’s no need to reiterate all that, but the part that we didn’t really get into in that podcast was what we’re doing with email.  And I’m going to go over specifically what we’re doing in our contest email flow on this podcast.  I mean this is stuff that if you were to hire a consultant, they’d charge you probably thousands of dollars to learn, and certainly some of the other stuff that we’re doing as well would cost a lot of money.  So I think you guys will find this quite valuable.

And what’s interesting is when we first started the contest back in January, we did one-third of what our February contest has done, and then the March contest is still running but done quite well as well.  It looks like it’s going to be on track to beat February’s.  And the reason that is is because we doubled the number of the emails that went out in our flow in February versus January.  And again, I mean we put this simple email flow together in January, but by February, we made it more robust and in March I think we added even one more email and we’re talking about ways to email even more.  And the reality is that, again, if you provide value to people and you train them to open your emails and the reality is that if they don’t want the stuff, they’ll unsubscribe anyway.  So like you shouldn’t be scared of emailing people.  I mean there’s obviously a point where it’s too much.  I haven’t figured out where that is yet.  We’re going to push the limits until I figure out like how much is too much because to this point, every time we email somebody, and I mean every single time we email somebody, it’s making us money.

Grant:  I would actually jump in here and say that one of the things I actually do to try to get my emails a little bit better is I try to subscribe to the people I think are doing like a fantastic job at that.  And I would say in my industry, I look at people like Williams-Sonoma, Macy’s, Crate and Barrel.  I’m not sure if I would put Macy’s as great.  I think Williams-Sonoma definitely kicks their butt in terms of the quality and the quantity.  And it’s actually amazing because, like you said, I don’t know where the limit it.  Williams-Sonoma practically emails me twice a day sometimes I feel like.  And that might just be my impression.  I actually don’t pay attention to how often they do it, but it actually feels that way.  They definitely email me every day and they even use crazy symbols in their email, like what people used to do in Google spamming with the star symbol and all that type of crud and I go, “Man, this is Williams-Sonoma.”  Like these guys are supposed to be the prime – the top tier of the culinary world.  But on the email side, they’re really just spamming out and just hitting me really hard over the head, and to me, it kind of goes, “Well, maybe that’s actually what works.”  They’re probably doing something that really, really works, which is emailing the crap out of their mailing list because yeah, what’s the worst that happens?  You leave.

Mike:   Yup.  And that’s really, I think, the way to look at it because if you’re not cultivating or watering your list or planting seeds or whatever you want to call it, whatever stupid analogy you want to use, over and over again, if you just let it sit there, it’s not going to yield you any food.  You know, if you just let your land sit there or your assets sit there it’s going to provide you nothing and you should not be scared to email and do it often.  So I’m going to kind of peel back the onion here at little bit and talk specifically about what we’ve been doing with our contest flow.  I’m not going to read necessarily every single word of the email but I’ll tell you the stats of the email and basically the subject of it.

So, the first email we send out with the contest is an immediate email and it’s a welcome email.  And it’s just basically “Thank you for joining our contest.”  You know, we have some stuff in here about some of our other products too kind of down at the bottom.  Again, we use Klaviyo, we use a template that we built out that did work once and I think it looks really pretty.  I mean if you go to our site and just sing up for ColorIt’s email list or sign up for one of these contests, you’ll see the emails that we send out.  They look really good on mobile, which is obviously key.  They look good on desktop.  But basically, it’s a welcome to our March contest and we have a variable in there so we don’t have to continue to change this every single month and we try to get a little bit cheeky.  You know, “It’s not every day that you get a lottery ticket for free and I want to officially welcome you to our monthly giveaway.  The most common thing we hear is, ‘I’ll never win,’ but try telling that to 30 lucky people from last month.  You never know when it’ll be your lucky day.  And again, I don’t want to read the whole thing word for word, but you kind of get the idea.  Just welcome to our contest.

And one big key in here is I have, “Tomorrow, I’ll be sending you exciting information on how you can earn additional entries to increase your chances of winning.  Be sure to take a look.”  So again, we know that the open rate on this email is going to be high.  You know, they just signed up for the email so we know that they’re going to want to open it and the open rate that we have on this email – let me click on the full link.  So we have a 39% open rate during the month of February.  So over a third of people are opening up this email.  Now, what’s really interesting about this email is we had 32 orders just off of this email.  People joined the contest just to get something for free.  When they opened up this email, 32 people placed an order, which to me is staggering.  We had 0.1% spam complaints and we had two people unsubscribe.  And on this email, we delivered 5,045 emails so if you can kind of – you know, four people out of 5,000 marked us as spam and two people marked us as unsubscribe and we had a 40% open rate.  I think that those numbers are pretty fantastic.

Grant:  And I think a lot of that would be one, people have a great connection with ColorIt and the brand and that’s the one thing I think you really got going for you, Mike, on that project because they really actually want to like see, “Hey, what do you have next for me?”  You know, “Well, I got done with my one coloring book and now –” it’s a consumable commodity.  And so that’s great because follow up emails are saying, “Hey, well, you’ve consumed that.  Maybe you haven’t, but most likely somebody has and now here’s the next option.”  So it’s a great way of just recycling through somebody that is going to be – I don’t know if a lifetime consumer’s going to be the right mentality, but certainly somebody hat is going to have continued interest at least for the foreseeable future.  One of the issues, I think, like you mentioned with Treadmill, they’re not going to consume a treadmill anymore.  The only thing that we could really do is maybe provide some fitness tips and whatnot and try to upsell them maybe, I don’t know, some health food things.  I think we actually had brainstormed that at one point.  I don’t remember.  Do you?  Like of trying to think what we could possibly upsell them on an email?

Mike:   Yeah, I mean we had talked about it.  It’s one of those things where we just didn’t implement it and now, looking back, I really regret it because I think that in a low-margin business like that, there was definitely opportunities that we left behind.  We had people that trusted us, that had bought from us, that knew our name, that would’ve opened up our emails, and we just let that opportunity go by the wayside and I feel the same way right now with IceWraps and I’m sure you’ll feel that way after all the stuff we’ll cover in this about ColorIt – or I’m sorry, about CuttingBoard.  The reality is that there isn’t a single brand out there, or maybe very few – I’m sure there’s some that are very tough for email marketing, but there’s always something that you could be sharing with your audience, whether it’s “Leave me a review, do the survey, here’s our referral program, here’s some tips, here’s some people that we’ve partnered with, you can use an affiliate marketing model to get this great deal.”

Whatever it is, there’s always opportunities.  Even if you can’t sell them like another treadmill maybe even a small portion of people that buy a treadmill eventually buy an elliptical too or whatever it is.  And it might take a very long time but the reality is that the opportunities are there.  This doesn’t really cost anything.  That’s really important.  I mean obviously like I’m putting a lot of time and effort into it upfront, but all these flows and things we’re setting up are a one-time deal and they just run forever.  So yeah, I mean, a long-winded answer to your question is a think that we left some stuff behind on Treadmill.

Grant:  Yeah, and I will say that – and I think it would be worth it to walk the people that are listening through Klaviyo a little bit because they might not understand exactly how that is different from MailChimp, but the idea of an email flow has actually been a fairly recent invention and even though like Treadmill.com’s not that long ago and Klaviyo and other tools might’ve been around at that time (it’s quite possible), but for the most part I think because that was really our first project, we didn’t have that deep of an understanding of applying logic to email other than just, “Well, you blast people once a month or once a week and you hope somebody signs up and buys some stuff.”  And that’s really how we treated our giant, giant email list back in the day and going back and thinking about applying like a Klaviyo flow to that, it was probably pretty sick.  We probably could’ve had a 200-piece article on how to improve your top line and do all this kind of stuff that would’ve driven up our player value.

Mike:   Yeah.  Yeah, for sure.  And yeah, just real quick, you mentioned Klaviyo versus like a MailChimp or Aweber.  The real advantage to Klaviyo is, I mean it’s got a very tight integration with Shopify.  So you can do triggers off of particular products that someone bought or when they place an order, when they haven’t placed an order in X amount of time, if they placed an order three times.  I mean anything you can dream of, you can do it in Klaviyo.  Obviously if someone just signed up for our contest, I mean I could go right through Aweber or MailChimp, it’s very simple drip series, but I don’t think that you can get the sales data as easily as you can with Klaviyo and having it all in one place is really helpful and it also makes really sexy looking emails, which I think is important.  These templates look just really first class and yeah, I mean it’s just been a lifesaver.

And maybe that’s something else we can talk about in a future episode, just how to particularly go through and set things up in Klaviyo, but they have basically two different sections.  It’s Flows, which is basically a drip series, and then they have a thing called Campaigns, which is basically a newsletter.  It’s a single-use thing.  And then you also have Lists and Segments.  So a List is just a bucket to throw people into when they sign up for an email list, and then a Segment is something you can do that you can filter people down by all kinds of crazy stuff.  You could say “Show me all the people that have bought from me in the last year who live in Virginia that have also bought a hexagon wrench,” or whatever, and you can get pretty niched down and then send emails or Flows or Campaigns down to that Segment.  So I think that’s a pretty decent overview of what the difference is there.

So getting into our second email in this contest flow, the second one is titled How to Increase Your Chances of Winning.  And basically, it just starts out “Hi, Michael,” and, really important here, we use the person’s name in the email.  Personalizing emails has an enormous uplift in open rates and readership and click-throughs.  So we just say, “Hey, Michael.  Yesterday I promised to fill you in on how to get more entries into our March contest.  If you’re getting this email, you’ve already earned at least 15 entries for joining our newsletter.”  And then it kind of basically just goes on to say, “Here’s other ways you can earn more entries,” which is something we want people to realize.  I mean it’s kind of a complicated, I don’t know, platform, the Gleam for people that aren’t techy, they don’t necessarily understand that they can earn entries over and over again or earn them multiple ways so we’re trying to explain that here to them while this is fresh on their mind.  We use an image that we took from Gleam and put it in the email and just have them click right to the contest page so they can earn more entries.

And going over some stats real quick here, for our second email on this flow, this one was opened 34%, had a 15% click-through rate, and we got 9 more orders off of this.  This is just an email that went out the very next day after they signed up for the contest and gosh only knows how many additional referrals and stuff we get from this email from people that refer other people.  Again, very low spam complaints.  Five spam complaints and three unsubscribes.  So we’re losing very few people at this stage of the contest flow.

All right, so moving onto the next email, we have the next one go out after three days.  So we have a two-day break and then we send out what I call like the value bomb.  And this is something that – you’ll hear a lot about the digital marketer guys will talk about this and I know that this was talked about at the traffic convention this year.  I didn’t have a chance to go but I did sign up for their recordings, which I’m waiting for to come out.  But this is really interesting.  Now our open rate actually goes up.  We actually had a 41.8% open rate, 23% click-through rate and another 8 orders.  Only three more spam complaints and seven unsubscribes.  And this email – again, it’s the value bomb.  Now we’ve asked people to do stuff for us to promote our contest, et cetera, but we do a four free drawing email.  You know, this doesn’t cost us anything and this can be applied to anyone’s business.  I mean in the cutting board business, it could be free information on how to care for our cutting board, how to care for knives.  In the ice wraps industry, it’s like how to use rice, which is the method for using ice and then heat and elevation and rest and all this stuff.  There’s always content and there’s things that you can send people here that would be interesting to them.

And in our audience’s case, it’s like well, why not send them four free drawings?  Everybody wants something for free.  It doesn’t cost us anything.  It’s a PDF they can print off at home and they get a better feel for what our artwork looks like, which I think is really important.  So this email just says, “Enjoy these four free drawings as a special thank you for entering one of our contests.  We want to share four complimentary drawings with you.  There’s nothing to buy and no strings attached.  Simply click the button below to download your drawings today.”  And we have a button in there with a picture that shows exactly what they get.  It even says, “Here’s what’s included.  When you download these drawings today you’ll get a PDF that you can print at home with your inkjet or laser printer.  We are including one drawing from each of our top-selling books, Calming Doodles, Mandalas To Color, Colorful Flowers, and Wild Animals.”  We’re telling people exactly what they’re going to get, and again, you can just see from the open rates that people are really engaging with this content.  And to this point, most likely the vast majority of people haven’t given us any money yet and this is people that are getting something for free by signing up for a contest.  We give them something else for free.  But again, we’re really trying to train them – that’s the key – to want to continue to open our emails and –

Grant:  So is –

Mike:   I’m sorry, Grant.  Go ahead.

Grant:  Yeah, so it’s pretty much your value proposition that you’re giving them right now, yeah?

Mike:   Yeah, I mean it’s definitely one of the value propositions.  We try to continue to do many, but this is like our first value prop and yeah, it’s definitely worked pretty well.

Grant:  And in terms of the conversions for the people that are actually getting the freebie versus somebody that you are advertising to on Facebook, what’s like the difference in conversion percentage?

Mike:   So, this is a contest flow so these are people that just sign up for the contest.  So I have to compare.  We also so the same promotion where we actually have a Facebook ad that’s just the four free drawings.  So the way that we get people into the contest flow is we make a post on our Facebook wall on the first of the month that just basically says, “We’re going to be giving away 30 copies of whatever, or 30 pencils sets,” whatever it is that we’ve done, “And a winner each day this month,” and we just boost that post.  That’s all we do and that gets people into this flow if they provide us their email address.  Like one of the ways to enter the contest is to provide your email address and you get 15 entries.  So I’d have to go compare how this converts compared to like just other cold traffic.

Grant:  Okay, got it.

Mike:   I mean I look at this as – I mean it’s actually a really interesting point.  This is going to be a multi-part episode so it’s something I’ll research and mention later in this series.

Grant:  Okay.  So like do you know the open rate for something like that for people that are entering their email just to get something for free and then when you send up a follow up email?  And I’m playing a little bit of a devil’s advocate because I could just see a lot of people going, “Well I don’t really want to do an email promotion because I’m going to give up a few hundred dollars and stuff and a bunch of people are just freeloaders and they’re going to sign up, then they’re just going to mark my email as spam and never do anything.”  So I think it’d be pretty interesting as a rebuttal to that kind of thinking on what the open rate is and how many people actually end up reading the emails afterward.

Mike:   Yeah, I mean this four free drawing email was the third email in the series and the open rate is 41.8% three emails into the series so I mean it’s really quite high and I think that’s pretty impressive.  And the open rate stays pretty high.  I’m going to cover the rest of these.  There’s a few more emails in this series and then we’ll move onto the post flow before we get into part two of this.  So that’s on day three is the four free drawings and on day five – so we’re basically emailing them every other day up to this point.  On day five, we email them about our promotion, like whatever promotion it is that we’re running that month and this is one email that we do change each month just so obviously it makes sense.

So in February, we had a 31.4% open rate on the promotion email, 15 people placed an order and again, that same 0.1% spam rate, and our unsubscribe was at 0.2%.  We had 12 people unsubscribe.  So still very strong sales and strong open rates.  And this open rate being strong like this helps us platform-wide of all the emails that we’re doing.  And then the February promotion email just basically reads – let me pull it up here real quick – “Fall in love with ColorIt’s adult coloring books.”  We use like a theme each month and obviously, February being Valentine’s Day and love, “To celebrate February, the month of love, we have created a special giveaway and package for your to fall in love with our top three selling adult coloring books.  For this month only, get this package for 20% off and fill your heart with joy of coloring.  Free your mind by creating colorful doodles or prefer the calming practice of coloring mandalas.  Our hand-drawn designs will not disappoint.”  And it goes a little bit further into that but basically now that we’ve given them the four free drawings and people go to see our artwork, now we’re kind of hitting them with a soft sale or maybe you can even say a medium to hard sell in some ways, but we’re just showing them a discounted offer and every month we do change that special legitimately and it’s worked quite well for us.

So the next one, on day eight, is ColorIt product offering.  So now we just kind of move into a general “Here’s some stuff that we offer, that we sell.”  The title of the email’s just Explore the Creative World of ColorIt.  “ColorIt and its team members strive to bring you premium quality products that will support and inspire your inner childish shine.  ColorIt believes that art and coloring provide a therapeutic effect on the mind and body.  These benefits, of which include relaxation and imagination, stress relief, mindfulness, and concentration.  With the customer experience in mind, our products are carefully hand-selected and originally designed to help you free your creativity.”  And “Free your creativity” is like our little tagline.

And then we go into the different categories that we have.  We do books and pencils and sketchpads and journals.  So that email there has a – I actually am shocked.  You know, eight days into this flow, we’re still seeing huge open rates.  This one’s at 29.1%.  another 12 orders placed off of this, spam complaint, again, 0.1%.  Very low. Our unsubscribe rate does creep up to 0.5% here, 22 people did unsubscribe, but again, I mean this is people that sign up into a contest list to get something for free and I really don’t care if they unsubscribe because they didn’t provide us any value to begin with, but we did get 12 orders.  And the point is that month after month after month, this’ll run.  You know, if we do 12 times 12, this one email’s going to generate 144 orders for us this year.  I wrote it once, it took me 30 minutes, and that’s the way that I look at it.

Grant:  So have you actually done a calculation for every email address on that list what is the average top line revenue that you get out of it?

Mike:   We know our average order value site-wide but I haven’t looked at breaking down.  It’s definitely interesting stuff, it’s just obviously so many hours in the day.  I’m still curious exactly how well do these people perform that come off this free contest list.  And we also send out other site-wide campaigns that we’ll talk about on part two of this series but one thing I’m ultra-curious is what is kind of like the value per person on the contest list so I know what I can pay to acquire someone on that list, but I don’t really have that information yet.

Grant:  Yeah, that’s what I was pretty much going for because that is pretty much the Holy Grail right there, right?  For data metrics and business intelligence, which is if you can put – let’s say every email gets you, just to throw a round number out there let’s say just $1 for every email that you get in terms of revenue.  And if your margins are around – what are your margins around?  35, 40?  35?

Mike:   Well, depend on obviously if you can include shipping or not, but usually 50%.

Grant:  Okay.  So after shipping it’s about 35, so then you get your cost per acquisition and then at that point it’s just a math game of how many emails can you get that aren’t totally spammy that you can start marketing to?  And I know with the guys like Williams-Sonoma like I mentioned and a lot of those other big guys, they have such high average lifetime value that they spend so much money just trying to get people onto the list.  And I know a lot of – Amazon’s actually pretty guilty of that, just the teaser rate really.  The initial order just to get you in the door.  A lot of them have these ridiculous first time coupons for 30% or even 40% off and once they get you in there, then they figure that they can just email you to death afterward and then drive up the average order value and then hopefully you stay around.  But it’s pretty interesting.  There’s a huge amount of people that are way, way, way into email and I know you’re getting into it and I’ve only touched the surface, but there’s definitely a massive amount of intelligence out there that is just not being mined mixed up at the very elite levels

Mike:   Yeah.  Yeah, and if you’re interested in that stuff, I’m going to do a plug for Drew Sanocki.  I’m actually going to be on his podcast here in the next few weeks but he’s great at that.  If you go over to Nerd Marketing and listen to his podcast, he does a lot of great stuff about this top-level mining stuff.  But real quick just to answer your question, Grant, while you were talking there I was doing some rough calculations and it’s actually quite interesting.  We have like just under 20,000 in our list.  It’s like 19,800.  And in the last 30 days, we’ve generated $16,200 in revenue off of email.  So it’s what?  A little bit under $1 – let’s say 80 cents – per email address (whatever that works out to) per month to our list, which is amazing.  So depends on how – you know, that number’s been climbing.  The revenue off of email’s been climbing and the revenue per customer’s been climbing, but yeah, I’m interesting to see like what we can do with that.  And, like you said, then we know if it costs us 50 cents to acquire an email address, that we’re going to make money because then we know that.

And I don’t know what the lifetime value is yet because like it’s still too young of a company so once it’s been going for a year or two ideally, we’d be able to really know, “Okay, well the lifetime value of an email address is $3 and I can pay $2 to acquire an email address,” and those things will become a lot easier to figure out.  Right now we’re just looking at it in a vacuum.  It’s like a one to one relationship for like what we’re paying to get someone into our contest, what we’re spending and we’re looking at it flow by flow and not site-wide because we don’t have enough data for that yet.  But definitely interesting thought process, Grant.

Grant:  Yeah, and hey, I’m pretty close on that one.  Almost $1.  I bet you’ll probably be at $1.  Like you said, you’re not quite at the maturity level.  I mean ColorIt is what?  The website, four months?

Mike:   Three and a half months old, yeah.  Yeah.

Grant:  Right.  So give it another nine months and I bet that 16 is going to turn into probably 22, 24.  You’ve just got to keep releasing product, man.  Chop, chop, you know.

Mike:   Yeah.  Well, we’re doing it, trust me.  We have a lot of stuff in the pipeline so…  All right, so moving onto the next one, the last one I mentioned was on day eight, the ColorIt product offering.  So on day eleven, we send out one last email to this list.  And we’re going to – obviously, because every time we send out email, it generates orders, this one actually is doing among the best as far as revenue.  So one day eleven, we send out an email, What Community Members Have Been Doing, and we have a page on our site where we direct them to that is basically just a social proof page.  They land on a page that has nothing but a gallery of images that are being pulled from Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter with the hashtag #MyColorIt that we review every day and make sure that we approve all the images before they’re on our site, but people basically, they’re using our product and they publish to social media because they love it and boom, social proof.  So now, at this stage of the game, we have a 27% open rate, got 10 more orders off of this email and our unsubscribe rate was 0.3%.  So all in all this contest flow has done really, really quite well for us and hopefully that gives you guys some real insight into exactly what we’re doing with that flow.

And then just real quick before we sign off on this part of this episode, there is actually a second part to this flow that we do that we call the post-contest flow.  So what we do is we set up a segment within Klaviyo that’s anyone that’s signed up for the February list by March 1st or whatever date, and once we add them to that list, on the 1st of March because we want that email – the other emails are going out based on what day they signed up so it’s D-Day plus 1, plus 2, plus 3, whatever, that flow I was mentioning.  Like on day eleven, that’s eleven days after they signed up for the contest is when that email goes out.  But that date that they sign up is not relative to the 1st of March so we have to set up a second flow so on the 1st of the month, we can send out an email saying what we want to say here, which is basically our post-contest flow.

So we have an email that goes out on March 1st that says, “Get your ColorIt contest results.”  Again, we’re trying to play games on how we can get people to get the highest open rate.  What can we say here that’s going to get people to open the email?  And “get your results” is the way.  You know, and we split test all this, by the way, and Klaviyo has split test functionality so we’ve already split test the living crap out of this, and that was the subject line that did the best.  41.3% open rate, 31 orders, 0.2% spam, 0.6% unsubscribe.  And this is when I would expect the highest unsubscribe rate anyway because now people didn’t win the contest, they’re all in a huff.  But we got 31 orders off of it, which is really important.

And the way that this works, we’ve actually been split testing the offer.  The first month, we did 10% off.  This month, we did $5 off.  We had posed it as a gift card.  We said, “Here’s a $5 gift card.”  And then, next month we’re going to do 5% off and we’re going to compare the three and that’ll be our winner.  But the email just basically says, “We want to thank those who participated with $5 off.  Michael, the February ColorIt giveaway if officially over, but we wanted to take a moment to thank all of our 10,000+ supporters and congratulate our lucky 30 winners.  To show our appreciation, we’re offering a $5 gift card off your next purchase at ColorIt.com.  We typically don’t give discounts like this, but after seeing all the effort everyone put into the contest, we had to find  way to thank you.  Your discount is available for a limited time only.  You have until the countdown timer strikes 00:00 before this offer is gone forever.”  And we include an actual countdown timer in our email, which has been quite powerful, and that’s how I think we’ve been able to achieve those results.  So yeah, I think pretty impressive.  What do you think, Grant, on that email?

Grant:  Yeah, I like that countdown timer.  Is that JavaScript or…?

Mike:   Yeah, it’s a WordPress plugin called Out of Timer.  I think it was – we got a discount on it.  It’s by the digital marketer guys.  I think we got it for like $10 but I think they sell it for $40 on their site, but well worth it.  It’s a really good looking timer.

Grant:  Ah.

Mike:   I mean it’s worth a few dollars to just grab it.

Grant:  Interesting.  Yeah, I never thought that could run in email.  But guess you learn.

Mike:   Yup.  So, then we do another email in this flow after 40 hours, so it’s basically we tell people that the sale was good for 72 hours.  So we want to hit them up again one more time before the sale runs out and then the results on this is it’s obviously a much lower open rate, which we would expect: an 18.9% open rate.  But it got 24 orders.  And remember, the first one I think I said it got 30 or 35.  I forgot what it was already.  Too many numbers floating in my head but another 24 orders off of just a reminder of the same exact thing, of “Here’s your $5 coupon.  It’s expiring soon.”  0.1% spam, 0.4% unsubscribe.  Again, I don’t really care if people unsubscribe us at this point.  I got 24 more orders off of this email.

So then we have the final thing before we sign off for this episode until we get to part two here is a reminder – actually not a reminder, but we do an extension.  So we’re always thinking of another way to have an excuse to email people.  So we do, “This special’s been extended one day.”  So we say, “Because we love our ColorIt fans, we have extended our $5 offer for one more day.  Could this be destiny?  Possibly so.  For some reason, you still haven’t ordered, which means this coloring book or pencil set that you’ve been eyeing is still waiting for you to make it official.  All it takes it one click, but hurry.  Your offer expire once the countdown timer strikes 00:00.”  So we, again, put another countdown timer in there.  It’s on a different end time one day further in the future than the other one, and it’s just basically one more last-ditch effort because we’re not going to email them more than a third time.  Guess what?  15 more orders came off of this.  It was only a 15% open rate, which tells me that we’ve pretty much poked that bear as much as we possibly can once that open rate gets that low, but it did generate 15 more orders and it had a 0.4% unsubscribe rate.

So that’s basically our entire contest flow in a nutshell.  I mean if you guys are thinking of running a contest or you’re looking at doing some flows, I mean hopefully this gives you a really good insight into how to set this up.  And then in part two, I’m going to be going into all the other flows that we’re doing.  We have a lot of other flows.  We have like a post-sale flow.  You know, after someone’s purchased, there’s a flow for that.  We have a flow for our four free drawing offer.  We have a flow for after something is shipped.  There’s a lot of other stuff going on, and we’ve also run a lot of campaigns so we’ll talk about the campaigns that we’ve run.

So hopefully, part one’s been helpful.  Stay tuned until next week for part two.  Before we sign off, just want to remind everybody if you have a change to head over to iTunes, if you found this episode to be helpful, just leave us a review in iTunes.  We really appreciate it.  Or head over to EcomCrew and sign up for our newsletter and get lots of cool updates.  We just made a post this week about how we’ve actually grown the ColorIt brand to a $1 million brand in less than a year so that’s probably a pretty topical topic since we’re talking about ColorIt and email but there’s some interesting stuff over there about that.  We’ll link to all that in the show notes.  So until next week, have a good one, everyone, and we’ll talk to you then.

Outro:  If you have any questions or comments, we’d love to hear from you.  Head over to EcomCrew.com and sign up for the EcomCrew newsletter to get regular updates on what’s working in ecommerce today, and get the latest from our blog.  If you haven’t already, we’d really appreciate an honest review in iTunes.  These reviews help us make sure we’re delivering exactly the content you need to be successful.  And make sure you subscribe to the show for more tips to move you up in the business ladder and into success.  We’ll see you next week.

Michael Jackness

Michael started his first business when he was 18 and is a serial entrepreneur. He got his start in the online world way back in 2004 as an affiliate marketer. From there he grew as an SEO expert and has transitioned into ecommerce, running several sites that bring in a total of 7-figures of revenue each year.


  1. Listen to this episode. So much info! as background, I am new to ecommerce, but am an experiend brick and mortar owner. Trying to transition to making online product sales, but am lost. Since it looks like you guys are full on consulting side, any ideas how a newbie can become awesome at email marketing etc? Keep podcasting!

  2. Mike how do you set up the post-contest flow in Klaviyo? To my knowledge there is no segmentation option that will allow a flow to be triggered on the first day of a month based on all people who joined a list in the previous month. The only way I see it possible is to manually create a new segment each month for all people who join the list between date x & date y and then manually take the post contest flow from “draft” status to “live” on the first day of each month.

    It sounds like you have found a way to automate the entire process. Curious to hear how.

    Great podcast btw!


    1. Jonas,

      You are correct… you cannot automatically trigger a flow based on the day of the month. So, we have 2 flows. One is the contest signup flow, which sends out emails such as “welcome to the contest”. Then, we have a post contest flow that we manually trigger. This sends out the emails with the results and post contest offers (with timers).

      Thanks for the kind words about the podcast btw.


  3. That was an awesome podcast guys! Mike how are you using a WordPress plugin countdown timer for in Klaviyo? I can’t get my head around it. Thanks

  4. Wow! What a great episode, thank you for sharing this information. I’ve done a lot of email marketing over the years, really great hearing other people’s process and results. Email is still one of the most under utilized tools IMO.

    I’m about one more episode away from moving to your town and forcing you to hire me :) lol

    Great info guys, please keep it coming. Super motivating!

    1. We appreciate the comments! It’s funny, Mike and I thought about some type of public internship position, but it’s still in the works. We’ll keep you on the short list though ;)

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