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Bonus Episode: Mixing Technology & Strategy to Receive 10x ROI with Michael Epstein from PostPilot

Michael Epstein has been in ecommerce for over 20 years, starting an online retailer and existing in 2013 to private equity. 

He has served as a private equity operating partner and CMO for numerous 8 & 9 figure PE-owned Ecom brands. 

He is currently co-founder & co-CEO of PostPilot, a direct mail automation platform built for ecommerce and direct to consumer brands. 

In This Conversation We Discuss: 

  • [00:00] Intro
  • [01:23] The elevator pitch for PostPilot
  • [02:56] Being the “Klaviyo for Y”
  • [03:55] Applying common email flows to postcards
  • [06:29] How does attribution work for PostPilot?
  • [07:51] The advantage of unique codes
  • [09:13] Pricing for PostPilot
  • [10:54] The “godfather” offer
  • [11:38] Can you customize your own designs?
  • [12:53] Most brands prefer PostPilot to handle designs
  • [13:50] PostPilot’s brand new announcement!
  • [15:58] Mixing technology and strategy 
  • [16:43] Examples of how PostPilot helped big brands
  • [18:49] Where to start with PostPilot

Resources:

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 Transcript:

Chase Clymer  

Before we get started, if you're enjoying this content, you can do us a favor by subscribing to our YouTube channel and ringing the bell.

That will let the algorithm know that you like this content and it will help us produce more.

Michael Epstein  

Start lower in the funnel, demonstrate that your customers respond to it, that you're getting incremental revenue and LTV, and then continue to work your way up to more more on the acquisition side. 

Chase Clymer  

Welcome to Honest Ecommerce, a podcast dedicated to cutting through the BS and finding actionable advice for online store owners. I'm your host, Chase Clymer. And I believe running a direct-to-consumer brand does not have to be complicated or a guessing game. 

On this podcast, we interview founders and experts who are putting in the work and creating real results. 

I also share my own insights from running our top Shopify consultancy, Electric Eye. We cut the fluff in favor of facts to help you grow your Ecommerce business.

Let's get on with the show.

Chase Clymer  

Hey, everybody, welcome back to another bonus episode of Honest Ecommerce. We're gonna start doing these a lot more. 

Bringing in to the show today, the co-CEO of PostPilot, a direct mail automation platform built for the Ecommerce space. Michael Epstein, welcome to the show.

Michael Epstein  

Thanks for having me, Chase. I love to be a bonus guest. I feel extra special.

Chase Clymer  

Yeah, I feel like anytime I get a bonus, I love it. So (laughs) I hope that our audience does too. 

Michael Epstein  

Totally. Yeah. 

Chase Clymer  

All right. So I skimmed over what the program does. But give me a... 

What's the elevator pitch? What's a good fit for PostPilot?

Michael Epstein  

Sure. Well, I see you're wearing a Klaviyo shirt. Right? So... 

Chase Clymer  

I am. (laughs) They outfitted me at the last conference I went to pretty heavily. (laughs)

Michael Epstein  

Alright. Well, I have to get to some PostPilot swag. 

Chase Clymer  

Alright.

Michael Epstein  

But the easiest way to think about PostPilot is its Klaviyo for direct mail. 

So throw out everything you know or the notion you have about traditional direct mail - batch and blasting using a bunch of spreadsheets to a bunch of people in a zip code or the fit certain household income or whatever the the attributes are. 

Think about PostPilot as an automation platform that allows you to send individually personalized, automated or triggered, and tracked direct mail campaigns to your customers and prospects --The same way you think about a Klaviyo campaign or Klaviyo automated flow

And so we're helping you reach the 80+% of folks that are not engaging with your email or digital ads, aren't on your list, unsubscribed, or just not opening or engaging. Because the average email... 

The average open rate for an email for an Ecommerce store is typically about 20% and that's of people that are subscribed. 

So that's why it's just been this emerging channel in the face of iOS updates jacking up people's Facebook ROAS and email engagement declining. It's a great channel to add to your marketing mix.

Chase Clymer  

Yeah. I think that that is music to a lot of people's ears. Just to go back on how you described it. 

You remember back in like 2010 or whatever, every startup out of Silicon Valley was like "It's the Uber for X." I love to have been around for Klaviyo's growth to now have the claim... 

"It's the Klaviyo for Y." I think that's so cool for them.

Michael Epstein  

Yeah, totally. I've been in the direct-to-consumer and Ecom space for over 20 years. Klaviyo... I was proud... I was one of the first people on Klaviyo. 

Lifecycle marketing is my thing, along with my co-founder/business partner. And so, we were running direct mail campaigns successfully for a lot of the Ecom portfolio brands that we've run over the last 20 years with success. 

But it was hard and clunky how you would think about direct mail and we basically said "We should build Klaviyo for postcards. Why isn't it that easy to do it?" And that's what we set out to do. And that's what we've done.

Chase Clymer  

Alright, so it's postcards. So let me just walk through an easy flow for most brands on Klaviyo. 

There's a bunch of other similar products out there but Klaviyo is the one that I'm just gonna get a lot of our customers our listeners are using. 

How about a birthday? We send out birthday emails, it's a little more advanced email flow to set up within Klaviyo. Is that a possibility with PostPilot? 

Michael Epstein  

Yeah, absolutely. I think the number one use-case or the basic starting point is like a win-back campaign

Chase Clymer  

Okay. 

Michael Epstein  

Right? So you have your... 

Obvi, the rocket ship supplements, D2C supplements brand. And you have… 

You sell a 30 to 60 day supply of supplements. And customers go 60 maybe 90 days and they haven't made that repurchase yet.

These are people that have made a couple purchases previously, have been on track and been in their routine. 

And Obvi says, “If you haven't come back within 90 days, we're at serious risk of losing you. You've been getting our email campaigns. You've been getting our SMS campaigns, even. We have been hitting…” 

“Trying to target you on Facebook and through digital ads, but you haven't responded? How are we making sure we're getting in front of you and getting those people back before they permanently defect?”

Because the longer they go without re-buying, the more likely they are to never buy from you again. And whether they're choosing another brand or just forget about you. And so, for example, we ran this 90-day win back campaign for Obvi, and they got a... 

I think it's up to a 31x ROI on that campaign. It's bonkers. And these are people that they tried emailing, and they tried hitting through other channels, and wasn't able to get them back in back engaged and buying again. And so this was a campaign that they ran. 

And now they automatically run it. Anytime a customer goes 90 days without repurchasing, it triggers that card to say, "Hey Chase, it's time for a refill." or "Get back on track. Here's a code to come back and save 10% or 15% on your next order." 

And that runs in the background just like an automated email flow, Klaviyo flow and is working to continuously bring those customers back. 

That's like a very simple, easy and common use case. And then there's a bunch of other scenarios that you can build the same way you think about other automated email flows.

Chase Clymer  

Absolutely. And let's talk a bit about attribution on this. So are you... 

Is the attribution using a custom code that these people are provided with on the card? Or is it like that person bought after we know that postcard went out? What's the logic behind hitting those numbers?

Michael Epstein  

Yeah, great question. So we track attribution in 2 ways. One, we're natively integrated with Shopify and the... 

I can't kind of overstate the value of the native integration, because we... 

That's what allows us to do that automated segmenting and triggering. But it also allows us to know if a customer who received a card goes on to make a subsequent purchase and if they use the coupon code on the card. So we track... 

We know when that card was delivered, we know if that customer goes on to make a subsequent purchase, and we can attribute that back to the card that they received, and we know if they use the coupon code that was on that card, and can attribute the use of that coupon back to the card that they received. 

Whether it's a static like a regular coupon, or single use code, --meaning unique code for each individual that received the card-- we can do both and attribute that redemption back to the card that they received. So pretty clear attribution. 

And it's in real time what you see right on your dashboard versus a bunch of spreadsheets and manual match backs and things you might think about if you've ever tried direct mail in the past. 

Chase Clymer  

Yeah. You answered a question that I already had, which was… I knew... Not PostPilot, but previously with some more direct…

When direct mail was starting to catch the wave again as people were exploring more unique avenues for remarketing with this new direct-to-consumer world, I know that one of the bigger issues was like scale, it wasn't single use codes. You had to use one code for everybody. 

And that code would leak on one of the coupon websites and just ruin all of your campaigns. So I think that's a fantastic use of the technologies to create unique codes tied to unique customers. 

Michael Epstein  

Totally. So one, just with our DNA and background in direct-to-consumer, we understand what's important, because I've been a digital marketer and performance marketer my whole career. So we built what we know is important to that use case. 

And to your point, it's exactly right. I think one of the most powerful and differentiated aspects of what we're doing is again, these are individually personalized cards printed on-demand, the moment someone meets that criteria. 

And that's what allows us to say, "Hey Chase, it's time for you to come back. And here's your unique coupon code."Because those are, it's literally printed as soon as you hit the criteria that you've set for you and mailed directly to you.

Chase Clymer  

That's fantastic. Now let's talk about pricing. What does the model look like? Am I paying for the stamps to go on these cards? What should I expect as a customer? 

Michael Epstein  

Yeah, so pricing starts at $0.49 a card and that's all in. And so you're not paying... That's including postage, printing everything. And there's no minimum. So again, because we're not doing these in giant batches... 

And they're individually printed, you could send literally one card, and I think one of the big things that we offer is a done-for-you concierge service. 

So what we found is a lot of folks are super interested in getting... 

Testing out direct mail, getting involved, and trying out the channel. And they just don't know where to start, or they don't have the resources internally to build the campaign, or they don't understand what best practices are. 

So we've literally built a completely done-for-you service where we'll set up the campaign for you, we have experienced account managers and see thousands of these campaigns. We know exactly what works. 

We know how to segment your customers properly so you get clear visibility, great insights, and data. 

And then we have an in-house creative department that will design the card for you, following your brand guide or following your website style and following all of our best practices. And literally, it can be completely hands off. 

We can show you the campaign or the design, tell you how we've set it up, and you can just give us the thumbs up, it's good. 

Or you could say "Ah change these couple things and then we're ready to go." You basically don't have to lift the finger. And we do that all as part of our service.

Chase Clymer  

That sounds a little too good to be true. And you guys refer to this as your "godfather" offer, don't you?

Michael Epstein  

Yes, exactly. Because it's an offer you can't refuse. (laughs) We will also... You fill out a quick form. If you're a Shopify store doing a million dollars or more in revenue, we will even let you... 

We will even send out a test campaign on our dime. We are confident that it will work. 

We'll do the setup, we'll do the design, we'll send the first batch of cards on us because we know what works. 

We know that you'll see it for yourself and we want you to see it for yourself. And we know you'll come back and want to keep sending more campaigns and expand your campaigns when you see the results. So [you] can't lose.

Chase Clymer  

 Absolutely. So you skimmed over some stuff there that I want to touch back on up on and it's the creative aspects. So if I... 

I know a lot of brands out there that are super design-oriented. That's our thing. And that's why our customers like us. 

Can they come to the table with their own file as long as it kind of checks the box boxes you need? 

Can they come up with their own creative or is it do they have to use some sort of limiting design-and-drop thing?

Michael Epstein  

No, you can absolutely upload your own custom design. And if you have a... If you have that capability and you know what you want, by all means. 

Super easy, takes two seconds to just upload the design and you're done. We just find that even the biggest brands... 

Big brands like Four Sigmatic and other folks that have their own creative departments still might like us to do it. 

And they just want to rely on our team either because they know that their creative departments are strapped, or they want to make sure that they're meeting all those best practices. 

But we'll give you the exact step-by-step instructions on what we think are best practices. And if you think you're... 

If you want your own team to build it, by all means, go for it. Super easy.

Chase Clymer  

Michael, you're gonna hit the nail on the head there, though. 

Because I could see creative teams just being like "You're gonna do it? Have fun. I've got a backlog of things I need to do."

Michael Epstein  

Yes, that's what we found to be so common. Because we work with brands, seven to well into the nine figures. And it doesn't matter how big the company is or if you have your own creative department, we just always found or almost always found that every... They've got... 

Their plates are very full, there's always demands on their time. So it's like, "If you guys can do it for us, man, that would just save us a ton. It would move a lot faster." 

And so we're happy to do it as part of the service.

Chase Clymer  

I run into that from the agency side all the time. They're like, "This sounds great. I can't wait to do this. But we have to wait because I've got these other things to do." And if you can make... 

Again, it goes back to the offer that you're putting out there, as done for you as possible.That's how much you believe in the product that you're putting out.

Michael Epstein  

Exactly. Yep. 

Chase Clymer  

Alright, so let's talk about the future of PostPilot. Are there any cool features that are coming? I know today, we're recording this when Shopify dropped just a metric ton of new features. They call it Shopify Editions.

So is there any cool stuff coming in the future to PostPilot that you can tell our listeners about?

Michael Epstein  

Yeah, absolutely. And breaking news. I'll share it here for the first time publicly. We're about to release a new acquisition tool, which allows you to take your email leads... 

So I'll take a step back for a second. A lot of people think of direct mail. The first thing they think about is blasting a bunch of people, again, in a zip code with an offer. "I sell food products. Everybody likes food. So why don't I just hit everybody who... In this area or over this age demographic with my offer?" That is hard to make work. That is tough. 

That's why we think start at the bottom of the funnel and work your way up. Start with your existing customers that have demonstrated a willingness to purchase from you and now get incremental purchases from them. And now we keep working our way up the funnel.

And so what we're going to do now is allow you to take your email leads to people that have opted in to your email list but have not purchased from you. 

They've gotten your welcome sequence, you probably have a welcome sequence, abandoned cart sequence via email, they have not... They've not converted yet. 

And so we can scrub that against the database of physical addresses and if we get an accurate match, we can then target that customer with a personalized postcard, with that offer to get them to convert, and again, reach all these new folks that have not purchased from you but have demonstrated intent. 

Demonstrated some indication that they're interested in what you have to offer. And so these are new... 

This is net new customer acquisition, but at least demonstrating a level of intent. That's gonna get you a much better ROI than going completely cold.

Chase Clymer  

Yeah, that's some pretty interesting overlaps and technology and strategy there. 

And that's just crazy that that's where the future is headed with being able to target your customers that far up the funnel, where technically they're cold.

Michael Epstein  

Yeah, exactly. So we continue to move up the funnel, doing things with modeling and other type campaigns. 

But again, we always recommend starting lower in the funnel, demonstrating that your customers respond to it, --that you're getting incremental revenue and LTV-- and then continue to work your way up to more more on the acquisition side.

Chase Clymer  

Absolutely, Michael. Now, is there anything that I forgot to ask you about today that you think our audience would need to know?

Michael Epstein  

I think we just make it super easy. You add... We covered the key points. We can segment the customers in a way that we understand exactly how each of these different cohorts are performing. So we can say... 

Again, because of our native Shopify integration, we can say, "Let's send... Let's break these segments up into customers that haven't bought in the last 60 to 90 days versus 90 to 120, versus 120 to 150. And we can track in real time how each of those individual cohorts perform." 

And that's what allows us to continue to optimize your campaigns and ensure that you're getting the best results and not spending money sending cards to people that aren't responding. In cases like… 

We had a recent case with Beardbrand, one of the OG men's grooming brands. Big D2C brand run by a really sharp guy, Eric van Holtz. And they ran a campaign to customers that hadn't bought in at least 180 days. And were unsubscribed from Klaviyo. 

So these are people that were long gone and no way to reach them because they were unsubscribed to the list. That campaign got a 10x ROI. 

And that's just bringing people back that are basically almost new at that point, because they are so long gone. 

And we can track that and keep going back further and further and seeing how these different groups of customers perform.

For example, Four Sigmatic, the big coffee brand, went back years. And we would look at individual cohorts of customers and say, "How does this group perform relative to this group?" 

And as soon as we see that the ROI no longer makes sense, we say "Okay, that's the threshold." We cut it off at that point and doesn't... And we'll no longer send to them. 

But anybody, before that point, we're seeing consistently positive ROI so we can keep sending to them and know that we're going to get a good return from our campaigns. 

So that's again, one of the key aspects of how we do it that's familiar to digital marketers, versus again this batch and blast approach that you might have heard about or thought about before.

Chase Clymer  

Absolutely. Now if people want to go and take you up on this offer that's too good to refuse, where do they go?

Michael Epstein  

Yeah, go to postpilot.com/gfo, that's the Godfather offer. 

Again, you can't refuse because we will do the whole thing for you and send it on our dime, let you see the results for yourself. If you like it, great, you'll continue. 

If you don't, you just got yourself a free direct mail campaign and you got... And you tried it. And so we think you'll be really happy and excited by the results.

Chase Clymer  

Awesome. Michael, thank you so much for coming on the show today.

Michael Epstein  

Chase, thanks for having me.

Chase Clymer  

Absolutely. 

Alright. I can't thank our guests enough for coming on the show and sharing their knowledge and journey with us. 

We've got a lot to think about and potentially add into our own business. You can find all the links in the show notes. 

Make sure you head over to honestecommerce.co to check out all the other amazing content that we have. 
Make sure you subscribe, leave a review. And obviously if you're thinking about growing your business, check out our agency at electriceye.io. Until next time.