Ben Jabbawy is the founder and CEO of Privy.com, the leading website conversion platform for ecommerce merchants and one of Inc Magazine’s 5000 fastest growing companies! Over 250,000 ecommerce merchants, like Leesa Mattress, FIGS, The Beatles and more, use Privy to grow their email lists, reduce cart abandonment and drive repeat sales.
On our podcast today, we talk about how email marketing is the foundation of a successful ecommerce business, some tips and tricks for email marketing, and how to develop a good mindset for success and failure.
In This Conversation We Discuss:
- [0:55] Privy being included in the Inc 5000 list of fastest growing companies
- [1:55] What is Privy?
- [3:00] Ben’s history before Privy
- [4:09] Being the “tech guy” in the family
- [5:09] Privy’s difficult times
- [5:43] Making a choice and learning from failure
- [5:58] Privy’s awesome clients/brands
- [6:30] Chase’s funny Hubble Contacts story
- [7:17] How Privy helps ecommerce businesses
- [8:00] The wishful thinking of marketers and business owners vs. data and reality
- [9:20] Website segmentation
- [10:00] Focusing on the 3 audiences in the funnel
- [10:50] The proper use of pop-ups
- [11:40] Marketing techniques for each of the 3 audiences in the funnel
- [13:46] Sponsor: https://www.simplr.ai/honest
- [14:30] The importance of email marketing for ecommerce
- [15:58] Other marketing channels as choices for customers to interact with your store
- [17:11] Emails are less intrusive than other channels, making it best for general correspondence
- [18:06] Other reasons why email marketing is so cool
- [19:01] Tips on what messages to send your email list
- [19:31] Presale and Postsale
- [19:51] Educational welcome series
- [20:11] Cart abandonment emails
- [20:46] What to do after the customer’s first purchase
- [21:00] Emails for a customer’s “critical moment”
- [21:25] Order followup series
- [22:10] Email marketing: start simple and modify bit by bit
- [23:14] Klaviyo’s interview with an agency that built a huge segmented email campaign
- [23:45] Tips for newsletter content
- [25:34] Consistency trumps content at first
- [26:00] When the data comes, adjust along the way
- [26:00] Gary Vee’s first book: Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook
- [26:50] Give value, then ask for the sale
- [27:09] Get inspired by joining Allbirds.com’s email list
- [28:08] How I Built This Podcast feat the founders of Allbirds
- [28:42] What propels businesses “over the chasm”
- [28:52] Is Privy an overnight success?
- [29:11] What’s next for Privy?
- Learn more at privy.com
- Privy’s beginner and advanced conversion training webinars privy.com/training
If you’re enjoying the show, we’d love it if you left Honest Ecommerce a review on Apple Podcasts. It makes a huge impact on the success of the podcast, and we love reading every one of your reviews!
If I were building a direct-to-consumer business today, what I'd be thinking about is actually giving the customer that choice of "Hey, do I want to engage with this business through email or Facebook or SMS?" (and) not forcing them down one or the other path.
Welcome to Honest Ecommerce where we are dedicated to cutting through the BS and finding actionable advice for online store owners.
I'm your host, Chase Clymer
And I'm your host, Annette Grant.
And we believe running an online business does not have to be complicated or a guessing game.
If you're struggling to scale your sales, Electric Eye is here to help. To apply to work with us. visit electriceye.io/connect to learn more.
And let's get on with the show.
Hey, thanks for having me. (I'm) super pumped to be here, Chase.
Cool. So when you get on a sweet list like that, do they send you 500 candies? How does that work? 5000. Sorry.
(laughs) There was a package that came. There was a bunch of confetti and stuff. But no. It was a cool... You got to take a couple of moments here and there to celebrate wins. And the team's been working hard. So that was awesome recognition.
That's super cool. So did you not have any idea before? (Was it) just a surprise? No, no. They actually... They reach out to companies that think, that they think may qualify and then you actually need to submit your tax returns for 3 years because it's based off of revenue growth, actually.
Oh, that's wild.
So, we didn't know that we were going to be included or how high up but we thought there was a good likelihood.
That's amazing. So I assume almost every single one of our listeners understands what Privy is, but for the one person that doesn't, do you want to explain it?
Absolutely, yeah. So, Privy is a suite of marketing tools built 100% for Ecommerce businesses. So we're best known for our site conversion product --we call it the Privy Growth Plan-- that helps you convert visitors on your site into email subscribers and sales.
Absolutely. And the best part is, you guys have some free products out there that can help when people are just getting started.
Absolutely. So our whole belief is that there's a series of campaigns that every Ecommerce business owner should be running when it comes to marketing.
And we want to give you all the tools --even when you're just getting started-- so that as your business grows, you're familiar with Privy, we can hopefully increase the likelihood of success for your business and that we can be a part of it from day one.
Absolutely. So let's take it back before we get into the nuts and bolts of marketing, and how Privy helps, and all that stuff. So what were you doing before Privy?
Ooh... So, I was involved with a handful of technology companies before, at the ground level. None of which I was the founder of, but just learned a lot about how you build technology, how you fundraise, how you set up payroll, how you hire people, how you fire them.
But what got me into Privy was... My background is in (software) engineering and I grew up in a family where both of my parents were entrepreneurs.
And so just because of the role that I filled in my house, I got familiar with digital marketing for small businesses. That was the impetus, plus the experience from the other tech companies that gave me the confidence to focus on solutions for small businesses.
I think it's really funny that when you're that tech guy, you definitely get called on by your family. I did a website for my uncle who's a lawyer, and for my aunt who runs like a short-term rental operation down in Florida.
And I'm guessing they also call you when their Wi-Fi is down. And...
My parents trick me all the time. They're like, "Hey, we're having this amazing dinner. You should come over." And I'm like, "Cool." And then I show up and they hand me a broken iPad.
(laughs) Yeah. That's great. I love that. (I) totally can relate.
Yeah. Awesome. So from all this knowledge, from all this learning... I think that a lot of people think that the first go-ahead is you're (already) going to be a successful company. And I think it takes a bunch of failures before you stumble into that correct idea that, something that's got some validation.
But all the skills you picked up along the way are actually what makes it worthwhile on all those failures.
Yeah, absolutely. Even Privy, a lot of people don't necessarily know this.
But I started the company in 2011 and there was a period of 3 years where we really were not growing at all. We had the wrong go-to-market, we had the wrong messaging, we didn't have a free version, you had to talk to a salesperson.
So, I find time and time again that when I'm failing, that's when I learn the most and can hopefully, use that as a way to jumpstart things in the right direction.
Yeah, so for any of our listeners, I hope what you get out of that is just mak[ing] a choice. And if you fail, learn from it and move on. Not making a choice and not doing something means you're never going to get started.
Yeah. I couldn't agree more. (You) gotta take those risks. Do something.
Awesome. So nowadays, Privy is doing Awesome. They're powering over a quarter million ecommerce stores like Leesa mattresses, FIGS, The Beatles. That's really cool. Any other cool ones that you're allowed to talk about?
Yeah, yeah. Absolutely. Hubble Contacts, the Minnesota Vikings, Boosted Boards uses Privy... Really, a lot of really innovative direct-to-consumer brands that are scaling --they're in scale-phase-- as well as really small businesses that are just getting started.
I've actually got a funny story about Hubble Contacts.
Oh, nice. What is it?
Yeah. So I had LASIK a long time ago and my eyesight started to go bad again. So I was like, I'll just get some contacts for what I'm going to concerts and whatnot, so I can see what's going on.
So I was actually going to use Hubble and I didn't know there's a difference between a contact prescription and a regular glasses prescription.
So like I did all that stuff. And then they're like, "Your order was canceled by your optometrist." And I was like, "What?!" (laughs) They wouldn't let me get them from Hubble and they made me come in there.
(laughs) Wow. So you never ended up doing it?
Not through Hubble, no. They got me into the thing and I was like, "Well, I'm here now. I want these things." But that was my story. It was funny. My optometrist just dropped the hammer. Wouldn't let me...
...wouldn't let me be a customer of theirs.
Yeah. They probably didn't want to lose the business.
Absolutely. So let's get into how Privy helps customers and just how amazing marketing for direct-to-consumer is in general.
So, first things first. Say, I've got a new brand, I've got some validation going. We're selling a new type of sneaker, let's say. So, we're already over that hump.
We're selling a little bit, say $1,000 a month in sales coming up on $5000. We're getting a little bit of growth in there from organic.
So we've got that product-market fit. What should I be considering to try to help scale up my business? What channels? What avenues? How could Privy it help all that stuff?
Yeah, absolutely. So I think that's a great example. As business owners or marketers, we all want to think that when we launched that new store builds or launch for the first time, that having a beautiful site and a great story is going to be enough to convert 100% of the traffic that visits the site.
The reality and the data tell us that even the best Ecommerce stores are only converting 2% to 5% of traffic that hit their store.
And so where Privy fits in is, what can you be doing to nudge an anonymous visitor along, whether that's incentivizing them or not, --just creating a relevant experience based on what you know-- to turn them into a lead or increase the likelihood of a sale.
So, I think a lot of people might use the word “pop-up” and think that that's a dirty word. In our mind, if you can control how that looks, and control the audience --who you're presenting that to-- and at what time, you can do some really interesting stuff to increase site conversion from 2% to 10% or even higher in some cases.
And a lot of that really boils down to just devoting attention to what we describe as website segmentation.
So, a lot of Ecommerce marketers might have a whiteboard drawn out, or some complex process flow diagram of "Hey, if this happens to these subscribers, send this email. Or if that happens, send this other email or series of emails."
And so they think about personalization and relevant messaging, through triggered emails, yet they don't take that same approach to website traffic.
And so, a really simple framework to think about where you can weave conversion points into your site would be to think about just common buckets of where someone is in the funnel on top of your website.
So to boil it down, focus on 3 audiences. 1 is first-time web visitors who you do not know and have never made a purchase.
The 2nd might be visitors who are further down the funnel. They have a single product or multiple products in their cart right now and are actively checking out, but maybe not done completing a purchase.
And then the 3rd category would be people who are driven back to your site from email. So you already know who they are. Maybe they made a purchase before. What can you be doing on the site to kind of nudge them and point them in the right direction?
So the idea of simply showing a generic pop-up to all three of those audiences is very clearly not the right thing to do.
So, thinking about your business and your site and how you can tailor an onsite experience to each of those three buckets is where Privy fits in. We're the software that lets you test and execute those types of things.
Yeah, that's an amazing technology. Segmenting on where your customers are and their customer journey is quite amazing. I can't tell you how frustrated I get when I go to websites, and I'm already on their email list and they're asking for my email again.
So just for my user experience, being able to not see that pop-up or see a different message --maybe it's enticing me another way-- would make my user experience a lot better.
Yeah, absolutely. And I think... Going back to those 3 audiences. So, for new visitors, one of the common things we see that converts nicely is, "Hey, welcome to the store. Join our list and get a small code for 5% off for new members."
Something subtle like that can perform incredibly well. For people that are further down the funnel... Let's say your average order value was $50, you might see that there's a certain person on your site or group of people who have a product in the cart, they're in the checkout flow, and they're leaving.
And maybe you say to yourself, "Oh if they have less than average order value, --so less than $50 in their cart-- and they're leaving, I don't want to do anything for them.
Let's try to keep them there through that site experience we have." But if they had $500 in their cart and they're leaving without completing a purchase, that might be a good opportunity to present them with an offer before they abandon entirely.
Or... Another example of this is if I sell razor blades and I see that someone has razor blades in their cart, I might want to actually suggest that they click a button to add shaving cream to their cart as well.
Yeah, and those are all amazing examples of how you can retain customers... That one example of segmenting your messaging based upon cart value, that's so cool.
It's really powerful, too. We see that merchants that implement that sort of cart saver tactic can reduce the number of abandoned carts by 10%. And that might take 5 minutes to execute or less, frankly.
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So with setting up these segmented messaging. So let's go back to like the first message. For people that are brand new subscribers per se... Alright, they're not subscribers yet but you want them to be a subscriber. How important is that email to my business?
Ah, it's huge. It's huge. We can talk a little bit about communication channels and some things we're seeing there, but email is the anchor and will remain the anchor of a strong Ecommerce business. We see that in the numbers.
Revenue from email --for businesses that are investing properly as a channel-- can be 40%-50% of your overall revenue. So if you're sitting there today saying, "Well, I haven't invested much in the email as a channel." I would really question, why is that?
And if you're happy with your business growth today, imagine what it could be with a strong email foundation.
And to build that you got to have those email relationships, you got to make sure that they're opting-in properly, that they know what they're opting in for, and that the entire experience is really on brand.
Yeah, I asked that loaded question on purpose just because I want to drill home the power of email. And I don't know where it came from but I've had many people be like, "Oh, email is dead. We don't focus on it." I'm like, "Do you not want money?"
Well, I think there are some other channels that have really high engagement. So this is something we're seeing where some merchants are adopting Facebook Messenger. Others are trying SMS. Text-based messaging.
And what they're finding is really high open rates. When was the last time you didn't open a text message that you got? Probably never. (laughs)
And so I think what you're seeing is merchants who are claiming other channels are taking over email. It is really that, maybe for a lower cost, they're finding success with other channels.
But that doesn't mean that all of the 1,000 visitors on your site this month, are ready to engage with your brand via Facebook Messenger or SMS.
So I think if I were building a direct-to-consumer business today, what I'd be thinking about is actually giving the customer that choice of "Hey, do I want to engage with this business through email or Facebook or SMS?" (and) not forcing them down one or the other path.
Yeah, I think that the people that want to have that more direct relationship with the brand would probably be (the) people that were bordering or if not fans.
These are proponents of your brand. They actually really like you. But if they're just getting one thing a year or they purchased once and never again, I don't think those people want you to be up in their inbox like that. So email is fine.
Totally. Yeah. It doesn't feel intrusive. And SMS is yeah. I would describe it maybe it's (for) people who are higher intent, (with a) high likelihood for repeat purchase.
But you gotta respect that too because it's really easy to opt-out of these things. Yeah, I just think more and more merchants are going to have to give consumers the option.
Yeah. And I just want to go back to email and extrapolate on why it's so cool.
When you do have someone's email and you're allowed to market to them, you can use that email in other ways by creating like smart lists through Facebook advertising and through Google advertising. Whereas with a cell phone number, you can't.
Yeah, that's a really, really good call. Email acts as a critical channel for Ecommerce because you can connect with them and send trigger messages and all that. But yeah, it also acts as the anchor of that consumer's digital footprint online.
And so you can get ads in front of them on Facebook or retargeting, custom audience, lookalike ads can all be predicated off of the email address. So yeah, building a list is pretty critical for any Ecommerce business.
Awesome. So, now I've got this list built (on) my little store where I'm selling these cool shoes --that I made up an hour ago.-- So we're doing this. We have all these emails, what should I be telling these people on my list? What should I be messaging them? Give me some tips there.
Yeah. So I think there's a couple of different ways to view that. I take that continuation of the funnel that we talked about for people on your site and think about how that translates off the site. So let's think about pre-sale, and then post-sale.
So pre-sale, if someone just came to their site for their first time (and) they join your list, the work doesn't end there. Maybe they're not ready to buy so, you should think about a welcome series for people new to your list that further tells your story.
Educate them on the value of your product versus going to Amazon and buying some cheaper products. And I think that educational welcome series is critical. The other side of it is cart abandonment.
So, for people that haven't purchased yet have added to the cart and are leaving something behind, think about whether it's 1 hour or 24 hours later or whatever you're comfortable with, thinking about a message that can help recover that purchase.
Maybe they got distracted, maybe they need a coupon... Whatever it is to get them over the hump. And so I think making sure that you have education and cart recovery via email for pre-sale is critical.
And then a lot of mistakes that we see merchants make is that once that first purchase happens, then what? Are you just quiet (after that)?
Obviously, you should be sending an order follow-up with immediate confirmation. But that moment between when the order is made and that first couple of days before the order is delivered, that's critical.
That's a critical moment for you to build your brand, to tease excitement, to share some more content about how they should be using that product and the story behind how it's made.
So I think the order follow-up series is another really critical touchpoint because if all we wanted to do was optimize for a single sale, it would be really hard to build a growing business.
You gotta be thinking about "Okay, I just got that first sale. How do I tell the story and differentiate so that I can be driving towards a repeat sale if we actually have won this customer over?"
So I think thinking about an email strategy as it relates to pre-sale which is likely education and cart recovery base, and then post-sale which is kind of getting them excited, how to use the product. So that when it's there, they know the full story behind it.
Absolutely. Setting up all those types of scripts and animations, you just have to sit down and really think about it.
Not crunch the numbers, but crunch how you want to approach your message there. But once you get it done, you can turn it on, see how it works, and you can build out iterations as long as you're using a software that will let you.
Yeah, and that sounds like a lot of work, but you could --in an hour or less-- turn on an autoresponder for the moment someone joins your list, you could have your cart abandonment email turned on, and your first order follow-up email turned on.
And then, just like Chase was saying, come back to it in a couple of days or after a couple of orders and see if you want to revise it or flush it out further. It doesn't need to be a full-blown 30 email series. You can just start simple and expand from there.
Absolutely. So starting from 0 to 1 is what you need to think(of). Just get it turned on, get it started, and then you can work on the voice, work on the message, work on what you want it to do for you after that.
And I want to say Klaviyo has an actually a really cool, --I'll put this in the show notes-- they have a really cool interview with an agency that talked about how they built this giant segmented follow-up campaign for orders, like what we're talking about here. But they're like, "It didn't start here. It was like three emails. And now it's like 30."
Right right. Yeah. And I think every step of your business should start simple and expand as you actually get your feet under you and you can see what's working and what's not.
Absolutely. So let's shift gears here. So, from these automated flows, those messages are similar because it's the same action.
And while it's going to be a more engaging message with the customer --because it's kind of where they're at in a journey-- I feel (that) other people are struggling on the other side, like their newsletters.
Pushing out contact every week or two weeks or month. Whatever the cadences that they're using within their business for the newsletter blast, I feel like a lot of people are struggling on what should I put inside of these newsletter blasts that I feel like oftentimes people just default to "This is a sale."
Yeah. And look, there's probably a time and a place for that. But I think people overthink communications, in general.
Whether that's a post on LinkedIn or Instagram or a blog post or a newsletter or their first welcome series email, I'd strongly consider building out a plan around some of these triggered emails as we mentioned.
So, pre-sale, post-sale. Then when it comes to the newsletter, I think just choose a cadence and be consistent. Talk about what you're working on, a document like how the business is going, how your manufacturing of that product or what materials you're using. There's so much you can talk about there.
Maybe there is a coupon at the bottom, but maybe you don't need that. I think the story, and process, and brand, and new products that you're listing or variations of the product.
It doesn't need to be overly complex, but I think (you can start with) just choosing a cadence that's realistic for you.
So, maybe that's once a month to start is probably more important than what's included in it. Because you can always evolve that but just setting that expectation with your subscribers of "Here's the cadence under we're going to send our newsletter."
That's a pretty critical step. And you can watch the unsubscribes and the open rate. And you can learn "Okay, maybe I'm sending this too much, or maybe I should send this more." So maybe it's twice a month.
And if the opens are low, then that's probably a signal that people aren't really vibing with what you're including and the content of those new letters and maybe it's time to mix that up.
But again, that idea --Chase that you mentioned-- of just going from zero to one and remaining consistent for a period of time, I think is where you're going to get the most learnings for your business.
Yeah. And just the way that you explain that. Just getting stuff out there and talking about... There's so much going on in your business (that) you can talk about.
The manufacturing and all that stuff. If you want to read a book about this topic, it's one of Gary Vee's first books, Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook.
And it's just like, keep communicating on that cadence. Keep sending stuff out there. You don't always have to be asking for the sale, just give value in some form. Just create the content, get the content out there and eventually ask for the sale, obviously.
But if you're always asking for the sale, that's asking for people to unsubscribe, because you're not giving them any value.
Yeah, agreed. And if you're looking for inspiration here, check out Allbirds. Allbirds.com. Join their email list. What I find is...
They're really interesting because they only have a couple of products.
Originally, they started [with] one. And so you see what they do with their newsletter. I think it's once, maybe it's twice a month. And they just do a really good job of branded, story-driven content, whether it's about the products they use, the way they source, how to use and style the products that you've purchased.
And every now and then, I'd say it seems like, every 4 - 6 months, they release a new product, and they do that through email. So it'll just give you a really good sense of how a really fast-growing brand is using email without ever using a coupon.
Absolutely. I actually can recommend another thing. There was a How I Built This about the founders of Allbirds. And it goes into depth about the history of that business. It's very interesting. Because you said a fast-growing brand, and I wanted to talk about that. He had been working on that idea since --I want to say-- 2007.
Yeah. I think that's a theme for all businesses.
You hear about these companies that are overnight successes, and some of them are, but a lot of them were just grinding it out for years, just like everyone listening to this podcast probably feels right now.
And it's the passion, it's the consistency, and it's the ability to just take action and try things that gets people over the chasm.
What would you say to someone if they said Privy an overnight success?
I'd say, "Oh my God. You should see the years where I've lived at home, with my parents, with my in-laws, etc. before we really started growing." We were absolutely anything but an overnight success.
Well, now that you are... (laughs)
...where are you guys headed next?
Yeah. So, I think a lot of people look to Privy as the entry point for customer data. We help you, as the merchant, build your customer lists and a really healthy, compliant way. And historically, all of that had been done using email as the core channel.
And we were kind of touching on this a little bit earlier but at our upcoming conference in September, we're going to be talking about the evolution of Privy, which is going to be focused on expanding beyond email as the only way to build relationships.
And we're really excited to launch some new integrations for Facebook Messenger, for SMS that you can design and target and maintain all of your opt-ins and on-site, displays from a single place that's integrated everywhere.
That sounds awesome. And I am so sad that I won't be able to make it.
No worries, we'll catch you next year.
Absolutely. I'll be sure to be there. Alright. So if people like what you're saying here, how can they find you, follow you, how can they learn more about Privy and yourself?
And we also have an Ecommerce email marketing solution for small businesses as well. That starts at $10 a month. So all of that is at Privy.com.
We also offer training every day of the week, even for free users that are just looking to learn about converting more traffic. And that is that Privy.com/training.
Awesome. Thank you so much, Ben for joining the podcast today and I'm sure we'll have you back.
Yeah, my pleasure Chase. Thanks for having me.
We can't thank our guests enough for coming on the show and sharing the truth. links and more will be available in the show notes. If you found any actionable advice in this podcast that you'd like to apply to your business, please reach out at electriceye.io/connect.