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Ep. 79 - Email Marketing Mistakes to Avoid and Strategies to Implement with Dave Rodenbaugh

Dave is the founder of Recapture.io, an email marketing and abandoned cart recovery service for Shopify, Magento and WooCommerce. Recapture has made over $100,000,000 in additional revenue for merchants of all kinds since 2015. 

Dave has been involved with ecommerce since 2016 and email marketing since 2012 and also co-hosts the Rogue Startups podcast with Craig Hewitt, where he documents his journey as a founder. 

Dave is passionate about uncovering ways to make online stores more successful, spending time with his family, and dark beer--not necessarily in that order. 

In This Conversation We Discuss:

  • [0:37] Sponsor: Gorgias gorgias.link/honest
  • [2:00] How Dave got into email marketing
  • [4:26] Most common email marketing mistake: Not taking the time to personalize
  • [7:30] Customizing content to your audience does not take so much time
  • [10:48] Sponsor: Klaviyo klaviyo.com 
  • [11:27] Not doing enough of following up on abandoned carts is leaving money
  • [13:06] One big hindrance is the irrational fear of “annoying people”
  • [15:33] Sponsor: Postscript postscript.io/install
  • [16:05] The “111” 3-Sequence follow-up to get started
  • [18:27] Social proof helps in your abandoned cart emails
  • [19:16] Review reminders and the benefits of getting honest reviews
  • [22:28] Taking advantage of lifetime value through win-back emails
  • [23:50] Special event emails are a great tactic (Birthday, Holiday, Anniversary, etc.)

Resources:

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Transcript:

 

Dave Rodenbaugh  

If people don't like what you're saying, they'll leave. If they're not interested in what you're selling, they'll leave. And that's okay.

Chase Clymer  

Welcome to Honest Ecommerce, where we're dedicated to cutting through the BS and finding actionable advice for online store owners. 

I'm your host Chase Clymer, and I believe running an online business does not have to be complicated or a guessing game. 

If you're struggling with scaling your sales, Electric Eye is here to help. To apply to work with us visit electriceye.io/connect to learn more. Now let's get on with the show.

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Chase Clymer  

Hey everybody, welcome back to another episode of Honest Ecommerce. I'm your host, Chase Clymer. 

And today we're welcoming to the show, Dave Rodenbaugh. Dave comes to us from Recapture.io. I love the .io domain name because we also have one. Because the .com was super expensive. 

Dave Rodenbaugh  

(laughs)

Chase Clymer  

But anyways, Dave... Dave is the founder of Recapture.io. They're an email marketing and abandoned cart recovery service for Shopify, Magento, and WooCommerce. Welcome to the show.

Dave Rodenbaugh  

Thank you, Chase. I'm glad to be here. Appreciate you inviting me on. This is exciting.

Chase Clymer  

I know. We're gonna we're gonna get into the weeds with email marketing and abandoned cart recovery today. So I'm super stoked. 

So before we get into that though, let's talk about your journey and how you ended up here. Seems like you've been in email marketing since 2012.

Dave Rodenbaugh  

I have been doing email marketing for a while now. Interestingly, I didn't start out in Ecommerce. So I had a couple of Wordpress plugins, and I've been going to a variety of small business entrepreneur conferences. I don't know if you're familiar with Microconf at all. 

Chase Clymer  

I actually am. 

Dave Rodenbaugh  

Yeah! So I've been a regular attendee since the very first one. I was very fortunate to hear about it early. 

And one of the things that they started talking about before email marketing got big in SaaS was just how can you promote your business better and do a better job at staying in touch with your customers. 

And that was pretty much the intro into email marketing. So I used the techniques that I learned there, which were certainly not new or not novel if you were in Ecommerce. Email marketing has been around for ages. And I got a lot of experience there. And I found that it was super effective. 

And you'll learn a lot from a lot of other people that have been doing it a lot longer. And then about 2016, I ended up buying Recapture from the previous founders who had decided that they didn't want to run it anymore. 

They also had their own Ecommerce businesses, including things like outdoor furniture and hand carved or laser carved iPhone cases and things like that. The two businesses... One was spent taking up all their time and one of them was making a ton more money. 

And so it makes a lot of sense to go with the one that's making a lot more money and taking a lot less time. 

So they wanted to sell the business and that way, I was able to jump into Ecommerce; A space that I've been looking to get into for a while and take my email marketing skills to a whole new level with a group of people that are all doing email all the time. (laughs)

Chase Clymer  

That's awesome. It's funny how you'll learn about a certain subject matter and it not being your field. But everything relates so easily when it's just business and marketing. All the things relate. It's just how you apply them to your specific field. 

Dave Rodenbaugh  

Yep. Yep. 

Chase Clymer  

So let's get some tips for our audience here. So we got small-medium sized businesses out there. Most of them do Ecommerce on Shopify, I guess. 

I bet you we have a few on other platforms, but we know that your app works on all of them so we can paint with a broad brush here. So what would you say are some of the mistakes that most people are making with their store's emails?

Dave Rodenbaugh  

Well, for some odd years that I've been working on the Recapture platform, I found that there are definitely several things that people seem to be really hesitant to do. One of them is that nobody wants to spend a ton of time on their emails and really get personal. One of the things that we have at Recapture is… We have default content. 

So you sign up for our service and we'll just give you a bunch of pre-generated emails with some reasonable best practices. But as you know, any store can use those emails. So they're written in a very generic sort of way, which is great to get started. 

But the stuff that really works well, is the stuff that's deeply personal, the stuff that really connects with the audience, the stuff that really talks to the the end customer and what they're struggling with and what they really want out of this and maybe having specific jokes or humor or quotes that let them know that you know what they're really looking for. 

And so that --I would say-- that's the number one mistake that people are making is that they're not really spending time either to get to know their audience or take that knowledge and turn around and make your email super personal. 

Chase Clymer  

Yeah. 

Dave Rodenbaugh  

Because there's tons of brands out there. If you look at other really well known brands in the DTC space, like Chubbies, their email sequence is completely on point. These folks really know what they're talking about. And they really connect with you. 

They talk about... It's very much a journey about buying something as simple and as plain as shorts, right? But that personalization is very much lacking in a lot of newer or younger or less experienced stores, in my opinion.

Chase Clymer  

Yeah, taking the time to produce the content is what will elevate your brand. Because it comes back to every interaction a customer has with your webstore, be it the actual experience on your site, or the touch points through email marketing, even SMS marketing these days.

All those other channels, it's gotta be on brand. And if it's not quality, it's gonna deter from the brand and then also make people... If this isn't... If this is broken, or ugly, or it doesn't make any sense, like "What else about this product doesn't make sense." And then you're going to lose customers.

Dave Rodenbaugh  

Right. Right. And even more than that, if you haven't made a connection in an email or a text message, and they're just like, "I don't really care about you anymore", then you've already lost them as well. 

That connection makes a huge difference in trying to generate more sales and having somebody retain loyalty to your store. Yeah. And I think there's probably a perception that... You said that creating that content is a big deal. But I think everybody thinks that creating this personalized content takes a ton of time. It doesn't. 

I've got 7 questions that I'll ask somebody. And those 7 questions are pretty straightforward. 

  • What kind of a demographic are you trying to target here? 
  • How much do you really know about your customers? 
  • What do they really hope to get out of your product? 
  • What makes your product unique? 
  • Are there specific questions that they ask all the time that when they're trying to buy your product... That they're always going to have those questions? 

Or there's at least a set of those questions that they might ask. If you can engage with people with that level of information in emails, I can probably generate a 3 email sequence in about half an hour's time from those 7 questions. 

It's not days and days of work or you have to hire an expert to do this. It's really just some basic empathy and understanding of your audience.

Chase Clymer  

Yeah. And it's also just an extension of your voice and your brand. And I think a lot of Ecommerce brands are starting to do this the right way. 

The messaging is coming from the founder or from just a real human entity at the business. So speaking like a real... Don't speak like a robot, speak like a human. You're talking to humans.

Dave Rodenbaugh  

Right. Right. And one of the things that I suggest in the emails to make you sound more human and also connect with your audience is just use humor. Because the generic templates that we have sound a little robotic, not terribly so. 

But if you crack a joke, or you're talking with an inside joke about something that your customer would know about, that already creates a human connection between you and them. So there's a lot of easy ways to do that. It really doesn't require hours and hours of work.

Chase Clymer  

Yeah. I just think using default content is lazy and it's going to not help as much as just taking the time to do it right and just like you said, it doesn't take forever. It takes a little bit of effort, just do it because it's gonna pay dividends in the long run. 

Dave Rodenbaugh  

Right. Yeah. But that's a big mistake. People just use the default content, set it, and forget it. And if you're just getting started out, yeah. Maybe that's fine. But if you're making over a couple grand a month in sales, you're leaving stuff on the table, in my opinion.

Chase Clymer  

Oh, yeah. It's insane to me. We'll come into projects all the time with clients. And they're like, "Oh yeah, we're not really seeing the results from this specific tool." And then you go look at it and it's like all they did was press install. They didn't do anything. 

Dave Rodenbaugh  

Right. Right. Yeah. 

Chase Clymer  

Yeah. Tools are useful if you know how to use them and that's the thing: You have to use them. You can't just buy a hammer and expect the house to be built.

Dave Rodenbaugh  

Right. Right. Yeah, that doesn't work.

Chase Clymer  

Awesome. 

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Chase Clymer  

So let's talk about a specific thing that everyone I think that's listening here can use and we'll talk about abandoned cart emails. 

I feel like that's an easy place that you can offer some insights and value to listeners so they can upgrade their abandoned cart sequences. So where do we want to start?

Dave Rodenbaugh  

Yeah, let's talk about the number one thing that people aren't doing with their abandoned carts or not doing enough of...

Chase Clymer  

Okay.

Dave Rodenbaugh  

...which, in my opinion is following up. 

Chase Clymer  

Yeah... 

Dave Rodenbaugh  

So if you go and set up the default email on Shopify, they'll give you 1 email that you send out within 24 hours. That's it. 

Chase Clymer  

Only one. And that's the thing. That's why we always recommend using an extended email marketing platform. Because oftentimes people are like, "I already got the abandoned cart through Shopify." And I'm like,"Cool. You're literally leaving 50% on the table."

Dave Rodenbaugh  

The stats that I have in Recapture shows that it's even more than that. 

Chase Clymer  

Oh, gosh. 

Dave Rodenbaugh  

So yeah, you do 100% more recovery, if you send 3 emails versus sending 1. 

Chase Clymer  

Yep. 

Dave Rodenbaugh  

So I guess depending on how you're looking at that stat, it could be you're only getting 50% of the total recovery or 100% more, but I mean, it depends very much on how aggressively you're following up. It depends on your audience. 

It depends on the products that you're selling. If you're selling something that is a higher item or riskier item in the customer's mind, you probably need to follow up even more to get them over the edge. You've got to answer their objections. 

You've got to have FAQs out there, you got to let them know about your support, and maybe you offer them a discount somewhere down the line. But all of those things happen through follow up. 

It's not just magic, but there's this weird fear that people have like, "I'm sending an email to my customers. I'm just bugging them." I really don't know where this comes from. Because it's not true.

Chase Clymer  

Yeah. If they don't want to be on the list, they're not gonna be on the list. And the great thing about people unsubscribing is it raises your engagements, it raises your open rates. You want those people to get off your list.

Dave Rodenbaugh  

Yeah. I'm super weird. I'm actually excited when I see an unsubscribe because I'm like, "Okay. Great. That was somebody who my stuff didn't fit. Now, everybody that's left are people that do fit, or at least ones that I hope fit." And you can talk to them. You can have conversations with them. 

And like you said, if people don't like what you're saying, they'll leave. If they're not interested in what you're selling, they'll leave. And that's okay. But, I think there's some weird fear out there that says, "I have to build this very large list, but I can't send anything to them very often." It's like, "Hmm, that's not the point of the list. What are you doing?"

Chase Clymer  

Oh yeah. We had to beg and plead with a client once. So we're like, "You're going to use this, this is going to work, start using automations." Because they thought it was gonna damage the brand. And then now, 30% of the revenue is through emails. And they're like, "Yeah. This is... I don't know what we're thinking."

Dave Rodenbaugh  

Right. And that's not an uncommon fear. Unfortunately, I see this with a huge number of Recapture customers. They'll come in, they'll set things up, and they came off of Shopify. So they'll just turn on the 1 email on our platform. 

And we have 3 campaigns that are set up by default, you can add as many as you want. But having just the 1 is insane. And for anything, it doesn't matter whether it's just abandoned carts, win-backs, review reminders, anything. 

Unless you're sending out a broadcast, then you don't need that 10 times, right? But (laughs), if you're doing these various revenue generating sequences, you have to follow up. And follow up is where the revenue is.

Chase Clymer  

Even on broadcast, we always recommend resending the broadcast to people that haven't opened with a different subject line.

Dave Rodenbaugh  

Right. That's a common trick. But you only resend it once, right? You don't send it 10 times. (laughs)

Chase Clymer  

Well, we send it 100 times.

Dave Rodenbaugh  

Oh well. I want to see what the engagement rates look on that.

Chase Clymer  

(laughs) I'm kidding. 

Dave Rodenbaugh  

Yeah.

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Chase Clymer  

I do have a really specific question. So with the cadence of sending 3 abandoned cart emails, what kind of timelines are we looking at? Are there any recommendations that you can have? Or is there anything that it usually skewed towards?

Dave Rodenbaugh  

Well, we usually recommend that you have a 3-sequence follow-up. And so I like to use the mnemonic of “111”. So you send it 1 hour after they abandon, 1 day and 1 week. And that works great as a starting point. 

But you have to really understand your audience and you have to customize it for the various kinds of products. So what do I mean by that? So we had a fish supplies brand, that one of the things that was most commonly abandoned was this antibiotic. 

And so when people came for this antibiotic, if we did the 1 hour, 1 day, and 1 week... They probably got a fish that's sick at home and waiting a week to get their discount is crazy. They're putting their own tank at jeopardy. So there's a certain urgency to that. 

So they set it up... So they did like 30 minutes, 2 hours, 8 hours, and then 1 day as a follow up on that for that particular product, and it just crushed. They probably brought back 33% of those carts doing that for those set of products there. 

So that was very specific to that kind of product. And I think with certain other kinds of products like high-value products, luxury, anything that might be considered a riskier item to sell, you might want a longer sequence and more emails just to constantly come back to the customer and try to overcome objections. 

So, I think there's a starting point but there's a refinement that is based on what you know about your audience and what it is you're trying to sell.

Chase Clymer  

Absolutely. I love that you're using the word "risk" because your job as a marketer, and as an Ecommerce brand owner, your job is risk mitigation. You're selling them a product and they're gonna have questions. And those are risks in their mind. 

And your job is to just educate them. And there's a million ways you can do it. But the easiest one is just in, plain writing, explaining those objections and overcoming them in the emails. So like you said, [for] a luxury product, you'd probably talk about  guarantees and the values and what makes this product worth it.

Dave Rodenbaugh  

Right. Or have social proof in there of other people that bought this and how much they really loved it.

Chase Clymer  

Yeah. That goes so far. Yeah. Anytime you can use social proof and an abandoned cart email about a specific product, you're probably going to see an uptick. 

Dave Rodenbaugh  

Agreed. Agreed. 

Chase Clymer  

Awesome. So abandoned carts, more than one on the "111" thing. I'm going to start saying that in the future. So thank you for that.

Dave Rodenbaugh  

(laughs) Sure. Yeah. I mean, I was trying to come up with something when I was creating some default email content from my own site about "How was I going to educate somebody who [aren't] really interested in abandoned carts or was new to it? What was a good way to remember it?" 

And so that's what I ended up coming up with. Yeah, I don't know if it's totally unique, but that's what we use.

Chase Clymer  

That's fine. The stuff that comes out of my mouth when I'm in marketing mode is just an amalgamation of everything that I've read.

Dave Rodenbaugh  

Yeah. Yeah.

Chase Clymer  

So, back to email. Let's talk about other types of emails and sequences that you should be setting up for your store and how to go about thinking about it. You mentioned a few before, and I don't know if you wanna talk about any of them. 

But win-back campaigns or anniversaries, all these plays increase lifetime value. What are some of those strategies, I guess, that people should be using?

Dave Rodenbaugh  

Sure. So yeah, the one thing I think that you want to think about when you're setting up email campaigns in general is "How can I provide more value to the customer?" 

 

Or "How can I help them get over the concerns and risks that they have about either buying from me for the first time or coming back a second or third or however many times?" 

Or "How can I just keep my brand in their mind but in a way that isn't really obnoxious?" 

Because when I said that there's this fear of sending too much email, there is... You can actually go the other direction. So you can definitely send too much and try to be in their face too often. 

So there's a balance that you have to strike on that. So what kinds of emails do I see that work? Well, in my experience, obviously, abandoned carts, since that's what our service revolves around. It was the very first one we had. 

But other ones like review reminders. So after somebody has gone and made the purchase, sending an email following up, you know, a week, 3 weeks, 6 weeks, something like that, just asking them "Hey, name, how was the product? How was your experience with the product?" 

And that way you can get a real honest review back from them. And having honest reviews in your store is actually huge. 

You don't want just like 38 5-star reviews. If you had 36 5-star reviews, and a 1-star review and a 3-star review, that actually has way more authenticity to it than having 38 five star reviews. Because then people think that you were just attacked by a bunch of bots, right? 

Chase Clymer  

Yeah. 

Dave Rodenbaugh  

And having social proof, like you said, makes a huge difference. So somebody's browsing your product for the first time, they see that this product has been highly rated by 524 other people, they're much more likely to buy it than if nobody's ever rated it before. 

So having ratings on your store and a means to collect those ratings is huge. It reinforces your sales cycle. It's a virtuous cycle.

Chase Clymer  

Oh, yeah. And then getting that review back from that customer. You now just have the language from your customer that you can turn around and use in marketing all over the place.

Dave Rodenbaugh  

Absolutely. Absolutely. But again, it's one of those things. If you ask for one review, or ask for a review just one time, you're not very likely to get it in my experience, you gotta remind them again, and again and again. 

And you'll probably find that a huge percentage of people just don't come back and respond to the reviews. That's okay. If you can get 3%, 5%, even 1% coming back, that's still better than 0% . And so you're going to get that social proof, but the only way you get it is through following up.

Chase Clymer  

I think that's the pattern of this episode. Just send more messages.

Dave Rodenbaugh  

(laughs) Send more messages. Yes. Another email that we find is really, really valuable to stores is the win-back. So this is basically just a reminder to somebody after they've purchased from you to come back and buy again, and why do you want to bother with wind backs? 

Well, you've probably heard something out there along the way where customers that have already purchased from you are 5 times more likely to buy from you again than those who have never purchased from you in the first place. 

And I've seen lots of different statistics, but I think that one captures the essence of it in an easy to remember way. They're 5 times more likely to buy again. So how do you get them to buy again? Well, you use win-back emails to say, "Hey, we haven't seen you in a while. We have some new offerings right now." 

And then maybe have an updated catalog link or you point to a section of your newest releases. And then follow up a few times, maybe 30 days, 60 days, 90 days, and then offer them discounts at some kind of interval there to get them to come back and spend in your store. Again, those are very high-value emails. 

And with existing customers, they have really high conversion rates compared to your own abandoned carts.

Chase Clymer  

Yeah, those are great tactics there. Another one that we like to do on our end is... We like to do Happy Birthday emails. It's a little more tricky to get that information. But it pays great because everyone's going to open up an email from a brand that says "Happy birthday!" on their birthday.

Dave Rodenbaugh  

Yeah. Yeah, the anniversary emails. It could be very specific anniversaries or just holiday themed if somebody bought from you on a particular holiday. But the birthday ones are great for certain brands. It kind of depends on what you're selling. But the Happy Birthday... 

Chase Clymer  

Well yeah. Yeah, it does. (laughs)

Dave Rodenbaugh  

 If you're selling coffins, I think a happy birthday email is probably not gonna work so well.

Chase Clymer  

Yeah. Or sending a happy birthday email about a sick fish --going back to that one-- I don't know if that will work so well.

Dave Rodenbaugh  

That's probably not going to work either. No, but yeah. If you can get that birth date information, if they're willing to part with that information, then you can definitely leverage that. That's a good idea as well.

Chase Clymer  

Awesome. Is there anything that I forgot to ask you that you think is going to be relevant to our audience?

Dave Rodenbaugh  

Well, we've talked about this, but I'll say it for the 17th time. You've got to follow up with your customers. And if you're not following up with your customers, and you have this fear that you're sending too much emails... 

If they're not telling you you're bugging them too much, then you're probably not bugging them too much. In fact, there's a great metric that I like to have. And that is if you're actually not seeing unsubscribes from your list that are below 1%, you're probably not sending enough email. 

And that sounds like I'm being an aggressive marketer, but the truth probably is that you can be even more aggressive than that. And you'll see a higher unsubscribe rate and that is probably the level of annoyance. But if you look at other brands, those that are being successful, the ones that follow up are the ones that really are making bank.

Chase Clymer  

That's amazing. So another one to go. Get the "111" on the abandoned carts, and then if you're not hitting that 1% unsubscribe, you're not emailing enough. That is gold. 

Dave Rodenbaugh  

There you go. There you Go. 

Chase Clymer  

Awesome. Now you also have a podcast. Let's give you a plug for that. Let the people know where they can hear you.

Dave Rodenbaugh  

Sure. I am the co-host of Rogue Startups Podcast with Craig Hewitt. And you can check that out. 

If you'd like to hear about startups and SaaS, we also talk about Ecommerce and WordPress plugins, and other topics for small business founders and you can reach us at roguestartups.com. We're also on iTunes and Spotify and Overcast.

Chase Clymer

Awesome. And then if anyone is interested in learning more about recapture, you can just go to Recapture.io and check that out. And they actually have an awesome discount code for our listeners. 

So just recapture.io/honest-ecommerce-special and you can check out the app and see if it's going to help your store send more messages.

Dave Rodenbaugh  

Great. And if anybody has any questions, don't hesitate to email me: david@recapture.io. And thanks for having me on today, Chase.

Chase Clymer

Absolutely. Dave, thank you so much.

I cannot thank our guests enough for coming on the show and sharing their journey and knowledge with us today. We've got a lot to think about and potentially add to our businesses. Links and more information will be available in the show notes as well. 

If anything in this podcast resonated with you and your business, feel free to reach out and learn more at electriceye.io/connect. Also, make sure you subscribe and leave an amazing review. Thank you!