hero image

Ep. 83 - Replace “Buy My Stuff” with Answers to Your Customers’ Questions with Nichelle Hubley

Nichelle is the Founder and CEO of andBAM Agency - an email marketing agency that helps e-commerce owners go from “what do we even send?!” to *huge sigh of relief* 

She realized that brands were doing their customers a disservice by emailing the wrong things at the wrong frequency. Instead of giving their customers warm-fuzzy feelings, they were getting unsubscribe vibes… 

With the goal of making email great again (and increasing customer LTV), she spent two years codifying the perfect email strategy for every kind of e-commerce brand. Last year her clients made more than $10m from email alone WHILE keeping their lists engaged (instead of enraged). 

The andBAM secret? Send stuff that matters. 

In This Conversation We Discuss: 

  • [00:00] Intro
  • [01:51] How Nichelle got started in email marketing
  • [03:38] Facebook ads are not “sexy”
  • [04:33] Grow your email list through pop-ups
  • [05:26] Shout out to Privy
  • [05:54] Pop-ups exist because they work
  • [06:43] What you should put in your pop-ups
  • [07:54] Sponsor: Klaviyo klaviyo.com/honest
  • [08:32] The old email practice of “buy my stuff” 
  • [11:06] The new focus for Ecommerce: Lifetime Value
  • [12:45] Integrating email marketing with SMS
  • [16:18] Sponsor: Gorgias gorgias.grsm.io/honest
  • [17:06] SMS is double-edged sword
  • [18:30] How to come up with email content
  • [20:22] This podcast started from answering email questions
  • [21:35] Real-life content strategy example: Thigh Society
  • [22:42] Answer your customer’s questions
  • [26:18] Sponsor: Postscript postscript.io/install
  • [26:47] Unsubscribes are a good thing
  • [30:34] Free email templates!


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!



Nichelle Hubley  

The easiest way to get content is by answering questions that your customers already have.

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.

All right, everyone, welcome back to another episode of Honest Ecommerce. Actually, you know what, I am thinking about it... 

On the last episode, I said that it was really rainy. And guess what though, I recorded that yesterday and then today I woke up to a flooded basement. So God, I love springtime in Ohio. 

So to distract myself from that, today, we welcome to the show an amazing email marketer. I'm super excited about this, to learn more about how we can help our clients with email marketing. 

So today we're welcoming the show, Nichelle. Nichelle is the CEO and founder of andBAM. It's an email marketing agency that helps ecommerce owners go from "what do we even send?" to *huge sigh of relief*. 

I love that. How you got that emotion in there shows that you do know what you're doing with the copywriting. I'm gonna stop talking and let you start talking now. (laughs) How are you doing today?

Nichelle Hubley  

I'm doing great. Thanks for having me. No rain here today. It's blue skies and sunny, which is... We're up in Canada. It's been snowing in the last couple of weeks. So I'm really happy. We're out of that. Things are looking up for the spring.

Chase Clymer  

Yeah, I don't know what's going on here. But if I want an indoor pool down there, I've got it. 

Nichelle Hubley  


Chase Clymer  

Awesome. Tell me the history. How'd you end up running an email marketing agency?

Nichelle Hubley  

Whew! What a history. So this story isn't different from a lot of clients that we work with. I was working in a job, a marketing job, and I just hated going to work for someone else. So I started looking for ways that I could use my marketing skills to do other things, help other people, and get out of that 9-to-5 situation. 

And one of the things that was blowing up at the time was email, ecommerce... Dropshipping was just starting to get really big. We're talking way back in the dark ages of dropshipping. And email just happened to be one of the things I was really good at, personally. 

I really liked having the connection between customers and the brand and really building the voice and being the voice of brands. So I started doing that. I started getting more business than I could handle so we built up a team. 

And everything just kind of grew from there. People just started recommending us and it was amazing. At times, it's been even hard to keep up with it. But the one thing that people say is like, "Why didn't you get into Facebook ads?" or "Why aren't you doing the more fun, sexy parts of e commerce?" 

And honestly, email can bring in a lot of revenue. But right now, it's even more important when we look at Facebook ads and everything. 

Ad costs [are] going up and people have to keep their customers. And emails [are] the thing that lets people keep their customers for longer, get repeat customers, and so to us, that's the really sexy part of Ecommerce.

Chase Clymer  

I'll tell you right now, there is nothing sexy about Facebook advertising and I will tell you why. 

Nichelle Hubley  


Chase Clymer  

Everyone has the wrong idea about it. People think it's a goldmine. And for a minute there, a long time ago, it was. But now, it is not like that. People have unrealistic expectations. They don't understand how long it takes to start from zero. 

That zero to one is the hardest thing to do in any sort of marketing effort. Even if we're talking about getting the first couple of subscribers on your email list, that's the hardest thing to do. And then it just kind of grows and works from there once you figure that out. 

But going from zero to one to turn a profitable Facebook campaign on is extremely hard. And people just have the wrong idea about it. So I would argue it's not sexy, other than people think it's a goldmine, which is a false expectation. 

I'm done ranting. End rant. We're talking about email today. 

Nichelle Hubley  

(laughs) Okay. Great. 

Chase Clymer  

So I guess let's get into that. What I mentioned there, going from zero to one. A lot of our listeners are just getting in the game. Young entrepreneurs. 

How would you help someone... What are some of the strategies to get your email list off the ground so you have someone to communicate with?

Nichelle Hubley  

The biggest thing I can say for someone just getting started is to just start. There's a lot of ways you can make it complicated. You can make it sophisticated. But the very simple thing of just putting up a pop up on your site. 

People say they hate pop ups, but protip, they don't pay pop ups. Pop-ups work. So put up a pop up on your site. If you're sending traffic to your site, most of it is not converting, so capture as much of it as you can. And your list will grow.

Chase Clymer  

Yeah. Shout out to one of our good friends over at Privy. if you're on Shopify, they have an awesome, free pop-up app for the un-technically sophisticated people. More nerdy, I guess for lack of a better word. 

You can usually custom build one or you can make the one that comes with whatever email program you're using a little bit more sexier. But no, Privy's a cool one for people that aren't that savvy. Especially if you're just getting started, you got to work with what you got.

Nichelle Hubley  

Yeah, exactly. Like you said, it can get very complicated. You can do [an] A/B test. You can test different offers, and you can test a lot of different things. But the first thing you need to do is just start. 

So when we work with brands who are just getting started, we put up something really tried and tested. And it's just a simple 10% or 15% off your first order. It seems to do all the work, but it does. That's it. (laughs)

Chase Clymer  

So you're telling me I can't put a pop up on my page in my footer that says, "Join our email list for updates about my brand"?

Nichelle Hubley  

You can and the reason that people do that --and you see it all over the place-- is because it actually works.

Chase Clymer  

But what's the difference between incentivizing it and then just having something, I would argue, "boring and generic" and there's no reason to join in my opinion with that.

Nichelle Hubley  

Yeah. That's something that we have to work with across all marketing. "What's in it for me?" And so you do... You have to tell people in that pop-up what they're going to get. 

What we like to do with new brands is go for something like a 10% off because what you end up doing is building a list of people who are interested in getting 10% off, which means they're interested in buying. 

So you're building a list of people who really have buyer’s intent. And those are the people you want on your list. If you're doing a pop up that just says "Hey, put your email here. We'll send you emails." 

People don't want emails. People want to buy. They want what you have. They want the thing you're selling. They want to be the person that your brand promises you will make them. They don't want email, they want something bigger. So that's what you have to promise.

Sponsor: Klaviyo 

This episode is brought to you by Klaviyo. 

Klaviyo knows modern Ecommerce is moving fast. Between email, mobile, and web, it can be hard to keep up with consumers and personalize their experience with your brand. 

Think of Klaviyo as a central command center for all your digital marketing needs. With email marketing, dynamic website content, social retargeting, SMS automation, and more.

You'll take back control of the customer experience and own your business growth. That's why it's trusted by over 30,000 brands like Case-Mate, Kopari, and Brooklinen.

Ready to find out how Klaviyo can help your business grow? Visit klaviyo.com/honest to schedule a demo, that's K-L-A-V-I-Y-O.com. 

Chase Clymer  

Alright. Alright. So let's fast forward a bit. Now that we've got our email signup game working for us, we're getting a couple emails here and there. 

Things are going good. Now we got to start talking about campaigns, I guess. 

Let's start there because we can get more technical after this. But let's start talking about just campaigns. And you have a funny... The old email marketing strategy, the "buy my stuff" model. Explain what that is and your feelings about it.

Nichelle Hubley  

So everyone already knows what the "buy my stuff" model is. It is... I don't want to say any names of big box stores, but you definitely get this email --if you're on the list-- once a day, and it just has a list. 

It's basically a flyer. It says "We have this. It's on sale. We have this. It's on sale. Buy this. Buy this. Buy this." And it's really easy in Ecommerce for people to fall into that trap of just " Buy my stuff. We have stuff. You want to make money? Buy my stuff." 

But what you're doing is just... You're trying to extract value from your contacts, without giving them anything in return. So that's great for maybe getting that first order from a customer. 

They joined your list, you ask them to buy something. If you give them a discount, they'll probably they're more likely to buy something. But then you're not building any relationship with those contacts. It just becomes very transactional. "So you send me money, I'll send you your thing. Thank you very much." 

But right now, the name of the game in Ecommerce is getting a second purchase, and the third purchase, and how are you going to build the relationship with that customer beyond that first transaction. So, we do send "buy my stuff" emails. Don't get me wrong. We do want people to buy. That's what Ecommerce is for. 

But what we want to do is get them to buy because of the brand, because they like who you are, and what you stand for, and what your product... The value of your product adds to their life. 

So it's bigger than "buy my stuff." It's relationship building. We want to provide value to the customers that are on the list and that's how you're going to increase your lifetime value of every contact that's on your list.

Chase Clymer  

Yeah. That's the name of the game: increasing lifetime value. If we go back to my hatred for Facebook ads, which is unjust... That was top of mind for some reason. Don't hate Facebook ads. 

But say you do find some success there and you are making Facebook ads work for you, the difference between the people that are doing these campaigns, 2x, 3x, 4x, or 5x return on ad spend. That's cool. 

You're making more money than you put into it. But if you start to think about it with longevity, with those ads, you're also getting email signups. And the people that are buying direct --the direct response stuff from those email campaigns-- and how they're playing with this lifetime value with them buying again through email. 

Now you're talking about over the lifetime of that advertising campaign's spending and acquiring that customer, you now changed from 3x to 4x ROAS to 8x to 10x or whatever. 

It's a multiple. [It] obviously depends on what you're selling. But if you start to think about it from that perspective, if you can invest a little bit more and understanding to the lifetime of your business that you're going to make it back plus some, that's what separates, I guess... "The boys from the men'' is the worst term ever, but I'm...

Nichelle Hubley  


Chase Clymer  

...drawing a blank. I need some more coffee today. (laughs)

Nichelle Hubley  

(laughs) Yeah. That's exactly it. If you start looking at every customer that you get is actually worth 2 times as much as their first purchase. And then you really have the power to scale. 

You have the power to spend more on the front because you know, you're making it back on the back.

Chase Clymer  

Absolutely. So I do have a question for you guys. So you said that you're not getting into Facebook ads because it's not sexy. But nowadays --I think almost it goes hand-in-hand with email-- it's SMS. Is that something that you guys are looking into?

Nichelle Hubley  

Yeah. Absolutely. SMS is really, really interesting. And I... So... Hold on. Let's go back in time about 10 years. I was in South Africa. 

And the things that they were doing with SMS then, is even more advanced than what we're doing with SMS now. So I saw this coming for a while. I honestly don't know how it's taken this long for us to be talking about SMS. 

That might just be a technology thing. I'm not sure. Not a developer, just a marketer. So we're definitely using SMS. It's really, really interesting. And the ways that we're using it that we find it most effective is, actually, not as an addition to email but to work with email. 

So we like to think of the whole back-end communication and marketing as one cohesive piece. We don't want to send one sale on email and then something completely different on SMS, we want them to work together. Because it's the same people on the lists. 

You want to make sure that everything is cohesive across your brand. And that goes for across all of your social channels too. So what we found really effective --and anyone can try this right now-- is if you're having a sale... 

So [to] give you an example, Father's Day is coming up. If you're having a Father's Day Sale... And usually in a sale campaign, you'll send out a few emails about it right. 

You'll send out an announcement, a reminder, and maybe a "last chance". Those "last chance" emails are always more profitable than any of the other ones. That's the urgency behind it. 

So what we've been doing is actually sending out a "last chance" SMS as well. And so basically we're exporting the list of contacts of everyone who's opened an email. Anyone who opened the announcement email or the reminder email and didn't buy, we're exporting that segment of people. 

And we're sending those people the SMS that says something like, "Hey, our sale's about to end. Come quick. Buy the stuff." The urgency behind those messages lends itself really well to SMS because it's on your phone. It's just like really quick actions.

People get SMS's. SMS's? I don't know if that's the plural for SMS. People get those messages in more real-time than email. People will intentionally go to their email to check email and scroll. 

But for SMS, that's where their friends are messaging ,their mom, whoever. (laughs) I don't know if your mom's messaging you. But the message comes up and it pings your phone, and it's more urgent, and it's in your face. 

So if that's a time-sensitive message of the sales ending right now, those are converting just like crazy. We've never seen anything like that.

Chase Clymer  

That's awesome.

Sponsor: Gorgias

Let's be honest today. All of your customers are going to have questions. 

What are you doing to manage all those questions? Do you have a help desk for your business? 

One of our sponsors of today's episode is Gorgias. Gorgias is the #1 rated help desk for Ecommerce. It integrates seamlessly with Shopify. We have installed it in a bunch of stores. It's also used by brands like MVMT and Rothy's

What it does is it takes all of your customer insights and information, brings it into one amazing dashboard so you can solve their problem as quickly as possible. If you want to give Gorgias a try, visit gorgias.grsm.io/honest to get your second month free. 

Chase Clymer  

Yeah. That's a great tip. I think people often struggle with what to send on SMS. And I just go to like, "Well, you're already sending stuff through email. What is the best performing one through email? That's what you should send through the SMS." 

But I also think that SMS is not email, and you should not be sending as many text messages as you're sending emails, at all. That's a great way to get a bunch of people to unsubscribe and ruin a channel.

Nichelle Hubley  

Absolutely. Yeah. It converts really well if you send the right thing, but if you've done the wrong thing, people will get off that list so fast because people don't want to read an email just in SMS form. 

They probably don't want an urgent message to go check out your latest blog post. Something else that we have done that's worked pretty well for SMS is just start saying... Maybe to a VIP segment "Hey, we sent a special VIP email out today. Go check it." 

So referring back to something that is in a different channel. That works well for VIP lists who you know are really engaged and just a reminder about something else that's going on either an email or on your site.

Chase Clymer  

Yeah, that's a good idea. When we're talking about content for emails, I think that's something that businesses all over the place struggle with. It goes back to me saying they don't know what to send them these texts. "I don't know what to send in these emails." 

And then they sometimes... If they are sending emails at all, they're defaulting to the "just buy it now" style emails. How do you guys help people brainstorm what the hell to say?

Nichelle Hubley  

Ooh yeah. This is the thing. We talked to tons of store owners and this is the thing. No one knows what to send. They have some ideas. They see some other brands doing cool things. 

But either they don't know how to apply it to themselves, or they just feel like they don't have the resources or time. The easiest place... This is really, really low hanging fruit here. And everyone can do this for sure. 

But the easiest way to get content is by answering questions that your customers already have. 

So what you can do is go look at some of your customer support emails and look at the questions that people are asking and then answer them in an email because this is just like school: If one person and one kid puts up their hand and asked the question, you know that everyone else in the class needed to know the answer to that. It's the same thing with your customers. 

If one person emails to ask, that means 100 of them had the question. But instead of asking, they just didn't buy. So that's the absolute easiest place to find ideas for content of what to send that's not "buy my stuff".

Chase Clymer  

Yep, that's fantastic. And it's never ending. That's essentially how Honest Ecommerce got started. This podcast [came from] newsletters. 

It's just like, "Let's just make content answering all the questions that people have." And here we are, forever later with this cool little brand that we built.

Nichelle Hubley  

Yeah, so you would say that that strategy works, right?

Chase Clymer  

It does. It does. And then you rinse and repeat and find out creative ways to branch out from just those questions. Think on the other side of it beyond just like a Q&A model. 

If you have a product that's solving a particular problem, there's usually other things going on in that subset of customers and now we're talking content creation strategy, which is a little beyond email. 

But I mean, if your customers are all weightlifters, you could just start producing content around weightlifting. And then you have a reason to email people because now you're giving them value. 

You're like, "Here's this content around things that you enjoy as customers." And that's how you get some awesome engagement. It's by educating and providing content around the things that your customers actually enjoy beyond just your product.

Nichelle Hubley  

Definitely. That's it. Your product, it has to fit into someone's life somewhere. And so the customer is looking for your product to help them with their life. I'll give you an example. 

So Marnie, who’s a guest on your podcast before, she sells shorts that prevent chafing

Nobody wants shorts that prevent chafing. They want to be confident women, they want to look great. They want to crush it in their life, in business and family. They want to be confident. They want to look great. 

It's not about the shorts, although the shorts help. They help with that journey, with that transformation of the customer. So what we do for her is a whole series about women just loving themselves. They're body positive, they're confident, they're winning at life. And that's the content --that we found-- that resonates with our customers.

Chase Clymer  

Absolutely. I guess that simple, for lack of a better phrase. I've used that a few times. Now I need to read a thesaurus, I guess. (laughs) But yeah, it's pretty much that's... All of this stuff can just be derived from getting in the weeds and talking to your customers and understanding, their questions, and their likes, and their lives...

Nichelle Hubley  


Chase Clymer  

...and then you can just extrapolate from there and be a little bit creative and find... Just test stuff. Like I said, you got to be creative and almost throw shit at the wall and see what sticks.

Nichelle Hubley  

Yeah. It's not... you don't have to just answer the question in a Q&A format. You don't have to say... One question that everyone wants to know, before they buy something is like "Is this going to solve my problem?" 

So you don't have to say, "Question: Is this going to solve my problem? Answer: Yes." Obviously, you're speaking on behalf of your company. You're going to say that the solution solves the problem, but then [what] you're selling solves the problem. You're going to say that. 

So what we also try to do is answer the question in different formats. So a Q&A is one format. It could be something like getting a customer review that answers the question indirectly like, "I had this problem. 

Then I got this product and now I'm living my best life." Getting a customer to say that is even better than you saying it yourself. 

Or you could do it in a blog post, or you can do it with a video, or you could do it with a panel of experts, or you could use some PR if you have that. There [are a] lots of ways to answer the question without answering it just directly as the question. 

And the thing is that your customers don't necessarily know [or] have that question explicitly. So they're not sitting around, thinking about whether this is going to solve their problem. 

They might be, but chances are they have busy lives. So it's not that they're sitting around asking this question explicitly, but it is something that they need to have answered before they buy. 

So just because they don't have this specific question doesn't mean that when you tell them the answer, that might be the thing that pushes them over the edge to finally make that first purchase. Does that make sense?

Chase Clymer  

It makes sense to me, I guess. But this isn't the first time I've heard this. And it's obviously... It's something that people need to hear a few times before they really start to get it. They don't trust in themselves that they can just do this content themselves. 

So, I'm glad to kind of repeat the basics, I guess, on this show all the time. But hopefully, just one person needs to listen to it and then put this into their business and that's going to be the game changer for 'em. 

Nichelle Hubley  


Chase Clymer  

So I do have one last little topic I want to touch on here which is a very fun one. And I think this is a reason people are scared to get started with email. Or maybe they've gotten started. They're collecting... [What] They're scared to send is unsubscribes. Let's talk.

Sponsor: Postscript

Want to get each newest episode of Honest Ecommerce sent straight to your phone? Join our VIP texting list for updates on new episodes and exclusive deals from our partners. Text HONESTVIP. That's H-O-N-E-S-T-V-I-P to 72599 to join. 

By the way, we're powering our text messages with PostScript, the #1 text message marketing app for Shopify stores. Check out the show notes for a link to install PostScript for free today. 

Chase Clymer  

So as a professional, I guess, in this game, what's the big deal with unsubscribes?

Nichelle Hubley  

Oohh! There's a lot to say about unsubscribes. How much time do we have?

Chase Clymer  

I don't know. Maybe we need another podcast. Part 2: Unsubscribes only.

Nichelle Hubley  

Yeah. We have a lot of feelings about unsubscribes. The thing that a lot of people are worried about is that if someone... You paid to get someone on your site. And then they subscribed. And you're paying to have them on your list. 

And as long as they're on the list, you think they have some potential to be a customer. To buy more or spend more with you. And the truth is... This is a hard truth for a lot of people. But I'm gonna say it. The truth is not everyone on your list is going to buy. There. I said it. 

If people aren't going to buy then let them unsubscribe. The number of subscribers is like a vanity metric. It doesn't matter a whole lot. It doesn't hold a lot of weight. It's just the number of subscribers. [It] doesn't hold a lot of weight. 

So we don't mind if people unsubscribe. It means that they weren't going to buy from you anyway. 

Now, we do want to minimize unsubscribes if (laughs) they are the right customers for you, so it's kind of a double-edged sword. 

But we find that if you send the right content, and you spend time engaging them, and building goodwill, in your list, then your unsubscribes go down. You get fewer people unsubscribing. 

We usually see the most people unsubscribing when you send out those, "buy my stuff" emails over and over again. 

So philosophically, if we're doing our best email work, we're sending our best content, we're engaging the list and people still unsubscribe, they are never a good fit for you anyway.

Chase Clymer  

Yeah. You should be thankful when someone unsubscribes because they are actually doing you a favor. 

They are giving you 3 awesome gifts. They're giving you... You are literally paying less for your email marketing platform because you're paying for subscribers on those platforms. 

You're going to get a higher open rate because the people that are left on your list are actually going to open your email more. One person isn't going to do that big of a deal but still, it's an actual metric. 

And then you're gonna get better engagement rates because you are going to have a higher open rate and there's more people that are more qualified on your list that interact with those emails. So you should almost be thankful for your unsubscribers.

Nichelle Hubley  

(laughs) Yeah. You should edit your unsubscribe page to say "Thank you. [I] appreciate your time here but I'm letting you go." Really, that's it. And deliverability could be a whole other topic. 

Chase Clymer  

Oh yeah. 

Nichelle Hubley  

(laughs) Right? But we are really looking to build that sending reputation. And this all goes back to engagement and sending good content. 

But yeah, having deadweight on your list will really hurt you in the long run as far as deliverability goes and sending reputation.

Chase Clymer  

Alright. Before I let you go today, you have mentioned here on these notes that you got free templates for people that are just getting started with email. Do you want to talk a bit about that?

Nichelle Hubley  

Yeah. If you're just getting started and you don't have email going or you do and you're not sure if it's doing the job, we have 2 templates. 

The most important automations that you need right out of the gate. So we have a welcome flow and an abandoned cart flow. I call them Flows because we use Klaviyo most often and that's what automations are called there. Basically we have those 2 templates or those 2 flows available to anyone. Just go to the URL which (laughs) I don't remember what it was.

Chase Clymer  

I'll save you there because she made a custom URL for us. It's andbam.co/honest.

Nichelle Hubley  

Perfect. So if you go there, sign up, and we'll transfer those templates right into your Klaviyo account if you have a Klaviyo account. If not, you can still get the templates but it'll just be like a copy and paste job for you.

Chase Clymer  

Awesome. Thank you so much for coming on the show today, Nichelle.

Nichelle Hubley  

Absolute pleasure. Thanks for having me.

Chase Clymer  

You're welcome.

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!