hero image

Ep. 84 - Your Email Marketing Channel is Underperforming and You Don’t Know It with Phillip Rivers

Phillip Rivers is an Ecommerce veteran, who's been in the game for over 14 years. Having built stores from scratch and later selling them he has seen how crucial it is to grow and nurture an 'owned audience'. 

Now he helps ecomm store owners take traffic from cold to repeat customers by building the 360˚ Nurturing System into their business. 

In This Conversation We Discuss:

  • [00:00] Intro
  • [01:02] Phillip’s namesake and football talk
  • [02:04] How Phillip came into Tetra
  • [03:21] Having an audience before you sell stuff
  • [03:42] Giving value to receive value
  • [04:22] Sponsor: Postscript postscript.io/install
  • [04:53] Tetra’s focus into email
  • [05:54] The true potential of email marketing
  • [08:27] The reasons why SMBs neglect email
  • [09:46] Just get started with email
  • [10:22] Sponsor: Klaviyo klaviyo.com/honest
  • [10:52] How email helps paid media
  • [12:56] Success boils down to just looking at your KPIs
  • [13:48] Sponsor: Gorgias gorgias.grsm.io/honest
  • [14:36] Tips for getting started with email
  • [16:06] Email content ideas that give value
  • [17:32] Giving your audience a reason to sign-up
  • [19:44] Setting up your email automation for growth
  • [21:49] Flows help you get more ROI

Resources:

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!

 

 Transcript:

 Phillip Rivers  

Build an audience of people that this product or this message will resonate with, so that [you] can build relationships and monetize.

 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 everybody. Welcome back to Honest Ecommerce. I'm your host Chase Clymer. And today we're welcoming to the show, Phillip Rivers

Not the Indiana Colts quarterback but the CEO of Tetra. Tetra helps companies form deep relationships with their customers and drive a revenue through email. Philip, welcome to the show. How are you doing? 

Phillip Rivers  

I'm well, man. Thanks for having me. Excited to be here. 

Chase Clymer  

How many people make a joke about the football player when you're on their program?

Phillip Rivers  

It's hit or miss. Sometimes... It depends. But I get it throughout all touchpoints of life also on the phone, talking to customer service, when I go to bars, I get double takes all the time. 

But I can't lie, man. I've used it to my benefit a few times. I've "stolen his identity" but not financially. So it's all kosher.

Chase Clymer  

Absolutely. Here's the thing. I'm actually not a huge football fan myself. I'm sure that's surprising to everyone listening,

Phillip Rivers  

Not even the Buckeyes?

Chase Clymer  

Obviously, the Buckeyes. You're born in Columbus, you gotta. But in my old band, my drummer was a huge Chargers fan. And on Sundays, when we're driving around the country, he would be looking at his phone and just going... Just cursing out Philip Rivers, so that name is... 

Phillip Rivers  

(laughs)

Chase Clymer  

...burned into my mind because he wasn't scoring on fantasy points.

Phillip Rivers  

(laughs) Yeah. I've been there. He's been on my fantasy team a few times. And coincidentally --not to go too far on this tangent-- but when he came into the league, I was going to college in San Diego. 

I was 21 and so everyone thought I had a fake ID when I would go out.

Chase Clymer  

That's hilarious. So from impersonating Philip Rivers back when you're 21, tell us how you grew into your role over a Tetra. What happened?

Phillip Rivers  

Yeah, man. So I've been in Ecommerce for 15 years. And at the outset, in those days, there was no Shopify, there were no Facebook ads, there was no Klaviyo. There was none of all the cool stuff that we take for granted now. 

So at the outset, what I would do was... At the time... I don't know if you remember this, but like Nike Dunks used to be very popular shoe, 

Chase Clymer  

I remember. 

Phillip Rivers  

And what I would do is I would have t-shirts designed that coincided with the release of these Dunks and I would sell them in obscure message boards. 

And so over time, I would build an audience of these people that were interested in it on a list and I would monetize in PayPal because there was no storefront or anything. And so that was like my first forte and it was loosely Ecom.

And then from there, I sharpened my sword from a marketing perspective, really in the email channel, just because it's where I got started and what I took to. 

And since then I've had some of my own businesses that have sold, some that have crashed and burned. But every time or every business I'm involved in, it's always... I've just gravitated towards "How do I build an audience of people that this product or this message will resonate with, so that I can build relationships and monetize?

Chase Clymer  

Yeah. I think people take that for granted. I think having an audience before you really start to sell stuff makes it so much easier. 

And just to take everyone behind the curtain, you're listening to this podcast, you're my audience. This is 100,000% of marketing play. I'm so upfront about it. Everyone knows. But you have to have an audience to talk to before you can sell to people.

Phillip Rivers  

Yeah, man. And I think also you got to provide value, which is obviously what you're doing with the podcast right now. We're getting very meta at the moment. 

Chase Clymer  

Absolutely. 

Phillip Rivers  

But I think a lot of people miss that in just applying it to the modality of email, in this case, where a lot of people have this notion that if they want to make money from the list,  they just blast stuff out to everyone. 

But that's not really treating the audience with respect, either. And so, oftentimes when people take that approach, there's diminishing returns over time. And the value [in the] long term of having an audience that appreciates you and that you appreciate gets discounted or forgotten.

Chase Clymer  

Yeah.

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  

It's been beaten into my brain over the past couple years: If you're sending email blasts, you're doing it wrong.

Phillip Rivers  

I agree, wholeheartedly.

Chase Clymer  

So let's talk about how to do it right. So [at] Tetra, are you guys just helping people with email? Is that the channel that you play in? 

Phillip Rivers  

All we touch is email. 

Chase Clymer  

That's amazing. I envy people that have such a narrow focus. Shawn, my partner, and I would have loved to do that but we have ADD, so we like to get a little more creative and get more hands on, and help in other areas.

Phillip Rivers  

I have ADD too man, and I used to do a bunch. I used to do some web stuff and some paid media stuff and I ultimately didn't... I didn't enjoy it. I wasn't fulfilled by it. 

And I was like "There are people out there that are way better at this stuff than me. I just want to stay true to what I know and love the most, and I'm actually fulfilled by." 

And so I cut the paid media and the design and just leaned in all the way to email.

Chase Clymer  

Yeah. That's a great way to do it. We went the other direction. We hired people that were better than us.

Phillip Rivers  

That's the other option. 

Chase Clymer  

Yep. Awesome. So let's get into it. Email. Is it important?

Phillip Rivers  

I think it's the most underestimated channel for Ecom. It gets lost in the sexiness of paid traffic, especially Facebook. 

But I think a lot of times [it's] because people don't realize the true potential of the channel and what they should expect from it. 

And so when I talk to business owners, what I find oftentimes is that people are content with getting 4% or 5% or 6% or 7% of their monthly revenue from email thinking that the channel is optimized and performing well at that level, not knowing that it is really healthy... 

Chase Clymer  

Mm-hmm.

Phillip Rivers  

...revenue contribution from email should be closer to 30% - 35% - 40% every single month. Once they see that and can just wrap their head around the idea, it's like a light bulb goes off in their head like "Oh wow. Holy smokes. There's a lot more to this than I had thought."

Chase Clymer  

Yeah. It's insane to me. We're looking at new stores every week and trying to help people out and give them advice. 

And email is constantly the number 1 under performing channel and the "light bulb" moment is when you say like "This should be 30%." So let's just do really simple math here just so we can explain it to the audience. 

Let's say someone's got a store, quick math, it's doing $100,000 a year. And only 10% of that is for email. It should be at 30%. So that store should be doing $120,000 a year with everything else staying the same. 

Phillip Rivers  

Exactly. 

Chase Clymer  

And then just extrapolate that from there. Obviously, there's a lot of people listening. Their stores are doing way better than that. So just do the math yourself.

Phillip Rivers  

Yeah. To enter that point. One thing on that is like, there's 100% of the pie that you can carve up in terms of where sales are coming from: paid social, organic social, organic traffic, email, whatever it may be. 

But I like to use that 30% is like a bit on the low-end. This is what you should strive for. But depending on what's happening within the business from especially a paid perspective, paid traffic perspective, the email can go higher than 30%. 

I just don't like to overpromise and underdeliver or set expectations too high. So anyone listening, 30% should be what you should strive for, but getting to 45% - 50% - 55% is not unrealistic. It definitely happens. I see it all the time. 

But the higher figures, what's happening from a marketing channel perspective really affects what the other channels can do, if that makes sense.

Chase Clymer  

Oh yeah. It makes sense to me. It's wild to me that people are so drawn to paid media when it's so expensive. 

Phillip Rivers  

It's fast and sexy. 

Chase Clymer  

Yeah. I guess people want results quickly. And building a list is not something you can do overnight. So maybe that's something that maybe that's one of the reasons people are hesitant to invest in this channel. What do you think are some of the other reasons that people are neglecting these channels?

Phillip Rivers  

I think, really man, it all starts with the uncertainty of how to move forward or how to do it the right way. Because there's a lot of inputs out there --content out there-- that we can consume. 

Our keyboards are very powerful. We have access to so much information. And then when you take in all these inputs about all these things that you have to do, --especially as it applies to email, because it can be intricate-- it's overwhelming. 

And so people are just like "Whoa!" Their guard goes up. And it's like, "Oh. This is too much. I can't do this." But in reality, it's actually what you need to get going and get momentum. For the email channel, I think the most important thing is just starting to send and send consistently. 

And then improve over time in terms of refining the message, refining the audience who are seeing that message and so on. It's really the key to starting to build a groundswell of opportunity with an audience. 

So, I guess, to take a step back or sum that up, the biggest hurdle that I see is people understanding or seeing that they can actually do this and then starting and being consistent with it.

Chase Clymer  

On every episode. It's usually "So what's the big hurdle?" It's like, "Just do it." I don't know what people are waiting for some of the time. Hopefully, if you're listening to this and you haven't started email yet, you better get started today. 

Phillip Rivers  

Just send a campaign tomorrow, and then send a campaign 7 days from then, and so on.

Chase Clymer  

Just get started.

Phillip Rivers  

In the least, just do that. 

Chase Clymer  

You know what's funny. I was so bad at podcasting. I still am. (laughs)

Phillip Rivers  

(laughs)

Chase Clymer  

But you just got to get started man. It's one of those things. I don't know if you need a kick in the butt sometimes. So yeah. Just go get started with email. 

Sponsor: Klaviyo

This episode is brought to you by Klaviyo. 

Klaviyo helps brands deliver more personalized digital marketing experiences via email, SMS messages, social ads, and more.

And since it's all driven by real-time Ecommerce data, you can make sure every interaction feels more relevant. When you have a 360-degree view of the customer, the growth possibilities are endless. Visit klaviyo.com/honest to schedule a demo. That's K-L-A-V-I-Y-O.com.

Chase Clymer  

So let's get a little more specific into some specific use cases, I guess. First of all, I guess, we talked about how ads are super cheap. Sexy paid media and all that stuff. How can email help paid media?

Phillip Rivers  

Yeah man. So if you think about the lifecycle of a customer? And on any given day, there's traffic coming to the side, paid and unpaid, that's cold. They've never been to your site before. 

But on any given day, your conversion rate is --let's just say-- 5%, which correct me if I'm wrong, but that's on the high-end of the spectrum for conversion rates. It's more like 2.5% -ish. But let's say it's 5% for argument's sake. 

But that still means that 95% of the traffic on any given day is not ready to buy. So there's a tremendous opportunity for people that you already paid to get there, that weren't ready. 

So without having a system in place to capture leads and staying on top of how that's performing, more often than not, these stores are just letting the traffic that they pay for walk right out the front door. 

They're relying on 2 things to get them back to manufacture the touch points that are necessary for someone to be ready to make a purchase. And they're relying on people just remembering your brand or your product on their own and then coming back, which is leaving a lot to chance. 

And the other is you're relying on paying Zuckerberg again for some retargeting impressions, which becomes very expensive.

 

So email is just like... I look at it like it's the catch-all or the safety net or your hedge against everything that's happening from a traffic generation standpoint, so that little by little this traffic that you know is interested --because they clicked and are on your site in the first place... 

You're just being mindful of capturing as many leads as possible and then having information to share with them over time based on behaviors or attributes that gets your unique value proposition or what you sell or what's important to you guys across so that you are manufacturing those touchpoints in a modality that you control to ultimately get them or hold their hand from being cold to finally making that initial first purchase. 

And not paying Facebook every single for every click and not just hoping they come back on their own. 

Chase Clymer  

Absolutely. I can't agree [with you] more. It's usually one of the first projects we take on with new clients. 

Just setting up a very robust email automation system to just help increase the returns of any of these efforts that go into paid media. It just comes down... It's numbers. 

Ecommerce is so nerdy. It's all math. It's so funny. If you strip away everything else, it's just... You can take a look at some key KPIs like, "Well, this is where I need to focus my time."

Phillip Rivers  

Yeah. It becomes so clear once there's something in place and you know or you can see or understand these are the kind of just the KPIs to keep my thumb on the pulse of to know, really, at a glance if it's working or not working. And then based on what the data is telling you, what the next step is. 

Chase Clymer  

Absolutely.

Sponsor: Klaviyo

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  

So I guess I'm not going to ask for the secret sauce. But what are some tips for people that are just getting started with email marketing? And I guess, how do you craft campaigns that aren't just all "Sale Sale Sale"?

Phillip Rivers  

Yeah. So I think in terms of getting started with email, the way I look at it, it's threefold. There's 3 things you need. One, you have to have some modal or way to capture leads there for all the traffic coming to the site. A pop-up

The most common thing that people do --and you guys might do this with a lot of your clients-- is something like a "discount-off [of your] first purchase for example. People are used to getting their email away for that. 

Chase Clymer  

Yep. 

Phillip Rivers  

Obviously, there's brand implications and some people don't do that. And that's fine. But in any event, something on the site to pique their interest in exchange for their email. 

Chase Clymer  

Yeah. 

Phillip Rivers  

That's the first thing that should be done just to build your list of all the traffic you're already paying for in the first place. Second is, I think, having some sort of a strategy or a framework for campaigns. 

Going back to what I said a few minutes ago about people having a really tough time just like starting but then being consistent week to week. And we as humans have this like tendency to overcomplicate things or want things to be perfect before we do them. 

But ultimately, like you said man, that's just like a hurdle that's keeping you from getting the experience to get better and improve over time.

Chase Clymer  

It's a "limiting mindset" is what it's called.

Phillip Rivers  

Very much so. Very much so. And so for campaigns, in order... Just to keep it simple at this point, it's just like you're gonna communicate offers or things about your products to people and offer things for sale. 

[For] a campaign, that's a given. But I think that the thing that people struggle with on the campaign front, more so is "What value stuff do I send to people so that I'm not always just "blasting" the list trying to make money. 

And so in that I would recommend --for value ideas for content via email-- what are you doing on social already that can be repurposed or repositioned for email? What do people... When you do post on social or maybe on your ads, what do people comment? 

Because there's gold nuggets in there that you can take and create some sort of a message or content around and slide into emails. Or even stories about the products or how they're made or where they're made. 

Organically, there's stuff about the nature of what any business sells that they can talk about it not from a sales frame, but from like a storyteller or a value frame. And so the objective for that message might still be "click to the site to sell something." 

But when they're consuming it, it's not blatant "buy this product right now." And so hitting them --for lack of a better term-- from different frames or angles with the content. Building touchpoints or connections with them subconsciously. Does that make sense?

Chase Clymer  

No yeah. It makes complete sense to me. I made a note here when you're talking about asking for emails, essentially. Like the pop-ups on the websites and obviously the go-to is a discount on your first purchase. 

And you said, there's sometimes brand implications and you can't do that. So here's some golden nuggets for people that don't want to ever discount their product. 

Here's other things you can do. A, you could have a free shipping coupon code. That's something that I've seen a lot of businesses do that don't want to discount on-brand. 

B, you could have a free gift with purchase...

Phillip Rivers  

Mm-hmm.

Chase Clymer  

...as well for the first thing. So that's another way to have an incentive to give that email but you're not discounting it. You can get creative with it. You don't always have to discount, but you need to make sure there is an incentive. 

Because let me tell you, there are millions of ecommerce brands at this point, and I need a reason to sign up for your email list.

Phillip Rivers  

Absolutely. And even... One thing that we've seen, that works well, too, is like a challenge or a content piece that is you don't need the product that the company sells to do it, but it's something that people can take action and have a sense of belonging or involvement in whatever this "challenge" is without buying the thing.

Chase Clymer  

Yeah. I've seen that done really well when you've got lifestyle brands that are really close to a core activity or something like that. For example, this happens a lot with supplements. People, they'll give away workouts or like meal plans, stuff like that... 

Phillip Rivers  

Yeah.

Chase Clymer  

...as their lead magnet to try to acquire that first email.

Phillip Rivers  

Yeah, man. So there's a lot of interesting... The easiest thing to do is a discount. And so for people that are having difficulty getting started, I would say, just do that to get something live. 

Chase Clymer  

Yep. 

Phillip Rivers  

But I would also like to recommend or urge folks to... Even if that's live, think about some other creative ideas that they could maybe put up there, bring to the forefront that don't eat the profit margin.

Chase Clymer  

Yeah. You should always be testing offers. Not even just looking at email sign-ups [but also] in general. 

Phillip Rivers  

Period. Yeah.

Chase Clymer  

When that is your only problem, you're doing something right.

Phillip Rivers  

That's the best problem.

Chase Clymer  

Yeah. Awesome. So hey, is there anything I forgot to ask you about that you think would be worthwhile sharing with our audience?

Phillip Rivers  

Yeah, man. The last thing, I would just go back to your last question about at least what should folks be doing? And I mentioned capturing leads, and I mentioned campaigns. The one thing I didn't get to was Flows

Chase Clymer  

Oh yeah. 

Phillip Rivers  

And I think also some really low hanging fruit for a lot of stores, going back to the analogy or the example of all this traffic is coming, even if they're opting in, you need somewhere for them to go. 

And campaigns alone aren't going to get your store to 30% or 40% of revenue from email, you need the Flows because they work together. 

All of this stuff is interconnected. And so I always look at campaigns as a traffic channel that you control outright. You're buying traffic from Facebook, but you're paying a heck of a lot of money for it. 

But for campaigns, you're determining the audience, the message, and when you're sending.

So when you send that campaign, traffic is coming. But just like all of the paid or organic channels, that traffic that you send via campaigns, it's not going to have 100% conversion rate, it'll fall within the average of the store: 3% - 4% - 5%, whatever it is. 

And so the job of the Flows is to take the traffic where it is, where they abandon session --maybe they added to cart but didn't complete their purchase, for example-- and send them a series of messages based on their behaviors or attributes or lack thereof, that's automated so that they operate as your 24/7 Salesforce

And so this is the other thing that I think is so important for stores to do. It's just simply just have Flows set up for the key leverage points within the customer lifecycle, like cart abandon or browse abandon, for example, so that in the least, of all the traffic that's coming to your store, if they're opted in, and they abandon session based on where they are, they'll get relevant messaging that gets them back to the site to take the action that you want them to take.

Chase Clymer  

Yeah. I think that the Flows are such an amazing tool because it messages your customer where they're at in their own unique journey. 

And anytime you are messaging someone with a marketing message, --I used [the word] message it crap ton just now-- anytime that you're...

Phillip Rivers  

(laughs)

Chase Clymer  

When you're speaking to someone with where they're at and it's very unique and specific to them, you're always going to get a higher ROI

That's why retargeting works better than prospecting. That's why the bottom of the funnel always works better. It's like when you can get more specific and more granular with what you're messaging someone, it's going to return higher. 

So these automations are like just so, so to the point and so down that funnel, they usually work a lot better than most of your campaigns. 

Phillip Rivers 

And not to get too into the weeds. But if you think about broadly, if someone is enrolled in the customer lifecycle... Let's say they added to cart and abandoned. 

And the messaging within that cart abandoned flow is similar to what they're seeing on the retargeting side on Facebook, and then they think that you have like this omnichannel approach where in 2 different modalities, they're seeing very similar messaging. It makes what you're putting out to them so much stronger. 

Chase Clymer 

Yeah. When you're hitting them where they're actually hanging out. And that gets into like a very strategic approach with your remarketing. 

If you've got a low SKU count, you should be doing really custom retargeting campaigns through Klaviyo and through your Facebook and you should be using that content both places. 

Because the old adage of "It takes seven impressions or whatever to sell something" still rings true. But people are getting advertised to all over the place now. So it might be a few more impressions in that now. 

Phillip Rivers  

I think it's like 12 to 18. 

Chase Clymer  

It's a lot. But here's the thing. I now have been buying a lot of stuff on Instagram, strictly to reverse engineer what they're doing, because I'm a nerd. 

Phillip Rivers

Yeah. Same. 

Chase Clymer  

Awesome. Hey, so if people are picking up what you're putting down and they want to get a hold of you, how do they do that?

Phillip Rivers  

Just check out my site. gotetra.co. We have some stuff on there about what we're all about, who we work with. Yeah man. That's it.

Chase Clymer  

Awesome. Hey, Phil, thanks for coming on the show and sharing all these insights. 

Phillip Rivers  

Thanks for having me, man. 

Chase Clymer  

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!