Consistency, Crazy People, and Email Marketing

Email marketing takes up most of my day. Scratch that.

Email marketing used to take up most of my day.

Did you stop sending emails? Nope. Did you send less emails? Nope. Quite the opposite.

So what on earth did you do? We changed, and then stayed the same. Huh?

Let me explain from the beginning…

I, like most marketers, am a mixed bag of many skills. None of them perfect, but hopefully most of them effective. When I came on board with Dollar Hobbyz in Oct. 2014, our marketing emails were designed, written and sent by a vendor. It was always a mad scramble at the end of the month to get out our “email quota” for the month and squeeze out a few more promotions. And the design? Oh boy… as an artist myself, they needed a bit more guidance than just “don’t use comic sans, ever” (but seriously, don’t). How about engagement metrics? What engagement metrics?

Our email brand image was confusing at best, and for a company that sells RC cars that go 100+mph, kind of boring. This was a situation of “pull out a few valuables, burn it down and start from scratch”.

We changed.

Finding the right email software can be hard, but we lucked out.

Enter: Dotmailer (+ an in-house designer and some elbow grease)

We took our 100k contact list and ran. Copy writing, design and analytics would now be done in-house, and we used some great tools from dotmailer and common sense to take our open rate from 7% to 20+% consistently, shatter our sales record repeatedly and see 700%-1,000% ROI on our marketing emails.

After a bit lot of trial, error and testing, this is where we landed:

Every customer base is different, but this is what worked for us:

Targeting. We pared our email list down to find people who are actually engaged, and find those who could be. Dotmailer has great segmentation that lets us filter granularly by interaction. Don’t get me wrong, we’ll still send curated content to everyone from time to time to pull them back into the cycle, but not “send everything to everyone every time”. Email addresses = money, but only if they want to listen.

Engagement. Being loud doesn’t always mean being heard. People get lots of emails (shocking, I know). But guess what. Find me someone who doesn’t enjoy (and share) an engaging, funny, relevant email, and I’ll find you a liar. Not every situation calls for humor, but every situation calls for being authentic, human and clear. We’re a company that sells $600 toys to grown adults / men-children and live in one of the coldest states in the nation – the copy almost writes itself.

Clarity. Promotions always run the risk of being too complicated and cumbersome, turning into “it’s a great deal if you jump through these ten hoops”. After testing a bunch of combinations, tracking every email and ROI metric we could get our hands on, and then filtering based on how much Customer Service said people wanted to hurt us, we found a core group of engaging deals people could figure out even at 3am/for non English-speakers (we sell to 150+ countries). CTAs, buttons and boxes are your friends – tell them, tell them again, and then give them a button they can click on to do most of the legwork for them.

Now, that is different than “every Wednesday we give you $10 off” – that just gets people to regularly wait until Wednesday. I’m talking organized chaos. Random (tried and true) goodness that is sprinkled throughout the calendar.

What’s that stuff about staying the same?

This is where you start to reap the rewards. The benefits are multi-fold and it can be ruined at any moment.

Consistency. This is different than going on autopilot. I’m talking about sticking with a format so that people don’t need to get to know you every time. Subject lines are great for giving people a heads-up, but great content better meet them on the other side. It is also important to include an email signature, have a look here for email signature best practices to ensure you are signing off your email in the best way possible too. I’m talking about being consistent in your brand voice to where even if people aren’t looking to buy right now, they’re going to open your email just to “see what those crazy people are up to now”. That’s eCommerce gold. 

You know what it also does? It saves time. You can grow without always having to rebuild yourself from scratch. It means you can walk in with a semi-established framework and still add some extra new bits. It means customers will follow you because they know where you’ve been and what to expect (and notice when you don’t meet those expectations). 

What’s next?

We’ve had some great initial success with peripheral emails like Abandoned Cart, Welcome Programs and occasional Personal Messages to top tier spenders. As with all things, attributing true revenue to effort is tricky, but we’ll let you know how it goes. Try it out yourself and see how customers react to you keeping the conversation going on a regular basis.

Image Credits: Screenshots taken by Nathan Peck; Featured Image: ISO Republic

Have some effective email marketing wisdom that’s worked for you? Tell me about them in the comments below!

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Nathan Peck
Nathan Peck is the Marketing Director for<a href="">Dollar Hobbyz</a> - an eCommerce store that sells RC parts. He's a family man, world traveler, manual transmission enthusiast and fan of strong coffee.

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