Sizing Image

232: How To Get Started With Email Marketing

Posted by Austin Brawner on December 31, 2019


Today we’re bringing you part two of our “How to Get Started” series, and in this episode, we’re talking about email marketing.

If you’ve recently launched a business and want to get started with email marketing, this episode is for you.

Or, if you’ve had an agency managing your email for some time, and want to make sure everything is running as it should be, there are some helpful tips in here that will deepen your understanding.

We talk about best practices for list creation, how to capture leads, which emails to create first, how to determine the number of emails you should be sending, and more.


Episode Highlights

  • 5:23 Choosing an email service provider (ESP), and why Klaviyo is a great option for many businesses.
  • 6:56 Getting your ESP set up correctly: some key things to keep in mind.
  • 9:43 Best practices for list creation and management.
  • 10:43 Checklist for making sure your ESP is set up correctly.
  • 11:23 How to start capturing leads and growing your list.
  • 13:11 The more unique your offer, the better. But ultimately, don’t overcomplicate it.
  • 15:10 Building an email template for your brand.
  • 18:45 Austin’s recommended approach for warming up your audience.
  • 20:59 Campaign emails vs flow emails and which ones to prioritize.
  • 23:06 Automated email flows to start with: Welcome Series (Buy or Die), Abandoned Cart, Browse Abandonment.
  • 26:07 Best practices for sending campaign emails and how to start segmenting your list.
  • 30:30 When it’s right to expand your audience: the ideal open rates to look for.
  • 30:44 How to decide how many emails you should be sending.
  • 32:56 Examples of valuable content that drives revenue.

Links And Resources

Are you ready to scale up your ecommerce business?

If you want to grow your business faster and more profitably, Brand Growth Experts can help. We’ve worked with hundreds of entrepreneurs and marketers to help them stop leaving money on the table and take their businesses to the next level.

From personalized coaching to live workshops, Brand Growth Experts will work with you side-by-side to define your marketing strategy, scale your advertising, and hire the team needed to take your business from six to seven figures, and beyond.

If you’re ready to profitably scale up your business, head over to and learn how we can help.

Sponsor: Brex

Most online brands will tell you their biggest challenge is cash flow, right? Usually, you’re paying an arm and a leg on interest and fees to finance your inventory and seasonality.

Brex is the only corporate credit card built specifically with the needs of ecommerce business in mind, with crazy-good terms: Net 60 float, with no personal guarantee. Your card limit is based on your monthly sales, not your credit score, and there’s absolutely no interest and no fees. Whatever you spend on day 1, you have a whole 60 days to pay back. What you spend on day 2, you have another 60 days to pay, or day 62.

Brex’s whole goal is to shrink that window between you paying for shipping or inventory and the revenue that’s going to generate, so you can keep growing. Brex is really built for ecommerce—it’s amazing. Right now, Brex is in the US only, so if that’s you, sign up with the code “influence” and a $250 credit will be added to your account.

Got to to sign up.


Click to Expand Hide full text

Austin Brawner: What's up everybody? Welcome to another episode of the E-commerce Influence podcast. My name is Austin Brawner.

Andrew Foxwell: And I'm Andrew Foxwell. Let me tell you, I'm excited for this episode to be totally honest with you.

Austin Brawner: Yes, I'm excited as well. This is a kind of a followup to the episode that we released. It's kind of a part two, to how to get started on Facebook. We're going to talk today about how to get started on email marketing.

And the inspiration from this is just the number of questions over the years I've been asked and had to answer around just people starting your brand, getting some traction and then trying to dive into email and do it in a smart way.

Andrew Foxwell: Totally. And I mean basically, metaphorically, this is like a stretch Lamborghini, which we have now since we made so many millions from the podcast. This is like, the first episode, was like us in the driver's seat of the stretch Lamborghini and then now we're headed towards the back of it. This is an awful metaphor.

Austin Brawner: I don't know.

Andrew Foxwell: It's better in my head.

Austin Brawner: You lost me with the stretch Lamborghini, but what I will say is that these two, they go together like a lamb and tuna fish. Right?

Andrew Foxwell: Perfect.

Austin Brawner: Or spaghetti and meatball, if you're more familiar with that. But the email marketing and Facebook, they are, I had someone describe it as blocking and tackling of your eCommerce business. And those are the two kind of things that, there's so many different channels that people talk about. And you go to a conference, especially one that is more marketing-focused, they're going to have a lot of people talking about all these different channels that are now the new email, the new Facebook advertising, all these different things.

And when it comes down to it, for the most part, every brand that sells online can do something with email marketing and can do something with Facebook advertising. So we're just going to go in and do a deep dive into how to get started.

Andrew Foxwell: Yeah, so let's talk about it. So I mean, I'm an eCommerce brand. I have a website, let's say that setup. I'm selling a couple products on that and I want to get set up with email. And we should probably assume we're going to be using Klaviyo in this right?

Austin Brawner: I think that, that's a good discussion point.

Andrew Foxwell: As the first place to start.

Austin Brawner: As the first place to start, you get to choose an email service provider. I'm a big proponent of Klaviyo for brands that are on Shopify or a cart that integrates with Klaviyo.

They've just done a really good job of creating a tool that is powerful but still relatively easy to use. I think as it gets more powerful, it can be confusing to people when they dive into it. It reminds me a lot of the way you described the business manager as being daunting.

You hop in there, you're like, what do I do? And that can kind of be the way that people feel about Klayvio a little bit when they get started.

But let's just say that you're, for all intents and purposes, this episode is going to be, we're going to talk about using Klaviyo, how to get started with that.

All, most of the stuff translates across any email service provider, whether that's Omnisend, whether that's MailChimp, although a lot of people really aren't using MailChimp anymore. Because of the breakup with Shopify. So we're going to start and just say Klaviyo, how to get going here.

Austin Brawner: And so once you choose your email service provider, you're going to go through much the same process that you go through with Facebook and that's starting out. You want to get it set up correctly with your store.

And to do that you have to go through the setup wizard. You're going to be adding tracking code to your store. You're going to be integrating it with your cart. So if you have a Shopify store or a WooCommerce store, you're going to set up the integration put in the API keys and have it start passing data back and forth.

Andrew Foxwell: And is this all stuff that's in this setup within Klaviyo?

Austin Brawner: Yeah. It's in the set up within Klaviyo.

Andrew Foxwell: Its a walk through instructions and things like that?

Austin Brawner: It's walkthrough instructions, but it can be daunting. And it's one of those things that can be a little bit confusing, especially when you start going into web tracking code. Because you have the integration, which passes the information back and forth, and then you have the different web tracking codes on the site. One for the entire site, and then you've got web tracking codes for viewing products, that's going to be on just solely the product page. These are all things that you need to get right.

And even if you've been doing this for a while, I find that when I run my audits for people who come to our Profits Summit events, I'll go in and do an audit and I'll find 50% of the time something is messed up. And it actually happens more, not necessarily the more complicated businesses, but the more apps that people are using, the more likely you've got something broken in the setup process.

That could be if you're using One Click Upsell or CartHook, those are hijacking the checkout page. So you actually need to push more information into Klaviyo than you would if you weren't using an upsell type app. And you need to push more of the events so you can tell when people are abandoning checkout on a One Click Upsell or CartHook checkout page.

Andrew Foxwell: Interesting. Okay. So let's get into that a little bit. So you sit down, you've established that you're going to be using Klaviyo and you're going through the setup. Okay. And you feel confident in the setup.

How do you check that it's right? I mean right out of the gates. Cause otherwise you can build all the emails you want, but if it's not set up the right way, how do you know if you go in say 50% of them aren't set up right? How can you check that?

Austin Brawner: So, I would open up a support ticket with Klaviyo and ask for some feedback and say, Hey, is this set up correctly? I would go through the apps that you're using and double-check to see if there's any integrations that aren't set up correctly. Typical ones that are that your people are missing. Are they using like Justuno, not setting up the integration correctly there. I mentioned a couple of them.

One really, really common thing that I want to go into next is how to think about your list management. But when you start out, the biggest mistake I see people making is they get excited and they're like, all right, I'm going to create all these different lists and bring people in.

And that confuses the whole process from the beginning because the way that Klaviyo works, it's a one list type software, meaning they want to have one list in many segments of that list or the fewest number of lists possible and many segments of that.

So when you do the integration, as people go through your process and they have that checkbox on your checkout page, you want to push that to the main list that you're going to be using going forward. Call it a master newsletter list, whatever. And so you start collecting emails and dumping it into that list.

So as far as the checklist goes, it's, make sure that your view jacking code is set up correctly, make sure integration is set up correctly. Any apps you're using, make sure they're integrated. Make sure you're sending it to a correct list and if people check add to newsletter checkbox and your checkout page and make sure those people are being added into your email list.

And then once you get through that, the next step is how do you get more emails on your email list? Where are you capturing people? Do you have a strategy for that?

And that's where the next big question in my mind comes up, which is I like to address lead capture. And there's many different tools you can use to capture emails. And if you go around and look at all your competitors, you're going to see them capturing emails in different ways. The most common way is giving away some sort of a discount on the website. Being like put your email in for 10% off or 15% off. So common.

I also think it's kind of a lazy tactic because you know it's going to work and oftentimes the people who are doing that haven't really tested at first other offers.

The first place to start now after you integrate correctly is find a service that you want to use and start collecting emails. Services that I like, I like Sumo, Privy, Justuno those are all email capture services that you can use.

Andrew Foxwell: They integrate with Klaviyo?

Austin Brawner: They integrate with Klaviyo and will push over subscribers, people who subscribe to your newsletter. And you can have them start being added to your email list so your email list can grow not from just customers but also from subscribers.

Andrew Foxwell: What's interesting about what you've said thus far to me is one, it's getting the setup correct, which is good. And I think that also the opening a support tickets, a great idea in terms of, of checking on that.

The next thing is you're not talking about designing flows or designing the emails at all. It's actually deciding first what, how am I going to get more people here? And how am I going to convince them to be here?

And I think the offer piece is really important. As you said, the percentage off offer is kind of lazy. I don't disagree with you.

And what's been interesting in my limited experience working with clients on offers in the last few years here is the more unique the offer is, the better generally it is. An example would be something like your email and you get entered in for a gift card or we had a, a client we've both worked with who sells national park maps and things like that and he's giving away a free pass to the national parks and those types of ideas are more interesting instead of just doing the percentage off and hitting your margin right out of the gates too, which is not necessarily the best thing to do.

Austin Brawner: Which is an option isn't talked about nearly as much, that 50% off the hit is right from the bottom line. But without diving like too much into offers, I would say that the people who succeed don't overcomplicate. They say, all right, let's get something going, let's start capturing.

The reason I say that you need to start capturing emails right away is it's much like the pixel implementation on Facebook. If you don't have any audiences, you don't have anyone to market to. And so if you only have your customers, that's a good to start. But the more emails you capture, the more people you can potentially email in the future. And so I, I would start, start with that.

And go with either the three main types of offers, one simple, 10 to 15% off if you sign up. Another one, a giveaway, maybe you're giving away like Andrew said a national parks pass or $500 in free product. Another way you could try is to free shipping. Give people some free shipping. That can work really, really well.

Start with a few of those. Start with literally two of those, put one version other one and see, which one performs better and have it integrated to push the subscribers into Klaviyo.

Once that is up and running, the next thing I do is I turn my attention towards creating an email template. This is what Andrew was kind of referring to. He's like, you didn't go into this right away. Well next step is create that email template because I've seen this a lot is companies will get excited and they'll start wanting to build emails and they'll start diving in, build a flow email. When I say flow email like a triggered email sequence. And then realize after they're done with the first one or two flows, they really don't like the look of it and they have to go back and redesign and redo the whole thing.

So the way I think about it is you want to do the minimum effort to get the best result to create email template that will work for you. And for me I really don't think that it doesn't matter that much how beautiful your email template is. A text, an all text email versus a beautiful designed email. The results are often no different. Many times the ugly plain text email will outperform a beautifully designed email.

So I like to start with a very simple email template. Something that has a white background, very few lines matches your font, matches your brand colors and you can add an image, a button and text.

You can go to the email template section in Klaviyo, find some of their pre-designed email templates, strip them down and create them, change the brand colors so they match your style.

I would start with two, I'd start one where you can have text in it and one that's more of an image-based template. And those, that's how I would get going with before I sent an email. So I'd work in the template first, have something that looks okay cause then you can copy that template into any of the flows that you're going to create going forward. And now that, once you got that template, that's kind of the next step in my mind is identifying where to go, what emails to create first.

Andrew Foxwell: Sure. I mean I think the thing that I liked about the design standpoint is it starting simpler and starting with it being not as complicated. And not thinking you need something fancy and having it just be a simple plain text as you said with the button and an image and some text, that's totally fine as long as it's on-brand.

I mean at the end of the day you're trying to communicate with people and doing a full-sized graphic is a lot of work as well for a lot of them. So you can set yourself up for failure if you make that too complicated out of the gates.

Austin Brawner: 100% and I feel like that's a common sticking point is, "Oh, it doesn't look good enough." And we've had one guest on the podcast numerous times. His name is Nat Eliason and he's a good friend of mine and he's built an agency and he's built an eCommerce business and one of the things I've always admired about him is I always think his superpower is implementation. He doesn't over-complicate. He just implements and then iterates down the road.

And that's where I feel like with email you need to implement and then iterate down the road, but being cognizant into the few pitfalls you could have. Because everyone goes into this and they get really excited. They're like, all right, now I have emails, I'm going to go send an email out and see what happens.

That is really the most dangerous thing you can do when you're starting a new email, starting to send emails from a new email service provider.

So rather than going in making an audience and shooting a 15% off coupon to your email audience, which is I think really tempting to do, I would approach it from the perspective of I want to create the triggered emails that are going to have the highest open rates first. And that are going to be sent to the people who are the most engaged first. And to warm up my email service provider.

And the reason you want to do that is because if you say you have 15000 customers you haven't emailed and some of those people bought from you from three years ago, you whip up an email, sent it out to them. A lot of people are going to be like, who the heck is this? Who is emailing me? Unsubscribe. Spam.

And that immediately signals that you have bad emailing habits. You can be put into a poor deliverability send group and you'll be penalized going forward. So the way I look at it is I say, I have all of these people who are just signing up for my new offer created on Justuno, Privy or Sumo. I want to create the email that's going to go to the people who just signed up.

So a welcome series or as I call it, a buy or die series. Which is a series designed for new subscribers to help show them the benefits of the product and provide them an offer. That's so good they can't refuse. That's the whole idea.

Andrew Foxwell: So, let me jump in here. So, we've gone through, I mean there's an immense amount of information that you're covering in short period of time. I think it's important to say we've gone through the setup, we've gone through deciding, gone through, deciding how you're going to bring people in, which offer you're going to show them or which offers you're going to test to get them on your list. And then you're establishing first the different flows or series that you're talking about.

And those are separate from just campaigns. Campaigns are ones that you send on whenever you want to send them. Versus flows are dependent upon, as you said, triggers. So those are dependent on, they joined a list or they did something on the site or whatever.

And you're saying start with the triggered emails. And Klaviyo makes this very easy. You go in and say, this is what I want to set up. Then you set up a welcome series or you set up, as you said, a buy or die, which isn't in Klaviyo as the name by default, but you could talk about how to do that.

And those are based off of actions that people are doing so that your email becomes a constant generation tool where it's running automated. It's running without you continuing to send those emails. It's doing it automatically for you based on when they join the list and timings around that.

Austin Brawner: And this is the magic, the magic of email. Is that you can leverage yourself as a business owner and be driving sales 24/7 just like advertising, but driving more profitable sales than advertising with your email campaigns that are based off of people's actions.

And if you think about this, there's two types of emails in the way that Klaviyo calls them are flows and campaigns. But the way I think about them are triggered emails and newsletter emails. Those are the two differences. And so I always start with triggered emails because they're going to have generally a higher email open rate and we'll keep you out the gate. They'll help you warm up your email service provider, like the domain, so that you have good habits and you'll have a better chance of being placed in the inbox.

Andrew Foxwell: Sure. So you'd start with a welcome series?

Austin Brawner: Yes.

Andrew Foxwell: And then you start with this buy or die series.

Austin Brawner: Well those are the same thing.

Andrew Foxwell: Oh, they are the same thing.

Austin Brawner: So I call it a buy or die series. If you're doing any of the training. The email intensive trainings in the Coalition, that's what I name them. But it's basically a new subscriber sequence or a welcome sequence.

So I would focus on that and I would focus on the other. The closer to the transaction, the email is typically the higher the open rates going to be. So I'm then focusing on abandoned cart emails.

Andrew Foxwell: Absolutely. We call that a loaded gun email. I'm just kidding. I just made that up.

Austin Brawner: I like it though. So abandoned cart emails because those people, once you capture their email and they have a high intent, you should have a high open-rate for those people.

The next, I'll look also at a browse abandonment as another sequence that I'll-

Andrew Foxwell: So, they're looking at something and then they didn't... They came to the site, they signed up for the offer, they looked around, didn't add anything to cart, didn't buy.

Austin Brawner: Exactly, and this is like I said, the beauty of email and automation. I have browse abandonment emails are running currently on my sales page for the Coalition. So if somebody visits and then they leave and they don't sign up, they'll get an email from me asking, "Hey, just do you have any questions about this? Feel free to respond." And it's highly leveraged and highly relevant so the open rate is really, really high.

So once you install those sequences and you can go from the browse ideas tab in Klaviyo and pop these sequences, a template for these sequences right in there. Then you've got a couple sequences going and they'll even start driving revenue.

The next one I would look at after that would be an onboarding sequence for new customers, but I'm going to dive back towards the newsletter side first. Because I feel like once you get a couple of these triggered, because the idea right out the gate from me is I want to drive revenue right away. So I'm going to focus on pre-transaction emails to get revenue generating. Then I'll move over to the newsletter or like Klayvio calls it the campaign emails and talk about kind of a strategy for those.

And I feel like this is one of those places that there's a lot of misinformation. Okay, let's put it this way. A lot of people for a long time had really bad email habits and have got away with it.

So if you sign up for J Crew, right? And on the J Crew email list, you get new emails potentially twice a day. And that is something that works for J Crew, but it's very specific to the type of business that J Crew has. Right. The idea is that J Crew's not making very much money on each one of the products, but you could fill an entire wardrobe. And the people who are spending the most at J Crew are the ones that are driving all the profits versus if you buy like one shirt from J Crew a year, probably they're losing money on you.

So, when I say that people there's not good information about this. When you think about creating a newsletter email, there's different buckets that you're looking at and I like to draw out like a circle on a whiteboard. And I have a bucket of people who are my customers. I have a bucket of people who are my prospects or subscribers, people who have not yet bought from me.

And I start, and I think about the differences between those two. And a nice Venn diagram has overlap, right? So if you have two circles there, you may add a third circle depending on your business. If you have, let's say like a sample kit or a trial aspect of your product, that would be the third circle. People who have purchased the trial but have not yet activated into the main purchase.

So the way I think about my campaigning is and designing these are, some have emails that are specific to customers, emails, they're specific to subscribers, and there's going to be overlap.

And when there's overlap, I'll email both, but I'm going to have a different strategy for both sides. Because I don't want to bombard customers once they just purchase with marketing messages, I'm going to wait until it's the right time for them to get circuiting marketing messages.

Where on the flip side, if someone's a prospect and they've never bought from me, my goal is to activate them as a customer because they can't really be a fan until they've bought the product.

So to simplify this and think, okay, how am I going to get started sending my first email? Now what I would look at is I would send an email to customers who have purchased, let's say in the last 90 days, but not in the last 25 days. Right. That to me, and this again, it's always dependent on the business and it's one of those things, it's a little bit nuanced.

And I talk a little bit about this in the email intensive course. It's like choosing who you're going to send an email to. It's nuanced. But imagine that's going to be a very engaged audience.

They're recent customers. So when you send an email out to them and hopefully you can send a product launch email, that'd be fantastic. Or a product remind. You type email to that type of customer, they're going to be engaged so the open rates going to be really high and it's a good place to start where it may be a small little audience, but you can get a feel for how well you are broadcast or a newsletter emails are going to perform going forward. That's kind of how I would look at it.

Andrew Foxwell: Okay. So again, incredible amount of information, but I think some of the themes of what you're saying are looking at one, the buyer behavior and splitting those things out. And potential buyer behavior, right. So how they came to you and what they did, even if they haven't bought, splitting that out and being conscious of that.

As it relates to the campaign side of it or newsletter side of it, that's also dependent on what they've done previously and splitting that out. Because I think you're right, so much of the emails, so many emails that we get are built around, everybody gets the same thing. So consciously deciding what that is.

And what you're getting into now clearly a really advanced tactic that I think would be great for beginners to think about is they've bought recently versus bought later or like separating out what they've done and what or what they haven't done with also time windows. So you're not just doing it to everyone. And different offers to them too, right? So it's not just some big blasts that "Hey, we've got a product launch," like you're launching it potentially pre-launching it to a smaller group and over time, becoming more complex is what I'm saying.

Austin Brawner: Yes, over time potentially. But I think a big mistake is people over-complicate right away. Right? So in my mind, it's relatively simple. You take an audience, that's purchased from you relatively recently, but not in the last couple of weeks because you don't want to hit those people up. And you send something that's relevant. And that's all you need to do to start out.

You send something that's valuable and relevant and if you're sending a product, new product, then obviously you can send it to all your customers, even the ones who bought a couple of days ago. But that's kind of how I think about it. It's just kind of like making a small segment and then if you find out that your open rate on that email is 30% then you can expand that audience.

If you find out your open rate and then email is 10% you need to restrict that audience because a couple of the things you're looking at is that you want to have an open rate over 15, 16%.

And that's how I, that's one of the things that's really, really important is that you want to have it be sending to an engaged list. And too many businesses, they don't think about their open rates or their spam complaint rates or bounce rates. So that's why I like starting with a very, very engaged audience and working my way out.

Andrew Foxwell: So we've gone through the process of setup, we've gone through the process of talking about triggered versus newsletter emails. I've gone through the process of talking a little bit about design.

As you look at this process where, what are the common main things that people get stuck on that potentially we haven't touched on here for beginners.

Austin Brawner: One of them is how many emails should I send? And this is a, it's a difficult, a little bit of a difficult question because again, it's so different based on a product. If you're selling microfiber towels, B to B, you're probably not going to have an email going out every week.

If you are selling fast fashion, you could have three to five emails going out every single week. For a beginner, I would look at where you're at currently. So if you're at zero emails sent, I would say start off and send two emails in the next month.

If you're really ambitious, send an email every week, but start with just two emails, two emails in a month, map them out in advance, get them scheduled and create valuable content and start learning. Again once you have an email template, it's going to make it a little bit easier because you're going to be just like using that email template and that's how I would get started.

And try to think of this idea of content and commerce merged together. What I mean by that is, can you think of a way to contact your audience that provides valuable content and also drives revenue?

And like examples of that, really great examples of that are recipes that use the product that you are currently selling. So it drives demand to create this beautiful cool recipe that you've designed and they need your product to do it. That's a great way to go about it.

I think on the flip side of that, showing people outfits that you like outfits they could, ways they could use your clothing is a merge of content and commerce, right? So you buy more clothing to match the outfits. And that's kind of how I would start thinking about going forward with our email strategy.

Andrew Foxwell: Yeah, that's interesting. And I liked that a lot that's something that certainly we've seen people get "shop the look" or "get the look" as a part of that. And I think that it's true. It's how can it be integrated and really not just product, product, product or what's it going to do and what's it going to solve for here. Very cool.

Austin Brawner: Cool. Well. Hopefully that's helpful. If you're in a position where you want to dive in a little bit more, you can always go through the Email Marketing Intensive in the Coalition. We have some videos helping, going a little bit more in-depth.

But if you guys enjoyed that episode, the best thing you can do is either share it with a friend or go write us a review on iTunes. That's the way we spread the episode and spread the podcast and continue the growth.

Thank you so much for listening. We'll talk to you on the next episode.

Austin Brawner: What's up everybody? Welcome to another episode of the E-commerce Influence podcast. My name is Austin Brawner.

Andrew Foxwell: And I'm Andrew Foxwell. Let me tell you, I'm excited for this episode to be totally honest with you.

Austin Brawner: Yes, I'm excited as...

Form Image

33 Tools & Apps The Fastest-Growing Brands Are Using Right Now

Enter your email to access this list of killer tools for scaling up your ecommerce business

Please enter a valid name and email