Email marketing is still one of the most effective means of advertising and promotion for eCommerce sites. And with your online store you have so many opportunities use it as a strategy to reduce your cart abandonment rates—through upsells, sales and coupons, receipts, and more.
In this interview, I talk with Becs Rivett-Kemm about tips, insights and her own experiences with email marketing and I discovered that, no, email is not dead. In fact, far from it.
Today we are in for a treat. Becs Rivett-Kemm is not only part of the team of today’s sponsor, Receiptful , but she also has a long history of expertise in email marketing that she brings to the table. Welcome to today’s show, Becs.
Becs Rivett-Kemm: Thank you. It’s great to be here.
Bob Dunn: Really looking forward to this. I’m going to dive right in to some questions with you or have you give an introduction instead of me telling everybody about you and what Receiptful does. First, why don’t you share a little bit of your background in email marketing?
Becs Rivett-Kemm: I’ve been an email marketer for about eight years now along with doing a bit of the front end of social. I’ve worked for a few multi-million pounds, multi-channel businesses. Skin care business and clothing, and then I had a little foray into financial services for a while. All the time, I’ve kind of been moonlighting as an email marketer in the evenings, helping small businesses. I worked for another WordPress start up before this and now I’m working for Receiptful. I’ve been working here for maybe three or four months now. That’s kind of how I’ve ended up here.
Bob Dunn: Yeah, email marketing. It just seems like it’s something that I don’t think is ever going to go away, you know? No matter what else comes out, it always seems like there’s … We always fall back on that.
Becs Rivett-Kemm: Yeah, people kind of … There’s been a big rumor going around that email has been dead or it’s going to die for years, but it doesn’t. It just keeps on growing.
Bob Dunn: That’s kind of like blogging. Everybody, you know? “Oh, blogging’s dead. Everything is social now.” Now tell us a bit more about Receiptful. What Receiptful does, all that good stuff. Can you share a little bit with our listeners on that?
Becs Rivett-Kemm: Sure. Receiptful is all about kind of powering up your transactional emails and rebuilding engagement with your customers to ensure that they stay around and love you, and want to share you with others while helping to earn you a bit more money. We offer a few different types of emails. We have receipts and we have follow up emails, and we have abandoned cart emails. We provide a sort of drag-and-drop editor to help you customize those emails from a number of different types of stores, including WooCommerce stores. It’s just kind of a really simple way of adding some value by adding coupons and friend referrals, and getting people to know your social network all in one kind of easy solution.
Bob Dunn: Yeah, and I know that in my last show I was talking with somebody, and we were talking a little bit about the core default, WooCommerce emails and the little control you have over those. I think that’s huge, the fact that you can … Especially with the receipts. I mean there’s really nothing you can do with those in core and stuff.
Becs Rivett-Kemm: Absolutely. Well I mean the default Woo kind of emails, you definitely can’t add any of the coupons or anything without a lot of customization. I mean obviously there’s a few plug ins out there for Woo to allow you to customize the emails a bit more, or you can get a bit hacky and sort of edit the code, you know? For your everyday small business that’s not really a viable solution, and we make it easy to do.
Bob Dunn: I’m surprised actually somebody hasn’t filled that need before this, but I was glad when Adii came out with that. It was like, “Yes.” I thought, “Finally.” Well, let’s move into a little bit about email marketing around E-Commerce sites, WooCommerce sites. I know that it’s a very broad subject in email marketing. Tons of tools out there. Can you give us the top two or three ways of using your emails when you’re talking about an online store?
Becs Rivett-Kemm: Well the most important is always certainly receipts, isn’t it? If you do nothing else at your store, you definitely need to be sending a receipt to confirm an order. If you customize it and brand it with your company details and make it look nice, then it’s even better. That’s kind of where Receiptful comes in really. As I said, it’s got a really nice drag-and-drop editor and it saves you the hassle. You can add all these bonus features to it, which makes it really … Adds a lot of value to it, and gives it a purpose rather than just being a receipt. You might be helping to sell your next products to that customer.
Then a kind of second side to the email I guess that I’d recommend is the abandoned basket emails, you know? We live in a world where we’re easily distracted with multiple tabs in our browsers, we’re doing sort of five things at once, and also we’re kind of eager to look for a better price on something, or look for alternatives. That can also require some Googling, resulting in never actually buying the product that we intended to buy in the first place because we end up down a rabbit hole.
Bob Dunn: Exactly.
Becs Rivett-Kemm: If you send out an abandoned cart email, it helps to round up a few of those customers that might have actually wanted to buy something from you. It requires very little effort because you just set the email up. It takes care of itself, you know? There’s no manually having to check anything. It goes out. With Receiptful you can send one or two of those emails. You can create a series and you can also think about having a discount in the basket to persuade them to come back and buy it.
Then finally I guess, customers are really most engaged in the first 60 days after their purchase, so that’s a really great time to welcome them to your brands and get to know who they are, and who you are, and turn them into a repeat purchaser because that’s going to make them more loyal to you. The more time passes, the harder it’s going to become to get that person to be a repeat purchaser if they’re not already. For that reason, I’d strongly recommend creating a welcome series. I guess some ideas if you want to do that is having a thank-you discount with their first order, then you might want to send them a thank-you. An email showcasing more products that they might like. As a small business I think it’s really nice to do a story about yourself and have a human side to your business. Perhaps leave a bit more about your company history like why and when, and how you got started in it. It just makes you a bit more appealing to the people that are going to buy from you.
Bob Dunn: Telling a story. That’s come up in quite a few of my podcasts. It’s interesting with the abandoned cart because sometimes I wonder if store owners just think … Especially when they’re first starting think, “Oh everybody abandons it because they basically decide that my product sucks or it’s too expensive, and they don’t realize all the other things that could happen” like you said, the shiny objects to distract or heck, maybe somebody came into their office and said, “Hey we have an emergency. You’ve got to take care of this and got to leave that.” We’ve got to come back.
Becs Rivett-Kemm: Yeah, exactly. We are so easily distracted as humans and we’re on one screen here and watching the TV, and doing something else, and doing something else. Yes, it’s so easy. I mean I do it all the time.
Bob Dunn: Oh yeah, oh yeah. Then there’s social Facebook. Oh God, let’s not even go to that.
Becs Rivett-Kemm: Exactly. Get the phone and then whatever. Yeah.
Bob Dunn: Now building lists, I know as long as you’ve been doing email marketing, I’m sure you … That’s high on your list when you’re working with people and it’s critical to a successful site. What consideration should online stores think about before adding pop-ups to their site for growing that list? I know I was at a site, somebody wanted me to look at their E-Commerce site, and before I could even see what their products were, I got this pop-up to sign up for their newsletter. It was like, “Whoa. I don’t even know who you are yet.” Are there any guidelines or any thoughts you have on how you can use those pop ups? Especially for an online store.
Becs Rivett-Kemm: Absolutely. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head there. I mean for me there’s nothing worse than arriving on a website and being instantly greeted with a pop-up asking for my email address before I’ve even looked at it properly. Timing is really pertinent. With a lot of the pop-up plugins, you can set a delay. I’d strongly recommend that you use it. If you can prevent that pop-up from showing when somebody’s already subscribed, or if they clicked through from an email as well, that’s when you sometimes see them. Then you’re really going to make a much more positive experience and show that you’re professional if you can suppress those pop-ups at those stages. Also for persons who already said no, not reappearing the next day or something. I recommend at least two weeks before you pop up again, up to 30 days. That’s an acceptable range of time.
You’ve also got consider the messaging and what is going to persuade the user to hand the details over at that very moment that you popped up when they are browsing on a particular page on your site. You need to consider what is going to be in it for them because they know they are handing over their email address so that you’re going to start emailing them. That’s good value and so the trade needs to be mutually beneficial. There’s got to be something in it for them. For example, if you … Say you’ve got a store and it’s selling jewelry and accessories, and you want to add a few more subscribers to your list, you want to use a pop-up. Of course, the most obvious thing is going to be offer a discount. There are other things that you can do.
Say you’ve got a luxury handbag category and you just have a pop-up that says, “Discover the top five must-have bags for this season” or, “Get a sneak peak of our new top-secret, next season handbag collection” and you’ve got to put in your email address. Both of those messages I’ve suggested are specific to handbags, and so they’ll appear on the handbag pages. They’ve got persuasive messaging to suggest exclusivity. Oh, and that content should only be available to email subscribers, so it’s not available anywhere else and they can’t get it by any other method. If they hand over their email address, they’ll get that information.
Another thing to consider is there’s more than one type of pop-up. There’s not just a time-delayed one. There’s things like exit intent, which appear when your mouse leaves the main browsing window. There’s things like scroll-activated as well, so it could appear, you could say, “I want it to appear once the person has scrolled 50 percent down the page, or 80 percent down the page.” I mean, obviously, you wouldn’t be using all of them all of the time, but it’s about creating and building combinations and using different messages on different parts of the site, and maximizing the chance of achieving a sign up.
Bob Dunn: It definitely takes some planning instead of just saying, “Oh I’m just going to start putting pop-ups” obviously.
Becs Rivett-Kemm: Yeah, absolutely. Don’t put them everywhere. I do have a pop-up recommendation, a WordPress one if that’s of any use?
Bob Dunn: Sure.
Becs Rivett-Kemm: My favorite is actually a brand called PopupAlly. They have a free version which allows you to put two pop-ups on your site, but the premium one is really where the power is. It’s a bit tricky to set up, but it’s got all of the features that I mentioned before, and it’s really worth investing your time in it to set it up right. You will get a lot more out of it. I find it a really great plugin.
Bob Dunn: Great. I’m going to have to check that out. I’ll share that in the notes, too. Now back to emails. Are there any hard and fast rules that are specific to E-Commerce when creating your subject lines for various kind of emails that are sent through Receiptful or elsewhere? Any thoughts on that?
Becs Rivett-Kemm: Yeah, sure. Of course Receiptful sends receipts, and so I always think it’s pretty useful if you’re sending out a receipt email to refer to it being a receipt in the subject line. I think it’s good to put a unique reference for the receipt in there too, if possible. It’s just really from a common sense point of view for the recipient. It makes it much easier to find that email in your inbox if you ever need to find it, and contact the seller. I just prefer to do it that way. I mean there’s obviously loads of different options, but for me that’s what I would do. Then for abandoned carts, you initially kind of might want to go in with a soft sale, keeping the subject line friendly saying, “Did you have any problems checking out” or, “Is there anything I can help you with?” A lot of people do abandon carts and it kind of can be quite aggressive, and you’ve left items in your basket. You might want to say that if you’re doing a series, if you’re doing a couple of emails, following up an abandoned, then you could do that as your secondary one. It’s nice to go in and be kind of friendly as a first off.
In terms of emails and sort of E-Commerce newsletters, in my previous experience, I’ve always found that the kind of best performing emails are the ones where you used the words new, or sale in the subject line. Obviously if it’s appropriate you can’t put new if you haven’t got any new products in there. They’re really great motivators and you should always use them up front in the subject line so they don’t kind of get cropped in a different email client because the server down to sort of number of words you put, the more likely is to get passed off. Yeah, that’s my little tip for newsletters. It’s always kind of useful to refer to the content of the email. Particularly if you’re including a special offer or discount because that’s what’s going to make people open the email. People are very much motivated by discounts and whatever.
Bob Dunn: It’s interesting because the two points … One, you were talking about with the receipts and the abandoned cart, and how you want to be kind of … You don’t want to be just like shoving your face because people are thinking, “Oh how did you know I abandoned my cart?”
Becs Rivett-Kemm: Yes.
Bob Dunn: It’s like, “Whoa. Big brother watching.” But I never thought of the receipt, how if you are creating a custom subject line, that search looking for that receipt in your inbox when you need to find it again, how critical that is. I do that all the time. I’m losing emails and looking back, especially when I bought something. That is really a good point because you don’t really think of it in that sense. You think of, “Should the receipt be all sales-y again?” Hey, it has to be search- friendly in the inbox for sure. Those are really good points to make.
Becs Rivett-Kemm: I also was going to add that at Receiptful, we recently introduced the ability to add pre-headers to your emails. They’re like a secondary to the subject line. You’ll see them in the inbox view in some email clients like Gmail and the Outlook email client pop-up notification, and all of the iOS mail clients as well. They’re really good for providing a little bit more information. Not anything that you couldn’t do without, but I like to do it as a little nice, friendly boost of information. You might write a little message in there.
Bob Dunn: That sounds like a cool feature. Moving a little bit in a different direction here, do you feel that customer complaints are moving more online via social? I mean everybody finds it easy to get on Twitter and bitch about things basically, you know? It’s like, “My order didn’t show up. What’s going on?” I mean, you know? Some people, I think, get a bit too aggressive. Is it moving more toward social or are emails still being used a lot for resolving issues?
Becs Rivett-Kemm: Well for me, I think it’s really important to try and do your best to resolve the complaints or the issue in the channel that it was made in. I mean for my own personal experience, I can think of one particular brand that I’ve done this with. They did exactly the same as you mentioned. I Tweeted them. It was a very simple question, and they asked me to email them. I was like, “You know what? I’m going to go on Facebook now. I don’t want to have to email about this very simple question.” I got the same response on Facebook, “Can you email us?” It was such a simple question, it really should have just been responded to in the channel that it was made in. I mean obviously there’s going to be some times when you can’t answer an email in the channel, but I think people kind of see social media as a way to get a more … A quicker response I guess, because people are kind of expecting customer service is expected to be on those channels and handling issues.
I guess the way that Facebook works, and you just Tweet something out, and it’s done and it’s out there. You’re expected to respond in the same manner. You don’t want to wait, say 24 hours for a response, which is something I guess that people might expect if they did an email request or an email question. I mean obviously there’s going to be things that you can’t answer in a channel. I mean Twitter obviously has limitations. There’s DMing of course, which allows you to write as many characters as you want, but you might need some confidential information, so you might need to pick up the phone, particularly in financial services, it’s really not possible to talk about people’s bank accounts via Twitter for example. You would need to verify that that person is who they say they are.
I always think that really email should be your last port of call and trying to handle it in the best way you can on the channel that is the best method.
Bob Dunn: Yeah, and it seems like at least recognize what they’re talking about and address it to some point even if you do have to … Just don’t say email us. It seems like …
Becs Rivett-Kemm: Yeah, absolutely. Acknowledging an issue and trying to deal with it and then, “Sorry. We can’t help you further here for this reason. We need to take it somewhere else.”
Bob Dunn: That totally makes sense. Now this last question I’m going to talk a little bit or ask you. Upsales and promotions via receipts. Is there any creative or unique way you’ve seen store owners use your service?
Becs Rivett-Kemm: Well, Receiptful has sent almost 20 million receipts. We’ve seen a very simple combination of including a discount coupon and tailored product recommendations because our recommendations are based on things that people have purchased. They’ve worked incredibly well for our Receiptful-powered stores because those recipients are likely to find other products that they want to buy and giving a time-based discount to kind of nudge them to make that purchase. It’s nothing really spectacular or inventive, but it’s a steady profitable marketing channel. Beyond that, I guess some stores are clever about how they use those receipts, to compliment their more holistic strategy.
In terms of how they move their customers through the life cycle, and between different funnels. A lot of our bigger stores will use different receipts for first-time and repeat customers so the focus on first-time customers is really intent on advising them to become a repeat customer. The goal for the repeat customers is continuing the engagement. That can mean different things like asking for feedback or using a referral system that will help sort of leverage that customer’s loyalty. There’s really nothing kind of crazier out there about what are customers doing, but it’s just sort of some sensible ideas and we do provide easy templates kind of set up to help you achieve those goals and making it really easy for our customers to kind of get set up and get those emails done for them.
Bob Dunn: With all that said and before we go into our last question, do you have any other nuggets of information that our listeners will find beneficial with their email marketing?
Becs Rivett-Kemm: Absolutely. I think the problem is these days people hear about social and think, “Oh it’s all about social all the time.” Social isn’t as good as email at giving you a return on your investment. In fact, email has got the highest return of any marketing channel, including search, so for every dollar you spend on emails, you get 38 dollars back. Email is a really obvious way to do it. Since you’re already doing the transactional emails, and they’ll have a really high open rate by the way because if you get a receipt you’re going to open it and just double check everything. Why not use that to make it work a bit harder and give you something back by dropping those referrals and the coupons, and whatever in them, and the recommendations. It’s a no brainer really.
Bob Dunn: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Email marketing and emails are not dead, right?
Becs Rivett-Kemm: Absolutely. Not dead at all. Otherwise I won’t have a job.
Bob Dunn: Now we’re going to have Becs take off her email marketing—or try to take off her email marketing hat— and get online and shop, and give us a little bit of perspective from an online shopper view. When you are shopping yourself, what is the biggest frustration you come up against time and time again?
Becs Rivett-Kemm: I guess the biggest frustration is that I really hate being forced to sign up before I check out. I really love it when I’m on a site and I can check out as a guest and I get told that I can create an account at the end of the payment process. I mean signing up when I really just want to pay for stuff means that I’m distracted from the task and it wastes time, and I really … Sometimes you have to activate your account before you can proceed. All of that stuff is kind of just really making me less likely to want to buy something from that store.
Bob Dunn: I’ve heard that one so many times. Yeah, there’s a lot of people that that really frustrates. Now with everything that’s available online, is there anything you wouldn’t or you just don’t want to buy online? You still need to buy in person?
Becs Rivett-Kemm: Well I kind of buy almost everything online. I mean I get upset if I can’t buy things online really. I mean there’s definitely a lot of things I wouldn’t buy online the first time I bought them. For instance like makeup or perfume because sometimes you’ll have to wait for a color or fragrance samples. I know it might be a week before I might get those through before I can order, and then they can order. I know I can just go into the city and just go to a physical store and make sure I get the right color and get it sorted straight away. There’s lots of things I wouldn’t buy the first time but I would buy in the future. I guess one thing that I would never buy online is something like a mattress or a sofa. I kind of want to try them out and see how comfortable they are. There’s things that you just cannot tell online. Also if you order those types of things and they arrive, and you don’t like them, then it’s usually pretty painful to return them. Especially if you’ve got to put them together and find out that it’s not suitable, and then you’ve got to take it apart again. Yeah, I mean they’re basically the only things I kind of wouldn’t buy online.
Bob Dunn: I did have another guest and, yeah, furniture was it. They said they couldn’t do it. The shipping and how would you return that is incredible pain. The last question. If you were … You’ve made all the money you wanted, you’re living your life of leisure … If you could start your own online store and time, money and other resources were not an issue, didn’t even matter if you sold much, what would you sell?
Becs Rivett-Kemm: Well I hope that I will eventually be able to do one of these things because I am passionate about e-Commerce. I’ve done it my whole professional career, so I really hope I can do one of these things one day. Two things that I’m passionate about is food and really good design. I guess I’m a bit of relaxed food blogger these days, but I’m really obsessed with Asian food. Last year I went to Japan and Korea on my honeymoon. With all of our meals we had pickles and kimchi. I’ve read a few books about the fermentation and I’d love to really make and sell my own brand.
Bob Dunn: Interesting.
Becs Rivett-Kemm: Yeah. I mean there’s been a really huge push on Korean food in the UK in sort of past year. I can go to my local supermarket now and get sauces and stuff, but it’s still quite hard to get kimchi. You can really only get a cabbage one, and even then I have to go into the city to go and get it. The Japanese pickles are kind of even harder to get. There’s less variety and availability here. The challenge of it is that it needs a lot of refrigeration in transit. It’s quite costly for a small business, but I guess if I’ve got all the money and no resource issues then it wouldn’t be a problem.
The other thing that I really love is design. I really like beautiful homeware. I live in a sort of an old house and we’ve been renovating it over the past two and a half years that we’ve been living here. I really love Scandi design, which kind of focuses on really muted colors, beautiful patterns and textures. The problem is there’s a lot of shops out there selling sort of Danish stuff. It’s really easy to get ahold of. Again, when I was in Seoul I found they really have beautiful artisan homeware there. It’s quite similar to Danish designs. If I sold it, it would be a lot more unique because there’s barely anyone selling these kind of products outside of Asia. Yeah, that’s what I’d like to do. The challenge is that I don’t kind of speak any Korean, so there’s a bit of a language barrier. It would be quite a challenge to find these unique brands. I mean there’s not a lot that are kind of putting themselves out on Alibaba or anything. Those are my two things. Maybe I’ll combine the two and have like a homeware and kimchi store.
Bob Dunn: That’s what I was just going to say. I’m looking forward to that one site. Well, I am so glad we were able to get you on the show today because I know that email marketing is such a powerful tool and we can never learn enough, and should always be looking at creative ways of using it. I want to thank Receiptful for their sponsorship and Becs for sharing all of this great knowledge with us. Thank you so much for being on today’s show.
Becs Rivett-Kemm: Thank you so much for having me on. I really, really appreciate it. It’s been fun.