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July 15, 2022

Should Email STILL Be a Primary Focus Growing Your eCommerce Business? with George Kapernaros

Should Email STILL Be a Primary Focus Growing Your eCommerce Business? with George Kapernaros

This episode features George Kapernaros, the founder of GK, a boutique e-commerce agency that specializes in email marketing for brands like Kilo.Health and Viceroy Group. George is a verified e-commerce email marketing mentor in growthmentor.com and host of Greece's #1 digital marketing podcast.

Learn more about George’s thoughts on email marketing ranks among different marketing channels in terms of importance for most companies in 2022. He shares some of the ways that email marketing can be successfully utilized.

Discover what promotional emails are that George finds very successful and how often should people be sending them. He shares some of the biggest mistakes that he sees people make when utilizing email marketing.

George deep dives into how he gets ideas for the content, mapping out emails and his recommendations.

Episode Action Items:

To find more information about George's company, go to georgekapernaros.com

 

ABOUT THE HOST:

Andy Splichal - Make Each Click Count PodcastAndy Splichal is the World's Foremost Expert on Ecommerce Growth Strategies. He is the acclaimed author of the Make Each Click Count Book Series, the Founder & Managing Partner of True Online Presence and the Founder of Make Each Click Count University. Andy was named to The Best of Los Angeles Award's Most Fascinating 100 List in both 2020 and 2021.

New episodes of the Make Each Click Count Podcast, are released each Friday and can be found on Apple Podcast, iHeart Radio, iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, Amazon Music, Google Podcasts and www.makeeachclickcount.com.

Transcript

Andy Splichal 0:00

Welcome to the make each click count podcast. This is your host, Andy Splichal. We are happy to welcome this week's guest to discuss today's topic, which is should email still be a primary focus growing your e-commerce business. This week's guest is the founder of GK a boutique e commerce agency that specializes in email marketing for brands like Kilo.Health and Viceroy Group. In addition, he is a verified e-commerce, email marketing mentor, and growthmentor.com and the host of Greece's number one digital marketing podcasts a big welcome to George Kapernaros. Hi, George.

 

George Kapernaros 0:37

Hello there. Andy, thank you so much for having me.

 

Andy Splichal 0:40

We're excited to have you. Now I emphasize the word still in the show title because going back at least the last 20 years email was the major marketing channel you would pay for a customer whether through Google ads or Facebook ads, but then you could retarget to them much cheaper than initially driving that initial sale. But how do you think email marketing ranks among different marketing channels in terms of importance for most companies here in 2022?

 

George Kapernaros 1:11

It's a really interesting question, because I think email is not really like most other channels, it's almost like a support channel, if you will, it can't exist without acquisition channels. So in that sense, it's not a growth level by itself for any ecommerce company specifically. But what it can do is that it can make the results of other channels work significantly better. The problem is that the way most people understand email marketing is almost like a set and forget sort of approach. So they will build their automation, they will do like a cart abandonment, checkout abandonment, in reality, it's not actually cart, checkout abandonment, and then they will, more or less forget the channel, whereas in reality, the real value begins after those baseline automations are set up. So in my perspective, to answer your question, yes, of course, it should be a focus of e-commerce companies. And it will continue to be focused for E commerce companies, I think, for many, many years ahead into the future. It's just a channel that coexists with other channels. So what people say the way they say that will grow your company like 20% or 30%, through email marketing, that's not quite accurate in my book.

 

Andy Splichal 2:44

So what are some of the ways that email marketing can be successfully utilized? In other words, what type of emails to companies get the biggest bang for their buck when sending emails?

 

George Kapernaros 2:57

The way the way you put the biggest bang for the buck? Well, that would have to be for sure. Behavioral based automations. People tell me that I'm excessive. When I say that, like, in my opinion, whatever can be automated should be automated, at least that should be the goal. And what I mean by that is that the way a user interacts with an online store follows a certain pattern, like, they visit the website, they haven't really subscribed, then they subscribe, but they haven't really purchased yet, then they purchased, but they haven't really taken value out of the product yet. And then potentially the main purchase. So all those different stages are things that can be potentially automated, and if automated, they will produce the biggest bang for their buck. So the priority for sure, is automation. It's just that the automation has to be a lot more holistic and broad than what most people think. But if I were to take one more step back, before automation, what actually has the biggest impact of all is lead generation how you convert subscribers visitors rather tosubscribers, because if you don't do that effectively, like nothing else really matters, does it?

 

Andy Splichal 4:19

Right, yeah, you need to grow the list. Now, what about promotional emails? I mean, the automation are great for you know, they do a behavior they get this, you know, I mean, the most common one, of course, is you don't finish your checkout, and you get a abandonment email. But what about promotional emails are those you find those very successful and how often should people be sending them?

 

George Kapernaros 4:45

So those definitely do work like in my experience, usually the split in terms of revenue numbers is like 50 - 50 between automations and campaigns if both work well but those tools can be automated in a way. Like if you have, for example, promotions that are evergreen, that too can be automated as part of the customer journey. Now in terms of how many you should be sending, I have a bit of a contrary opinion on this, it's not in my best interest to say that. But I believe people should start slow. They should not be sending a lot of emails, they should be starting with, say, one email a week, then ramp up the frequency slowly. So that A. they can evaluate whether it's something they can actually commit to, because like, imagine that you set a goal of sending like four emails a week, you can't really do that. And the content is not really good. And like, there's no point to that, right. So the first thing is to start slow and ramp up. You should be monitoring how the audience reacts, as you send emails, and then progressively ramp up to two emails or three emails for emails potentially a week, but, I think people should start slow. There is a lot that is put into an email. There is like the concept like what are we actually sending, there is a copy. That is the design, there's a segmentation, there is a lot of thought into that. And if you try to do too much all at once, it's very likely that you will be overwhelmed.

 

Andy Splichal 6:32

You know, speaking of those, it kind of makes me think, what are some of the biggest mistakes that you see people make when utilizing email marketing?

 

George Kapernaros 6:42

Well, besides the, I mentioned that the beginning besides the floor set, and forget sorts of logic that goes into the channel. Another common mistake I see is that brands don't really take the time to segment the audience. Or at least segment it in a logical way. What I often see is that there are like many segments that are don't follow us pattern. They're almost random in a way. Whereas if you think about it, even though there are possibly 1000s of ways to segment, at least, fundamentally, what you want is to segment people based on two things, what they do, and why did they do it? How to do that is I can give a brief explanation. You can elaborate if you want, but like what people do, you can really easily find by doing something that's called RFM segmentation, which stands for recency, frequency, and monetary value. recency is when did they last do something such as when did they last purchase? When did they last subscribe? How many times have they done it? How many times have they purchased? How many times have they clicked on an email? And then how much value does this add for the company like in dollar numbers, why they do things? This goes into customer research. Ultimately, what you want to do is to label its subscriber with a goal and then adjust the messaging the campaigns, the automations, you can personalize the content within the automation based on that goal. So you can then effectively nudge them to watch achieving that goal. So yeah, the the biggest mistake I see is like not segmenting enough and not doing so in a structured way that is scalable.

 

Andy Splichal 8:40

Who are you using for your clients for the ESP email service provider?

 

George Kapernaros 8:47

I personally use Klaviyo

 

Andy Splichal 8:51

I've heard Klaviyo a whole lot lately.

 

George Kapernaros 8:53

Yes, yes. It's actually like, I would say the most popular one in e-commerce. At the moment, it's a really good tool. And the reason why it's a really good tool is actually twofold. One, it has a lot of functionality, you can do a lot of things that you can't do with say baiting, for example, it has, for example, that machine learning features that can really optimize what you do. And the second point is that it's despite all that functionality, it's actually easy to use, meaning that like you can really onboard yourself that well and it also integrates very, very well with most ecommerce platforms. So it's great in terms of functionality, and it's great in terms of functionality out of the box in a way.

 

Andy Splichal 9:45

Now, one of the drawbacks that I hear a lot from business owners is not wanting to have to sell all the time to their customer base. And when you're talking you know start with one email and then try to ramp up to multiple emails even per week. That's that's selling a whole lot to your customer-based, I would think how, how would you advise somebody with with this mindset?

 

George Kapernaros:

First of all, I actually have that all the time, too. It's actually something that people do really feel. And they say that a lot, I would tell those people that I do tell those people that that's good, then don't do sales emails all the time, you don't have to do sales most of the time. The real problem, from my perspective, is not that people can send emails that are not promotional. The real problem is that they don't have content to send. So what they should do is take a few steps back, right? Okay. So you don't want to send emails constantly. So what should you send, you should send content that helps subscribers to their goals. But the problem is, you don't really know what the goal is, right? This is why you should do research. And then, as I said, label subscribers accordingly, profile them, so that you can then know what content would actually help them.

 

Andy Splichal:

Yeah, and now, I mean, it makes sense. So you're really creating different avatars for different segments. And that was going to be my next question is how do you get ideas for this content?

 

George Kapernaros:

I'll tell you a really simple way. And I really don't see a lot of people doing that. But it's mind bogglingly simple. It's super, super simple. Well, how about you have an email, or your welcome automation that onboard new subscribers, but asks them that you can literally ask them create a simple plain text email, add it to your onboarding flow? And tell them? What is your number one question about XYZ topic. So if you're selling running shoes, what is your number one question about running? Every single answer you get is an opportunity, first of all, to reply to that specific customer and build goodwill. And then secondly, create a content piece around that, whether that's something you use in a campaign or like a blog post, you can literally get endless content ideas that way. Eventually, you will find that people ask recurring questions. So you can create a page on your website that has all those questions so that you can drive people there and find the answers. If that happens in you need more ideas, still, a second way to approach that would be to find communities of people that interested in the topic that your products cover. Again, if you're selling running shoes, I am referring to communities about planning, that would be readied. That will be forums, that will be like all sorts of places where people gather and like talk about things in a passionate way. And then you can see what gets the most engagement. What do people like? What do they respond with? All those are potential ideas that you can harvest and create content for.

 

Andy Splichal:

Do you believe in mapping outline? Sure, you do map out the emails, but how far in advance? Are you mapping out emails? What do you recommend?

 

George Kapernaros:

I unfortunately, have learned that very few plans survive, but as with reality, so it's, of course, it's good to plan ahead. But I would not plan ahead, say a year, I think three months is good. And if the company has like really tight processes and can afford to do so that that can be extended. But I think like for most brands that are kind of like figuring things out as they go, I will say three months is ideal. The way to do so by the way, because some people may find this helpful is to first start with the dates that are immovable, say holidays or events that you absolutely need to cover on your calendar, then you should think in terms of merchandising, and seasonality, what products should they push, given the timing of the year and the stock I have? And lastly, what interesting content can I send? And who would be excited to receive it? And that again goes back into segmentation.

 

Andy Splichal:

What is a piece of actionable advice you would give to someone thinking of starting to send more emails to their customer base?

 

George Kapernaros:

As I said, my feeling is that people should start slow. So the best piece of advice I can give is that you should have a clear reason why you're sending the emails if you don't really have one. Like don't send these emails In general, don't overextend yourself, just do it, do it slow, intentionally. But because I wouldn't give like one more tip, I would also add the following. We don't think about subject lines that way so often. But if you think about it, an open rate, an open rather, is, is a conversion, right. So the subject line converts someone, that's why they open the email, which means that what you have on the subject line could potentially be a call to action within the email itself. So if you want to increase click through rates, try to match what the subject line says, with one of the call to actions within the email. If people convert to that piece of content the first time, it's very likely they will convert the second time as well.

 

Andy Splichal:

That's, that's, uh, you know, I've never heard that tip before. That's great. Now, let me ask if somebody's out there and just doesn't have the internal resources to run a proper email marketing campaign. And they're looking to hire an agency? What do they need to be aware of?

 

George Kapernaros:

In terms of how they select an agency, you mean

 

Andy Splichal:

How? Yeah, how they would select an agency.

 

George Kapernaros:

Honestly, I think that the first thing you should look is who they've worked with. I don't mean to sound like elitist or anything like that. But like, our company, for example, we are working with kilo.health, it's literally the second fastest growing company in Europe. And we have many, many testimonials, raving testimonials by people within that company. This means that we've been on Klaviyo accounts with millions and millions of subscribers. And like, not just that, but we've actually produced results for that type of company. And it's, that's provable that people are endorsing us. So there's a high chance, basically, that we know what we're doing, right, like, whereas an agency that that may have the right sales process, they talk the talk, but when you do a little bit of digging, they haven't really, you know, they don't have a lot of proof elements of what they've done, or like, who they've done it for, then it starts to get a little bit tricky. So I would say that the number one thing is that, who they've worked with, and the second thing, it may sound a little bit counterintuitive, in a way. But I think it's important, you want to work with people that understand ecommerce beyond just email marketing. Because as I said, at the beginning, email is a channel that's not fully independent, you need to be able to communicate with the guys that are on the ads so that you can synchronize the campaigns they do with the campaign shoots with the messaging they do with the messaging you do. So you need someone that gets the whole picture. In my perspective, this has a lot of depth into like you also, they should also, ideally have an understanding of how to do user research, CRO a bunch of other things that go beyond just like email marketing. I think that's kind of the, you know, the most important, I think that's what makes an email marketing agency Great. Basically, everybody can go into an ESB like Klaviyo and set up a template, Carter Bandama, like few people know how to use the signals that the audience gives to optimize the content continuing that goes into CRO.

 

Andy Splichal:

Now, if you had a crystal ball that could tell the future. Where do you see email marketing heading in the next 12 to 18 months?

 

George Kapernaros:

I have literally no idea. But if I were to make a simple, like, simple prediction is I think that collecting zero party data, meaning data that users give themselves willingly to you is going to be increasingly more important moving forward. I mentioned that when I mentioned the goals of subscribers. I think that's going to be like increasingly more important when it comes to email marketing, people that are unsuccessful email marketing programs. I think they will be able to work with zero party data.

 

Andy Splichal:

Do you ever recommend a client buy an email list rent an email list? Or are they sending directly to their list of customers and inquiries on their own website?

 

George Kapernaros:

I would not recommend that. I believe it's not even legal in some areas like no, I wouldn't, I would not recommend it. No.

 

Andy Splichal:

Now personally, have there been any business books out there that you can attribute to your journey as an entrepreneur?

 

George Kapernaros:

Yes. Yes, many actually, I'll tell you about the book I did fairly recently, which I actually think has a lot of value to it. It has a funny name, it's called The Road Less Stupid. I don't quite recall who wrote it. But like, the premise of the book, basically, is that we can avoid a lot of problems. If we just pause, and think like, really, really think about the situation we have in front of us. Basically, the book walks you through this thinking process, how to wear different hats, as an entrepreneur, like, as a manager, like different roles. And it gives you questions that are worth thinking about in terms of those roles. And I've personally tried to do that in a systematic way, like spend one hour a week really thinking about an important question. And I find that the value of that power is like, it's incredible, like you, we really don't really do that we don't really spend a lot of time simply thinking about things. And when we actually do that, you'll come up with with really good ideas I find.

 

Andy Splichal:

Now let's switch gears for a minute and talk about your business and your podcast. What verticals are you specialize working with? And why should somebody check out your podcast?

 

George Kapernaros:

So the podcast is a bit of a passion project, really, I do it in Greek. So unfortunately, not many of our listeners will be able to check it out. In the podcast, me and my co host nauders. We interview agency owners and brand owners and discuss the relationship between the two parties. It's like mostly tons of horror stories, like mistakes to avoid and so forth. But it makes for a fun listening experience of so people like it in terms of what verticals, we specialize it. We focus on health and wellness, and exclusively commerce.

 

Andy Splichal:

So you're exclusively ecommerce?

 

George Kapernaros:

Yes.

 

Andy Splichal:

That's great. So who is who is the perfect client for working directly with you? I know you had mentioned some large European clients, you work with American companies as well.

 

George Kapernaros:

Yes, yeah. So we do have a few companies in the US as well. So I would say that, like, let's say the perfect fit for us would be on Spotify. Using all willing to use Klaviyo, we would be able to migrate them or claim ourselves, they should be doing I think a minimum of seven figures in revenue, ideally eight, or even more potentially, and they should be in the health and wellness space ideally. Why health and wellness? Because shelf and wellness products usually are not like self explanatory. You don't shop supplements, the way you shop this as a t shirt, check it out, you like the design, you purchase it like the content is not so important. It's the product that drives the sale. Whereas with health and wellness products, it's the content, specifically good copy. To sell supplements effectively, you need good copy. And since direct response Sluss conversion copywriting is one of the biggest things for agency. And we've got a ton of experience in the health and wellness space. It's like a natural fit for us.

 

Andy Splichal:

And do you offer any services beyond email marketing? Or is that really, really our sole focus?

 

George Kapernaros:

It is almost our sole focus. I sometimes do consulting projects as well, what like it's usually about things related to messaging. But yeah, for the most part, it's email marketing.

 

Andy Splichal:

And if somebody has happy with their ESP and don't want to switch to they don't want to make the switch to claim the Oh, is that a deal breaker for you?

 

George Kapernaros:

It's it's not a deal breaker for us by any means. Well, it may be a deal breaker for us depending on the available sources we have. But like if we have the resources to take them, we may take them the way there isn't why we still To claim and specifically, it's a matter of resources, right? Like it's easier to execute on one platform, because you can really master that platform, it allows you to do more advanced things more efficiently. So if there's a gap, and we have a lot of availability, we are open to, like working in other ESPs as well, Active Campaign is another one. We like. But if we are booked, which we usually are, then it's probably gonna be a deal breaker. Yes.

 

Andy Splichal:

And how can an interested listener learn more about working with you?

 

George Kapernaros:

Well, they can check out the website, which is I know it's very, very reasonable. It's my name. It's georgekapernaros.com. I describe everything there, how the service looks like how it works, everything is there. Besides that I am quite active on LinkedIn. So you can find me by my name, and you can be in there. I'm always happy to check.

 

Andy Splichal:

Well, this has been great. Is there anything else you'd like to add before we wrap it up today, George?

 

George Kapernaros:

No, no, it was really nice talking to you. And thank you so much for having me. I hope you and the listeners found some value in this.

 

Andy Splichal:

Well, great. Well, thank you once again for joining us today, George. For listeners, remember if you liked this episode, please go to Apple podcasts and leave us an honest review. And if you're looking for more information regarding George or his agency GK, you will find the link in the show notes below. In addition, if you're looking for more information on growing your business, check out our all new podcasts Resource Center available at www.makeeachclickcount.com. We have compiled all the different past guests by show topic and included each of their contact information in case you would like more information on any of the services I have discussed during previous episodes. Well that's it for today. Remember to stay safe, keep healthy and happy marketing. And I will talk to you in the next episode.