Learn from Fast Growing 7-8 Figure Online Retailers and eCommerce Experts

EPISODE 413 53 mins

Why Top Brands Swear by This 4-Part Retention Formula: Email, SMS, Loyalty Programs and Direct Mail → Jordan Doughty

About the guests

Jordan Doughty

Kunle Campbell

Jordan started his career in Investment Banking, helping firms access £1+ billion of funding. He spent weekends building his own eCommerce brands, where retention marketing drove 40%+ of revenue. After exiting one of the brands, Jordan pivoted to the eCommerce space full time. He setup OHM in 2020 to build out his retention strategy for other businesses. In 3 years, OHM has worked with 150+ brands and driven $50+ million in attributable revenue.

On today’s episode, Kunle is joined by Jordan Doughty, Director of OHM, a marketing agency helping eCommerce brands with their email, SMS and direct mail marketing.

Inspired by both of his parents who own their businesses, Jordan has always set his eyes on finance, and building his own business was his ultimate goal. Email marketing was introduced to him when he started testing the waters of eCommerce through dropshipping. Seeing the opportunity in emails, he built his own agency called OHM, which he currently manages in Dubai.

With a clear vision of what his agency does, Jordan is able to help countless brands in optimizing their email marketing. For Jordan, there is a lot of opportunity in email marketing, especially for young brands that are “resource-constrained” and are looking to increase their revenue. OHM now caters to brands from the US and Australia.

It’s an insightful episode as you’d hear Kunle and Jordan talk more about how to optimize email marketing per revenue, the importance of acquisition and retention, setting up your own funnel, the email’s design and content, partnerships, and tools to make email marketing easier.

Here is a summary of some of the most important points made:

  • When Jordan was doing dropshipping, email marketing was driving their revenue up to 40% to 50%.
  • “Acquisition doesn’t need to be fully solved but the business should have a good handle on acquisition before it starts to think about retention.”
  • Business and audience analysis and testing are the two main steps of OHM in creating an email design and content for a brand.
  • Personalize and follow up with customers based on where they are in the funnel to create conversions.

Covered Topics:

On today’s interview, Kunle and Jordan discuss:

  • Living in Dubai
  • From Investment Banking to eCommerce
  • Email Marketing in Dropshipping
  • OpenHouseMedia (OHM) and Retention
  • Email Capture and Conversion Rates
  • Partnerships with Influencers
  • Jordan’s Time Management
  • Email Design and Deliverability in Brand Promotion
  • Balance and Synchronization of Copy and Email to Landing Page Offer
  • Tips from an Email Marketing Perspective
  • Setting Up the Pre-Purchase Flows
  • Optimizing Email Marketing
  • The Value of an Agency
  • Loyalty Programs
  • Email and SMS Platforms


  • 03:06 – Living in Dubai
    • Jordan is currently living in Dubai where he’s also managing his marketing agency, OHM.
    • One of the reasons that he moved to Dubai is the networking opportunities.
  • 05:39 – From Investment Banking to eCommerce
    • Jordan’s parents ran their own businesses.
    • Having his own business is a kind of freedom and pride for Jordan, for “building something that is your own.”
    • Jordan’s plan was always to go into finance so he worked there for a few years and built his skillset while working on his own ventures on the side.
    • With his friends, he was able to set up his own eCommerce business. The income was sufficient enough to replace his day job.
    • In eCommerce, he started in dropshipping. After seeing success in dropshipping, he bought his inventory and then, he transitioned to building a brand and buying stocks.
  • 09:38 – Email Marketing in Dropshipping
    • Jordan started with one SKU and thought that they could boost LTV by creating new products.
    • He was introduced to email when he started selling the products before the stocks landed.
    • Email was driving 40% to 50% of their revenue.
    • “We had a back-in-stock flow set up when that product did land and that was how I got introduced to email.”
    • “When we bought stock, we had a stock issue and got introduced to email.”
  • 13:21 – OpenHouseMedia (OHM) and Retention
    • “It is the full stack of retention.”
    • OHM is an email agency but also does SMS, loyalty schemes, and direct mail on the backend.
    • “Acquisition doesn’t need to be fully solved but the business should have a good handle on acquisition before it starts to think about retention.”
    • Think about how to convert people who are on the fence.
    • Drive the LTV.
  • 22:06 – Email Capture and Conversion Rates
    • Capture the email address as it is more valuable in the long term.
    • “We want that conversion rate as high as possible but we also want to minimize the impact on margin.”
    • Lower the margin impact and think and be smart about the lead magnet.
    • SMS is an addition to the two-step lead magnet.
    • Partnerships and lead magnets are the main ones for email.
  • 25:21 – Partnerships with Influencers
    • “If you can a brand that sells a complimentary product or an influencer that serves your market, they will have an email list if they’re of a decent size.”
    • Co-promoting the influencer to the list.
    • “Typically, you’d have a custom welcome flow built off of that to explain more about the business, why maybe you’re partnering with that influencer, PR about the brand, bestsellers, and all that stuff.”
    • Jordan learned a lot from the information product world that their funnels are ten times better than standard D2C eCommerce businesses.
  • 29:28 – Jordan’s Time Management
    • Jordan spends 80% of his time with email as it still drives the most revenue for the businesses in the most cost-effective manner.
    • “SMS is super expensive.”
    • Jordan works with businesses that are not yet in a position to activate loyalty programs and other LTV strategies.
  • 30:27 – Email Design and Deliverability in Brand Promotion
    • “There are multiple aspects so you’ve got to get the on-brand nature across if it’s a certain type of business.” (e.g. fashion brands, supplement brands, etc.)
    • The first step is the analysis of the business and audience.
    • The second step is testing. Testing is necessary as it always gets you the best results.
    • “Most of our stuff is 80% branded and 20% more copy-focused.”
    • OHM “carves out the most engaged segments and we would send those graphic emails to them because you’ve got the highest possible chance of inboxing.”
  • 34:46 – Balance and Synchronization of Copy and Email to Landing Page Offer
    • “In an ideal world, we’d have the capacity to always have a custom landing page but we don’t.”
    • OHM does not always have control on everything as some of their customers are working with other agencies in terms of landing pages and have to be mindful of the other’s resources.
  • 36:24 – Tips from an Email Marketing Perspective
    • For $100,000 per month, Jordan does not recommend hiring an agency as the focus should be on acquisition.
    • Once a business gets to $100,000 a month, look at agencies and the agency should improve what you are currently doing.
    • The five pre-purchase flows of the funnel. The welcome, site abandoned, browse, cart, and checkout balance should all be dialed or personalized as much as possible.
    • Use email to drive the traffic to convert.
    • The top of the funnel is more on generalized content and then tailoring as you go down the funnel to create conversions.
  • 39:30 – Setting Up the Pre-Purchase Flows
    • A better solution for some businesses in setting up pre-purchase flows is to hire an agency to come in and set them up for you.
    • The first flow is the welcome flow. The second flow is site, browse, and cart. The third flow is checkout abandoned.
    • For companies who are resource-constrained, don’t retain an agency that is charging a big fee per month. A one-off fee to get the flows set up and then optimize it on your own or someone in the company.
  • 41:10 – Optimizing Email Marketing
    • 30% to 50% of revenue should come from email but it depends on the product and the sector.
    • “Building out, improving the flows, and adding more customization.”
    • Email marketing and building flows depend on the niche and industry.
    • Collect UGC to put into Facebook ads.
    • Your customers will affiliate with you, also known as a referral scheme.
  • 44:41 – The Value of an Agency
    • “Our biggest source of new business is people who are unhappy with their current agency.”
    • Some of the reasons why companies switch to OHM are because of price and mistakes in work, e.g. incorrect copy or wrong schedule of email sendout.
    • “The main problem is, often, they shouldn’t be working with agencies at that level who are charging that much and doing what they say.”
  • 47:01 – Loyalty Programs
    • Some of the caveats are volume and type of product,
    • “Try to make it as simple as possible.
    • LoyaltyLion is Jordan’s number one loyalty app as it integrates different platforms.
  • 50:00 – Email and SMS Platforms
    • Jordan and his company do a lot of work with info products and SaaS
    • Klaviyo has stopped evolving over time.
    • Dedicated SMS depends on your success as a business.
    • “The new kid on the block who’s starting to take some of their lunch is Sendlane, we started working more and more with those guys.”


  • “Acquisition doesn’t need to be fully solved but the business should have a good handle on acquisition before it starts to think about retention.”
  • Be smart about the lead magnets.
  • The eCommerce space is having to play catch up to the information product industry in terms of funnel strategies.
  • Email is more cost-effective than SMS.
  • The tone, emotions, and style of email depend on the type of brand and what industry it is.

Links & Resources:



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Jordan, welcome to the 2X eCommerce. A pleasure to have you. I heard interesting things from you from a mutual friend of ours. I’m looking forward to this conversation.

Me, too. Thank you for having me.

Where should we start? Where are you calling in from?

I’m in Dubai. I lived in London my whole life, went traveling a few years ago, and now I call Dubai home.

How long have you been in Dubai?

Under a year at this point.

Whereabouts in Dubai do you live?

Close to the Palm, off of the main tourist area. I’m probably five minutes away from that, trying to avoid the hubbub.

I assume your email marketing agency, which is called OHM, is global. Is Dubai a perfect location for managing global clients?

To be honest, one of the best things about London is the time zone. Annoyingly, we are three hours ahead of the UK now, which means that I have to work a lot later. We are global. We have clients in the US and Australia. London is the center of the world in more ways than one. I say London is better than Dubai for managing it. Apart from the odd late evening, it’s all good here. There are a lot of other benefits to having the business here not just the time zone.

How’s the eCommerce and retail community out there?

It’s good. One of the reasons why I moved here is I don’t want to say that the networking opportunities because that’s a bit cliche but the number of people out here that are leaving Europe, especially a lot of young guys and girls making money in the digital world, there’s a lot of people here. Yes, eCommerce people, agency people, and info product people as well, and those are the three main sectors that I work with. It’s super good from a community aspect.

Let’s go back to your London days. You started out in investment banking and then you moved into eCommerce. Do you want to paint that transition and why you got into investment banking and made that transition to eCommerce?

My parents both ran their own businesses. Growing up in that environment, that sticks with you. I knew from a young age that I wanted to work for myself. Freedom is a big aspect but also taking pride in building something that is your own. That was always the goal. When you’re in the traditional education system, it’s hard to pursue that dream because you’re almost on a conveyor belt to university, do your GCSEs, do your A-levels, and go and get a grad job kind of thing. I went down that route for that reason.

Also, at the age of 18 or 21, I didn’t know what I wanted to do so the plan was always to go into finance, work there for a few years, build a skillset, and then hope you have some amazing ideas and transition out. Pretty quickly, I started working on my own ventures on the side. Once I got to a certain level, I left the industry to pursue those full-time.

How did you make the transition? I read somewhere that you were moonlighting. Did you build an eCommerce brand yourself? I’d been trying for a few years. With friends and solo, I’ve been trying to set up my own eCommerce businesses. I don’t want to say it took off, it never scaled to the heights that I would have liked, but a sufficient income that I could replace the day job as it were.

What feedback did that give you to take things to another level?

E-commerce is great because it’s varied so the skillset that you build up is useful for a lot of businesses. The main thing for me was developing skills. In the workplace, someone points you in a direction and says, “I need you to do this,” but having to think for yourself and learn skills outside of spreadsheets and PowerPoint was helpful. There are a lot of downsides as well to the eCommerce model that I realized as I was looking at these ventures. Giving you the confidence and the skillset were the main things that I took from that. Does that make sense?

It makes sense. How deep did you go into eCommerce? There are different degrees. There’s drop shipping and even affiliate markets. You then start to fulfill white label products and then you start to sort of R&D your own products. It’s a wide spectrum. How far did you go into commerce at the time?

I started at the easier end of the spectrum. I never did affiliates but I started dropshipping so that was my introduction. I did that. Dropshipping is great to test. Once I’ve tested and scaled the business to some degree of success, I went and bought inventory just because of the problems that arise from dropshipping. There were quite a lot of issues and massive time delays when I was doing this years ago now. It’s a great place to get started. I transitioned to building a brand pretty quickly and bought stock.

When I got into dropshipping, the reality that I could create demand on the one hand that translated into conversions like sales was mind-blowing for me. It opened up a plethora of opportunities for me and that’s when I started my Facebook agency, that’s when I started on sales from a Facebook standpoint. It’s quite interesting to see that transition. It’s quite similar but you went into email.

Why email? Typically, in a dropshipping model, the key driver for growth is your ability to acquire customers, whether it’s Google or Facebook. You don’t really care about the second purchase, which is the Achilles heel of dropshipping. I’m curious to know how you made that conscious decision. You wouldn’t have been doing email marketing very often.

It’s weird. I felt like quite a lot of changes in my life often come from mistakes. We had one SKU initially in the store and then the next brainwave was we could boost lifetime value by creating new products. We started selling those before the stock had landed so that was how I got into email. We collected all of the email addresses. We had a back-in-stock flow set up when that product did land and that was how I got introduced to email.

Fast forward a few months from that, email was driving pretty consistently 40% to 50% of our revenue. Yes, at the dropshipping phase, I was not doing any emails whatsoever, it was all cheap Facebook ads to a landing page, and Bob’s your uncle. When we bought stock, we had a stock issue and got introduced to email. It was this magical channel where if we didn’t have it, the business would have failed so it saved my bacon. At that time as well, no one else was using email so I doubled down on it, helped a few friends out with their businesses, and it’s grown from that.

40% to 50% percent of revenue, that’s impressive. What was the data set you were dealing with? How big was your email list at the time?

When we started that back-in-stock feature, it was a couple of hundred people, and then we got a few thousand people on that list. When the product lands, they want to be notified. The business was doing multiple five figures a month. It wasn’t huge. I had plenty of friends, at the time, that were 10X-ing in what I was doing but it was a sizable amount and then a sizable chunk of that was coming from email.

I’m guessing that with you helping your friends, you thought, “Why don’t I commercialize and monetize this as a service? I could render to this huge demand to several eCommerce businesses.”

That’s the story. I started with friends and then started charging people. It grew via word of mouth and we weren’t doing much marketing but that has changed now as the landscape has evolved and there’s a lot more competition now.

That makes a lot of sense. I’ve taken some notes because I want to speak to other points a bit later. That gives me a good understanding of your background. Let’s segue into email marketing. What services does your agency, OHM, render? It’s OpenHouseMedia.club for those who want to know what it means, your website. What top-level services or value do you offer the commerce industry?

It is the full stack of retention. We call it an email agency because that’s a bit simpler but it’s email, SMS, loyalty schemes, and direct mail on the real backend. Email is the predominant driver of revenue and the predominant service that we offer.

I don’t talk often about loyalty programs on direct mail so it’d be nice to stack everything up in this conversation.

For sure.

You’re a full-service retention agency when we think about it that way, which makes sense. Looking at the options, those four pillars with what you do, and the services you render, what are the fundamental first principles or truths entrepreneurs, operators, and executives reading this podcast should take away from retention marketing? What were the real building blocks in retention marketing?

That’s a good question. My first point is the acquisition doesn’t need to be fully solved but the business should have a good handle on acquisition before it starts to think about retention. A lot of people who book in to speak with us at the start of our sales process don’t have that taken care of. A lot of times, the first thing that we’re doing is introducing them to content agencies or media buying agencies to help out with that.

The way I look at things is retention is the bolt-on to the business, it’s not the rocket ship that’s going to drive growth. Yes, it can make what you’re doing more profitable, and it can drive more sales. It’s a weird response but the first thing is to make sure that you have acquisition dialed in or a clear roadmap to that. I’d say that’s point one. Point two is thinking about how we’re going to convert people who are on the fence. I look at email as the direct line to not just your customers but people who are interested in what you’re doing but need more information. We’re capturing their contact info and we’re marketing to them on the back end. That’s the second key principle.

The third is driving that LTV. If you’ve paid Facebook, TikTok, or whatever channel to acquire the customer, it’s then thinking about, “How can we get more out of that on the back end without having to go and spend $20 or $50 dollars to go and acquire someone else?” It’s thinking about all the different strategies and channels within that, which are, dependent on the business model, the products, and the customer life cycle. There’s a lot that goes into it but those are the main building blocks.

Dial in your acquisition, your CPA, you know the channels that work, and you keep them working so you’re building that base. While you’re acquiring, make sure you have the means of capturing customer data, whether it’s email, SMS, or what have you. Finally, the LTV elements, which is having some measure of the value of each customer and trying to maximize it longer term. That makes a lot of sense. Should we delve into the last bit, LTV? We don’t want to talk about acquisition per se. Let’s start out with an email capture. What are good conversion rates for email capture in your opinion? Where does SMS capture sits in the mix given what SMS is today?

We are an email-first agency. Some people may disagree with this but I would always go off to capturing the email address first because it’s more valuable in the long term. In terms of how we capture that, typically, it’s a lead magnet. We’re offering some incentive to the person. We’re trying to do two things. Yes, we want that conversion rate as high as possible but we also want to minimize the impact on margin.

A lot of businesses, especially historically, would throw up a capture form 20% off for your email address. Can we do something else? Can we maybe enter here for a giveaway? That would be a lot less expensive for the business. Things like cashback are also coming into play more. What we’re trying to do with these angles is lower that margin impact. We don’t just want to give out free money to everyone, especially if they may already have purchased from you without that, and come onto your list eventually.

Lead magnet is the main one. Think about the offer that you put into that lead magnet and then try and be smart about it. Can you do things like co-promote other complementary brands? Can you share email lists with influencers? Are there any other ad tactics that you can run maybe to quizzes to get people to opt in without giving up a margin right off the bat?

It’s partnerships and lead magnets, those are the two main ones for email. SMS is an addition to that. I like to go with a two-step lead magnet. Step one is the email and step two is the SMS. Other things like inserts in packaging, QR codes, and pop-up events if you’ve got a real-world presence, and things like that to grow the SMS list once you’ve taken care of the email side.

You acquire email and then you fall back on SMS. You did mention partnerships with Instagram, and sharing your email list with influencers. How does that work? I’ve not heard that before.

It’s similar. If you can a brand that sells a complimentary product or an influencer that serves your market, they will have an email list if they’re of a decent size. What we’re doing is we’re co-promoting each other to that list. You’re telling people not to buy the products but if you’re interested in what this business or what this person has to offer, go and check out this page, and you’re directing the traffic to an opt-in page where someone would sign up for more information. Typically, you’d have a custom welcome flow built off of that to explain more about the business, why maybe you’re partnering with that influencer, PR about the brand, bestsellers, and all that stuff.

As much as I don’t like the information markets in space in general because most of what they offer is sleazy, what they do well is landing pages, they design landing pages well. Oftentimes, because they’re selling a high ticket item, they’d either optimize that landing page for email capture or for a low AOV order, let’s say $5, $15, or $30 introductory ebook type offer that gets people into a flow on a funnel that eventually leads them up to purchasing higher ticket items, which is clever.

I haven’t seen that done much in eCommerce. I’m curious to know your thoughts on that. Even if it’s a landing page geared towards email capture, that’s valuable from a content and educational standpoint. Are you seeing that? Is that a tactic? Do you just use the opt-in pop-ups or slide-outs or slide-ins as you call them?

That’s a good question. I’ve certainly learned a lot from the info product world and their funnels are ten times better than the standard D2C eCommerce business. Over time, we’ve seen the evolution of eCommerce in that direction um with things like custom advertorials that are in other landing pages from a simple Facebook ad. That process of a custom landing page and getting more information for people maybe sending them to a quiz, that’s taking on more of a role, especially without costs rising.

The eCommerce space is having to play catch up to an info product industry that’s already had most of these problems. Even the sense of where we’re at with content in the eCommerce space today has been something where the info product, the influencer guys who are selling maybe certain sleazy types of products, those guys are ahead of the curve and they’re better marketers. I do think we’re following them if you will and we do like to emulate a lot of their funnel strategies because I do think it works better than the standard eCommerce practice, which is ad landing page checkout.

I took note on the advertorials because it was something that we wanted to explore but we just haven’t had the time. Thank you for reminding me.

It’s a lot of work.

Coming into all four things you do, where do you spend 80% of your time, email, SMS, loyalty programs, or LTV maximization?

I’d say email. Email will still drive the most revenue for most of these businesses in the most cost-effective manner. SMS is super expensive. Yes, it does work but it’s less frequent and it’s more expensive. Loyalty programs and other LTV strategies are firstly for bigger brands. A lot of businesses that we work with are not in a position to start activating those channels. Secondly, they’re add-ons. Email will be the main driver for the foreseeable future in my opinion.

Let’s jump into email. What are your thoughts on email design being on brand? In D2C, it’s all about the brand. Some people think it’s all about the visual assets of the brand rather than the emotions of brands. What do you expect? How do you extract that emotional soul from a brand perspective from your client to express it in email? You‘re one-to-one now, this is like hand-to-hand combat, even though you’re sending too many people, one too many. Everybody’s receiving it like you’re speaking directly to them. How do you capture two things, two layers of the brand, the soul, the tone of voice, the emotions you’re trying to evoke, and style, the stylization?

It’s tough. You’ve captured it. There are multiple aspects so you’ve got to get the on-brand nature across if it’s a certain type of business. If it’s a fashion brand, if it’s influencer-led, with businesses like that, we want to be more visual. On the other end of the spectrum, you’ve got things like supplement brands, which are more copy-focused because there’s more of a story to tell via words.

The first point is it depends on the type of brand and the industry. Which route do you go down in terms of more visually appealing, more on brand, graphically versus maybe a plain text email for a supplement business? Step one is analyzing the business and the audience. Step two is then testing. It’s always the answer that everyone doesn’t like to hear but how you’re going to get the best results is testing everything. Most of our stuff is 80% branded and 20% more copy-focused. We also work in the info product and in the SaaS spaces where that’s flipped on his head.

Info product businesses and the fitness space are copy-focused, there’s a lot of direct response in there. Sometimes the product needs that but how do we get up to speed and how do we learn what to do? Email is just another channel, it’s a reflection of the wider business. We don’t want to be doing stuff via email that doesn’t sync up with Instagram, with ads, or with the other strategies. Our first step is to look at what is going on in those channels, see what’s working, and then we’re replicating a version of that via email if that makes sense.

It makes a lot of sense. How do you balance out an email that’s heavily swaying towards the graphic or visual end of the spectrum and then email deliverability?

It’s tough. The honest answer is that if you are sending those graphic emails, you are going to land in the inbox less. Typically, we would carve out the most engaged segments and we would send those graphic emails to them because you’ve got the highest possible chance of inboxing. We also compress our images and there are a few other little hacks that we can do to try and inbox more but it’s just focusing on engaging people. When you send to the wider list at Black Friday, at a product drop, that’s when we would mix in more of the plain text stuff, even if it’s a visual brand. We’re also doing other stuff to test them and improve deliverability. It’s finessing around the edges, it’s not going to change much of the performance.

You talked a lot about strategies for different kinds of businesses. You’re talking about health and fitness or supplements as copy-driven. Given the fact that you’re controlling email, what do you do about landing pages? Do you take them straight to product pages or custom landing pages? Is that too much work? How do you balance things out to maximize your throughputs without over-stretching from an input standpoint, particularly with that synchronization of copy and email to landing page offer?

It’s tough. In an ideal world, we’d have the capacity to always have a custom landing page but we don’t. Sometimes we’ll help customers with landing pages but we’re either working with another agency that is in control of that or we’re asking the brand owner to do things. We’ve got to be mindful of their resource. Often, it’s, unfortunately, the product page, collection page, or site in that order of importance. When we have a new product launch or a big event for the business, they will have a custom landing page and we’ll see a massive improvement in ultimately revenue-driven. It’s a difficult situation because there are a lot of variables to balance in these situations.

Two questions here. If a brand owner is reading this podcast and they’re struggling to make cross the $100,00 per month level, and they’re D2C predominantly, what tips do you have for them from an email marketing standpoint to push through and sustain the $100,000 a month in revenue, which should with an AOV of 100 to keep it. It would be about 1,000 orders a month.

Below $100,000 per month, we wouldn’t necessarily recommend hiring an agency. Rewinding a bit of what I said before, the focus should be on acquisition. Get to $100,00 a month and then look at agencies and they should improve what you’re doing. Pre-$100,000 a month, there are a couple of major focus areas, the main one being converting that excess front-end traffic.

There are probably five pre-purchase flows that you should have. Going all the way down that funnel from welcome, site abandoned, browse, cart, and checkout abandoned, you want to have those dialed. What that means is as personalized as possible. If you have one SKU, great, you don’t need to personalize them. If you’re a fashion business and you’ve got six different product categories from bags to shoes to purses, you want to have separate flows and therefore separate funnels for those people.

You’ll have different lead magnets for those different categories. You’ve then got personalized content going to people based on the products that they’ve been looking at. The most important thing is using email initially to drive as much of that, let’s say Facebook ad traffic, to convert as possible. That’s step one. After that, it depends on the business, but let’s stick with the fashion brand example. After that purchase, you want to drive that second purchase as quickly as it makes sense for your business. That would be the second aspect. Yes, with flows, but then the campaigns.

Again, it’s all about personalization. It’s following up with people based on where they are in the funnel and sending campaigns to those segments that are specific to them. To the top of funnel traffic, you’re sending more engagements-focused stuff and then towards the bottom of the funnel, you’re focused more on conversions so social proof, PR, examples of looks, or celebrities wearing the brand, and things like that. At the top of the funnel, it’s more generalized content. Does that answer the question?

Absolutely. It makes a lot of sense. You’re honing in on personalization and on tailoring the messaging to the behaviors. You’re judging people by what they’ve done, not what they say, and then you’re funneling them to the right content aisle or flows that speak to their preferences depending on how complex your offering is, which makes a lot of sense. You’re saying to do it yourself. What were the three pre-purchase flows?

I can correct that. I don’t mean do it yourself. What may be a better solution because I know these guys are resource-constrained, is to hire an agency to come in and get you set up. Don’t have a retained agency that’s charging you $5,000 per month. In my eyes, that’s not relevant. Maybe pay them a one-off fee to come in and get those flows set up and then hand it over to either yourself or someone who optimizes and improves what they’ve done and can build and send campaigns essentially.

Set up the system so to speak. What are the three flows you said again?

It’s the welcome flow, getting people from that lead magnet into the welcome flow, and then we’ve got site, browse, cart, and checkout abandoned. It’s everything up to that point of purchase. That’s what you want to have dialed in.

Thank you. What about eCommerce brands? They’re at $250,000 and they’re trying to get to $500,000 per month. I would think that acquisition has been dialed in. They have a decent retention flow. Let’s say email marketing is only accounting for 25% of revenue. Is that a red flag? Is that an opportunity? Does that spell an opportunity for you with that setup?

This is thrown around a lot but 30% to 50% of revenue should come from email. That does depend on the product and the sector. One product store is let’s say selling prams. If they just sell prams, you’re not going to get a second purchase off of that customer base if you think that traditional way of eCommerce. There are things that you can do there and I’ll come on to that in a second.

A store that’s a fashion brand, a mid-size price point is going to do towards the 50% and then lower down, you’re going to have you know one product store, drop shipping business, or something like that. That will impact the performance. If we’re coming into an apparel business that’s got 25% of revenue coming from email, that’s a massive opportunity. It’s focused on that revenue side of things. Building out, improving the flows, and adding more customization.

Before, I said, you should have different flows or different segments of the flows based on the product categories, maybe you go more niche than that. Maybe you go with product-specific flows for the top five sellers in the business. You’re focused on squeezing the extra juice on the front end. On the backend, it’s adding more complexity. Are there apps that you can integrate to predict when that customer is more likely to purchase again? Yes. Integrate those apps and get that sorted out. It’s then focusing on the win-back and it’s not just as basic as before.

Before, maybe you’d have a post-purchase flow that is a first-time and repeat. Maybe you then focus on a separate VIP segment of people and you’re adding different offers to them. It’s just about complexity. At that stage, the volume on the campaign side obviously increases, you send to more segments, and you send more often to the most engaged ones there. That’s the revenue-focused. Back to what I said at the start, there are also other things that you can use email for. Can you collect UGC to then put into your Facebook ads? Yes, you should do that.

Are there other things that you can do? If we look at the pram example, can you set up a referral scheme? Moms all know other moms so they should be selling your business and getting a cut. They should be affiliating for you. This, you can all set up via email. It’s at that stage. I wouldn’t say if you’re doing $50,000, you should be thinking about building out that referral scheme. Now that you’ve got your head above the water and you’ve dialed in one ad channel, this is when you start to add this complexity and these other aspects to email.

Solid stuff. I like that. You mentioned $5,000 a month to an agency and not essentially returning for businesses that are still not yet hitting $100,000 or $150,000. For businesses paying agencies $5,000 a month, what value are they getting off the back of those fees? What’s the agency doing on a regular basis? We know they do campaigns but besides the campaigns, where’s the further optimization going? Does it go into all of those sophisticated segmentation-driven flows you’re talking about? How would you justify it so people who are paying their agencies reading this now say, “They’ve checked all boxes or not.”

To be honest, our biggest source of new business is people who are unhappy with their current agency. Typically, that’s mistakes in work, copy incorrect, send time wrong, or send day wrong. The other thing is the price. A lot of these agencies are charging way too much and not delivering that service. Yes, if you’re paying high four figures or even five figures a month to an email agency, they should be doing everything you said, they should be AB testing, sending all the campaigns, building all the flows, and optimizing. They’re often not so that is where I see the problem is.

The other problem is if they are doing that, it may be effort wasted for a smaller brand because they don’t have enough traffic going into those flows to warrant let’s say AB testing on a win-back flow. The main problem is, often, they shouldn’t be working with agencies at that level who are charging that much and doing what they say. The other issue is they’re often not. Our biggest source of new business is people not happy with their current agency. It’s a massive problem in the industry. Also, for a lot of agencies, not just email agencies.

You start to wonder, “What are they doing? What are they up to? Is this a set it and forget it?” They all need to get into our campaign when we’re doing campaigns or when they’re trying to generate reports and you’re wondering. That’s interesting. I’m cognizant of your time. I want us to touch base quite quickly on loyalty programs because you said that’s one of the pillars of retention brands should be looking at. Do you want to speak to first principles of loyalty programs and why they’re so important in the mix of retention?

A couple of caveats first. One is talking about volume. This isn’t something you should be thinking about if you’re doing $100,000 a month. Typically, $300,000-plus a month is when you should think about adding that. Two is it’s the type of product that you’re selling as well. If you’re you know a subscription business or if you’re a ladies’ skincare business, that will lend itself more to loyalty programs. That’s probably the first point.

The second point I’d make is to try to keep it as simple as possible. I’ve seen some brands before that have a physical store and they have a separate loyalty scheme for that store. They then have a separate app where they run their online loyalty program and then when they retail into other businesses, they have a whole separate program for that. That is super confusing and you’ve got to think about things from an end-user or customer standpoint. They should not have three loyalty programs to shop with you.

It should be simple, straightforward, and clear to them what the incentives or the benefits to them are. I’d say that point two is to keep the customer in mind and simplify what you’re doing. Three is to make sure you’re thinking through exactly the benefits that you’re offering and that they make sense for your business because, oftentimes, they don’t. Some businesses are in fact almost giving up more for these loyalty programs than they would spend on acquiring a new customer, which doesn’t make sense. It’s thinking things through on the back end.

Makes a lot of sense. From a tech stack standpoint, what are your favorite loyalty apps?

LoyaltyLion is my number one. It integrates with a lot of the different platforms that we use and most of the other ones that we’ve tried don’t. That would be my number one and there’s no clear number two.

From an email and SMS standpoint, what platforms do you tend to gravitate towards?

It depends on the sector. We do an increasing amount of stuff with info products and SaaS businesses. For those guys, I’d say it’s more open. For eCommerce, historically, Klaviyo has been the number one. That is starting to change and the landscape is evolving. Klaviyo have not gotten lazy but, in the past years or so, I’d say they’ve stopped or slowed their rate of evolution. The new kid on the block who’s starting to take some of their lunch is Sendlane, we started working more and more with those guys. Those are the top two and then there’s a large gap between everyone else in the market.

What’s your take on dedicated SMS services like Attention or Postscript versus an all-in-one?

It depends on the size of your business. For most businesses, it’s probably better to keep things simple and have everything on one platform. That’s what we recommend for most of the people that we work with.

Do you think I haven’t asked you any other questions? Is there anything you think I should ask you?

No. You’ve covered most of it. We’ve covered the benefits of email and the pitfalls of hiring agencies of, which there are quite a few. Overall, it’s been a good chat.

For people who want to find out more about what you guys do in Open House Media, go to OpenHouseMedia.club. Are you active on any social media platforms yourself?

I’m trying to be more active. I’m on Twitter and LinkedIn and those are the main two.

Jordan, it’s been an absolute pleasure having you on the 2X eCommerce podcast. I thoroughly enjoyed this one, speaking to retention markets, and first principles. Nice one.

I appreciate you having me. Thank you.


About the host:

Kunle Campbell

An ecommerce advisor to ambitious, agile online retailers and funded ecommerce startups seeking exponentially sales growth through scalable customer acquisition, retention, conversion optimisation, product/market fit optimisation and customer referrals.

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