252: How To Create A 9 Figure Ecommerce Business With Dustin Robertson Of Drip

252: How To Create A 9 Figure Ecommerce Business With Dustin Robertson Of Drip

I’m really happy to have Dustin Robertson on the show. Dustin is the CMO of Drip but in a prior life, he executed the digital marketing strategy for BackCountry.com and helped grow it to over 350 million dollars in revenue.

Not only is he an ecommerce expert but he also serves as an advisor for Armada Skis, Vegas.com and other popular brands.

In today’s episode we will talk about what it takes to win in the age on Amazon.

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What You’ll Learn

  • The largest contributor to BackCountry.com’s growth
  • The best way to build an email list for an ecommerce store
  • How to tag and segment emails for a large organization
  • How to set up email autoresponders for maximum open rates
  • How to combine email with other traffic strategies
  • How to combat noisier inboxes moving forward

Other Resources And Books


Klaviyo.com – Klaviyo is the email marketing platform that I personally use for my ecommerce store. Created specifically for ecommerce, it is the best email marketing provider that I’ve used to date. Click here and try Klaviyo for FREE.

Privy.com – Privy is my tool of choice when it comes to gathering email subscribers for my ecommerce store. They offer easy to use email capture, exit intent, and website targeting tools that turn more visitors into email subscribers and buyers. With both free and paid versions, Privy fits into any budget. Click here and get 15% OFF towards your account.

SellersSummit.com – The ultimate ecommerce learning conference! Unlike other events that focus on inspirational stories and high level BS, the Sellers Summit is a curriculum based conference where you will leave with practical and actionable strategies specifically for an ecommerce business. Click here and get your ticket now before it sells out.
Sellers Summit


Steve: You’re listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast, the place where I bring on successful bootstrap business owners and delve deeply into the strategies they use to grow their businesses. Now today I’ve Dustin Robertson on the show, and Dustin is the CMO of Drip. But before taking on that role, he actually built an e-commerce business from the ground up to over nine figures in revenue. And that is what we’re going to be talking about today.

But before we begin, I want to first apologize for the sound quality for this episode. Normally, I use Skype to record my interviews. But when I recently upgraded the software, my recording software all of a sudden stopped working and I had to scramble to find a brand new one. So thanks for your patience. Meanwhile I want to thank Klaviyo for sponsoring this episode. Always super excited to talk about Klaviyo because they are my email marketing platform of choice that I use for my ecommerce store and I depend on them for over 35% of my revenues. Now Klaviyo is the only email platform out there that is specifically built for ecommerce stores, and here is why it is so powerful.

Klaviyo can track every single customer who has shopped in your store and exactly what they bought. So let’s say I want to send out an email to everyone who purchased a red handkerchief in the last week, boom. Let’s say I want to set up a special auto-responder sequence to my customers depending on what they purchased, piece of cake, and there is full revenue tracking on every email. Klaviyo is the most powerful email platform that I’ve ever used and you could try them for free at mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O. Once again, that’s mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O.

I also want to give a shout out to Privy who is also a sponsor of the show. Privy is the tool that I use to build my email list for both my blog and my online store. Now, what does Privy do? Well, Privy is an email list growth platform and they manage all of my email capture forms. And I use Privy hand-in-hand with my email marketing provider. Right now I’m using Privy to display a cool wheel of fortune pop up. Basically a user gives their email for a chance to win valuable prices in our store. And customers love the gamification aspect of this. And when I implemented this form email signups increased by 131%.

I’m also using their new cart saver pop up feature to recover abandoned carts as well. And bottom line, Privy allows me to turn visitors into email subscribers, which I then feed to my email provider to close the sale. So head on over to Privy.com/Steve and try it for free. And if you decide you need some of the more advanced features, use coupon code MWQHJ for 15% off. Once again, that’s P-R-I-V-Y.com/Steve. Now onto the show.

Intro: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. We will teach you how to create a business that suits your lifestyle, so you can spend more time with your family and focus on doing the things that you love. Here is your host, Steve Chou.

Steve: Hey Dustin.

Dustin: Hey Steve.

Steve: Hey, I’ll just let you know we’re not doing video today because sometimes the extra bandwidth breaks up the audio.

Dustin: Okay, cool.

Steve: Cool. So how are you today?

Dustin: Well, it’s snowing like crazy here.

Steve: Oh is it?

Dustin: Yeah.

Steve: Where are you at again?

Dustin: Park City, Utah.

Steve: Ah perfect, so you’re going to hit the slopes?

Dustin: I would except I have a herniated disc in my back so.

Steve: Ouch.

Dustin: Yeah, just got an epidural injection on Friday to calm down the sciatic nerve and apparently to start the healing process, but normally yes.

Steve: Hey Dustin real quick, I notice there’s an echo. Do you have headphones by any chance?

Dustin: Yeah, let me go downstairs and go grab them.

Steve: Okay.

Dustin: Okay, how’s that?

Steve: It sounds better on the audio but did you switch microphones by any chance because it sounds a little muffled now.

Dustin: Let’s see, I don’t normally use Skype so let me get into the settings here.

Steve: Okay. But yeah, all the background noise has disappeared, which is good. Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. Today, I’m really happy to have Dustin Robertson on the show. Now Dustin is the CMO of Drip, which is the email marketing provider that I’m using for my blog over at Mywifequitherjob.com. And we are also using Drip for Go Brand Win as well. But we’re not here to talk about Drip. I have Dustin on the show because of his e-commerce expertise. And back in the day, Dustin executed the digital marketing strategy from the ground up for Backcountry.com the preeminent outdoor retailer online to generate over $350 million in revenue.

He’s also served as the CMO at armada skis and Vegas.com and advises several brands like Lyftopia, Altitude and RallyMe among many others. Anyway Dustin has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to growing e-commerce businesses to up to nine figures, and especially what it takes to win in the age of Amazon. And with that, welcome to show Dustin, how you doing today?

Dustin: Great. Thanks for having me Steve.

Steve: So Dustin, give us a quick background story about your entrepreneurial history and how you ended up at Drip actually.

Dustin: Yeah, it’s kind of an interesting story. So if it goes back to when I was in grade school, I was always trying to have a hustle, so actually sold candy at school to make money. And that was like my first business. And then through college, I was just lucky, I moved to Utah to go to school because the [inaudible 00:06:47] Utah was 27 miles from Alta Utah, which is one of the best ski areas in the world. And that’s how I ended up here and kind of focused my life around that passion. And then I was lucky to meet entrepreneurs here and we basically started Backcountry.com as ski bomb at the ski resort working in room service. So that was kind of how that started. That was in 94. So e-commerce and the internet was new at that point.

Steve: Oh yeah, that’s a long time ago.

Dustin: Yeah, it was really — I got to give credit to my buddy John because he’s the one that threw it out there and said we should sell avalanche beacons on the internet. And that was this obscure piece of equipment for backcountry skiing but back in the 90s, to get them you had to order them from Europe and it was really difficult. We basically got them from the ski patrol at the resort was normally where we could get them. And when we got a delivery of them one year, that’s when he said we should sell these on the internet. It was 94. So that’s kind of how we started on that path. And I’d gone to school for marketing.

And what really appealed to me about the internet was the fact that all the marketing we were going to do was measurable, kind of I was studying marketing in school and advertising. You learn these big theories and kind of reaching audiences and impressions, but they don’t teach you much about if it’s working or not. And so really, that’s what drew me to the internet was just thinking I can track everything I was doing. And from there, we were able to track what we did. But also we were able to build a brand with 100% native to the internet, never had a physical presence.

Steve: Was email a huge part of your strategy back then for Back Country?

Dustin: Yeah, we had it right from the start, so call it 2000 we were mailing. I think the platform was called WhatCounts. That might still be around. And yeah, back then it was a lot different, right?

Steve: Sure.

Dustin: There wasn’t as much spam and you got a better open rate and engagement. But yeah, what we learned pretty quickly is we were kind of opening marketing channels as they started. So when we started, there was no — Google.com wasn’t something that we could be on and we definitely didn’t advertise on it. So, as soon as it became the place everybody went, but it was only organically, we got really good at making sure we were indexed. And then as soon as AdWords came about, we got really good at making sure that we were really good at placing in that and converting.

And so that’s kind of how we built the customer base and then we would engage them with email but the reality is we engaged them because we were selling something that was their passion. And so that was kind of Back Country secret is we connected people to their passions, and our customers concern themselves athletes. So, somebody might be a dentist for the profession, but they’re actually a cyclist. They would say, I’m a cyclist first, I do dentistry. So that’s kind of how our customers described themselves and we were able to tap into that vein.

And then a lot of the lot of the things that we did that made it successful was it really always in this just one step behind Amazon. So we started to have community content really early on, we built our own review system and that was to drive SEO, because we knew if we had fresh content being posted to the product pages that Google was going to index more frequently and the best way to do that was to get the customers to do it. And then we added questions and answers, then we added photos and videos. And then we created this community leaderboard for contributions and kind of gamified the whole thing. And this is all before 2005. So that’s really what got the brand going and got the customer base really engaged.

Steve: So you left Back Country in 2013 and then he left Vegas.com in 2017. And so you have a whole lot of experience, like all throughout, and I was just kind of curious how has e-commerce changed? I mean, it changes very rapidly. So if you were to like do it all over again, what would your strategy be? And I know like Amazon, I think the latest 2018 numbers came out. And I think they have like 51% market share of the online retail market. So how would you handle e-commerce if you were to start from scratch today?

Dustin: Yeah, the biggest challenges have kind of been removed, right? There’s a new challenge with Amazon, but the fact that the technology component is removed — so back in the early 2,000s, we were having to build our own e-commerce platforms, we were having to host our own site, and scalability and solving those problems is really challenging. And so now with the Shopify, that’s just table stakes and you can focus on building your brand and connecting with your customers. And so that’s where you’re like, okay, but how do I keep them from going to Amazon? And so, that’s the, I guess hard trick today.

And the tool we have that we didn’t have, back in the early 2,000s is we have unlimited data storage and unlimited compute power that Shopify store can buy for $49 a month, through the various platforms out there. And so that’s how you’re going to take on existing names in the world, you’re going to leverage all that data, and you’re going to have a relationship with your customers that Amazon won’t. Amazon – I’m sorry, go ahead.

Steve: No, I was just going to say can give me some examples of what you would do, specifically with the data that you would get from a Shopify store that Amazon obviously wouldn’t have.

Dustin: So Amazon obviously has all the data that they want. But what they won’t do is they’re not going to take the time to bring any context or timing or guidance or expertise to the conversation. And so that’s where Amazon solved buying things, right, they made buying things really easy. They have not solved shopping. And so if you want to shop and actually engage in a category, right, so if you want to buy an avalanche beacon, and learn everything about avalanche beacons, and figure out which one is the best for you, and how to use them, and what other things do you need if you buy the avalanche beacon, that’s not going to happen on Amazon.

So that’s where that as soon as the shopping experience requires, or the buying experience requires one extra step, Amazon is no longer the best place to do that. And that’s where all the specialty retailers have an opportunity to excel. And then if you can layer on a brand that the customer want to engage with, and use to represent who they want to be on top of that, now you’ve built kind of a moat that Amazon is not going to be able to penetrate.

Steve: Can you give us an example of either one of your consulting companies or Back Country, can you give an example of how a store has done this what you’re describing right now?

Dustin: Yeah, I mean, that is what we did at Back Country. So every category we sold there, whether it was rock climbing, trail running, back country skiing, or camping, there was a bunch of guidance and expertise that we could bring to the purchase experience. And so once you bought from us in one of those categories, we would then engage you to find out what else you needed or what else you wanted to know about that category and then continually feed you that information. And we would go as far as we would have people actually call and reach out. So they still have this today. It’s kind of like a VIP shopper experience. They call it their gear heads.

And essentially, these are actual people that are experts in that category. And you have them on speed dial the customers too. So you can text them, you can call them, you can email them, or you can just follow them and they’ll just reach out and send you all their info and what products they think are good.

Steve: Interesting. How is this scalable? So if you’re calling your customers, can you kind of describe like the sorting process? I mean, you can’t call everyone right?

Dustin: Yeah, no, you can’t right. So it’s they’re segmenting the customer base by LTV. And it’s the 80/20 rule, right? 20% of customers are going to deliver 80% of revenue. So those are the ones that you’re calling and it does scale. And again, Amazon is never going to do that.

Steve: This LTV process, what are some ways that you can calculate it? So what is the process for calculating it because it can be kind of complicated, right?

Dustin: It can be super complicated. And so, again, with the SaaS platforms coming out, I think more and more of them are going to start to calculate it for you and I have no doubt that it’ll probably be native on Shopify soon. But essentially, you could just do gross merchandise value through the door and how much got returned. And some people get more complex, they’ll go, what did I spend to acquire those customers? What margin did I make when they came through? So it’s really — I think the key is you start, now would just do a count of orders. So you do — it’s called RFM, it’s a really old direct mail concept, recency, frequency, monetary, [inaudible 00:16:05], how much they’ve spent and do your RFM scoring on your base.

Steve: So can you do that — like what tools would you use to do that today? Would you just kind of do it by hand with a spreadsheet?

Dustin: Yeah, I would just do it. We might yeah — so I have a small Shopify store. We did do with the spreadsheet.

Steve: Okay. And then when you’re contacting them, I imagine you’re contacting other than voice too right, you’re probably using email. And what other avenues are you using? Are you using Facebook Messenger or?

Dustin: Yeah, so the other kind of big change in the world that’s just really becoming front and center and accessible to smaller retailers is your customers want to be contacted in a way that they choose. And they’re not going to tell you, right? Well, they’re going to tell you, but they’re not going to explicitly say, hey, don’t email me. They might opt in an email, but they never open the emails. And so the merchants got to be savvy enough to understand that like, okay, this person never opened emails, they only read the text messages we send or they only engage on Facebook. And so that needs to go on the customer profile. And then you guys have your automated flows going to that person. Maybe still email them but you have to follow up on Facebook.

Steve: Right, right. I mean, one of the big advantages of having customers in your own store as opposed to Amazon is that you have an email list. And since you’re on Drip, I thought we focus a little bit on email for the remaining part of this interview. So I guess question number one, let’s say you’re a brand new shop, and you mentioned you still have a small Shopify store, what are some strategies that you use to kind of buildup that email list as fast as you can?

Dustin: Yeah, it’s not the most articulate way to do it, but it works, right? You just offer them that first purchase discount. And that’s what my store does currently. I recommend that people try to find a contextual content offer. So don’t immediately choose to come to the website, just pop up and say, hey, you get 10% off if you give me your email, that works, and that’s why we all do it. But it’s much more graceful. And I think if you can do the work and figure out once somebody has clicked in a page or two, and you have some context on what they’re doing, you offer them content around that.

So like Lyftopia’s example, you’re shopping for a ski trip, they know what ski resort you’re looking at, they can pop up and say, hey cool, you want to go to Snowbird, do you want to know the 10 best runs at Snowbird? We’ll send you the secret guide. And then you get their email. And it’s in context to what they’re looking at. And they’re like, oh, that’s really cool. Yes, I need a guide. And now you have their email, and you can find all the data and they’re not really powerful, you can append the trip date to know, okay, they’re going to go in April, now we can set up a flow that communicates with them about their trip that they haven’t booked or if they have booked, and we can communicate with them about the purchases they can make.

Steve: Is this guy that you’re talking — this hypothetical example here, is this Dripped out via email or as a PDF guide? Like what does Liftopia do?

Dustin: Yeah, you would send them a — you can send them a PDF, or you can just send them a link to a blog article. Or you could possibly deliver the content right on the page.

Steve: And then would you go for — do you actually try to go for the sale in that sequence or is it just purely just building goodwill with the customer?

Dustin: Yeah, I think it depends on the buying cycle. So a trip like that people generally research and plan for 45 days. So this is your first touch with them, you wouldn’t immediately try to close the deal.

Steve: Okay, and so you just Drip it out and maybe when it comes close to time for them to actually go on their trip, then give them some sort of offer at the end of the sequence.

Dustin: Right, the 45 day research window is closing. And so then the flow starts to get more aggressive about hey, have you booked? Okay, yeah I have not booked. Well, then we can help you, and probably you can start to reach out and say, hey, we can call you or offer those little more high touch moments.

Steve: I know that a lot of people who do email, they get a lot of the stuff correct, right? They have a simple abandoned cart sequence, a pre purchase sequence and a win back campaign. But let’s say someone is on your pre purchase sequence and they never end up buying, what is kind of your strategy? What do you do with those people who are kind of done with your sequences in the beginning?

Dustin: Yeah, first, I’d look to see if they’re engaged. So you got people that are opening every fourth communication, clicking through, but never buying. And so, I would make that a segment of engaged users, but not customers and then try to figure out what commonalities are happening there. And so maybe it’s a certain type of content that they always click on. And you can start to figure out what they’re actually interested in why the rest of it is not encouraging a purchase. If you just put everybody in abandonment sequence, I don’t think you bring in enough of that context to what they’re doing to help move them through the process and kind of really start to build that relationship with them. So automation is awesome but if you rely on it too heavily, you’ll miss these opportunities, right? And so people engage it all the time but they’re not buying and why is that? Simple abandonment sequence and you’ve got to pick that up.

Steve: Actually, let’s talk about these segments. So you just mentioned one, like people who have engaged with the content, but haven’t purchased. What are some other segments that you can think of that you’d want to bucketize your list with?

Dustin: So the biggest bucket, the most valuable are the people who bought once. They made one purchase, they never made the second purchase, and really trying to figure out what can be done there. So most retailers fall in this metric, so essentially, if you can make that second purchase within the first 90 days, the probability that that customer becomes one of your best customers goes up like 90%.

Steve: Really, okay.

Dustin: Pretty much everywhere that I’ve worked, and we’ve done ridiculous amounts of data to figure out how many days is it, it’s always in that 90 day window. And so, most retailers that have done this analysis put a lot of effort into trying to get that second purchase out of their customer in the first 90 days. And so you should for sure have some type of automated flow that’s trying to encourage that. But again, if it’s kind of a one size fits all, it’s probably not going to work as well as opposed to figure out okay, this person shopped in women, this person shopped in men, this person bought shoes, this person bought jeans, what’s going to get them to buy their second purchase is probably totally different based on what their first purchase is.

Steve: Can you just kind of give us an example of a post purchase sequence of one of the companies out of that you advised or Back Country? How do you guys do it?

Dustin: Sure. So you bought — we can go through like a campaign scenario, because there’s lots of ancillary purchases. He bought a tent and so the first thing we do is we would follow up, probably about seven to nine days later, and just make sure you’re happy. So I think a lot of those in e-commerce, we immediately go for the next sale, and you got to remember that this is the customer, they just bought, you need to make sure they’re happy because if they’re not happy, you’re not going to get a second sale. So you got to check that box, make sure they’re happy. Do whatever you can to ask for a review, just simply ask them if they’re happy. Maybe they do an NPS score or something like that.

And then once they’re happy, maybe follow up with — in this category, we can follow up with maintenance advice, the back, hey, great you got that tent, here’s some things you can make sure it last you a lifetime. And at that point, maybe you could sneak in a small $10 item like hey, here’s a solution, you can scan it, keep it waterproof. And you actually get that second purchase and it’s only a $10 item and that generally would work. We just needed them to go through the purchase process. Again, it didn’t actually – they didn’t have to spend another $400.

And if again, if that didn’t work, then probably keep kind of enriching the content. And then you can start to find out if they have other items that go with the tent. And so we can start to send them content and then track what they’re clicking on. So we could send them a sleeping pad guide, like forget about the pant, let’s send them sleeping pad guide to engage them. That might be an indication they’re in the market leading cloud. And once we have that, and we know we’ve marked that, okay they are, let’s see if we can get them to buy this sleeping pad, maybe offer my special deal. They bought a family for per person tent, so offer him a deal on for a sleeping pad.

Steve: Interesting. So at this point, I guess you’re just tagging people based on the links that they’ve clicked on in your emails. And then you’ll — I guess you just branch out the further emails based on what they’re interested in. This can get pretty intricate pretty quickly, right if you have a lot of skews in your store?

Dustin: Yeah, it definitely requires orchestration. And again, like you can get it to where it’s ridiculous or you can just stick on the big bucket categories, right? So it’s not realistic for most small stores to build out 1,000 of these [inaudible 00:25:53].

Steve: So maybe just your biggest cash cow categories.

Dustin: Yeah. In the big stores, they’re able to do this because they have a big team, and they’re uploading all these flows through a spreadsheet and tracking them.

Steve: Okay, so you’re trying to get them to make their second sale. So what happens once they buy the second time? Do they go into a different bucket and what do you do with that bucket?

Dustin: Yeah, once they’ve bought a second time within 90 days, they would move into your high LTV customer bucket. And then at that point, those for like Back Country that meant they were going to buy four times that year. And so essentially that’s what usually just happened. But obviously once they’re in that bucket, now you’re just doing your normal targeting on them, okay, they’re interested in this category, not that, make sure that they’re getting that content, kind of doing the basic personalization.

Steve: So what does that look like, actually? And you can talk about how Back Country does it. So once they become a high LTV customer, what type of updates do they get after that?

Dustin: So after that, they’re engaged with the brand and they’re shopping frequently. And so we’re just sending them content that’s based on what they’re interested in.

Steve: Content or offers or a mixture of both or?

Dustin: Yeah, both. Back Country does — their offers are usually content focused. So it’ll be — so if you’re interested in the camp category, you bought the tent, were like, hey, we’re going to send you kitchen information. So you might get the stove guide. And then there might be an offer within that. And then what Back Country does now, which I think is just limited from their email platform, but they also just continually send all the weekly promotions out too and so that’s one thing I would not do. If you’re engaging, and you want to get email from me twice a week, that’s fine. But I would still make sure the offer was somewhat relevant to what you’re doing.

Steve: I see, so you would not just blast the same offer out?

Dustin: No, they do that right now. If they have a sale on a brand, the whole brand is on sail, then they just send it to everybody. And it’s not usually relevant to what I’ve been buying.

Steve: Can we talk about that? Like, what is the negative aspect of doing it that way? So let’s say someone doesn’t open, it doesn’t cost anything to actually send the email. So what negative effects would you see from doing it that way?

Dustin: Yeah, so the more you contact your customers with things that aren’t relevant to them, the less they engage, until you’re going to slowly see that open rate drop, and that click through rate drops. And as opposed to like, looking forward to that once a week email from Back Country and getting one every three days. And so I’m starting to not open all them and I get busy and kind of delete everything in my promotions folder, and I don’t get a chance to look. And then when you send me something that’s actually retargeted, I don’t see it. So it’s that — yeah, we’re all have limited time. And I think we need to be considerate of our customers’ time. And when they engage that they’re choosing to do that, so we need to make sure it’s relevant.

Steve: I guess the mentality of a shop owner when they’re blasting like that is, hey, there’s an off chance that someone is going to take advantage of that promotion. And if I don’t send it to them, let’s say they were segmented wrong, then I may be missing out on potential sale. How do you reconcile that fact?

Dustin: Yeah, it’s really hard because if you do the cast and blast, it always generates revenue. And it takes a while before that revenue starts to decline, and you start to wonder what’s happening, especially if your store is growing really fast, you can actually mask the fact that you’re just kind of churning through your customers, because you’re continually adding new ones. And they want to be casting blasted for the first couple of months of the relationship. And then they eventually stop opening too.

Steve: So what do you do with the people that start opening less? I imagine you segment those folks as well.

Dustin: Yeah, so that that goes back to ideally under segmentation dial, then you’re monitoring the content they’re opening, and you’re making sure that they’re getting more of that or less of that. But if people aren’t opening, you got to stop mailing them so much. Like, that’d be the first thing. One of the tricks out there that does work that it’s really easy to do in Drip is to resend to people who didn’t open. Super basic, but it works really well because — and this is just in general in the population. Obviously, you’re looking at a segment somebody hasn’t opened a long time and can be different. But anything you send, you should always reset to people who didn’t open and then if they haven’t opened and you’ve been doing that continually, like okay, I have an unengaged user here, but just so we check that box that you should resend to people that didn’t open because sometimes the second time is a charm. We usually see about 15% increase in revenue, when people send to the people who didn’t open.

Steve: That’s interesting. I was talking to someone else about email, and they only recommend resetting to unopens for your most important campaigns because when you do it too often, it tends to have a negative effect on the overall deliverability rate. I don’t know what’s your opinion on that?

Dustin: Yeah, I think it’d be really hard to tie that activity to deliverability rate, but that logically makes sense. And again, that’s where you got to be looking at who you’re mailing. And if they’re continually never opening, then sending them a resend to them because they didn’t open is not a good idea.

Steve: So when do you just finally say, hey, I’m going to kick these people off? Like, what’s your threshold for that?

Dustin: I don’t think you should ever kick people off unless obviously they’ve asked to be removed. So, at this point, the email address is kind of the golden ticket to digital marketing on the internet. Now, if you have an email address, it can enhance your marketing across many platforms, not just Facebook. And so if they never open their email, you don’t ever want to delete their address or not use it, you want to still append data to it, and use it to market across the Internet, and try to get them to reengage.

Steve: Okay, and what are some ways that you would do that?

Dustin: So obviously, Facebook and Instagram are the ones that are built into the platforms. Google is slowly opening their networks, if you have an email address, you can increase your bid for AdWords. You can obviously do Gmail advertising. And I believe, I’m not sure if the retargeting works out, the email doesn’t, I don’t think it does. But just AdWords and Gmail, those are the two biggest places people go to search. And so if you have an email address, then you can enhance your bid, when someone searching, that’s part of your customer base. That’s pretty powerful. So I think the email address is kind of the key to how you’re going to spend and get ROI. And so if you can’t send them an email, it doesn’t mean that email address isn’t worth something.

Steve: So the people that aren’t opening or haven’t opened in extended period, you just stop sending those people and you just use those as retargeting audiences?

Dustin: Correct?

Steve: Okay. Would you ever just occasionally try to email them again and see if they respond? Or what is kind of your threshold for that?

Dustin: Yeah, I think once a quarter; you should try to come up with something to see if they engage or something like that. And again, just make it targeted and maybe make it an offer to have a call or something if they’re category enabled, that they may want some totally different conversation with you. Or maybe they’re really angry and they want to vent. I don’t know.

Steve: I know a lot of store owners, they have this like one gigantic monolithic list that isn’t segmented. So, so far, we’ve talked about different buckets, like they’ve purchased once and high lifetime value people and people who aren’t that engaged. How else would you go about taking this one monolithic list and just kind of breaking it apart after the fact assuming you didn’t tag when you were sending the emails?

Dustin: So and there’s no data as it is, it is just a list.

Steve: There might be data appended to it I guess from previous, I guess it just depends on which email provider but yeah, let’s say you do have some data about previous sense of content and offers.

Dustin: Yes, I would just start at the simplest segmentation, the highest level you can come up with. And so whether it’s category, or it’s just recency from when they’ve engaged, like, okay, this is what people who in the past 90 days were engaged like, okay, those are strike while the iron is hot concept, those people are probably your best bet. And then start to bucket it out from there, llike, okay, these people have a bottom 24 months, and then figure out what goes on with your product category. That would imply, okay, 24 months have gone by, why haven’t they come back? It’s like, okay, maybe they’re right. In travel, a lot of people only take a trip every 24 months. So actually Vegas, people who hadn’t bought 24 months was a valuable list because they’re ready to come back.

Steve: Interesting okay.

Dustin: And feedback, hey, it’s been this long since you’ve been on a trip, I bet you’re ready to take another one, let us help you find one. Those types of conversations you can have there. When you sell physical goods, again, you have to figure out the characteristics of what you’re selling.

Steve: And in terms of guidelines, do you have any in terms of like determining whether you’re doing well? Like what’s a good open rate? What’s a good click through rate?

Dustin: I really think that is — looking at averages out there is really difficult, because so many people email poorly. I think the average e-commerce open rate is like 15% or something. But I’m sure your listeners and people on Drip, it could be much higher than that.

Steve: Of course.

Dustin: And it’s because they’re sending targeted messages with data right? And so, yes, that’s a tough one to answer without knowing what people strategies are. Throughout my career I’ve seen 15% with really bad practices.

Steve: Well, let’s flip it. What is considered a poor open rate where you definitely need to start looking at what’s going on?

Dustin: Yeah, I would say 15% is kind of the Mendoza line where like, okay, that’s probably average for people that don’t do it very well. And if you get below that, then something is wrong. The content is not resonating, the list isn’t segmented, maybe you’re just simply mailing everybody too much. I don’t know. But we like to — if you have a really engaged audience, and you’re sending them relevant content, you can see 40% open rates.

Steve: What’s funny about not emailing the people that haven’t opened in the past is that if you’re not emailing them anymore, you’re not actually giving them a chance to perhaps open an email. And so I’m just kind of curious how this — is this life cycle emails that you’re talking about here, is it mostly automated, meaning like as soon as they drop down a bucket, they are given a separate sequence and as soon as they’re upgraded to like the high LTV bucket, is there a separate autoresponder sequence? Or are you just using those buckets mainly for broadcast that you’re setting up?

Dustin: No, ideally your customer list is segmented by LTV and they’re dropping into their automation based on that, and then you’re going to do a broadcast, I think that’s a separate exercise where you determine if you’re going to dump everybody in or not. Does that makes sense?

Steve: Yeah. So the broadcasts depending on for example, if you have a certain sale in a segment — okay, actually, let’s take that example. Let’s say you have all your buckets that we’ve already talked about so far and you want to do a broadcast of a specific item. Do you send that broadcast to everyone who you think might be interested in that item or has shown interest in that item across all of your segments? Or do you just do it to your, I guess, your better segments to people who have purchased before?

Dustin: Yeah, I would think it would depend on if it was a special offer, a limited edition item, or something like that, how deep you want to go because when you have a really compelling offer, that’s probably the time to try to wake up the sleepy part of the list. I would just calculate it based on that, like okay, this is a good time to talk to the people who haven’t bought for 24 months, but had interest in this category? Or is this a limited, I only have 20 of them and I want my best customers to have first shot at it and kind of create a scarcity and exclusivity messaging for that segment.

Steve: Okay. Outside of email, what are some of the other growth strategies that have worked well with the companies that you’ve advised in terms of getting people to just buy more often?

Dustin: Yeah, so after we’ve acquired them as customers, obviously?

Steve: Yes, that’s correct. Yes.

Dustin: Yeah, treating them as a person, and kind of not always trying to sell them is definitely the best method. And so I’m pretty lucky I don’t deal with a lot of companies that just sell commodity widgets, there’s always some passion or something behind it. And so once the customer comes in, you want to welcome them into the family and make them feel like they’re part of the movement. And that’s generally the best way to build loyalty and kind of really get them to be your fan and promote you. And that’s kind of what all the brands I work with focus on. So once they’ve had that transaction with them, we then work through all the ways to enroll you in the brand. And frankly, a lot of that happening through email, but then you just have to track what they do, right? And getting them to contribute content and write reviews and things like that are really key today.

Steve: You bring up a pretty good point there. I think just even determining what you want to sell or how you want to structure your own business going forward, you probably want to choose an item that is conducive to having a following right, and is conducive to having like a fanatical audience, as opposed to selling like just regular widgets online.

Dustin: Yeah, I mean, either you’re going to celebrate the widgets like the Shopify store I have sells reading glasses. That’s about as regular of a widget as you could get but we built a brand and a movement around it that is working. And so, we sell these reading glasses for people that don’t want to wear reading glasses essentially.

Steve: That would be me actually; I’m starting to get farsighted. Tell me about this movement actually. How have you created it?

Dustin: Yeah, it was my buddy’s idea. And he essentially — same problem you’re having right? He’s like having trouble reading menus. That’s how it starts. Then your kids are like dad, your arms must be long enough to hold the menu far. Yeah, anyway, so he went to go solve this problem, he is like, wow, the only option is to go to the optometrist and spend a ton of money or go to the drugstore and buy granny readers. He’s like, none of those appeal to me. And so essentially just build a brand around people that wanted — that had to solve this reading glass problem but weren’t willing to kind of sacrifice I guess style is how we frame it.

But basically, he made it into a movement about aging awesome. And so we’re all Generation X. And basically, none of us are willing to stop doing what we’ve done our whole lives. And that’s really what the whole brand is about. So he’s gotten influencers into the brand, and we kind of launched it with four models, the glasses, influencer movement, and it’s worked incredibly well.

Steve: Interesting. So, this audience that you have isn’t necessarily interested in glasses, but it’s the targeted demographic? And your content, I imagine it doesn’t have do with glasses most of the time, right?

Dustin: Yeah, it’s a side project for everybody; we’ve been really slow to get the content going. But you’re correct; the monthly broadcast would have nothing to do with glasses. It would have everything to do with ageing awesome and just really cool things people are doing in life.

Steve: Okay, right, right, right. And so that way people actually would be very conducive to opening those emails. I know I would as someone who’s starting to get farsighted, but just that whole bucket of aging awesome; it’s almost like a blog at that point, right?

Dustin: Yeah, essentially, that’s a very good way to look at it, even we created a blog audience and there’s products behind it that help them kind of be part of the movement.

Steve: And this store, I imagine it’s not limited to just selling reading glasses, right?

Dustin: It’s not; it only sells reading glasses today. But the way he’s built up the brand and age awesome, it opens itself up to other categories pretty easily.

Steve: Nice. Does he sell on Amazon? Or this is your store too; do you guys sell on Amazon?

Dustin: Yeah, we put it on Amazon just to see what would happen. We didn’t put much effort into it, honestly. So yeah, just for — sure that numbers, no big deal. We do about 50 orders a day and we would get one order a day from Amazon.

Steve: How do you reconcile that? So let’s say you were making like 100 orders a day on Amazon, how would you kind of reconcile like where to put your efforts? Do you just put all your efforts on the highest paying channel or would you still focus more of your efforts on the store?

Dustin: Yeah, I would focus efforts on the store. Amazon, selling on Amazon is just a cash flow exercise. So if you need to convert your inventory into cash, it can be beneficial there. But you don’t get the customer, and so other than you’re getting your product in the customers’ hands, but if they bought on Amazon, they’re probably going to go back to Amazon to get it again. It’s really hard to enroll them in the brand.

Steve: Do you ever point people — in this reading glasses store, do you ever point people to Amazon or do you always point — the reason why I ask this is some people just always buy on Amazon, right?

Dustin: Yeah, I think people buy on Amazon until they don’t, right until they need more info to make the purchase. So, finding really cool reading glasses is just not something people would even think to start that search on Amazon for. And I think that’s why we didn’t sell that many there because if you’re going to look for reading glasses on Amazon, you’re most likely in the mindset you’re going to pay $12 for them and ours cost 90.

Steve: Right. Okay, that makes sense. Cool. Well, Dustin, that I just kind of want to end this by giving you a chance to talk about some of the companies that you work for or promote or whatnot. And where can people find you online?

Dustin: Yeah, you can find me on LinkedIn and Twitter. It’s just @DustinRobertson. And then obviously, if you want to learn more about how we’re appending data and enhancing the e-commerce shopping experience, check us out at Drip.

Steve: I do want to say a couple of things about Drip. I mean, one of the reasons why I use it for my Wife Quit Her Job is because of its tagging abilities. Basically, you have at your disposal what any person has done. And as soon as they click on a link or interact with something, you can tag them appropriately and then do some of the things that we talked about in today’s interview. So Dustin, thanks a lot for come on the show. I really appreciate your time.

Dustin: Great. Thanks for having me, Steve.

Steve: All right, take care.

Dustin: Bye.

Steve: Hope you enjoyed that episode. Now for everyone who thinks email is dead, well guess what? Email is not dead. And the key to a successful email strategy relies on the proper segmentation. For more information about this episode, go to Mywifequitherjob.com/episode252.

And once again, I want to thank Privy for sponsoring this episode. Privy is the email capture provider that I personally use to turn visitors into email subscribers. They offer email capture, exit intent, and site targeting tools to make it super simple as well. And I like Privy because it’s so powerful and you can basically trigger custom pop-ups for any primer that is closely tied to your ecommerce store. Now, if you want to give it a try, it is free. So, head on over to Privy.com/Steve, once again, that’s P-R-I-V-Y.com/Steve.

I also want to thank Klaviyo which is my email marketing platform of choice for ecommerce merchants. You can easily put together automated flows like an abandoned cart sequence, a post-purchase flow, a win-back campaign, basically all these sequences that will make you money on autopilot. So head on over to Mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O, once again that’s Mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O.

Now I talk about how I use these tools on my blog, and if you’re interested in starting your own e-commerce store, head on over to mywifequitherjob.com and sign up for my free six-day mini course. Just type in your email and I’ll send you the course right away. Thanks for listening.

Outro: Thanks for listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast where we’re giving the courage people need to start their own online business. For more information, visit Steve’s blog at www.Mywifequitherjob.com.

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