Guillaume: Hello everyone, Guillaume Le Tual here, host of the Ecommerce Wizards Podcast where I feature leaders in e-commerce and business. Today’s guest is Jacob R. Anson. He’s the co-founder of Agency JR. An agency specialized in e-commerce email conversion. So today we’ll be talking about the seven-figure Black Friday formula for SMS and email sales campaigns. Before we get started, our sponsorship message.
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All right, Jacob. Thanks for being here today.
Jacob: Thank you for having me on, excited for the episode.
Guillaume: Right. Can you give us a very brief, like a two minute intro about you before we dive into the topic?
Jacob: Sure thing. I’m Jacob, I’m the co-founder of AgencyJR. As you mentioned previously, we were an email and SMS marketing agency that’s focused primarily in e-commerce with also dabbling within the SaaS and info markets as well. Right now, overall, over the span of our agency we have generated over 30 million in email and SMS marketing sales for clients. Currently, we’ve worked with I think around 60 to 70 clients and our team currently is I think around 40 people. So yeah, and we also work pretty practically in any niche. So we have worked with anything from dog products, fitness products, household goods, food, and anything else you can think of.
Guillaume: Okay, pretty cool. So let’s dive in, a seven-figure Black Friday formula, SMS and email sales campaign. Let’s hear more.
Jacob: Sounds good. Actually, this is perfect timing since we just came back from a trip in Dubai where we actually held a speech around this topic so I think we can dive right in. With the seven figure Black Friday, Cyber Monday email, SMS formula, essentially, there are multiple steps to it. I’ll keep it short and simple from the get go with any email list. First of all, you have to build awareness. So for example you’re an e-commerce shop, you might have your list of people say 10,000. First of all, you need to again, build that awareness that the people know you, what you sell, what you stand for and stuff like that. So of course then the formula is to build awareness and essentially re-engage your customer so they know you actually exist. Once you have done that then it’s time to build even more awareness, essentially engage them even further. This basically just means deepening the relationship you have with them, educating them about the products that you have, about the values you have, about your brand stories so they’re more attached with you. And then lastly or the third stage you’re heading to the actual sales page where you launch the sale and there we have a specific layout. I presume we want to get into that in a second as well, right?
Guillaume: Yeah, but let’s start from the first one, let’s start from the beginning. So the first one you said awareness, here I’m guessing you’re talking about building an email and SMS list or you’re talking about re-engaging perhaps an old list of clients or a mix of all this?
Jacob: Here it works for any scenario. So even if you have a list, maybe you have not targeted them in a while, maybe you only targeted a certain part of it. Step one is essentially universal. And even if you have a list or you don’t have a list at any stage you are, the goal is to build that initial awareness to essentially engage as many people as possible, so you have this nice bucket of people that you can continue blasting emails continuously. We usually just send out maybe three to four re-engagement specific emails, or even to make it more specific we like these emails to be text-based. Because you know in marketing there’s always these pretty image based emails, you’re actually going to take a step away from that and send out purely text-based emails, something you would essentially send to your friend. Here though it’s always it was sent from like a brand representative, the main premise there is that you’re talking to the customer directly. It can be as simple as ‘Hey we have noticed you have not been opening your emails in a while, our Black Friday, Cyber Monday sale is just around the corner and these are the deals you might be expecting, look here or check out our store or you can also click the link at the bottom of the email if you don’t want to receive our emails anymore.’ So as simple as that and that serves great to re-engage our customers.
Guillaume: Okay. Some brands of course already send emails every few days or whatever but in many cases you will want to re-engage your base. The easiest way of course is to engage past customers plus anybody that signed up to your newsletter for whatever reason, we could maybe later get into list building. But let’s go through your first, so you’re re-engaging the existing list. Now you have three, four emails for this or SMS, what’s next?
Jacob: Great. The next step is we then take only this bucket of these engaged customers and only focus on them and try to deepen our relationship with them and essentially educate them even more. Here we usually send out three specific emails. So all the emails we send out within this phase are only sent out to this engaged past list. One reason is technical and to boost how they operate. Second, is just so we can actually target these people more since they have already been engaged or re-engaged within the previous phase. These specific emails we want to send out, one is like a best seller or like a product educational campaign, that is to build awareness around the products you sell. So here maybe you have a very hero SKU oriented store where you have like your hero product that everybody buys but they don’t necessarily know you also offer additional products, complementary products, this is the email that will educate them about those products. What are the benefits? Why do they need them? In a very non-salesy way where you’re not pushing them to buy directly just educating them about the fact that you have these products.
Or if you don’t have a very hero SKU centric store where people buy a lot of products very equally, evenly, then you can basically just promote any three to five products you think would make sense for the Black Friday period. Again, just showcase them in a non-salesy way, features, benefits and what problems they solve. The next emails are actually a value campaign. Here you are just giving direct value to your customers again, without directly selling anything. An easy example is in selling dog products, you can send them a campaign like three tips on how to make your dog more obedient or three tips on how to make your dog love exercise more, anything that your customers might want to learn about in a niche you’re in e.g dog niche, fitness niche. Again, the goal here is not to sell but if you do want to generate a bit more sales from this email there’s a simple framework that we use. Again, there are three tips. First they’ve general tip, second they’ve general tip but in the third tip you slightly push them into a certain product. So for example three tips on how to make your dog more obedient.
This third tip could be if you’re selling let’s say some e-books to learn more about dog behavioral patterns and then within the last line you can slightly push them through your solution there. Then the last email is more of a technical email, we call it a warm up email and the purpose of this is to actually generate as many customer responses from it as possible and that is not to warm up your customer support thing. There’s a very good technical reason. If somebody actually responds to your email all the future emails you send to that customer are much more likely to land in the primary folder which means, more eyes, more opens, more clicks, and ultimately more sales. And to achieve this, we like to run a giveaway framework such as running a 24 hour giveaway, reply to this email with anything to enter. And within the next 24 hours one of our customer support members will contact you if you have won. So those are the three specific emails there.
Guillaume: Okay, so in this warm up email, the last one of the second part of deepening the relationship, so once you get into the next stage you’ll have the sales stage, what does that look like? This is probably the phase that most people are most familiar with, like product discounts, direct product sales offer and so on. People generally skip your phase one and two of three or four emails each and go straight to ask for the sale. So let’s cover the sale now?
Jacob: Sounds good. So here, our cherry with any big launch, we always run an early bird segment there. Let’s say we launched Black Friday, before actually launched Black Friday, we launched early bird Black Friday which is limited to people who from the start essentially actually sign up to receive the early access email for that. There we do a lead generation aspect. So we take the email list, we take the SMS list if you have it, we add an additional pop up on the website. And also we want the customer or you the store to run some paid ads or a lead generation landing page as well, we put in an additional early bird sign. But then these early birds you launched will sell a bit sooner, and also they’ll get the better discount, get access to the sale sooner and also they’ll avoid the fact that they might sell out in some of the products.
With this approach, we usually see very insanely good conversion rates, usually with this generated list we see anywhere from 15% to 20% of this list convert. If you have generated a 5000 early bird list, we usually see anywhere from 750 people to 1k of these people could convert. With even more numbers into this approach, we usually see about the return of $10 per sign up generated. So if you run, let’s say paid ads lead generation campaigns, usually you can expect people to sign up from anywhere from $1 to $3, we usually see $10 brought back through the launch. So it’s very profitable.
With this approach we also do some other things. We have a very heavy sending frequency. So during the early bird launch, it usually only lasts a few days, there we’ll send out three unique emails. On the launch day we’ll have the launch email [inaudible 11:46] resend the launch email with a different subject line to the non-openers. And then on the day when the sale ends, we’ll actually have two unique emails going out. The first one, for example, saying sale ends in 12 hours and the other one saying sale ends in four hours, for example. And then we add them to the Black Friday sale launch, same general approach. So from the sale launch date, until the day before the sale ends, we’ll have one unique email plus one resend every day. And on the day when the Black Friday sale ends, we’ll have two unique emails going out with the same approaches as early Black Friday.
Guillaume: I don’t think you had your mental map right for the conversion but that is irrelevant to the value you’re delivering for the world out here. That’s very interesting. So you’re sending a lot of emails, even at the sales stage, engagement with your early bird system, and you hope to get 15%-20% conversion or at least $10 value but that depends also on your $10 value per sign up. What is the average order value of the people on your list? If you’re selling an average cart of $100 or $200, it’s very different from a $5,000 average cart selling maybe motor and engine parts and stuff like that. So that will vary a lot. I see you’re sending another pre-launch campaign, and then an email every day during the sale itself. So what I see as a takeaway here is most people, as I said before, try to start the sales stage without building that relationship before. So you re-engage with three, four emails then you deepen the relationship, tell the story of the brand and you’re sending again, three, four emails. Before you ask for the sale, you’ve actually sent at least six to eight emails trying to give value and tips and things that people might value and connect with you. And then you start with the sales approach and the Black Friday itself.
Jacob: Exactly. What you basically did is you listed down the three issues which you try to approach with this formula. The first one is basically the awareness issue. Sure, you can send those people emails, but if they don’t necessarily remember your brand, or what you sell, it’s not going to convert as much. Second of all, if people know your brand, maybe they have also signed up for some competitor brands, which sell in the same niche. Maybe the brand has a better relationship then the customer will use the brand as better. It’s also going to cause your conversion to deepen.
Thirdly, which I think is the most important one, a lot of brands are not nearly as aggressive as they could be. Obviously most brands during Black Friday maybe follow the golden rule of 12 to 15 campaigns a month, which they do throughout the whole year and maybe they bump it up to 18 campaigns. But we’ve seen that jumping it up to 30-40 campaigns should be done, I think, as a minimum. We have tested this out with multiple brands. So obviously a big concern there is not to burn out your list maybe enough to [inaudible 14:50] your customers, you have to also remember your customers are consumers. They have been looking for the Black Friday Cyber Monday period the whole year so they’re actively looking for the best deals. If you give them the knowledge more frequently they’ll appreciate this as well.
Guillaume: Right. In total, how many emails are we talking about? Like three, four in awareness, three, four to deepen relationships, and then the sales part is like three, four plus if the sale is long, one email a day, so you end up with, like roughly how many emails in total for the Black Friday campaign?
Jacob: Yeah, so for the month of November if we were to start this, we would have about 26 unique emails with about 40 emails sent. So for the Black Friday, Cyber Monday and early Black Friday launches, there’s going to be for most days one unique email going out with at least one resend of that email later on the day. So like 26 unique emails of about forty emails sent, as opposed to like the regular 15 campaigns a month. So there is a very big difference.
Guillaume: I believe that’s pretty much the limit that you can push the email sending aspect. There is a very famous internet marketer guy that I’m not going to name. I signed up like a month ago, and I’m checking my email, I got 72 emails from the guy and I do feel this is getting really spammy and annoying. Especially when one of the products did opt in already and then I’m getting more solicitation about that specific product like okay, clean up your list here. I don’t want to hear about that product anymore. So I think you’re pushing it to pretty much the limit. But it is a good thing, especially when you have a highly engaged audience, you don’t want to be shy to send emails. People who are not interested will just unsubscribe and then you connect with those people and you move forward with it. I think this is a pretty good summary of it. The first topic also about building the list. If you have a long history in business, you already have thousands of customers, it’s clear where you get your list. But let’s say somebody is more early in the stage, do you have any tips on building a list?
Jacob: Good question. Before I dive in for the new brands looking to build their list, I have a very good suggestion for the established brands. For example this Black Friday, Cyber Monday period is an excellent time for you to also make your list even bigger. That’s done with the lead generation stuff I mentioned before. There, essentially what you need is a landing page asking customers if they want to get early access to Black Friday deals and you can run paid ads for your mid-funnel audience. People have seen your ads before and maybe have gone to the website before but have not yet converted. Black Friday, Cyber Monday is the best time to convert them and also to build your list.
For new brands, I’ll be extremely boring since we also had some run-ins with new brands. If you are let’s say under 15K a month, under 30K a month and you’re looking to build your list and focus on that, I would actually highly suggest against that. Because the best list you can build is you actually focus on getting buyers directly. Obviously, this doesn’t apply for extremely high ticket stores but for regular ticket stores will say…
Guillaume: When you say 15K-30k, do you mean in terms of top line sales or you mean something else?
Guillaume: Revenue. For sure that is totally startup mode at that point. There you focus on sales but it will sort of build a list at the same time. But yeah, you need to focus on sales, direct conversions.
Jacob: Yeah, and through that you’ll build a list of the highest quality because you’re focusing on direct conversions of people that actually get into your list, they’re showing buyer purchase intent to your product. So the people who will get there are naturally going to be the best kinds of people you can get. Obviously you’re going to get buyers who already buy but then also through pop up forms on the website and also abandoned checkouts, you will get non-buyers but they have shown explicit purchase intent to your products and that’s the highest quality list you can actually build. But then later down the road, you can then focus more on list building but first thing if you’re at that stage is focus on direct purchases, that’s the quickest way up.
Guillaume: Yeah, under the first million, list building still applies but you’re more in direct sales because you have less capital to reinvest to just build up a list that you will then solicit. It’s more like you’re building your list and your sales at the same time, everything’s like a direct sale kind of approach to have immediate return on investment on your ad campaign month to month to fund the next month and so on. Any last thoughts to add to wrap up this episode?
Jacob: Hopefully I summarized it pretty well, but essentially just send out more emails during November as this is the time of the year where everybody’s looking to spend their hard earned money so take advantage of that.
Guillaume: Awesome, so Jacob if people want to get in touch with you what’s the best way?
Jacob: Yeah, you can go to agencyjr.com So this Agency J as in Jacob R as in Reinis and there you’ll be able to see what we do, our work, our results and also scheduling a call with us if this seems interesting.
Guillaume: Alright, thanks for being here today, Jacob.
Jacob: Thank you for having me on.