[02:01] Trent: So please join me in welcoming Francis to the show. Hello, Francis, welcome to the show.
- Francis: Thank you so much Trent pleasure to be here. I’m excited to speak to you and get some value to your audience.
[02:12] Trent: Absolutely. Good to have you here. So for the folks who are not familiar with you, let’s start there. Who are you? And what do you do?
- Francis: Yeah, as you mentioned, I’m Francis Francis nine from Memphis, but living in Budapest, and I’m an email email strategist and copywriter for eCommerce businesses, coaches and consultants. But the bulk of my work is working with D-to-C brands and other eCommerce businesses.
[02:37] Trent: What size brands do you typically work with?
- Anywhere from, you know, six figure kind of drop shipping brands to anything from these eight- to nine-figure health supplement companies. So over the last few years, I’ve kind of worked with just about kind of any category and a lot of different niches.
So, but yeah, I typically work with, like brands in a six-, seven-figure mark, trying to get to that next level, trying to differentiate themselves from other brands and their niches, cause I am a copywriter. And so in regards to marketing and getting that messaging down, that’s kind of where my expertise lies.
[03:15] Trent: Okay. And you think that brands should be focused more on email? Why is that? Isn’t email dead? Isn’t it overused?
- Emails’ definitely not dead. I think email is 100% more relevant now than maybe any other time in history. Might be a long shot, because I’m only 28. But I think right now, with the age of personalization in this younger demographic, wanting to- be wanting their marketing to be more customized, less scammy. more personalized, I think using email is crucial for, you know, for D-to-C businesses, especially since starting an eCommerce store and selling products online, there’s just been, you know.
Trent, as you’ve seen, there’s just been huge, in the last few years, you know, I think, every other day, I’m getting like advertised and retargeted, to, buying a new product, or to do some type of coaching program. So I can start my own, you know, eCommerce business or something like that. So, I know for sure that it’s definitely getting harder and harder to kind of stand out from that pack of, you know, the thousands of businesses that are being built every day.
And so email, where email comes in is that, you know, by using a really awesome message, you have a very robust and sophisticated system, you can bypass the idea that you’re just being scammy or selling products, and really create a relationship with your customers so that they keep buying from you. And you have an awesome AOV and LTV.
[04:53] Trent: So email is really just a delivery system for extremely well written copy. And as we all know, or maybe not all of us, but anyone who’s been marketing for a while knows the words that you use, to describe your products and to position yourself really, really matter. For example, there’s a woman who I’ve been following recently, by the name of April Dunford, and I’m trying to find my notes from her. Yeah, here we go.
So she talks about the importance of positioning and she describes it as, “Positioning defines how your product is the best in the world at delivering some kind of value that a well-defined set of customers cares a lot about.” So I can see that obviously, email is incredibly important in conveying that value, because we all have endless amounts of competition.
So with that said, how does a brand construct an email strategy to really make themselves stand out from their competition? You mentioned you do work in the health and supplements niche, I actually own a business that sells a couple million bucks worth a year of health and nutritional supplements on Amazon. So I know firsthand that it is incredibly competitive. And you’ve got all these pills and bottles and you got powders and buckets, and you’ve got creams and, and there’s just so much noise. And so let’s kind of help the audience think their way through both from a strategy and tactics perspective on some of the things they can do to stand out from that, all that noise.
- Francis: Yeah, so I mean, first and foremost, is just to really care about your customer, and how you send their, how you send your emails to them. So that’s going far beyond just sending them the simple promotion, 50% off 40% off, or, you know, just blasting them with sale after sale, and really having a relationship and creating emails that engage them to the brain.
[06:54] Trent: Can you give an example? Can you give an example of one of the clients, for example, that you’d like? Stories are so effective at conveying this rather than theory.
- Francis: Yeah, so one brand right now that I really love is called Chubbies, which is like an apparel brand, they just have shorts. And I always choose them, because they were doing this, this tactic of creating really engaging, quirky, kind of unique emails, long before anyone else was, I think, for a while they were the ones who were kind of, you know, at least in the, in the email marketing world, from what I’ve seen, from what these experts and, you know, these specialists say is, you know, they share these tactics of no use the different from name or, you know, speak a very unique language that relates to your audience.
The thing is, Chubbies was doing that, like, way before anyone else, you know, they were using ridiculous “from” names, you know, way before, companies like, you know, Natural Health Sherpa, in the direct response space was doing it. I mean, this was something that even back then, when I didn’t even need to buy their shorts, I was actually just opting in and reading their emails, because I thought they were hilarious. I mean, they were, they were not doing anything, you know, there’s only so many things you can say about I guess, like apparel, you know, a shirt, or shoes or shorts, but they were really being quirky and weird, and they were exciting.
And even though I wasn’t gonna buy anything, I wasn’t gonna buy anything from them. I was still opening their emails, because I was excited. And so I think that’s the direction that I’ve actually seen a whole lot of businesses go towards in the last few years. I mean, I have a separate kind of Gmail account of just emails that I’ve opted into, really, just to study what people are doing. And even within the last three years, I’ve seen these, you know, the advent of like, these fancy emails, where branding, the font, the images are really cool, too.
Nowadays, it’s all about copy. You know, it’s like, how can we make people laugh? Or make them feel like they’re part of the community or make them feel like they’re right with their opinion. So yeah, I think it’s just a very exciting time. And I think any D-to-C brand, now, if they want to get ahead of the curve, and keep making money is to focus more on their emails.
[09:22] Trent: Alright, so the takeaway from what you’ve just said, there’s, first of all, use humor, say some things that are maybe a little weird, so as to be different from everyone else who’s talking corporate speak. And you also said some funny “from” names, like, give me an example of one of the from names that Chubbies using?
- Francis: Well, just an example of something I’m using is: I work with a shoe brand right now. And lately, we’ve noticed that the demographic, you know, they, I’m sure they appreciate style, and cool colors and being in trends, but we’ve noticed that they really loved like the support that they get from the shoes. So instead of saying, you know, from brand name, it’s going to be from Your Foot Pain, or just Pain Foot Relief, or Most Comfortable Steps Ever. Because, you see that? That’s a bit of a pattern interrupt, at least look at your inbox, your promotions folder, and you’re just thinking, “Well, that’s a bit weird.” It’s not just like local brand name. That’s good way to stand out and I think the main way holistically from what I’ve just said, is just to not be boring. No one likes boring.
And you can go with emotionally compelling, you can be entertaining, you can be good with stories. Now you can do the typical copywriting formulas and just agitate that pain. But just do anything but be boring. Just care about the emails you write, I mean, even a few lines of benefits, and a little bit further goes a long way than just saying 40% off, you know?
[11:09] Trent: Yep, absolutely. So are there some specific tactics that you recommend that a brand should do in the beginning? To create that really great first impression? Typically, you know, you get your order confirmation, and then you know, you get whatever, and it’s pretty bland from brand to brand to brand. What ideas do you have there?
- Francis: Yeah, so in all of that, is just about creating that rockstar first impression, right from welcome sequence, you know, whether they opt into your list, and they haven’t bought yet, or, you know, as you said, right after they purchase, you know, if they do purchase, roll out the red carpet for them. Don’t just send them their tracking order, and say, you know, your package will arrive in two to three weeks. This is the time you know, it’s almost like dating, you know, once you kind of engaged with this person, you know, they like you, you don’t just, you know, ditch them and be like, you know, whatever you have to court them, if you make them feel good about their decision.
You know, my favorite thing to do in an email after someone purchases is, of course, send them, you know, set up the expectations, let them know when the order will arrive, what’s next, if they have any questions, contact support, but then also let them know what’s going to happen if they have the order. You know, make them feel those benefits, paint the picture of what their lives will be after they get that product. And I’ve gotten in “trouble” with clients, because I would tend to just like, write like a long email, you know, about, you know, how they’re gonna feel when they have that product. But I still think even then, even if it was a long email, it’s going to be different.
So it’s kind of still working with me, instead of just the typical, “Thanks for your order, It arrives in two weeks, you wanna track your order, let us know.” Then after that, of course, you know, email two, email three, email four, they’re still engaged, you know, this person is still hot on your list, they like your brand. The one, make them feel good that they have it. Two, reduce buyer’s remorse. Let them know about the guarantees you may have or anything like that. But then you continue showing them your value. Share the testimonials of people who’ve maybe bought that specific product, so that the customer knows, “Okay, well, I got this maybe a little worried, but it looks like other people like it, too.” And that’s kind of like marketing 101. That’s social proof.
But yeah, just show them you care in that first, like three or four emails. And it’s really, yeah, I’ve done consulting calls with, with plenty of like, eCommerce brands, and they kind of asked like, a lot of the same questions. And it’s really not that complicated. It’s just going about making your customer feel good about their purchase. And in reality, they actually already know how to do that. Just kind of implementing the email system in there.
[13:58] Trent: Okay, so to summarize, there, you talked about doing some future pacing, getting them to think about what’s going to happen in the future when they receive the benefits of the product you talked about, including some testimonials in the post, first order confirmation sequence. Is there anything else in terms of ideas that you’ve had success with?
- Francis: Yeah, so one of my favorite things is, of course, like, letting them know what’s gonna happen, but helping them, helping them not miss those updates and things. So instead of just saying, you know, “Hey we’re going to send you some nice discounts, maybe, or, you know, we’re going to have some awesome some news in the future.” But to literally tell them to either respond back. And you know, that’s gonna help with email deliverability.
But you can even incentivize it if, you know, if you respond back, we’ll send you a 15% off coupon on your next purchase. And that’s really cool. Because, you know, you can, I don’t know, if you have a customer, some works customer support team, or if you have an email that’s automated to help people do that. But, you know, you can kind of create that kind of human to human interaction, instead of like the robot that gives you that tracking order.
So that’s actually something I’ve been testing out the past few weeks, and it’s been like, killer, killer, killer for like results. And people are just like, responding more to our emails, just like our regular, like, content, emails, and it kind of lets us ask questions to do the list. So we can get more data and just, yeah, just be more in their pocket, if you know what I mean.
[15:37] Trent: Humanize it, so that they feel they’re talking to another individual as opposed to just computer at a corporation.
- Francis: Exactly. And just to be liked, you know, I think maybe I’ve been watching too much Mad Men. But I think Roger Sterling said that like 99% of business just goes down to I don’t like that guy. And, you know, I think about that anytime I write a copy or in creating a strategy, it’s like, how can I make this brand just be liked more, and humanizing it is part of that.
[16:09] Trent: You know, Jon Hamm is my doppelganger, right?
- Francis: Yeah, I can see that. I can see that. I thought you looked familiar. I was like, “Where? Where am I seeing this guy from?” Perfect.
[16:22] Trent: Yeah, I didn’t see it initially, somebody pointed it out to me. But after I looked, I was kinda like, I showed it to my wife. And she was like, “Yeah, kinda.”
[16:30] Trent: All right. So you mentioned email deliverability, which is a great segue. Because if you don’t have deliverability, it really doesn’t matter what you write in your emails, and deliverability is getting a lot more airtime these days than it did in days gone by. So just in case, anybody’s been hiding under a rock, and they don’t know what deliverability is, let’s first of all, just quickly have you explain it, then talk about obviously, why it’s important that we optimize it.
- Francis: So email deliverability is so crazy, isn’t it? I feel like I’ve seen topics on email deliverability and talks about it like so much recently. I think it’s such like a sexy topic. And I know, there’s a huge like push of like deliverability experts. But yeah, I mean, email deliverability is just pretty much the ability that your emails get delivered to the primary inbox, as opposed to the promotions folder, or, God forbid, the spam folder.
And so that’s just been a huge thing I’ve seen within the last year, especially because I think businesses were maybe shocked to learn that they could actually get out of the promotions folder and like actually be seen more. And so yeah, that’s essentially the definition.
[17:48] Trent: So how does the business get out of the promotions folder?
- Francis: So the whole thing is really based around an algorithm just like anything, in most things in online marketing. And so when you send the email to your list, you know, these filters on Gmail, or Yahoo, or Hotmail, they recognize who the sender is, and based on past behavior of the customer with your emails, they’ll determine if it’s high quality, or low quality, or higher or lower, rather. So the higher quality is, then they’re going to want the emails to land more in the primary inbox, because they’re thinking of these emails are being opened, they must be important. So therefore, I want to put the emails in the primary inbox. And maybe, of course, in the other case of, maybe they’re not as important, then you will be sent to promotions. And then if it gets, if you’re absolutely horrible, then you’ll be sent to spam.
But all it is, is a bit of a balance of you know, trying to make sure your emails are being read, and people are engaging with them. So that’s not just being opened, you know. You’re gonna have emails that are just opened and no one clicks or buys or anything, and you’re still gonna be sent to do promotions. So the best way you can do that is, you know, for example, if you are in promotions right now, a quick tactic you can do is just to ask for a bunch of replies. Of course, you’re going to have to be more sophisticated with it, you can’t just be some like, massive send to all, reply back, or, you know, maybe you can, maybe you’re cool, your business is cool like that.
But you’re getting replies back and getting people have to click your emails multiple times, and swipe up and down on them, stay on them and read them more. Those are things that kind of help you, healthy, these filters, recognize that this is an awesome email, and people want to read it. So want to make sure people do.
[19:44] Trent: Okay. Any other tips on maximizing deliverability before we move on?
- Francis: Yeah, so I would say that if you’re like, for example, in spam, or if your, if your email open rates are around like, or under 15%, you know, especially under 10%, then the thing I would suggest to do is to go to your ESP and create a segment of your most engaged email list subscribers. And you can test this out, I typically do 30 days. And I just send to that segment for one to three weeks. Really until I feel comfortable.
[20:27] Trent: You mean to the exclusion of all the other segments? You’re going to stop sending to all of them and send it only to your most engaged segment?
- Francis: Yes, exactly, exactly. And that’s just a way to warm up your list a bit more so that you can land in the primary inbox or get out of spam. That’s something that I’m doing now, a lot that I, just working with one brand that they were suffering really badly, like a 4%. open rate.
[20:54] Trent: Oh, wow,
- Francis: Yeah, I know, I almost didn’t want it. I was like, this seems like it’s going to be pretty hard. And then no, I just took this approach, created a plan to where we could get replies back. And you know, we could improve that sender reputation.
And so right now, where we’re hovering around that 15, 16%, which is ideal, but since it was just, like, pretty much blacklisted a few weeks ago, we’re gonna we’re gonna keep at it, and you know, grow that, that high engage list and then in, yeah in a few weeks, we’ll probably extend it to about 45 days or 60 days just to get more into that unengaged list. But yeah, I think if you’re under 15%, especially under 12, or 13, then take a step back, send to your highest engaged lists, and entertain them for a little while.
[21:45] Trent: So tell me about the difference between sales content, so rather, sales and content emails, and when it’s best to use each type.
- Francis: Yeah, so this is a big thing in like eCommerce that I think everyone’s been noticing that their customers really like just reading emails and not being sold to all the time. So that’s the difference between sales and content emails, is that sales emails are typically hard sales of, you know, there’s probably a launch going on, maybe there’s a holiday, and you want to send a really sexy promotion, you know, something discounted that people can go to your website and buy something.
But doing that, for, you know, consistently and doing only that it’s just gonna tire people out, you know, it’s the, the equivalent of, you know, you going to, you know, a friend messaging you and just saying, “Hey, can you drive me to this place?” or “Hey, can I borrow 10 bucks?” Or, you know, “Can you buy this for me?” Pretty much just asking things from you over and over and over again.
So that’s when something like a content email comes in. Doesn’t need to be anything special, you can actually just look at like, a well-known blog site, or someone like who’s really good on YouTube, you know, you can use listicles, you can give advice, you can even share a bit of social proof, or even re, you know, reshare, your brand story, anything other than sales emails that people can get more value from you other than just buying your product.
And I tend to do that pretty consistently. I mean, I do that way more than I do sales promos. Of course, in eCommerce, we can, if we want to create, like a sales promotion, we can just search like daily holidays, and they’ll be like a made up holiday of like, this is the England’s Dog Day or something. And then we can send the center promotion like that. But what I’ve seen is that people still, still buy from these content emails.
You know, of course, you can test out placing products in your email, but if you have links to your contact emails, that lead to your site to different products, then you can still get a lot of sales from that, you know. I know that I do with several of my clients, and I kind of stick almost like 80, 80% content emails and save the sales promotions for maybe once a month, or if there’s like a special holiday.
But I think giving people another reason to open your emails other than to buy something that’s going to condition them to do it always, you know, especially when they do need to buy something, because they’ll see a, “Trent’s store messaged me, I like their emails, I kind of want to see what they’re going to say today.” or, you know, “I like that topic.” So it’s definitely a balance. And I think I’ve seen a lot of people kind of fail at that, because maybe they run out of content, or they just don’t feel right doing that, because they just want the sale. We all want the sale!
[24:50] Trent: Stitch Fix is horrible for this. I’m on, I’m a customer of Stitch Fix, and I get an email, “Click here, buy this thing!” every day.
- Francis: There’s an example of it right now.
[25:02] Trent: And I don’t open it.
- Francis: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Exactly. And you’re not the only one. I guarantee you’re not the only.
[25:09] Trent: Yep. All right, um, within the context of what we’ve been talking about, what are some of the ways that a brand can boost average order value and lifetime value?
- Francis: Yeah, so my favorite ways to boost the average order value is you know, once they have that first purchase, is to kind of kind of reiterate what I just said before, it’s I wanna make them feel good about it, but then also offer them something that could benefit that pairs really well with the, you know, the product they just bought. So some type of cross sell, or an upsell that makes sense. I like to be more specific with it. So if someone buys I’m not typically don’t just say 20% off storewide get get anything. So I like to be a little more sophisticated with it, you know, in a create, like a certain flow, certain automation that helps them with the product they just bought.
And then, you know, in kind of always keeping that data of what someone buys. And always, yeah, I think that’s something I should have mentioned is just always having data on what people are doing. things they bought, how often they visit the site, and creating automations. And just being very strategic with, with that information. Because you know, the more detailed you get, then the better offers you can send them, the better content you can send them. And that itself is going to give you more ideas to increase the AOV as well as the you know, the lifetime value because, you know, you want to keep them alive.
And you do that by having really great emails that keep them engaged, that are exciting to read, that they’re actually excited to open to. And I’m not sure if like, not like a numbers expert, but like maybe my like lifetime value on like Chubbies or something is just huge, because I’ve just been on their list for like six years. But yeah, that’s a good way to, to keep customers in the loop and you know, connected to your brand. And you don’t need to be in your face and sending emails like every day and things like that. I know, that does happen. And that’s kind of like a big thing that experts say email every day you’re leaving money on the table.
But as long as you do it consistently, and you give them content they actually like then, that lifetime value is going to keep extending, because maybe they’ll go six months without buying. But once they do, you’re going to be first in mind. So yeah, I think that would be my tidbits there on how to boost the AOV and LTV.
[27:58] Trent: Alright Francis, your company is storiesandcopy.com. It’s been a pleasure to have you on the show. Is there any final thing you want to add? Or is there any question I should have asked you before we wrap?
- Francis: No, I think we covered just about everything on our list there and I’m pretty sure I rambled on on many of the things and I’m sure I kind of veered off once or twice. So nothing really comes to mind. But yeah, my website’s storiesandcopy.com. Do you have a question? Do you want to join my own email list and get daily tips on email and copy? And yeah, follow me there. And yeah, thanks for having me. This was a blast.
[28:37] Trent: Alright, it’s been a pleasure to have you on the show. Francis. Thanks so much. Thank you so much for listening. If you enjoyed today’s episode, I would love it if you would like, rate, and review the episode on your favorite podcast listening app. If you need to get to the show notes, you can do that by going to brightideas.co/369. That’s it for today’s episode. Thanks so much. Take care. Bye bye!