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The 2020 Ecommerce Holiday Countdown: Email Marketing


Black Friday in neon; Text: Black Friday / Cyber Monday Content


Black Friday / Cyber Monday Content – Get ready for the most online Black Friday & Cyber Monday in history with The 2020 Ecommerce Holiday Countdown! Adam Kitchen, CEO of Magnet Monster joins us in this episode to share how brands can build authentic connections with customers via ecommerce email marketing, and ultimately drive increased sales as a result.

Adam predicts more retailers will opt out of the traditional race to the bottom on price this Black Friday, and instead turn their focus to the sentiment of the season after a difficult year. As well as providing a UK perspective on the holiday shopping season, Adam will walk through:

  • Successful holiday selling without heavy discounts
  • Why brands that rely on paid ads are in for a reality check
  • Building loyalty through value-add content, and rewarding repeat customers
  • Why “established” trumps “sexy” when it comes to marketing channels
  • How the batch and blast approach shows disdain for your customers

If you’re just using ecommerce email marketing to broadcast discounts, you’re missing out on conversion opportunities. Register for the videocast to revamp your strategy in time for the holiday season!

The 2020 Ecommerce Holiday Countdown

The 2020 Ecommerce Holiday Countdown is a series of videos focused on inspiring your holiday campaigns and help you prepare for the most online Black Friday & Cyber Monday to date. Our expert guest speakers shared their insights on how retailers can tap into:

  • Branded content marketing
  • Nano-influencer opportunities
  • Behavioural and triggered email
  • User-generated content and social commerce
  • Paid advertising



Welcome to the 2020 ecom holiday countdown a webinar series where e-commerce experts bring you some holiday cheer and hopefully a little inspiration black friday and the holiday shopping season are going to be a little different this year so we’re here to share ideas advice and expertise to help online retailers feel prepared my name is joanne martin i’m vp of marketing at search spring and in this episode i’m joined by adam kitchen ceo of magnet monster welcome adam thanks john it’s a pleasure to be here so tell us a little bit about your background and the work you do at magnet monster so magnet monster we are an email marketing agency for e-commerce brands we are integrating sms into our services at the moment well at this moment in time we’re purely niche down with email for e-commerce brands and so generally speaking there’s there’s two things that we offer the clients that we work with we do email automation setup so things like your welcome flow abandons court post purchase series which is the cornerstone as we know of an email set up and once this is set up then generally we look to drive more revenue with campaigns so general sales promotions which we’ll talk about in a bit content related to your brand things that you send out to your database of customers or a segment of them and generally speaking that’s how we work we set up the email automation and then we go in and add campaigns on top to drive additional revenue my background is personally quite weird i was a kindergarten teacher originally and i always wanted to be a teacher love kids and i was always just marketing on the sides i suppose i lived in in hong kong and china for quite a while started to get quite involved with e-commerce in electronics and shenzhen cosmetics and different types of brands and then just got to the point where i suppose i was making more money doing that um got a bit disillusioned with the with the bureaucracy of teaching and just went full into it and then started my own company a couple of years ago and touched wood so far it’s been great i’m looking forward to progressing further i love it and it’s actually not surprising i see a lot of teachers who move into marketing because i think there are a lot of similarities in terms of communication and framing a story educating an audience um so it i mean your background is amazing i’m super excited about what you’re going to be able to share and advice to people listening let’s start by talking about the holiday season this year um so you’re you’re based in the uk uh you’re thinking about this holiday season um what are you seeing in terms of trends do you see black friday becoming more popular in the uk or do you think christmas and boxing day will be the main focus tell us a little bit how about how you’re thinking about this season as a whole i would say the uk in general is massively influenced from the us i would say the trends that emerge in the u.s tend to follow over here and then we tend to get stuck in quite quickly um as an example of that i would say you know obviously black friday cyber monday when it kicked off in the states it wasn’t big here in the beginning now it’s it’s a fully fledged um it’s almost as big as christmas on boxing day itself historically uh boxing day has always been massive in the uk the boxing day sales and obviously the build up to christmas like it is in most countries is really big well it’s it’s it’s primarily been in the past more of an offline shopping experience i would say with brick and mortar retail um obviously with e-commerce growing exponentially the way it is a lot of people now going online um but i think obviously it’s going to be even more so this year with what’s going on on the high street um all high streets is you know like most countries took a battering in the last year sorry the last few months especially and a lot of people don’t have the confidence to go back they’re not happy with the shopping experience so i think e-commerce is gearing up to be arguably twice as busy as last year if the statistics have been reading the rights yeah and you you hear a lot of people in e-commerce talk about how traffic has been already at a black friday cyber monday level throughout the past couple of months of this year so i know a lot of people are looking at this season and thinking is it going to spread out a bit further are people going to shop ahead of time have are people shopped out how is this going to be very different if it’s not a single day are they going to shop all weekend um so it is certainly a very uh i’d say fun but very unique and mysterious time to be planning for a particular shopping season um to give the audience some ideas in terms of things that they can execute on and take away from this conversation implement at their in their brands what are some of your all-time favorite holiday campaigns that you’ve seen from brands and what are the key components of those that you think make people convert or buy so i’ve got i suppose quite an unorthodox view on this or maybe not for me the best campaigns are not ones that are focused on sales and discount percentages but they’re focused on sentiments and more connecting emotionally with the audience i think if you look at uh coca-cola who’ve always killed it around the the christmas periods with their adverts that’s something that really sticks in the minds and it’s nothing to do with pricing or discounts it’s about the sentiment of christmas uh over here in the uk we have a very big retail um store called john lewis they’ve always been very famous for the christmas adverts they have a different theme every year well i think it’s it’s capturing the sentiments around christmas and the period as opposed to doing specific product related pushes which i don’t think stand the test of time and also it’s much more difficult to be competitive so for me the best best campaigns are value driven especially in this day and age i think that’s not just a trend in e-commerce it will become a key buying point for consumers and i think the the brands that are most successful this year are not going to be the ones that go in with the heaviest discounts they’re actually going to be the ones that capture that sentiment and especially given the year we’ve all just been through reassure the customers and create that emotional connection between brands and customer so definitely john lewis sticks out as as one who’s achieved that very well in my opinion but i think we’ll see that broadly across the park bronze trying to capture more of a purpose-driven approach and just tap into that feeling of reassuring the customer that they’re there for them in a meaningful way not just like a wishy-washy oh you know we’re here for you type thing to try and drive traffic and sales i think you’ll you’ll see a lot more purpose-driven content around this i love that we we recently spoke to paul benny jerry at hvmn and he was talking about one of their discounts every year being like 20.19 off or 20.20 off and i thought it was a really interesting hybrid between this discount focus around the holiday season but also a very memorable brand experience where people are going and looking for that kind of just moment of levity or humor or laugh also in the experience and it brings to mind actually a lot of brands at the beginning of the pandemic uh published very sentimental advertising campaigns and ultimately got a lot of kind of fallout because of it like twitter loved mashing together every single piano backed overly sentimental advertisement because you’re looking at this holiday season how are you thinking about differentiating a brand from that overly sentimental feeling driven campaign without just kind of blending into what you think every other brand will do with being overly sentimental and feeling driven you’ve got to have quality content these days i always say um it’s it’s almost less about the product in my opinion and more about the value that you add to the audience’s lives because with the way supply chains are set up and i know this myself through spending time in china it’s very easy to to replicate products but to create a brand is really challenging and the only way to create especially with e-commerce to create a brand is to create quality content so meaningful art i’m not just talking about general blog posts i’m talking about again things that genuinely add value to the audience’s lives so we work with um a lot of supplement brands so it’s not just about selling like a protein supplement or a fat burner or something it’s about providing the tools to someone to get to their goal so how do you set up your diet how do you set up your training program how do you feel confident enough to go in the gym we work with women and clothing brands as well focused around lifestyle so this the selling is almost secondary to the feeling that they’re trying to evoke from the customer and i think again going back to what i said before that’s that’s not trends that’ll become a key buying point for a lot of consumers uh because a race to the bottom on price doesn’t make sense for e-commerce merchants in the long term you need to be profitable and the only way to do that is with brand and i think content again video and quality long-form written content podcasts things that just adds value to the audience will become much more prevalent and they’ll be key and marketing strategies going forward yeah so you you spoke about more and more more people shopping online right now obviously out of necessity or fear or just a general the general environment around the pandemic how do you think this season will differ from previous years because we talked to a lot of merchandisers who are almost in a wait and see mode where they’re thinking oh i just kind of have to see how this goes um give us some of your maybe predictions or foresights and some really actionable advice on how retailers should prepare for this year i think if you’re under the illusion that you can rely on facebook and google to have a great season then you’re going to have a hard reality check i think it’s going to become more prevalent that you have to leverage your own internal data assets and what i mean by this is looking at channels such as email sms push notifications where you already have that repository of data that you can go to market to it’s much more profitable to re-target existing customers um i think on the acquisition front it’s best to start now because the costs are going to increase fast and then they just become to a point where around the holiday season spoke to people last year they just they lost on sales especially given the fact that you’re paying so much to acquire the customer and then you’re also offering massive discounts across the board so unless you have a plan on the back end to to create a you know customer lifetime value from these customers then it’s almost like a throwaway sale because you drop inventory you erode your margins and then essentially people have stocked up on products at such a cheap price that they’re not buying from you in the coming months so i think what we’ll see well hopefully uh especially the people that we’re working with we’re trying to help them get really planned and advanced to to leverage the email strategy which again i’m not saying email’s more competitive but it’s definitely a much more profitable channel than google instagram facebook and again you just using these channels to try and make sure they’re profitable during this period i also think as well just to add on discounts and stuff which i know we’ve talked a bit about we won’t maybe see the the same absurd discounts of like 40 to 50 percent i think brands are becoming a lot more experienced now given the previous years that giving stuff away at 40 to 50 percent it’s just harmed the profitability in the long run so i think again you’ll see maybe people scale back a little bit on the discounts i could just be completely wrong on this um but i’ll call you in january and we’ll see how it went yeah well i i’m just a big proponent of looking into the profitability not looking at the top line revenue because at the end of the day if you’re not profitable then there’s no point to be in business so i hope brands will be sensible for their own sake um and just be aware that whilst they might have that wind rush of generating a huge amount of revenue that could drop off massively in the next few months depending on what you’re selling and also again you can erode your margin long term yeah and so what i hear you saying in a lot of ways is that there are almost two waves of strategy leading into a holiday season where you have a first wave of initial engagement yep and a lot of that probably comes with the content that you’re talking about you’re engaging an audience you’re building an audience and you’re focusing in a less maybe more competitive or noisy time on getting that list or getting that community of engaged customers and potential customers which gives you a lot more retargeting power than in the holiday season uh or re-engagement and loyalty power in the holiday season because you’ve already done the work up front you’re not trying to build an audience in november yeah yeah absolutely and i think going back to what you just said there people will start a lot earlier this year as well i know it’s been a trend like now you’re seeing um i think gm shark last year started in november at the beginning and a lot of brands now are having like oh you know especially with the early vip release to the existing customers so i wouldn’t it wouldn’t surprise me if if people just try and push it more and more till they get to basically september where black friday in a couple of years and then it’ll just be black friday all year round but yeah people will walk early again um and definitely i think it’s the only way against it to keep the advertising costs down um especially if you’re if you’re running sort of paid media campaigns around this period you’ve got to start early you’ve got to make sure you reward your loyal customers before all the other ones especially if you’re managing stock to make sure they’re not disappointed and also as well i think one thing i’ve noticed if you sell so much around the end of november then you might actually harm your christmas sales as well so i think that’s another incentive to start early because then maybe you give people a refresher and then coming up to christmas time they’re more likely to buy again in the purchase cycle depending on what you’re selling so you talk a lot about email marketing um and a lot of brands will take the approach of sending out just a mass email blast they’re highlighting their sales or their promotions or even their content what is some of the really just actionable advice you can give to e-commerce retailers to get started if they want to start taking a more segmented or personalized behavioral approach yeah good question so definitely i think there’s two factors to this going into what i said we do at the beginning you’ve got your core email infrastructure the automation the flows depending on what terminology you use and then you’ve obviously got your campaigns the thing to remember is the more campaigns that you send customers the lower your open rates and engagements are and the reason for this is because a campaign is just generally a broadcast to your customers or the world which is fine if they want to hear from you but it’s not always as personalized to them as an automation so the more campaigns that you send out the lower your open rates and overall deliverability of your account will be we just finished working with a massive brands and talking like five million subscribers and they sent up to two campaigns a day every single day and their open rates are obviously between eight to ten percent on the good end so wow you want you want to avoid getting into a position where you’re just constantly throwing campaigns out and people aren’t engaged and how do you do this it’s with making sure that your core email automation is switched on from the beginning so your abundance caught your post purchase your welcome flow and the reason this is is because it’s much more relevant and timely to the customer journey so when someone abandons their course they’re much more likely to open an advancement’s court email likewise if someone browses a product on your website they’re much more likely to open an email say hey we’ve seen you looking at this because it’s more relevant to the customer journey where they’re at whereas if you buy a t-shirt from a clothing brand a year ago and then you get 50 campaigns about general t-shirts it’s not as personalized to you so your core automation has the dual benefits of performing a lot better than campaigns on autopilot which is great because it makes you become profitable it’s not labor intensive but when you do come to sending the campaigns your sender reputation is much stronger so you’re much more likely to end up in the inbox the open rates are higher and obviously you’ll drive more revenue so make sure as a priority now i would say that the core automation is set up and good to go if it’s not obviously you can pay me a lot of money and our team will set up and get you ready but definitely it needs to be set up the old jokes aside the automations paramount and when it comes to actually making sure that you get good results from email around the periods again going back to what i said before make sure you have that vip segments customers set up because if you’re managing stock and you don’t have a huge amount of items in or you expect to sell out then those products need to go to your best customers first they need to be rewarded for their loyalty so create a vip segment in your email dashboards whatever software you use of customers who maybe have spent x amounts over a period of time or they’ve placed this amount of orders and they’re the people that should get the first dibs on the office that you send out not the person who bought the t-shirt a year ago the people that buy from you consistently need to be rewarded first and then also they’re more likely to open the emails right and engage with them as opposed to the person who buy the t-shirts uh a year ago and our milk and that example of it but yeah so it’s going in early with your vip segments making sure you reward for loyal customers over time and then also making sure that core automation is switched on and if you do those two things i think you’ll get really good results yeah so you you’re obviously very focused on and passionate about email as a channel um and you you warned earlier on if you’re going to rely on social loan as a uh acquisition channel you’re probably going to be a little bit disappointed going into this season um why do you think that a lot of people think of email as kind of an unsexy or a channel that they’re not going to invest as heavily in um and how can brands kind of revamp that approach or revamp that focus on email going into the season it’s there’s definitely this misconception and it’s been around you probably know yourself as long as we’ve been in online marketing for decades now the email’s dying and i think this is because it is a legacy platform and sometimes when something’s old it’s not as sexy as you know tick tock add to the things at the moment but there’s also a lot of reason to invest in things that that’s all more established and old such as email and this is because it’s an established channel it’s a marketing communication it’s been around for a very long time and if you look at all the data on email it’s not dying it’s not going away and if anything i would say it’s consolidating in terms of people are realizing now with again facebook and google ads it’s very hard to stay profitable email is a very profitable channel it’s your own data so you control it as well which is important if you want to stay profitable and also gives you a lot of customization abilities as well you know if you send an ads on facebook you limited in terms of creatives email actually like allows you to really design beautiful imagery really good copy it gives you a lot of freedom creatively to express your brands as well and i think that’s something that’s overlooked with email open rates is really strong click-through rates are still great revenue per recipient still high so i think it it’s just a mis-education issue really that it’s dying or again maybe it’s just not flavor of the month and whilst all the other channels that i’ve just bashed of it you know are fantastic and i am not saying like you shouldn’t do an omni-channel approach email is in my opinion still the most important free commerce long term at this moment in time one of the things that i think marketers not only in e-commerce but a lot of different spaces where where people tend to air is the fact that email can either be very personable and it can be like writing a letter to a friend or it can be incredibly boring and dry and not compelling at all and i think sometimes because it can either be just a mass email blast or it can be as part of an automation drip you feel such a disconnect from the person receiving the letter that you forget that there’s a person on the other side and so marketers will make it just this kind of blind like i’m going to write a bunch of words and send it as opposed to thinking about the person on the other end and so you see a trend now that the brands that i think do email very well are the ones that have added a lot more personality into their emails and you’re seeing things like an email coming directly from a human or at least appearing to and having the ability to reply to very conversationally um you see a lot more like gifs or images or even emojis in email just because people are realizing that just because you’ve invited yourself into someone’s inbox doesn’t mean you’re readable absolutely it’s quite interesting actually what you just said on that last sentence as well because there’s something still very personal and almost intimate about opening an email from someone as opposed to being taught by an ad and i think what people have to remember is the intent behind opening an email is much different than being targeted by a facebook ad if you open that email and that’s already a sign of intent that you’re interested so you know that’s a that’s another plus for email in my opinion yeah you work with a lot of different brands so you’ve seen a lot of different approaches to email i’m sure uh on all ends of the good and bad spectrum are there any that stand out that you could say you don’t have to name a specific brand unless you want to but some of the attributes of a really great personable email that you’ve seen


it’s an interesting question i think i can give you the worst examples to start i love it this is the batch and blast approach to just treating almost your customers with disdain like they don’t mean anything to you and all you want to do is is just drive sales that is a terrible way to ruin in my opinion that the most profitable um digital marketing channel in terms of positive examples it really does go back to what i was saying before about content in my opinion and varying it up with the sales promotions and again email is is a great channel to drive sales and at the end of the day it’s e-commerce you’ve got to make sales but the best brands that we work with buy into all philosophy as a company as well that sales emails have to be interspersed with valuable content so we’ll set up segments for example of going back to the supplement example which i used before if someone buys protein related supplements then we’ll send email campaigns related to high protein nutrition diets it’s not necessarily about buy this product because you’ve bought a protein supplement it’s about how to also eat and get enough protein for your diet this way and does training for example break down muscle tissue how to repair it and it’s taking this long-term view that if you nurture the customer then you’re much more likely to increase customer lifetime value and that’s the best way to approach personalization it’s with interspace and content in between your sales because if you have a customer and you email them over a course for 10 sales promotions what’s the likelihood that they’ll still be around in a year’s time engaging with your email unless you’re amazon it’s very slim but if you send those customers five content related emails that genuinely helps them move towards their goals and then maybe two sales promotions not you don’t even have to do any they’re going to associate your brand with a positive experience and they’re going to buy anyway because you’re constantly bringing the traffic back to your website to consume your content and buying just becomes almost secondary to the value that you give them so that’s the best example of personalization i can give and we’re really trying to push that message hard through the people that we work with that that’s the way to go long term any commerce in general not just email you have provided so much great actionable advice for people listening um for anyone who wants to contact you afterward maybe continue the conversation learn more from you or work with your company how can people find you online as you’ve probably seen i’m all over the place on linkedin onboarding people and that’s a that’s a good place to contact me i’m very passionate about sharing strategies some of which i’ve shared today on email um on linkedin just search for me adam kitchen and that’s kitchen as in cooking like i said before otherwise just reach out to me on email adam monster dot co dot uk awesome yeah and everyone do reach out i connected with adam on linkedin at one point and he’s so generous with ideas and advice and things he’s learned i feel like i learned a ton from him about email marketing just by following him so reach out to him continue the conversation adam and it’s been so lovely having you today thank you so much for your time