In the latter half of 2018, I spent 3 months researching, testing and planning out a business idea that was going to be a major pivot for our agency in 2019.
Unfortunately (as you might have guessed), it never took place in the end. The Funnel Packs concept and planning took over at Christmas of 2018, so the plan was set aside.
I’ve had this idea sat around in my head and in many pages of Google Docs. It’s something I’ve shared very briefly with a few friends and also in a short video in our customer Facebook group.
Today, I want to give you everything that I put together as a free gift. I’m not going to have time to implement this, so I’d love to see someone take it and run with it. Feel free to cut me in on your success!
It won’t be suitable for everyone, but even if it’s not for you – take in the principles and use it as inspirational fuel for your business and your ideas.
So, what’s your new business going to be?
Email Marketing for E-Commerce Businesses
As a note, never has this been a more relevant business than right now. With much of the world in lockdown due to the COVID-19 outbreak, E-Commerce businesses are one of the best sources of products for many people.
Moving forwards, there’s going to be a digital revolution. Helping E-Commerce businesses to stop leaving money on the table has the potential to be a very lucrative area to be working in.
Everything below is the result of the research, testing and planning that I carried out. This isn’t the only way to do anything, but this is something that you can take right now and action in your business.
Let’s get started…
What’s the basic principle of your new business?
Your business will provide fully managed Email Marketing assistance for E-Commerce businesses.
Email marketing can be a great source of revenue for any business, particularly E-Commerce where you have products readily available for promotions and purchases.
The majority of E-Commerce website owners completely neglect their email newsletters or just send out a generic monthly message to their customers. Nurturing subscribers, offering items that are related to previous purchases, welcoming and thanking new customers are all ways to generate more revenue from your E-Commerce store.
It’s infinitely more expensive for a business to bring a new customer to their website and to subsequently purchase a product than it is for a business to sell another product to an existing customer.
What types of E-Commerce business do you want to work with?
Very simply, this will be an established E-Commerce business. As this service costs money, they need to be able to afford to pay for it.
Realistically the E-Commerce website would need to have an existing email subscriber list of 1,000 or more subscribers, to give something to work with immediately and to start generating quick wins.
In terms of revenue, the E-Commerce store should be generating at least $10,000 in revenue per month. This is to ensure that they can afford your services.
The products or services that they offer for sale should be in an area that you’re comfortable working with and not come across as “scammy”. This is very much an internal and private decision that you would make about a potential client’s offerings, but feel free to reserve the right not to work with clients who fail any of your tests.
For businesses that fall outside of the above figures, I’d suggest skipping and moving onto the next one. There are so many E-Commerce businesses out there, you should not feel compelled to help someone who can’t afford your services right now, by reducing your fees or changing your offering.
My original plan here was to develop a small portfolio of E-Commerce courses that I could offer to leads who approached us but were unable to afford our services or did not have an established E-Commerce business.
Through your courses, newer / smaller E-Commerce businesses could build their brands and once they’re ready, come back to you for help scaling their business further.
You could utilise this as an option, but don’t waste time building courses upfront. Your goal is to on-board new clients as quickly as possible, to start generating monthly revenue.
What types of emails can you send out with a fully managed email marketing campaign?
I have a lot of experience in this area, having carried out these activities for over a decade. There are a wide variety of emails that you can send out. The types you’ll use and the timeline for using them really will depend on the client, their industry and their audience.
Here’s an example list of emails that you could send out on behalf of E-Commerce store owners. I’ve made some notes on each:
- Welcome email – This is an email that is sent out immediately after someone subscribes to their mailing list.
- First time buyer (Thank You) – This email thanks the buyer for making a first time purchase and provides them with a limited time offer to purchase again.
- Second time buyer (Thank You) – This email thanks the buyer for making a second purchase from the E-Commerce business and positions an opportunity for them to purchase more.
- Re-engagement – For users who have not made a purchase in a specified period of time. E.g. 60 days, 90 days etc.
- Cart abandonment – Usually best as a sequence of emails, these are sent out after a cart is abandoned and the visitor did not complete a purchase.
- Up-sells and cross sells – Fairly self explanatory, up-sell emails after someone has made a purchase and cross-sell emails for other products that they may be interested in.
- VIP emails – Every business has a number of VIP customers who purchase everything that they offer or are in the top 1% in terms of income. These customers should be treated very well and segmented with personalised offers.
- Browse abandonment – For logged in users, you could target people who have viewed specific product or category pages and haven’t purchased.
- Regular email campaign newsletters – Emails sent out weekly or monthly as a normal email campaign. Great to use storytelling here, rather than grids of images and links to products. Think like a human!
- Various segmentation options – Customers can be segmented by products or categories of products purchased, as well as many other segmentation types.
- Repeat purchases – e.g. a company selling water filters that need to be replaced every 6 months, should be following up with clients who have made previous purchases to remind them about replacing their products.
- Birthday thank you – A coupon or discount sent to a customer when it’s their birthday.
- Birthday reminders – Some E-Commerce stores allow for reminders to be set up for birthdays. Personalised offers could be set up for these emails.
- Anniversary reminders – Some E-Commerce stores allow for reminders to be set up for anniversaries. Another opportunity for personalised offers here.
- Special offers – Self explanatory, it’s a promotion!
- Clearance offers – These are great for running through old stock or out of season items.
- Nurturing series for particular products – e.g. if a product is more technical or of a considerable value, a nurturing series to welcome them to the new product and run through some best practice ideas / great tips / etc. Can lead to an offer / upsell.
- Entry pop-up – Coupon / offer with email sequence if no purchase.
- Exit intent – Coupon / offer with email sequence if no purchase.
- Re-sending emails to users who haven’t opened / engaged – Always useful for really important promotions. Making sure that as many eyes are on the promotion as possible.
- Send main promotions to ENGAGED list – Limit emails to non-engaged list whenever possible.
There are many more types of email that you can send, but this list should get the cogs whirring in your mind!
Lead Generation Process
Your business needs a marketing funnel that will give you a good flow of incoming leads. You could use our E-Commerce Funnel Pack as it’s focused on how E-Commerce store owners can grow their business.
Alternatively, you’ll want to create your own marketing funnel. Here are some ideas for lead magnets that you could offer:
- Short video course
- PDF Cheatsheet (1-2 pages)
- PDF Guide (4-8 pages)
- Email Course (5-7 emails)
- Quickstart Guide
- White Paper / Report
I previously put together some notes for a potential marketing funnel. You’re welcome to use these for your new business.
The lead magnet will be a 4-8 page PDF guide covering a topic such as “How to generate more revenue from your E-Commerce store via email”.
The main selling point for an E-Commerce store owner is that the short guide will tell them what they need to do to build more revenue for their store via email marketing. They will have action points that they can put into place immediately.
Contents of the PDF Guide:
- Intro – email marketing is not just about sending a standard (boring) newsletter out to people. How many newsletters do you get each day? If you shop online, your answer is likely “too many”.
- Pick out 5 key elements to implement and discuss each of these as well as their benefits
- Include recommendations wherever necessary
- Branded document with custom cover
- CTA page at the end – inviting them to get in touch.
Email Nurturing series:
- Email 1 – Thanks and PDF guide attached (immediate)
- Email 2 – Action plan for the first point (day 2)
- Email 3 – Action plan for the second point (day 3)
- Email 4 – Action plan for the third point (day 4)
- Email 5 – Action plan for the fourth point (day 5)
- Email 6 – Additional action point / idea for generating quick revenue through email marketing / any questions? (day 6)
- Email 7 – CTA / Sales email to offer the E-Commerce store owner an opportunity to book a telephone call. (day 7)
- Email 8 – Follow-up email, regarding offer (day 10)
- Email 9 – Follow up email, ask if they have any questions before getting started (day 14)
- Email 10 – Last Follow up email, thank them for their time and show them where to get more information. (day 21)
The lead can be added to your main email list after they complete the email sequence. It’s best not to add them before, as you want them to focus on your nurturing sequence.
You would drive traffic into your funnel through blog posts and paid advertising. Consider also YouTube videos and social platforms.
An example of how you could approach E-Commerce businesses via email…
Step 1: Identify target E-Commerce businesses that are obviously not a start-up company or new business. You can research their social media profiles to get an idea for how long they’ve been around, or check out their “About” page.
Step 2: Sign-up for their email newsletter
Step 3: [Expected result] Like 99.9% of E-Commerce websites, they are not going to have a personalised welcome message to their company that has relevant links and details to popular products and more.
Step 4: Send the E-Commerce business an email to let them know that you’ve signed up for their newsletter and noticed that they were missing out on personalised welcome emails and in essence – nurturing their subscribers / customers.
Step 5: Nothing to sell in the email. Simply point them to a blog article (on your website) that talks about the importance of a great welcome email / and or additional email marketing content.
Step 6: The blog post that they’re directed to will have a content upgrade and nurturing series (your marketing funnel), so ideally you want them to sign-up to this and embrace the education as this will help to pre-sell them on your services. Additionally, you’re also looking for some business owners to make direct contact either in reply to the email or via email / live chat on your website.
Step 7: A telephone / online call is arranged and discussion with the business owner to talk about their business, work out if you’re a good fit for each other and then arrange to get started.
- Test if the business has abandoned cart emails set up on their website. Easy to create an account, add something to your cart and wait a day or two to see if any abandoned cart emails are received.
- For any E-Commerce businesses that you really want to work with, you could create a personalised video introducing them to who you are and revealing an issue or two that you’ve found – plus why that issue matters.
Pricing options and service ideas
In terms of the offered service, you want to keep this as a narrow selection of services that are easily repeatable and able to be offered at scale.
For emails, this should be a ‘fully-managed email marketing service’. You will manage all of the email marketing for the client in return for a monthly fee, paid in advance each month.
Monthly fees would start from around $1,000 / month. Would expect most clients to be on a monthly plan between $1,000 – $2,000 / month. For larger stores that will require more of your time each month, your package rates might scale up to say $5,000 per month or more.
In terms of client numbers, this will depend on your capacity. I worked out that we could comfortably work with around 10-15 clients per month before we’d need to scale up with additional resources assisting us. The goal was for $15,000 revenue per month from those 10-15 clients.
I had a long conversation with a friend in Europe who I found had been operating this type of service for his clients for a year. His revenue figures at the time of talking (October 2018) were between $25,000 – $30,000 per month. They had a team of 3.
This is a business that can scale to 6 figures per year very easily.
In 2018 when I originally put all of these notes together, there was a very limited level of competition. I could count the serious email marketing agencies whose sole focus was on E-Commerce, on one hand.
There are a few more now, but I consider this to still be one of the most viable markets that you could enter, if you were looking to try something new.
I do not consider someone who offers “email marketing” as a service, amongst many other services to be a competitor. When it’s not someone’s sole focus the typical thing that you’ll find is that they’re not developing or creating the best processes for their clients.
Sorry if you feel that’s controversial or you have a differing opinion. I’m just talking from the many experiences I’ve had, and the research notes that I’ve made. Remember that it’s absolutely okay for us to have different view points 🙂
Which E-Commerce platforms will you support?
This one is up to you, but I planned to support three of the larger platforms – Shopify, WooCommerce and Magento.
It’s not in your interest to support too many platforms or to focus too much on platforms that are smaller. The absolute most important thing with the platforms you support is that they easily synchronise with the email platform you’ve chosen and share sales data.
You NEED this data to be pulled into the email platform, in order to work your magic. Without the sales and purchasing data accessible in your email platform, you can’t do your best email marketing work!
There isn’t really a need to do much if any work on the client’s E-Commerce website directly. If they have an existing web designer or agency, you can send instructions or requests over to them to action.
A typical requirement may be that you want to set up a coupon pop-up or set up an abandoned cart process. These would need some time spent on the stores to get things in place.
What software will you use?
In terms of email marketing and marketing automation, there are four major players in the market who offer ‘affordable’ price points:
My research showed me that Klaviyo looked to be best option. They were extremely focused on email marketing for E-Commerce businesses and I had a number of conversations with their team.
Klaviyo integrates with Shopify, WooCommerce and Magento – which is an ideal starting point in terms of covering a TON of different E-Commerce businesses.
If you have a preference for an alternative tool, that’s fine. All I’d say here is think about the types of emails that you can send out (e.g. in the example list I gave previously). Can the tool that you prefer cover each of these different types of email? Can it easily segment users based on purchases?
For the avoidance of any doubt – free tools really should be skipped here.
If you’re really struggling with the monthly cost, you could look at having E-Commerce store owners pay for the account and you work inside it. That’s up to you to weigh up the pros and cons of account management.
Our plan was to have the clients pay for the account and they would provide us with access. We didn’t ever want to hold a client’s data hostage. I’m absolutely not a fan of companies that do this.
So this is all very exciting – what’s your brand?
Well this bit is kind of in your wheelhouse isn’t it? I’m not going to name your brand for you.
I will share the notes that I made when I was coming up with a brand name though. Feel free to use these if they’re helpful:
- Domain length – 6-8 characters (preferably), but definitely under 15 as that’s the limit for some social platforms.
- Domain extension – .com / .co / .io
- A name that is relatable to: growth, business, email, ecommerce, revenue, nurture, etc.
- Preferably not a literal name e.g. ecommercemail
- Must be pronounceable – we want it to be easy for people to refer others to us.
- A level of uniqueness about the name – so if we type it into Google, we are not competing with millions of other websites. This makes the initial SEO and visibility stage much harder otherwise.
- [Ideal] – Something that has social media names available. If not available, we’d have to add prefixes such as get(name) or (name)tribe etc. Use namechk to see if social media names are available.
As for colour scheme, be bold and creative. This is an exciting business opportunity that is about growth and quite modern by nature. Share your passion!
Prefer chocolate brown and a purple that would make children cry? That’s all up to you, I’m just giving you some ideas…
Here are some brand taglines that I was playing around with. Feel free to use or be inspired by them:
- “Creating more revenue for E-Commerce stores like yours using email marketing and automation”
- “E-Commerce store owner with a dusty email list? You’re not alone. Let’s make it shine and bring value to your business.”
- “We help E-Commerce stores generate more revenue using email marketing and automation”
- “We help E-Commerce businesses increase the lifetime value of their customers”
- “Helping you increase the lifetime value of your E-Commerce customers”
Projected sitemap for the website
It’s your business, you can build it how you want. This is a fairly generic sitemap, but if it helps you – feel free to use it for inspiration:
- About Us
- Services / What We Do
- Success Stories / Testimonials (this can’t be added until you’ve got the first couple of happy clients)
Processes required (SOPs)
You’re going to be creating repeatable processes so that you can deliver your single service offering at scale.
These are designed essentially to act as a ‘paint by numbers’ option and will help you to do things like on-board a new client or easily flow through the sales process. Having processes in place will also help when you scale and add in new members to your team. You want people to be able to get up to speed quickly.
Here’s a list of processes that I thought would be useful to have in place, when I was planning:
- Client on-boarding
- Account Setup (setting up the client’s subscribers and emails on our preferred software)
- Existing email platform login request and storage of these credentials
- Weekly client check-in / update process
- Track time spent on campaigns
- Well defined sales processes
- All email solutions provided should have a step by step process defined to them, e.g. for welcome emails or for abandoned cart emails. Systemise this!
- Any common tasks should have processes defined for them so that the work is easy to outsource to a new team member as we grow
- [Future] New hire processes and on-boarding
Blog Post Ideas
I had a list of topic ideas for blog posts on the new website. My aim was to have at least 2-3 of these live or ready to go at the point of launching the website, with a new blog post released each week.
You’re welcome to use these topic ideas or be inspired by them:
- Why have an email list if you’re not using it?
- How email marketing can be the biggest source of revenue for your E-Commerce website.
- It’s easier to sell to people who already know, like and trust you.
- 5 email marketing tips you can implement today to increase your revenue.
- How to grow your email list for your E-Commerce store.
- Turn your subscribers into customers.
- Email: The forgotten piece of the E-Commerce jigsaw.
- Turn your customers into brand champions using email.
- Why welcome emails are important for nurturing your new subscribers
- Lifetime value is one of the most important metrics for E-Commerce businesses
There are a ton of marketing opportunities for your new business. You know this already, given that you’re in the digital agency / freelancer space.
Here’s the list of opportunities that I wrote down:
- Blog Posts (on your website)
- YouTube videos
- Social Media
- Guest Posts (on external websites)
- Podcast appearances
- Paid Marketing (adwords, facebook, remarketing, etc)
- Case Studies
- White Papers
- Reaching out to agency friends and people you know in the web design and marketing spaces. This could be a great referral source for you as most people specialise with web design and/or some basic marketing techniques. Very few if any focus on email.
- Friends who run Facebook groups aimed at web design and marketing agencies, may allow you to feature your business or come onto a call with them.
Email Newsletter (internal)
If you’re running an email marketing agency, you need an email newsletter. Seems obvious right, but it’s imperative that you practice what you preach.
A newsletter should be sent our regularly (weekly or monthly) to your subscribers to keep them up to date with the latest tips, ideas and stories that you have in the world of email marketing for E-Commerce businesses.
I preferred a weekly option as it allowed us to round up any posts from the week, tell a relatable story and link to any important external resources.
Facebook Group (semi-public)
The last thing on my list was to set up a Facebook group on the topic of email marketing for E-Commerce businesses.
This would act both as a lead generation tool for you, as well as a place that E-Commerce business owners could ask questions and get support from each other.
It would take time to set up and manage, but if you can build a tribe of 1,000 people in that group who know, like and trust you… then you’ve got yourself a pretty much infinite source of new clients over time. Whether that’s through email marketing services, products or courses.
The semi-public aspect is like most groups you see online. Ask a few questions before someone joins, in order to avoid people joining automatically and spamming your group.
You’ve got everything from my brain. What will you do with it?
That’s everything that I had for my business. I’ve taken out a few sections from my original Google document, as they were items that are proprietary knowledge and not something I’d want to share here.
But otherwise, you’ve got the result of 3 months of my time researching, testing, planning and preparing to implement this business idea.
If you’ve found it helpful, please drop a comment down below. I’d love to know who the idea has reached.
Please take my ideas in the kind spirit they were intended. Feel free to use them, modify them and implement them into your new business.
Finally, as a simple disclaimer: I am not promoting this as a business opportunity or guaranteeing your success if you choose to implement. It’s up to you to do your own research and due diligence. I’ve provided my notes to give you a head-start, and also some of my own thoughts.