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046 - How Email Marketing Helps Businesses Scale With Bostjan Belingar

046 – How Email Marketing Helps Businesses Scale With Bostjan Belingar

Secrets To Scale is a marketing and entrepreneurship podcast that revolves around hearing the stories of successful entrepreneurs and uncovering their secrets to scaling their businesses. Music for every episode of this podcast was written and produced by Treycen Clausse.

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Tanner:

This week on the show, Bostjan from Hustler Marketing joins me to talk about email marketing and how it helps businesses scale by increasing customer lifetime value. If you’re an e-commerce business, this is probably the episode for you, but if you’re not, it’s also really interesting to understand the strategy that goes into email flows and all the emails you receive when you’re shopping with an online store.

Bostjan, welcome to the show, I’m really excited to have you. Go ahead and introduce yourself to the audience.

Bostjan:

Hey, what’s up everybody? So my name is Bostjan. I come from Slovenia regionally. I’m here right now, but I haven’t lived here for the past six or seven years. And we’re mostly here to talk about, you know, e-commerce. I run an e-commerce agency work called Hustler Marketing. We do email for e-commerce and we’re pretty awesome, but I’m sure we can get into the details that later. So that’s very quickly about me. And one funny story recently, I’ve been introduced to, you know, the online slash van scene. So I’ve been going to some nice concerts and parties, cause I finally have the time, which is very exciting after three years of just going crazy with hustle.

Tanner:

Yeah, that’s awesome, man. Definitely gotta, you know, make time for yourself and do what you enjoy. Right. So let’s take it back just a little bit. How did your career get started? Can you kind of tell us your story?

Bostjan:

Right. So the whole online e-commerce journey started when I decided to be a freelance copywriter, that was about four or five years ago. I heard of this platform called Upwork, that has freelancers on there and others. And there was this system, you know, that if you just supply to enough gigs and just get your writing skills down you can make a nice living remotely. So I studied all the classical copywriters. I had a mentor and all that. Very soon, all the clients that wanted me to not just write an email, but also to send it, you know, so then I would learn about MailChimp and Klaviyo and Active Campaign and all those systems. And I basically started to do email design and all that. And again, very soon I had too many clients. I had basically started hiring people. So I kind of never really decided, Hey, that’s what I’m going to do, but I just kinda ended up here. That’s how it all started.

Tanner:

Yeah. It’s kinda funny how we kind of fall into whatever we do, especially in the agency world. You just know how to do something cool or you want to learn how to do something cool. And you learn how to do it while you’re serving some clients. And before you know it, you have an agency, right?

Bostjan:

Yup, absolutely. Absolutely.

We try to learn new strategies and things like that, and that never ends.

Tanner:

So what were some obstacles that you faced, you know, starting with just yourself and then expanding to a team and ultimately moving off of Upwork?

Bostjan:

Sure, that’s a broad question, but I always like to look at things from bird’s eye view. I’d say the first thing that we needed to nail is, as you said, moving off of Upwork. So Upwork is just one channel of lead generation. Right now we do a ton. So right now we do cold email outreach, which is actually working really well. We do Facebook, organic marketing. We do a bunch of SEO stuff. We do some beta advertising on Facebook, although that’s not going too well. And we get a lot of work from referrals and also partners. So we really branched off into all these different lead channels, but I would say for the first year it was exclusively Upwork. And I think that one of the major obstacles for any agency, you know, founder, owner, marketing director, or whatever is differentiating into different lead sources. Because that one channel can go down, you know, from one day to the other.

So that was the first challenge. And then I’d say the other challenge is just making sure that your service is great, you know, providing repeatable, awesome high-quality service that makes clients get excited about you and about what to do. And that’s still ongoing, you know, every week we have education calls for our account managers every week, we try to learn new strategies and things like that. And that never ends. And honestly it shouldn’t cause there’s always new things to learn and improve.

Tanner:

Yeah. And I couldn’t agree more about constantly learning and educating yourself. That’s important in every aspect of your business, if you want to succeed and grow and thrive. But I also liked what you said about not going all in and one lead source. I always say don’t put all your eggs in one basket because you never know, you’re just not in control when you’re using someone else’s platform. And Facebook is a prime example of that right now with their new iOS updates. No one knows what’s going to happen, but if you’re all in on Facebook and that happens, you’re scrambling, you’re trying to find other lead sources. So it’s important to diversify for sure.

Bostjan:

Yeah. A lot of our stores are, they’re struggling. I mean, yeah. Cause you know, the Facebook, it messed things up, right. So now everybody’s doubling down on Google, people are experimenting with Tik-Tok, Critio like all these different, you know, options. So absolutely. And I think it’s the same for lead generation. Also the same for hiring funnels, once you’re at a certain size you need proper hiring funnels. So, you know, we used to do source all our potential hires from different Facebook groups and from work to work contact. Then we found LinkedIn, which is an amazing tool for hiring. And now we do kind of like a multi-layered approach where we use all those different funnels to get the talent that we need.

Stay really focused on one thing and get super good at it.

Tanner:

Yeah. And I think that’s a good point. I don’t think people realize, you know, as you’re growing, you need consistency across everything in your business. Right? And that includes hiring and acquiring talent. So what would you attribute your success to so far?

Bostjan:

I think one of the biggest things is that we didn’t do anything but email for the past three years. Now we have a little bit, I mean we do SMS and Facebook messenger marketing, which is kind of similar. It’s still retention marketing. We have like now one test client on ads, we’ve done a bit of design work, but 99% of work was purely email for e-commerce so very, very specific niche. And that’s why we get really good results at it, you know? And then the word started to spread and then the biggest, and in my opinion, best provider CRM for, for emailing Klayvio, you know, we got on good terms with them. We’re now a platinum partner. We advise them a little bit, blah blah. So I’d say it was that just really focused on one thing and get super good at it because I’ve seen some other agency owners trying to offer like all these different services and then clients wouldn’t get the results and they’re like, you know, then they had more stress, you know, first they were happy because the revenue went up because they sold all this stuff. Because you know, we can all sell. Right? And then they couldn’t deliver and then revenue crashed and they were stressed out and it was, it was painful to see.

Tanner:

Yeah, absolutely. I think that’s a good point in every aspect of entrepreneurship, right? Focus on your strengths and not your weaknesses. If you’re the best at what you do, even if it’s just one thing you’re going to be a lot more successful than if you’re mediocre at five different things.

There’s something very special about email, there are no distractions.

Tanner:

So the topic we’re gonna talk about today, as you mentioned, is email marketing. But more on the side of how it helps businesses scale by extending their customer lifetime value. Do you recommend that all types of businesses invest in email marketing?

Bostjan:

A great question. I think first it’s very important to know what kind of business you are in and what kind of marketing makes sense for that type of business. Now, as I said, we mostly deal with e-commerce or almost exclusively. I am looking at a lot of opportunities in SAS and software as a business, email marketing. I think they are a lot of software companies are not doing it very good. Then you have the next sort of similar niches, which is, you know, digital products and things like that. Different cultures, courses, things like that. And then only you get to more classic businesses, you know, like physical businesses, dentists, or, you know, like lawn mowers or whatever. And of course there’s a plethora of other businesses. You can even have email marketing in B2B sectors. Let’s say you’re I dunno like a car manufacturer and you have all their business partners and maybe, maybe you can figure out the newsletter for them and whatnot.

So there’s many different options. Again, we’re experts in e-commerce. I would recommend everybody to strongly consider email as a way of marketing regardless of the business, because there’s something very special about email, there are no distractions. When you’re on Facebook, all this like stuff is happening, notifications in your browser and I don’t know why, but when you’re scrolling on your phone or whatever through your email, nothing at least innately, of course you can always get notifications from other sources, but you know, you are in the email, it’s a very intimate channel in a way. Obviously the content is relevant and whatnot. And we also see, you know, long form emails, still perform at certain points. I’m not saying that, you know, like e-commerce stores should do long before email, but anyway, so long story short email is very powerful. I don’t see it going away. It’s performing on all the levels. The great part about it is that you own your traffic. When you have an email list, you can do whatever you want with it. You don’t need to pay extra to send out more emails. It’s really, really powerful. You know, it takes some time to build a list and you need to know what you’re doing, but I would definitely, it’s a backbone of a solid, especially internet business.

It’s about the offer, the strength of the list, and the strength of the copy.

Tanner:

Yeah, absolutely. I think email is really unique in that way. But speaking of growing a list what are some easy ways to get started on that and to ultimately grow list big enough to market to?

Bostjan:

Going back to the basics, you don’t really need the large email lists to make a killing. It really depends on the type of your business, and some credits go back to my old you know, from back in the day, my mentor, Daniel Diaz, he always said this thing. So success with email marketing it’s about, or actually any copywriting, really it’s about three things, right? It’s about the offer, the strength of the list, and the strength of the copy. Right. And all three are important. Probably the most important is the offer and the strength of the list. So it means that if you have a really good product to sell and you have people that are, you know, willing to buy – interested that have the money, you don’t really need copywriting, you can just tell them, Hey, here it is just go and buy and they’re going to do it.

Right. Like an example is the, I mean, I know that’s funny, but the Elon Musk flame thrower, like that thing got sold out, like in a day or something. Cause it was cool. And you know, I dunno, maybe isn’t the best example, but you know, when you have a great product and when you get the right people, like it doesn’t matter as much what you write in the copy. So you said, you know, Hey, how big the list needs to be? Similar, by the way, goes for like YouTube. I know people that have like literally hundreds of thousands of subscribers and they don’t make money. And I know people that have like 2000 subscribers and they make a lot of money. Right. So it’s literally all about the list. So even if you have a thousand people or 500, that’s fine.

As long as, you know, it’s your audience. And then how to grow that list. I mean, actually it’s really easy it’s pop-ups on your website, right? So you have the, if you want a bit of strategy, what we normally do is we do exit intent on desktop. So before somebody would leave your website, the pop up shows up and on mobile, which is the time delay. And then you can check your Google analytics and your page time. And if that’s, let’s say two minutes, you can put the pop-up on a minute and a half or whatever, you know, and then you offer them something to get that, you know, email address from them, whether it’s a discount or a lead magnet. I mean, I’m not reinventing the wheel here, but this is a basic way to do it.

Tanner:

So, you mentioned the time delay popups on mobile. Is that something that you guys have tested before? Because I swear almost every e-com site that I visit, they show me a pop-up within five seconds.

Bostjan:

Yeah. So you have different strategies and then you also have different pop-ups for example, a very popular one is the gameification thing, or whatever. Now the conversion rate on those is usually higher. So you can get even towards 10% conversion or 7%, which is crazy high, a basic pop up with 10% or off we’ll have maybe 3, 4, 5, right. Less. But then we get back to the quality of the list. When there’s something we can, game-ification wise thingy going on shortly, we’ll get more people, but they will be less willing to buy. Cause they’re just fishing for that discount. Similar with a time delay. Ourselves, we don’t like to add the pop-ups too quickly because you’re also scavenging attribution from Facebook, right? If you pay Facebook or other sources for traffic, they are conversion oriented. Right. So you pay them to get purchases anyway. So of course, if you’re going to shoot the pop up with 10% off in five seconds, of course, somebody that would buy anyway, of course, they’re going to add their email and then you think – Oh my popup is so great, but not really right? That’s precisely why we kind of liked that time delay option. So yeah.

Don’t ignore them for a month and then just send something for black Friday.

Tanner:

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. So, when it comes to actually sending out the emails, what are some good do’s and don’ts?

Bostjan:

I’m going to talk a little more for e-commerce store examples, but you can sort of, the listeners can relate to other types of businesses as well. For example, the big distinction in email marketing for e-commerce is between automated flows or sequences, and between manual blasts that you send to the list. Now, even if you’re in a different business, you can still set up different automation sequences, but maybe they will be different than in e-commerce. For example, a welcome flow can be created pretty much any type of business, whenever a new person joins what are the first few emails that they will get, Hey, welcome to the family. Or like, Hey, welcome to the newsletter or whatever right

Now, do’s and don’ts, I would say the biggest don’t is to not have the key automation sequences up. There are many, many stores that I still see and other businesses that potentially don’t have these sequences up – somebody joins the list, nothing happens. They don’t get a confirmation, they don’t get a welcome. They don’t get a pitch. It’s just crazy. You know, when somebody abandons the cart nothing happens, right? It’s really, really bad. Then you’re leaving money on the table, depending on the e-commerce niche, it could be up to 10% of total revenue just from those automated flows. Right? So very, very important, especially we need to make money. Funny story, we’re talking to a pretty cool store right now that does some crazy computer needs some crazy, crazy stuff. And they’re literally doing millions a month and they have two emails. One for welcome. One for cart abandoned. And that’s way, not enough, like we’re gonna, I mean, they need, you know, 10 different flows with like five different emails for all these different segments, their customers. And as soon as that’s in, that’s going to be extra hundreds of thousands of dollars for them. And it’s, you know, it’s not rocket science.

So that’s one. And then the other is we set out to make that sequence is the other is just regularly send emails to your list. You know, don’t ignore them for a month and then just send something for black Friday and something every week. Ideally we say, send something twice a week. Once it should be something, a value, giving tips industry insights, whatever, something that nurtures your customer and the other time, it should be an offer. Of course, we’re in the business of silence. So you should also be pitching.

Tanner:

So, you touched on having multiple cart flows, is that to test them, or what’s the reason for that?

Bostjan:

Not multiple cart abandonment flows, but there’s like different types of automated flow. So for example, if we talk about Shopify ecosystem, there are a bunch of different behaviors that the customer can do on the website. What we recommend these to actually try to nail almost all of those behaviors into an automated flow. For example, when somebody joins a list, they get a welcome sequence. If they are I’m part of the list already, and they click on a product and they don’t actually add it to the cart or whatever, a sequence that’s called browse abandonment can trigger. If they actually go further on and they add the product to the cart, add to cart sequence can trigger. But if they go to the checkout cart, abandoned sequence trigger. So because also the messaging in those sequences will be slightly different. It will be similar, but maybe the, you know, the third stage will have a bigger discount than the previous stage because of the different you know, willingness to buy in the customer. So those are some examples and then there are there other steps.

Tanner:

Okay, cool. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. So, what’s the process that you guys typically follow when you bring on a new email marketing client, specifically e-commerce?

Bostjan:

So I’d say the first few days are spent on actually getting to know the client. So we check all their designs, assets, brands, we do analytics of their audiences and whatnot. Basically we need to familiarize ourselves a lot with, you know, their products, customers, et cetera. And then from then on our team would go ahead and start creating those content pieces the bones of the structure of the flows and all that. So that’s one, the other is just to nail the logistics with the client, like how many calls a week do they want you know, what times what’s their preferred channel of communication, basically all the logistics. So yeah, those are some of the things that we do initially.

If you’re at a point where spending 200 bucks more than somebody else a month on software is a problem, then you have other problems to think about.

Tanner:

Awesome, man. So you mentioned Klaviyo’s your favorite marketing tool? We don’t do email marketing, but from what I’ve heard around the industry, I would have to agree with that, but is it the best for everyone or are there better options for smaller stores?

Bostjan:

It depends what you do. If you’re in e-commerce I would say it’s the best one. It’s just way more powerful than anything else. Even if you’re a small, small, like look, if you’re at a point where spending 200 bucks more than somebody else a month on software is a problem, then you have other problems to think about, you know, it’s like, come on. Like, what are we doing here? That’s just my point of view. And, honestly, you know, when you talk about, I don’t know the exact pricing, so don’t take me for the word cause they change it all the time. But I guess for a list of say, I don’t know, 30,000 subscribers, it’s like five or 600 bucks or something Klaviyo, and then MailChimp might be like 400. Right. But again, if you have 30,000 buyers on your list and you’re thinking about the $200 difference, like there is just no point and in terms of functionality, I just haven’t seen any other system do even remotely what Klayvio does.

And I think also because they constructed it with that in mind, you know, when MailChimp was in the game for a long time, same with Active Campaign and their primary targets were not e-commerce stores. Cause they weren’t so popular back then it was, you know, the affiliate marketer with the least selling, everything from, you know, penis enlargement pills to whatever. Right. But then e-commerce is different. You know, and obviously they have a very good integration with Shopify and whatnot. So yeah, I would vouch for them.

Tanner:

So would you still recommend Klayvio for anyone that’s not e-commerce?

Bostjan:

Probably not. Depending on what they do, Klayvio has some sort of terms and conditions. So not all the categories apply, but if you’re not in e-commerce because again, the biggest, well, not the biggest, but one of the biggest points that they mentioned is the integration, right? Shopify has all these triggers and you can create different automation and segments based on the triggers. Right. You can say, send an email out to people who have been on my website in last than 30 days who have not bought in last 90 days, and who live in Ohio and like you can do all that stuff instantly. If you don’t have an e-commerce stores and you know, when you have a list of, I don’t know, like dental patients that’s different, right? Then maybe your needs won’t be, you know, as advanced. And so segment that so you can use whatever, right. Again, it depends on your needs. Or for sales, for example, our organization, we use HubSpot. We’re still integrating data and it’s a pain in the honestly, and whatnot, but there’s a reason we do that because it integrates your Gmail conversations and like you click a lead in there and it opens up all the history and, you know, what’s in the pipeline and all that stuff. Like we don’t use Klayvio for that.

Agencies are infamous for burning through people.

Tanner:

Yeah. Yeah. And I agree with you. I think that, someone that just wants to send out a weekly newsletter doesn’t need something with that much power. Right? So what would you say your secrets to scale are?

Bostjan:

I would say people skills and talent management. I think that’s the number one. We’re now 62 people. And honestly, I’m spending most of my time with people stuff, either managing the managers or there’s an issue between two people and then, you know, figuring that out and whatnot. So it’s mostly that I think if you manage to create an organization where, you know, people feel responsible and they are curious and they like what they do at least to a degree and they feel decently compensated, I think that’s when magic happens, you know, and you don’t need to do stuff cause like they’re the ones that do the doing.

Tanner:

Yeah. And I think there’s a lot that can be said about that. Right? You know, building a great culture that everyone wants to work for you and, you know, they don’t want to leave. I think what that really comes down to is empowering them and letting them go out on their own fail, figure things out on their own and only then are they going to really feel like they need to own their position and their responsibilities and they are going to continue to go to you or their manager for help all the time.

Bostjan:

I agree. Especially agencies are, how’d you call that, infamous for like burning through people. Right. It’s just like, you know, for a year you get somebody’s low-paid intern and then they just burn out and go somewhere else. I hate that. I really don’t like it. Yeah. As you said, I agree with that. Like you have to empower people, of course, you open up yourself and your company to difficulties with that too. Cause you know, like it’s great to learn, but you know, the company takes a hit. But still it’s all about risk management and how much of what? But yeah, I absolutely agree with that. If it’s pointless to somebody, if they just click all day and then like, why the hell are we doing this? You know, in the first place makes no sense.

Tanner:

Yeah. And you know, I think, especially in the agency world, it’s a hard industry, right? There’s just a lot of stress, a lot of projects, just so much to keep track of. So I think it’s really applicable to what we do. So I want to thank you again for taking the time to do this interview. Is there anything that I have not asked you that you think might benefit the audience?

Bostjan:

One cool example, because we’ve talked about team culture is I don’t know what kind of different tech stacks people use, but we use Slack, Asana, Google drive and some custom code and stuff. But on slack we have a special channel and the channel is called Who I Noticed. And what we’re doing with that channel is we literally give shout outs to people. So for example, a team member of, I dunno, some client’s team would say, Hey, we had this problem. And then, you know, over the weekend our team got together and we solved this problem for the client. And the result was this awesome sale. And then it’s awesome. You see the responses there’s like hearts and, you know, custom emojis and all that stuff flying out. And it’s one of those channels where, you know, when somebody gives you a shout out – I even got a shout out once or twice, which was awesome. I was like, that’s cool. You know, I feel respected now. So it takes a bit of time to set it up, but it’s, you know, it’s a public place to show props to give props to people. And it’s pretty awesome. So I can recommend you doing it.

Tanner:

Wow. I really liked that. And you know, I’ve heard of similar things before, but that’s how you build a great culture when everyone is working towards the same goal and empowering each other. And there’s just all this positivity like that. That’s awesome, man.

Bostjan:

I think so. Well, thank you. And thanks for having me here. It was an absolute pleasure, you know.

Tanner:

So what’s a good way for anyone listening to get in contact with you?

Bostjan:

So my email is Bostjan at hustler marketing. That’s B O S T J A N @hustlermarketing.com. You can also check out our website. I’m also on social media. You can find me there too. And yeah, drop me a line. I’ll be happy to say hi.

Tanner:

Awesome man. Well, we’ll make sure to link that up in the show notes and thank you again.

Bostjan:

Awesome. Thank you.

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